Oil Spills. Also, Canned Gas.

I’ve been thinking about a lot of stuff today. Serious, environmental issues.

Oh, hang on. I just need to switch into HTML mode so I can post some multi-media all up in here. Booya!

Alright. So, there’s been a big oil spill. It’s close to the mouth of the Mississippi River in Louisiana. Seriously, can this State not catch a break? “Heckuva job, Brownie” is what comes to mind. /rolleyes.

Anyway, when I first read the news yesterday, the oil company, BP, tried to say it was smaller than it actually turned out to be. This surprises me. You wouldn’t think it would, because, you know, it’s an oil companies and mostly they’re big liars who tell big lies. But, it’s BP. I like BP. I met one of their VPs for BP Canada a few years ago, and he was top drawer. Also, he had a British accent. Anyway, BP is, after all, an oil company, but they’ve put a great big pile of money into alternative energy research, specifically at UC-Berkeley. So BP is collaborating with a bunch of hippies at a school upon whose example my own alma mater was designed. (Aside: the weather in suburban Toronto is WAY different from the weather at Berkeley. Baffling architecture. Anyway.) That’s nice. But then, oil spill. And BP, socially responsible corporate citizen, tried to say it wasn’t as big as it turned out to be. So now, Louisiana is in a state of emergency and having to take federal disaster money (disaster!), which is ironical because the Governor of Louisiana hates federal money and usually won’t take it even though it would help alleviate some of his State’s economic problems. But I digress.

The issue is that a deep water well pretty much exploded. We all know that oil and water do not, uh, mix. So they’re trying to burn the oil. In the water. I feel like that shouldn’t work, but apparently they’re burning 500-1000 barrels worth of crude each day. Remember the Exxon Valdez? It cost billions of dollars to clean up, and there was a huge legal settlement. And it took eons for Exxon to get their reputation anywhere near normal and you know what, I still think of that spill when I hear “Exxon”. Whenever I drive by an Exxon station in the US, I flip ’em the bird. You know, for all the birds they killed.

THIS gives me an excellent opportunity to post what I think is the most fantastic commercial on the television, an ad for Dawn dish soap and how the people who do these things use Dawn soap to clean animals caught in oil spills – Good Work, people. You deserve a medal. I love this song so much. And the commercial makes me a little misty-eyed.

The song is called “Wash Away” by a guy called Joe Purdy and you can listen to the whole song RIGHT. HERE.

I will be keeping an eye on the BP oil spill situation. I will do that on my computer, a MacBook Pro 17″. Which is now clean because yesterday I bought some CANNED GAS. That was an awesome segue, in my opinion.

I thought I would be using Canned AIR, because admittedly, I didn’t know that that Canned Gas exists, and I’ve just found out in my research that Canned Air and Canned Gas are the same thing, so my fear in Staples yesterday was unwarranted. The one thing that was a bit baffling was why the can got so cold after I used it. I was told that it was because of thermodynamics and that’s when I tuned out and started wanting to talk about oil spills and my love for Josh & Chuck on the Stuff You Should Know podcast. I can’t work without listening to these guys anymore. You should try them out and learn neato stuff. I’m going to suggest on their blogs that they talk about oil spills.

Oil and Gas all in one post. Woot.

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The White House Press Gaggle.

First, “gaggle” is a fun word. “Gaggle” is plural for “Geese”. A Gaggle of Geese! Say this five times fast, for funny results: “Get a Gorgeous Gaggle of Geese”. Seriously, it’s a fun game.

According to Answers.com, a “gaggle” is also defined as:

A cluster or group: “A gaggle of photographers huddled on the sidewalk beside a swelling crowd of onlookers” (Gioia Diliberto).”

Oh, but wait! There’s more fun to be had with defining “gaggle”. It’s also a military term, namely in the US Marine Corps, and there is a Marine Corps Dictionary (later post to be had on this as well – I bet it’s full of fun acronyms of military slang like FUBAR and SNAFU, terms that my grandfather – a Captain in the Blackwatch in WWII – tried to protect my virgin ears with and said “fouled” in the appropriate place. Silly Granddad, he had no idea, until I turned 19 and he started offering me double gin & tonics the moment I walked in the door of my grandparents house. But I digress.) The Marine Corps has enough terminology to fill a dictionary! That’s neat, and it exists informally on the internet here. I’ll come back to it later. In the meantime, I will leave you all to investigate if there is a printed version. Tell me if there is!

In USMC language, “gaggle” means, literally, “an unorganized group doing nothing”. This leads me to the subject of our wee chat here, the White House Press Gaggle.

