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Friday, 31 May 2013

We're Finally Doing It! And a Contest, Too!!

For a few months now +Steve Kovacs and I have been talking about a new business possibility. I've been his producer since the end of January for The Kovacs Perspective, and gradually this new possibility came to light. I think we both suggested different aspects of it, and one thing built onto something else, until we got to this particular evolution.

Steve does a bang-up job as host of his show, and we decided to start a new one, seeing as he already has a loyal following. This show, however, would be geared specifically toward promoting authors. Now, this is a fee-based service that gives authors exposure. I do the back-end stuff, Steve does the interviewing, and then we promote the heck out of it. We're going to offer varying interview lengths, of course, and we might even delve into doing trailers for authors, which is something new that has come up in the publishing world. We don't have that in place just yet, but it won't be difficult to implement.

On top of this new WebTV show, I thought I might as well do something useful, too. You see, I'm a pretty picky person, which is a skill that's useful when it comes to writing and publishing. It's useful for me because I hate making my own mistakes in my writing, and it's useful for other writers who are looking for someone to edit their work. The thing about editing your own work, is that we tend to skim our own words far too often. I know I do it myself, because I think I already know what's on the page. After all, I wrote it. So, when a piece is particularly important I have my daughter read it over. She's as nit-picky as I am. When it's someone else's work, I tend to find the mistakes very easily because I'm reading the words for the first time.

Next we have audiobook recordings. I've had music editing software for more than ten years now. I've upgraded a couple of times, of course, but I started singing and recording those many years ago and needed the software to do it. It occurred to me that, since I'd been a somewhat talented non-professional actor at one time, and I'm skilled at reading aloud (not to mention enunciating clearly and projecting to the back row when necessary), that it might be a good idea to offer audiobook recording services. I was a bit shocked when I found out that apparently publishers are dipping into their authors' royalties, forcing them to pay an average of about $4,000.00 for an audiobook recording as part of their publishing contract. Let's just say I'm happy to charge a heck of a lot less than that.

Finally, we have reviews. Yes, a paid book review. It happens all the time, actually, and most people don't realize it. However, being the hyper-honest soul that I am, our clients will be getting an honest review. In fact, if there's going to be an issue, and I won't be able to give a good review, I'll simply tell the client that it's not going to work out. I have my own reputation as a writer to consider. Not everyone agrees with everything I've ever said, and some of the things I say are controversial, but I never say anything I don't mean. As far as I'm concerned, my integrity is a part of who I am, and as such it's also a part of my writing. I will never be so greedy as to sell my morality.

Now, there are many other avenues to explore in this realm, and I'm sure I'll touch on them all as possibilities at some point or another, so don't be surprised if you notice more services being added all the time. The fact is, I've got a pretty busy brain, and I like to keep it that way. It keeps the rest of me out of trouble.

I just started the Twitter account for these services at around 4 AM, eastern. Thus far we have over 200 followers in just those few hours, so things are picking up quickly. I'll be advertising and promoting on a wide variety of platforms, but starting one thing at a time so as not to overwhelm myself in the process. Facebook comes after the Twitter push, and then it's on to other options.The thing about doing a massive promotion push is that it isn't strictly for us to get new clients. Once we have our clients, they need to be promoted, too, and it becomes mutually beneficial to cross-promote between us and our clients.

I guess I should let you know where to find us, though! The Kovacs Literary Perspective and Woodland Literary Services are interconnected, but they are still separate. Steve's part is through TKLP, whereas the rest of it is on me through WLS. Click on either of the links, though, and you'll still be able to get to the other pages as all three websites will have buttons for the other two. We're waiting for a domain transfer to go through on The Kovacs Perspective, so the new site isn't up for that one yet, but the other two are already cross-linked.

Oh, wait! I can't believe I almost forgot to tell you this! We're having a contest. I've been announcing it on Facebook and Twitter, and totally forgot to say anything here. If you go to TKLP's website, and then click on the WebTV Show button, you'll get all the details on how to enter the contest. What's the prize, you ask? Well, we're giving away a 15-minute author interview video, which we will not only promote like crazy just like we would for any client, but we will also feature that video on our web page for the entire month of August. Entries have to be in by July 1st.

I told y'all to stay tuned, didn't I? Well, it'll be worth it, I promise. Not only for my friends and followers who are writers, but for those who are readers. I'll see some new books before they're out, which means I can tell you about them as they hit the market. We'll have exclusive author interviews for everyone to see, and for the many people who are interested in the back-story behind the books they read, this will be an awesome feature.

There's one other thing I should say. As long as the books are written in English, we can make something happen. It doesn't matter if it's self-published, published through a traditional publisher, or if the book hasn't been published at all yet. It doesn't matter if you have an agent already or not. Publishing has various stages, and we can offer something for each stage. I'm going to enjoy this, quite frankly. I love to read, and then there's the picky part of me, so being able to read and edit isn't exactly a chore to me. Reading aloud in order to record is going to be a lot of fun, because it's been some time since I really gave my acting skills a workout. The written word is a passion of mine, obviously, or I wouldn't be doing so much writing of my own. I understand the creative process on an intimate level, and I can clearly see where the publishing world is going just from a business perspective.

So, follow us on Twitter @KovacsLiterary - it's easy enough to remember anyway. I'll be setting up the Facebook page soon, so I'll update everyone on that as it happens. New things will be happening on the websites, too, so make sure you follow us if you want to hear about the latest deals we're cooking up. After all, we're not doing this to get rich or anything. Of all the pricing I've been doing, I can honestly say that all around we're by far the most reasonable. I want to see good books reach happy readers.

You know, I'm looking forward to this so much that I think I'm just going to have to do a little happy dance.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

The Sad, Sick Workaholic is Tired and Fragile Today

I really have to force myself to take a break tonight, because I ended up working on two websites last night instead of relaxing. Of course, I just realized that I offered to write a piece for Feminspire tonight, but since it wasn't confirmed I just let the editor-in-chief know that I actually wasn't up for it. It might have been a good follow-up to the one I did on Rush Limbaugh's butt getting kicked by armchair activism, perhaps, but it might be better if they got someone else's slant on the current story pitch anyway. I have my own style and voice (I assume) when writing more serious stuff, and it would get boring for readers to read yet another one about the same topic from the same writer.

Both my editor and the main editor know my plans for my next piece anyway, which has nothing to do with that particular topic. I'm looking forward to delving into it, but not tonight and probably not tomorrow either. When it comes to deadlines, I generally write at the last minute. I was like that throughout school (yes, many years ago) and I don't see it changing now. It works for me.

The thing is, I'm just really tired of fighting and arguing today. A lot of what I write is controversial, and the comments can be harsh. I should probably take the advice of other writers and just stop reading comments. I write what I write with the best intentions generally, unless something really ticks me off, so some of the nasty remarks that come out of left field just startle me. Yes, I know there are a lot of crazies out there - welcome to the internet - and generally I can shrug most of the crap off my shoulders, but there are days when it's a bit much.

So, for sure tonight, I'm not doing a thing that's work-related. I want to have some fun. I've already done a bit of work as it is, including updates on a Wikipedia article to make it ready for inclusion. I can only hope I don't get inspired part-way through like I did last night, where I'm unable to resist the lure of, "Can I do that? Is it possible to make the site look like this, or having this functionality?" Most of those questions resulted in frustration for me last night, but at least I got the main bodies of the sites done. I should jot that stuff down on a list to do later.

If you're curious about my recent spate of work, you can now check out The Kovacs Literary Perspective and Woodland Literary Services online. They're simple sites for now, but they get the job done. The two sites and services are in partnership, yet separate, so I kept the look and feel similar, with slight changes. Soon The Kovacs Perspective will have a totally new look as well, but I'm waiting on a domain transfer to be completed. The website is uploaded and waiting for the domain to access the files. There are changes I'd like to make to that one, too, but for now it will suffice.

I'll get into the whole shameless self-promotion thing a bit more at another time, though. For tonight I'm off to play another old game, which is the sequel to the game I finally played this morning. This one actually has a ferret in it. That's enough reason for me to do just about anything!

Monday, 27 May 2013

A Night of Frivolity and Frolicking

I have decided there will be nothing serious planned for this evening. I'm going to play. I have a million things that have slipped my grasp these last couple of months, and I've been playing catch-up on a few of them. I've got a lot more to deal with, but for tonight I'm promising myself that no work will be accomplished. All work and no play turns Rain into a Drizzle, so I need some fun.

What constitutes a fun evening for me? Well, there are things I'd love to be doing that I can't do, seeing as they involve a second, consenting adult who is not related to me, and in my case needs to be the opposing gender. There are none at hand at the moment, so that's out. If you've read my blog at all, you know I'm just not the type to wander around picking up strange men, and by strange I mean strangers that I've never met before, not strange as in weird, because I don't mind a bit of strange there. It makes things interesting.

Beyond my perverted thoughts, let's see what comes to mind. Since reformatting I have put exactly one game on my laptop. I'll probably reinstall a few that I'm in the mood for. Probably some sort of simulation game where I get to play God. I kinda like that. I'm a bit of a control-freak in some ways - although I'm sure many people have already figured that out.

I'm not sure how I feel about watching a movie or two. That's another thing I'd kind of like to have someone of the opposite gender around for, too. Snuggling and watching nonsensical explosions, or laughing our asses off at a comedic moment, is one thing I miss about being in a relationship. I don't think I actually get lonely in the typical sense, but there are things I crave, admittedly. Of course, the problem that comes along with me is the fact that I do enjoy being alone quite a bit, but it's a question of finding someone who can tolerate that and doesn't feel as though two people in a relationship have to be together every second.

