Wednesday, 26 October 2011

And then we can all friend Kevin Bacon

Shocking how many people have told me, quite smugly, that their kids don't have a facebook account.  And furthermore, they would never let their kids have a facebook account. 

Initially, my response was a vague - well, each to their own.

Laissez faire attitude didn't last.

Couple of weekends ago, I overheard myself saying to someone: if your kids are not on facebook there are only two possibilities: either they are lying to you OR they have no friends.  Either way its bad.

How old are these kids you might be wondering?  Ranging in age from just learned how to read to applying to college.  Doesn't really matter to me though.  If you are old enough to want a facebook account my feeling is - take that pacifier out of your mouth and knock yourself out.

To all the people who disagree, I have a piece of advice for you:

Head over to your local cinema and treat yourself to a little movie I like to call Footloose.

You will notice that in the movie, the kids are not allowed to listen to music.  Music, the adults believe, is the devil's worship.  Music, they believe, is a passing fad.  Music, they say, is not necessarily here to stay.

See where I'm going with this?

What used to be called social media, is now called life.

If you don't like it, you should probably go outside and stop the earth from spinning on its axis.  Yup, that's right. The earth is round, and it spins.  Sorry to be the one to break this to you, but didn't want you to read about it on facebook.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Questions Asked to Me by Group of EIghty Year Old Hadassah Ladies When I Spoke to Them About How to Complain Effectively

Would you like a cup of coffee?
How old are your kids?
I think I know your mother.  Is her name D.?
Did you go to high school with my son? He's very tall.
What are your kids names?
Who pays you?
If your mother is D., I think I know your aunt.  Is her name V.?
How about a party sandwich, some vegetables?
Do you get paid the same from all of your clients?
Are you sure I can't get you a coffee? or a danish?
My daughter works in Social Services.  Her name is Myrna. Ring a bell?
Who is paying you for speaking to us today?
Tell me sweetheart, is that your married name?
I've heard that some of the girls aren't changing their names when they get married.  What's the story?
Now that you're finished speaking, you'll eat something? at least have a cup of coffee?

Friday, 14 October 2011

Probably shouldn't delete your LinkedIN messages without reading them

When I met my husband, he handed me his business card.  3D Enterprises.  He cleaned carpets.  He cleaned so many carpets that he was able to put himself through University and buy me a diamond ring when he was done.

He cleaned bank carpets, restaurant carpets and suburban shag rug carpets.  In fact, some of the suburban wives invited him back for some extra special carpet cleaning.  I would provide you with a link - but this is a family show.

When it was time to go to graduate school in another city, Les Entreprises 3D had to meet its untimely demise.  But - wait a second - what if someone were to buy the business? The customer list? The equipment?  

And with a bit of networking and a lot of luck, my husband found that special someone who was ready to wear the 3D mantle with pride and pick up servicing suburban housewives carpet cleaning customers where he left off.  This young gentleman was keen and from what we could ascertain, honest and reliable.

The terms of payment were one major down payment and a 10 month series of post-dated cheques.

The first payment cleared.

A few of the monthly payments cleared.

Then there were the inevitable NSF cheques, some phone calls, and well, we never heard from keen young gentleman again.  

We chalked it up to life experience and went back to studying for our exams.  

That was in 1991.

Two days ago, my husband gets a LinkedIN message from keen young gentleman.  I know it's been a while, he writes, but I owe you money, and I'd like to set matters straight.

My husband opens his filing cabinet and - twenty years, eight moves and three cities later - pulls out a copy of the purchase agreement.  

E-mails keen boy back saying I am not sure exactly how many of the post-dated cheques cleared, but here are the amounts.  

Twenty four hours later my husband is holding a bank draft.

They are having lunch next week.

LinkedIN reminders drive me insane, but they are now going to send my kids to summer camp, replace my windows and buy me a new fall status bag.  OK, I'm dreaming.  But I could probably squeeze a decent dinner or two out of this pittance windfall.

Sometimes something you complain about can end up having value (that was the tie-in, were you waiting for it?)

And - if you owe someone something - knitting patterns, a book or money - don't be embarrassed to give it back.  If nothing else - it will make a great story.

Thursday, 13 October 2011


Church basement and no sign of Bill or his friends anywhere.  (For the record, I did see a styrofoam coffee cup, but that was the closest I came.)

Toastmasters  District Area Humorous Speech Competition.

When I got the agenda, I was dead last, scheduled to appear - if the contest ran on time - at 11:18pm.

Turns out, those were just placeholders.  In fact, the contestants of each of the four competitions drew lots to determine speaking order.  Oh good I picked a 6.  There were only 5 contestants in my section.  Not a good sign.

A few months ago, I was teaching a workshop on How to Deliver Bad News to health care professionals.  They laughed so hard that during the question period, someone raised her hand and asked if I would do stand up at her Christmas party.

Next thing I know I'm in a Church basement knitting a hat and waiting for my turn to be humorous.

When I gave the speech at the first level of the competition - Club, the instant-evaluation-judge said "I would have liked to hear more laughter from the audience."

Ummm, me too, lady, me too.

Since no one else entered the contest at my club, I was a shoo-in to represent at the Area District  level.   But since the speech wasn't really that funny, I said to the judges, let's just forget the whole thing happened.   Apparently that was impossible.  According to Toastmasters Rule 3, Section 12a, Clauses 19-37, once you have presented at the Club level and won (even by default), you are obligated to show up at the next level.

Well, I thought to myself, I could probably come up with something funnier for next time.


According to Toastmasters Chapter 5, Sub-sections 9-14, Paragraph B, once you have given a speech, you have to give the exact same speech for the duration of the contest.  Fabulous.

It then turned out that the date of the contest coincided with a pre-planned road trip.  I told the Seargant at ArmsGrand Poobah, District Manager President of the Speech Competition that I couldn't make it.  He changed the date of the entire event to accommodate me, because, as a new member of Toastmasters, the whole Region (Area?) was thrilled that I wanted to participate.  Idiots.

I toyed with not showing up.  "Just tell them you have three kids," ten year old G said, trying to help me come up with a good excuse.

I didn't want to let down my very sweet club organizer and her two friends who thoughtfully came, and paid the $7 entrance fee just to cheer me on.  Plus, I knew I wouldn't win, but my best hope was that the other people would speak limited English, maybe someone would forget their speech, and with that kind of luck I could probably come in second.

Wishful thinking.

First guy gets up.  Speaks limited English.  There's hope.  After handing out free pens to the audience - and a few of the judges - he whips off his suit jacket to reveal a Batman cape and "flies" off the stage.

The next three contestants were really good.  Funny, well practiced, spoke clearly.  One was a guy who entered all the possible competitions and gave speeches equally strong in English and French.  One was a beautiful woman in super high red patent leather spiked heels who spoke about her new car, and the third just got up and told a good story.

I got up, I told my stories, I made eye contact.  I heard laughter. There were even a few thumbs up as I walked back to my gray folding chair.

Feeling like it could have been worse.

Spiked heels came in third.  Good story came in second.  Bilingual multi-enterer won.

This leaves me and Batman as fourth and fifth.  Or fifth and fourth.  Thankfully some vaults remain locked.

On his way to claim his third trophy, Bilingual knelt down beside me and whispered "You have the best stage presence of anyone here.  You should re-work your speech into an inspirational speech.  A motivational speech.   We are having another contest in a few months."

Nicest guy, by the way, and if he ever gets tired of polishing his trophies, he's going to e-mail me a few tips for successful public speaking.  Toastmasters style.

As for me - I'm going back to teaching front line health care workers how to tell family members their loved one will never walk again.  That's how I get the big laughs.