Pandemic Feb 4th – Hello World

Hello World

Ok, so it’s now February 4th.  How are we doing, world? Doing ok? Getting lots of sleep? Hydrating well?

See, the reason I ask is that you’re looking a little ragged – like a hungover sixteen-year-old who’s just staggered out of the bathroom after spending the night hugging the toilet and praying for death.

Lie down on the couch. Tell me all about it.

So what’s happening lately? Upset that some rich, entitled asshats decided it was a good idea to head to an isolated community and jump the line to get a vaccine? (Here) I totally get that they should be buried up to their necks in frozen seal pee and have polar bears gnaw on them, but that’s not likely to happen. I’m sorry people can be such selfish pricks.

Are you worried about what’s happening in the stock market? Concerned some hedge funds getting their butts handed to them by a bunch of Reddit groupies that decided to use a form of crowd-funding to make some money? (Here) I totally get that it’s like some nerdy pirates seizing a ship and then turning its guns on the fort.  Fun stuff. And who couldn’t kind of root them on? Likely it’ll end badly, but mad props to the pirates, right? – they’re fighting a rigged system by trying to re-rig the system.

Is it that you can’t get on a plane, go to a sunny, beachy place and sip colored drinks with umbrellas in them? (Here) Is it getting you down you can’t plan anything fun? I totally get that. Me? I would love to see Ireland, again, though there’s less sun there, in fact, no sun, and the last time I asked for an umbrella in my drink, the bartender replied, “Not in a fooking whiskey, you donkey-faced gobshite.”  I feel your pain, though.

Or are you thinking that censorship is getting way out of hand? Google going after 100,000 posts against Robin Hood Brokerage who are protecting the rich? Trump banned from Twitter? I totally get your concern that free speech is in jeopardy, and not from the government, but from unelected billionaire technocrats who have decided what you can or cannot say or do.

Let me paraphrase something written in the US Holocaust museum. First they came for the Trump supporters, and I did not speak out because I didn’t like them much, either. Then they came for the Reddit nerdlings in chat rooms who wanted to reshape the stock market, and I did not speak out because what the hell is Reddit? Then they came for anyone who disagrees with their political views, and I did not speak out because I was watching cat fail videos on YouTube. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

You’re right to be worried about those things, world. It’s ok to feel what you’re feeling. Here’s a glass of Irish whiskey. No umbrella. Drink up.

Better?

I thought so. It’s easy to focus on the moron who’s told that a restaurant has a no-mask-no-service policy, then yells and screams at the staff like a 2-year-old being told they have to put on pants to run around outside. Sure it’s easy to focus on the Governor of NY covering up the true death toll at the retirement homes or that Tom Brady plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But take a deep breath, world. Avoid looking at the big clusterf*cks. Look at the little things. Look at a father who had to stay home due to Covid and now has the chance to walk his kids to school. Look at how I’ve learned to wear a mask without it fogging up my glasses. Look at how some of us (well, not me, but others) have bettered themselves by volunteering, donating to charity, leaving painted rocks with inspirational messages on the walking trails or simply doing the right thing because it’s the right thing. Look at the dew on the flowers, the frost on a spiderweb, the way the sun sets fire to the horizon sometimes.

There’s goodness and beauty out there, world. I promise you. Look no farther than the Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World.

Now, here, take the bottle with you. I’ll send you a link to the cat fail videos. (Here)

Posted in Parenting | 3 Comments

Pandemic Jan. 18th Hello 2021

Dear 2021,

How’s it going?

I know you started out like a 4-year-old leaping onto the ice, thinking they can skate then falling flat on their face. That’s a tough way to begin, but don’t give up just yet.

I mean, hey, I totally get that the US seems to want to try out being a banana republic with people storming the Capital Building and big tech deciding to censor anything they don’t like in such a way that even the Chinese are asking, “Dude, you really did that?”

But there’s still time to turn things around.

Do you have a plan, 2021?

If not, can I suggest a few things?

Maybe a good slogan? “21? Time to drink!” probably isn’t the right one, but how about “You’re #1, act like it.” Or “As long as you’re alive, you can start over. And get coffee.”

Maybe have a chat with the universe and see if you can find a way to reduce the amount of stupid out there. Flatworlders, Antivaxxers, people who text as they walk or think Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker is a good movie… they all kinda need to rethink their positions.

Maybe have a few more nice sunsets, or if you ask The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World, more movies where the Rock takes off his shirt (which, to be fair, is all his movies.)

