all the world’s a stage…

At the ripe old age of almost38, I had thought I’d pretty much figured out every way that people can be convinced to part with their money for no real reason.  Was I ever wrong…

You see, of late I’ve seen all these ads on TV for some four month course on something called “staging” – you know, “you too can become a home stager and command big bucks.  Call within the next 15 minutes and receive a free coffee at the school canteen…”

Now, I don’t tend to pay too much attention to television, so I simply thought that this was some new fancy new name for “interior designers”.

And this is the case, in a way.  Only you don’t hire stagers until you actually want to sell your house – then you pay them thousands of dollars to redecorate.

I only finally clued into this because my good friend B. is in the process of selling her condominium so that she can move to another city (also, ironically enough, called B.  Sigh.) and her realtor is apparently putting huge pressure on her to bring in one of these “stagers” and throw away spend even more cash.

Personally, I consider this notion to be completely preposterous.  So, I did a bit of research and came up with some info from the place who has been running the television ads for the educational programme:

Home staging is the design process of de-personalizing a private residence prior to putting it up for sale in the real estate marketplace. This is often achieved by re-arranging, de-cluttering and improving on certain items.

The goal of staging a home is to help it sell quickly and for the most amount of money by appealing to the largest amount of prospective buyers. Staging focuses on improving a home’s potential by transforming it into a ‘neutral’ property because the way we live in our home is completely different than the way we should sell our home. Staging creates a living space buyers can “see” themselves in, similar to how model home displays are presented.

Staging also helps create an environment that will lead a buyer’s eye to the home’s attractive features, while minimizing its flaws.

Uh-huh.  And here all these years they’ve been telling you things like “Just boil some apples and cinnamon on your stove before you show your house and it will be sold in no time.”  Were they lying all this time?!?!

But this TV ad says that if you take the course you can get guaranteed employment starting at $31.25 an hour or some such thing.  Not too shabby – I think that’s more than I make, actually.

So, perhaps I should take this all a bit more seriously.  Here’s some information about the course, if you’re interested.  Hmm… $1,000 for a bunch of textbooks, some correspondence learning, a tape measure and a colour wheel!!!  And I thought they soaked us at law school!

I mean, do people have no imagination whatsoever?!  I mean, if I were buying a house, I’d end up decorating it in my own inimitable fashion anyway…

And why the hell should I depersonalise a house I’m trying to sell while I’m still living there, anyway?! I quite happen to like the personality of my place!!

Talk about your false economies.  I spend $5,000 or $6,000 getting someone to paint a house that I’m leaving anyway, so that I can maybe get an extra $1,000 over that tacked on to the selling price – a percentage of which, by the way will go in commissions to the realtor, the lawyer and (doubtless) the stager.  So, at the end of the day I will be $500.00 or so ahead – and will have been stressed out because people were in painting my place, moving my furniture, etc.  Does this really make any sense?!

I must confess, having said that, that I have been known to “stage” an apartment myself – for quite different reasons.  The landlord had put the property up for sale approximately one day after I moved in and I did not wish to have to move three months later.  So, whenever the realtor came by to show the place, I made sure it was an absolute disgusting mess (this, I must admit, wasn’t really a huge challenge).  I also painted the walls in extremely gaudy colours which I happened to like but which proved anathema to prospective buyers.

Hmm… so, maybe there is something to this “staging thing” after all.  Maybe it’s time to pack in the law thing and start a rewarding and exciting new career?!

Then again, that’s how I always feel on Monday mornings.  Sigh.

Have a guid one!


stampeding into shamelessness

I’m well and truly off the wagon now, folks. Yup. Yesterday, I made yet another trip to one of the local Houses of Worship – on the pretext that I needed one of these:

For some reason I keep losing these. This is probably my fourth this year. I’m sure that one of these days I’m going to bump accidentally into a secret portal in my apartment and be faced with a whole pile of single socks, good wooden coat hangers (as opposed to crap wire ones from the dry cleaners’) and knitting needle measuring ruler thingies, all pointing and laughing at me.

So, of course I decided today that I was in huge need for one of these $3 thingamabobs. But did I go back to Romni, which is just down the street from my workplace? Hell, no.

Why not? Well, I felt the need to take a 25 minute walk (each way) in 30C/150C with the humidex (don’t know what that is in Fahrenheit, but “damn hot” will about cover it), that’s why.

