Saturday, October 27, 2007

In the News

California Fires
I have many friends in southern California, people who live in the fire zone, fortunately everyone is okay. Lesson #1 - If you’re an affluent white person, help is on the way.

Brittany Spears
I confess, all this coverage on the Brittany’s of the world drives me crazy. It’s our fault, as we live in a culture that craves dirty laundry. Lesson #2 - you know you’ve hit rock bottom when K-Fed is the responsible one.

I'm off to the T-dot - (that's Toronto, Mom) - see you all when I get back.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Today while walking to work – red, golden leaves – amber sun – crisp fall air.

Tonight while walking the dogs – full Hunter’s moon – a beautiful luminous world.

A good day to be alive.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I’m a PR chick, which means that my family and friends aren’t quite sure what I do for a living. It’s simple really, I work with media – so when I travel I’m especially interested in finding the pulse of the local media.

One of the first things you notice when visiting foreign countries is how graphic the media coverage is. In North America, we aren’t used to seeing images of mothers crying over their child’s dead body, as we eat our morning cornflakes.

My recent trip to Europe really got me thinking about how other nations perceive Americans. I have to admit, it’s not a pretty picture.

One of the many challenges that America faces, is the fact that George Bush has done so much damage to America’s diplomatic relationships. The truth of the matter is, to the rest of the world, he’s the bully in the sandbox. The one everyone is afraid to piss off, but dreams of kicking the shit out of someday. In this day and age, you can’t afford to be a diplomatic buffoon – I’m sorry, but Americans deserve so much more from their leader.

The world is getting smaller, and like it or not we are all connected. It is going to take a global effort to deal with the real challenges facing the human race. Global warming, over population, degradation of the environment, poverty, war – you get the idea, ....and it's time George did.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Movie Trouble

When it comes to movies, Tom and I speak two very different languages. Fortunately, we recognized this fact early on in our relationship, and realized that if we were ever going to make it - seeing movies as a couple may have to be avoided at all costs.

To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, this is a breakdown of how different our views are:

Mika’s Criteria for a Good Movie

  • Subtitles
  • Independent films that are best seen on the big screen
  • Complicated plots
  • Unrequited love
  • Flash backs or dream sequences
  • Ambiguous endings, leaving the viewer to imagine what happens next
  • And yes, clowns or mimes crying on the beach are a good thing

Tom’s Criteria

  • Little or no dialogue – just people shooting at each other
  • No chick flicks
  • A naked woman is good, two naked women making out with each other is better
  • Car or helicopter chases
  • Things blowing up
  • Everybody speaks English, except for the bad guy, who speaks English, but with a thick accent
  • A simple plot, which always consists of good versus evil – and even though it’s touch and go – good always kicks ass in the end
  • People should never, under any circumstances, break out in song or dance.
  • Music should only be heard during the actions scenes, and preferably something by Aerosmith
  • And anywho - why pay to see a movie, if it’s only a matter of weeks before the DVD comes out?

Things have come to a head since Tyler left home, as baby boy has always been my movie buddy. Sure, I had to suffer through the Disney years - and there was that horrible pre-pubescent period when I had to go see Biodome– but eventually, Tyler and I shared a love of the same movies. When he was living at home, we used to go see movies on a regular basis. Afterwards, we would go for a bite to eat and discuss the merits of the show we had just seen.

Maybe it was an empty nest thing, but when Tyler left home, I decided that Tom and I should give the whole movie thing another try. I have to say people, it hasn’t been easy – in fact it’s been hell.

First of all, if Tom doesn’t like the movie, he has no trouble expressing himself. Unfortunately, he does this during the movie. Loud whispers in my ear such as “You owe me, babe – you owe me Big Time” - or - “Why are you putting me through this?”

Tonight I convinced my husband to go see “Across the Universe”. In case you haven’t noticed I’m a hippie chick at heart, and this movie had my name written all over it. It was touch and go, let’s just say when the singing started – amid a scene portraying football players dancing like ballerinas - Tom started to moan. But eventually he kept to himself and quietly watched. To make a long story short – I loved the show – Tom sort of liked it.

Going home in the taxi, I pointed out how the movie’s time period – the 60’s – parallels our current political situation. How even though back then we were fighting the Vietnam war, we were also fighting a living room war at home, civil rights, the generation gap, etc. - and how the Beatles were so far ahead of their time, and the realization that their music now captures a new era.

I could see Tom was thinking about his response, and after some time he held my hand and answered - “Yeah, like, someday people will think the Beatles were aliens, like Mozart or something”.

Maybe there’s hope for us yet……

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Need to Read

I may not be a great writer, but I am a great reader. My need to read started at a very young age – I still have all of the books from my childhood. Not to mention that the only time I skipped school was in fifth grade, so that I could sneak home and finish reading Gone With the Wind.

Today, almost all of the books I read are passed on to friends and colleagues. I only keep the books that really move me – books that I plan on rereading throughout the years - this is one of them.