Then there's my ferret, Pepper. I'm thinking I might take him for a walk after most of the people have gone to sleep. I'll get stopped a hell of a lot less. Even at three or four in the morning I get stopped every time I take a ferret for a walk. People just go crazy over them, and they have to stop and talk to me. If I were trying to make more friends here, that would be a good thing. I'm not, but I still enjoy talking to them about my furry friends.

So, the night is young, and I have a few plans for enjoying myself. I guess that means it's time to shut up and go do them! Ah, middle-aged freedom...

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Focus, Feminism Foils, Facebook, and Freedom of Speech

I use a lot of F-words in my blog's alliterative titles apparently. Things like Feminism, Friendzoning, Fallacies, Facts, and possibly the occasional F**k, but I think I've actually kept things pretty clean. I'm not sure why that letter works so well for me, but let's get the "F" on with it!

I just had a conversation on Facebook a little while ago that I found intriguing enough to turn into a portion of my blog post for today. It wasn't a bad conversation, or rude. It was respectful and accepting, which is rare enough that it caught my attention based on that alone. Two women and two men discussing sexism and objectification in advertising - or that's how it started out anyway. We ended up elsewhere, as is often the case. Or, maybe the elsewhere was just in my own head. The destination ended up focusing on focus, I guess you could say. One of the men questioned why women weren't commenting on sexism in advertising if it was a problem, and why they weren't publishing things about it. I found that a little bit shocking, but then realized something vital about the whole focus issue. If it's not something that bothers you, and isn't a part of your daily existence, you really don't notice it.

Thousands of women are complaining, if not millions. Thousands of women, at the very least, are writing about it and publishing. I would know since I'm one of them. Mainstream media is a joke, and many of us are starting to see the punchline, but alternative media is still being missed. As I commented on the above-mentioned thread, people only see what they look for, and if you're a feminist you find feminist stuff. Further illustrating the point I mentioned being pregnant many years ago and suddenly seeing a whole bunch of pregnant women around me. There was no massive increase in the number of pregnancies. I just happened to notice them a lot more.

Millions of people go through their daily lives not seeing the vast chasm between men and women. They don't know that women make 7% to 18% less money for the same hours and same jobs. They don't know that 85% of domestic violence victims are women. It isn't a part of their routine, so it gets tuned out. Human beings miss a very large part of what is going on around them. And before anyone gets cranky and starts thinking I feel like my eyes are wide open, I'm no exception. I miss things all the time. I usually have no idea what the weather is like outside. I have absolutely no interest in it, unless it's a thunderstorm. There could be a tornado brewing and I'd have no clue. (Yes, we get them in Canada, too.) I have very little knowledge regarding what goes on in the city I live in - and I believe there's a good reason for that. I don't want to get involved or attached to Hamilton. I don't plan to remain here, so there's little point.

The damage, however, comes from people who don't see the damage being done, because they've never had it happen to them. This is where we find a lot of the women that work against feminism. Of course, there's often no way of knowing if this is actually done unintentionally, or if they're sell-outs to women everywhere. We're seeing it all the time, though, and it's beyond dangerous to women. In a recent broadcast Dana Perino stated that female victims of domestic violence should "make better decisions."

Now, that statement makes for a great meme on Facebook for feminists everywhere, and seems to make the case for her being anti-feminist. Admittedly, it's taken out of context. It might well have been a simple error, and merely shows thoughtlessness on her part. However, she sounds privileged, and it's clear she has no idea what she's talking about when it comes to domestic violence. In case you're wondering, she was referring to a situation where a woman was shot several times (fatally) by her NFL-player boyfriend, who then drove to another location and killed himself.

Then there are the Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann debacles. I could write books on both of their foibles, but I'm not going to get into a lot of detail here. Suffice it to say that they're not giving women a very good name. They both come off as, well, I can't think of another word besides 'moronic' even though I would like to be polite. I wouldn't care what their opinions were, except for the fact that they are very much in the public eye and are fanning the hate and making problems even worse.

One woman that seems to be despised by every feminist I've ever spoken to is Phyllis Schlafly. Now here's a rich vein to mine when talking about women who are against women. She has basically led the movement against women. She fought against the ERA, for crying out loud! The worst part is, she's a total hypocrite of the worst sort. Here's a woman who is literally an advocate against feminism. Of course, she also has a law degree. Hmm. How does she think law degrees became available to women? Seriously. Does she think that feminism had no hand in that, and that men just suddenly said it was okay for women to become lawyers? That's not the way it happened. I'm not saying there weren't men that were sympathetic once women started complaining, because without their help it might not have happened when it did. However, without the first waves of feminism none of the men would have worried about the issue as it didn't affect them. She wouldn't be where she is today, mouthing off against women, had it not been for the women who came before her. On a side note, she did take her husband's name when she married, but she also kept her own. But she's against feminism. You have to shake your head.

Of course, getting back to Facebook, feminists are now dealing with policies that ban pictures of women breastfeeding, and post-mastectomy pictures, but allow pictures that graphically depict violence against women. There are hate pages on Facebook that post absolutely brutal content. I know, because I've seen them. There's a picture of a man holding a female child's head in a toilet bowl, and the picture comes from a house of prostitution's Facebook page. The man is not 'helping her' throw up. Her head is shoved right into the toilet. That's violence against a child who is most likely a slave and underage prostitute. Apparently it doesn't violate Facebook policy, however. Neither, apparently, does the picture of the woman with the black eye that's captioned, "She only burned the bacon once," or the picture of the woman at the base of a staircase that's captioned, "Next time, don't get pregnant."

So, there's a movement going on right now to put an end to that. WAM! is a group that has an open letter to Facebook users, among other strategies, to combat this issue. They're appealing to advertiser by showing them pictures of their ad placement, where the ads have shown up alongside these horrific memes. Some advertisers are looking into it, some are pulling their ads, and some don't care. There's a list on their site of these companies, and where they stand. An open letter to Facebook was also published on HuffPost recently. The movement is gaining momentum, thankfully, and Facebook's complaints that they simply don't have enough people to keep up with the demand sounds ridiculous. How much money do they make again? They can't hire more people for this? The phrase, "Liar, liar, pants on fire," comes to mind.

People can yammer all they want about their First Amendment rights, but despite the fact that Facebook is a social media platform, it is not owned or controlled by the public or the government. First amendment rights don't apply to anyone except Facebook when it comes to the site. They are entitled to make whatever policies they want with respect to these issues. People are also entitled to decide whether or not they even want to use Facebook, and advertisers are entitled to decide where their ads are being shown. Most companies aren't going to care unless it starts affecting their bottom line, so this is where the armchair activists and boycotting public come in handy. If you don`t want to see women portrayed as punching bags and pieces of meat to be raped at will, have your say. There are many ways to do it, and this is one of mine.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Why I Want a Mac - PC Nightmares

I'm not sure how many people realize this, but Macs actually have very few problems with viruses. They can get infected, but usually don't. Every single time I come in contact with yet another malicious attack on my computer and have to reformat to compensate, I wish desperately that I owned a Mac. Hours of my life are wasted on this crap. It would be worth the extra money to have a decent computer, except that I don't have it right now. One day...

I just reformatted a couple of months ago, if that, but somehow managed to get myself attacked once again. I mean, when you use a PC it's bound to happen, so most of the time you just live with it. Most people have a few viruses on their systems without even knowing it, and the system seems to hum along just fine. Quite often nothing bad happens. Then you get the really nasty ones that completely take over everything. I might as well tell you about the one I just got rid of, because it was a terror.

It started out with not letting me download things. I was building the website for The Kovacs Literary Perspective, and I needed to generate a favicon (that small little graphic that appears on tabs beside the name of the page you're viewing - not all sites have them, but they look nice if they're there). I went to an icon generating site and kept downloading the favicon I'd created, but it was not appearing in my download folder. I thought it was the website at first.

It wasn't until I tried to log into my blog to respond to a comment that things started to get serious. Google was telling me I hadn't enabled cookies, which I knew I had, but I checked it anyway. I even cleared my cache and cookies, along with my entire browsing history. I had just set up the YouTube channel for our new show, and suddenly I couldn't log in anywhere on Google, using any log-in name at all. I thought Google was the issue, because they've had those problems in the past. So I figured they'd done some updating and there was a conflict with Firefox.

When I went on to Wikimedia Commons to upload some pictures for a Wikipedia page I'm updating, I kept getting booted out. That's when I thought it might actually be Firefox and not Google. I let it be for a while, but eventually got frustrated, so I caved and installed Google Chrome. However, I had to do it through Outlook's browser (yes, there's a browser in there, believe it or not) in order to download anything. I guess the virus caught on, however, because that was the last thing I was able to download through there.

Once Chrome was running I got an error message that they had revoked their own security certificate, which really ticked me off. At this point I still thought Google might be the issue, despite the Wikimedia Commons thing. I thought I had an anti-virus program running on my computer, but it turns out I had killed it the last time I had done a system restore. Oops. My bad. A friend suggested that it was a virus, and then another one made the same suggestion, but by that point I'd already caved to the inevitable. I was infected and I knew it, and the only sure cure was to reformat.

Worst of all it looks as though the website I built has some issues, so I'm going to have to have it fried by the hosting company. In the meantime I have to build a new one. It's a good thing the planning stages are done and it's relatively easy to deal with it. I should be able to have the new site up in a few hours. Thankfully the new site I've been building for the original show, The Kovacs Perspective, had been saved as a WinRAR file a long time ago, so I have it ready to go with only a few small additions to make. They were additions I was planning to re-do anyway, so nothing was lost there at all.

