For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Home is Where the Central Cardio-pulmonary Organ Is, and see what else has been going on.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

If I'd had any doubts before...

... I don't, anymore.

This morning, while going through the online columnists, as is my habit, I found this. As a former military wife, I was among those glad to hear it when our new government banned the media from certain military functions, such as the repatriation ceremony. Of course, the media whined and complained about it, and made the inevitable comparisons to Pres. Bush. You'd think it was a total ban from everything related to the military, rather than the reasonable and limited ban that is it. Leave it to the media to turn a mole hill into a mountain.

Now that Canada has lost its first female soldier in combat, I am extra glad of the ban, and this editorial has a lot to do with why. The author writes:

Cameras lined up behind a fence, jostling for position, peering through barbed wire to catch a distant frame in the darkness. People entrusted as our messengers to show this country's respect and support kept hundreds of metres away -- as if there were something to hide.


But at this moment of national mourning, as she returns home to us at CFB Trenton, we have been excluded, our embrace shunned. When all we want to do is say thank you.

and then at the end, she adds:

For she belongs first to her family, of course, but she was ours as well. Her sombre return to Canadian soil should have been a moment of national gratitude and grief, a public embrace of homecoming. She deserved nothing less. Instead, we were locked behind a wire fence, forced to mourn from afar.

Mandel writes that Goddard "belongs to us all," and this attitude expresses to me, more than anything else, why I believe the media doesn't belong anywhere near the repatriation ceremony. The ban certainly didn't stop someone getting a picture for this article.

To Ms. Mandel and others of her ilk, let me make this very clear to to. Cpt. Goddard does NOT belong to "us all." She belonged to no one but herself. She was, by every account, a fine soldier. She was a shining example, proving that women can, indeed, face combat as well as any man. By contract, she was part of the Canadian military. By blood and by marriage, she was part of her family. By association, she was part of a wider circle of friends and comrads, but she did not "belong" to anyone, least of all a bunch of media who'd love nothing more than to stick cameras in the faces of those who cared for her and use her death to push their own cause.

All you want to do is say thank you? As someone who's seen media behaviour and it's fall out first hand, I'm calling your bullshit. I know it has nothing to do with saying thanks and everything to do with selling papers.

You media folks want to express your thanks and respect? Stay on the other side of the fence. There are plenty of other opportunities to get your pictures close up. Leave the repatriation ceremony to those who actually deserve to be there.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

AAaaahhh!!! Someone please stop the NDP!!

NDP tables child care legislation

This is the part that gets me...

Savoie says the proposed legislation should be a cornerstone of Canada, just like the Canada Health Act.

Just what we need. Another black hole to throw taxpayers dollers into and another "Canadian value" to shove down the throats of people who don't agree.

Just thinking about it gives me the willies.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day

Just a quick note to wish all the Moms and Moms-in-progress out there a very Happy Mother's Day! Kick back, relax and enjoy your special day!

Me, I'm going to work. I'll be home shortly before midnight. LOL

Monday, May 08, 2006

Out of touch...

This morning, something happened to me that made me realize just how completely out of touch I am with what the majority of people consider "normal."

Mondays are the highlight of the week for my kids. It's park day. We meet up with a fairly large group of local home schoolers at a park for the afternoon. Sometimes, people bring crafts or something do be done as a group. Other times, we bring along our own projects and share our knowledge and skills with each other. It's a pot luck sort of thing and we often get opportunities to try new and different foods that we normally wouldn't, with a strong exposure to alternatives for those people who need to be gluten free or dairy free, and so on. Sometimes, someone brings games. Sometimes, the kids just head outside with a ball and have an impromptu game. My eldest likes to get together with some friends we don't get to see any other time because of travel/time constraints, and they are usually to be found sitting in a certain tree talking, or just wandering around. My youngest happily drifts in and out, quick to find friends among all ages. They have a blast every time. It's become such an important event in our lives that I've had myself listed at work as unavailable on mondays, just to make sure we always make it out.

