Why I love Canada, by Mark Smith

In honour of Canada Day (July 1), I wanted to post some of the reasons that I love Canada. Canada has supplied us with some great inventions, i.e. the thermos, snowmobile, telephone, basketball, hockey, ginger ale, Trivial Pursuit and the zipper, but it is more than just brilliant people, I’m looking at you Trebek. Canada is what we would be like if there wasn’t so much testosterone running through our veins. Canada is the second largest country in the world and has never picked a fight with us, except for burning down our White House in 1812, but we’ve forgiven you for that and have written it out of our history books. Canada has given the U.S. some of the greatest talent imaginable:
Hotties like Kim Cattrall, Natasha Henstridge, Tricia Helfer, Shania Twain, Estella Warren, Neve Campbell, Evangeline Lilly, Pamela Anderson, Rachel McAdams, Elisha Cuthbert , Carrie-Anne Moss and Melanie Farmer.

Sports stars like Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Steve Nash.
Comedians and actors like Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, Jim Carrey, Tommy Chong, Eugene Levy, Howie Mandel, Colin Mochrie, Rick Moranis, Mike Meyers and Leslie Nielsen.
And true bad asses like Neil Young, Bernie Ebbers, Don Cherry , Bob and Doug McKenzie, and Jack Bauer.
How can we Americans not love a place that eats everything with gravy, drinks beer like mother’s milk, has two national sports that are basically fights with some sort of scoring system (Hockey and Lacrosse), has more donut shops per capita than anywhere else in the world, allows forward progress of its receivers before the ball is snapped and has a national symbol that is a Beaver? You read that right, a Beaver. I think it is high time we stop with our condescending talk about the queen-loving, mullet-wearing Eskimo neighbours to the north who want to be our 51st state. It is time they get the respect they deserve. I for one love Canada and everything Canadian, except for maybe your healthcare and French Canadians. So on July 1st enjoy a donut, a piece of back bacon, poutine , a nanaimo bar and an ice cold Molson and thank God that you are lucky enough to live in Canada or its cocky, Shatner-stealing, Mexico-touching neighbor to the South that has the pleasure of sharing the longest border in the world with this great land. Happy Canada Day!



Is this really Reality??

So given that it is summer, and all truly worthwhile television is on hiatus until September (February for us LOSTies), it is the perfect time for "reality" televsion shows to reign. Now I don't mind a good "reality" show, I am a huge fan of The Amazing Race... or am I just a huge fan of Phil..hmmmm, good question. Anyway, like I said, I enjoy a good reality show here and there, and I think summer is the best time for networks to air them. They don't need to worry about huge ratings since they know people aren't watching television in the summer (except for me of course), and with everything else on break... why not, they can test the market for new ideas. I think there are 4 categories of reality tv shows. The first are the utterly ridiculous, why is this even on shows... case in point My Super Sweet Sixteen. I will admit, I have watched this show, and it will SUCK. YOU. IN. There is something about those pompous, bratty, spoiled little girls (and sometimes boys) that is like a deer caught in headlights. You can not turn away!! Thank goodness for commercials or I would never turn the channel. Now most of MTV and Vh1's reality shows fall into this category, 16 just represents it the best (see also: Date My Mom, Next, Real World, Flavor of Love, and I Love New York).

The next category is the mostly ridiculous, but for some reason seems to get the audience. The best example of this is Age of Love. Now this one might be able to go back and forth between this and the first category, but these shows succeed in getting some sort of "celeb" to be on the show. Perhaps the producers feel this will give them some credit? This is basically the poor mans (womans) Bachelor, except it's the oldies (ladies in their 40's) against the youngins (ladies in their 20's). Lame, it won't get season 2. Now I would also lump the Bachelor in this category, but many people watch it and it has been on for 495654 seasons it seems... Also in this category Big Brother, Skating with Celebrities, and the Apprentice.

