Monday, March 3, 2014

Who knew Planned Parenthood were so kinky...

I'm always glad when I hear about government funds being used for sex education, it's such an important thing for young people to learn about, but I have to admit that I was a teeny be surprised when I found out that the government is now funding educational videos to teach teenagers all about the joys of safe, sane and consensual BDSM [link].

Oh Planned Parenthood, you kinky buggers.

Okay, maybe that's a bit misleading.  It's not like the government specifically gave Planned Parenthood a bunch of money with the instructions "Why don't you go and make some videos about whips and chains and spanking and all that stuff that the young people are into these days".  It's just that Planned Parenthood is funded by the government, and they just happened to make a video that they posted online.  So some people are getting a tad worked up about it.

You know, in the "gather the torches and pitchforks and let's burn the heretics" kind of way.

Given that this is a rather delicate topic, and we're talking about impressionable youth here, there has naturally been a lot of concern about it.  How dare Planned Parenthood teach kids about how to have enjoyable, consensual, well informed, kinky sex!  Surely we should be pushing the good old "If you have sex before you're married then you'll get pregnant and die, even the boys!" method of sex education.  After all, it's worked so well for us in the past.

That was sarcasm, in case I wasn't completely clear.

Personally, I think that they're being a bit naive.  Do they honestly think that the average 16 year old doesn't already know more about this stuff than they ever will?  Anyone who's spent more than five minutes on Tumblr ... the natural habitat of the teenager ... will be aware of just how much kids know about naughty rumpty pumpty kinky stuff.

Seriously, it's full of things like that.  Pictures, stories, essays, all from teenagers who are both fascinated by and well educated about the details of BDSM.  I'm sure that most them could put a Dominatrix with 20 years experience to shame if they put their minds to it.

And they don't just know about the mechanics of it, they're also terrifyingly well versed in the psychological aspects.  Planned Parenthood might say "It's all about building trust", but your average 16 year old could probably write a 200 page thesis on the topic, along with examples, comparisons, diagrams, and a rather captivating fanfiction story using Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as the main characters.

So if you're worried that Planned Parenthood is somehow going to corrupt the youth of today with their incredibly benign video, you really shouldn't.  That ship sailed a long time ago.

Monday, February 24, 2014

It was just like Dead Poet's Society, but with a lawnmower...

The other day at work I had one of those worlds colliding moments.  I was having a meeting with a project manager and I saw the name of my old high school English teacher on one of his project plans.

I think we all had that one teacher in high school who was just plain cool.  You know the one, who treated us like the adults we wanted to be instead of the kids we really still were.  For me it was this guy.  I still remember what he said to us on our first day of class, basically that he'd treat us like adults as long as we behaved like them, and that anyone who wasn't interested in being their could leave, he didn't care.

No one left, and everyone turned up to all of the classes.  Of course, that might have had a little bit to do with the fact that at least three quarters of the girls in the class had a crush on the guy, but still.

It turns out that he's now a bit of a rock star in the education field.  Generations of kids who were taught by him, all having gone on to various fields, all willing to step up now and help him with his programs and projects.  Apparently that's what a lifetime in education gets you, an army of well placed minions ready to do your bidding.

And good for him, he totally earned it!  He was definitely one of the best teachers I had in high school, and I'm sure a lot of kids would say he was the one teacher who made a difference in their lives.

But if I'm honest, he wasn't the most influential teacher I had.  That honour goes to someone who wasn't even a teacher.  His name was Big John, at least that's what we kids called him, and he was the gardener at my primary school.  

He had a shed in the main courtyard where he kept all his tools and his workbench, and when he wasn't mowing the grass or trimming bushes, he used to make us kids little presents out of scraps of wooden board and old greeting cards.  I still have some of the little wall hangings he made me, and I'll always treasure them.

I think the reason we all loved him as much as we did is that, in a place full of teachers and administration and other adults who all seemed to just be there to scare us or judge us (at least that's how it seemed to us), he was just so completely accepting of every kid in that place.  We all knew, instinctually, that he was a good person and we were safe while he was around.  He'd let us sit with him while we ate our lunch, or stand around in his work shed (which was really just a carport type affair with a door that they closed up in the evenings) and watch him make things.  We all knew that wherever he was was a safe space.

He understood us, and we all felt it.

I read on a message board a little while ago that he'd passed away, and I can't say I was surprised.  He wasn't young when I was in school, and that was more than 30 years ago.  But the sheer number of comments on that post from people who remembered him overwhelmed me, all of them talking about how much they'd loved him.  

There were a lot of teachers in that school, but I think Big John was perhaps the most influential adult in the place.  We were all lucky to have known him.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Does Fernando sound like a good name for a narwahl to you...

