A recent bout of flu confined the teen and I to the comfy couches in our seldom used living room and while sofa-ridden, we decided to binge on Netflix.

Being a teenager, she is well-versed in binge watching. Me, on the other hand, I only watch television when I am ill. So she had seen pretty much everything, and some things twice, but not Stranger Things.

She admitted that her friends’ descriptions of the plot line were a bit too grisly and scary for her tastes, so she’d avoided it. Never the less, she was game and we were pretty much out of options for hours worth of viewing after our Harry Potter marathon and still had a lot of flu left to go.

She was hooked quickly. A Goonies fan, there was much for her to latch her imagination to but the first season only periodically pulled my attention away from social media. The early 80’s are my heading into young adult years. I remember most of that time period through those lenses, but season two has been pretty good. Particularly, the soundtrack.

The teen grimaces. Her eyes roll. And she is of the firm opinion that the term “good” cannot be applied to any music before the 21st Century – except for possibly the theme from Ghostbusters – but as the episodes rolled on, I was reminded of that not everything from the 80’s needs to be killed with fire.

Most everything about the 80’s perplexes my kid though. Rightly, when I stop to consider it. Even a fictionalized fantasy version of it seems fairly far-fetched from the vantage of 2017.

The Soviet Union and the American obsession with it, for example, is difficult to explain.

There are a couple of brief references to the 1984 POTUS election that brought back memories as it was the first national election I was old enough to vote in but for her the idea that a woman on the presidential ticket wasn’t normal is hard to fathom.

Rotary phones. How did we manage without phones in our pockets and purses?

And the hair. God the hair. Christ, we had no concept of fashion. The 70’s really left us without any sense of style. I blame polyester and blow dryers.

Beneath the tropes, caricatures and nostalgia, however, is a well-told  and crafted story-line. Better than anything Spielberg ever came up with to part children from their cash. Reminds me, again, that we are truly living in a golden age of television again.

And I have to admit, it’s changed my perception of Winona Ryder. I am loving her turn as a mom. I can’t remember a single mom of that era with that much gumption but she has convinced me the could have existed.

Dustin is my favourite character and I am totally #teamSteve since his redemption arc.

I’ve never been much for nostalgia. I’ve mentioned this before. I leave places and times behind me without longing looks back. Any fantasies I may entertain about long gone days are rooted in “what would I change?” because I would rewrite my life if given the opportunity. Not because I dislike where and who I am but because I know there are forks in the road where I should’ve gone another direction and fear or social conditioning prevented me from doing it.

The 80’s though wouldn’t make my list of decades to waste effort traveling through. So little came out of that span of time given that it followed a decade plus of some significant upheaval. It’s like people got to 1980 and ran out of gas. Settled. Tremendous waste of resources can sum it up nicely.

It’s fascinating that the series creators choose to highlight it via a quasi sci-fi horror lens. And it also feels just about right.


Time Magazine’s Person of the Year is the whistle-blowers. Those women who have tirelessly and at great personal risk spoken up and out against misogyny. It’s fitting and timely, as the announcement came today on the anniversary of the anniversary of the Ecole Polytechnique massacre, the mass shooting that took place on Dec. 6, 1989 in Montreal that resulted in the deaths of 14 women. Women who died simply because they were women daring to pursue an education in engineering.

I know my daughters like to believe that we live in a post sexist age and certainly there are many in politics and the media who like to push that narrative as well. It sometimes seems to me – an old crone in her early fifties – that the western world at large is almost wholly sold on the notion that women’s struggles are over and any residual resistance stems only from our inability to accept that fact and the playing field as it lies.

But I don’t believe it. There’s more evidence than ever to suggest that women’s rights are not considered the norm in the circles where the rights of everyone are granted.

On paper – here in Canada at any right – women’s rights are assured, but in practice, women are harassed, dismissed, denied, abused and murdered with almost the same impunity as they always have been.

My rights on paper are simply not good enough. Not for me. Not for my daughters.

I have wondered often what it would take for women to at last come together and had hoped it would have a more positive genesis than the election of an in your face misogynist American president, but historical moments are not born out of the positive as often as they are the negative. And if toppling male privilege has to be angry and messy, so be it. Men have had decades – my entire lifetime really – to come to the table on women’s rights on their own and they haven’t done it. If they must be prodded by shame and driven by fear, well, that’s a choice they made.