Because of how far we have to travel using public transit, we leave earlier and tend to be the first ones there. Part of our routine has become leaving even earlier so we can swing by the grocery store where I work and picking up something special to have for lunch at the park, as well as something to share. This morning, after we'd chosen what we needed, I stood in line to pay while my kids waited at a nearby table. Since I work there, the cashier and I started chatting. That's when she asked me "the question."

"Do your kids come home for lunch?"

Home? Home from where? I thought I mis-heard the question (I do that frequently when there's lots of distracting noises), so I asked her to repeat the question. "Do your kids come home for lunch," she repeated. "I thought I saw them." I pointed out that, yes, those were my kids right there, but...

...then I suddenly caught on to what she was really asking me, which was "do your kids come home for lunch *from school?*" It had never occurred to me. I forgot completely that for most people, it's strange to see kids outside of school during the day. The reaction usually comes out in the form of "what, no school today?" so I missed the reference completely. In fact, I actually forgot that most people even send their kids to school at all. It's just so completely outside our lives right now.

That's when I realized that I am totally and completely out of touch with "normal." I've become so used to being around people who live alternate lifestyles, that I've forgotten that there even *is* such a thing as "normal." If I meet someone and they tell me they've got their cows living at one friend's acreage, their goats at another's, and their horses still somewhere else because they've just moved and haven't found the acreage they need - and by the way, would you like to try some of this gouda? We made it ourselves... I find that normal. When I talk to a teen age boy who tells me about the exotic breeds of chickens he raised - while living in one of the few cities that allows for it - I find that normal. If someone tells me that they spent several years living in a bus, then in what used to be two chicken coops that were shoved together and converted to living quarters, all while building their own house themselves, I find that normal. So is talking to a guy (a former naval officer who never went to any sort of school until the day he entered military college) about his sister's home birth on the house boat she lived in, and how she's left her career as a nurse to become a midwife, I find that normal.

I've forgotten. To the majority of people, I'm the one that's strange. I'm the one with the "alternative" lifestyle. I'm the crazy nut who gave birth at home, breastfed her babies for 3 years (each), had a family bed (as I slept with my own parents as a child) and now home schools. We're the unusual family.

I've forgotten. The people we see at the family gatherings that talk about tv shows we've never seen, daycares, teachers, schools and classroom sizes, homework, after school lessons, careers, etc. - those are the "normal" people.

I'd forgotten what it was like. I'm completely out of touch with "normal." Dispite the fact that I know so many others that are as outside the mainstream as we are (or more), we are most definately in the minority. The lives we lead are so outside the experience of the majority, that they are confused by it, just as I was as thoroughly confused by such a simple question about my kids.

And you know what?

I like it that way.

Attention, Shoppers


As your grocery shopping cashier, I thought it might be a good idea to give you a few hints and tips to make your shopping experience smoother and faster - and maybe even save you some embarrassment. To begin...

Yes, you are in a hurry. I know you are in a hurry. I know this because you are pushing your points card, debit card, etc. at me. I would like to point out, however, that it is not possible for me to begin processing your purchases until *after* I've completed processing that of the person ahead of you. That includes letting them pay for their groceries. I realize it seems like I'm just standing there doing nothing, but please allow the person in front of you to complete punching in their PIN or counting out their cash, because I can't help you until they are done. So shoving your points card at me, reaching around to wave it in front of my scanner, or pushing your produce onto my scale, isn't going to get your purchases done any faster. Honest. I'm not deliberately giving you a hard time. I really can't do anything for you yet.

Also, I would like to remind you that it's really not possible to pay for your items *before* I've processed them. Scanners and scales make things nice and fast, but it's still not technically possible to have a total without ever having to process your products first. So please top shoving your cash or cards into my face. It will only slow things down.