Well, now that I'm back online, and everyone is updated on my whining and woes, I really need to get back to installing all the software I use on a daily basis. This time I'm setting my own stupid restore point, and hopefully it doesn't disappear on me again. Of course, the first thing I did was activate my anti-virus software, and I've been updating it as I write this. I'm a little sick of reformatting at this point. I use so many programs on my computer that having to reinstall them all is a giant pain. Never mind configuring the seven e-mail addresses that I suddenly have now (soon to be ten or twelve), and synching up my calendar - thankfully my BlackBerry has a copy of that part.

Before I install a single program, however, no matter how safe it's purported to be, my anti-virus needs to be up-to-par. I'm not going through this again for at least another six months. If it gets to the point where I have to, I'm chucking this computer and selling myself on the streets for a Mac!

Friday, 24 May 2013

A Painful Lesson in Oppression

I was called out for making racist remarks the other day. No, I don't believe I was actually doing anything of the sort. I'm not going to get into the details of it, because it was a private conversation, and I believe there was simply a misunderstanding regarding my meaning (not to mention my intent). The fact of the matter is, I do not believe any human being is worth less than any other human being based on skin colour, gender, or sexual orientation. Truthfully, I've spent my whole life overcompensating for the behaviour of those who do. I will sometimes enter into a conversation to ask questions and to understand why something is considered oppression, because I really don't know, and for the simple reason that I would never want to be hurtful in such a fashion. I can't stop making a mistake if I don't know I'm making one.

As a writer I know how easily words can be misinterpreted, so I didn't bother arguing with the person about any of it. I simply said that I was only saying I had been wrong about something, and this was the reason why. Beyond that there wasn't any point. If the person had made their mind up about me, there wouldn't be anything I could say anyway. I've actually kicked people out of my house for making derogatory racial slurs, though. I don't let remarks pass that I know are oppressive. Being Caucasian means that I could be a bystander if I wanted to be, but I refuse to take the easy road, which was why I entered into that conversation in the first place. I wanted to understand as much as possible.

It never really occurred to me until that moment, however, that I would ever be considered 'The Oppressor" by anyone. It freaked me out more than a little bit, and I actually had a very hard time sleeping because of it. The conversation just kept coming back on me. I don't want to be the oppressor of anyone. Even fighting for equal rights for women, I don't want to oppress any men in that fight. I would actually like to free men from the struggles they face that are caused by a patriarchal system.

Still, I am part of an oppressive system, and have been responsible for questionable things without realizing that I was. My guilt (that I'm aware of) lies in cultural appropriation, despite an intent of respectfulness. You see, I love belly dancing, and all the things that go with that. I don't intend to stop belly dancing, either, and will start back up with it once I'm physically capable of doing so. However, I will restrict myself regarding anything that is of religious significance insomuch as I am aware of doing so. I belly dance in the privacy of my own home - I don't compete, and I don't even go out to take classes in it, although I might eventually do both of those one day. We'll see how things go once I've had both of my surgeries and I can do the more 'extensive' moves again.

This conversation did make me appreciate, however, the feelings of men who are constantly being attacked just for being male. I mean, if I'm assumed to be a racist by someone just because I'm white, it stands to reason that men are assumed to be chauvinistic/sexist just because they're male. Those assumptions aren't always right, obviously. They're generalizations that really shouldn't be happening, but I understand them. I'm kind of stuck in the middle, actually, because I'm seen as both oppressor and oppressed. Yes, I have unfair advantages in this world because I'm white, but I also have unfair disadvantages because I'm female.

It's like a total slap in the face, though, to be called something derogatory like that, and it's frustrating. All I want is to understand, and I wish people assumed the best of me, and yet I can't really blame them for not feeling that way. After a lifetime of being attacked for your skin colour, sexual orientation or gender, it becomes second-nature to be defensive about it. I've done the same with men and had to backpedal furiously when I realized what a jerk I was being. I try very hard to be as unbiased as possible when having conversations with people who aren't on an identical playing field, whether it's someone more oppressed than myself, or someone who is less oppressed. I don't always succeed, but I try, and I also try to learn.

Self-knowledge is the key, I think. You have to be willing to think objectively about your actions and admit to failure. I obviously failed to communicate my meaning clearly, which is a pretty sad thing for any writer to have to admit, but it does happen. All writers are improving all the time, and the more we practice the better we get (assuming we actually care about our craft). We don't start out being able to craft a perfectly-worded sentence or paragraph. In fact, I don't know if any of us ever actually achieves that. It doesn't matter what we write, or how we write it; someone is bound to come along who can do it better. The important thing is to strive for it constantly, and frankly that's what's important with respect to eliminating oppression. We have to do everything in our power not to be the oppressors. Other people can't change our behaviour, but we can, and it's important that we do.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Legal Shenanigans on The Kovacs Perspective Tonight

Okay, I think we're all pretty much in agreement that we're not particularly fond of all the back-door dealings of governments and the lawyers that play dirty pool. We have laws, and they're meant to be everyone, but guess what? They aren't! Big surprise, I know, but that's why you're going to love what we have in store for you on The Kovacs Perspective tonight at 9 PM eastern.

First off we have William Deane, author of Smooth Criminal: A One-Man American Crime Wave. He's going to be talking about David Riley, otherwise known as Smooth Criminal. Now, it's probably pretty obvious to you that this guy would have to be pretty infamous to have his very own nickname, but the story gets better. The man wasn't only a criminal, but he was a criminal released by the federal government to be used as a contract player.

Anyone with an ounce of common sense would assume that it's a bad idea to trust a criminal that is still incarcerated and has yet to pay his 'debt to society' as it were. However, to have the government trust this criminal to carry out nefarious deeds in service to the country, well, that just seems stupid beyond belief. However, this isn't that uncommon of a practice, apparently, and I find that to be more than a little bit scary. I'm definitely looking forward to hearing what Mr. Deane has to say on the topic.

Secondly we have Ellen Hughes, the author of Snakebit, who has spent her working life in and around lawyers. She's worked in a wide variety of positions in the legal profession, and it's not too surprising that she might have an interesting perspective on what goes on behind closed doors. Now, the problem with this profession has always been the whole attorney-client privilege thing, in the sense that we never really know what's going on. I'm not talking about straight gossip-type stuff. I'm talking about all the truly shady stuff. When you're legally protected from giving away any secrets about your own practice, it seems like it would be pretty easy to hide anything else that might be going on.

Not every lawyer is a bad lawyer, obviously. Some fight tooth and nail to get justice for their clients, whether they're defense attorneys or prosecuting attorneys - in the case of prosecutors, their clients would be the citizens of the town, city or state in which they work, as in, "The People Vs. Mr./Ms. [insert name here]." Anyone who has seen or read any of John Grisham's work, however, is likely going to be wondering about those shady side deals. Of course, all of that is fiction, and nowhere near as compelling as the truth sometimes. I can't wait to listen to Ms. Hughes tell us all about the things she's experienced in her career, and what people need to know when they're about to hire an attorney.

If you're looking for an entertaining hour, watching +Steve Kovacs talk to a couple of intriguing guests, you're in for a treat. Where do you find this wonderful show? Well, the best place to go is right here. If you have any problems with the feed, however, you can go here instead. We want to make sure you have every chance to watch. Again, we broadcast at 9 PM eastern, which is New York and Toronto time. Be sure to tune in. Being lucky enough to produce this show, (and choose the guests I might add,) I'm really looking forward to it!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Thoughts on the Oklahoma Tornado and Other Survival Stories

I don't have, or know, all the latest news. The last I heard was that 51 people were confirmed dead, and up to twenty of those were children. It was deemed at least an EF4 tornado, and potentially an F5, from my understanding, which is beyond devastating. When I lived in Edmonton a number of years ago, we had an F4 carve its path through the city. I was 16 at the time, and on my way to work. The bus never showed up, and I was left standing there with the wind and rain whipping at me, wondering how the hell I was going to pay my rent if I didn't get to work every day. (Yes, I was living on my own by then.) I had no idea there was a tornado going on until I got back home. By the time it was over, 27 people were dead.

This tragedy nearly doubles that, so far. There's no way of knowing right now what the final count will be. To the best of my knowledge they are still going through the rubble to remove the victims and survivors. One pretty amazing detail that has come out so far, however, is that of a teacher that gave her life for three children. They pulled a car from the wreckage to find three children still alive beneath the body of the teacher. I cry every time I see stuff like that, but truthfully it happens all the time. Another teacher at the same school shielded a number of children from winds of up to 200 miles per hour, and all survived. The article I link here was updated within the last half hour, and says there were seven children found drowned. There are varying reports on the number of victims that were children.

The thing is, heroism happens all the time, and it's everywhere we look if we choose to see it. Acts of heroism aren't always large ones, but to the person that is helped it could be the best thing that has ever happened to them. We saw it with the Boston Marathon bombing, where people ran toward the blast area to help the victims. So many people whose first instinct was to help. They ignored their own personal safety completely. Time and time again we see this behaviour.

People are not the horrors we like to think they are. Yes, the world has problems, and we see those problems promoted over and over. The 1% of the 1% of the 1%...if it's even that much. Out of seven billion people on the planet, that would make for about 7,000 people who are truly horrific. We see examples all the time in the politicians who spew hate messages and wouldn't step out to save their own mothers. We see nasty people that abduct and rape and kill. We see serial killers everywhere we look. In the US, which has a very high number of serial killers, there are approximately 25-100 active serial killers. It's impossible for anyone to say with any accuracy, however. Even taking that top number, that's only 0.000032% if my math is correct. We are not the world of monsters we've been conditioned to believe.

