Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Bell Canada has great customer service said no one ever.

Dear Bell Canada:

Thanks for following me on Twitter.
You must be greatly interested on why I cancelled your home phone service today, so let me illuminate.
Two years ago, we got Bell Fibe. We were one of the first customers in our area happy to get rid of Rogers once and for all.
Unfortunately, we hated the Fibe service.
It kept cutting out. The highlight was when it cut out at the end of the Canada hockey game during the Olympics. It was also constantly cutting out during the good bits in the movies.
So we cancelled, and I wrote about how Bell Fibe sucks in my blog. Six thousand people have read that blog.
A lot of them agree with me.
But not wanting to put all my huevos in one basket, we decided  to keep the home phone.
After all, Bell is the granddaddy of phones. I've had a Bell phone since I was a kid, when dialup meant you actually had to dial up your granny.
Because we have smartphones we only use the home phone for bill collectors, telemarketers and the occasional call from a relative who doesn't believe in smartphones.
Also I do all my interviews on a landline.
I'm old fashioned that way.
We asked you for the lowest price with minimum services. We were told we could pay $20 which was about right and we were happy.
Then we decided we needed caller I.D. so we upped our service to $40 a month.
This week we got our first bill and it was for $130 which included a $25 phone call to Vancouver.
We called you today to find out why our home phone costs $95 instead of $40.
We were told it was because we didn't have a bundle with Bell.
We have a bundle with Rogers so we called them.
As of this writing -- because we cancelled your ass -- we will be paying 50 bucks which includes long distance, call display and answering.
For your part, in your quest to keep us as customers and on the off chance you might one day get us back (hey, you can always dream) you have told us you are charging us for five weeks service because we cancelled BEFORE the CRTC decision, which comes into effect on January 1st. This ruling will make it impossible for companies like yours to swindle us if we don't like  your service.
In the meantime, we will have paid you $300 for service which should have cost us let than $100.
Hey Bell, we have news.


Wednesday, 5 November 2014

"Rosie Tits"

Rosie Tits.
That was my nickname at my first job as a reporter.
One of the photographers gave me that nickname nearly 40 years ago, about a month after I started writing for my hometown paper.
I was 19 years old. 
When he called me that, he did so in front of the newsroom. Everybody had a good chuckle over that one. He also gave my colleague a nickname. He called her Darlene Happy Crack.
I didn't know what to do. I couldn't go to the principal's office, or go up to a teacher.
There were other women in the newsroom, but I didn't know them, and I didn't feel comfortable discussing the dilemma with the managing editor who was an old man.
So I did what all good girls do: I smiled and laughed along with the boys.
I did a lot of laughing over the next few years.
I was very naïve back then and didn't know how to handle this kind of degradation. I'm sure my face was red, I can't remember.
Rosie Tits, just kept echoing in my ears.

It was the first time, but certainly not the last time. I was subjected to verbal abuse as a Carleton journalism student by my radio professor who had a reputation for being a total asshole, a prick of the first order.
He'd been to the show, to CBC radio and television.
He was grooming us for the real world.
So it's not like we weren't warned.
We were taught journalism ethics and the law, but those lectures didn't include the ethical treatment of women in the newsroom. I had to read Norah Ephron and Ms. magazine if I wanted to learn that.
Our journalism profs didn't offer us any strategies to deal with the misogyny that was ripe in the cesspool we call Canadian journalism. Over the years, you sort of had to figure out how to roll with it, join in the joke long enough to make the assholes go away.
Don't get me wrong. I certainly wasn't physically abused by the bosses.
I'd know how to deal with that. I had a pretty good left hook.
But the psychological scars, they last forever. They can creep up on you, know.
Triggers, they're called.
They're happening to a lot of women these days, thanks to you know who.
Degradation, exploitation, call it what you want.
It just makes a person feel worthless, like a loser.
I had always hoped that women my daughter's age could be spared this kind of ugliness, 40 years later. Apparently, creeps are still allowed to slither around, and suffer no consequences.
And that is so disappointing.