It certainly wasn’t because Lettuce Knit (quite a hike away from my office, in the Kensington Market) is the only yarn shop in the city that carried Blue Moon Fiber Arts yarn. No sirree Bob. Nope.

OK – so now you know the truth. I am a big fat liar.

But, really, how could I resist!

Oh – and while I was there I had to pick up a lonely little skein of Bobby Blue (as in “No Sirree Bob”, I guess!) Malabrigo laceweight as well:

But I don’t feel so bad about this – because Amy told me: “Malabrigo doesn’t count”. I’m a very gullible person, and I do hope that she has not led me down the garden path toward bankruptcy….

What makes me feel a bit better about all of this is that I’m apparently not the only one who’s getting up to hijinks this week, apparently – and mine are far cheaper than some. You see, this week the Calgary Stampede is taking place. Now, I’ve never been to Calgary but if you have ever lived in Canada and watched any news programme during the month of July, you’ll know all about this WestFest, where all the oil millionaires/billionaires, politicians and other high rollers turn up to watch some rodeo and eat some high-priced beef.

Now, according to CTV News the other evening, that’s not all these guys do. They actually had a segment on the late news discussing how some of these guys also come to gamble and pick up women. They even quoted a pro female saying it was by far the most lucrative week of the year.

I think they did, anyway. You see, I cannot find this story anywhere on their website – I do remember seeing it though, if only because it really really hurts to spit Vex alcopop out your nose when you start laughing with your mouth full. JJ confirms that this was on.

But instead, all I could find on the CTV website was this: Calgary drops suits for Stetsons during Stampede.

More like “drops trou”, no?!

I mean, really – let’s face it, these prime ministers must get up to all sorts of nonsense when they’re on the road – and especially when they get to dress up in cowboy drag. Why else would Pierre Trudeau have been showing his stuff there, for example?

Now, as for Jean Chretien, I’m not so sure:

Now, I must say that I really like his wife’s cowboy boots – in fact, I want them. But what was up with those puddlejumper jeans, Jean?!? Did the Prime Minsterial budget not extend to a pair of jeans that actually fit, or did you spend it all on the 10 gallon hat?!?

And then there’s always my favourite, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, our current fearless leader who allows Geo. Bush to address him as though they’re hanging out on a street corner somewhere (I mean, really. “Yo, Harper“??? WTF???? When he pulled this stunt a few years back with Tony Blair, the British were reportedly offended. And, to my view, the British were right.) and simply giggles and blushes smiles. I’m not so sure, however, that it’s wild women he’s after…

I mean, first he poses for this cheesecake photo back in 2005:

Is that lipstick he’s wearing?!? I mean, really. Doesn’t he look as though he just stepped off the cover of a Village People LP?

So, then he hid I was not able to find any photos of Harper at the Stampede in 2006 – but this is what he turned up in in 2007:

So, what’s up with the pink shirt?? Well, apparently he said it was to show support for fundraising efforts for breast cancer. Well, that’s heartwarming and all, Steve – but if you really cared about people who suffer from breast cancer (or cancer of any kind, for that matter), you wouldn’t be doing your bit to destroy universal health care as we know it. But I’m ranting digressing now.

Suffice it to say that, sported by an arch-convervative like Harper, the colour pink speaks volumes. But this year, his image consultants have he’s decided to go butch:

Now, I haven’t been in a women’s bar for a while now – but the last time I went to one, this was pretty much the uniform.

So, Steve, I’ll be waiting with baited breath to see what cute little outfit you come up with for next year’s Stampede! How about something like this, for example?

Fetching, isn’t it?

Happy Wednesday!

fun crafts and weird phone hotlines

Well, it’s back to the grind – but what better to kick off my working week with some craft ideas, one quick, one interesting if you’ve got a tortured brain like mine? (Besides, I figure I’d better have some craft content on here before my 10 or so regulars wander away).

First up: you, too, can look like a lace knitting genius in ten minutes or less* by making yourself a
fancy lace bracelet:

* more than 10 minutes if you actually want to knit the lace… but why not just pick some up and say you knitted it! and don’t quote me, either!

