Baldness – is it really an act of nature?

Is it me or is there an unusually large population of bald people in society? In some cases it’s the unfortunate result of illness and/or medication, and in others it’s a matter of genetics, but very often it’s a choice of fashion…really?   Who wants to be bald? Thirty years ago our fathers were seeking options to restore their hair; tonics, plugs, toupees, anything to avoid advertising their lack of locks. Many (usually the old ethnic ones) reverted to the old comb over (cause we all know how attractive that is – 4 hairs, 18 inches long, wrapped around the scalp like a Hershey’s Kiss and secured with Gorilla glue)

The puzzling thing is that more and more young men are voluntarily shaving their heads.  Why? Hair is youthful. And let’s face it, only babies are cute bald. Everyone else looks older with thinning or no hair, so why shave it off?  I think I have it figured out.

I believe hair loss, when not the result of medication or genetics, is largely stress related. Men, historically the main or only breadwinners, bore the full stress load of the family finances. (women stayed home and fried chicken or vacuumed in high heels and pearls – nothing to lose their hair over) So can we assume that the greater the stress the higher the mans’ income, ergo the greater the hair loss? (If that means that a bald man is a good provider, I’ll take 2 please) It should follow then that the opposite is also true, yes? (Show me a man with a full head of hair, and I’ll show you a slacker!)

Those who didn’t lose their hair (good genes) turned grey or white early. Look at all the past US presidents – they all came out of their terms totally white. (I can hardly wait to see what the current President elect looks like after his term. Actually I’d love to know what he pays his barber to keep quiet. For that matter, I’d love to be a fly on the wall to see what he looks like when he gets up in the morning – no wait, not in the morning – too close to breakfast for a visual like that….weak stomach)

I think men in their twenties today are stressed with launching their careers in an environment that demands more of them than ever before. This stress causes the hair to start to thin out on top, so to avoid looking like Friar Tuck, they choose to shave their heads completely. They claim it’s ‘easier to maintain’, or ‘cooler in the hot summer’; whatever excuse to convince society that they’re not going bald, rather they have ‘chosen’ to lose their locks for the sake of fashion or hygiene. Oh please, you’re not fooling anyone and what you save on shampoo, you spend on hats and razors.

Over the past several decades, women left the kitchen and entered the work force and if you look around you’ll notice more and more women are now experiencing thinning and/or hair loss. Stress is the only common denominator. Now, with gender equality (such as it is) women have taken on the stress once born by men alone, and now they too are feeling the physical repercussions. (we should’ve stayed in the kitchen – it’s a lot easier to whip up a meal than find a good wig!)

At the end of the day, and until medical research can find a way for humans to bear stress without physical repercussions, we may have to face a growing population of baldies. Soooo, I would discourage any young girls from pursuing a career in hair dressing,,, we won’t need them with this current trend. Barbers are safe because they can still trim men’s facial hair. Isn’t it odd that a man can go bald but still have a full beard? What is it about stress that only affects the top of the head – maybe cause it’s closer to the brains….it kills the hair follicles closest. (Actually, with the female Boomer generation, in the throes of menopause, there’s a lucrative business to be made by trimming womens’ facial hair, but that’s another topic…..)

If there’s anything positive to come from this growing society of the hairless it’s that it should open up some great entrepreneurial opportunities for hats and haberdasheries, and the share price of “Tilley” should sky rocket! (Just imagine, an entire population sporting Tilley hats,,,,, with socks and sandals of course…..oi vey!)

                                        bald-guy                    cartoon-comb-over

Church Music – why is it so morose?

Let me preface this by saying I have no issue with any religion. I was born a catholic and will likely die one and I have only a very healthy respect for all religions. I have no designs on converting anyone nor do I want anyone else trying to convert me. I do however, have some questions about certain practices within specific religions; namely mine, and only because it’s the only one I am familiar with.

The catholic church has its’ traditions, with age old ceremonies and countless hymns, most of them thoroughly depressing. I was always led to believe that my faith is what will save me. If you’re struggling with life, go to church and God will help you. If you’re struggling with guilt, go to confession and God will help cleanse your sole. If you’re looking for solace, comfort and peace, you will find it at church, right? I think that’s how it’s supposed to work, but does it? Is that the environment they’re creating in the church? One of peace and love and mercy? Cause if they are, I’m not feelin’ the love!