Open up travel as soon as you can. It’s like the sardines in the can are alive, have piranha teeth and have had enough of being crammed together. See, we need to be able to see the Eiffel Tower again, or feel the sand between our toes on a Hawaiian beach or, if you’re The-Youngest, get that rollercoaster rush while screaming at the top of your lungs.

You can do it, 2021.

Make it ok for people to see my muffin-face smile because right now, all they see is a masked someone staring at them like they’re about to kill them. Make it ok for me to go swimming or to grunt in the gym while lifting light weights as if they were heavy weights. Make it ok to shake hands, again, because me standing there trying not to shake someone’s hand, twitching like I’ve been tasered, is not a good look for me.

Hey, make it ok just to get out.

Bring back theaters and, for The-Oldest, concerts – though he’s talking about Chopin and Mozart, not Bieber or the Butthole Surfers (yes, that’s a real band.) Personally, I miss theaters like The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World misses massages. I love sitting in the dark, engulfed in sound, and eating my weight in buttery-heart-attack-inducing popcorn. I think what that says about me isn’t good, but whatever, I want to see movies on the big screen, again. As God intended.

But if you do nothing else, bring back family and friends.

I miss my friends, even if I don’t tell them that I miss them. The Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World misses hugging her Baba (and all of her family and friends, and even the odd stranger.) The-Youngest misses goofing on a couch with his friends, watching pool-diving fails, and burping out the alphabet after drinking a litre of root beer. The-Oldest misses the whole college/university experience, where you hit on girls, hang with your friends, play crazy jazz, discuss the meaning of life, find out what it’s like to wake up in your own vomit, or create a band like the Beatles, but with longer songs, more piano and so many dissonant notes that no-one really wants to hear it.

So, it’s not too late, 2021. Get your butt in gear. Focus. Make this a great year.

Your friend,

Justjoe

Posted in Covid, Covid19 | 1 Comment

Pandemic Dec 20th 2020

Covid Christmas

Well, it looks like we’re all going to have to do a Covid Christmas.

No big family gatherings. No kisses from the grandparents. No sitting on Santa’s lap and getting arrested for ‘inappropriate behaviour.’

Instead, we’re determined, perhaps more than most years, to make this the best Christmas possible.

What does that look like, well first, why don’t we see where the world is at?

The UK and US are on a full rollout of the vaccines. William Shakespeare was one of the first to get a shot. I’ll leave the jokes to you.

In Japan, hyper-realistic masks (not Covid masks) have gone on sale and I wonder, who would I look like if I could look like anyone? I mean, it would be awesome to have Brad Pitt’s face, but putting that face on a John Candy body kinda ruins the experience, doesn’t it?

In BC, Big White had to fire a bunch of Covidiots for “breaking a social responsibility contract, after health officials announced that 60 confirmed cases of COVID-19 had been linked to the resort.” Gosh. Come-on party goers. If I can postpone D&D or The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World can put off seeing her Baba, I’m pretty sure doing belly shots off that hot German blonde or dirty dancing with that cute Australian can be postponed as well. Am I right? Can I get me an Amen, brother?

But while I can’t stop idiots from being idiots, I can try to make our Christmas just a little more special. There is a neat article here about someone who went minimalist, but we went the other way, like a drunken Santa in an all-you-can-eat cookie store.

The boys put up all the lights that we had. To be fair, we’re not the Griswalds, but we did our best to light up our trees and bushes. Then we put up both the Christmas blow-ups, though sadly, the traditional Christmas Tyrannosaurus Rex died last year of a severe puncture wound. Then we decked our halls with more lights, put up the Christmas tree a full two weeks before we usually do.

Then, we put out every single Christmas-ie thing we own. Even our Christmas plates.

But, Joe, ok, that’s not REALLY stepping it up, is it?

And you’d be right, so hold on to your elf hats. The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World and I did Christmas cards!

A Christmas miracle, you say? Yes. Not, perhaps, as big as the birth of Jesus, but I’d say a close second. I think I spelt miracle wrong on some of them, but then I was probably half in the bag by the 400th card.

AND then, we all managed to get our Christmas shopping done a good 10 days before, you know, actual Christmas. Now I get that most people do this, but we’re famous for running around on the 24th looking for a lego ski set or chocolate shaped like a piano, so this is a huge win for us. HUGE.

Plus, by getting the presents all wrapped and under the tree, we created a sense of excitement (ok, the excitement is mostly The-Youngest and me, but whatever, there’s excitement.)

Perhaps a more accurate description of what we’ve done is create a sense of normality.

Nothing says the world is going to be fine like a fake tree lit up by eco-friendly lights, and guarded by a curious Spazadoodle.