Category 3 are those shows that actually require you to do something, learn something, and have a brain (even if it is just a small one). These include The Amazing Race, which I consider to be the best reality show on tv these days. It's fast paced, has crazy participants, you get to see the world, and they actually have to work for the prize at the end!! And every week, we get to see Phil, and Browsie (if you watch the show, you're well acquainted with Browsie)! Other shows in this category are American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, Survivor (although I don't get this one), Vh1's World of Pop Culture, and the real reason for this blog.... there is a new show starting in a week or so on NBC called The Singing Bee.
Now, John Belushi isn't on the show, that's just what comes up when you search google images for The Singing Bee, I thought it was funny. Anyway, so the premise of the show, is like karaoke. They play a song, you sing along with it, and then the words stop and you have to keep singing, and we see who knows the lyrics the best!! Now maybe it is just me who is excited by this because all of the clips show them singing along to fantastic 80's tunes, and we all know I love the 80's. This show will either prove without a doubt that my brain is overloaded with random songs lyrics, or that I just think I know all the words when in reality I have been making them up as I go along. Oddly enough however, while I was watching SYTYCD last night, Fox aired a commercial for a new show starting in a week or so curiously called... Don't Forget the Lyrics. Hmmmm... do we think a spy from either Fox or NBC leaked something? Sounds pretty much like the same show to me, with different hosts only. NBC has Joey Fatone (*nsync, Dancing with the Stars fame, and Fox has Wayne Brady (Who's Line is it Anyway, The Wayne Brady Show). I think I am going to have to watch NBC's version. Oh who am I kidding, we all know I am going to watch both of them!! I do think NBC's will be better.

Ok, the last category. Shows that involve absolutely no talent, no skill, nothing... just luck and maybe a slightly annoying personality and/or sad story. Prime examples are Deal or No Deal, 1 vs 100, The Nanny (just need crazy kids and parents without common sense), Wife Swap (2 extreme opposites on the parenting charts) and to some degree Extreme Home Makeover.

I know I left off a lot of shows... there are way too many to name, but I am excited for my song lyric shows... I just hope it's a lot of 80's tunes like they showed! Anyone else looking forward to them, or am I on my own?


Wicked Weather

So you always hear the reports of bad weather: thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes etc., but I don't think you ever really grasp the extent of them, even seeing pictures. This past weekend, an F-4 level tornado (the worst is F-5) ripped through Elie, Manitoba, the town my sister and her family lives in. Their town is about a half hour west of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where my parents live, but the storm stayed in Elie. My Dad called to tell us the news and that everyone was okay Saturday night. Sunday we got pictures...

Thankfully, there were no injuries or deaths. With a storm of that magnitude, it was a blessing no one was even hurt. It is difficult to lose your possessions, house, everything, but it could have been so much worse, and we are glad my sister and her family, and the entire town is safe. My sister's home sustained damages, and they are waiting to find out if it is safe for them to move back into it, but others in town were not as lucky...

This last picture is of someone's van that wound up in my sister's backyard. You don't really realize the magnitude of these storms until you go through them I think. It is amazing to think that these storms are mostly wind... there were 2x4's sticking out of roofs, siding, cars flipped over, poles knocked down, raw turkeys laying in the field, debris strewn everywhere. Oddly enough, in all of the chaos, this is what was discovered when the storm cleared..

apparently bird baths are tornado resistant!!


We interrupt this program....

... to bring you nothing of importance.

Dear TV news anchors,
I don't mind having a regularly scheduled program broken into when something happens... 9/11, heads of countries dying, war, child abductions... you know things that are important and affect a large amount of people. I do mind when these interruptions bring me absolutely nothing that will enlighten me, or that I care about (see caption above... on MSNBC no less - thanks for the hard hitting news coverage!!), and those that last much longer than they actually should, especially when there is no actual information at the time, or there is nothing new to say. At this point, don't start assuming and analyzing... instead, go back to the regularly scheduled program and break in later when you have new information. What I hate even more is when the program gets interrupted for no reason... okay, well there is always a reason, I guess I just don't feel it warrants 2 hours of coverage.
Example #1) NYC - a plane crashed into a building on the upper east side. YES this should have broken into news stories, especially given 9/11. However, as the coverage continued, no one knew anything. The same news person went back and forth 4 or 5 times on whether it was a plane, a helicopter, or perhaps a large man in a cape. Ok, no man in a cape, sorry. This interruption was fine, it just went on a little long.
Example #2) Salt Lake City - Elizabeth Smart is found alive. YES, no problem with this interruption (although at the time, as soon as the breaking news story came up, I thought to myself, oh great, it's raining outside and they have to let us know). It was wonderful to see good news and see that she was alive. However, again, a little long on the coverage, especially since they had no information at this point except that she had been found. Perfect, tell us that, and then go away until you know something else.
Example #3) Minneapolis - Construction workers trapped under a collapsed floor. YES - sure break in and tell us, but don't break in until you know what is going on. Do you really think it makes you look smarter to break in with a story, yet not know any of the details? The woman had no idea what had happened... people were calling in saying they heard a big boom, fire, smoke... no one had a clue. About 2 hours later the coverage finally concluded. They were pouring concrete on the third level of a building, part of it collapsed, one man was trapped. Everyone was okay, they removed the man, he had minor injuries. Everyone was alright. Good story, happy ending, way too much coverage.

