Monthly Archives: February 2008

Why I love Christopher Moore

I’ve been rereading Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal and giggling all the way. I love Christopher Moore — I’ve read pretty much everything he’s written– but the following extract is such a perfect example of why I love his writing: it’s erudite, funny, irreverent:

“It’s form the Greek, sarkasmos. To bite the lips. It means that you aren’t really saying what you mean, but people will get your point. I invented it, Bartholomew named it.”
“Well, if the village idiot named it, I’m sure it’s a good thing.”
“There you go, you got it.”
“Got what?”
“No, I meant it.”
“Sure you did.”
“Is that sarcasm?”
“Irony, I think.”
“What’s the difference?”
“I haven’t the slightest idea.”
“So you’re being ironic now, right?”
“No, I really don’t know.”
“Maybe you should ask the idiot.”
“Now you’ve got it.”

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Read and ebook week 2008


Contact Information:
Rita Toews

(204) 661-2734


How “Green” is Your Reading Material?

“Carbon Footprint”, “Environmentally Friendly” and “Green”. Have you considered these words when it comes to your reading material?

We’re encouraged to buy, use and dispose with the environment in mind. While it’s easy to recognize the negative impact of excess packaging and chemical content in many of the products we purchase, it’s not so easy when it comes to books, magazines and newspapers.

We do have alternatives other than paper for our reading material. Many books, newspapers and magazines are created electronically. No trees are cut to produce them. No ink is used to put the words on the page. No fossil fuel is used to run presses or trucks to move them around the country. Heated storage facilities are not required to warehouse e-books until they are shipped to bookstores.

March 2nd-8th, 2008 is Read An E-Book Week.

It takes 24 trees to produce a ton of printing paper, the type normally used for books, 12 trees are harvested for a ton of newsprint. Up to 35% of books printed for consumers (down from nearly 60% several years ago) are never read. They are used for window dressing in book stores, and eventually returned to the publisher for disposal in landfills. Given that a mature tree can produce as much oxygen in a season as 10 people inhale in a year, a serious alternative to paper books, magazines and newspapers needs to be considered. That alternative is e-books.

Before purchasing your next paper book, magazine or newspaper, consider your carbon footprint commitment. Read electronically.

Read An E-Book Week, March 9-15, 2008

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Root canal and music

About ten years ago, every time I’d go to the dentist, I’d end up fainting or close to it. The fear and stress built over the years and it came to a point where I just couldn’t stand it: even the thought of going made me break into sweat. The problem was, I needed a lot of dental work, and still do, probably due to the fact that I could not drink milk when I was a baby.

Then I discovered a book that pretty much changed my dental life: The Mozart Effect: Tapping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind, and Unlock the Creative Spirit.

The Mozart Effect was one of the first widely read books about Music Therapy, a form of “treatment” with great claims: using music can cure cancers or help kids to learn better, among other things. While I can’t attest to any of those claims, the American Music Therapy Association was founded in 1998, schools have grown across the States and Europe (where it originally started) to form music therapists, and music therapy is used in nursing homes, schools, hospitals, even with psychiatric patients.

What changed my life are the very short few paragraphs in The Mozart Effect about using music to counteract pain, especially pain from a surgical operation or dental work.

Part of the stress in a procedure is the noise. Think of nails screeching on a blackboard. The sound of the drill (the big knubbly one, that makes your entire body shake, or the high-pitched one, that brings a scent of burnt enamel with it) in your head. The surgeon’s words, the suction sounds, the… (shudder). You get my drift.

The principle of music therapy as applied to surgical and dental procedures is to counteract this noise by filling your head with music instead of harmful noises. The theory is that your head is a resonance box and that the bones of your head also conduct noise, especially the bones in your ears. Music competes with other noises and acts as a form of white noise.

There are a couple of requirements in listening to music for that purpose: the music should be without words or with unrecognizable words, and preferably classical or special music therapy music (think spa music). The first is because words hold emotional connotations and what you want to do in part is remove that emotional field. A specific song might evoke sadness, wistfulness, or specific memories which would interfere with the white noise effect or intensify your stress. The second is because you need music that has a lot of vibrato, such as cords, that will resonate in the bones of your head. I found Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Gregorian Chant, or meditation music ideal for that.

