Step One:_____, Step Two:_____, Step Three: Profit!

At the end of every long, cold grueling winter, I say it. After 6 months of bundling up, being stuck indoors, darkness from 4pm to 8am, I say it. Whenever we get the first hints that spring is coming, that salvation is nigh, when melted snow floods the streets and a balmy 2 degree afternoon temps us out of our caves, I say the same damn thing:

We are never, EVER , doing that again.

Oh sure, we all fool ourselves while we’re in the throes of it, thinking winter isn’t so bad. Strap on a snowboard and have a couple of fun days careening down a hill. Creating hot versions of our favorite alcoholic drinks. Take to a flooded tennis court with skates and a stick, drinking coffee and Baileys and waxing poetic about “Canadian institutions”, and the “beauty of having four seasons”.

But I say to you friends, look around! See how much happier everyone was this week? Are you enjoying the bounce in your step now that spring is just about sprung? Notice how much less you want to strangle the person in line in front of you at the Starbuck who took the last chocolate caramel cake pop? It’s time to cast off the shackles of winter- for good! I present to you:

Operation Eternal Sunshine

Step One:

Find new country of residence. This is the trickiest part, because it has to be played exactly right. Our new country of residence must fill the following criteria:

Economy

  • Weak enough that we can all live like Kings, but with enough of a world consumer presence that I can get an ice-cold Coca Cola whenever I damn well please.

Politics

  • Progressive and Non-religiously driven government  OR
  • Unstable enough that we can eventually overthrow it and install a government of our choosing, but stable enough that there are roads, schools and no robust mercenary presence.

Climate

  • I know what you think i’m going to say- the hotter, the better. However, that would be short-sighted, and we’re smarter than that. We want a climate that is hot enough that my warmest article of clothing is a jean jacket, but cool enough that only spiders of a reasonable size live in our bananas.

Other Desirable Amenities

  • Soil fertile enough to grow a fruit tree
  • Ocean access
  • WiFi
  • Healthcare evolved to post- bloodletting or better.
  • Moderate population density (humans)
  • Low population density (snakes)
  • English-speaking a plus

Step Two:

One day, in the not-so-distant future, I will come for you. We will all move, en masse, in the middle of the night, to our new country. We bring pre-fabricated homes in on trucks, and set them up with the utmost stealth. Then, when our new neighbours wake up, we act like we were always there. Even act a little offended that they don’t remember you, even after that one time that you brought in their mail while they were away.

Trust me, this works. Acting like you were always somewhere, when in actuality you just showed up, is actually the secret to success.

Step Three: 

Profit.

 

This Blog Post is Dedicated to my (Loving/Supporting/Giving/Kind) (Spouse/ Family/ Deity/ Cat)

I love interesting book dedications, mostly because book dedications tend to be fairly non-descript.  Authors thank their spouses, parents, children, editors, and their deity of choice. I get it, peeps need to be thanked! If I ever write a book (spoiler alert: I won’t), I’m going to dedicate it to the Oshawa Public Librarians who let me take out way more Sweet Valley High books at one time than I was supposed to. But until then, have a look at these awesome dedications:

“My first stepfather used to say that what I didn’t know would fill a book. Well, here it is.”– Tobias Wolff, ‘This Boy’s Life’

“I want to thank everyone who helped me create this book, except for the guy who yelled at me in Kmart when I was eight because he thought I was being “Too Rowdy”. You’re an asshole, sir.”– Jenny Lawson, ‘Let’s Pretend this Never Happened’

“I dedicate this book to George W. Bush, my Commander-in-Chief, whose impressive career advancement despite remedial language skills inspired me to believe that I was capable of authoring a book.” – Pedram Amini, ‘Fuzzing: Brute Force Vulnerability Discovery’

“To my wife Marganit and my children Ella Rose and Daniel Adam without whom this book would have been completed two years earlier.”– Joseph J. Rotman, ‘An Introduction To Algebraic Topology’

“What can I say about a man who knows how I think and still sleeps next to me with the lights off?”Gillian Flynn, ‘Dark Places’ (Note: Gillian Flynn also authored ‘Gone Girl’- Foolish is the man who closes his eyes around that crazy lady!)