Evil may take many forms, but so does good. I'm not referring to evil in its biblical connotation either. I refer to it strictly in the sense of humanity's capacity to do evil deeds on their own. There's more than enough enough evil that occurs naturally, without having to resort to spiritual explanations for it. With the reading I've been doing lately, many new things are being discovered regarding the evil that humans perpetrate. I do a lot of studying on serial killers, and I try to keep as up-to-date as possible in my research.

The latest news is that there are three characteristics that create serial killers. The first is a very distinctive different in the actual brain, the second is buried in the DNA, and the third is environmental which is usually an abuse thing. We really are getting answers for the evil that walks among us. It's explainable. Hopefully they will soon be able to explain it enough that it simply won't happen. We might be able to create a serial killer vaccine even. Something that stops that one gene from ever forming. Of course, genetic modification has its own pitfalls and moral issues, which would take a great deal of time to sort out.

However, the fact remains that the really, really bad people of this world take up such a miniscule portion of the population that we have to stop saying that the world is going to hell in a hand-basket. It's not. I promise you that the good far outweighs the bad. It's a world worth saving. It's a world worth knowing. It's a world worth seeing for what it truly is.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Knowledge and Familiarity and the Four Worst Relationship Words

For some reason, in the pondering that took place during my usual nighttime wakefulness, I focused on the difference between knowledge and familiarity. I suppose it has to do with a conversational gambit between myself and a friend regarding our knowledge of one another's flaws. It was a joke, of course. Neither of us has flaws. Kidding - relax! It did make me realize something, though. I noticed that any flaws in people are quite often seen rather quickly, but it takes time to figure out whether you feel an acceptance or comfort with those flaw, hence the difference between knowledge and familiarity.

If you're not the type of person to be completely blinded by people, you're going to see their flaws right away if you spend any time with them. The first time it happens, though, you gain knowledge. After you've seen it a few time it simply becomes a part of them, and so you gain familiarity.

This doesn't just apply to flaws, of course. It applies to everything in your life. The first time you view an apartment, even, you learn its floor plan and gain knowledge. If you move in and live there for a while it becomes your home, but it take a while for that level of comfort to appear. We all feel a little strange for the first little while after moving into a new place.

Now, apply that to human relationships. With either friendships or dating it's a similar experience. You meet someone, you hang out for a while, you get to know them, and then they become familiar. This is highly visible when it comes to dating situations in particular. You can see someone and be instantly attracted, but is it really love at first sight? Maybe, but unlikely. In most cases there's no true knowledge of the other person yet, let alone familiarity to the point of acceptance, which to me is required for real love of any kind, whether it's friendship or a more romantic version. After all, if people haven't reached a point of acceptance, they're still hoping for changes. If you're hoping for changes then you love someone's potential and not who they are already, so you don't actually love them.

Even parents experience this with their newborn children. You can love your child right from the start, but you don't know them at all at first. They change so rapidly at that stage that there really isn't a way to get to know them. It may not be that they have no personality, but that it's just developing and switching on a constant basis, having a great deal to do with developmental needs at the time. Once the development slows down, a personality emerges. Once a child starts to talk, of course, that personality really begins to shine. It is still changing and developing, however, and some children turn out to be the exact opposite of what their parents expected them to be like. Kids who were constantly into things and would never listen sometimes end up becoming very self-disciplined, whereas kids who are 'good as gold' can end up getting into trouble all the time later on.

Sadly, a lot of parents never reach the acceptance phase with their children. It may be that they don't approve of the career they've chosen, or the tattoos and piercings they have, or it could be something more serious and more basic. Maybe their child is gay or transgendered. When I say that those things are more basic, I don't mean to say that it's silly or meaningless. I actually mean that it's at the very root of who a person might be. Your sexuality and gender-identity is a basic part of who you are, necessary and vital.

Of course it's also sad that most people don't reach the acceptance stage of familiarity in many of their other relationship, including the one with their spouse or partner. Nobody is saying a person has to like every single thing about their significant other, but for real love there has to be that acceptance.

I've found myself on both ends of the spectrum when it comes to relationships. For many years I was the one unwilling to accept. It wasn't until my most recent marriage (failed), that I found myself being the one who wasn't accepted. It was then that I saw how cruel it was to expect another person to mold and change themselves into something they weren't, and how painful it is to hear, "I just don't love you the way you are; you need to change." It's not usually said quite that way, but it's interpreted and felt that way.

It was within that semi-recent experience that I also learned to hate four words. (Not four-letter words. Those I find completely acceptable in daily living. Mouth of a trucker, don'tcha know - my apologies to truckers, as it was something someone said to me once.) Those four words were the result of lack of acceptance. I know, the suspense is killing you, right? What are the four words, you ask? They're, "We need to talk." I used to be a proponent of those words, but eventually the sentence became my arch-nemesis. Whenever someone says that, you just know that nothing good is going to come out of their mouths.

It isn't always a romantic relationship thing, because it could be your boss who's about to fire you, or your mother telling you she has breast cancer, but it's almost never a good thing. At least not in the tone of voice I hear in my own head. I suppose there are those who shout it out in restaurants like a, "Let's do lunch," sort of thing, or maybe a gossip thing on the phone, but it's somewhat the exception. With the serious look and tone, though, you know it's bad.

Following those words we often hear things that denote lack of acceptance from someone. One of those things might be, "Things aren't working between us. I really need you to stop playing computer games so we can spend more time working on our relationship." I suppose that may be more common for a woman to say it to a man, but I've had it said to me. However, there are a few things wrong with that whole discussion. One, if I'm playing games at my usual level, it's part of the way I live my life. Accept it or don't. Two, if I'm suddenly playing a lot more games it's because I'm avoiding something, which is most likely the relationship - and possibly I'm trying to sort out whether or not I even want to be in it. Three, forcing time to work on a relationship, well, means you're working on it and it's an obligation. Basically it boils down to deeper problems than what can be dealt with in a conversation that begins with, "We need to talk."

There are no absolutes there, obviously, because there are conversations you can have that will actually be helpful. I think it would be better just to tell someone, "I think we're drifting, and I think maybe the part I'm contributing is [XYZ] and I'm going to try to do [ABC]. What do you think?" Or, maybe not even talking about it at all and just doing it. I'm not qualified to give any kind of relationship advice, so I have no answers. Truthfully, I'm not even sure if I'm qualified to make goo-goo eyes at someone. I only know what I feel when I hear, "We need to talk." Somewhere in the back of my mind is the mocking little voice that says, "I can't love you the way you are."

Scarier, perhaps, is being on the other end of those words. Like a teenager who needs to confess that his girlfriend is pregnant, or a woman who needs to tell her husband she wants a divorce. You  have absolutely no control over the response of the other person who quite possible has the same reaction to those words as I do. If there was a way to avoid the fear of those words entirely, I think the answer probably lies in acceptance. If we know another person accepts us, hearing those words won't bother us because we won't be expecting a divorce or a criticism. We're loved. Saying those words won't bother us, because we know the other person will still love us after we say what we have to tell them.

Friday, 17 May 2013

My Delayed Introduction to the Feminist Movement


[fem-uh-nist] Show IPA
adjective Sometimes, fem·i·nis·tic.
1. advocating social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men.

2. an advocate of such rights.

Definition courtesy of

I grew up being told I was intelligent. As a child, beauty was not something that was emphasized, hence the schoolyard teasing I was subjected to for my weird haircuts and hand-me-down clothing that didn't fit right. I was physically tough, however, so I never had to face physical bullying. I was a tiny little thing to look at, but I was solid muscle from figure skating and highland dancing, along with some judo, gymnastics and ballet. To say that I was an active child would be a gross understatement. The result of all this activity is that on the occasions when I got involved in schoolyard fisticuffs, whether my opponent was male or female, I won with only a single exception. (It was a guy who tried to choke me to death, who was a year older than me, and then years later wondered why I wouldn't go out with him.)

The fact is, I had little to fear from males my own age, and since the abuse I experienced at home came from both grandparents it didn't register as being a gender-related issue. Of course, if I'd been male, I doubt my grandfather would have been 'interested', but I could be wrong about that.

In school I was in the enrichment program. We were the only kids in the school district that had access to a desktop computer, which was pretty cool. I learned my first programming lessons on that thing, which amounted to learning how to make text appear and move around the screen, but hey, at least I learned the basics (actually I'm pretty sure that was called "Basic" which later became Visual Basic - something I took about fifteen years later). I was teased about being in the program, of course, since the other kids weren't thrilled to be given a smack in the face about my ability to learn faster. Not when I wasn't one of the popular kids.

I'm sure there were kids who must have made comments about girls not being as smart as boys back then, but if there were they didn't really affect me. I mean, it's hard to believe them when there were just as many girls in the enrichment program as boys, so I probably just shrugged it off as being jealousy or resentment. They weren't able to convince me that they were physically any tougher, either, so I just didn't see a problem back then.

In high school I probably got closer to sexist issues when I took automotives. I liked cars. My original incentive was the fact that I had two trucks sitting in the yard at my grandparents' place that I thought it would be really cool to fix up. They were both Ford pick-ups. One was a '48 and the other was a '52. My grandparents had said I could have them, so they really were my trucks. I guess, technically, they were the first vehicles I ever owned. They just never ended up on the road - not unless someone else ended up with them and restored them. They'd have been worth it, I think.

