Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hippie Healthy

I don't want to alarm anyone, but I may be turning into a hippie.

It all started with the olive leaf. I'm still taking it, in small doses, working up to the recommended daily amount, but it feels like something's changed. It could also be age, the possible onset of perimenopause or overexposure to lawn mower fumes.

I found hemp protein at the Organic Market and thought I'd give it a try. Soy is purportedly bad for the thyroid so I'd rather avoid it. I read that some soy isolate powders are processed using hexane - an Erin Brockovich chemical! Gross!

Hemp seems to be an amazing super food. It has all essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, fiber, and it has the right type of branch-chain amino acids, the right ratios, blah, blah, blah... all good stuff - super good.

So far I've used it in fruit smoothies and as a "pesto" sauce on pasta and I love it. As I sit here writing this, I could be cramming blondies down my gullet but I don't want any. I just made them yesterday and they might as well be dirt clods.

I am trying to limit sugar overall and it's true that the less you eat it the less you crave it, but I'm not off it altogether.

The PowerBars, Kashi bars, etc. are all loaded with sugar, as are my beloved almond butter-honey sandwiches and the blondies I just made (I used xylitol instead of sugar, but they have butterscotch in them). But I'm no longer craving cookies & doughnuts like my life depended on them, which sometimes it does. Seriously.

I should add, I've not been drinking for some time - it's too expensive here and I haven't felt like it. Avoiding booze cuts out a ton of sugar & toxins right there, so that's always helpful.

It's like my body is weaning itself off anything unclean or unhealthy. Not going full-on vegetarian, but I'm eating less meat and I feel good. I think I'm feeling better than I have in a while.

Better energy, clearer thinking, and a reduced desire to pick fights with customer service reps. It's still too soon to know what might be going on, but I'm enjoying it whatever it is.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

NOW I Get It

Sometimes I tune into Canadian News, especially when I want to really relax before getting some sleep.

I walked through the room as they were chatting about the deficit Canada is racking up, referring to Canada as a "banana republic."

Hadn't heard that in reference to Canada before, so I Googled "Canada banana republic" and found a number of results (after scrolling through the Gap-related links) to news articles where Canada is frequently referred to as a banana republic for myriad reasons.

Now it's all making sense. Soon after we got here I had to take my car to Canadian Tire to get the Provincial inspection for registration and insurance. I wore my red Banana Republic t-shirt - the one that says "Banana Republic" on it in white letters.

It's a great shirt. I like wearing it and have often worn it when taking care of Canada-related business, like when I've had to go down to Customs, or ICBC, or the Social Insurance office. I figured wearing red might subconsciously help me get better service. Funny, eh? But seriously, I think it works.

But as I was leaving the auto shop that day, the manager sarcastically called over to me, "You know, I HAVE been out of the republic before!" and I smiled and said "Great!" not knowing WTF he was talking about.

Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Now I'm going to wear that t-shirt everywhere.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dear Graduates

My niece Elizabeth graduates high school in a couple of weeks, which got me thinking... What would I tell a high school graduate?

The sunscreen IS important - that's a good one - but don't go loco with it. A little sun isn't going to kill you, but the cocoa butter and the spray bottle might.

But really... what have I learned in almost 25 years since I graduated high school?
  • Always lean over the sink when you brush your teeth.
  • Similarly, if you drink coffee, avoid wearing white shirts.
  • Always blow your nose when you get out of the shower. Always.
  • Girls, always keep a tampon in your purse, bag, backpack, car - everywhere. Also, always have quarters on you.
  • Hide a $20 or $50 bill somewhere in your wallet where you can't see it. You never know when you might need emergency cash.
  • Make a few sets of spare keys to your apartment and leave them with friends. If you end up out on the town too drunk to remember where you lost your keys, you'll have someone to call to let you into your place.
  • If a weird guy (or girl) thinks he's coming home with you after a party and gets into your cab even though you've told him no dice, jump out of the cab a few blocks from home and run like the wind. He'll never find you.
  • If you must cut your own hair, use photo references - lots and lots. Try to refrain from busting out the clippers. That won't turn out well.
  • If you must vandalize your place of employment, admit it immediately if management busts you - it'll go a long way to helping you keep your job (ifin you want to keep your job).
  • Don't smoke pot with your boss. Things get weird.
  • If you end up passed out at a friend's house (or dorm room) and puke in the bathroom sink, have the courtesy to bail it out before you sneak off. It's OK to bail it out the window if that's your best option.
  • Dry wheat toast and V8 is an excellent hangover cure.
  • Take road trips. Often. By yourself and with friends.
  • Live alone as soon as you're ready. For girls, never live on the ground floor, always go up.
  • Go to parties by yourself and if you're nervous, assume the identity of a Martian on a fact-finding mission.
  • If you don't have a power drill, use a small nail to pound a pilot hole, take it out, then soap the screw (dry bar soap) and it'll go right in.
  • Before you move, spackle all the holes you pounded into the wall.
  • If you have an annoying neighbor living on state disability for a bad back, sneak some photos of him using a pole saw to prune the large tree in his front yard.
  • If you manage to get yourself arrested, do not sass and do not call anyone in uniform a Rookie.
  • If you have no idea what you want to be when you grow up, welcome to the world - most people never figure it out, but they usually find something fun along the way.
Good luck, Graduates!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What Are Words For?

