TMI

Well here it is–my weekly column. I know many of you await it with bated breath. This week I was channeling Joan Rivers before she became caustic, Erma Bombeck, with a little Carol Burnett thrown in for good measure (where is the King of the Jungle when you need him?)

Funny legs

Funny legs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was an abstainer. No way was I going to join Facebook. I did not understand it. I still do not quite understand it—but it has turned out to be fascinating. I have been on Facebook since January and to say it has changed my life would not be the correct assessment. But it has added another dimension. I can now see my far flung (and for that matter near flung) relative’s and friend’s antics. I have been able to connect to some friends I have not seen since university. I get to see my nephews and nieces and their kids (who are all exceedingly adorable—the originals and their offspring). I get to see what people think is important to share and it is a lesson in humanity and humility, fun and family.

 My picture is on my Facebook page, and while I do not think it does me justice (I am in a time warp—where did all those wrinkles come from?), it does depict me as I am today. A dyed in the wool brunette with a little gray on top I like to think of as my halo;  squinty (I prefer to think of them as sparkly) eyes  arrayed in glasses possibly a bit too prominent for my face; and a slight Mona Lisa smile to keep the jowls from sagging too much. (My niece Chay often gets after me when I humorously “put myself down” but it is a woman’s prerogative to make fun of herself. It does not necessarily mean I have trouble with my body image or the way I look—I kind of enjoy poking fun at myself. Note: I do not particularly enjoy it when other people do though—so if you see me at the grocery store, do not make fun of my nose.)

                I do not have many friends on Facebook and it is mostly by design. I befriended people I knew would not mind and most of those who have asked me—except for a couple of guys who seem kind of suspicious and look like relatives of the Duck Dynasty guys (hey, did you see a pic of some of them without their beards—wow!—but I digress.) Although, on second thought, the Duck Dynasty guys are kind of rich………..

Snoopy as "the World War I flying ace&quo...

Snoopy  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Facebook is great if you are kind of snoopy. Which I am. Being a reporter is a good thing as I get to peek behind the curtains sometimes. Do not invite me to your house unless you are ready to have the door of your medicine cabinet opened. I do not judge though—I am just curious. (Just kidding). I am amazed at some of the things people share, and not because they share things that are weird and strange (though I do find those things interesting)—they share their knowledge, recipes, family life, reflections, and pictures.

                I understand why some people do not like Facebook—I can see that it could get out of hand—but the way I use it, I like it just fine.  I also have a Twitter account which I understand even less than I do Facebook. I tweet my blog posts and on occasion stuff like “the bird has left the nest” or “the horse is in front of the wagon”. These tweets make no sense, but neither do many of the tweets I have read.

                I could take the time to understand these tools of social media. In fact I will Google Facebook right now and find out what it says. I just love Google—it is such a lazy way to do research.  Okay, according to Wikipedia, “Facebook is an online social networking service. Its name comes from the colloquial name for the book given to students at the start of the academic year by some American administrations to help students get to know one another.” Cool. Now I am in the know. About ten years later than most others on this planet known as Earth.

                Okay, now what does it say about Twitter? Just a minute—or few minutes—my Internet seems to be on a bit of a siesta right now.  All knowing and All Seeing Wikipedia says that “Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service that enables users to send and read “tweets”, which are text messages limited to 140 characters.” So that about sums it up. And it is still as clear as mud to me. Maybe in ten years I will understand it and tweet to my heart’s content.

                I am sure this column has been illuminating. Think of all the things you have learned about me that you really didn’t need to know:

1. I dye my hair but not religiously, hence the grey halo.

2. My eyes are close together.

3. It is okay for me to make fun of myself but not for anyone else to make fun of me.

4. I am woefully behind the times.

5. I am in denial about my age.

6. You do not want to invite me to your house unless you have cleaned out your medicine cabinet.

7. I am not, nor have I ever been “cool”.

Published in: on November 12, 2013 at 9:00 pm  Comments (44)  
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Unblissful Signs

Coat of arms of the town of Kingsville, Ontario.

Coat of arms of the town of Kingsville, Ontario. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A note of explanation: As many of you know, I am the municipal reporter for my small town paper, but I also write a column. This week’s column was the subject of yesterday’s post, but I also wrote a second half. This is the second half. The woman mentioned in the article, Mary-Ann was a legal secretary and she and I worked at different firms years ago (she was a real legal secretary, I was someone  floundering in  a sea of unemployment until my father-in-law hired me). Steve, the associate editor is my colleague. The signs that I am talking about are the portable signs that seem to be popping up all over our lovely town of Kingsville in southwestern Ontario (we brag about being the southern most town in Ontario)–and as you can see from the column, I am of two minds–I believe businesses should be able to advertise and prosper, but I also wish that they could find another more attractive way to do it. I tend to stay away from opinion pieces having to do with the municipality–because I want to maintain my subjectivity–but sometimes you just have to speak out:

 On a Different Note…..

            “Signs, signs, everywhere a sign

            Blocking out the scenery breaking my mind….”

