Well I Gone And Done It.

I’ve been threatening to do it for awhile.  I finally deleted my facebook and twitter account.

Both platforms are designed to foster a kind of over-sharing, one-sided ego-centric narcissism that really grates. Most people try to deal with it but I find it too aggravating. From now on, I’m going to rock it old school and instead rely upon personal email or telephone for my personal contact.

On another note, I was surfing around the net and saw this from the Journal of Judgement and Decision-making. The title grabbed me:

“On The Reception And Detection Of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit.”


A must-read for many, I suspect. 🙂

On Writing


Nellie Bly

When I was a kid I read a book about Nellie Bly. Bly was a turn-of-the-century journalist best known for her undercover work posing as a mental patient at the Woman’s Lunatic Asylum on Roosevelt Island.  This was groundbreaking stuff for a woman who had not yet secured the right to vote, own land, control her own wages or gain custody of her own children. It was a man’s world, in every sense, and Nellie Bly owned it. (At the age of 31, she married a 73-year-old millionaire and when he died in 1904, ran his company.  The girl was boss, literally and figuratively.)

After I read Bly’s bio, I decided I wanted to be a writer. By the time I was of university age, my ambition changed somewhat–I skipped journalism for psychology.  I’m not sure why. But I’ve never stopped writing.

I recently purchased Stephen King’s “On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft.” It’s a great book and written in King’s easy to read, story-telling style. According to King, there are several key elements to being a good writer Here are some of them, in no particular order:

  1. First write for yourself, then write for the audience. “When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.”
  2. Don’t use passive voice. This means that the road was not crossed by the chicken.
  3. Avoid adverbs.  Eliminate the ones that are unnecessary by writing better.
  4. Read. If you want to be a writer, you have to be a reader.
  5. Kill the Darlings. We all get attached to a particular passage or turn of phrase, but if it doesn’t advance the story, kill it.
  6. Don’t be pretentious. Readers want a good story; they don’t care how many big words you use. Use the first word that comes to mind. It’s probably the better one anyway.
  7. Learn how to write descriptions. This is the backbone of every good story.
  8. Don’t worry about grammar.  Don’t obsess on “grammatical correctness.” You should already have basic grammatical skills. Story comes first.
  9. Love to write.  Writers love to write. It makes it less like work.
  10. Stay healthy.  Eat right, sleep right, stay grounded.

Part memoir and part practical advice, there are some hilarious moments in the book.  (Young Stevie wiping his bum with poison ivy is a particular hoot; he and his brother almost blowing up the city’s power grid is another).

It’s a great read and I highly recommend it.


The Tempest, Part II

In my previous post I told you about the (possibly) transgendered lifeguard and the two women who complained about her because she uses the ladies’ washroom.

I followed up with the lifeguard who received the complaints, and she told me the latest twist.

Turns out our transgendered lifeguard is not transgendered at all.  She is intersexed, and had lived the first 30 years of her life as a man.  She’s only identified as a woman for the past 9.  She is also rabidly religious, thinks gay people and trans people are evil sinners and believes a whole lotta other crazy shit which would keep a psychiatrist busy for decades.

The temerity of an intersexed woman who is as masculine as any cis male, thinking that gay and trans people should be denied the civil liberties she herself enjoys.

The irony of an intersexed woman being on the receiving end of complaints by two women who are as ignorant and uninformed as she is.

Gotta shake your head.

Tempest In A (Summer) Teapot

It’s been sunny and hot which means one thing:  I’m at the pool or the beach.  Summer is my bestest, favourite time of year.

Every year the complex gets a new contingent of young lifeguards for our outdoor pool. The seniors love them and waste no time befriending them.  The lifeguards think it’s a hoot–and a pretty easy gig. This year, however, might be interesting.

One of the lifeguards appears decidedly male, but wears a pink bathsuit bottom beneath her lifeguard shirt. Her name is Ann*.  I assumed she might be transgendered, and hoped that she wouldn’t encounter a problem with the senior residents.  After a few weeks of no controversy, I was happy.  The seniors were befriending her like they did all the other lifeguards. Yay progress.

But then.

One day while I was paddling around in the pool I saw a young woman talking to Jennifer, one of our other lifeguards, gesturing madly toward the washroom.  Afterwards I asked Jennifer what the fuss was about.

Turns out that Ann was spending her breaks and lunch hour in the relative coolness of the women’s washroom during a particularly intense heat wave, and the young woman was uncomfortable showering with her there.  The young woman insisted that Ann be told to use the handicapped washroom instead.

Jennifer and Oliver, the other lifeguard on duty at the time, were having none of it.  They believe that Ann should use the washroom which corresponds to her identified gender and informed the young woman that they were not inclined to direct Ann otherwise. The young woman was politely told to take her concerns to management.

Transgendered persons are legally protected in Canada, so it might be a more productive use of this young woman’s time to educate herself about the trans community rather than issue nonsensical complaints about them. If she starts complaining again, I might just tell her that–and email management in support of Ann.

For now, I’m hoping it’s a tempest in a teapot. The good news is that the young woman is in the minority, and the seniors, god bless `em, are going with the flow.

As I said:  Yay progress.

[*Ann is a pseudonym. I felt obliged to protect her privacy.]