In order to learn how to fix up those vehicle, I took automotives. I had a couple of guys tease me verbally, but I gave them shots right back, so again I didn't think a lot of it. Then one guy 'goosed' me with a wrench. I'd have to say my teacher's reaction was damn near violent. He wanted girls in his class, and he wasn't the type to sit there and do nothing when a girl got picked on in his class. At the time, I really didn't have a clue how rare that was. I look back now and think he's some kind of hero, and most people probably never even knew. I just thought he was doing what everyone did. I wasn't the only girl he defended, either. I heard stories many years later about other times that he protected girls from harassment and sexism. He was really trying to encourage young women to get into the field of mechanics.

It wasn't until I went to high school in Edmonton that I ran across a sexist automotives teacher. He actually smacked me in the ass. Not spanked me, but smacked me like it was a flirting thing or something. What is was, was assault, and I was shocked to the core. By this point I'd gotten away from those who had been abusing me, and knew that it was abuse, so I wasn't expecting to have to deal with it anymore. I was a child. I was fifteen years old, and this dirty old man smacked my ass. I thought of him as an old man then anyway. I don't really remember, but he could have been anywhere from my age now (almost 42) up to about fifty or sixty, so to me that's not exactly old these days. Perceptions change. However, he was certainly old enough to know that it was wrong to touch any student that way.

To give my step-father credit, he wanted to go into the school and deal with it, but I had already reacted at the time of the incident a little bit, so I didn't think it was necessary. My teacher never did it again, thankfully. He did make a comment that was sexist in nature when he had to do first aid on my hand (I had a big metal shaving in it - think splinter, but quite a bit worse), but another male teacher was standing there who sort of called him on it. Basically that left me with the impression that he was a one-off and it wasn't anything to get worked up about.

When I dropped out of school I worked with all kinds of men. I first did telemarketing for a long time, and had no issues there. The males were all my age, and I was good at my job. Nobody was hitting on me in an inappropriate way, and for most of that time I had a boyfriend anyway, so it wasn't really an issue. Then I worked in a kitchen. Most of employees out front were female, but since I had no restaurant experience I started as a dishwasher. There were both men and women working in the kitchen. I got a few jokes and stuff that was all about flirtation, but I was never offended. I was perfectly willing to fling back a challenging remark or a joke. It never occurred to me that my own behaviour might be unusual, but then it didn't really occur to me that there was an issue with sexism. At that age I thought the fight was over and that people had accepted women as equals.

When I left the restaurant my former boss asked me out. It surprised me, because I had no idea he was even attracted to me. He hadn't flirted at all - that I could see anyway. There were only jokes about him jingling his keys when he came into the dishwashing area, because I've always been very easily startled, and particularly when I had to do anything on a ladder, so that I wouldn't fall off. He knew I had a fear of heights, but the ceiling tiles still needed to be kept clean, and it was my job, so I thought it was pretty nice of him to give me the advanced warning. He did nothing inappropriate, and again when I look back I see how easily that could have gone a different way. When I quit my job, though, he called and asked me out. At first I said yes, but then I called back to say I just couldn't because I was in a difficult situation at the time. He accepted my change of heart without any issues.

I worked at other places with similar results. I went home from work with guys who liked me, and spent a bit of time with them, but they never pushed me into having sex. They treated me well, and respected my decision when/if I said no. I have never been date-raped. I have never been stranger-raped. My only experiences with rape come from my childhood and those who were supposed to love and protect me from those sorts of things. Men I've run into in my personal life have always treated me with respect that way. So, I guess it's not that surprising that I wasn't really aware of the big problems in the world outside of my own.

As I started to move up in my career I started noticing how offices always expected women to answer the phone, which really ticked me off. It's a minor thing for most people, but in my case I'm damn near phone-phobic. I actually can't stand the sound of it ringing. I end up hating a song if I use it as a regular ringtone. I do have one person who calls me, who has a particular song set as a ringtone, and that sound will make me smile, but any other time the thing goes off I cringe, and it doesn't matter how much I might love and care for the person on the other, I still cringe. I have actually allowed many calls to go to voicemail because I refuse to answer the summons of a ringing phone, even if I like the person who's calling. It's very, very strange, I know. I should probably seek counseling, but that would require the use of a phone to make the appointment when I don't even like calling other people.

So, there I was, getting paid about $20 an hour to be an accountant and do payroll, but having to stop in the middle of doing a complicated journal entry to answer the phone, while there were males in the office, making $10 an hour and doing nothing with their time. Yet, it was the women who were yelled at if the phone rang more than once. Hmm. Interesting place, I thought. I did snap at a couple of the men about it, too, and I think one of them might have been my male boss. To me it was such a ridiculous thing that it would even be a problem. Then they suddenly hired a man to do accounting and paid him about $14,000 more per year. I knew this very well, because I did the payroll. They hired a female accountant after him and paid her even less than what I was making.

Most times I've run into sexism my response has been an incredulous look, along with a very sharp, "Excuse me?" If I'm not as cranky it might be a more sedate, "Seriously?" I've always considered myself a feminist in the sense that I always felt men and women were equal. I still think that. I don't think they're treated equally, but that doesn't mean they aren't actually equal. Mostly I figured that once the 'old guard' moved out, equality would just be there with my generation or possibly the next. I'm starting to think that far too many people felt that way, because I started to see things slipping. Even worse we've now got the younger generation of males who call themselves MRA, Men's Rights Activists, and what I'm seeing from them is terrifying. In response to women speaking their minds, they're receiving death and rape threats. Suddenly equality doesn't seem to exist anymore. Then again, it never really has.

The fact is, and I just got into a small debate about this with someone on HuffPost, that the wage gap is still very much alive. This person tried to argue that the wage gap was non-existent now, supposedly citing a recent report from the +AAUW, a feminist organization, regarding wage gaps. To be honest, he was actually citing another article on HuffPost, and not the report itself. I went to the article, found the name of the report (called Graduating to a Pay Gap) in order to download it, and found out that the article was basically bogus. The facts quoted in the article, linking to the report, actually were completely different from what was in the report. Pretty scary, and very disgusting, considering the fact that it was a woman who wrote the piece.

I have now downloaded two other reports from the AAUW website, and just looking at them makes me sick and tired. The wage gap is still anywhere from 7% to 18%, and that's after controlling for things like number of hours worked, and the field these people graduated into. The first report also only centered on people one year after college graduation, and that leaves out the vast majority of the population. Of course, I now have plenty of fodder for a new article for +Feminspire if someone hasn't already done a piece on that particle thing (the fact that a bogus article that goes against women was written by a woman I mean).

I started to notice more things in the last few years. I noticed I was saying derogatory things about women, because I didn't consider myself to be like other women. Whether or not such a gross and stupid generalization is true or false, it doesn't even matter. If women are looked on as inferior, I suffer for that like any other woman. My rights are taken away just as easily. Thankfully I live in Canada and am not faced with some of the horrors women are enduring in the United States, but I'm still getting hit with unfair practices like wage discrimination. Things that are being practiced because companies are getting away with it. The person on HuffPost told me to name one company in North America that paid women less. Something which was ridiculously easy for me to do, considering my former employer. I didn't give the actual name, but could if pressed. I simply said it was my former employers, and that I should know because I did the payroll.

Now that I've noticed my own misogyny, I've hopefully stopped doing it. I had to realize that not all of anything is true. Using generalizations and sweeping statements is a habit that needs to be broken in most cases, because there are exceptions to pretty much everything. The fact is, most of the women I know are into cars. Supposedly that's a male thing. Yeah, not so much. Many of the males I've known don't know anything about cars. Being a certified mechanic is not a prerequisite for being a man. A friend of mine says he's the world's worst handyman. Meanwhile I love power tools, building things, you name it. Those are not the things that make up gender.

Sadly, I find the more I get into feminism, the more I realize that the patriarchy makes life difficult for men, too. If men decide they want to be a nurse they're ridiculed for it. If they don't know what to look for when shopping for a used car they get laughed at. If they carry their children in a sling with them, people make derogatory remarks (such as my former mother-in-law who apparently thought one guy was some kind of pervert for doing so - she also insisted that men didn't cook, despite the fact that there are world-famous male chefs that she watches on TV).

If women are derided for being feminists, men are derided more so. +Charles Clymer of Equality for Women, just has his reputation shredded on HuffPost in an article based on the rantings of an idiot. An idiot who tried to destroy his Facebook page and accused him of using the page to hit on women, when in fact I have never seen him do so. I've been following the page for a while now, and read the posts and comments for them. Going through my news feed on Facebook actually takes a lot of time out of my day because I'm constantly ingesting information. I'm not going to link the article, because quite frankly I won't give it that much credit. Apparently it was severely edited, but I also read the additional information that the article linked to, and it wasn't really any better. There were external reasons this girl felt she needed to mouth off, but being disinclined to spread gossip that can no longer be substantiated, I will hold my tongue on the details as I understand them. We'll just write her off as a nut-job and be done with it, shall we?

The more I started to involve myself, the more I saw. The more I saw, the more sensitive I became to it. I started to see that misogynistic jokes were harmful, not funny. The, "You know how women are," mentality pushes the notion that all women are the same and everything they do should be written off. That can work in the reverse for men, though. It takes responsibility away from an individual for their actions. Take, for example, a divorce case where a woman decides to be vindictive and everyone writes it off as, "You know how women are." How does that make it any better that she may have keyed the guy's car, set fire to his clothes, falsely accused her ex-husband of molesting their children, or what-have-you? That kind of behaviour is not what is acceptable behaviour in any person. I don't care what gender they are.