Women can no longer, nor should they ever go back to being silent. Our bodies belong to us. Decisions concerning our bodies, our sexuality, our choices about everything that directly affects us were never men’s to make. If we have to be angry to make them understand this, we have to be angry.

We are taught as small girls to hide all our negative emotions but angry is not always negative.

Angry is a necessary ingredient for action and in righteousness. My bible is rusty but I am pretty sure Jesus said something to that effect once.

However, my favorite quote about anger, and it’s necessity, comes from Ursula K. Leguin,

“Stay angry, little Meg,” Mrs Whatsit whispered. “You will need all your anger now.”


I was never a keen mommy blogger. Mommying just doesn’t define me and the trappings of the wifestyle never interested me. Except maybe as something to joke about.

But recently an old school blogger suggested that those of us still kicking around might want to think about dusting off our old platforms and gather in cyberspace to … do something.

Not a reunion. They are popular with the aging rock bands of yore and their fans but those tours are about reliving the past in hopes of distancing ourselves from the wear and tear of the years. That’s not on the table.

Those of us toying with the challenge of blogging again – and yes, I am toying with it – are in very different places than we were a decade ago when blogging was a “thing”.

Unlike some, I haven’t completely abandoned this blog. I still post. I did a fair amount as recently as 2016. And I still reply to comments. But I haven’t really considered this as a vehicle for communicating widely. I spend more of my energy on Twitter (and yes, the love/hate continues) because I am more political than I have been in my life.

So if I came back here, it would be with an eye towards what is most on my mind now. And that’s not really being funny or entertaining (though I still manage to do that even when I am feministing or politicking) and I am certainly not interested in schilling products, platforms or books though if you could see my spam folder you’d think otherwise because I am still on too many lists from back in the mommy blogging days.

The great revival began over this last weekend but plague has kept me from the keyboard until today. Over the next week, I hope to revitalize things. Add a new blogroll. Maybe spruce up the template.

In the meantime, you can find me on Twitter – and I mean that literally – or you can leave a comment. Perhaps there is something you’d like me to consider writing about or opening up the floor for discussion on because as far as theme goes, we’re just going to be wingin’ it for a bit.


Outside of election periods, most people scarcely give politics the slightest thought. Well, except perhaps to frown or sigh heavily at the antics elected officials always seem to be up to. Antics that never seem to be simply doing their damn jobs.

And people these days have a right to sigh or frown or furiously pound out the odd rant or two on Fort Informed or in one of the other community groups that link us as surely as hockey or soccer matches, Paint Nites at the Bear’s Den and the Trade-show at the Dow. People have, correctly, surmised that some of our elected representatives seem far more fond of the thrill of political gamesmanship and the quest for votes than of the actual jobs that result from the winning of an election.

While residents of communities wonder where the promises of elections have wandered off to, representatives from councilors to MLAs to MPs seem stuck in the moment just before they won. A time when selfies and throwing shade at opponents was the only job.

In Parliament, Question Period is talking points only. English or French.

The Alberta Legislation often most resembles a junior high class when the teacher steps out of the room for a few minutes too long.

And the Fort Saskatchewan city council?

It suffers from a chronic case of side-eye and shade.

From chickens to bees to common-sense regulations to keep liquor stores from literally becoming the alcoholic beverage equivalent of a Starbucks on every corner, the Fort city council hasn’t met a proposal that at least one councilor can’t find a reason to dismiss with dramatic effect. Never mind that residents have made requests and councilors have responded with actual initiative – there’s an election coming! In October.

And if anyone is wondering why the library suddenly has a gate? What would the lead up to an election – months from now – be without an issue worthy of gating?

Library-gate, a completely manufactured outrage wherein the all volunteer library board, using money it raised itself, had the audacity to purchase a vehicle outside the city limits. Much like many Fort residents do when the vehicle that best suits their needs and budget can’t be obtained locally.

At last night’s council meeting, the library board chair attempted to set the record straight – with actual facts – after the city’s only newspaper deemed the truth not newsworthy.

