“Ponderable” Offence

A few months ago we catered a surprise birthday party. Birthday girl was clueless – all arranged by her fiance. Fiance ordered heavily to the meat side – pulled pork sliders, chicken satay, lamb skewers, blue cheese stuffed figs wrapped in bacon, smoked salmon – aside from a few spreads and dips, a meat-lovers delight.

Following a much anticipated “surprise”, one of my servers offered a platter of tempting appies to the guest of honor. Her reaction floored every last one of us – ” I DO NOT eat anything that has EVER been alive ” she snarled. It seems fiance neglected to tell us she was Vegan. Her outburst; packed with venomous rage, smacked for its rude fury – a delivery fitting a fairy tale evil queen rather than a birthday girl. Uncomfortable silence evaporated almost immediately – I suppose her friends and family had seen her in action.

A brief “chat” with husband to be, followed my “holy crap” moment. He apologized for his “over sight”, confirming my fear that she was indeed Vegan and had a bit of a temper. I barely hear as he tells me “find her anything Vegan, she hardly eats”, all the while stuffing pulled pork in his mouth.

Rendered senseless – not for pork juice on inconsiderate husband to be, not for daggers hurled across the room from bride to be eyes, not for shaken server or the fact we didn’t have a Vegan option to save our lives. I was knocked on my ass by her leather boots. Vegan she devil was rocking leather boots!

Rudeness aside, I would have cut her some slack if she were vegetarian  I might even have felt sorry for a vegetarian girl whose thoughtless carnivore fiance throws her a surprise party featuring meat. I draw the line at outrageous hypocrisy.  Birthday girl’s lifestyle choice dictates an animal free diet; not so much as a nibble of cheese, buttered toast or milk on her Corn Flakes. Throwing a righteous vegan hissy, wrapped in animal hide, gives bat shit crazy a whole new meaning.

Have some self respect vegan princess; if you can’t help making a spectacle of yourself, at least lose the leather boots before blowing a gasket. Lots of vegans wear leather – who cares – I give them points for trying. In your case birthday girl – it pissed me off.

“Bored” Games

As a child we played a lot of board games – Monopoly for the most part – more often than not, it ended long before any satisfactory conclusion. Not that it mattered, the rules were simple and it was something to do.Every family had a Monopoly game; expressions like “get out of jail free” or “do not pass go” became part of popular culture.

Monopoly wasn’t something I would ever classify as fun; the premise of collecting property by forcing others into bankruptcy struck me as vicious – perhaps explaining why the game rarely reached a conclusion. I can’t recall a single game with an amicable parting of players. If we didn’t lose interest, it was guaranteed someone stormed off in a huff.

Before Christmas, shopping found me in a game store. Years since I’ve paid the slightest attention to boxed games on store shelves. I’m can’t say for certain what I expected to see; board games never really went out of style – judging by my twenty something kids and “gaming” cafes or bars popping up all over town – boxed games are big business.

I know what I didn’t expect – Dogopoly, Catopoly, Princessopoly – row upon row of “opoly”, knock offs as far as the eye can see. Hard as I pondered, I couldn’t imagine playing Catopoly; in hindsight, I wish I’d taken a closer look at what exactly these cats were trying to accomplish. Likewise the hundreds of “hopefulopoly” speculators trying to cash in. The Monopoly franchise; seemingly unstoppable despite being one of the most boring games in history.

Monopoly began with the best intentions; often playing when we were bored, once in a while the entire family sitting around the kitchen table – full of anticipation, happy to be doing something together. It was a recipe for disaster – games took far too long, financial calamity gripping unlucky children with unparalleled vengeance, attention drifted as the rich got richer – polite players were bored, the rest were sulking or walking away from the game.

Monopoly is a strange game; kids don’t want to land in jail, go bankrupt, face a punitive banker, or live on the wrong side of the tracks. The game drags on for eternity, the only happy players being those with property and money to back it up. Seeing countless versions on the game store shelf left me asking – why?