Now the 3 things these stories have in common is that they happened in the middle of the day, over the lunch time news or during soap operas.... a pain, but not missing much anyway.

Example #4) Minneapolis - Thunderstorms and Tornado Watches. MAYBE - They are important stories, especially for those in the paths of these storms, but the one here last night... NO. Coverage started during the 5:00 news, perfect place for it, not interrupting anything. Coverage continued over the 6:00 hour - we lost some more news, some Wheel of Fortune, no big problem, eventhough I do enjoy WOF quite a bit. Coverage continued into the 7:00 hour.... interrupting Last Comic Standing, AFI's 100 Best movies, and SYTYCD. N0t acceptable!!! At this point we all know there are storms in the areas, those being hit by it probably don't even have any power to watch the news coverage.... do we really need the weatherman showing us the radar map for 2 and a half hours to see where the storm is??? Why can't they just run the little things along the bottom of the channel letting us know which counties and cities are in harms way? If things get really bad, break in and tell us a tornado touched down. But seriously, stop showing us some little kids picture of golf ball sized hail in his hand while people are dancing for their lives!!! Unacceptable. Luckily, Fox sure knows how to drag out a show (Idol anyone??) and I only missed one couple dancing... but through out the show, they broke in 3 more times to tell us there were still storm watches in effect. Thanks... must have missed the continuous crawl along the bottom of my screen telling me the exact same thing.
Ok, so I know, I sound like some cranky old grandpa who can't get those darn neighbour kids to stop walking on his lawn... but long winded, non informative news breaks bug me!! Even when it is crappy TV on... do we really need to hear the same thing repeated 17 times in 5 minutes? You'd make more friends with shorter, more informative news breaks. Any current or future news reporters who may be reading this.... break in, tell me what's going on (the facts, not the analyzings), leave... and don't come back until you have new, useful information to tell me.

Thank you.


Slow Summer Days

Maybe it's the heat, maybe it's the new city, or maybe it's the lack of a job... but summer sure seems to go by slower than other seasons. TV shows take a break, or new craptastic reality shows, not worth watching (Age of Love anyone??), pop up... people take vacations, the world just decides it's time to take a break. Seems that break is applying itself to blogging. My blogging specifically. There's just nothing going on to blog about, so I am left to blog about nothing to blog about? Although, I have loved reading other people's blogs and their summer adventures!! Guess I need to either take a fantastic vacation, blog about my toddler, or be having a baby.... I vote for the fantastic vacation!! I'm thinking the upcoming long weekend trip to Winnipeg for a wedding and the Idaho trip for the school reunion won't count as FANTASTIC vacations right? It's always good and fun to go and visit family and friends, but it's not a trip to Prague or Reykjavik by any means!
Luckily the city seems to have some cures for the summer slowdown. There is a Jazz festival in St. Paul this weekend and again in Minneapolis the weekend after. There is also a Taste of Minnesota (or Minneapolis) in a week or two... who knew? Plus countless free outdoor concerts at many of the parks and lakes thoughout the area.
Minnesotans seem to love every minute of the summer they can get (perhaps to counter every minute of winter they get??). Every Friday about 3:00-4:00 the traffic rolls north to cottage country! Every truck pulling a boat, every SUV with jetskis on top... Minnesotans love the lake! Hard to imagine why.... close to a lake, trees everywhere, peace and quiet, relaxing... as long as the cabin is fully equipped with electricity, running water and a flushable toilet of course! Big surprise... who know I wasn't a "let's rough it" kind of girl, right?
A nice weekend day trip should suffice though, check out some Falls, have a picnic, take a nap under a tree maybe? I am guessing it wouldn't be too hard to convince Mark to spend a Saturday that way.