Once I have begun processing your items, I highly recommend against complaining about the previous customers. Especially about the old lady who's order I had to save for later recall because she couldn't "finda da moe-ney." I especially recommend against whining that the previous customer held everyone up for half an hour (it was 15 minutes - tops - and that's including the time it took me to procress her items), then saying "look - she's going to try and walk out with all those groceries without paying." You see, what you're ignoring is that that old lady is suffering from some sort of dementia. She couldn't tell the difference between a points card, a business card, or a debit card. She was frustrated, embarrassed and confused. When she did find a card she could us, they came up NSF. Eventually, she had to leave her groceries behind, believing she'd be able to go to the bank and come back with cash. She never did come back. She also showed more class than you did. I have no problems with the old lady with dementia, or the old man with Parkinsons that insists on paying with exact change, or even the schizophrenic that is having a conversation with someone only she can see. I do, however, have a problem with complaining, judgmental, a$$holes. You want good service? Start by behaving with a bit of class. Saying nasty things about the people around you isn't class.


If you have coupons, please tell me right away. Especially if they are price change coupons instead of cents off coupons. For those of you who spend all that time and effort to place each coupon with the items they are for, stop apologizing! You've saved me all sorts of hassle, and have sped of the process. If you've forgotten about a coupon until after, I understand completely. I can fix it. If you're standing there with your coupons, waiting for me to finish before you hand them to me, it's not a help. Even with a cents-off coupon, I have to check and make sure you actually got the product on the coupon. If it's a price change coupon and I've already processed it, I'm going to have to dig it out of the bag again, void the old price, then put in the new price. Now, I don't mind the extra time it takes to do that. I get paid either way. You, on the other hand, are the one loosing time.

Bulk items.

Ok, this one seems to give a lot of people a hard time. Here's a hint that I picked up long before I started working in a grocery store. It's a lot easier to write on those paper twist ties if you do so *before* you twist them around the bag. Also, if you do write on it first, write on the ends of the twist tie, not the middle. If you write it on the middle, I have to undo it at the till to see the number, which puts your item at risk of being spilled.

Also, please write on the bin number - that's the number that usually has the letters BIN or PLU in front of it. That is the only number I need. Oh, and PLEASE make sure it's the right bin number. I don't always catch that those raisins you bought and should've cost a few dollars actually came up and dried mangos and came up at almost $30 because the wrong bin number was written on the twist tie. Do not bother to write in the price per grams instead. That is absolutely useless to me. Prices mean nothing to me. I need codes. Prices change, codes don't. Most frustrating of all is having nothing written on the tag at all, but being told "I think it costs 99 cents per hundred grams." Again, it's useless to me. If nothing else, please at least know the name of what it is you're buying. That way, I can still look it up in the system. It takes longer, but I can do it. We have, however, half a dozen different types of trail mixes, several types of spices that look very similar, several different kinds of flavored peanuts, etc. I don't have them all memorized. I don't even know what they all look like. It's not possible for me to know them all. If you don't know what they are, I can't help you. I have to get someone to take the item and find a bin number for me, instead, and when it's busy, it's really hard to find someone who can do that.

This next part, however, is a real big issue for me. I *really* need your help with this. When buying different items from the bulk department and they're all the same price, they still need to be in different bags. Coming to my till with a bag of mixed candy and telling me, "they're all the same price" is almost enough to make me cry. You wouldn't believe how often it happens. PLEASE don't do that. They may be the same price per gram, but they need to be weighed separately. It's necessary for accurate pricing. It's necessary for inventory. It's necessary to help me know just what it is you're buying. Remeber. Prices change. Codes don't.

Also, if you're buying dried bulk items, use the plastic baggies provided. Don't use the plastic containers from the wet bulk items, like pickles or peanut butter. The plastic baggies are light enough that they don't effect the price of your items. The containers are heavy. When you use those, you're paying for a lot of weight that isn't product. When buying bulk wet items, there is a scale that you can use that will print out a label I can scan (side note - I can't weigh those at my till. It has to be done there.). That scale is designed to compensate for the weight of the container, so you're just paying for product, not plastic. You're wasting your money by using those containers. If you want the container, go ahead and grab it. I'll give it to you for free. Just put your items in a baggie with a properly labelled tie on it.