But you know what hurts the worst?
When women do it.
During my first year working for an Ottawa paper, a female editorial assistant with whom I'd reluctantly agreed to room, used to come into the paper and regale the guys with tales of my sexual exploits. She would lean in and tell the bored deskers in detail how I looked while in the shower even though I'd never allowed her in the bathroom.
According to this women, whom I regarded as a friend, I was a tart of the first order.
So much for my professional reputation. I was finished professionally, at least in my own mind.

I was never raped but I was certainly sexually assaulted more than once.
That was a given. A fondle here, a tweak there, especially after a few drinks.
But you don't stay in the news business very long if you can't deal with pervos.
You learn quickly, as a young ambitious woman, that you are little more than fresh meat.
If you're smart, you develop your own coping mechanisms.
Here are a few I learned.
Always have an exit strategy.
Never believe anything they say especially when trading favors over job prospects.
And never, ever, let them take you to a second location.
Like a hotel room. Or a place in the deep recesses of the news factory.
Bruises heal.
But for me, the personal insults, the degradation of me as a human being, the discounting of my talents because of the overly soft bedframe God gave me, well those things hurt the most.

Why didn't I report the fondlers?
Maybe because, for the most part, those guys actually ran the newsroom. The other guys, well, they were complicit, sniggering, passing rumors on the computer system's Rumor Mill.
Talking is a career ender.
There weren't any HR people to talk to.
Nobody would have supported me, this I know.
Thanks to my little friend, I am certain that the higher ups would have told me I deserved it.
It was just better to smile, turn tail and get on with the job.

It didn't take long before I left journalism, at the tender age of 25.
I was getting passed over for promotions. I was put back on nights when I objected.
So I did what lots of the ladies did back then; I decided to get married and have babies, believe it or not.
I wasn't made for the cut and thrust of the news business.
At least if you're a freelancer, you get paid based on what you do, not what you look like.
And the good news is, since leaving journalism, I've only worked for women.
Never had another problem with harassment.
Some of them have had ugly personalities and have been strident.
But at least nobody has ever called me Rosie Tits again.


Tuesday, 4 November 2014

The dog park makes things right

On Sunday, Scott went to the dog park with the pug Sophie and the lab Finnigan in tow. He was going to take some photos of the hounds against the backdrop of the wonderful burnt orange leaves and brilliant red Sumacs.

After an hour of hard running, Finnigan was happy to climb in the backseat. Sophie wasn't ready to go it seemed. She ripped free of her harness and tore off into the parking lot. After several minutes of skirting cars and milling hounds, Scott managed to grab her and get her back into the car.

In the meantime, he had forgotten he'd left his $1,000 camera on the roof.

Scott was halfway home when he remembered his camera, which represented more than a hobby for him. It was both his livelihood and his passion. That camera has documented the birth of our granddaughter, the marriage of my daughter Marissa, the ages and stages of the kids growing up. It had also made him money from time to time. Just this past week, he'd gotten a contract to take pictures for a local car dealer and without that camera, that contract was in peril.

Quickly, he made a U turn, getting to the park within minutes of committing his absent-minded folly.

He parked the car, and opened the door. Again, Sophie jumped out, this time onto the busy road that borders the Conroy Pit. He chased her for a few minutes, dodging speeding cars, before wrangling her back in the car.

He then scoured the ditches and woods near the park entrance. There was no camera in sight.

I cannot imagine what was going through his head. We aren't well off and a new camera would never be in the budget no matter how we arranged things. He came home red-faced, and a little mad at Sophie for all the mayhem, and confessed.

I wanted to cry a little, but what's the point of making somebody feel worse who already feels terrible?

The key to a good marriage is understanding, forgiveness and empathy.

I felt all those things.

Besides, I told Scott, it was only a camera. Imagine explaining to me that instead of losing the camera, he had let my Sophie become roadkill?

"I'm going to put an ad on Kijijji," he said.

"Don't bother," I said. "Go back to the dog park and put up a note."

If there is one thing we know for sure, it's that the dog park is the best place to lose a camera, a watch, a lead or your keys.

There's something about the spirit of dog owners who take their companions out to the dog park. They are willing to put up with nearly everything, from the eating of feces to a white dog rolling in mud. They are the most forgiving and honest people on the planet, hopelessly devoted, and kind.

Dog owners, particularly ones who brave the elements to provide happiness to their charges, are fueled by unconditional love.