And now for another tip which has haunted and fascinated me since I came across the concept: a tutorial onHow to knit backwards:

And speaking of “backwards”, now for a wee rant. Sometimes I just hate reading the paper. You see, I learned this morning that our Minister for Public Safety, the Honourable Doris Stockwell Day:

in his infinite wisdom, had started up a snitch line for us upstanding citizens to report illegal immigrants by way of anonymous phone call. The Canadian Border Services monitor this line, and they say that “no information, however trivial it may seem, is too small.”

Well, guess what? According to today’s Glib and Stale Globe and Mail, that endeavour has apparently generated a large number of bizarre calls.

Why? Well, some people apparently like to make crank calls. Others, no doubt, are mentally challenged, wandering aimlessly without treatment since they started to defund certain medical services and close beds in certain facilities and are merely looking for company.

And… some other people like to make crank calls. I know this might be shocking to you, but it’s true. Of course, I personally have never made a crank call – unless, of course, you count those ones that we made from the church hall payphone when we were all about 12 and resenting having to go to Greek lessons – we’d phone 411 information and ask for “Hooker Heaven”, etc. and hang up giggling. And let me tell you, the priest was not best pleased when he found out we were doing this. But I digress.

Anyway, here’s the types of calls they’ve been getting:

  • Caller wants personal information about her husband, but doesn’t know when or when he was born.
  • Caller says that psychiatrist is forcing caller to take illegal medication
  • Caller says he is illegally in the country, and demands to be deported.
  • Caller states he has a problem. His wife’s family is interfering with his marriage and he doesn’t want them to come to Canada.
  • Caller would like to deport a couple of people from Canada and she would like the website address to fill out the proper forms.  Caller is advised that it is not her decision who gets deported. Caller does not care.

I particularly like that last one.  I can think of a few people I’d like to get deported, Stockwell Day and his boss Stephen Harper being at the top of that list!

Hmm… where is that website?  I need to get hold of that hotline number!

Happy Tuesday!

“Advised him to speak with his wife.”

idiot of the week award

I know it’s difficult to believe, but from time to time I am prone to feeling rather stupid.  Until, that is, I read something like this news story – and realise that stupidity is really all quite relative.

What am I going on about? Well, the other day three guys broke into allegedly broke into a house in Markham, a bedroom community just north of Toronto. They drove their Hummer up to the house and went right in during broad daylight.  This is the street where the alleged burglary took place:

In other words, the Hummer looked way out of place in the street.  Not exactly the most inconspicuous getaway vehicle in the world.  I mean, why not just put up a neon sign as well while you’re at it?

Anyway, some nosy neighbour apparently called the cops – who arrived at the scene just in time to see the three accused walk out of the house, stolen property allegedly in hand.  They got out of their unmarked police cruiser and told the guys to halt.  

So, what did these rocket scientists do? 

Run out to the Hummer, jump into it and try to drive over the cop car, that’s what.  And they managed to drive partway up the windshield before reversing into another cop car that had just arrived.

So now, instead of just being charged with “theft under whatever”, they’ve now been charged with “mischief endangering life”, “fleeing the scene of a crime”, and (my personal favourite) “dangerous operation of a motor vehicle”.  And I’m sure the Crown will come up with some more of the hundreds of criminal charges which fall under the loose category of “disobeying the cops”. 

Not to mention, no doubt, being read the Riot Act.  And yes, the Riot Act is alive and well up here in Canada:

In Canada, the Riot Act has been incorporated in a modified form into ss. 32-33 and 64-69 of the Criminal Code of Canada. The proclamation is worded as follows:

Her Majesty the Queen charges and commands all persons being assembled immediately to disperse and peaceably to depart to their habitations or their lawful business, on pain of being guilty of an offence for which, on conviction, they may be sentenced to an imprisonment for life. God Save the Queen!

Unlike the original Riot Act, the Criminal Code requires the assembled people to disperse within half-an-hour, and substitutes punishment by death with life imprisonment.

Hmm. Well, it could have been worse for them then, I guess.

But these guys certainly weren’t the brightest bulbs in the pack, now, were they?

Unlike this one:

Isn’t that cool?  It’s in the Royal Scottish Museum in Scotland.  I guess JJ is right when he keeps telling me the Scottish should be known for more than haggis and fried Mars Bars!