I doubt The-Youngest will be getting a $400 bike stand (I think he puts those on there on the off chance that I develop full-on dementia and buy it for him.) Nor will The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World get what she wants most (to share Christmas with her MASSIVE family).

But it should be the best Christmas we can do.

There’ll be a full-on turkey dinner cooked by me (so, in other words, a dry turkey, under-mashed potatoes, and Brussel sprouts that no one will eat), there’ll be some Christmas cookies cooked by The-Youngest (half of which he’ll eat before they even see a plate), there’ll be some Christmas music played by The-Oldest (original stuff he’s written, too) and, of course, there’ll be the way The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World’s eyes light up when she sees her boys happy (or opens a giant box of chocolate liquors.)

I’m looking forward to the 25th in a way I haven’t looked forward-to much in 2020.

What plans do you have?

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Pandemic Dec 17th

Good News Top 5.

Ok, with the pandemic kicking into high gear, again, and all sorts of bad news pumping through our media venues, it’s time to look on the bright side. So here are the top 5 things in the good news department.

1) A vaccine is here (and, a whole host of them coming), and let’s be clear on this, we did it FAST!!!!

Ok, the ‘we’ part kinda hints that I had something to do with it – and perhaps I did by shouting ‘where’s the vaccine?’ at the TV a lot but I doubt I’ll get any credit.

Anyway, the vaccines will hit the US and UK quickly, but being typically Canadian and somewhat disorganized at the best of times, we’re looking at dribbling our doses out – so it looks like the whole population won’t be inoculated until September. Still, the faster the world recovers, the less it’ll spread, the faster our economy will recover, and the less lives will be lost. Good news, me thinks. Good news, indeed.

2) There is a whole mash-up of new words to use in daily conversations.

I can totally verbize Covid now. “Lots of coviding out there, yesterday.” Meaning people partying without masks or social distancing., Then there’s ‘maskhole,’ or ‘covidiot,’ which basically means the same thing. Or look at ‘Quaranteam’. Super clever.

But my personal favourite is ‘doomscrolling’, that horrible habit of looking at CNN, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to find super bad news like an addict getting a daily fix of despair, fear, and anger. (And if you want a reason they’re pumping the bad stuff, look here.)

3) Testing is now easy to access.

Oh, I know this for a fact as I had to go get tested, and, ok, sure, it feels like a plumber snaking out a huge clump of hair from your nose, but this fun experience can be yours by simply going online, booking a time, and driving to a drive-thru test site, (where, sadly, they do not serve coffee or donuts and didn’t laugh once when I suggested they do).

It can all get done in about 5 min (plus waiting time, which for me was another 15 min), which is awesome, and it’s good to know the resources are there for testing. I hear that somewhere they use a mouthwash, but not in Langley where we still do driving tests in flinstone mobiles.

4) We’ve made great strides in treating infected people. I know this doesn’t get a lot of play on the news, but there are a lot more treatment options, more drugs that work, and a better ability to recognize a covid patient in the first place. More here.

5) Locally, we seem to be trying really, really hard. Masking-up in our Save-On (last time I was there) was 100%. Plus, there is a decent amount of evidence showing that masking-up and social distancing works.

I know it’s confusing (mask, no mask, hydroxychloroquine good, hydroxychloroquine bad), and it seems like the health officials are fumbling around like 2-year-olds trying to figure out how to open the child-proof gates, but hey, they’re trying to learn what works (and what doesn’t) as fast as possible.

So, yes, super good news. I mean, look at the Black Death. It killed 200+ million people and lasted for 4 years.

But let’s not forget the best news. Most of us have survived this. We adapted. Overcame. Improvised.

Gunny Highway would be proud of us.

So, be safe, be healthy, and respect this new world.

Posted in Parenting | 4 Comments

Pandemic Sept 28th Down the Rabbit Hole

Looking at things in a totally unicorn and rainbow way, the pandemic has given us some unique opportunities to explore life. Before we get to what The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World has done, let’s look at the state of the world.

Seems there’s a resurgence of cases worldwide as the second wave begins, with the tiny country, San Marino, having the highest death rate per capita at 124.3/100k. Honestly, this is not a prize to be proud of. Canada is at 25.2 . US is at 62.96

Now, in BC, for some reason, we’re having an election. It’s a wonderful way to spend time and money during a pandemic, especially during a rise in cases. Meanwhile, housing sales are going crazy, and prices are, once again, through the roof. Honestly, I don’t really understand how this is possible, but then I’m still stumped on how they get the caramilk in the caramilk bar, (the answer is here.)

