Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Flaming donuts, Batman!

I wrote this yesterday, but I'm posting it today.


As for news from Toronto, let's start with the fire at Tim Hortons. A man walks into a donut shop, apparently with a gasoline can, goes into the bathroom, and intentionally or not, sets himself on fire. This was on Sunday, April 2nd.

Luckily, no one besides the guy who, well, set himself on fire, was hurt. The police aren't saying anything yet. But the Timmie's (as it is fondly called around here) was evacuated. So was the Metro Reference Library on the same block - which happens to be quite a large 6-storey library. And 12 police cars were on the scene, with reporters and bomb-detonating robots, and all this just 5 minutes from my apartment. And I slept through it all.

There was a funny quote in one of the news stories online. Replying to the fact that the emergency was enough to "shut down (part of) Yonge Street", someone replied, "it's worse than that, they shut down Tim Hortons". Maybe you have to be Canadian to get it. Tims is a Canadian institution (despite the fact that it may or may not actually be owned by an American company at this point). The fact is, a "double-double" - coffee with two cream and two sugar - is standard enough around here to make it into the Canadian Oxford dictionary.

I'd link to the quote, but as my eagle-eyed b/f noticed, the newspaper service (canada.com) has removed the quote from the original story. Online revisionism. There was also something in the original story about a visitor from Halifax who returned to the scene wearing a t-shirt that said, "Gimme my Timmies, and no one gets hurt".

So, how does this affect me? After months of having customers and skeezy sketchy non-customers ask for/demand the bathroom key at Starbucks, the manager finally decides to do away with the key system. The employees are all quite happy 'cause now we don't have to keep passing icky bathroom keys to people while we're trying to serve coffee.

Of course, now our customers are saying, "guess you're gonna need to put the bathrooms under keys, huh?"

Uh, no. However, I have personally re-instituted our "customers only" policy when I see sketchy skeezy crazy people head for the bathroom. After what I had to clean this morning, it is my only option - since I am NOT paid NURSES' WAGES.

I also got a lecture from a man who was angry that it took our police an alleged 6 hours to detonate a shopping bag they investigated further north at the Yonge & Lawrence Tim Hortons. (It was a cheap alarm clock w/ price tag on, inside a plastic bag). The employees phoned it in, 'cause they were understandably nervous. I shrugged and smiled and handed the man his coffee. Then he told me how the Israeli police would've been done with it in an hour. He used to live in Israel, he said. That didn't impress me, 'cause so does half my family.

"Well," I said ruefully, "I guess they've had a lot more practise".

"Oh, so I should be happy that our police haven't had more practise."

Uh, well, yes. In a way. Also, I don't know what was actually happening, and I don't know how to detonate a suspected bomb. Also, shut up!

To be honest, I don't think Toronto is ready to respond to a terrorist attack. The last line in the Toronto Star article is a quote of a passerby saying something like "of course it's not terrorism, this is Canada!". A Barbie-worthy comment. We're incredibly naive about our vulnerability here. But seeing as they were on the scene and I wasn't, I'm not about to judge the cops on this one. Yet.

It was a weird day today. I blame it all on Daylight Savings Time.


Reading You're Wearing That? Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation by Deborah Tannen. It dissects the ways in which moms and daughters frequently misunderstand each other.

Tannen mainly explores the concept of "metamessages" (similar to subtext). For example, when a mother says, "you're wearing that?", Tannen reveals what the mother means, why she says it, what the daughter hears, and why the daughter reacts the way she does - and all of the same in reverse.

There's not a lot of practical advice in terms of what to do once you've identified the "metamessages" in a mother-daughter conversation. Perhaps identifying them allows each person to create their own strategies for altering the cyclical nature of the exchanges. It's an interesting read, if only for all the anecdotes.

However, put it alongside The Meaning of Wife by Anne Kingston, and it's a powerful argument for staying single and childless as the route to happiness (for women)!


However, if you are gonna have a baby, then this is really cool:

Children can apparently learn sign language before they can manage spoken language, and thus Wee Hands was born. It's an organization that teaches parents to sign with their babies. They teach American Sign Language, so the signs are all established, nothing made up. I think this could be an incredibly valuable tool if it allows you to figure out what your kid wants before s/he can manage to tell you verbally.


I haven't been writing, but I've been thinking about my novel a lot. I'll be going to LA to visit the BF for two months. The main goals while there are:

(a) to finish my novel
(b) to try and like LA
(c) to not drive him crazy
(d) to not drive myself crazy
(e) to not drive the housemate crazy!

I think it's manageable possible.

Lastly, shameless plug on behalf of a friend:
Watch Sons and Daughters on ABC! It's a partially-improvised sitcom. It's absurd and sad and funny all at the same time.

Try it, you'll like it. Or not, but try it anyways.

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