I went to mass every Sunday growing up and I sang in the choir. I dragged my 3 children to church every weekend (with a pile of toys to keep them quiet while I repented for my sins) but for some reason I never felt happy after attending a service and I could never figure out why.

Then I happened upon a Baptist service on television one Sunday morning and it got me thinking because it didn’t leave me feeling bad about myself when it was over. Granted they too have one’ preacher’ who dominates the service and does a lot of screaming, but it didn’t seem accusatory.  What I found uplifting was their music. They’re all dancing in the aisle, clapping their hands and pounding tambourines – they’re having a ball! The catholic church on the other hand, has put more than half of their mass to music, and I don’t mean happy, upbeat, make you want to come to church, music. This stuff is tuneless, morose, and has the enthusiasm of a speed bump.

Further, the catholic service consists of a lot of lines like “I am not worthy” and “ I have sinned”. I know that, I’m no saint, but do I need to advertise my short comings? I come looking for solace and mercy but I get berated, and told to get on my knees and say 50 Hail Mary’s. And by the way, if we can all talk to God, anytime, anywhere, why do we have to go to confession at all? I’m all for cutting out the middle man so I go straight to the big guy and to date I’ve not been struck by lightning. And who are you to tell me I am not worthy? I lead an honest life, a Christian life, and if occasionally I falter I think I’d repent more effectively without having the snot pounded out of me. I think God knows that, and while I still consider myself catholic, I do not attend regular mass and the big guy and I have both made our peace with the arrangement.

I have to admit there are times when I long to go to a church service. There is a sense of peace you walk away with when you’re in Gods house but I fail to understand why they can’t make it fun. Religion should be a joyous thing. Just once I’d like to see someone boogie up to receive communion, and maybe they should hand out tambourines and maracas to the congregation. Put a little life into the service, get people up on their feet, singing and clapping, celebrating religion instead of fearing it. Make people feel good about themselves and the church, then maybe, just maybe, they’ll come back.

I think we could all learn a thing or two from the Baptists and Gospel Church goers and if I could muster up the courage (and a few conspirators) I’d crash the next catholic service with a mariachi band – bet that would blow the priest right out of his papal clompers!


The Interview

Job interviews have changed dramatically over the decades. (unless you’re looking for work as a security guard or Walmart Greeter in which case they don’t need an interview – they’ll take any breathing, willing body) Gone are the days when you are met by a sincere, friendly face and the conversation flows naturally. No longer do they want to know who you are, your likes, dislikes, hobbies, family; anything that will give them a sense for your fit within the office.  They really don’t care. Now all they want is a list of your designations and accomplishments to date, and an account on how you can be of benefit to their bottom line.  Random questions around the job description have been replaced with scripted interview questions, and there is a right or wrong answer.

Nothing is more stressful than the face to face interview, especially panel interviews, where 3-4 stern  looking people file in to a room and sit directly across from you, notepads in hand. As you scan the faces praying to make eye contact with someone compassionate, but don’t, your gaze drops to the writing on their pads – this is going to be long and painful,,,, and that’s just the way they want it.

They introduce themselves, outline the objective of the interview, (which generally has little to do with the actual job) all the while nodding in unison, and then the drill begins. The first question is situational, ‘how would you handle, blah, blah, blah’, then they sit back smugly and watch you struggle for the appropriate answer, brows furrowed in anticipation. (wouldn’t you love to flip that query back on them with something like “beats me, what would you do?”, or laugh out loud and say “I dunno man, that’s a stumper!”) If they like what you’re saying you’ll get the affirmative nods, no smiles, never, and once you’re done, they stare as though you’re not finished; they were expecting more, then each scribbles madly on their notepads. (you know, that security guard thing isn’t looking so bad now……)

You’ll then get the inevitable ‘give us an example of a time when you experienced blah, blah, blah, and how did you resolve it?’ Again, blank stares as you launch into your story, fumbling for the words that will spark a positive reaction. None comes – make one up, and make it a beaut! It’s not like they’ll check.  (Tell them how you saved the Prime Ministers son from a life of hooligamism by introducing him to the wonders of meditation and a high fibre diet,,,blah, blah) God, they’re like robots – why am I here? Do I really want to work here? You glance at your watch stunned to see you’ve only been there a few moments. With nothing more to add, you remain silent staring back at them.  More scribbling –  this can’t be good. (maybe a stop over at Walmart on the way home is in order…..)