           

            Many of us of a certain age remember the song, “Signs”, from the early 1970’s. It was performed by an unknown Canadian rock group, Five Man Electrical Band and composed by Les Emmerson. It was written during what Wikipedia calls “an era of social and political change.” I would argue that all times are eras of social and political change, but that is an argument for another time.

            A few weeks ago, Mary-Ann Costa wrote a letter to the editor about the proliferation of signs in our little town that tend to take away from our quaintness. Intrepid associate editor Steve I ‘Anson then took up the gauntlet and expressed his dismay at the way some signs do not add to the attractiveness of our town.

            I usually like to sit on the fence in matters having to with do the rights of others, which is not to say I do not have an opinion but I generally do not voice it. In this case it is the rights of the business people vs. the rights of aesthetics—and to say that one is more important than the other would be wrong. I do not have a solution, but if someone came up with an attractive way to display what businesses have to offer they would be instant heroes.

            I am not crazy about the proliferation of these signs. I cover municipal council and I know that they have come up with a by-law to deal with the signs—but the matter to my mind is complicated.

            Civic pride should not suffer at the hands of business, nor should businesses suffer at the hands of those with delicate sensibilities (my husband says I suffer from this), but there should be a solution. There must be a middle ground—a way to advertise that does not offend or to paraphrase the song “Signs”: block out the scenery breaking our minds. We need to put our thinking caps on.

            Our town is quaint and lovely and a wonderful tourist destination—but it is also a place of business. Can’t the two come together?

 What do you think? Do you have any suggestions that would make our lovely town more blissful?

~ Grave Concerns ~

Coat of arms of the town of Kingsville, Ontario.

Coat of arms of the town of Kingsville, Ontario. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know that many of you have never been to a municipal council meeting in your lives. Well, truly you have not lived until you have attended one. As I am a “municipal reporter” (sounds so official doesn’t it?) I have attended hundreds of these meetings over the years. They tend to run 3 1/2 to 4 hours now, as they have been cut from three meetings a month to two in my town of Kingsville.

Admittedly, a lot of the things I report on are rather mundane, but not particularly mundane to those affected by the story–be it about drains, sewers, a new subdivision, business development, or neighbours really mad at other neighbours for building a fence that blocks their view of the lake.

This being Halloween week got the best of me and I just could not stop myself from trying to zip up a news story about weeds in the local cemetery–and it was published on the front page of the Kingsville Reporter! Without further ado, here is me having a little fun with the story:

Weeds (TV series)

Weeds (TV series) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)NO, NOT THIS KIND OF WEED!!!!!!!!!!!!

“Council Wants Weeds Controlled at Greenhill

Weed control at Greenhill Cemetery is a topic of grave concern to Kingsville Council and a report presented by the Manager of Public Works…at the October 22nd meeting did not provide them with a satisfactory solution.”

Now if you did not catch it–I said that the topic at the cemetery was of “grave concern”. Truly, I am easily amused.

Have you ever written something you knew was silly in an otherwise sombre story?

~ Feeling A Little Bedraggled Today ~

Richmond Town Council

Town Council (Photo credit: Burwash Calligrapher)

What do you do when you have been publicly embarrassed? It happened to me last night at a Town Council meeting. I work as a reporter covering municipal politics, and in doing so, I have to attend their regular meetings. I make notes furiously and hopefully accurately.

I like to be accurate in what I report. And since I have covered town council meetings for years I have a lot of knowledge on how things work. I know that when someone asks Council to lower a speed limit, they refer it to the Police Board for a recommendation before making a decision. I know this. Yet, I wrote an article stating that Council had approved the lowering of the speed limit without this additional step.  And (to add insult to injury) I said that the decision was unanimous.

When I wrote up the story, I remember thinking to myself that it was odd that they did not follow the usual procedure and send it to the Police Board first before approving. But, instead of checking to make sure that my notes were correct, I wrote it up, even though I was second guessing myself.

Now, the paper I work for is not a national or even city paper. It is a small town weekly—but none-the-less, I think it is a pretty good paper. We try to cover community events and let the people know what is happening in the municipality. I feel that writing up council news is sort of my way of contributing to the community.

Last night a Councillor pointed out that the paper had made an error in the article about the speed limit. He did not come to me quietly and tell me about the mistake—he announced it in front of Council and the audience of people who were attending because there was something on the Council Agenda that they were interested in.

I would be the first one to admit I do not take criticism well. I learn from it never-the-less. But I thought that the Councillor was particularly ungenerous in his comments. And it stung all the more because I was guilty of making a mistake. A mistake I had not bothered to correct, even though I had questioned it.

I probably deserved a little comeuppance, and the fact that I should have made a phone call to check my facts was undeniable. But why did the Councillor feel he had to embarrass me? I try to portray Council in a fair fashion as a reporter is charged to do. The mistake is not earth shattering. It can be easily remedied. That is not the point. The point is that it felt like someone was trying to make himself look good at the expense of another.

Am I just being a little too sensitive? Yes, I guess I am. But I would never do to another what was done to me last night.

What do you think?

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