I haven't even touched on the physical cruelties of the world toward women. Yes, absolutely men have cruelties inflicted on them as well, and that isn't any less meaningful than what happens to women. I don't deny that in the least. Nobody should have their rights taken away. Nobody should be stoned to death because they've been raped. Nobody should be raped. Nobody should be beaten. It's simply a question of statistics. It happens to women far more often. When it comes the reports available on the Bureau of Justice Statistics website, one statistic is this: 85% of all victims of domestic violence are women. That doesn't discount the importance of the 15% that are men. It just means more women are hurt. More women die at the hands of men - often the men who are their intimate partners. Believe me, I've done scads of research there, so if you want to dispute me feel free. I can point you to the details if you're too lazy to look them up yourself.

Women have not even come close to attaining equality in this world. It took me far too long to figure that out, because in my own way I was sheltered. Maybe I have the kind of personality that kept a lot of people from trying to push me into a kitchen. Or maybe it's just that I was lucky enough to have to face very little of it. So little that it gave me a false sense of what the world is really like for women.

I did have to deal with the father of my daughter feeling like he had no obligation to provide care for his biological child, and wrote it off as a man thing; something that's totally unfair to men. Quite often men get the short end of the stick when it comes to custody battles. It's one area where women are almost unerringly given the benefit of the doubt. Again, totally unfair. It's something I have no problem with the men's groups for, if they're fighting for that, and I will fight right along with them. If a person is a good parent, they should have full access to their children. If a person is a bad parent they shouldn't have any access at all. Both parents should be contributing financially. It makes me sick to see anyone do otherwise, and I don't give a damn if it's a man or woman doing it.

However, putting women into the role of caregiver and relegating them to breeding offspring, is most likely the biggest cause of men losing custody of their children. Why? Because men are then relegated to the role of breadwinner and assumed to have no parental abilities aside from being a sperm donor. Equality will benefit everyone, not just women. Men will be able to have more access to their kids, and fewer heart-attacks and longer life spans from working fewer hours. Women will make more money, contributing more to the family so men can work those shorter hours, and they will be able to have some time for themselves away from being a mother if the men can have the extra time with the kids.

When it comes to rape culture, treating men like they're incapable of controlling themselves around women gives them a lack of self-respect and a lack of respect from society. If they think they're monsters, then it becomes okay to be a monster. If they think they're capable of being monsters, how can they look at themselves with respect? On the other hand, if they're responsible for their actions, they get their control back in their life. They aren't being controlled by their genitalia, but their brains. That seems like it would be a much better feeling, and the potential rape victims would be extremely grateful.

So, yeah, it took me a really long time to become a feminist in the true sense of the word. I never thought of myself as anything less valuable than a man. I didn't think of myself as a man either. I was simply me. I knew I had a brain; I knew I could learn to do anything I wanted to do, and have proven this many times; I knew I could become whatever I wanted to be. For some reason, though, it took me a long time to see that it wasn't the same for other women. I saw the women who were beaten by men and considered it a separate issue - one that I fought against, but not something I thought of as a feminism thing. It didn't occur to me that she was being beaten because someone thought she was worth less than a man was, and it didn't occur to me that a man being legally allowed to beat a woman meant that women weren't protected by the law.

As harsh as it is to see the world in all its detail, I'm grateful that I at least see it now.

There are none so blind as those who will not see ~ John Heywood 1546

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Nerve-Wracking Wikipedia Submissions and Networking

Okay, for the first time ever I have submitted a page to Wikipedia. Formatting is ridiculously complicated, for reasons I can only assume have to do with consistency. Info-boxes all have to look alike, references have to be cited in a way that stick all of them at the bottom of the page, every little fact has to be verified, and special characters are required to make thinks look the way they do. Characters that actually make very little sense to me, but they use a system that's somewhat specific to Wikipedia. As I was going through the tutorial documentation a couple of months ago, I remember they called it something, but for the life of me I can't remember the name of it now.

It hardly matters. The horror of my first submission is over. I'll need to go back and add to it as time goes by, because there is relevant information that really should be in the article, but I didn't have the proper sources and I wasn't about to put the information in without them. I don't want anyone to stumble around in my article, pulling out crap because it wasn't properly cited, and then making their own changes. If I do it right in the first place, no one will touch it.

I have always wanted to be a Wikipedia contributor, but never seemed to get around to it. I'd offered to do the page, however, so I had the motivation of a deadline and a promise to finally get off my keister and deal with it. Well, actually, that's the exact opposite of what I did. I actually had to plop myself onto my keister to do it. Thankfully it was already plopped, as it so often is, in my chair in front of my little mobile desk. I didn't have to go anywhere at all. I just had to focus.

The article has not been published as yet, since it had to be submitted for review first. That can take several days, apparently, so I'm glad I got done with my end of it a few weeks early. There's a rather large time cushion there now, for them to piddle away.

Considering the fact that I didn't feel like I had a lot of information that was properly sourced, I'm quite pleased with myself for what I managed to get posted into the piece. I managed to throw in a lot more detail than I had expected, and will have still more after I talk to a couple more people. I really thought it was going to be nothing more than a stub, but it's actually more complete than a lot of full articles I've seen. The person I was doing the article for is going to get a pleasant surprise this morning. I'm pretty sure he thought I'd never get it done. Or, he was just nagging me for the fun of it. He does that anyway, so it's hard to tell. I think toying with me has become a bit of a hobby, or something to do while bored - I'm not sure which. (No, I don't really mean it in any bad way. I just like to tease. It's how I toy with people. Revenge!)

Seeing as I was on a roll this morning, I decided to get the host form in for the show, too, rather than waiting until this afternoon sometime. The next one is about shady legal maneuvering, with some very interesting guests, but I'll fill you in on that a bit later. I always end up doing a blog posting about each episode, and sometimes even a before-and-after, so don't worry - you'll hear all about that later. Hey, it's bragging rights. I pick the guests for the show, and I think I've done okay so far as the producer for The Kovacs Perspective, so I like to flaunt a bit. Sue me. Well, don't, actually. I don't have anything worth suing for. I'd hate to see you waste my time.

In the last couple of days I've managed to get a few things off my plate, and have a few very interesting things happen. When I say that those things affect me career-wise, there's truth to it even when the things might seem more personal. The fact is, nothing I do is really all that personal anymore. It's all fodder. Fodder for blogging and writing articles. Then there's the fact that I'm technically networking at all times. It's not intentional, because I don't run around in the vast reaches of cyber-world just to latch onto people I think can be helpful to me. However, I meet people all the time. I make new friends all the time. The more friends I make, the more connections there are for networking.

It's not as cold-blooded as people might think it is. Most of what we do in life involves people. The higher you get in any career now, the more likely it is that you're going to find new employment through networking with your friends. They hear about things that open up, and they think of you. I mean, if you generally work as the CEO of a major corporation, you're not likely to find your next big position looking through the want-ads. It just doesn't happen. Have you ever seen an ad for a CEO? No? Didn't think so.

Just because you hear about things through people you know doesn't mean that you have to be using them, either. If you talk to the people you do because you genuinely like them, that's not using, that's friendship. If they're your friends they actually like being able to do things to help you. I'm perfectly happy to connect my friends to other friends when I think there's something that will be beneficial to both of them. I don't want to foist people off on the unwilling. I'm very, very uncomfortable with that. However, if an editor is looking for a writer, and I know a writer, I'm all over that. If they're looking for links to information about specific topics, and I know about things that have been written by people that I think did a good job, I point them to that, too. Both people get what they want and come away happy.

The fact of the matter is, everything that's happened in my life lately has been the result of bizarre chance that could loosely be termed networking. Doing research led me to +SearchWarp where I impulsively decided to start submitting articles. I made friends on the site, one of whom was +Steve Kovacs, who is the host of the show I now produce. I'd been writing for SearchWarp for about five or six month by the time we actually started to talk. When we did talk I found out he had a show, so I watched it. In the first show he mentioned something that I said, which had me laughing like a loon. He didn't mention my name or anything, thankfully. I'm strangely shy of publicity. Yes, I know that seems very counter-intuitive. Writing doesn't seem at all the same to me, though.

Anyway, it was right after I watched a second show, which was the second one he did after I started getting to know him, that he asked if I'd be interested in being his producer. Shocked the bejeepers out of me, and I did the texting version of a stutter (not uncommon for me). Still, I must have managed to stammer out an affirmative response at some point, because it all worked out. The fact is, I certainly didn't start talking to Steve because of his show. I don't think I actually knew about it until after we started talking and I finally saw his website.

The truly hilarious thing about doing the show, however, is that now he's mentioning me on the air by name. The thanks I get! Ha! I think my face was about three shades of crimson during the first show he did where I was responsible for the guests, from him talking about his new producer. To be fair, I think he's only said my name in one other episode, and for that I still get all teary-eyed, not red-faced. He dedicated a show to my ferret, Stimpy, when he died. It was totally unexpected, as you might imagine. Nobody has ever done anything like that for me before, and to have someone acknowledge so thoroughly how much I was grieving was really touching. Don't get me wrong. My friends have all been wonderful. This was just really special to me. +Len Azzarone, who runs the station and takes care of all the technical details, was responsible for pulling together the graphics for the dedication, so I wanted to mention him again for being a part of that. It was a really big deal to me, and still is.

It wasn't long after I started doing the show that I forced myself back into the Facebook world and started connecting with others who had similar beliefs and interests, particularly when it came to feminism and animals. I met a bunch of people, followed some pages, and ended up on +Feminspire's website to read an article. I really can't remember how I got there, or what the article was, but I liked the look of the site and thought I'd see if they were looking for writers. Obviously they were, as I was on the staff within a couple of days.