I have great memories of playing Scrabble, Checkers, and Risk. Card games never caused problems, never sent any of us storming out of the room or feeling defeated.Board games are supposed to be fun; we settled on a game called Theories – players take turns reading a historical or scientific statement with 4 possible answers, others place their answer face down on the table, the reader reads out the answer which may or not be true. Points are awarded for calling a bluff on the reader, or having the correct answer. Dull as that may sound it was lots of fun – fast, silly and never leaving anyone with the urge to storm off.

Parker Brothers marketed the first Monopoly game in 1935. In 1941 the British secret service had UK licensed  manufacturer John Waddington Ltd. create a “special” edition for Nazi held prisoners of war. Distributed to prisoners under the guise of fictitious charities, the games contained hidden maps, compasses and real money useful for escape. In 1994 Hasbro – parent company of Parker Brothers – gave a license to USAopoly for a San Diego edition of Monopoly. Since then, several more U.S. publishing licenses have been granted, licenses exist in the UK, France, Germany, Australia, the Netherlands and Nigeria.

I found a blog post claiming  the definitive list of Monopoly versions; a total of 2433 –  written in 2006, I would guess hundreds more are collecting dust today.


Learning of wartime Monopoly shenanigans makes me feel a little happier;  knowledge of the world’s most popular, boring, rage inducing game, able to find a useful purpose , means Monopoly has one redeeming quality.


Smart Bug

Left field might be the place my pondering mind landed; suddenly I’m in search of the world’s smartest insect. Without a lick of research, I’m certain there are many species of surprisingly astute creepy crawlers. Naming the ant, bee or termite lacks imagination – invading colonies might as well be Mongrel hordes yet a single ant or bee is nothing without the collective to back it up. I’m looking for outstanding individuals, bugs serving no master but themselves.

Portia Labiata is a “jumping spider” found in southeast Asia – this is one smart bug. This guy is straight out of Starship Troopers – ponder an adaptive predator who excels at trickery and problem solving  –  Portia Labiata at your service. This smarty pants lures other spiders into it’s web with reconnaissance and adaptive learning. Patiently waiting, motionless and alert, legs tucked in to avoid detection – watching other insects come and go – Portia Labiata “plucks” at the web of  her targeted prey. Tricking unsuspecting spiders into thinking something is caught in their web.

Known as problem solvers, they learn through trial and error, remembering routines of other insects. Portia Labiata can even swim – laboratory experiments liken Portia to raptors in Jurassic Park – creatures able to employ tactics based on experience. Remarkable for an insect with a brain the size of a pin head. Portia’s sesame seed sized eyes are larger than it’s brain; explaining why it has ten times the visual acuity of a cat.

I’m sorry I ever pondered smart bugs. Knowing an adaptive little spider ranks as one of the brightest creatures in the world –  sits like greasy pork chops when I have the flu. Portia is no larger than my thumbnail and lives half a world away. Knowing a smart ass bug is out there, capable of strategy and problem solving gives me the willies.


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Portia Labiata


As kids we never considered our snowmen monoliths; looking back, I realize they were. Never mind technicalities; so they weren’t stone and were going to melt away – we worshiped, named and danced around them with wild abandon.

Limited only by depth and quality of snow, wet mittens or dinner time – no patch of snow escaped snow rolling. Snowmen were always the last thing to melt – packed tightly, gargantuan blocks of winter magic enduring long past mere snow drifts or covered roof tops. Sometimes – if we were lucky – puddles of winter’s first snowman hung in until spring.

There’s no doubt in my mind – snowmen were monoliths. Worshiped, revered, tended to and presented with offerings.

The first historical image of a snowman – a book dated 1380 called the Book of Hours –


For centuries snowmen have dotted winter’s landscape; ponder why we’ve always made “man” and not rabbits or foxes. It never occurred to us that snow was meant for any other purpose. If that’s not worthy of monolith designation, I don’t know what is.