Well, back to the mysterious Project Blue which is shaping up quite nicely, thank you. 

Happy Sunday!


for the love of coffee?

Warning: here comes a big sized rant about coffee snobbery. No fibre content whatsoever as today is PayDay and so I won’t have anything new to show until tomorrow. Please feel free to press your back button now.

Correspondingly, unless you have been reading my blog since March 2008 in which event you’ve already been subjected to my strong views on coffee: if you want background info on my coffee rants, feel free to click here for a tale on $400.00 per pound coffee, and here for my personal views on coffee consumption.

Now that you’ve been duly warned:

Yesterday morning, I was running a bit late for work.  This was unfortunate, as it meant I actually had to stand in line at the place I’ve been getting my coffee of late instead of just swanning to the front counter.

But, all guid.  I had my iPod in and was actually starting to groove with the wait.  That is, until I heard my regular coffee server asking the person in front of me how she could be helped.  The person in question was yakking on her cell phone, I should note.

After three polite requests by the coffee server, I was ready to butt into line.  Unfortunately, Ms Cellphone woke up around this point, told her caller to hold, and said.. wait for it:

“Gimme a coffee.”

Well.  Although she presented as such, I suspect this person was not Canadian.  Why?  Because:

(a) she said “gimme” rather than “Give me a coffee, please;

(b) she did not say “Oh, sorry, I kept you waiting… give me a coffee, please… and sorry”;

(c) she did not say “I’d like a a double double, please”; and

(d) she didn’t seem to appreciate that one has to specify the size of coffee one wants these days if one actually wants to get a coffee to take out.

Then again, her important phone call had been interrupted… not that I was willing to cut her any slack because I was waiting for my fix.

But I, despite whatever appearance I might give on this blog otherwise, am a polite Canadian person.  So, although I was fuming inside, I did not protest when the woman in front of me demanded to be shown each size of coffee cup available before deigning to choose which size she wanted (medium, as it happens).

Then came the other inevitable question from the beleaguered Patient Server (and believe you me, I’ve been there.  It is very, very painful to work in foodservice and to be forced to pull each choice out of the customer, let me tell you.  And if you don’t believe me, just ask my mother who was a deli queen for some years until she was forced to run screaming when the simple question “mustard or mayonnaise” started turning into “well, let me taste both and then decide”):

“Dark roast, light roast, or flavoured – today it’s irish cream…””

The answer from O Rude One, who had since recommenced yakking on her cell phone?


(And yes, she was shouting.  I don’t use all caps lightly.)

The Patient Server said “No, we don’t have medium.”.  Now, if I were the Patient Server, at this point I would have quickly turned Impatient and said “Get your @$$ out of here and over to Starbucks, NOW”.

Ms Cellphone then said “Well, I want medium.”

And, let me tell you, it’s a very guid thing that I’m not serving coffee any more.  By this point, I would have pulled out the garotte.  But instead, the Patient Server said, “Well, I could give you half dark roast and half light roast, so that would be sort of medium, right?”

Well, my remaining swig of Diet Coke nearly exited my nostrils at this point (so, don’t feel too sorry for me, I wasn’t jonesing all that much for caffeine).  Good call, Patient Server.  And, in fact, Ms Cellphone accepted this solution, got her coffee and made way for me.  So much for coffee snobbery.

So, all was guid… until I got to the station where you actually fix the coffee and Ms Cellphone was still there lamenting the fact that they had run out of lids.  She actually tried to engage me in conversation on this point (“This is completely unacceptable.  They expect me to carry this coffee across the street to my office??? How dare they??? My boyfriend’s a lawyer and I should just sue them.”

Gentle Reader, I wish I could report that I tore a couple of strips off her at this point.  I didn’t.  Instead, I just reached underneath where I know they store the spare lids, took one for my own coffee, and walked away.

I did, however, drop an extra 50 cents in the tip cup on my way to picking up my breakfast bagel… and, by the way, when I paid for that at the front cash, the Friendly Cashier there told me that this same woman pulls that same stunt every single day – and, funnily enough, word had travelled to the back cash that I was to be treated extremely well because I had given an extra tip.

Moral of the story?

Tip generously – and if you’re used to getting to work before the rush hour, resist that temptation to hit the snooze button on the alarm.  Really.  It will save your sanity.

Happy Thursday!