I've only been writing for Feminspire for a short time, but my latest piece for them has so far accumulated close to 5,000 hits. Every time I'm on the site I see that there were a couple hundred more. It's pretty amazing to realize that there are that many people who are interested in what I have to say. In case you're interested, the piece was about Disney changing the look of one of their characters (Merida from Brave) in a way that I, and many others, considered very negative. You can read all about it here if you like. A petition went around about the issue, one that I signed, and now Disney has removed the new pictures from their website. There was a fair bit of backlash, as you can see.

Now that I'm working for Feminspire, however, I may have connected with another writing job. If I hadn't starting working for them, I'd never have even known about it, so at the very least I've had the opportunity to apply. Again, it also forced me onto my keister to finish something, which was my writing resume. It was sitting there, half-finished, for a few weeks. Now, a writing resume isn't the same thing as a corporate resume, and I couldn't find a single decent example of one online. They all looked like a hot mess to me. So, I was futzing around about that until I finally had to do it. Now that it's finished, though, updating it is easy. I might make some changes to it, but the real work is done.

Again, I didn't start working for Feminspire to connect to another job, and maybe I haven't connected to that job, but I certainly don't complain when these things happen. It does boil down to the old adage of, "We reap what we sow." If I were a selfish jerk that was using people, they wouldn't be trying to connect me with other opportunities. I would be friends with the people I'm friends with, regardless of whether or not they ever advance my life or career. I'm too bloody difficult and opinionated to tolerate people in my life that I simply don't like. I'm open-minded and accepting of differences of opinion for the most part, but there's a moral line I draw. I'm certainly not going to cuddle up with a bunch of misogynists or animal abusers.

Well, now that I'm feeling all responsible and everything, I think it's time for me to go get some playtime in. Then it'll be bedtime, possibly, but I think that's a ways off. I'm feeling a bit too alert for that at the moment. I do want to make sure I get some sleep before it gets dark, because I want to take Pepper (another ferret) out for a walk tonight. The cold snap here is supposed to be finished today, and it does seem warmer, so he won't have to shiver himself right off of his stubby little legs. He does not like being cold. I've got an envelope, waiting to be mailed, stuck to his leash so I don't forget. I follow a Facebook page called Have a Gay Day, since I'm an ally, and they have stickers to help promote their website, which means I need to send them a self-addressed envelope. It's another thing I've been meaning to do for months now, so I thankfully managed to finally get it ready to go. Wow! I'm almost on the ball today!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Flowers, Finance and Happy-Dancing Feet

I had one verrrrry interesting day yesterday. It was so full of strange and wonderful things, that it's hard to know where to begin, so I guess the only way to do it is to be boringly linear.

First, I went outside. *gasp* I know, right? It's a bit shocking to those who know and love me, but every once in a while I meander from the safety of the confines of my apartment. Actually, the real shock is more that I went out during daylight hours...well, maybe that I was awake during daylight hours. Wherever your shock might originate from, I was awake, I was outside, and it was daytime. And it was spring! Sort of.

Lo and behold I saw tulips, my friends!! Red ones, yellow ones and purple ones. For some strange reason I saw a single, lonely white one, and occupied my mind for a time as to the reason there would be a single white one among the other colours. Suffice it to say I came to the conclusion that it was an accidental planting. There was probably a mix-up in the box of bulbs they got, and they never intended to plant that lone white tulip. I also had to wonder for a time if the person who planted the garden wasn't just a little ticked off when they saw the exact shade of the tulip. Had they seen it yet? Did they consider yanking it out?

Anyhoo, I completed my errand and toddled back to my apartment to resume regularly scheduled activities. The day appeared to settle back into its usual routine, but one never knows what interesting entertainments await in the land of social media. Facebook had a couple of surprises in store for me. The first was a conversation with someone regarding cutting-edge science. A woman commented on one of my posts that she only had access to because I'd tagged someone she was friends with. We were discussing a project that involved basically putting the consciousness of a brain into a computer, and it reminded me of another scientist. I asked if her friend was working with him, or had met him or talked to him. She had and did. Not only that, but the woman I was talking to apparently knew this scientist I admired.

A lot of people might not recognize the name +Ray Kurzweil but you really should Google him if you don't. He's the Director of Engineering with Google now, and the whole thing with the brains will soon be a reality from my understanding. I've been getting the Kurzweil AI newsletter in my e-mail for some time now, so it's probably not surprising that I would be happy to be talking to someone who has apparently known him for years. Most people have heard of Neil deGrasse Tyson at this point, who does +StarTalk, and that's about the level I'm talking about. Or maybe you've heard of Elon Musk, who started with eBay and PayPal, did some stuff with the space program (with SpaceX) and then moved on to create Tesla Motors, (which, by the way, is kicking some serious stock market butt from what I'm hearing). Richard Dawkins is another one you may have heard of.

However, if you haven't heard of Ray Kurzweil, you will be really shocked to find out everything he's done in his career. He's one of those amazing visionaries who people try to write off as insane or silly, and have then been proven right so many times that it's mind-blowing. I mean, nobody laughs at Walt Disney these days, do they? But they did, because apparently feature-length animated films would never fly at the box office. Right. Kind of like Mitt Romney calling Tesla an expensive government mistake. Right. And their share price is at what now? Of course, if Mitt Romney could make viable predictions, his political history wouldn't be such a disaster.

The next phase of my Facebook happenings led me to a possible writing job. No guarantees at this point, so I won't say a lot about it for now, but it has to do with writing about finance, and since I have massive experience in multiple areas of finance I'd like to think there's a good chance something will come of it. A little bit at a time, my writing becomes more than just a pipe dream. It has already become more than that to me personally, as I already feel internally validated in that respect. I write what I like to write, and quite a few people enjoy reading it, so even without a paycheque it doesn't get much better than that.

Getting paid to do what I love takes it to another level, and one that will validate my writing for others, perhaps, but it's certainly not the main reason I do it. I write because I have to. I can't stop. I've been writing for almost thirty years now. Yup. You read that right. I'm really, really old. Okay, I was twelve when I started writing and I'll be 42 in June, so maybe I haven't quite hit the winter of my life yet, but I'm not a spring chicken either. I've hit smack dab in the middle-age world, and it was kind of a cushy landing, because I just didn't care. I don't care that it might be weird for me to listen to hip-hop, or dance hip-hop for that matter. I'll do whatever I want to do, for as long as I'm able to do it. Dancing is one of those things.

I don't even care that I have injuries that are supposed to stop me from doing things. Other people can waste their time thinking strange thoughts about me, or judging me for not 'acting my age,' but that tells me more about them than it does about me. Those are some unhappy people. Me? I'm looking forward to doing a whole lot more dancing throughout the rest of my life. In fact, I have some very specific dancing plans. When my feet start doing a happy-dance, there's no stopping them, and right now they're pretty darn happy with just about everything. I just got an image in my head of Kevin James in the movie, Hitch, when he's showing Hitch how 'well' he dances, and he's saying very quietly, "You can't stop it, you can't stop it, you cannot stop it!" Hitch tries to slap some sense into him, but in the end, nope, you cannot stop it. The dancing always wins. If not, you can always knock 'em down with a good hip thrust!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Mother's Day Can Go Either Way

Many of you already know that I don't talk to my mother, and with very good reason, so Mother's Day could be a lousy day for me. It tends to be for kids who have been abused, because often it was either their mothers doing it, or the mothers were allowing it to happen. In my case it was the latter with an additional blame-the-victim game tacked on, so I felt my life would be much happier without that in it.

However, I'm lucky. I have a daughter who loves me, and who I love even more. Proper mothers do - it's supposed to be their jobs. Sometimes we have to be tough with our kids, and I doubt anyone can imagine me being a pushover as a parent, but all's well that ends well. My daughter and I happen to be very much alike, and she knows without a doubt that I would tear apart the whole world for her. A lot will roll off me like water off a duck's back, but anything against my child makes you my mortal enemy.

Being that kind of mother, and my daughter being the kind of person she is, means that we can have a Mother's Day where we say, "I love you," make, "Cut the mushy crap," remarks, call each other names like they're endearments, and then hug and go back to everyday life. Mother's Day doesn't turn into a big production, which would irritate the crap out of me anyway. As a mother I don't want my daughter stressing out about stupid things like finding a restaurant that has an available table. I might tell her she needs to change the kitty litter today. That would make my whole day, and the few days after... Impersonating a sardine in a sweat lodge, however...not so much.

Don't get me wrong - I told my daughter every single day that I loved her, while she was still in the growing-up phase. I hugged her every night before bedtime. I needed her to know what she meant to me, because I knew what it meant to not have that from anyone. Now that she's an adult, she shies away from that much affection, as is her right. She just isn't built that way, and I'm not either - at least I'm not when it's outside of some sort of romantic context. There are good reasons for that. However, while she was growing up I knew I needed to be a full parent, no matter how difficult my upbringing made that for me.

The quick explanation for that is, when you're brought up is such a way that you're either not touched at all, or you're touched inappropriately, normal physical affection with children is not easy. I had one guardian hitting me, and the other doing worse, or I had zero contact. There was no normal, in-between affection. So, I had to learn that in-between state in order to give my daughter a normal upbringing - one where love wasn't twisted and harmful, or non-existent. I swore I would break the dysfunctional cycle my family has been in for a very long time.

I did it. It wasn't that hard, really. I simply chose to never abandon her, never beat her, never molest her - none of which I had any desire to do anyway. The thought of any one of those was abhorrent to me, and makes me wonder why in the hell it was so difficult for the people who combined together in my life to raise me. Seriously! The longer I was a mother, the less I understood any of the decisions made by those people. The older I got, the more puzzling it was, and eventually they simply became pitiable people I had no wish for further contact with.