Locally, gas is around $1.24, disinfectant wipes are still hard to find, but little else seems to be consistently out. Schools are back in session, and for some reason, every school district has different rules on when and how they report Covid cases. That’s like having 30 husbands define what color blue the wall is.

However, back in our house, The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World has taken on creating a family tree.

Now that is a rabbit hole of epic proportions, especially if you have the patience to sort out how Ancestry.ca works.

To be successful, you have to be part detective (“so, I’m hunting for Bill Smith who could also go by Billy, William, Will or the Blue Mountain serial killer,”), part full-on OCD researcher, (ok, so this link leads to another link which has a link to a link that’s linked to another link of links that has a link to something linkie,”) to part tenacious bull-terrier, “wait, a week ago, I read something in a 1920’s newspaper about a Bill Smith who was eaten by cannibals in New Guinea, so I need to find something on the cannibal named Burbie so I could track down if this was indeed the Bill Smith I’m looking for.” (Sadly, spoiler alert, it turns out New Guinea cannibals didn’t really keep a lot of records.)

In other words, to be successful, you have to have the traits of someone who would work at a library.

I have to say, I’ve been super impressed by her research. She’s read obituaries, marriage certificates, birth records, and newspaper clippings, found photos and army records, and even tracked down hints at long-buried secrets.

I get the excitement. I mean, who cares if you find Joe who was born and did nothing, but what if you find an ancestor who porked Queen Elizabeth or one who was a notorious sheep thief. Or both? And had a peg leg?

What if you found someone who had fled the civil war in the states, a widow, who trekked with her two, young children westward, found a husband, wagon-trained it to Oregon while braving hostile Indians and outlaws, built a home, literally, then, made her way to the Okanagan?

That would be so cool, right?

But sites like Ancentry.ca can only do so much. To know someone’s history, it has to be written down, or told to someone who then, you know, writes it all down.

My guess is that a lot of people on her tree have amazing stories to tell, but those stories are lost in time. Obituaries will tell a little. John Smith was an accountant for 40 years, married Doris Jones, had 22 children, and was president of his local legion.

Boring, right?

Ok, but to know more, if you don’t have a written story, you have to go deeper. The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World does just that.  Legion, you say? Hmm, that means he was in the armed forces. Oh, wait, there he is, Italy, 1943-1945. What happened there, Joe? Oh, good lord. The Canadians did that? And the woman he married, interesting, she had an Italian name. Did he meet her there?

Lots of fun stuff. However, it does take a TON of time and dedication.

My mind explodes after a while

Having lost my Auntie Ruth, my Uncle Jim, and most recently, my amazing Auntie Marg, I hate that I won’t be able to hear any more of their stories, of how they met their spouses, of children lost, of epic journeys taken, of hope and heartbreak.

Building a good family tree is a great way to connect with family history, but for everyone out there, it’s just as important to record the stories you hear so that they can be discovered by future generations, so that someone can find that story and rush to your husband who’s right in the middle of watching The Good Place and say, with great excitement,

“I just found out about one of my ancestors who….”

By recording and remembering, we honor those who’ve come before us.

At least that’s what I think.

In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy, and respect the new world.

 

 

 

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School and Work – Pandemic Sept 12th 2020

Social distancing? Ah, not looking like it.

Both more normality and more craziness came to this world, like we couldn’t have a bowl of ice cream without a side order of murder hornets.

Last week, the kids all went back to school, and while I won’t rant about the epic failure of administrations to get needed supplies to classrooms, to manage how students showed up, to inform parents (or teachers) what was going to happen, or provide a safe environment, I will say the teachers did a fantastic job.

I mean, they were like the rebels fighting Darth Vader in the opening of Star Wars (New Hope). They geared up, likely bought their own equipment, and certainly would have loved to be someplace else, but they showed up and got slaughtered.

My goodness. Mad respect for the teachers.

So, thank you to all the teachers who worked last week.

In the rest of the world, a lot of countries are seeing an uptick in cases, which is not good news, while overhere, Dr. Henry seems to be becoming increasingly worried about the record number of new cases and many people’s ‘ah, who cares?’ attitude.

Antarctica, however, remains Covid free. I may be moving there, soon.

But elsewhere, the world continues to get really weird. In LA, they’ve banned trick or treating (which I find odd since everyone pretty much wears a mask on that night), and it seems that peace is breaking out in the Middle East. I mean, talk about crazy. It’s like cats and dogs deciding to love each other and make babies called dats.

