Saturday Singing

As odd as this sounds: growing up, everyone around me seemed to sing or at least play songs on their tape recorders. I'm dating myself, eh? Yes, I'm older than I look.

I like music, and so I picked up a fair number of songs about everything from springtime to world wars. In every language from Hindi to Hebrew, at that. I filled in some of the lyrics with what I thought made sense ("habuno-urenahaya-leeeeem,"), and bathroom-sang them blithely over the years.

It just occurred to me that I could Google the songs for the real lyrics. And zomg! 

Bruce Springsteen wrote Chicken Lips & Lizard Hips? Never Smile at a Crocodile is from Peter Pan? Johnny Cash wrote My Grandfather's Clock! So. Much. New Information. 

Google inspires heart-overflowing fondness when you've grown up in the pre-internet era.It's sad to think of a generation that'll take it for granted.

The Web

Did you read about that guy who quit the internet for a year? His tech job paid him to stay offline... and write about it. (In minor resentment over all my jobs doing the opposite, I won't link to his article here).

This guy says that even stripped of the internet, he didn't write a book, or travel, or do much (or any) of the soul broadening stuff on his bucket list. At the end of it all, he found the internet wasn't responsible for his procrastinating or anti-social behavior; he was.

Here's the thing. I know the internet isn't responsible for my laziness. Maybe it's partially responsible for my caring too much about other people's opinions - I'm exposed to them far more now. However, I don't use the 'net to procrastinate, I spend a fair amount of time in the real world, and I'm happier with a book than Facebook.

Overall, the internet & I are good. I recognize it pays me a lot. I admire its potential. I realize it's drawbacks. I spent a year recently with no internet access outside of work hours, and I can't say I missed it.

But if I lived in a world where I was paid richly to stay at home and work less than 8 hours a week... I'd, at the very least, jump at the chance to work my way down my travel wishlist; writing something, anything, even if a novel doesn't come out of it. This guy's a US resident, most countries don't even need him to pre-book a visa. He's single, so no worries there. And he spent a year going nowhere, and doing nothing.

Can you tell this story annoys me?

Allan Gardens

Six months into winter, you learn to appreciate this sight more. It's been a long time since I walked into a glass house and felt so awed.

Picture from Blog.To

Hard to believe it was two degrees and snowing outside. Fingers crossed for a snow-less May!

Great Expectations & Marketing

When I shop online for, say, travel...

I'd like the site to auto-populate the origin city based on my IP address. If I close the window while I comparison shop and come back to the site, I'd like it to remember and fill in my origin, destination and dates, based on the last search I did. 

If I don't convert in that session, I'd expect the site to follow me around and give me specific details on the search I ran, which may convince me to convert - a good price point, a discount code, a special offer.

I'd expect the site to figure out if I'm likely to shop online, and if so, if I'm a high value prospect, and decide how often they want to follow me around with the repeat messages, when they should show me those messages, and what kind of discount they should bother offering me. I want them to have the sense not to bother wasting their ad dollars on me if my past purchase behavior & profile show I'm just not worth it, or that they'll spend more than they'll earn from me.

People, even traditional marketers, are often surprised when I state these expectations, and it invariably sparks a debate on privacy. See, I don't believe any of that is an invasion of my privacy, any more than when a restaurant employee remembers my order because I've been there before, or tries to convince me to try the house special, or add extras to my order, or asks for my contact details so they can offer me discounts on my birthday and anniversary. 

As long as the restaurateur/advertiser is anticipating customer needs & staying one step ahead, everyone's happy.There's just no downside to smart selling, it's the good old-fashioned meeting of common sense and customer service.

As a consumer, I'm more insulted by businesses, both online & offline, which don't try hard enough (or smart enough - nothing like getting emails about a trip you researched for dates one week out, 8 months ago), than by those that seem to know all about me. 

Stranger than Fiction

A couple of weeks ago, Toronto had its worst snowstorm in years. A colleague who'd been planning a home birth made it to the hospital before the storm hit, and had a beautiful safe baby.

The same day, another colleague's paralyzed father took his first steps in more than a decade.

My roomie, who's been in a relationship through more than a decade of long distance, family drama, and more, got married. On. The. Same. Day.

Nor did the awesomeness stop on that day.

A friend who's wanted to please his ill parents by getting married found the person he wants to spend his life with. A childhood friend is getting engaged to another of our school friends.

And today, just when I'd burst at the seams with happiness for someone who's expecting her first baby (I wish I was home, I totally imagined our children growing up together!), I was sent a video.

People have videos of everything under the sun today, but this one was from '93, and it was so unexpected. I didn't know it existed, even. There were people & places in it who were such a big part of my childhood and have since passed away. I got to show my husband my dad's dad, and I realized, again, how my dad's & my enunciation, sound so much like his. It was nothing short of magic.

The Idiot & Her Box

After a long-drawn eight-months of 'I will not give Rogers more money!' I realized:

1. I could not stand turning my laptop on after work hours, not even to watch a TV show.
2. As a result I was making my way through one and a half books a day. My brain hurts a little, in retrospect.
3. It's no use trying to go out, it's too dark & gloomy for that.

So. We now have cable TV at home. If only I could figure out how to make it work. I feel like DeeDee from Dexter's lab. Too many buttons!!

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Husband 
To: Me
Subject: Want me to do this for you?


Tune & I were often unceremoniously kicked out of the ballpit at Pizza Corner, since we were clearly, according to the authorities anyway, too old for it. So I was delighted to drag my husband over to Travelocity Canada's ballpit at Eaton Center this weekend... adults only.

We had 30 seconds to find the gnome in the pile of 'snow,' and I managed to hold on to my title of 'Finder of Lost Things' and get to it first. Winners of each round won an #IdigtheGnome t-shirt. I magnanimously handed mine over to the husband, since I work for the company and get one anyway.

Other players (who don't work for the company that is :)) also got $150 off their next vacation. AND a sweepstakes entry with a chance to win a trip to Aruba and/or Nokia smartphone bundles. Sales patter aside, it was a lot of fun diving into clean 'snow' since the real snow's often been a slushy disappointment by the time it hits the ground.

... Most people are still amused by how pretty I find the snow anyway. I don't much care if it's brown and wet on the ground, it looks so fairy-tale like falling out of the sky! Toronto's not yet cold enough to be cold (though it's getting there), so I'm enjoying it while I still can.

First weekend of 2013

Sunrise... at 9am. I was out grocery shopping at 7, and at 9, the roads were still empty. I love the feeling of being awake while the whole city slumbers on... though this weekend, I think I'll enjoy slumbering right on, along with everyone else!

Met a college friend who moved here with her husband last week. We did a photography course back then, and she used to be one of my favorite models. Look how tall & gorgeous she is! (I'm wearing heels so I almost match up).

Her husband found me Priya Vadumaanga. If you haven't had this with curd rice in the summer, you don't know what you've missed out on. Completely made my weekend.

Had too much of a leaky nose to risk the pickle though. Made a huge batch of soup instead, and devoured it in between three laundry runs (the price of a long vacation - piles & piles of laundry).

Went out for dinner with a couple of people. They very generously offered to eat at a vegetarian place so I'd have more options...

... and then we went to an open mic night which had  some surprisingly good originals along with a bunch of mediocre to good classics rehashed. Though noone expected a rendition of The Phantom of the Opera. Definitely not standard karaoke fare, but so fun!