At the end of their interrogation, they ask if you have any questions for them, and make sure you do – it’s a must.  Just make sure it’s not anything like what’s your policy on work and family balance?, or how much vacation do I get?, cause that’ll send up alarms that say ‘this guy’s already asking for time off’.  And if you ask specifically about salary they’ll label you as insincere about the business and focused on compensation (which everyone is but you can’t show it) Tell them you want a Blackberry and laptop so you can enjoy your job 7/24. (employers expect that anyway – they just don’t say it because it breaches any number of labour laws)

If you’re given any option, always go for the telephone interview. They can’t see you sweat or roll your eyes, and you can’t see the tough stance that’s meant to unruffle you. The telephone interview gives you the opportunity to present a stronger you because they can’t see you waver. They can’t see you reference your notes in answer to their questions (and by the way, interviewers aren’t the only ones who can have scripted answers) They can’t see you rubbing your brow in search for the answer, and they can’t see you gesture rudely or frown into the phone like ‘really, are you kidding me?’, in response to one of their generic stupid questions. They also can’t see that you’re in your pajamas.

I know a young fellow who has perfected the telephone interview. He is calm, cool, and collected; has mastered how to keep his voice even and gives the illusion he is sitting behind a desk in a business setting no matter where he is at the time of the call. The trick, he says, is to speak assertively and very closely into the receiver to ensure no background noises are audible to the interviewer.  This strategy has worked most of the time, however and unfortunately, most recently,  an interviewer called when he was in a stall in the men’s room at the Halifax airport. Not wanting to miss this opportunity he answered and conducted the entire interview from the stall. The interview went smoothly and he thought he had it nailed until he stood up (having completed his business) and the automatic flush of the toilet echoed throughout the enclosed space. After a brief silence, the interviewer burst out laughing and said. ‘this is one for the water cooler!’

He didn’t get the job.




My GP has recommended I take up yoga to relieve stress and aid with joint flexibility. Ok, I can dig it. I don my industrial underwear (95% lycra and 5% cotton) squeeze into a sports bra to minimize jiggling, and top it off with my ¾ length stretch capri’s and an old tee shirt. Yoga mat under my arm I confidently stride into the local yoga  studio.

The place is hopping. I guess there’s more stressed, inflexible people in society than I imagined? After kicking off my shoes, I line up at the counter to register my attendance for the class. Glancing around I note the average age is 30-something and average height is 5’9”, at least. My rudimentary workout wear is drab and colourless compared  to the vibrant, skin tight designer duds these hopefuls are sporting, and at 5’4” I suddenly feel dwarfed by these redwoods in spandex, but I force myself to not pass judgement. I am, after all, here on a mission to improve my mind and spirit….. surely I fit in, right?

After a brief wait, the doors to the yoga studio open and we file in quietly, quickly selecting our territory and spreading out our mats. The ‘regulars’ immediately drop to the floor and begin warm up stretches.  I pointedly select a space in the back corner where there’s lots of room for me to fall out of position without crushing anyone and where the audience to my activities is minimal. There’s space in front and beside me, perfect!

These people look very comfortable here; they’ve done this before. They whisper to each other familiarly and nod across the room to those they recognize. Not wanting to appear like the newbie, I make eye contact with a lanky brunette across from me and wave as though I’d been expecting her. She glances around to see who I’m waving at, then shrugs and resumes talking to a fellow beside her, who is already sitting in a lotus position, eyes closed and palms up as though awaiting a donation.

A man who appears to be mid forties comes in and drops his mat right beside me, and after a series of groans, settles onto it, legs out in front of him, pot belly comfortably resting on his thighs. I smile smugly at his ever-so-slight imperfect physique and feel a new sense of confidence in my own.  Hey, we all have to start somewhere right? So I smile reassuringly at ‘belly-boy’ and pretend to resume with my own warm up routine.  Stretching my arms towards my feet, I gasp at the sudden sharp pain from the muscles in my lower back. When did my arms get so short?  Glancing over to see if belly-boy heard me, I’m relieved to see him fussing with a lump in his yoga mat and apparently oblivious to my faux pas, thank God!