Within 24 hours, Scott got a call from a woman who had found his camera. She normally wouldn't have been at the park that day. She had just decided to borrow a truck to take her dog out for a spin. She couldn't believe it when she saw this high-end -- well, it was high-end to us -- camera laying in the ditch, its battery flap broken off and a few nicks but otherwise in perfect shape.

When she got home, she put her own ad up on Kijijji and saw Scott's. That's when he got the call.

He described the pictures on the camera, the photos of Finnigan spinning around and leaping at trees.

"Yeah," she said. "And you took a picture of me and my dog."

Scott couldn't believe his good fortune. He bolted out the door, collected his camera and thanked the woman. He didn't offer her a reward, and none was asked for.

Instead, next week, he will be taking a portrait of the woman, her daughter and her dog.

The spirit of the dog park isn't about material things, it's about caring and sharing.

In an time when it's so easy to distrust others and embrace skepticism as a second skin, it's nice to know you can always count on the people from the dog park to make things right.


Sunday, 2 November 2014

Life on the disabled list

Pardon me for being crabby, but I'm on my last nerve, and that nerve is on the outside of my ass.

For days, I've been hold up, here, on a Lazy Boy chair with only two pugs book-ending me.

You see, my body is failing me. My left knee has become a mess of angry cartilage, threatening to explode every time I get up to take a piss. As if in retaliation -- in the case of my gallbladder, it's always 'what about me?' -- I am nursing a sickening pain in my right side, making laying down not an option.

Being immobilized means that all the food just settles despite a parade of little helpers: antacids, green tea, and Aleve, so I'm feeling really bloated and belchy, unable to bear the fencing in of various rolls of flesh. Bras and control top underwear, once my go-to friends, have become the enemy.

Here I splay.

Being a shut-in, chained as I am to the Lazy Boy, is no picnic. I am a reactive mess forced to entertain myself with a variety of devices, all of which give me no comfort. Television has already failed me. I can no longer tolerate the imbeciles that litter daytime television, the free-range thinking of has-been actresses and comics, the commercials selling insurance and cures for incontinence.

The news is no better with the 24 hour cycle filled to the brim with sad images of fallen soldiers and serial killers, interspersed with reports of what's trending on Twitter and cat videos.

I'm going nuts, I tell you, nuts.

My only relief is letting the dogs out, which I do a couple of times a day. I can fairly well hobble down the stairs holding onto the railing while Finnigan barks and snaps at Sophie. Gingerly, I limp towards a chair to spend a precious hour throwing Kong for Finnigan whose gratitude fills me with delight.

Sometimes I'm envious of this wonderful, vibrant soul who exists in our world oblivious to its sordid underbelly. And I'm envious, too, of the hundred or so souls who bustle past me on St. Laurent Blvd. completely taking for granted their ambulatory abilities.

What wouldn't I give for a day without pain?

Still, I'm grateful for a crisp autumn day, the burst of color, the falling leaves landing on my lawn where they will stay until someone else rakes them up.

How wonderful, I think, as I see Finnigan sniffing an apple that, presumably, some lazy schoolkid tossed over the fence. He worries it, turning it over and over and walks away. And then I realize there is something wrong with it. I hobble over, pick it up and see that it's not an apple anymore. It's a drug pipe fashioned with metal mesh and remnants of some sour smelling mash that makes my loyal retriever turn up his nose.

Lucky for Finn, that he didn't gobble it down. He would have dropped like a stone, and that, my friends, would have been a terrible day.

I'm not sure what's safer, life on the inside watching murder and mayhem on the news, or life on the outside witnessing firsthand what our world has become.

In the end, I suppose, it could be much worse.

I could be really sick, not just injured. And Finnigan could have chosen the wrong door by gobbling up that apple.

Better to be watching the news than be in it, I guess.

A glass is half full observation that helps me get through my day.

A day in life, on the disabled list.


Friday, 31 October 2014

Jian Ghomeshi and his Angry Inch

It's now been a week since Jian Ghomeshi told his fans he was taking time away from CBC Radio, six days since the CBC said it was distancing itself from the great man, five days since the CBC fired him for his lifestyle choices, four days since the Toronto Star let loose a can of whoop ass on the host of Q, three days since the first woman put her name forward claiming he choked and hit her, two days since nine women came forward to say the same and worse.