Words are critical. Words help me make a living. Words are one of my most favorite things. It pains me when there's a lack of words. Important words. Words like: "Note: rinsing the espresso machine will take approximately [time duration] and require approximately [number] of tank refills."

Yesterday the espresso robot told me it was time to decalcify. OK. I don't have any such solution on-hand, but I pushed the button to decalcify simply so the message would go away and I could move on with my life.

It went through its paces and then told me it was time to rinse the machine. I checked the manual and this is what it says: When the descaling cycle is completed, close the knob. Rinse out the tank and fill it with fresh drinking water. Press the button to confirm the rinse cycle. Open the knob. The machine will start rinsing. When the rinse cycle is completed, close the knob and load the circuit."

Nowhere does it say how long it will rinse, how much water it will use - nothing more than exactly what it says above. All the machine says while it's rinsing is "Machine is Rinsing." Informative.

I don't want to tell you how many times I refilled that tank and switched out Pyrex cups full of fresh water, or how long I stood there doing it, because I'm still feeling so stupid, I can't even describe how stupid I still feel.

And I can't tell you how long I did this because at one point I blacked out from blind rage and hopelessness that I would ever go back to living a normal life, a life not spent tending the insatiable water needs of a rinsing espresso machine.

I will tell you that I used up BC's water supply for the rest of this year and probably broke even on the cost of car insurance (we don't pay the water bill here ;). She may not be decalcified, but she's been rinsed better than any water-using machine ever invented since the dawn of man.

Would it have been SO difficult for the Saeco people to add one line of copy to the manual, telling me it might only take ONE TANK of water to rinse the machine? That I should just let the tank run out and that would be that? Would that have been so hard?

I still don't know if that's really how it works. When I've rinsed the machine before and the water tank runs out, it tells me to refill the tank so it can keep going - and it keeps going for quite a while until the machine tells you "Rinsing Complete."

There's absolutely no information in the manual that tells the user what to do or what to expect. How thoughtless and half-ass. It's more like whole ass. It's just a few words. Simple, clear, helpful words.

It could be a total coincidence, but today I didn't feel like having any coffee. I made a pot of tea. I have no taste for coffee at all. I don't know if it'll ever come back.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Steroids Shmeroids

As I sit here writing this, with an ice pack tied onto my left shoulder with a dish towel, I realize that if I had easy access to drugs that might help stave off age and rebuild muscle & tissue, I'd be scarfing them down like delicious little doughnuts. Chocolate-covered miracle doughnuts...

I read an article a while ago in Elle Magazine about steroids in track & field, how easy it is to get on them and stay on them.

They profiled a sprinter, Kelli White, who resisted for many years until she learned that all the agents treat their sprinters like horses, deciding amongst each other who's strong/fast enough to compete in which races. Some runners won't get the chance to compete, based on an agent's decision.

A talented, successful athlete, she was desperate to make a living and compete in races she knew she could do well in. She agreed to try "supplements" from Balco. She talked about running faster and harder than she'd ever run before, and how quickly she could recover after grueling workouts.

After reading that, I better understood how someone could go down that path. If I could feel that good when training and recover twice as fast, I can't say I wouldn't do the same thing.

Especially now. I've been a distance runner most of my life (off and on) and as I get older, it takes twice as long to get back into shape and twice as long (at least) to recover from harder runs or strenuous workouts.

And during this past weekend I injured my shoulder and aggravated a very old neck/back injury. I feel about 80 years old.

The shoulder will be fine and my neck/back will be fine once I see my chiropractor, but feeling like my active days are numbered is terrifying. I feel old and like it's all downhill from here. I don't really believe that's how it'll be, but it feels like it for the moment.