Most produce items have stickers on them. Those stickers have codes on them. If they don't have stickers, they are among those I have to memorize. There are about 200 codes I need to eventually memorize. I don't have them all, yet. I do, however, keep a book in my apron to consult when my memory fails me. Sometimes, however, the stickers fall off. So if I ask you what kind of tomotoe, pear or orange you've got, please just give me the name if you know it. Don't tell me "I think it's the one that costs $X." We've got a lot of produce. Some of it is on sale. Some isn't. Prices change. I'm not going to know what an item is by the price. If you can't remember if the apple you picked up is a gala or a pink lady, that's ok. It's nothing to be embarrassed about. I'd rather you tell me "I don't know" than throw random prices at me. Believe me, it'll save time in the long run.

Plus, like with bulk items, please keep the produce seperate, even if they have the same prices. I know that, right now, all the yellow, orange and red peppers are the same price. That's because they are on sale. They are not normally the same price. That's why they have different codes. If you put them all in the same bag, I have to open the bag and take them out. Don't want to waste bags? Fine. Don't use them. Leave them loose. You have to wash them when you get home, anyways. Please, don't give me a hard time about having to weigh them seperately. It's not "stupid" that I have to do this. It's not inconvenient to have them coded seperately. It's only inconvenient when you mix them up, then get mad at me because I have to weigh them seperately. We're not even responsible for the codes - produce comes to us with the stickers already on them. Seperate codes are necessary for inventory purposes, especially since we are moving into an automated inventory system. We need to be accurate to help keep costs down for you.

I really do want to help you. I really do want you to have a good shopping experience. I really do want to give you the best service possible. I am, after all, a shopper, too. To do that, though, I need your help and cooperation. Hopefully, this information will be of use to you.

Until then, thanks for being here, and have a great day!
(and yes, I really do mean it when I say that, too.)

Friday, May 05, 2006

I'm shocked! Really, I am... NOT

Here's a surprise...

U2 frontman Bono says the Conservatives seem to be breaking an election pledge to help the world's poor.

Well excuse me, Mr. Bono, but HTF do you think you are to tell another country how they should spend their tax payer's money? Just because our former PM cozied up to you to try and improve his own image doesn't mean you've found another brown noser in the PMO. Oh, and how 'bout giving the new government, barely 3 months old, a chance clear out the mess from the previous government before they start looking into meeting any international pledge's to help the world's poor.

Hopefully, our new goverment will be more responsible about those donations, too, and find a way to see it goes to the people who actually need it. Nothing like seeing donated food being sold in local markets instead of going for free to the people who need it, or foreign aid workers driving their expensive cars, living on the high hod in fancy houses, and doing things like sending weekly 2 page telegrams on the charity's dollar. Or having the local governments blowing the monetary donations on things like military exercises - for the first couple of weeks of the month, which is about how long it takes for the money to run out again.

In other words, mind your own business and stay our of ours. We're getting tired of hearing your whining.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Just kidding around?!?!?

Man, I've heard of parents excusing some rather silly behaviour in their kids, teens and even adult children over the years, but this is rediculous!

The father of a teen accused of abducting a newborn baby from a maternity ward at Humber Regional River Hospital said his daughter "was just kidding around" and never expected to be charged.

This is the guy who's daughter was released on $10,000 bail and the following restrictions...

Trotter released Sukhdeo on several conditions, including prohibitions on drinking and associating with Saladino or any child under 10 years old, as well as a strict 11 p.m. curfew.

She's also banned from attending any "medical care facility" unless she has a medical need or is accompanied by a parent or grandparent.

Forget it, Dad. When it comes to other people's kids, there's no such thing as "just kidding around."

The article gives the co-accused's age at 19, but doesn't mention the age of this man's daughter. Since they've named her, she's at least 18. Teens, yes, but these two are legally adults. You'd think they'd know better.

Gee, maybe these two weren't put into daycare or ECE early enough when they were babies themselves.


Monday, May 01, 2006


Things seem to be catching up on me. I've been feeling so tired lately. I keep getting calls from work, asking if I can come in. Sometimes I can, sometimes I can't, but I've been getting calls almost every day for the last week. We're short staffed right now, so I guess it's no surprise. I'm getting a lot more hours than I expected to get, and it's making it difficult to keep up with things at home.

Saturday really messed me up because I had an 8 hour morning shift. I don't normally work mornings at all. It meant trying to go be bed earlier, which never works well. I miss working midnight shifts and sleeping during the day. I slept so much better then. Ah, well.