    Photos by my husband – http://www.flickr.com/photos/15574096@N00/

    Merry Solstice

    Picture yourself thousands of years ago at a settlement on Orkney Islands in the British Isles. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of people gathered at a great stone temple to witness the winter solstice. Hear the music, breath oily fires. Fall silent as the sun rises, illuminating stone after monolithic stone as far as the eye can see. Ponder the world with a Neolithic eye, in a place built hundreds of years before Stonehenge.


    The winter solstice marks the shortest day, and longest night in the northern hemisphere. The point when the sun in the dome of our sky, reaches the southern most point every year. The solstice is not a day, rather a “moment in time” – a moment observed and captured by ancient civilizations on every continent.

    The magnitude of precise observations; the ability to erect structures whose only purpose was to capture a fleeting moment – should shame us all.  Most of us know Dec. 21 is the first day of winter; we hurry about knowing there are only a few shopping days till Christmas. How many of us stop to think that once upon a time civilizations thrived on understanding of celestial events. People who valued everything we seem to have forgotten.

    We can never be on ancient Orkney – we can imagine the thrill of revering our world. Stop for 5 minutes to gaze at the night sky, throw caution to the wind and learn to recognize a constellation or note the length of afternoon shadows. Listen to the wind, howl at the moon – I don’t care – just pay attention.

    Merry solstice to all, and to all a good night.

    Everything solstice by Deborah Byrd at earthsky….


    Vancouver Snowfall Warning

    Tired of waiting for official status, winter laughed at the sticky note on our calendars, December 21 meant nothing – who were we kidding, it was time to stir up a little trouble. This afternoon Environment Canada issued a snowfall warning for the Vancouver area.

    One would think this wasn’t a big deal; a regular occurrence in Canadian winters, expected and prepared for. Precisely the reason I chuckle every time it happens – it never gets old, so ridiculous is the frenzy that follows such an announcement.

    Vancouver isn’t like the rest of Canada – sensible people who buy winter tires, snow shovels, and possess the common sense to navigate snow covered roads. Vancouverites live in a state of denial, a fantasy world where all season radials suffice and a bag of ice melt miraculously evaporates the foot of snow on your sidewalk. Vancouver people somehow manage to buy cute little coats and matching paw covers for their Pugs, but can’t grasp a need for snow tires or shovels.

    As I write, the sound of snow plows rumble in the distance – barely an inch on the ground and it’s started already. This afternoon the radio announced several school districts were considering cancelling classes in the morning. If I didn’t have to work it would be fun to watch panic stricken residents fight each other for the last shovel at Canadian Tire, or scan the blocks long line up of cars desperate for snow tires.

    This isn’t a blizzard or ice storm warning – merely a predicted 5 – 10 centimeters of snow turning to rain by late afternoon. Granted, Vancouver weather tends to make for icy conditions; nothing to worry about if you have a glimmer of common sense – my favorite experience is ending up behind someone in a Range Rover who panics and slams on the brakes instead of taking a run at a hill. If I’m not in a hurry to get to my destination, watching cars over-drive conditions, sliding side ways into intersections is a guaranteed head shaker.

    Vancouver snowfall warnings are ridiculous –  the roads will be slippery – so slow down. I don’t know where these people think they live but it sure isn’t the great white north.

    If You Need a Chuckle

    I thought the woman who believed moving a “deer crossing” sign from the highway, directing animals to cross the road in a safer location was incredible – this little nugget gives deer crossing lady a run for her money.

    Anyone who missed “deer crossing”, click on the link below.


    Bill O’Reilly Says Christianity Is Not a Religion

    Wowza – please watch this video clip. Bill O’Reilly says Christianity is a philosophy not a religion. O’Reilly actually argues that Christianity, being a philosophy is exempt from rules governing freedom of religion. O’Reilly’s point of view sat me on my ass; those of Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist – name any faith – follow a religion, while Christians believe in a philosophy.