But wait, there’s more. Currently, BC has the air quality of Delhi (due to the wildfires down in the US), and a plague of moths that swarm around anything that creates light.

It’s like the universe is telling us to stay inside and binge watch Netflix shows. Personally, I suspect Netflix has secretly unleashed all these things to force us to watch Coffee and Kareem.

Locally, both our boys went back to school, and The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World went back to work.

For The-Youngest, we weren’t really given a lot of choices, either he went back to school, or he’d lose his place there (and since the schools are over capacity, who knows where we’d have to send him if we took him out.)

So he’s got school from 9-2, two classes a day, 5 days a week. He’s basically doing a year’s worth of learning in 10 weeks. It’s focused learning, and likely as fun as drinking a bottle of concentrated organic beet juice, but it is what it is.

For The-Oldest, most of his college classes are online, and he’s ok with that. The only in-person classes are concert band and improv band, which kind of makes sense since doing band by Zoom would be like having a shower in your clothes. Without water.

However, he LOVES his teachers so far since they share his obsession with music, music history, music theory, music composition, and musically music-ness. After his first day of school, he literally ran around the house so excited to be with HIS people. It would be like me living with hobbits.

For The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World, the reopening of libraries was less of a sh*tshow than the schools, but there were still a lot of things that needed ironing out. Most people, however, were delighted to have the libraries open, and several became a little emotional that they could take out books again.

Better safe than sorry.

Despite all the challenges, some things got back to normal – little kids were excited about getting library cards, grumpy old guys complained about insignificant things, and no patrons understood where to find biographies (Gordon Ramsey might be in cooking, Churchill in the war section, and no one has yet to figure out where the hell Maya Angelou’s books are.)

Fun times.

How is everyone else coping?

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Returning to Normal – Pandemic Sept 4th 2020

The older I get, the more surprised I am that I haven’t actually seen everything.

If I had to make a list of signs that we’re getting back to normal, at the top of the list would be going back to school, The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World returning to work, seeing a movie in a theater, and being able to fly off to Italy and eat Mama Linguini’s pasta on a Venice canal.

Sadly, one of those things is still not really possible, but the others, well, yes, they are totally doable now (with restrictions, of course.)

But first, let’s look at the world: The stock market has almost returned to pre-Covid days, oil is back around $42, the price of gas is 1.29-ish, housing prices have rebounded, and they are selling here for over asking price.

WTF?

As well, all grocery stores are open, but disinfecting wipes are still hard to find. Finding hand sanitizer, TP, and Kleenex, however, is no longer an issue, the Canucks are playing hockey again, and Anheuser-Busch’s dog beer has sold out.

All signs that things continue to move towards normal. Or abnormal depending on your thoughts on the whole ‘dog beer’ thing.

However, in the super-cool department, a supercomputer may have figured out how the super-nasty Covid works. Here.

Ok, so that’s all fair and fine, right, but why does this matter? It matters because if they’re right, Covid unleashes a bradykinin storm (which is better explained here), AND we have about a dozen meds to deal with such a storm.

How cool is that?

Sure it’s not a vaccine, but dropping the death rate would be kinda cool. You gotta love computers.

More locally, and with fewer supercomputers doing our thinking, it looks like school is a go for next week. I’m sure it’s different for everyone, like a case of shingles, but there are a variety of options, which are not particularly well explained, again, like shingles.

There’s homeschooling, which I would love, but would only teach them history since I totally don’t get math, science, woodworking, or sex education.

The next step towards actual schooling is Distributed Learning, which is basically online schooling. Sounds like a good option until you realize that your child will not necessarily be able to have the teachers from his school do the teaching, wouldn’t have all the electives available and would have to be at home bugging you about the bradykinin hypothesis.

Then there’s what’s called Blended Learning, which is like making a cool milkshake then mixing in something that’s sat in your fridge for 9 months.

Basically, it’s school for a few days, then assignments are assigned, then the kids go home to work on them for 2-3 days. For some reason, the belief is that kids will stick with their bubble-groups, not rush out to play or talk with friends in the schoolyard, always wear masks and practice social distancing, and, oh yeah, believe in the Easter Bunny.

Then there’s what we are doing at The-Youngest’s high school, which is … school basically as normal. Full time all the time, and please forget what the province or the school district is putting out.

A lot of teachers are quite scared about this approach, not that I blame them in the least, and hearing some of their stories, like classrooms without proper protective supplies and lack of leadership on how to do all of this, I am a little worried for them as well.