If I could head down to Shopper's Drug Mart and pick up some growth hormone and whatever else might help, I'd do it in a heartbeat. But I don't want to grow testicles or end up with bacne, so that stops me from going that route. I'm having enough trouble with the Portuguese Lady's Mustache.

But you have to wonder - is a small amount of HGH safe? Would just a pinch in my morning coffee stave off problems like this for many years and not cause any harm? Why don't we know the answer to that question?

Why isn't the quest for healthy longevity getting more mainstream research & attention?

What's interesting is yesterday, when the pain was pretty bad, I tried OTC muscle relaxants and Advil. Neither provided relief. Later I tried vitamin C and glucosamine and it seemed like it helped.

Vitamin C is a building block of all our connective tissue - skin, tendons, ligaments - everything. Glucosamine supposedly helps the body to rebuild cartilage. Couldn't hurt to try a truckload of that & see what happens. Lord knows the potato chips in my knees could benefit.

Maybe with the right, natural materials the body can successfully repair itself, it might just take longer than we want to wait. For now, the ice is helping my shoulder so much I don't want to take it off but I'm losing all feeling in my left arm.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Get Off My Lawn

What IS it with kids these days!? [Fogey Alert, but not really.]

Yesterday evening I had to pick up David from the train station, which requires timing it just right so I'm not waiting at the station forever, but I never want to be late, and then there's rush hour traffic... which means I never know exactly when to leave and I always end up rushing out of the house afraid I'm going to be late.

I had just gotten up from the computer to start the rush to get ready & run out the door when I heard the doorbell followed by a friendly knock. I though it must be our downstairs neighbor, so I was happy to answer and delay my departure for a few minutes.

I opened the door with my wallet, phone and keys in-hand to see two teenage boys standing there with binders in their hands. Fantastic.

Now, the door has a very obvious NO SOLICITING sign on it and to anyone with half a brain cell, it would appear that I am about to leave the house. But still, I cheerfully said, "Hi, what can I do for you?"

Boy #1 began his pitch, talking slowly, his voice shaking, telling me he's going to start dropping off a new, free newspaper next week so he can get credits that will go toward tuition at UBC next year. I told him I thought that was great, and then he interrupted me to tell me that he would just need me to cover the cost for weekend delivery.

I stopped him and asked, "So, you're selling me something, yes?" He emphatically said he wasn't, that he "didn't need any loonies or twonies today." I repeated the question in another way, explaining that if he's standing at my door, asking me to give any money to anyone or anything at any time, that's selling something, and the sign on my door means you cannot come here and try to sell me something. Don't come here at all, really, unless I've asked you to.

He became annoyed and tried to convince me that he was not selling anything, saying, "most of the houses in this neighborhood were built with those [signs], and it was probably there before you moved in."

Whoa, Betty, WHAT? WHAT the WHAT?

I laughed and told him maybe so, but I'd put the sign on the door myself, and if he's going to houses with those signs, he's not respecting the homeowners' wishes, which won't help him in his endeavors.

He continued to argue with me about this as I said "No thanks" and shut the door on him. I was amazed. I've done door-to-door sales, I know it's a shitty job, but his unabashed rudeness was incredibly irritating. Who does that?

If he does end up at UCB one day, he's going to need special classes, but I suspect he's going to end up at Horton's making the doughnuts.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

ICBC = Imbecile C*nts Buggering Canada

(She's smiling now, but this ICBC customer is about to be in a great deal of pain.)

Just when I think I don't have much to complain about, a letter arrives from ICBC giving all sorts of purpose to my day.

ICBC - the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia - is the province-mandated auto insurance in ol' Skittish Cenophobia. There are no other insurance companies you can choose to buy your basic coverage from. It's run by the province and there is no consumer advocate/oversight. They charge whatever they want and you get to bend over and take it.

It's the most blatant racket I've ever seen wit mine own eyes. Criminal, really.

I've talked about the exorbinant cost before - we pay twice here what we paid in Alameda, and that's with a 40% discount. Think about that for a moment.

We used to pay about $1,600 a year to insure both cars in Alameda for typical coverage & a fair amount of driving each year. Thankfully, we've had no at-fault claims and Alameda is considered fairly safe.

Here, I'm paying $1,600 to insure my car and David's coverage is running about $1,500/year. Port Coquitlam's biggest crime problem is trashcan-raiding bears and we each drive about 50 miles a month, usually less. (They don't know I like to drive back & forth to California & Seattle as often as I can.)