The instructor strides quietly to the front of the room, signaling the start of the class and I relax, confident I’m unobserved and thanks to belly-boy not likely to be the weakest in the class.

Just before the doors closes, she sweeps in,,,,,, the Goddess. Long, lean and blonde; her yoga pants caress every curve; the matching skin tight top fits like saran wrap. She has a pink yoga mat tucked under one arm, and in her opposite hand she holds what I’m sure is a grande low fat, no fat, no flavour, skinny mocha with a hint of cinnamon. Her hair is carelessly piled on top of her head and on anyone else it would look sloppy, but on her it’s sexy. Bitch

She quickly spots the empty spot in front of me and gracefully spreads her mat out like a magic carpet. Within seconds she’s on the floor and folded into a pretzel, eyes closed, a slight smile on her lips, towel and water bottle at the ready, Yeah, like she sweats.

The instructor is quick to welcome everyone and immediately launches into the lesson. We stand in mountain pose, arms spread to receive the sun, or love, or something. We then fall into downward dog and I note belly-boys arms are quivering. Gravity isn’t pretty in this position. Dropping to our knees we slide back into child’s pose and I’m horrified to see I have a large split in the crotch of my capris. Good thing I’m at the back of the room.  The Goddess, I see, is curled into a ball, serene and comfortable, that relaxed smile still on her lips.  After a series of stretches we are guided into various poses that ‘open our joint sockets’ and ‘allow the flow of oxygen to course through our bodies’. Periodically we are instructed to stop and hydrate. Belly-boy rolls onto his side grasping for his water bottle. I know this because I was right beside him grasping for mine.

After a, too short break, the instructor directs us to lay on our backs in preparation for our ‘core work’.  I don’t like the sound of this. Positioning our arms and legs in an upright position (kind of like an upside-down table) we are guided to swing our legs down in the opposite direction of our arms to ‘open the core’ and ‘expand our back and waist muscles’. Belly-boy is breathing heavily and has a pained look on his face. Goddess has yet to break a sweat and moves easily from one side to the other. I feel a ripple across my stomach and note that my underwear has rolled down cupping my belly blub provocatively. (Note to self to get new high waisted underwear)

We move through  slow motion poses, pausing to ‘feel the core strengthen’ and I can hear belly-boy whimpering in tandem to my own moaning. Our final position before the cool down is on our belly and is guaranteed to stretch our core muscles by raising our legs and shoulders to the sun. I think my hips have seized and belly-boy is openly sobbing now. The Goddess is silent, sleek, and unruffled. We are instructed to roll onto our backs in preparation for the cool down, shavasana and belly-boy and I flop into a corpse position grateful for having survived. After a period of silence, where our calmed minds and  bodies return to the ‘current’, we roll into a sitting position, thanking the Gods for this healing session. Belly-boy chugs his water, mops his brow with his shirt and belches.

As I slowly gather my things and watch the class participants file out of the room I overhear the Goddess making lunch plans at a nearby salad bar. Ok, I’m not in the shape I thought I was but I’m closer than I was and I silently vow to return for another class as I limp through the parking lot to my car. This is good for me, right? Yoga, fresh air, a healthy diet – the start of my plan to wellness. I drive off feeling a sense of accomplishment. I do feel more ‘open’ and ‘flexible’ and ‘one with nature’. I make a mental note to replenish my yoga wardrobe, determined to embrace this new lifestyle – time to celebrate the new me! As I glance in the rear view mirror of my car, I see Belly-boy behind me in the McDonalds drive through…….. and I smile.




Cell phones…do I need to say it?

When was the last time you walked down the street or into a store and made eye contact with passersby? Bet you can’t remember. Who looks up anymore? More and more I see faces glued to their handheld device. No wonder pedestrian/vehicle accidents are on the rise – no body’s looking at where they’re going.  When did we all become so important we have to be “available” 7/24?     How riveting a conversationalist have we become that society can’t manage a moment without hearing our voice, our opinions? C’mon, nobody’s that interesting. Lose the ego already. And it’s not about necessity either. We don’t need to be available all the time.  Nobody’s that important. So what is it?