A Three Dog Life, is so beautifully written that I forced myself to read slowly, as I didn’t want to finish it. It is a memoir - about life, love, and the ability to continue when faced with the unimaginable.

The author, Abigail Thomas, didn’t start writing until she was in her late forties. A comforting thought, and also a reminder that it is never to late to get started.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Femme Fatale

Maggie is a femme fatale – I’m not sure how she does it – but the men in our family find her irresistible.

Tex, Tyler and Tom all fawn over her, attending to her every need. Case in point - according to Tom, I need to loose a few pounds – but Maggie, well she’s just big boned.

Today she had a little mishap, a small dewclaw injury, and at the first sight of blood Tom rushed her to the vets office. By the time I got home everything was squared away - Maggie was no worse for wear, sitting on Tom’s lap, and already on her second round of doggie treats.

As Tom was comforting her, I overheard him softly say "Nobody puts Maggie in a corner."

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Last in Line

Everyone has an Achilles Heel – for me it’s my knees – a result of poor genetics, years of basketball, Texas twirling, and two surgeries in the late 70’s. A few years ago my doctor suggested that it was time to consider knee replacement, predicting that if I didn’t act soon, within a year I would have a total knee blow out. I weighed my options and decided to wait, reasoning that with time there were sure to be advances in technology.

I also subscribe to the philosophies of “No pain, no gain” and “If you don’t use it, you loose it”. Which means I’m determined to continue doing the things I love, expecting my knees to get with the program and cooperate.

One of the things I love is travel – and even though I think everyone should see the great cities of the world – my real passion is walking the back roads - always choosing the road less travelled. This often means long extended treks that get me to the places I really want to be.

Occasionally I find myself hiking with strangers, and used to believe in the full disclosure rule. I would explain the situation to my new travelling companions, telling them not to worry if I chose to do a crab walk down a steep mountain slope, as it was only a knee thing. I no longer do this, as once when hiking in the Bugaboos I started to feel like the special needs hiker in the group. I couldn’t help but notice that my fellow companions would get right in my face - talk in a slow, clear voice - assuring me that they were very proud of me - and knew I could do it.

The other challenge with hiking with strangers is the pressure to keep up with the pack. This is important for several reasons, the first being that the slowest person sets the pace for the entire group. I never want the condition of my knees to have a negative impact on anyone, so my personal goal is to always position myself in the middle of the pack. My rational being that I don’t have to lead, I just want to ensure that I am not responsible for slowing everyone down.

The other frightening thing is Tom’s theory of “Bad things always happen to the Last Native”. He often points out that you only have to watch a B movie to know that the last person in line is doomed. This applies to all genres – war movies, science fiction films, and especially Tarzan shows. The last person will inevitably disappear from his platoon, be abducted by aliens, or eaten by the lion.

Trust me on this, you never want to be the last native.

The Tao of Travel

My husband once called me a binge traveler, referring to the fact that every spring and fall I am in constant motion. I’d love to have the ability to pace myself - imagining how lovely it would be to go Christmas shopping in Paris – or head south of the equator during the short, dark days of winter. Considering that much of my travel is planned around business, the only option is to embrace this “boom or bust” lifestyle. Here are a few travel tips I’ve picked up over the years:

Less is More.

  • Unless your part of the British Royal family - or long to be a Sherpa - resist the urge to over pack.
  • Stick to wardrobe basics, neutral colors that you can easily mix and match.
  • When packing don’t fold your clothes, roll them. You’ll find they take up less room and don’t wrinkle.
  • Splurge and buy a bag with four wheels – trust me, it’s worth every penny.

Immerse yourself in the local culture.

  • It might seem like I’m stating the obvious, but I’m amazed how many times I’ve encountered miserable travellers – people who are unwilling to move beyond their comfort zone.
  • See the icons, but also make sure you walk around the local neighborhoods.
  • Don’t be afraid to use public transportation – especially in big cities where subways will allow you to avoid traffic and reach your destination sooner.
  • Eat locally – not only will you broaden your horizons – but you’ll find the food is fresher and less likely to cause stomach problems.
  • If you have dietary restrictions, always carry a card explaining exactly what they are, in the local language. I speak from experience, having watched poor Tom trying to act out “Lactose intolerant” on three different continents.
  • Make an effort to speak the local language. Granted, if you’re like me this might cause more than a few smiles – but people appreciate the effort.

Shit happens

  • When things go wrong, do not have a meltdown. Chances are you're going to need people who can help you sort things out - people who are used to dealing with the public - brow beating them is not going to help your cause.
  • Always remain calm and polite – you’ll find that you really do catch more flies with honey.
  • Do your research, otherwise you might unintentionally offend the locals. Once, when entertaining a group of Japanese business men, I decided to propose a toast. I raised my glass and said “Cin Cin” - which is perfectly charming if you’re in Italy - and roughly translated means “to your health”. I couldn’t understand why my well intended toast caused so much discomfort. It was only later that I learned that in Japan, Cin is another word for Penis.

Hiking Across Britain