Does it work? You bet. Everyone who’s used it that I know now swears by it. My dentist is always happy when I plug myself in. The latest specialist I went to for a root canal (upper front tooth) was quite amenable to me listening to my own music. It’s become more and more acceptable, and last year I used my music during a surgical procedure with the surgeon’s encouragement.

There were several immediate benefits for me when I began to use music at the dentist. First, I can start listening to my music as soon as I leave the house, and find a zone of calm that helps with the overall stress. Second, I feel less during the procedure, in part because I can focus on something else but also because I do hear less of the noise. And third, the pain after everything thaws out is minimal. Gone are the days where I needed drugs for several days to counteract the pain. Because I’m much more relaxed, I can absorb whatever pain a lot more easily. Overall, that means a much shorter recovery and healing time.

And you know what? It sure beats the Muzak-type drivel I would have to listen to in the dentist’s chair. So in this case, it’s no pain, and all gain. I’ll take that any day, even if it’s all in my head (well, duh).

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2007 Word of the Year

The American Dialect Society (founded in 1889) voted subprime as the word of the year for 2007.

Subprime is an adjective used to describe a risky or less than ideal loan, mortgage, or investment. Subprime was also winner of a brand-new 2007 category for real estate words, a category which reflects the preoccupation of the press and public for the past year with a deepening mortgage crisis.

Contrary to the Academie Française, the Dialect Society, comprised of lots of word people such as linguists, librarians, writers, and grammarians, do not judge whether a word should enter the English language. They simply note the appearance of a “new word” that is being used often and in different ways. For instance, a worker would say “I subprimed that project”, meaning that it came out less than best. Here are some other words the ADS felt were worthy of mention, with the number of votes for each word:


  • WINNER subprime, an adjective used to describe a risky or lessthan ideal loan, mortgage, or investment. 79
  • green– prefix/compounding form Designates environmental concern, as in greenwashing. 9
  • surge an increase in troops in a war zone. 1
  • Facebook all parts of speech. 11
  • waterboarding an interrogation technique in which the subject is immobilized and doused withwater to simulate drowning. 1
  • Googlegänger A person with your name who shows up when you google yourself. 7
  • wide stance, to have a To be hypocritical or to express two conflicting points of view. When Senator Larry Craig was arrested in a public restroom and accused of making signals with hisfoot that police said meant he was in search of a anonymous sex, Craig said it was a misunderstanding and that he just had a wide stance when using the toilet. 2


  • WINNER green– prefix/compounding form Designates environmental concern, as in greenwashing. 43/59
  • bacn Impersonal email such as alerts, newsletters, and automated reminders that are nearly as annoying as spam but which one has chosen to receive. 14
  • celebu– prefix Indicates celebrity, as in celebutard. 13
  • connectile dysfunction Inability to gain or maintain a connection. 5
  • wrap rage Anger brought on by the frustration of trying to open a factory-sealed purchase. 39/55


  • WINNER Googlegänger Person with your name who shows up when you google yourself. 84
  • boom An instance of a military explosion in the phrases left of boom, which describes the US military’s efforts to root out insurgents before they do harm, and right of boom, which describes efforts to minimize attacks with better equipment, systems, and medical care. 1
  • lolcat On the Internet, an odd or funny picture of a cat given a humorous and intentionally ungrammatical caption in large block letters. From LOL + cat. 20
  • tapafication The tendency of restaurants to serve food in many small portions, similar to tapas. 4 ó


  • WINNER Happy Kwanhanamas! [Kwanza + Hanukka + Christmas] Happy holidays! 63
  • ruther Someone who espouses a conspiracy theory about the events of 9/11. 5
  • vegansexual A person who eats no meat, uses no animal-derived goods, and who prefers not to ave sex with non-vegans. 35