So it looks The-Youngest will be back to school where he can see his friends, again, get positive reinforcement from his teachers for being a great student, and have his ass-kicked by a gym teacher, telling him not to slack-ass those situps.

It’s not perfect, no, but I know the teachers will do their absolute best.

And then there are the movie theaters.

Tenet – One of the most complex and mind-bending movies I have ever seen

Yes, The-Oldest and I braved a movie theater. We saw Tenet in the IMAX with about 20 odd people.

Now, that IMAX theater is HUGE, but they only sold about two dozen tickets, or so so we had a TON of spacing between the seats. Honestly, I felt safer there than in the crowded aisles of our local Save-On where someone is taking off their mask to sneeze onto the Campbell soups.

So, little by little, we’re returning to normal. We’ve gone on a staycation, we got our haircut, we took a BC ferry, and The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World returned to work, which was both terrifying and exciting.

More on that tomorrow.

In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy, and respect the new world (yes, I’m looking at you boomers who yell at staff for having to enforce rules set out by the government.)

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Pandemic Birthday pt 2

Video editing…easy-peasy, right?

With two weeks left, I had a 5-page spreadsheet made (ok, it was handwritten), a great collection of vidhug videos, and a brilliant plan to make my own video of why The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World made everything better.

That was the good news.

What I didn’t have were the people NOT on facebook, about 50 videos from people who wanted to contribute, no clue how to use video editing software, and no way to reach the super important Baba so she could record a message.

It looked like I’d taken one step forward, then two back, slipped on some ice, banged my head, forgot my passwords, then pooped myself.

So I made a list. Bug people. Sneak into old-folk’s home. Get boyz to help me with video editing. Eat lots of donuts.

I knew I could get at least one of those things done, but the others…?

I hated bugging people, but I had to. Like Francis Ford Coppola obsessively making Apocalypse Now, I had to get it done! So, my apologies for harassing people a lot. Blame the box of donuts and 14 cups of coffee I had each day.

Then, I contacted people to get non-facebook ways of getting in touch like email addresses, telephone numbers or names of people who once knew someone who once talked to someone who once saw someone who once heard of someone who might have seen the missing person.

Slowly, but surely, the remaining vids began to come in, which made me so very grateful, and my non-Facebook friends began to reply. But Baba, yeah, that was going to be tough.

First of all, even talking to her might let the cat out of the bag. The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World chats to her at least once a week, and I could just see Baba saying, oh, and that husband of yours came by and we did the most wonderful surprise video for your birthday.

But since she was on lockdown, how to even get that video?

Oh, I know the residents sneak out. Heck, I saw one making a run for it with her walker (if ‘run for it’ is the right term.) So getting Baba to sneak to the gate might be doable. I could also sneak in like some chubby ninja, but was that the right thing to do?

In the end, the problem was solved by a family member who said they could phone up the home and get THEM to take the video! I don’t know why I didn’t think of that. He took on contacting them, bugging them, and reminding them, and in the end, I got a video of Baba wishing The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World a happy birthday.

I was super happy. The vidhug part of the birthday plan was working.

Now all I had do was figure out video editing and find photos of the Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World. The latter would have been easy in the old world, but with her home and always wondering what I was going, why I was looking in the closet, why I was asking about her photo box, well, it wasn’t easy.

At one point, while she was in the shower, I found which box had all the photos, took it downstairs into my dungeon, then replaced the box with the exact same box so she wouldn’t notice. Sadly, she sees everything, remembers where everything has been put, and instantly notices if something is out of place like a movie continuity supervisor.

But when I got those photos, I began to make my video of awesomeness.

So with a week left, I tried to learn video editing programs. First I tried Photoshop video, but that was like a monkey trying to learn the correct lyrics to The End of the World as We Know It.

So I tried out a few other programs, finally settling on Filmora. It wasn’t super fancy, but it was built for stupid people like me. Satisfied, I worked on adding pictures, special effects, and text to that video while more vidhugs rolled in.

2000 hours later (well, it SEEMED like 2000 hours), I had our personal video done and gave it over to The-Oldest to add a musical score. The last of the vidhug videos came in, and I was able to finish that project as well!

Things were looking up.

I had 86 vidhugs, complete with a Baba message. I had a 20-minute video with an amazing musical score. I had a 30-minute video from her mom filled with amazing pictures of her growing up. Hell, I had cake, I had flowers, I had a card, and The-Oldest had shaved.

We were good to go, right?

Not quite. I still needed something more. Something special for the actual event.