I’ve had a fascination with the White House Press Secretary since George Stephanopoulos and DeeDee Myers. I saw DeeDee speak a couple of years ago with my pal Jenn, and she was exactly as cool as I thought she would be. She wrote a book about why women should rule the world, and that is something I can get onboard with. And then, The West Wing and CJ Cregg came along, and that’s where I learned of the gaggle. CJ was awesome, with her dry wit and confidence and slight tinge of insecurity as a woman in a traditionally male job. Side note: Aaron Sorkin is a bloody genius. Personally, I think his cocaine and, inexplicably, shrooms habit just made him better. I wonder when his next thing is coming out. (I had to look it up. People, he wrote the screenplay for “Moneyball”. This is going to be so, Sorkinly awesome. Also, he’s writing a new political thing. I’m all atwitter!)

Anyhoo, the White House Press gaggle is something between a formal, daily briefing in the briefing room and an informal, one-on-one, shoot-the-breeze session with the Press Secretary or one of his/her deputies. Before The West Wing, I thought all briefings were in the briefing room. Apparently not. Especially when POTUS (that is a fun nickname too. I should be MAGIC: “Mum And Generally Impressive Caretaker”. Heh. If you call me that, like “hey MAGIC! What’s going on!”, I will answer) is traveling, there is no formal briefing room to, well, brief the press from.

!!!

I know what you’re thinking – I too was amazed that with all it’s operating rooms and gourmet kitchens and basically, a swimming pool (not really), Air Force One doesn’t have a press room. As since reporters can’t actually file from AF1 (something that the press has been speaking to WHPS [nickname alert: whips?] Robert Gibbs about) I suppose there’s no need for a formal room, but anyway, they have a “gaggle” instead. That is, they have a back and forth Q&A session, no cameras, no policy announcements. It would appear that the gaggle is where they talk about stuff like POTUS’ Final Four bracket and goofy stuff that the White House staffers bet on, apparently not for money, which I think is bullshit. It’s pretty much the same thing as a scrum, except it’s got USMC endorsement with an, some might say, appropriate definition of the people involved. I don’t know if the Canadian or British military have a similar slang for the same thing. Hey, you can look it up, because that’s how you find stuff out!

I have recently discovered in my investigation of the gaggle that the White House publishes (!!!) a transcript of the gaggle! Neato! And they actually title the document “Gaggle”! With a capital G and everything! You can find Gaggle transcripts here. Helpful! Also, Politico 44 tells you on their daily schedule if there’s going to be a Gaggle, in advance. Will wonders never cease!

Also, it looks like I am tending to include pictures in posts, but since there are no cameras at the Gaggle (I’m spelling it with a capital G now. Sometimes, one must get with the program), there are, obviously, no photos of Gibbs in action at the Gaggle. Instead, you can have this, because it’s awesome and fun and Gaggle-y:

Paul Newman.

A few months back, in October 2009, I went to Boston. Boston is my favourite American city, by far, and not just because my amazing friend Rachel and her super-awesome husband Mike live there. I mean, Rachel and Mike are a big part of my love for Boston, don’t get me wrong. But seriously, Boston is a hyper-fantastic city. There is so much to see and do and the T System is the best public transit I’ve ever experienced (Paris is a close second, let’s be honest). Personally, I like the Green Line the best because not only does it take me to Rachel and Mike’s gorgeous abode, but it also takes me to the Museum of Fine Arts and the Freedom Trail and other sweet-ass places. The other lines are nice too, but the Green Line is rock n’ roll.

Um, Right.

Rachel and Mike took me to their family beach house in Connecticut (gorgeous and stunning) where, courtesy of Rachel’s dad, a dinner out and a promised bottle of Ontario Ice Wine (I’ll get that to you someday, Bruce!), I became the proud owner of a 17″ MacBook Pro (upon which I write this! very! post!), and where Rachel took me to a bookstore. I love bookstores. Everyone who knows me, and specifically Rachel and my boyfriend, knows this and accepts me in spite of my frequent bookstore detours. This bookstore wasn’t your average Indigo or Chapters or Barnes & Noble. It was a second-hand joint with books in tool sheds and wagons and outhouses and there was also a cat. I bought about 239087 books for like, $10. That might be an exaggeration, but you get the picture. Rachel decided I needed to read Exodus by Leon Uris. First, it’s a literary classic, and I could get on board based on Rachel’s recommendation. Second, it taught me a lot about the establishment of Israel, which was interesting and useful knowledge for me. So I dove into it, and didn’t put the book down from start to finish. Excellent recommendation, Rachel!

Then, a miracle happened. I discovered that Exodus the book was made into Exodus the movie! Excitement! And guess who was the star! No, go on, guess!