When I was a kid all we needed was a dime; find a phone booth and make your call. If you couldn’t find a public phone, the call would wait, and amazingly society survived.

Recently, at the supermarket,  I found myself behind a fellow  who was balancing a cell phone in one ear and unloading his groceries with the other. He would periodically stop the unloading to gesture with his free arm in response to his conversation, which as you can imagine, caused further delays to the whole checkout process.

Scanning the lineups to see if there was another I could move to (there wasn’t) I noted a number of annoyed expressions glaring at this man who remained totally oblivious to the inconvenience he was causing. Finally, the last of his items had been scanned and the cashier patiently waited for a lull in his conversation to advise him of the amount owed. He put up a hand indicating he was in the middle of something, glanced at the cash register, and started fumbling for his wallet.

The cashier, a young girl, shrugged at the line up of waiting customers and rolled her eyes, helplessly. I don’t blame her; she’s a kid and doesn’t want confrontation. I do however, blame the boor, who’s now balancing the phone on his shoulder, because he needs both hands to get his credit card out. What are you, Prime Minister? You’re so important to so many, that a conversation with you can’t wait, right?

After processing the payment, he returns to the one arm reloading of bags into the cart while the other holds the phone, and finally he starts his way out of the store…..but wait, this gets better. Right in the middle of the exit, with automatic doors opened, he stops and raises his voice slightly in response to his ongoing conversation.

Given that this is the only exit, you can imagine the backlog of customers and carts this could cause, and it would have,,,,,, had it not been for the far sighted little old lady who, having just gathered momentum with her cart, rammed it right into his behind. Cell phone guy, hollered and glared at little old lady, who mumbled something about inconsiderate young people (he was 40 if a day, so you can imagine how old she was) and plowed right past him.

Cell phone guy moved aside to assess his wounds, as a parade of carts and smiling customers passed by, fighting the urge to stop and applaud. God, I love little old ladies!



Poop n Scoop, who’s doing it, who’s not?

Beware of those who walk their dog at dusk. There’s a reason. These are anti-poop people. With an aversion to handling poop (it’s not like it’s their own) and a feeling of superiority (I don’t pick up #$&!) they purposely walk their dogs when they can’t be seen so as to avoid having to pick up after their pet then low and behold, the next morning you have a nice fresh pile adorning your front lawn, one they’re quick to deny “That’s not my dogs poop – he couldn’t possibly expel something of that size!”

You know there is a positive side to being poop conscious. We kept a garbage bin at the side of our house just for dog poop and in all the 15 years of his life our garbage was never once ransacked by racoons or bears. Kept all the neighbourhood kids away too

Now I’m willing to acknowledge that it’s not always easy. If you’re not within range of a streetlight you have to grope around in the dark to find the ‘warmth’, and if it’s really soft, it’s hard to pick up. My (late) dog  used to search out the most inaccessible places, seemingly taking great delight in my having to climb into ditches or crawl over brush. He would also poop a minimum of 4-5 times each day. (eats 3 meals a day and %#%@ 5, go figure) His favourite routine was to make his deposit on the very top of a snow bank and then stand by while I scaled the slippery ice. I know I heard him chuckle more than once.

The pet population is bigger than ever, many households having multiple pets so we’re lucky that now it’s easier than ever to clean up after your pet. They make bags just the right size (some are scented with pretty pictures but I wouldn’t recommend sniffing them) AND they’re biodegradable now, so no excuses. Stick your hand in the bag, pick up the poop, and turn the bag back out and tie it up. It’s not like you have to touch it. You can even swing it jauntily in rhythm to your walk as you continue on your way.

As an alternative, I’ve seen some people carry little scoops to do the job although I’m not sure how that works. What do you do when you ‘scoop’ it up, fling it over your shoulder for good luck? (actually, my grandmother always told me that if you dream of poop, it meant forthcoming prosperity so share the wealth with friends and neighbours – fling the poop at their house, especially the ones who walk their dogs at dusk, then smile and wave, or run like hell)