I think I've found what might be the cutest kid present idea ever.

Imagine this, you take a drawing done by a child, send it to this website [link], and they makes a stuffed toy based on it.  How awesome is that!

I'm always completely in awe of arty people like that.  How on earth do they do it?  I can barely draw a straight line even if I'm using a ruler, there's no way I'd be able to scrabble together enough artistic ability to make a toy based on a kid's scribble, let alone make it look that good!

Is it wrong that I want to draw one myself and send it to them to get made?  I think if I did it would be of a spaceman narwahl, complete with astronaut helmet.  I'm not sure how I'd go about hugging him, what with the horn and all, but I'm sure we'd work it out.

At least I would if I had the faintest idea how to draw a narwahl spaceman.

Seriously though, I think this is one of the cleverest gift ideas I've ever seen.  What a wonderful thing to do for a child, showing them that you value their imagination and creativity.  It's definitely a step up from "Lets stick your picture on the fridge", that's for sure.

But why on earth did I have to find out about it AFTER Christmas!  I could have saved a lot of present shopping angsting if only I'd known about it earlier.

Isn't it always the way?

Note:  I'm not getting compensated in any way, shape or form for writing this.  I just thought it was really REALLY cool.  I mean, come on, who wouldn't want that purple stuffed dog by the little five year old girl!  I totally would, and I'd call him Henry McWoofington.  He looks like a Henry, don't you think?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The end of an era, not to mention the most delicious potato feta balls ever...

Just around the corner from where I live there's a cafe.  They make a good breakfast, the staff take the time to get to know their regulars and learn their orders, the parking is great considering the location on a busy main road, and they have a nice little table just the right size for me stuck away in a back corner.

Is it any wonder that I quickly became a regular?

Every Saturday morning I find myself here, sitting at my regular table with my regular breakfast and my laptop in front of me, just killing a few hours before going to do the grocery shopping.  They know my name, bring me my breakfast without me having to ask for it, and the manager seems to have an almost supernatural instinct about when I'll need a top up on my diet coke.  Sure they may have a tendency to forget the butter, but nobody's perfect.  In almost every other respect they are a good, reliable cafe.

Or perhaps I should say were.

They've changed hands!  My regular cafe has changed owners and now it doesn't look like my cafe anymore.  I walked in this morning and there's grass in the outside dining area.  Grass!  Sure, it's fake grass, but still.

And the menu has changed.  My usual order isn't on it anymore.  Sure, I was able to order something that was an approximation of it, and it was nice enough, but the toast wasn't the same and the potato feta balls had been replaced with normal hash browns.  God I'm going to miss those potato feta balls.

But the worst betrayal?  My table is gone.

The old owners had about half a dozen tables set up in the small inside eating area and I'd always pick the one in the back corner where I could just sit for hours and not get in anybody's way.  But now they've replaced it with an enormous table for ten.  How on earth am I supposed to write without feeling self conscious if I can't sit with my back to the wall?

I kind of feel like I've been evicted and nobody bothered to tell me.

I know I'm being unreasonable.  Things can't stay the same forever.  But I'm just feeling a bit displaced at the moment, sitting at a brightly striped table out on some rather unrealistic looking Astro-turf.

I suppose I should try looking on the bright side ... maybe these guys will remember the butter.

Monday, February 10, 2014

I think Germany might be trying to give Putin a conniption fit...

I made the decision to boycott the Winter Olympics this year.

Not that it's any great hardship for me.  I'm not exactly known for being a sports fan.  People at work are always talking about football or cricket or soccer, but I can honestly say that most of the time I have no idea what they're going on about.  Hell, when people ask me what my favourite sporting competition is, I always ask if Celebrity Poker counts.

But if I was going to watch something, the Winter Olympics would probably be it.  After all, they've got ice skating.  And bobsledding.  And the one where the guy on the skis goes really fast down the hill and then jumps at the end.

And who doesn't love the one where they jump at the end?

But this year I decided against it.  I've got far to many friends in the LGBTQ community to feel right about it given how Russia's been acting lately, so I scratched it off my TV watching schedule and decided to indulge in a couple of weeks of "How Clean Is Your House", "Escape To The Country" and "Auction Hunters".

In other words, my usual viewing schedule.

But a part of me wishes I was watching it, if only to see just what Germany is going to do next to thumb their noses at Russia's anti-gay stance.

First they chose a lovely rainbow motif for their opening ceremony uniforms [link].  I know that the official stance is that they're the colours of the Olympic rings or something like that, but I don't think any of us are actually buying it.  Lets get real here, you don't pick a uniform that makes your team look like they just got back from Mardi Gras without knowing what sort of message it's going to give.