    Pondering this Fox News bombshell leads to several questions.  I would love to ask O’Reilly if  and when this “philosophy” will start paying taxes. If indeed a philosophy, why did he call David Silverman of American Atheists “insane” for then responding that Atheism was a philosophy. If a philosophy, how can it be the only true philosophy, and not be a religion. When did it become a philosophy – certainly not when the church burned philosophers at the stake.

    Bill O’Reilly tends to blurt out ridiculous justification for his points of view; I know that and avoid his venomous propaganda. The problem is – millions of Fox viewers take his word as the gospel. For every person who scoffs at O’Reilly, there are two more taking it hook, line and sinker.

    Man of the Year

    While at work the other night, a friend sent a text – in hind sight a rather mischievous one, as he knew I would drop my jaw. Time announcing Pope Francis as the 2013 man of the year didn’t sit well.

    “For pulling the papacy out of the palace and into the streets, for committing the world’s largest church to confronting its deepest needs, and for balancing judgment with mercy, Pope Francis is Time’s 2013 Person of the Year” 

    Time’s reasoning alone makes me bristle. Their statement declares – plain as day – that the Catholic church has until now has been sitting in an ivory palace. You don’t say? To continue; Pope Francis is being honored for “balancing judgement and mercy” – holy crap, am I the only one throwing up in my mouth?

    Truth be told – this ponderer was prepared to cut new Pope some slack. As self appointed masters of morality go, Francis presented himself as a whiff of fresh air. Silly me – his announcement of a committee to address issues of abuse; more accurately “education and counselling” for clergy incapable of keeping their hands off the choir boys – provided Bishops didn’t have to answer to anyone, made me gag. Way to man up Francis; that should be enough to stifle anguished children.

    In fairness to Francis – he didn’t ask for Time’s decision.

    President Obama, NSA leaker Edward Snowden, Syria President Bashar Assad, Iran President Hassan Rouhani, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, gay rights activist Edith Windsor and Miley Cyrus were the other finalists. Taking some solace in rising above Ted Cruz and Miley Cyrus does little to settle me down; despite picking up the pieces of my blown mind that Cruz or Cyrus were considered even for a second.

    Reminding myself Time is a media giant, one that prospers based on advertising worries me. Time executives deemed Francis the best cover story in terms of sales and ad dollars. Pondering what that tells us about society, look no farther than possible candidates Cruz, Cyrus, or Amazon founder Jeff Bezos – a close minded right wing fanatic, a vacant little twerker, and founder of a billion dollar empire – what’s so great about any one of them? In my wildest dreams, it eludes me how any of them made a lick of difference in the world – Pope Francis has millions upon millions of twitter followers; are “likes” and “followers” the new measure of a man?

    Looking at the list since Time started featuring a “person” of the year in 1927, I find a few odd choices. Controversial at the time, but not – in my pondering opinion – as blatantly absurd. Adolf Hitler in 1938, Ayatullah Khomeini in 1979 – strange choices, chosen by Time for their “news worthiness”, good or bad. Fair enough Time if that’s how you gauge your picks, and explain yourselves for doing so.


    I’m irked about Pope Francis because Time failed to make this distinction. On the heels of the Vatican’s recent announcement to create a committee for purposes of educating the clergy as to why sexually abusing children isn’t a good thing – an Inuit priest was under investigation for 80 counts of sexual offences involving children.

    Time – give credit if and when it’s due – otherwise, explain yourselves accordingly. Who knows, maybe Francis is the Pope to purge the church of pedophiles; he has his work cut out, and global job fair to organize once parishes are swept clean. A Pope who managed  publicly to de-frock sexual criminals would indeed be a worthy person of the year. Until then – Time’s choice strikes me as plain silly. Silly, as in a desperate attempt to appeal to fundamentalist hogwash.