She read from her prepared remarks but was cut off by the Mayor when she mentioned one of the councilors by name.

How the record can be set straight without mentioning the names of the councilors involved – though she was allowed to name the councilor* the Mayor doesn’t seem as fond of – is a mystery. And after a few minutes of back forth, the library chair finished her remarks and left the council chambers clearly angry**. Not an emotion that city councilors or the Mayor should want to foster in volunteers who step up and run important boards like the library board.

Fort Saskatachewan has an understanding reputation for volunteerism and publicly smearing  volunteers is a good way to kill community appetite for stepping up and pitching in.

And that’s the current state of good governing in Fort Saskatchewan. Volunteers and volunteer initiatives like the library board are sacrificed to petty politics.

Days, and sadly sometimes weeks,  worth of drama follows every trumped up incident while no one mentions the elephant lurking in the corner. It’s an election year.

A year when council members – instead of going to constituents to remind them of all the good things that have been achieved and asking, “What can I do for you now?” – decide the best course of action is make the person sitting next to them at a council meeting look bad. And if that can only be accomplished through creating outrage where none exists, well, that’s politics. What were people expecting?

When citizens go to the polls to cast ballots for a candidate, generally they have an issue or two on their minds. Water bills, a new bridge, the puzzling overgrowth of strip malls that never seems to yield more than a new liquor store, take away pizza joints or a walk-in clinic that won’t be open on Sundays.

They’ve probably made a connection or two with new faces running their first campaign for office or reaffirmed commitments to sitting councilors who proved their mettle over the previous years.

Voters are reasonable people. They have wish lists. They have grievances. They expect to be heard and taken seriously. They are looking for representation and people who understand that serving at any level of government is service on behalf of the people. Not self-service.

Too many elected officials anymore – at every level of government – are still laboring under the assumption that governing is ruling like the feudal lords in Medieval times. They treat their time in office as though it was a rousing game of Catan or an episode of Game of Thrones. As if their actions don’t have real world consequences that can adversely affect the lives of real people. The people they are supposed to be serving, and the people they are serving with on council, in the legislature, and in Parliament.

Politics might be a game, but life is not. Voters are tired, but not so much so that they don’t see what’s going and aren’t taking notes. But whether this coming city election is a long and brutal House of Cards knock off or a responsible, thoughtful campaign where adults behave as though they are familiar with the idea of adulting, is almost entirely up to those who step forward to run. For the first time or again.

*Disclaimer – I know the Bosserts. Our daughters are school friends.

**Edited after speaking with Renetta Peddle, the library chair who assured me she was happy to get a chance to speak and furious at being silenced in her attempt to set the record straight and clear the reputation of the library board.


Under the previous Canadian government, the long form census was abolished in the name of freedom because letting the government know your phone number, email address and the number of rooms in your house was too much intrusion and could lead to internment camps. Or so goes the hysterical objections.

The reality is that were it not for the census, civilization as we know it would probably not exist. It was the Romans, after all, who first came up with the idea of counting and sorting people, which lead to their empire and eventually the world as we know it.

Sure, that’s a simplification, but a pretty straight-forward one.

Counting, sorting, and lumping is how our governments go about trying to decide where tax dollars will be spent. Some of it for the greater good even.

And the spirits of censuses long past is one of the treasure troves historians seek out and use to enlighten us about our collective pasts and maybe clue us in on overlap among all the groups of people who make up our communities, provinces, regions and countries.

As a lover of all things geek and history, I am totally in favor of the census.

In my opinion, the arguments about what an invasion of privacy the census can be is nonsense when we remember how much personal information we thoughtlessly, and happily even, hand over to financial institutions to obtain funding or to social media outlets to obtain entertainment and connectivity.

It amuses me a bit when anonymous social media folks rail about government intrusion when I know they had to share quite a bit of personal information with an Internet connect provider, whose discretion and reliability are far less sure, in order to obtain the account they are ranting from in the first place.

Our workplaces, banks and healthcare providers have more pertinent information about us, and we barely blink about it, but inform the federal government about how many hours a week you work? Massive violation of the sacred trust.

People are funny.