The scandal started slowly enough but quickly resulted in a white squall of outrage from women -- and right-thinking men -- who took to social media to express their disgust that the CBC allowed Ghomeshi to walk their halls for even one day after a woman complained about him cupping her butt and promising to fuck her with his Angry Inch.

Boy, it must have been some week at the CBC, which is now so blown apart by this scandal that it's bringing in outsiders to talk to all the women who have been threatened, leched at, fondled and screamed at, and penetrated against their will by a man with an ego the size of the wall on which is portrait was allowed to hang, a portrait which was quickly taken down just in case it was vandalized by eggs and ketchup by the women who worked in the building.

Jian still has some supporters --Christie Blatchford, for one -- who decry the national and social media for unleashing accusations from anonymous women upon the Great Ghomeshi.

None of the women have filed charges, his supporters say. What about due process?

Fuck due process.

Where was the due process for all the women he caught in the glare of his fabulous headlights for more than ten years? They were all too afraid of his power, and have kept silent for a decade. What about the women we don't know about, and I'm guessing they are legion, spread as they are as far as book tours took him. 

Where's their due process?

It doesn't matter anyway.

Ghomeshi is toast. He'll never work in this country again unless he plans a career making pornos.

The fact is, the collective howl has done more to damage The Angry Inch than any court case. He'll never be invited to a swell party again, never hear his own voice on the radio, never be able to go to the LCBO without fingers being pointed in his direction.

They say a man is only as good as his name.

Ghomeshi was a name,, now he's only two letters: FU.

His name is gone, his poster has been ripped off the wall at CBC, and his celebrity has turned to notoriety; like a once juicy Porterhouse, he is now crawling with maggots.

Hopefully, the CBC -- and the nation -- has learned a lesson.

Perhaps his case can act as a cautionary tale.

When you meet a charming celebrity at a book signing, never let him take you to a second location.


Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Jian Ghomeshi: King of Kink

What is happening to this staid old nation of ours? First we had the crack-smoking mayor, then Justin "The Egg Man" Bieber. Now we have the King of Kink.


Have you seen all the blogs about sweet little Jian Ghomeshi who got bitch slapped by CBC for his love of all things BDSM?

Oh my.

We thought he was just a creep. Now he's a creep with an attitude. He doesn't fight fair, according to the Toronto Star who interviewed four women who said he punched them and strangled them without their consent.

Is he guilty? Not according to him. He told Facebook lovers on Sunday that he's into the scene -- nothing wrong with that -- and this is just a silly prank put upon him by a jilted ex-lover. Then he went on to list all his perversions, like any of us want to know, kind of like a 4-1-1 in case some young ladies on The Facebook might want to, you know, look him up.

Got to hand it to Jian.

He never met a twisted opportunity he didn't like.

My view on this matter is perfectly clear. In matters involving assault and rape, the perp is guilty until proven innocent. I know the law says otherwise, but I don't care.

Statistically, people who come forward with these kind of allegations aren't doing it for fame or fortune, especially in Canada, where TMZ doesn't have rabbit ears. He's not that famous. In fact, I'd say most of Canadians -- the non-hipsters who take their kids to the hockey rink and never listen to CBC radio -- have never heard of him before we saw the story.

Well, we sure know him now. Way to up your influencer stats, Jiani.

Dude, clean up your act!

This is Canada. In spite of what the spinners are proclaiming, we do care what you do in your bedroom if you do it before getting a consent form signed.

Did he think he wouldn't get caught because he was the voice of Q?

Seriously, how stupid do you have to be if you're even a little bit famous to be in that scene in the first place? According to the Star, the only reason those girls even looked at The Little Gnome was because they'd heard his sexy little radio voice and wanted to engage in a little star fuckery.

And then they found out he was actually a sneaky little rat bastard who likes to clock girls as soon as they enter his Kingdom.

Did he think they wouldn't tell?

No matter. He is pond scum now.

Even his minions abandoned the little troll when confronted by the evidence, which he presented himself on Facebook.

Who the hell told him to do that? Navigator?