    Plastic Ponder

    Sometimes I write opinions or stories I’ve pondered; other times, uninvited thoughts dance between my ears demanding attention. Happily brushing my teeth, thinking of nothing except curling up under the covers, I was assaulted with the concept of a world without plastic surgery.

    Imagine for a moment – no breast augmentation, tummy tucks, lipo – suction, nose jobs or face lifts. Muscle inhibiting Botox injections, eye lifts, teeth whitening, lip re-shaping, vein stripping, and laser hair removal – all gone. Ponder a world where beauty wasn’t a “standard” dictated by media and fashion houses. A world where people weren’t “flawed”, a place where armies of size 2 “fembots” didn’t greet you at every turn.

    Plastic conformity is so commonplace we hardly bat an eye – perhaps Botox renders the task impossible. Children’s beauty pageants are jaw dropping surrealism at its finest. Kids not old enough to tie their shoes, paraded across a stage in full make-up, tangerine spray tans forcing fake eyelashes and prosthetic teeth to jostle for attention. Little girls “coached”  to dance, gyrate and behave like pop stars. Mothers scolding them for not smiling enough, forgetting to make eye contact with the judges, or being overwhelmed by pressure. Misguided concepts of self worth before the little darlings even start school.

    Teenagers turn to cosmetic procedures to “fit in”, many companies request a “head-shot” when sending a resume, promotions go to employees whose photo will look pleasing on company web pages or facebook accounts. Only the “beautiful people” greet you in restaurants, bars and retail establishments. Any person hired for a position with public contact has to be aesthetically pleasing.

    Dentists used to do dentistry, now they whiten teeth and are licensed to inject Botox. The drop in medical clinic in my neighbourhood keeps patients waiting for an eternity for 5 minutes with a doctor – who then limits “concerns” to one or two – yet has a swanky cosmetic practice, advertising laser treatments and Botox solutions. Yep, that will make you feel better. A friend asked a doctor at this clinic for a pap test – he responded “we don’t know each other well enough for that” and ushered her out the door – my guess is he would have found time if her cervix needed a little Botox.

    Ponder a world without cosmetic assimilation; a world free to focus on merit rather than plastic perfection. Ponder a world without ever having the concept of surgical alterations. When I think of this world, I think of how beautiful “imperfection” can be. Trying to picture my grandmother’s face, her skin stretched like a tanned hide, or myself with breast implants is appalling. Raging vanity serves no purpose other than to further separate the haves from the have nots. Those who can afford “procedures” thrive, while those of meagre means better hope mother nature was good to them.

    Vanity is at the core of what makes us human. I wrote this post last year, referring to “vanity” as the point at which mankind truly arrived…


    Ponder a world without plastic people, a world exquisitely flawed, where ageing wasn’t viewed as an assault to the senses. Without face lifts or Botox, we could once again discover the beauty of years. Antiques are valued for their patina, people should be the same. Visualize beauty pageants replaced by blind interviews, or essay submissions – ponder “Miss Universe” chosen for her mind. Think of young women with self esteem; women spared grotesque messages that a D cup under a tight sweater takes them places. Imagine what we could accomplish if not inundated with  pressure to conform – pressure to become  plastic replicas simply because society has lost its mind.

    A world without cosmetic surgery is just the beginning. Far from being a serious suggestion – for fun, imagine an election where the candidate was never seen, only heard. Lets say a Republican running in Louisiana – debates, interviews all blind. Voters are saying – where has this person been, this is the person who can get things done. When the win is a landslide, their identity is revealed. Not wanting to offend anyone, I’ll leave images of race and appearance to your imagination. In a million years this person wouldn’t have been elected if seen.

    Mankind is stuck with several unfortunate qualities, there isn’t a lot we can do about vanity. That said – a world without cosmetic enhancements would be a far batter place. Plastic people are far from attractive; beauty is found in character and nuances, rather than desperate replication or sad attempts at cheating time.

    Photo by Arjun Bagga at Wetstreet https://www.facebook.com/Wetstreet