Happy Father's Day!

We just wanted to say Happy Father's Day to the Fathers in our life!
Thanks for being our Dads and for everything you've done, continue to do, and will do for us in the future (like that money you said you were going to send... haha just kidding!!).
We really appreciate all that you do, and wanted to make sure you knew.
Have a great Father's Day.
(... and what's with the blatent Pepsi product placement??)


Breakin' it down MSP style

So this weekend Minneapolis has their Mosaic street fair, cultural event downtown. It was a free event, so Mark and I decided to check it out after a day of neighbourhood shopping. We weren't too sure what to expect as we approached... but it was a pretty decent time. We got there just as it was starting, so there wasn't too much going on. We got some food from the local vendors set up. They had a few restaurants or something set up and you could get Mexican, African, Chinese and some other types of food. So we sampled a few things and listened to/watched a local drumline/dance team perform. They were pretty good, very entertaining.

After the drums, we moved along to check out the St. Paul Irish Dancers. I am not a huge Irish Dancer fan... well, I've never seen it too much, so I wasn't overly excited. It was a group of young kids and a few teenagers, and they were really good!! There was this one little girl, the crowd absolutely loved her! She was so little, and she couldn't have been more then 7 or 8, she was so much fun to watch! She is the littlest girl in the picture to the left. So cute!! And al the girls had their hair curled so when the danced and jumped their curls went up a foot or two in the air!! Must have taken forever to curl their hair like that!

Alright, so after drumlines and Irish dancing... what comes next? Hip Hop obviously!! We made our way over to the theatre with the Hip Hop "exhibit"... what would we find there? There was a group of 6 people, probably in their mid 20's, and they broke down the history of hip hop for the crowd, did some examples of 4 styles of hip hop, and then did a routine they put together. I think the funniest thing was the audience make-up. There were some families with kids, some younger couples (Mark and I), and some 20 somethings... but there were also some much older people in the crowd. At one point the girl doing the history part asked if everyone knew what something was (I can't remember, but most people would have at least heard of it) but there was an older couple (60's maybe) sitting in front of us, and they leaned over to each other and both said "what? what is that?", it was funny. Everyone had a good time though and the dancers did some pretty sweet moves. (the picture to the right isn't the group we saw, but one guuy did do this move!) The whole time we were there I kept thinking of Suzanne and Melissa, and how they would have loved this and would have probably been dancing along!! It was hard to get pictures because we were a few rows back, but I got some video of them... but apparently I don't know how to upload that to this website, so I can't share it with everyone!! It was a fun night though. We actually ran into someone we know from our ward here too... very strange since we have only been to the ward a few times and what are the odds?? We are looking forward to discovering the other fun, free, city events they have going on in the summer here... there seems to be a lot! Should be a fun summer!


Obsession of the Week

If you happen upon this item while grocery shopping, I highly suggest you give in to the temptation and buy it. You will not be disappointed... you will be upset that it took you this long to discover them, but you won't know how you lived without it!
I never saw these at Costco in Queens, but here in Minneapolis I stumbled upon them. I don't even like dark chocolate, but when I saw these, I had to have them. I LOVE Pomegranates, so I decided to overlook the dark chocolate... and I am so glad!! This is probably the BEST ice cream bar I have ever had in my entire life. So if you see them, give them a try and tell me how much you love them too!!


Until Next Year...