“For Colin Firth–You’re a really great guy, but I’m married, so I think we should just be friends.”Shannon Hale, ‘Austenland’

“For my parents, even though they never bought me a robot.”Prudence Shen, ‘Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong’

“To my brothers and sisters. What…a bunch of assholes.”Chelsea Handler, ‘Chelsea Chelsea, Bang Bang’

“Hi Dad *waves*”– Kiera Cass, ‘The Selection’

Plights of a Bookworm #8: Those Damn Loudmouth Amazon Boxes

Dear Amazon,

I would like to bring to your attention a serious gap in your services. One that wreaks havoc on Bookworms (and their relationships) everywhere.

You like to think that you know me, and I will admit that I have bought many items off your “You might like..” list. But if you really knew me, and really paid attention to my buying habits, you would see that I am a book binger.

I will refrain from buying books for a little while, maybe download an e-book here and there and visit my local library. But then suddenly, the urge will strike and I’ll be 10 books deep and trying to figure out if I can smuggle them onto my shelves before anyone notices. You, as one of my preferred book vendors, should understand this.

Not that J is one of those husbands who gets worked up about my expenditures, but If I can save myself the ‘raised eyebrow + sigh + “Are you expecting something from Amazon?”- routine, everyone is happier.

This is where you come in, Amazon. What your customers want, nay, need, is a discreet shipping service!

Think about it. Instead of that box with that damn smirk on it, telling the whole world, and all the husbands, “Your wife spent enough money to fill this giant box 🙂 ” , you can have a box that looks more like this:

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Or like this:

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Do a girl a solid, Amazon. I can’t be the only one.

…Chapters.ca, you’re next.

Sincerely,

K. Bookworm

“I live in two worlds. One is a world of books”: The Rory Gilmore Book Club

I love love LOVE Gilmore Girls. I miss it every day. I feel like it’s one of those perfect shows- the way that Sci-Fi aficionados feel about Firefly, or toddlers feel about Dora the Explorer. Gilmore Girls had perfect timing, snappy dialogue and the best cast.

*pause for Gilmore Girls mini-marathon*

And as a girl whose purse often contains a book (or two…or 70, housed conveniently inside a Kindle), I feel a special bond with Rory Gilmore, the spirit animal of many a bookworm. For those who have never seen the show (um…go watch it? Now?), Rory is the daughter in the mother-daughter duo affectionately known as the Gilmore Girls. Her love of books is a standing character trait all throughout the show.

An Australian writer (Patrick Lenton) has compiled a list of all the books that are shown during the series or referenced in it’s dialogue. They’re calling it the Rory Gilmore Reading List. 

Now, before finding this, I went looking for a list of books, get some inspiration to create a reading list of my own, maybe write a little blog post about reading lists, set a couple book-related 2015 goals. Pinterest is lousy with links to various compilations: “New Books to read in 2015”, “Books you may have missed from 2014”, “Books to read before they are movies”, “Books all women should read”, “Books everyone should re-read from high school” “Books you should read on slushy afternoons in January while your husband watches football” . But as soon as I saw this, I knew what I needed to do: Take the Rory Gilmore Challenge.

I’ve read 53/339. Pretty sad state of affairs…although only 2 of the Harry Potter books were on that list, and I’ve read all 7 so…there’s that.

Anyway, for the next little while, I’ll be using this this to guide some of my reading, especially because some of these books are classics and/or ones I’ve wanted to read for a long time. I’m starting with “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky If anyone else would like to join me and start a Rory Gilmore Book Club, I would be SO into that! I’ll supply the wine, questions and life-size cutout of Jared Padalecki.

Hello, Sailor! 

Book Cookin: Oliver Twists’ “Please sir, can I have some more…mango coconut overnight oatmeal”

It’s November. The nights are getting colder, dates are getting shorter and the memories of summer (such that it was), are getting hazier by the minute. Time to break out the classic books and comfort food.

In this Book Cookin post, I’ll be making overnight oatmeal, a.k.a. gruel, a la Oliver Twist.

…Maybe not exactly like Oliver Twist. This is less of a gruel and more of a creamy oatmeal…with mangoes and coconut…and we can eat as much as we like.

Regardless, overnight oatmeal is a pinterest staple, usually made with organic almond milk, laced with chia seeds and served in a charming ribbon-adorned mason jar.

…Show off.

But, if you downgrade these expectations just a little bit, then word on the street is that this little breakfast trick can be a god-send for early mornings.