As my mother might say: Would you blow your head off by eating a firecracker if Navigator told you to do it?

Now he's suing the CBC. Good luck with that Jian.

Thanks to Stephen Harper, the CBC has no money.

Peter Mansbridge is lucky if his paycheque doesn't bounce.

Hmm...Maybe Jian can restart his singing career!


Sunday, 26 October 2014

The Ottawa Shooting: Guns, drugs and video games

A lot of people were making fun of Stephen Harper hiding in a broom closet being guarded by MPs with hand-fashioned sticks last week.
There are memes all over the Internet about it.
Where was he supposed to go?
Have you been in that room?
There are no windows to jump out of, like in the Parliamentary Press Gallery's hot room. There isn't even a bathroom.
This was not a cowardly act, as some have suggested. You know what the flight attendants say. The big person should always put the mask on first in order to save the country.
That's what Harper was doing, making sure the big person would still be alive if his loyal foot soldiers with sticks had been unable to protect him.
Most of us would do the same thing.
He's our Prime Minister, for Goodness Sake, one of our great symbols of democracy.
So stifle yourself, Harper haters.
There was no need for him to come out of the closet.
Besides, I have no doubt the caucus would have done everything in their power to make sure that the Leader of the Free...Canada would have lived for another day.
Still, it makes one wonder if they'd been watching too much Game of Thrones.
Question: where exactly was the Prime Minister's detail? Shouldn't there have been at least one Mountie in that room if for no other reason than to protect Harper from any leadership contenders who might want to hoist him on one of those flagpoles?
It's just what I was thinking. I'm not making fun, truly, I'm not.
It is simply a good question.
Security learned a valuable lesson last week. Never let the Prime Minister out of their sight for even a minute.
Now he'll be lucky to go to the bathroom without armed personnel guarding his manhood.
And surely they'll be outside the door when he and Laureen get down to business.

It occurred to me, that during that whole crisis, the Americans were treating Canadians like some sort of damsel in distress, the Dale Arden to their Flash Gordon, the Lois Lane to their Superman.
Immediately, Barack Obama was one the phone to the broom closet offering American support.
We must thank our American counterparts for their help by sending in the really, really big guns in the form of Anderson Cooper.
It was only when some people saw Anderson Cooper that they knew we were in real trouble.
The FBI were also dispatched to comb through their records to find what terrorist cell was ultimately responsible and to vanquish it, while the RCMP were getting out the catalogue to buy themselves some weapons that could actually work against the terrorists. Batons and handguns might be useful for unruly drunkards and Japanese tourists, but they are no match for guys with semi-automatic weapons, bombs and hand grenades.
One global security expert suggested that the RCMP consider getting out of their cars once in a while, instead of listening to their radios.
I agree. They're dressed for it.
Besides, chasing down a bad guy who is on foot, in a car or on a horse, is pretty difficult particularly when there are stairs involved.

What have we learned from our so-called terror crisis?
Once all the conspiracy theories have been explored, it seems that the perpetrator wasn't a very big terrorist at all.
He was, in fact, mentally ill, a drug addict, a fellow who, according to his mother, played too many rounds of Call of Duty.
He was not, his mother said, a terrorist. He was mad at the world.
She is his mother. I believe her.
So before we get too ahead of ourselves and lock down the Capital, let's just take a moment to chill, shall we? Tone down the rhetoric.
No Prime Minister, we do not need to lock up everyone who has a bad thought about other people. Otherwise, we'd be locking up half of your caucus.
And we don't need more scary legislation, in the wake of this terrible crime, to put more people in jail and suspend their civil liberties.
What we need is to get these kids out of the basement, away from drugs and video games, and give them hope for the future. We don't need to fill up the Regional Detention Centre.
And we need better community and school resources to deal with these boys -- and they are boys -- who are shooting up their high schools and grow up to ultimately shoot up Parliament.
We can blame ISIS, or ISIL, or even the Internet all we like.
But video games have desensitized our youth and drugs have addled their brains.
The Tories and the police should spend at least half their energies shutting down the drug trade and injecting more money into community mental health programs. And they should stop encouraging people to buy and use firearms.
Tories love guns. Maybe they should rethink that position.