Another year come and gone.
And this year it goes to a team named after a Disney movie. Granted they aren't the same guys who played on the team in the movie... but who names a professional sports team after a Disney movie? Ottawa fought hard, and it would have been great to see them take home the cup, but it wasn't their year I guess. Anaheim outplayed and outscored them, so it's only fair they get to take home the big prize. It's a great reward for a great hockey player - Selanne congratulations, Winnipeg was rooting for you (even if they were cheering for Ottawa!).
Ottawa you fought the good fight, we'll be behind you next season! Enjoy the Cup Anaheim, it's coming home next year!


Daily Ponderances

As I lay on the couch listening to the ladies of the view battle it out over some inane "hot topic" two questions came into my mind.

Number 1:

What ever happened to PopUp Video? I was going through the online TV guide and noticed that Vh1 Classics seems to be running every episode of PUV ever made. Why did they stop making it? No matter what the video was, as soon as those little bubbles with random information popped up, I was hooked. The most memorable PopUp tidbit I recall was from a Celine Dion video (I can't remember which one - it was a slow song, not that that will help) and she was running down a hallway in a long flow-y nightgown-esque number. Anyway the bubble popped up and said something about the fastest Canadian woman's time for some race (since Celine is Canadian) and then it popped up with Celine's time (I imagine they made it up) but I laughed. There are so many cheesy and awesomely bad videos out these days, that you would think PopUp Video would be busier than ever!! But they stopped making them a year or so after the show started I think. We should start a petition to bring it back!!

Number 2:

Who is the whack job that created those ridiculously, absurd Pepto Bismol commercials?? First they started with regular office folk doing little dances holding the appropriate part of their body to go along with the song... and now they have larger than life robots, monsters and Greek mythological ladies doing the dance? Really? Do we need to see bodily orifices covered up so that we know Pepto helps with diarrhea? The first time I ever saw one of these ads I thought it was a joke or a parady for something, but NO! it was the real commercial! I try to imagine that brain storming session at the PB offices:

VP 1:"So, we need a new ad campaign - PB doesn't seem to be selling as well as it could be. Any ideas?"

VP 2: "What if we remind people of all the uses PB has? That it's not just for upset stomachs?"

VP 1: "You mean people don't know they can use it for heartburn, naseau, indigestion and diarrhea too? We need to inform the public!"

VP 2: "What if we did a commerical like this?" (that's for you Suzanne!)

VP 1: " Perfect! Not only do we get the message out about our product, but we might even reach a new demographic! We should also do ads like this."

VP 2: "Perfect. Everyone will remember us now! Great work team!!"

Ok, so that's probably not what happened, and more because my brain is turning to mush, but still... if I was an ad exec, I don't think I would give the "ok" to these ads!! Is it just me?

I guess they thought this wouldn't cut it anymore.


souliers, zapatos, schuhe, scarpe, schoenen, sapatos, ботинки, sko, 鞋, 靴, SHOES!

No matter how you say it.... it brings a smile to my face!
I feel it is time I put a subject that I am notoriously taunted for to rest; My shoes. I will admit it I. Like. Shoes. No matter how you are feeling, shoes always make you feel better, such as the ones to the right (thank you Mark - only the best husband EVER buys you shoes like this for your birthday, right??). If I am out shopping for clothes, and can't find what I like, or can't afford it, or it doesn't fit.... I can turn to shoes, and no matter how I feel about myself/body/image... shoes will not let me down! It is an easy way to spice up an outfit, add some colour, update a piece and just make you feel good. Today I bought my latest pair of shoes, and they are fabulous. I tried them on when I was in Texas, but alas they did not have my size in the colour I wanted. I decided I would wait until we moved and I would get them out here, but after calling today, the stores did not have them in, so I ordered them online (shoes are to the left).
Also, MN has no tax on clothing or shoes of ANY price! Beat that Manhattan $110 limit! So I decided since I had just unpacked and put all of my shoes in their shoe rack (and storage box) that I would count how many shoes I actually own and put these rumours to rest! I know some people will still think I have a ton of shoes, but knowing the friends I have (Dawnell I point my finger at you) I don't have THAT many shoes!! My grand total comes to (drumroll please) .... 37 pairs. That includes flip flops, boots, sandals... everything except slippers (it would be 43 with slippers). So... I want to know how many pairs of shoes YOU have. I am willing to bet, I am on the low end of shoe ownership.