We each get a 40% "good driver" discount. That means we've had continuous coverage for at least the past eight years and have had no claims during that time.

Without that discount my total bill alone for the year would be just under $2,500. For a '98 Volvo station wagon I drive to Costco twice a month. When I've asked why the rates are so high, they cheerfully smile and say "I'm not sure..."

No one seems to care that they're getting totally reamed by the government. There's no protest, no inquiry, no investigation. Everyone just willingly takes it up the ass and keeps taking it. WTF is up with that? Sound familiar? IRS?

Definitely - building trust. A big pile of trust. A big stinking pile.

I recently got a letter from ICBC letting me know my claims experience letter from USAA would only qualify me for a 35% discount. Why? The verbiage isn't quite right. The verbiage that they specifically requested be in the letter. Now it's not correct.

This morning I called ICBC to make sure they received the NEW letter from USAA that said exactly what they told me it should say THIS time. Got yet another rep who told me it's still not quite right.

It's a different mouth-breather every time with a different complaint about the letter. Had to call USAA for the twelfth time and ask for yet another letter that might appease these blood-sucking morons.

Now I get to wait and find out if this new letter will work. To date, I've had to have USAA issue at least six different letters saying basically the same thing in myriad ways to satisfy ICBC.

These are the things that make me want to soak the bat in linseed oil and use it on the brain donors at corporate. See how much more of a discount I can get that way.

Fun stories about ICBC:
UPDATE June 3, 2009:
I finally got a letter from the ICBC imbeciles - this last letter from USAA did the trick and my 40% discount was reinstated & retroactively applied.

I even got a reply to the email I sent to Premier Campbell (from his office, anyway) about dissolving the ICBC monopoly and letting other insurance companies compete for basic coverage in BC. I'm sure it won't happen anytime soon, but I expected No Reply. It's a small but meaningful victory. Thanks, Canaduh.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Olive Leaf Loaf

A friend of mine recently started taking olive leaf supplements and raved about feeling great (and looking great), so I decided to give it a try. I love olives, so why not try the leaves & see what happens?

Its purported benefits: fights colds & flu bugs as well as yeast and viral infections, powerful antibacterial (just the bad), keeps blood sugar stable, supports healthy thyroid function, reduces LDL cholesterol, lowers blood pressure, increases blood flow (by relaxing arteries), powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immune-booster and provides enhanced energy levels.

I even found chatter about its possible benefits in treating some cancers, but now I can't find that page. It sounds like a true wonder drug, eh? And if it's just olive leaves, it probably can't hurt me... too much.

And so begins the experiment...

I found a supplement at the store (Nature's Way) that supposedly has 470mg of olive leaf (olea europaea). I took one pill a day for a couple days, then two pills twice a day. I forget sometimes that I have the tolerance of a 6-week-old kitten.

The label says take three capsules daily at mealtimes. The internet says take it on an empty stomach. The internet also says it can irritate the stomach and to take it with food. I tried it on an empty stomach and with food - no difference so far.

I started taking it about a week & a half ago. The first couple of days were weird. Felt awake and alert and had pretty good energy, but I yawned a lot. All. Day. Long. I think I actually got tired from yawning.

Early this week I started feeling poorly. Almost like I had the flu. Went back to the interwebs to read about side effects. Some people may experience what's called the Herxheimer reaction or "die-off effect." From Wikipedia:
The Herxheimer reaction (also known as Jarisch-Herxheimer or Herx) occurs when large quantities of toxins are released into the body as bacteria (typically Spirochetal bacteria) die, due to antibiotic treatment or rapid detoxification.

Typically the death of these bacteria and the associated release of endotoxins occurs faster than the body can remove the toxins via the natural detoxification process performed by the kidneys and liver. It is manifested by fever, chills, headache, myalgia (muscle pain), and exacerbation of skin lesions.
Huh. I must be full of toxins - who isn't? But according to the interwebs, this means the olive leaf is working... it's getting into my cells, attacking the garbage living in there and killing it off faster than my liver and kidneys can shove it out the door.

It's recommended to drink a truckload of water to help flush the system and reduce the dosage until the fluish symptoms subside, then start up again at a low dose and gradually increase over time.

For regular supplementation use, it's recommended to take just 1000mg daily, though I suspect my sissy little system may not need that much.

The past few days have been less than great - headache, fatigue, nausea and what seemed like slight chills. The nausea affected my appetite, though overall my typical cravings for cookies and doughnuts is pretty much gone, and I'm in full-blown PMS mode. I should be shoveling crates of sweet, fattening carbs down my gullet, but I'm just not into it. Shocking.