So the boys and I came up with a plan at the last moment. The-Youngest took his mom shopping on the day of her birthday (not shopping for her, you understand since that’s a bridge too far for him, but for some bike parts), while The-Oldest and I transformed our family room into a birthday-mega-theatre, complete with blackout curtains, purple balloons, and streamers.

And movie popcorn.

By the time she got home, we had done all we could.

Sure there were a few tears when she opened the cards. More tears as she listened to the song her son had written about her, and tears during the videos, but they were tears of happiness, of joy, of thankfulness.

But I cannot tell you how happy The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World was to see her birthday videos. To see all her friends and family was gold. To have them all wish her a happy birthday, made her cry. To listen to their stories, hear them sing, watch them form a human pyramid, or light a cake full of candles made her laugh and smile.

We’d done it. All of us, her friends, her family, and her boyz. We’d given her a great 50th!

So, thank you everyone for making The-Kindest-Loveliest-Prettiest-Smartest-Girl-in-the-World’s birthday so special!!!

I know how busy everyone is so I really, really appreciate all the time and effort taken to make and send her a video.

The best of times

So much love was shown that it’s kinda overwhelming, but it’s so awesome to see all the love she puts out into the world reflected back at her, strong and bright.

I’d like to share the video, but we wanted to get permission from everyone who contributed (a few already asked that we keep their message private), but once we have that all sorted out, we’ll send out a link.

In the meantime, thanks again for proving there is still so much good in the world.

Until the next blog, stay safe, stay healthy, and respect the new world.

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Pandemic 50th Birthday

I talked to The Rock, and he totally said he’d do this for The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World.

Oh, we had great plans for an incredible 50th birthday party for The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World: Maui. An epic luau with kālua puaʻa (pig cooked underground). And The Rock with a bunch of half-naked Hawaiian dancers.

Sadly, the pandemic shot that plan in the head, buried it in a pile of garbage, then pooped on it.

So, as with most of 2020, it was time for plan B.

A ‘Something special’ plan B.

First up, I wanted The-Oldest to write a song, especially for her. It was his first commission. $50. (Though he said he’d do it for free, I thought it would be fun for his first paying gig to be for his mom.) He got to work on that right away.

Then, what else could I do to make her 50th special?

It hit me around July. If I couldn’t bring The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World to the party, maybe I could bring the party to her. Virtually.

Being me, I researched options on how to do a video where everyone could wish her a happy birthday, but it wasn’t until I sent my first requests for videos that I found a good platform. See, I’m terrible at learning new things, being old and no longer the brightest bulb in the chandelier.

The idea of learning a video editing program was very daunting, so when someone suggested Vidhug, it seemed to do the trick – It was easy for people to upload, and this was vital since I knew some of the people would be like me, about as comfortable creating a video as James Cordon doing Tom Cruise’s stunts.

With the easy-peasy platform chosen, it was time to send out requests, but being me, I still worried something would get buggered up, so I started a month earlier than her birthday.

I sent out messages to her friends and family on Facebook. That was about 25 messages right there, but that was easy. I knew those people, I have them as friends as well (those who haven’t blocked me), and I knew they’d LOVE to help out.

But was that enough?

No.

The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World has lots of friends. LOTS!

But how to find them all?

So I snuck onto her Facebook. She has 346 Facebook friends!

Fracking hell!

She had her library people that she loved, her PCB people, her TSI people, her high school friends, her elementary school friends, her book club friends, her exercise friends, my friends who seem to like her way more than they like me, and at least one friend who was a hobo who she thought needed a friend.

Some of them I knew from all her stories, but there were, like 20 Michelles, so how was I supposed to figure out how she knew them? See, nothing on Facebook helps organize your friends despite everyone who wants their friends in neat categories. Like me.

Ok, it might just be me, but whatever.

Then, I thought, well, I could message everyone and see what happens, but spamming 347 people would likely fail, so I sought help. I contacted a library person I knew, a super kind person who I’m not sure I can name, and another amazing woman who helped put together The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World’s high school reunion. Those two helped a ton, contacted whole groups on my behalf, and corralled the cats to contribute.

My quest had begun. Everything was going as I hoped. I would get tons of vidhugs, and it would be awesome, and they would all come in on time and I would…

Well, a ton of people sent out videos quickly, but with all that’s happening, quite a few didn’t. After two weeks, I had 52 out of 167 sent. Hmmm.

Some had probably got lost in FB junk since I had to blind message people with “hi, this is ****’s husband, and I’m stuck in Nigeria and need $100 to get my bank account, which has $20,000,000 in it. If you…”

But with 167 messages out there, I had to make a spreadsheet with who had replied and who hadn’t. Similar to a Santa list.