  • WINNER toe-tapper A homosexual. Senator Larry Craig was arrested in June for an encounterin a public restroom in which toe-tapping was said to have been used as a sexual come-on. 70
  • nappy-headed ho An expression used on the Don Imus radio show, and repeated by the host,about the women’s basketball team at Rutgers University. 27
  • make it rain To drop paper money on a crowd of people, especially in strip clubs, nightclubs, or casinos. 2


  • WINNER human terrain team A group of social scientists employed by the US military toserve as cultural advisers in Iraq or Afghanistan. 60
  • shmashmortion/smushmortion Abortion. 8
  • va-j-j Also va-jay-jay or vajayjay The vagina. 30


  • WINNER green- prefix/compounding form Designates environmental concern, as ingreenwashing. 70
  • global weirding An increase in severe or unusual environmental activity often attributed toglobal warming. This includes freakish weather and new animal migration patterns. 3
  • Super-Duper Tuesday Feb. 5th, the day 23 US states will hold primary elections. Also knownas Tsunami Tuesday. 1
  • wide stance, to have a To be hypocritical or to express two conflicting points of view. WhenSenator Larry Craig was arrested in a public restroom and accused of making signals with hisfoot that police said meant he was in search of a anonymous sex, Craig said it was amisunderstanding and that he just had a wide stance when using the toilet. 13
  • locavore someone who eats food that is grown or produced locally. Nominated by Dick Bailey.13
  • texter a person who sends text messages. 5


  • WINNER strand-in Protest duplicating being stranded inside an airplane on a delayed flight.31/74
  • Billary/Hill-Bill Bill and Hillary Clinton. 1
  • earmarxist A congressman or senator who adds earmarks–money designated for a particular person or group–to legislation. Coined by the blog Redstate to refer to Democrats. 32/2
  • quadriboobage The appearance of having four breasts caused by wearing a brassiere that is too small. 40/19


  • WINNER subprime Used to describe a risky or poorly documented loan or mortgage. 65
  • exploding ARM An Adjustable Rate Mortgage whose rates soon rise beyond a borrowerís abilityto pay. 10
  • liar’s loan/liar loan Money borrowed from a financial institution under false pretenses,especially in the form of a ìstated incomeî or ìno-docî loan which can permit a borrower toexaggerate income. 1
  • NINJA No Income, No Job or Assets. A poorly documented loan made to a high-risk borrower.34
  • scratch and dent loan A loan or mortgage that has become a risky debt investment, especially one secured with minimal documentation or made by a borrower who has missed payments. 2
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Doom and Gloom

I stumbled upon (with Stumbleupon) They Warned Us… a web page that counts down the end of the world according to the Mayan calendar. In fact, it’s actually the end of the “Long Count”, which falls on a winter solstice in 2012.

Regardless of what the calendar is about, I’m amazed that they were able to predict, 2300 years in the future, when a winter solstice would fall. What’s also amazing is that they calculated time backward to place themselves at a certain point during that calendar. The start of it was the birth of their deities, the end of it, well… the end of it. Nothing would exist beyond that date. No dire predictions: beyond the winter solstice 2012, time would cease to exist.

dictonWhether it’s the Maya or Nostradamus, worrying about events that may or may not happen seems to me kind of futile. There are so many events we need to worry about now, in our private life, our family, our community, country, or the world, that it’s hard to think about the world ending based on Mesoamerican counting.

I’ve decided not long ago that there is room in my life for worrying, but not bitching. If I worry about something, I want to feel I’m able to do something about it (even if it’s only a very small something, such as my contribution to reduce global warming). If I’m not able — or willing– to do something, then all this worrying turns into self-pity or egocentrism, which is definitely not attractive.

I recently realized that an acquaintance, for reasons I can’t fathom, loathes me. I worried about it for a week then mentally shook myself: was this person worth me doing something about it, like confronting him? After a bit of soul searching, I realized that whether he liked me or not had and would never have an impact on what’s important in my life and that the fact that I was worrying about it was more about self-indulgence than real feelings. I was not prepared to confront him because he is not really part of my life, except very minimally. So, off with his head. He’s gone.

Now I have room to worry about my father-in-law’s hip operation and whether I should go spend a few days with my mother-in-law to help her with the house.

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