And while I am not arguing that we shouldn’t wonder and be wary about the uses our government will put our information to, it’s worth noting the hypocrisy and contradiction in the rationales against the census.

The husband and I completed the census together. We got the long form, so it was a bit detail picky in a few places.

There was a glitch with the “save for later” function due to the high traffic volume on the website.

Canadians are such data nerds that they crashed the census website in their zeal to replenish the dried up information well created by the previous government.

Really, how many other countries in the world can boast that their population is highly in favor of data driven policy decision-making to the point that they take selfies with their census forms?

That’s right. Just Canada.

I love the idea that 92 years from now, some historian will discover that my house had nine rooms – not counting hallways, bathrooms and closets – and that I was a stay at home mom. How delightfully dull I will seem. My real self – and this blog – long gone and forgotten.

Perhaps what really bothers people about the census is that it strips our existences down to bare, boring fact. Nothing but checkmarks in sterile columns.

The Romans used the census to build an empire. Canada will use it to decide on more mundane things like infrastructure and social programming needs, but I giggle a bit at the thought that the rabid nay-sayers are correct, and the current government might be up to nefarious business with our cell phones numbers or ethnic backgrounds.

I can just picture the Prime Minister sitting in his office. Gleefully rubbing his hands together in the classic pose of a cartoon villain and saying,

“World domination. One census at a time.”

and then he cackles while his cabinet nods solemnly, wondering what they have done.


 

The latest silliness in Alberta politics disguised as concerned activism stems from the announcement by Earls restaurant that they will be sourcing the beef for their meat laden menu only from suppliers that are certified “humane”.

Given the apparent lack of “humanely” procured raw meat in Canada, this means that Earls will be looking to our southern neighbor for the dead animals it needs to keep the ravenous consumers sated.

The official opposition party, Wildrose, which never misses an opportunity to lustily engage in drama and antics that most people lost interest in when they grew up, decided to support a boycott of Earls’ chain. Never mind that they were choosing one group of Albertan workers over another, or that as a political party perhaps their efforts might be better spent calmly assessing the situation and thoughtfully offering a solution for the ranchers and farmers who now appear to need to new certifications to compete with American producers.

No. A boycott is the go to. A gold standard move.

Politicians shouldn’t be expected to think any harder than the average toddler about issues that arise. Gut reactions and mindless pandering is what has made Alberta – indeed all of Canada – the superpower nation it is after all.

Boycotts as a political tool generally are about highlighting social or rights issues and forcing change by striking at fiscal bottom lines.

Increasingly, in Alberta anyway, boycotts are grounded in the notion that change is bad, and no one should ever have to do it for whatever reason.

Just to disclaim a bit, I’ve eaten at Earls two, maybe three, times. Ever. Red meat is the staple of their menu, and though I enjoy a burger or piece of steak here and there, I have never been much of a red meat-eater. Earls is just not on my radar.

If I were to boycott it though, my objections would be about the sexist way it expects its female wait staff to dress. I frown a lot about chains which put the servers on the menu as though they were a meat dish too.

But, that’s a topic for another day.

Today, I am finding the whole #BoycottEarls to be yet another cynical move by an increasingly desperate right-wing conservative movement to remain relevant.

Because connecting with people and inspiring them with real ideas and policies that speak to life in 2016 and a future that is sure to be different from our parent and grandparents is a lot more work than fanning (or creating) frivolous outrage in the current news cycle.

And who wants to work hard?

Let’s leave that to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Such a fool. Look where paying attention, giving a shit about everyone and working hard has gotten him, eh?

There’s everything consumer oriented with a business wanting to let customers decide about products on offer. It’s capitalism, as I understand it. And personally, I like knowing what I am consuming. So Earls is just following the growing interest of customers who aren’t as inclined to mindlessly shovel shit into their mouths anymore.

That said, it’s just as okay for people to decide not to eat at Earls because it offends their delicate sense of privilege or their politics.

But let’s not pretend that this boycott is about anything of importance. No one’s rights are at stake. There aren’t any great social issues in play.

#EarlsBoycott is another minor skirmish in the Alberta poli-war, which is important in its own way but certainly not worth jeopardizing the employment of Earls’ kitchen and wait staff.