I bugged them like I was Russel Brand on cocaine.

Sure I got blocked by another 20 people, but whatever, I was on a mission!

Then it hit me as I filled out the spreadsheet, and consulted the family tree, not everyone was on Facebook!

And, worse, one of the most amazing people, The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World’s Baba was in a home and they’d just gone back into lockdown, again!

How was I supposed to make a video of her if I couldn’t see her?

To all this stew of stress, I added my own personal brand of tasty stupidity –  I’d decided to also make a video of why her being born made the world a better place. That meant I had to find where she’d stored all her pictures, then learn the one thing I vowed I wouldn’t have to learn – a video editing program.

Cool, right, but maybe, looking back, not super necessary.

But I was fixed on making this an amazing day.

Our first birthday together. Whistler 2013. A success!

Although I started out great, by me expanding and complexifying (gosh that IS a word) everything (something I may have done once or twice in my life) horrifically, it began to look like I was going to bugger this one up.

Was I on track to create the worst 50th birthday ever?

More tomorrow…

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Pandemic Wednesday, July 22, 2020

I feel like a bandit whose mom made him wear a mask.

It’s day 133 for us – so where are we at?

Well, I have to say if you look around, you’d say yes, the pandemic is over… but more accurately, a ton of people are just fed up with having to do pandemic stuff, so they just don’t.

Sadly, there is still no vaccine yet, though as soon as there is, there will be those who don’t want it because it’ll turn them into lemmings or something.

In Canada, however, our border is still closed to the US, though there are some sneaky loopholes, like saying you need to have sex with your wife/husband or want to travel ‘through’ to get to Alaska. Or both.

Oddly enough, though, someone in the CDC said that the safest way to have sex was to use “glory holes.”  Honestly, you can’t make this sh*t up, no one would believe you (hence the link).

In BC, we’ve been smug about our infection rates, but they’ve been ticking up with 32 new cases just yesterday. Dr. Bonnie looks like she wants to spank people.

As well, locally, masks are not mandatory but are a really, really good idea.

Personally, I hate ‘mandatory’ anything, but relying on people’s sense of civic duty or sense of one-for-all-and-all-for-one is like relying on them to not pee on the toilet seat or leave dog poo in someone else’s garden.

So let’s talk about masks because while more people could definitely be wearing them, I have noticed something.

Some of the masks are dead cool.

It’s becoming a thing.

I noticed while making my first visit to a mall on Monday. Now, Oakridge wasn’t busy at all due to construction on the streets around it, construction on the mall itself, and construction on the construction. Hell, it took me 15 minutes just to find a way in!

But once inside the mall, there was someone with a mask, directing people traffic like a human flood gate. He had a cool black mask that peaked up the bridge of his nose, and a wide band that wrapped around his head.

Me, for the first time, I had my surgical mask worn properly, blue side out, the strings wrapped tightly around my ears, making me look like some sort of angry chihuahua. Being Canadian, I went where I was told, wearing a mask like I was told, and not sticking my fingers in my eyes like I was told.

Others in the mall wore brightly colored masks or floral ones. One whole family had the proper N95 mask in sexy black and walked around with a swagger like Stallone who’s just machine-gunned an entire cartel of villains. Another person had a mask made out of rainbows and sparkles like it was made from Beyonce’s runners or Madonna’s underwear, jus kidding, Madonna doesn’t wear underwear.

It was awe-inspiring just how many different masks there were, though personally, I’m still shocked that wearing a motorcycle helmet hasn’t become all the rage, but whatever.

All the staff at the Apple store had masked up, many with very decent-looking masks, and all kept their social distance like I was carrying Steve Job’s ashes or something.

Don’t get me wrong, it was good to see them all masked-up, all wiping everything down, all using every conceivable mitigation measure, but it was just so different from my local grocery store where I count it as a good day if the mask-less staff aren’t sneezing on the snap peas.

I mean, hey, if I don’t eat my veggies, maybe I should wear them!

So, I think it’s time for a new trend to be pushed by someone with influence, like The Rock or Kylie Jenner. Make cool masks cool to wear.

Yah, you heard me right. Design something amazing, Louis Vuitton, like a handbag for your face, with bejeweled pockets for your phone, credit cards, and tampons.

Make something sexy, Calvin Klein. Make something manly, Josh Brolin. Someone, somewhere, make something funny, like a mask that gives me a jawline.

Come-on.

Do it now.

In the meantime, be safe, be healthy, and respect the new world. Oh, and wear a mask as if other people’s lives mattered.

 

 

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