If I didn't have my daughter, though, I would despise Mother's Day I'm sure. I would have nothing but contempt for motherhood if I had never become a mother, because I would never have known about the mothers who truly love. I would  have no understanding for the friends who hurt so badly on Mother's Day because their mothers are gone. My second husband, actually, who I still call a friend (no, he's not the one I generally talk about as 'my ex' although that would be a descriptor I could use for him, too, I suppose), is one of those people. He lost his mother about a month ago. Right about the time I lost Stimpy, actually. I sent him a private message on Facebook, expressing my condolences again, because I knew it had to be hitting him hard today.

It was because his loss was so recent that I thought of him right away, and I saw he was posting Mother's Day stuff on Facebook. It can't be easy. Then I realized all the other friends of mine who have lost their mothers, or the friends I have whose kids aren't speaking to them, well, they have to be having a difficult day today. I hurt for them, because I'm lucky enough to have a reason to be happy today. I don't want to say too much to people, because I'm afraid to remind them and make them feel worse, but at the same time I feel like if I don't say something I'm being a thoughtless friend.

The fact is, if I'm actually friends with someone and I give them a good portion of my time, it's only because I think they're great people who are worthy of giving them that portion of my life. I don't waste my time on people who are not. I feel bad for the friends whose kids aren't speaking to them, with a side order of guilt because I'm on the end that isn't speaking to my mother. I don't feel guilty about her, but toward my friends. I want them to understand that I don't think of them as the kinds of mothers who should be written off by their kids. If I thought that about them at all, again, they would not be my friends. Some mothers are not worthy of their children, but then some children are not worthy of their parents either. My friends aren't in those categories.

Yes, I know, I can't speak in absolutes without being in the middle of the situation myself, but I feel I get pretty good glimpses of people when I talk to them every day for months on end. One friend runs a ferret rescue and I've known her for years. She's dedicated her life to giving. She sacrifices her health and every penny that comes her way. This is not a person who is a heartless taker. If she were, she wouldn't be doing what she does. I don't like to mention names when it comes to giving out personal details about people, so I won't start now, but people close to her will know who she is.

Another mother I talk to a lot is having similar issues, and I'll let her tell her own tale there. She's better at it than I will ever be. I just wanted her to know that these temporary issues don't diminish the fact that she is a mother, and was there every step of the way. One day those steps will be appreciated, hopefully. She also spends her life trying to help others. She is another giver. She shares her life with others so they may learn from the things she suffers through. She'll always be a mother, and she'll always miss her own.

And I have another friend missing a mother that made all the difference to a young life. One that made certain the right pathways were taken. I'm certain she knows she's missed. I'm certain she's very proud, because I'm certain she's responsible for raising one of the most decent people I've ever come across. Someone who was there for me during recent, painful times. It's hard to find any reason to celebrate when someone we love is gone. Maybe all we can do is congratulate them on how well they lived their life, and how well they did the job they chose to do when they decided to become a mother.

With some of my friends I don't know enough about their stories to know the ones they have about their mothers. I may know them in other ways, but not in that way. So, for those of you who have reason to love a mother, or be loved as one, Happy Mother's Day. For those who have yet to find a reason, I hope you find one, so Happy Future Mother's Day.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Should Be Cranky as Hell, But I'm Not!

When you have a screaming headache that isn't even relieved by the 'ultimate relief' Tylenol, your whole body hurts, and you feel sick to your stomach, you probably shouldn't be so bloody cheerful, but I am. I'm funny that way. Yes, funny strange, but also funny ha-ha if you're lucky enough to be observing my tendencies in life and laughing at me. Hell, I laugh at me, so you go right ahead.

I'm bored today, too, but there's nothing I really feel like doing. I actually hate those days, but somehow that isn't bothering me either. I should probably take advantage of the fact that there isn't anything 'I'd rather be doing' and use this time to get some things done - you know those things I put off because there are a million things 'I'd rather be doing' than oh, say, cleaning, organizing my books and movies, going through my voice messages in my Outlook inbox (my internet phone number sends me mp3 files I haven't looked at in a while), or maybe even getting some actual work done. I guess I'm not in the mood for that either, but I might just opt for a few of those pesky little tasks today because nothing else seems any more appealing.

I'm actually kind of surprised I'm writing this blog post, but I just felt so damn cheerful I had to! Must be a spring thing, although that should have happened weeks ago perhaps. I think my spring was delayed a bit. We had cold weather until a little over a week ago (this being Canada might have something to do with it), and I wasn't exactly having a great time of it there for a while, personally, so I didn't get that 'spring is sprung' feeling I get most years. Well, I think I'm being attacked by Spring Fever now, or I probably wouldn't be so damn happy. I suppose there could be another reason, but I'll let you know once I figure that out for myself!

Maybe I'm just antsy because there are a few things I would like to be doing, but can't for the time being. In a fit of Spring Fever I'd normally be dancing around the house like a drunken fool (sans alcohol), and that also occasionally brings on a cleaning frenzy - not every year, of course, but occasionally. This year I could sorely use a cleaning frenzy, but I'm not certain even the spirit is willing there. Have I mentioned my lack of domestication? Probably more than once, huh? I mean, I'm potty trained, but that's probably where it ends. No pun intended. Okay, okay, I admit it. I can cook. Happy? Actually, I just realized I have muffin mix (yes, I know, it's the lazy way - everyone's a critic). I just might have to make up a dozen blueberry muffins.

I've baked stuff like that from scratch, but I think it might actually be cheaper to buy the mixes now. By the time you buy the flour, sugar, eggs, milk, oil or margarine, blueberries (depending on whether they're in season or not), and baking powder or soda (I always forget which does what, other than soda being used for cleaning, too), you've spent a fortune on baking supplies. I don't bake anything often enough to use up a bag of flour, either. (See? Undomesticated!) I've actually had flour end up with things moving in it because it was so old. I have no intention of making that mistake again!

My daughter, her friends, and my friends, have all had major compliments for me regarding my regular meals, too - particularly my steak and my chili. The funny thing is, I don't remember ever doing anything particularly special with any of it. I don't even have a recipe for the spices I use in my chili, because it changes depending on my mood at the time. I cook until it smells right. Yes, I cook by the stench, otherwise known as the pleasing aromas of warming spices. My daughter used to ask me constantly what spices I used for making barbecue sauce (I make my own every time I need it) and I can never tell her. I just dump a bunch of stuff in until it tastes the way I want that particular moment in time. The next time I make it, it might be completely different.

I used to make a kick-ass spaghetti sauce, too, when I'm not so lazy I use store-bought. When I say kick-ass, let me quote an acquaintance who said, "It would burn the a--hole out of a dead skunk." To be fair, I was drunk the night I made that particular batch, so my taste buds were slightly anaesthetized at the time. Meaning, I wasn't tasting the spices quite as strongly as I might have under normal circumstances. I'm pretty tolerant of spices, though, so maybe not. Maybe he was just a wimp. Hard to say now, because that was a number of years ago - about twenty, I think.

For a person who is happily domestically-challenged, it's a bit strange that I've had people tell me I need to start selling my spaghetti sauce. I'm saucy by nature, though, so maybe it isn't as odd as I think. I'm good with spicy flavourings. I live a fairly sedate life, but there are some things that need a bit of zip. My mouth certainly has a bit of that, and I use it to flavour pretty much everything else - and no, I don't mean that I spit into my cooking. Again, quoting a friend, I have "the mouth of a trucker" so there's definitely some spice to me in that respect. I guess it's not so bizarre that my cooking might match it here and there.

My daughter is off to the store, and will probably come home with something edible, so I might be off the hook for doing any cooking today. She already made lunch, so it's a win for me! I can truly revel in the lazy mood I'm in. Looks like I'm in for more Alan Rickman tonight. We've been watching a lot of movies with him in them, as my daughter's on a bit of a kick. Today was Alice in Wonderland (the new one where he does a voice) on Bluray. My daughter ended up watching Dogma, which is a movie I have yet to see in its entirety, although it looks like it's pretty damn funny. I mean, George Carlin was in it. What could be better?

Last night I watched The Great Outdoors by myself, though, as it was brought up in a conversation last night and suddenly I had to watch it. First time I've seen it in years, but now I've got Land of a Thousand Dances as an earworm. Sadly I discovered that while the two main actors were/are Canadian, and they talk about Canadian stuff in the one restaurant they visit, the movie is actually filmed in California. The thing is, so many movies are filmed in Canada now, and the one you'd expect to be filmed here wasn't. It wasn't so hip back then, I guess. Hamilton, Burlington and Toronto (all cities in Ontario) are big draws now. I think it was Silent Hill that was done in Hamilton. Parts of X-Men were done in Burlington and Hamilton - I've been to Spencer Smith Park in Burlington and seen at least one of those filming locations. The Resident Evil movies - at least the first few - were done in Toronto.

I've lost track of the number of movies I've seen that were filmed in Canada. Not only is it probably less expensive, but we offer such a wide range of landscapes that's it's hard to beat it. We have everything from rattlesnake-infested deserts to glaciers to massive mountain ranges. Hey, it's a damn big country. What did you expect? We don't all live in igloos, dontcha know! Or eat whale blubber. And most of us don't go anywhere near baby seal hunts. Word to the wise: If you come up here in July, make sure you're not wearing a parka. You will not be happy to find that it's over 100 Fahrenheit some days, and your skis will just make ya look stupid.