It's also entirely possible that I was, in fact, fighting the flu. No way to know. But today I feel pretty good. I hope it *was* the O leaf killing off 42 years of crap and cleaning out my system. That would be nice. Internal spring cleaning.

I stopped taking it for now and will wait a couple days before starting up again. If it really does what it's supposed to do, I should be effing invincible in just a few short weeks.

Links to better pages I found:

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Old & Rickety

I'm not talking about the Coaster.

David and I ventured to Vancouver's Playland today. It's a cute little park - it means well - but at $29.95, every ride should come with space-age barf bags and personal attendants to clean you up. As David said, it's one step above a county fair, sans barn critters.

It's about as big as a Costco parking lot, with two tiny coasters, typical midway business and a half dozen puke-makers such as Hell's Gate, Breakdance, and Crazy Beach Party.

I wish I'd gotten photos of the murals in Crazy Beach Party - too much equipment and shadows in the way, but there was Hulk Hogan with a parrot on his shoulder, various muscle men in pose-down positions, babes in bikinis, and Arnold, our governor, in a t-shirt, in a beach shack ready to rent you a surfboard.

Now, why Arnold was working the shack and *not* on Muscle Beach a la Pumping Iron is anyone's guess. I don't remember Arnold being known for renting boards in Venice, but I wasn't there. But still, how is Hulk Hogan a better shirtless character than Arnold? Insanity!

The Coaster is great - a 50-year-old death trap that drops like a rickety little rocket and races down around and up and down its little course throwing you nearly clear out of the car as you crush your seat mate on every turn. That was our first stop and I totally OD'ed on adrenaline.

From there we went directly to the one other coaster, aptly named Corkscrew. Fairly harmless, but the spiraling started the stomach flipping. We tried another ride called Pirate! I'm putting exclamation marks on all the ride titles. Pirate! is that stupid ship that rocks back & forth. Looks harmless. It isn't. I did not feel OK after that.

Maybe I'm a little old for rides like Pirate! or Breakdance! (?), with little cars whipping around on arms that whip around a garishly painted "inner city" backdrop. That was the ride that turned mild nausea to full-blown I'm gonna hurl if this shit doesn't stop immediately. It could have been the murals...

Like an idiot, right after that, we got on another boot-maker, some crap called Enterprise. The cars look benign, like you'll just glide around in a nice, calm circle in your little pod. Nope.

The bitch goes up, sideways, down and the car rocks side-to-side. Jesus, please baby Jesus make it stop. Sitting directly in front of David, I dry-heaved cereal fumes. Had it not been several hours since breakfast, his hair would have been decorated with partially-digested shredded wheat. Delicious.

I thought I was a goner after that. I must have burped/almost-hurled fifty times and felt a flop sweat coming on. We made our way to the snack shack to get a soda. I thought it might help. What I really needed was a valium/dramamine cocktail. Next time.

Once I'd settled down a bit, we rode Corkscrew! and Coaster! a few more times, then tried the climbing wall. I thought it would be a cinch, but I got about halfway up and freaked out.

I kept thinking of the nightmares I've had where I'm climbing a steep rock face and it keeps getting steeper and steeper until I'm about to fall off. It wasn't the looking down that got me, it was the looking up.

After a last ride on the Coaster! I got a big slice of pizza, peeled off all the cheese and chowed that salty, doughy, soothing crust. If only they'd had corn dogs & funnel cake. Never too old for that.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Dead Canon

What a sad day... I've had my G9 for about a year, almost to the day, and it died in my arms on Sunday after taking a picture of a cup of Tim Horton's coffee.

I knew Timmy's coffee was bad, but its powers are much more evil than I suspected.

This was its last photo. Please, a moment of silence.

Looking for info, I Googled "dead G9" or something to that effect and found a couple of Flickr forums about that very topic. Turns out this is a common occurrence.

I went to Canon's website and requested a service ticket. Thankfully, she's still under warranty and is in the repair center ICU as we type. I miss her so much. There' so much more we have to do together.

Got her back in no time, all fixed up, good as new. Strange, though, that they shipped it back in a flimsy cardboard box with loosely wadded up paper for padding. Good thing it's not a delicate instrument or anything. Canon Shipping Department - FAIL.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Local Rag

We get a couple of free local papers chucked onto our stoop every week. They're the perfect size for lining Henry's cage and occasionally have an interesting article or two, usually about bear maulings or gang violence. Sometimes gangs of violent bears.