If you guessed Paul Newman, you would be correct. Obviously, this necessitated investigation, as all stuff that just occurs to a person does. Paul Newman in 1960 was HOT. And by “hot”, I mean HAWT. I had only ever seen Paul Newman in silver screen classics like “Message in a Bottle”, which is not really a silver screen classic, but, Paul Newman. My mother loves Paul Newman. Stupidly, I’ve never seen “Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid”. I’ve also never seen, inexplicably, “Rachel, Rachel” (considering my love for a) Rachel and b) Margaret Laurence, I can’t explain this omission).

Paul Newman oozed the HAWTNESS right up til the day His-Holy-God-Given-Hawtness died. I mean, if he was hawt in his 80s, he had to be positively SMOKING in his 30s and 40s. Herewith, 1960’s Paul Newman:Hello, Paul Newman!

Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about. Now, to be honest, the movie “Exodus” was a little too different from the book for my taste, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. It was still awesome. If you have 3 hours and want to watch not only an interesting flick, but also oogle (fun word!) Paul Newman in all his beautiful, prime hotness, I say make for your favourite streaming site (this one is excellent for this movie) and have a ball.

Paul Newman did lots of stuff other than movies. Wikipedia tells me he also made some good salad dressing and bar-be-que sauces, all for an excellent cause, as well as racing cars pretty well. I think that racing cars might’ve been a bit of a dangerous sport for a guy as hawt as the Newman, but whatever, I’m not the Newman police. Also, he was married to the same woman for 50 years, and that’s awesome. He coined the phrase “why go out for hamburger when you’ve got steak at home”. THAT I can get behind.
Oh, and he got more foxy as he went silver:
Silver Fox!

❤ you, Paul Newman!

Volcanoes.

First post. Hope you enjoy this project that is intended to remove from my head the sometimes wacky, sometimes scary, sometimes funny, sometimes ironic, sometimes naughty, sometimes just plain weird stuff that occurs to me over the course of the day. Jump in with me, add your similarly wacky, scary, funny, ironic, naughty, weird, etc. stuff that comes to your mind. Really, I need to know I’m not alone. Heh.

So my mother is in Italy on a much-deserved vacation. She and her husband are touring Rome and Siena and Florence. They have a wine tap in the place they are staying. By “wine tap”, I mean a tap in the hallway from which flows red chianti as opposed to, say, agua. That in itself is pretty nifty, as Madre can take her in-room carafe and fill it with the juice of the gods any time she damn well pleases. Anyway, they were meant to be joined by another couple before they left Rome for a couple of weeks Under the Tuscan Sun. The thing is, the other couple, traveling from Ottawa, Canada, were waylaid by a VOLCANO.

I got to thinking, seriously? A volcano??? What. The Hell. Is Going. On. I’ve been following the drama of the volcano in Iceland (named Eyjafjallajokill, which is totally unpronounceable to anyone whose mother tongue is a Romance language) covering a good portion of the Old World with the contents of its spittoon, and preventing people from my mum’s friends to the President of the United States from traveling eastward. Apparently, this is the biggest air traffic disruption in Europe since World War II. This is really something.

Now, I love a good disaster. Especially a good disaster movie. You know, where things like this aren’t REAL. Naturally, this required some investigation, like, for example, how often does stuff like this happen? What I discovered was UN. SETTLING. We all know about the Richter scale, a ranking system from 0-10 for earthquakes that determines if the shake of the very planet we in habit (scary!) is minor – “Hm. I just felt unbalanced. Was that my general feeling that broke through my sub-conscious or was that an earthquake”/runs to check the news, or major, e.g. California fell in to the ocean.

People, they have a Richter-like scale for Volcanic Activity. It is called the Volcanic Explosivity Index, or VEI for short. I’ve worked in government and as such, you know something is scary when it a) has an acronym and b) a science-y sounding name with an “Index”. The VEI is a scale from 0-8 (I wonder why not 10?) and “provides a relative measure of the explosiveness of volcanic eruptions” (thanks, Wikipedia!) This isn’t your grade 7 science project.

!!!!!

!!!!!!!!

!!!!!!!!!!

[DEEP BREATH]

There haven’t been too many huge eruptions recently, but seriously – do we live in the Paleozoic Era or something?!! This is just. not. supposed. to happen. If a relatively minor eruption like the one in Iceland can mess with modern society like this, what happens if the BIG ONE comes? I’m just saying that they should make a disaster movie about it so we can let it seep into our consciousness while embraced by the warm glow of Hollywood and a bankable action star like, oh, say, Bruce Willis.

Anyway, my mother’s friends went to Jamaica instead. I wonder if they have volcanoes there.

Check it out:

This is what is screwing things up