Today, I was supposed to work a 5 hour shift, but first thing in the morning (so much for sleeping in), I got a call asking if I could start earlier and work later for a full 8 hour shift. I said yes this time, though to be honest, I really didn't feel like it. I'm glad I did, though. I'm not sure what they would've done if I hadn't. We were still short staffed, and it was a busy day. I had several customers commenting on how busy it was - and not just at the grocery store I work at, but at other stores. Everyone seemed to be out and shopping today.

It never ceases to amaze me just how many people go shopping late at night, though. We close at 11 pm. By 10:30 - normally - there's only 1 cashier and 1 "front end" person. Today, however, we didn't even have a 10:30 person (that would've been me had I worked the shift I was supposed to). That meant the front end person, who is supposed to be doing a whole long list of other things, had to go on till - and we still both had long line ups! The produce manager even came and tried to help out as much as he could, but he's really not familiar with our department.

My poor front end person today, though! I really felt for her. She was not only completely able to complete the tasks set for her, but she also had a lot of problem customers giving her a hard time. With how busy things were, I missed a lot of this. I just do my thing and every once in a while I'll come of for air and notice what the lines look like. Mostly, I just focus on the person in front of me. Even so, there was one person I saw giving my front end person a hard time. Being the last till open, I was working express. With less than 15 minutes before closing, the express limits are ignored. This costomer had a cart full of groceries and he didn't want to "waste my time" and stand in the long line in express, insisting that someone open a till for him! My front end person was eventually able to do so, but she had been in the middle of her closing duties at the time and really should've have been on a till. What got me, though, was hearing him say that "it's like this every time." All I could think was that, maybe if he did his shopping earlier in the day, when we had more cashiers (even a hour earlier would've been enough), he wouldn't be having this problem.

I was telling my family about this after I got home, then commented on how I seem to be really lucky. I don't seem to get the difficult customers. Sure, I get some that are impatient and maybe a bit short, but I've never had the complainers or yellers, or even just rude people. My husband pointed out that part of it is that fact that a lot of this stuff just sort of sails over my head. He's right. A person could say something to me that might be considered rude or whatever, and I don't even notice. I just smile and do my job. I think I unknowingly nip potential problems in the bud simply because stuff that bothers other people, I don't even notice. It really does take a lot of phase me these day. I guess it's hard for an irate customer to stay irate when it has no effect on the person they're trying to take their frustrations on.

Then my husband said something that really surprised me. He said something along the lines of, who would dare give me a hard time? Huh? Surprising enough to hear it from him, but my girls immediately echoed his statement. Double huh? Apparently, I'm an intimidating figure. Me? Intimidating? I told my husband that I thought all a customer would see in me is a short, fat woman who's always smiling at them. He just laughed, then asked, who do you think a customer would give a hard time to? Me, or some other cashier? He then said all they had to do was look at my arms and they'd realize I could probably bench press most of them. *L* Well, I'm glad he thinks so - I think - but the whole idea that *I* could possibly be intimidating to anyone is something I found totally flabbergasting. Matronly, perhaps, but intimidating? I doubt it.

Ah, well. Whatever the reason, I'm glad of it. As tiring as it is, I do enjoy my job. I *like* my customers. I enjoy dealing with them. It's just that, being the introvert that I am, I really need my down time to recover my energy, and that's what's becoming harder and harder to accomplish.

Tomorrow I've got a day off - I always have mondays off so the kids and I can take in our weekly home schooler group park day. Before that, we have to go grocery shopping (it happens to be staff discount day), then afterwards, we're going to a mall and, hopefully, will be buying a couch. Real furniture instead of folding temporary stuff! Wow! *L*

Meanwhile, our days will be filled with getting ready to meet our home schooling facilitator on thursday. We've never had to do this before - previous provinces we've lived in didn't have them - and we've got to have the girls' portfolios ready. I've no real idea what to put in a portfolia, even though I've printed off a five PAGE list someone had sent to an email list I'm on of what they had in theirs.

Now *that* is intimidating!!