In an atmosphere where Alberta is still shedding jobs, it begs a query as to why the Wildrose Party would so eagerly play partisan politics with the employment of some of the provinces less affluent workers. It seems to be a game to them, and Albertans should be wary of political parties that see jobs and citizens as pawns on a board to be played with in such an off-handed manner.


If you’ve ever wondered why we can’t have a nice world. One that runs well and works for most everyone most of the time. It’s because of partisan bullshit. This deeply seated need too many of us have to pick a side and stick to it right, wrong, whatever because “GO TEAM!”

I have meandered all over the partisan map.  At some points half of my beliefs have been in opposition to the other half even.

However, most of the time I straddle the center line with the occasional tight-rope walk just to spice things up.

So when I am confronted with blind lemming followers of this or that, the best I can muster anymore is “Well, good for you. At least you care enough to sort of pay attention.” Seldom do I add “If only you’d bother to think for yourself and apply a bit of pragmatism and common sense.”

But you can’t have everything, right?

There are people who want to be involved and immerse themselves in doing their little or lot bit for the cause, and so what if they mostly don’t understand how their cause fits into the bigger picture? They care. Deeply. That matters. Right?

And it’s better than apathy. Right?

I’m not so sure.

Last night my Twitter feed was inundated with retweets about Ayn Rand’s personal failings.

The tweeter is not someone I follow. He’s a pompous ass. He only interacts with the adoring throngs because he isn’t interested in any sort of conversation that might show him up or disprove his preferred view of reality.

That’s fine. Twitter is kind of about building your own little tunnel vision and sharing it with those who are similarly blinkered.

But the gist of his argument boiled down to “Ayn Rand took amphetamines and had serial killer fetish, therefore her theories about capitalism are bullshit.”

I got a D in Logic and Reasoning back in the day. In retrospect I should have gone to class more than I wouldn’t have had to pull an all-nighter to get a B on the final and hold onto my pathetic D.

However, poor background aside, I am fairly sure that Ayn Rand’s rambling nonsense on all things the far right-wing loves is crap because it’s crap and not because she was a questionable human.

If you wanted to apply the questionable human equals someone who is full of shit logic, it just so happens that Thomas Jefferson, that great American Founding Father, would tumble off his pedestal too.

After all, how can the father of personal liberty hope to escape judgement given that he was not only a slave owner but he forced his 15-year-old sister-in-law into a sexual relationship with him because he owned her.

Yes, Jefferson’s long-time intimate companion Sally Hemmings – who bore him six children – was not only his sister-in-law and his slave but, according to some accounts – was the doppelgänger of his dead wife.

Creepy and worlds of wrong barely begin to cover this situation and yet, Jefferson is revered. His ideas are seminal in terms of American political world building.

Personally, I think Ayn Rand’s appeal is that most people who bother to read her dirge of a novel, Atlas Shrugged, are young adults or teens when they do. The themes are appealing to the young, and who really ever goes back and re-reads the “great” novels of their youth? Hardly anyone. The fuzzy memories are always better.

Randian love and worship is a sign that you’ve not quite grow up yet. At least in your political world view anyway. It’s like people who cling to the idea that pure socialism will save us all. An immature idea that refuses to incorporate the reality that life is complicated because “people”.

Even though Rand’s idea are simple-minded, her personal failings and quirks are just human. Humans can be awesome. They can completely suck. But for the most part, they are somewhere in the middle. None of these states of being detract from the things people can accomplish.

For all Rand’s faults, she wrote a novel decades ago people not only still read, but they find things in it which push them to think and learn, and let’s be real, not everyone who reads Atlas Shrugged gets stuck in the limited world view.

I fear there is no way to cure for the world of side-taking or the inevitable outliers who live and die in the absolutism that makes the world a less nice place for us all.

Personally, I am done pretending to care about the fringes. Feigning politeness rather than rolling my eyes. I am part of the problem if I don’t.

Sometimes the other side is right. Sometimes the middle path is the best way.

And sometimes people need to calm the fuck down, grow up and spend some quality time in the real world with real people who don’t reinforce every blind prejudice they learned as a child.