I recently found a crossword puzzle in one of them. Always a sucker for a crossword, I started ripping out those pages before using the rest for cage liner.

Imagine my disappointment when working one of these puzzles yesterday I found clues such as:
4. Not good. Answer: "bad" I shit you not.
35. Not high. Yup. Answer: "low" Still not shitting you.

Even worse:
50. P_____: bird resting place. You're going to be angry - you will. Answer: "erch" What. The. Fuck.
24. Ca_____: Waterfall. Answer: "scade" Scade? Let's go scading!
58. ___bo: Latin dance. Answer: "mam" At this point I'm ready to jab my pen into my neck.

Still worse:
64. Electromagnetic force. Now, this one seems like a challenge - what might this force be? I'm going to have to look this up in my crossword dictionary, or maybe even the interweb... No. No need. Answer: "EMF" What the WHAT?

Yet more worser:
16. Soluble ribonucleic acid. Answer: "SRNA"
20. Liquified natural gas. Answer: "LNG"
14. Superhigh frequency. Answer: "SHF"

Then they throw in this:
18. Lips. Answer: "labia" This seems wrong. I don't want labia in my crossword.

Like a bad movie, I'm going to stick with it to see what amazing clues await me in future puzzles. [sigh.]

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Bitches & Hos

Tonight's exchange:

David: I know you'll hate me saying this, but I miss winter.
Me: Shut your smelly mouth.
David: But I love winter! You know I don't like summer.
Me: Winter is a shitty bitch.
David: Well, summer is a sweaty whore.
Me: Some people might like sweaty whores, but no one likes a shitty bitch.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Catching Lies

I've been through customs a few times in the last month, twice in the car at the Pac Highway Truck Crossing and once in YVR. Every time I have to pass through I get nervous and wonder what I'll be asked and what I'll answer.

I've never been detained or harassed by CBP, so I don't know why I get anxious, but I do. I speak only when spoken to and I offer no extraneous information. I make some eye contact but I don't stare. I try to appear casual and relaxed even though I'm acutely aware of every move and twitch I'm making.

It probably has a little something to do with having been arrested many years ago for a minor traffic violation. I would have registered my car when it was due had I been able to afford it, but I let it lapse because I could barely pay my rent back then. I got a fix-it ticket for expired tags and when I didn't get that taken care of, the county of Santa Clara issued a bench warrant. For expired tags.

The next time I was pulled over - for expired tags - they looked up the warrant and took me in, in handcuffs, in the back of the cruiser. For expired tags. If I couldn't afford to register my car, I sure as hell couldn't afford to make bail. So I sat in the county lockup for about eight hours until they processed me out. For expired tags.

I guess that "learned me" that at any time, for seemingly ridiculous reasons, Johnny Law can clap your ass in handcuffs and haul you away. I'm sure back then I realized it was possible I could have been taken to jail for failure to pay the fine, but I didn't believe it would actually happen. Turns out it can! Who knew? This is what can happen in a small town without any real crime.

Anyway, when crossing the border into the US, the CBP is all business - very serious - and they ask a fair amount of questions: "Where do you live?" "What brought you to Canada?" "What kind of video games?" "What titles have you shipped?" "What systems?"

Those questions were for David when he was with me recently on a day trip to Seattle. Later I asked David why they asked so many questions about games/his job - he said they're trying to catch you in a lie.

I told David, if my passport & work permit have certain information, my story is going to support all that information, down to the last detail, true or fiction. Do they really expect to catch anyone by asking a bunch of easy questions? As George Costanza said, It's not a lie if you believe it.

Going down last Thursday, I got the standard battery, where do I live, where am I going, and what's in the box. They almost always ask what's in the box, which first makes me think of Gwyneth Paltrow's head, but then I remember they mean the cargo box on top of the car.

Coming back into Canada, first of all, there are no radiological scanners and all they ask is how long you've been away and if you're bringing any booze or cigarettes into the country. Sometimes you'll be asked if you're bringing more than $10,000 across the border, to which I always want to answer I wish! but I don't want to push my luck.

This last time I returned to Canadia, CBSA asked me if I was a PR. A Personal Record? No. Person of Record? Not sure... Took me a second to figure that out, but then I answered no, temporary resident on a work permit.

He asked me how long I'd been away and if I'd brought anything back with me. I said I'd gone down for the day and brought back a mug and a t-shirt. He said Have a nice night and sent me on my way.

I felt like the biggest idiot. I had a bag of Trader Joe's groceries on the floor in the back that COULD have been a bag full of booze. Blerg.