And then yesterday the couples figure skating team opted to do their routine to Glee's version of "Le Jazz Hot", a song from Victor/Victoria that was sung by a woman dressing as a man so she could pretend to be a cross-dresser.  And they opted to use the version sung by a gay man who plays a gay man in what some people would argue is the most gay friendly television show ever [link]!

I have to say, Germany, that's some pretty impressive underhanded shade you're throwing there.  You get the award for being the most passive-aggressive little buggers at the Winter Olympics.

Bless, you make me proud of my German heritage.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Parenting win or fail? Either way, this guy's just plain awesome...

Parenting is a strange concept, isn't it.  It's like "Here, have a human being.  Try not to kill it before it's old enough to get a job, would you?".

Still, most people seem to manage okay.  At least so it would appear given how many of us actually make it into adulthood.  Of course there are your parental nightmares, the ones who shouldn't be allowed to look after a blue eyed kitten let alone a kid.  But for the most part parents just seem to be people trying not to let anyone else know they don't really have a clue what they're doing.

And then there are the ones who take parenthood to a whole new level.

Take this guy for instance [link].  This is what I call a parenting win ... or a parenting fail, I'm not really sure which.  Either way, he's my new hero.

I mean, what sort of evil genius comes up with the idea of torturing their kid by waving to the school bus dressed in a different costume every day just because their kid didn't want them coming out to say goodbye?  I've heard of some pretty good ones before, picking the kid up from school wearing pajamas, the use of mortifyingly sweet nicknames, etc, but this is some top notch humiliation.

Of his many and incredibly varied costumes, I have to admit my favourite is the wedding dress.  I bet it was his wife's and she had no idea he borrowed it.  Can't you just imagine the yelling later on when he came in?  "What the hell?  How did grass stains get over the hem of my wedding dress?  God damn it, Dale!  What did I say about wearing my dresses!".  The toilet was pretty good too, although it worries me a little that he just happened to have a spare toilet bowl lying around.

I do have to wonder, though, what a grown man was doing with so many different costumes.

And just what exactly was he thinking when he put on that Little Mermaid outfit?  Those shells don't cover anything!

Monday, February 3, 2014

I think I've found Nemo, he's on my desk at work...

I've worked in an office for almost twenty years, and if there's one thing I've learned about cubicle dwelling, it's that you need to personalise your space.

Hang up pictures, scatter around little toys and novelty items, that sort of thing.  Hell, you can even decorate your computer monitor (mine is surrounded by polished stones, all blue tacked in place) or hang wrapping paper to disguise the fuzzy cubicle walls (I chose a bookshelf motif ... well I do work in a library).  It's all about making the place your own, considering how long you have to sit there every day.

But if there was one thing on my desk that always made it feel like mine, it was Snitchy S Snitchington III.

Snitchy was a siamese fighting fish who lived in a small bowl on top of my filing cabinet.  For well over two years he was my office companion ... at least he was until he went into a gradual decline that ended in a six week death scene where he lay melodramatically at the bottom of his bowl and waved a fin feebly above his head.

What can I say, I like my fish to have a sense of the dramatic.

Even Snitchy couldn't last forever though, and eventually he blurbled his last, and was given a 21 flush salute in the upstairs ladies bathroom, as was his due.  He was a good fish, and he was definitely missed.

But after poor Snitchy's demise it was like I was cursed.  Sushi McFishsauce, Sir Bubbles Glubbington, and Monsieur Poisson all followed in quick succession, but for some reason it never seemed to go very well.  Sushi was gone within a couple of weeks, Bubbles within a couple of days, and I don't think Monsieur Poisson even made it to his first lunch break.

I still have no idea why.  I wasn't treating them any differently to Snitchy, but none of them survived for very long in what was quickly becoming known as "the fishbowl of death" by my oh so caring workmates.  Obviously I wasn't meant to have another fish after Snitchy, so I gave up.  There would be no more fish at Kellie's desk.

At least, that was until this week.

At first when I brought Catherine & Heathcliff in my workmates were worried.  I'd already killed three fish (four if you count Snitchy), did I really want two more on my conscience?  But they quickly got on board when I explained that I don't have to feed them, clean out their bowls, or flush them when they inevitably shuffle of the fishy coil, because they're not even alive.

Robot fish!  Can you believe the things they can do these days?  They're actually children's toys, but I got some for my nephew's birthday and I couldn't resist.

So now I have a couple of robotic clown fish happily bobbing around on my desk, and the only thing I need to do is change their batteries every now and then.

At last, a pet care chore that even I can't screw up!