Overnight Oatmeal: The basics

Ingredients:

1 part Rolled Oats

1-1.5 parts milk (any type)

Pinch of salt

Instructions:

Stir ingredients together and let sit in your fridge overnight. In the morning, eat as is, or heat in the microwave to taste. And despite what the internet will have you believe, tupperware works as well as a mason jar.

Modifications:

Try adding any combination of the following before refrigerating:

Yogurt (1 part, any type/ flavor)

Chia seeds, flax seeds, or whatever “miracle seeds” everyone is subscribing to these days.

Cinnamon, ginger, brown sugar, honey, pumpkin spice

Fruit (any fruit- Bananas, berries and apples are especially good)

Peanut butter, Nutella, Jam, Pie filling

Oliver Twists’ Coconut Mango Overnight Oatmeal

  • 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 heaping tbsp shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup diced mango
  • 1 1/2 tbsp agave nectar (Or, just use sweetened coconut. Also I’m sure a tsp of sugar or honey would be just fine as well)
  1. Combine ingredients in single serve containers
  2. Let chill overnight (covered)
  3. In the morning- Heat (optional) and eat!

This was actually super delicious and easy. Obviously because I heated it, the time savings were minimal. However, I usually opt for a more time consuming breakfast because oatmeal is for poor orphans and my morning deserves better. But with doing this, I was actually really pumped to eat oatmeal, and the “deciding what to have for breakfast” time was saved!

Some other Dickens- inspired combinations (remember, any milk will substitute fine 1:1, and chia seeds are always optional):

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Review Time: This is Where I Leave You- Jonathan Tropper

Judd Foxman is not having a great year. Whilst surprising his wife on her birthday (with a cake from her favorite bakery), he catches her in bed (their bed) with another man. His boss, to be more precise. This quickly leads to him losing his job, his house, and doesn’t leave him much in the self-esteem department. And then Judds’ father dies, bringing him, his mother, his sister, and two brothers together for the first time in years. All of this is quickly followed by the news of his wifes’ pregnancy (Judds baby), and cohabitation with her new boyfriend. So, we must forgive Judd if he does not have the most respectful and reverent reaction to his quasi-religious fathers’ last wish: that his family sit Shiva together in their family home.

For one week, Judd the trod-upon, Wendy the perfectionist sister (complete with crumbling marriage), resentful older brother Paul, and lovable screw-up Phillip, along with their mother (who literally wrote the book on having inappropriate conversations with ones children), and their partners, will co-exist inside the same house. They will be together for the longest time since they were children, with only their grief, buried issues and dysfunction to keep them (and us) entertained. Chaos inevitably ensues.

Jonathan Troppers’ “This is Where I Leave You” was very entertaining, an easy and fast read. I am a sucker for a family drama, (as an extrovert, group dynamics always fascinate me). But even outside of that, this book was really funny…a little twisted, but very smart and clever. Troppers’ characters are wonderfully flawed; Judd is not your likable unlucky protagonist. He’s critical, irreverent and self-absorbed, and this makes him real. The family is almost absurdly dysfunctional and you feel sorry for the outsiders who have the misfortune of having married into this mess (or you would feel sorry for them, if they weren’t as messed up as the Foxmans)! However, all throughout the book, the authors’ primary idea remains beautifully clear. When life gets hard, whether you know it or not, you need your people.

I completely understand the need to gather up the people you love in one place. I am extraordinarily blessed with a number of families. Nothing makes me happier than when I have 14 friends in my house, deep frying a turkey. Or when a dozen or so gather at my Dads’ place for a mohito competition and Bocce ball. Or when J and Sophie and I sit outside on a summer evening and play cards.

Because home isn’t a place you go, home is your people.

 

Shots! Shots! Shots! Shot-Shot-Shots! Everybody!

This week I am sharing the blog-stage with my lovely friend and fellow blogger, Chelle, whose hilarious mom-rage is in blue ink. When you’re finished reading our rant about vaccines, please visit her fabulous and funny site chellerobb84.wordpress.com 

I wonder how many children have died from baby formula. Or how many miscarriages have occurred from a single glass of wine? Or how many kids become serial killers because they are allowed too much “screen time”?

But how many times have we heard of parents being harassed for these transgressions?

First of all, if a person can become a serial killer simply based on the fact that they watch television then we might as well rename ourselves the “Manson Family” cause we loooove us some Netflix. Secondly, If you have ever had to endure any sort of Mommy/Baby event where the dreaded “circle time” (AKA circle of judgment) arises then you already know the answer to this question …a SHIT TONNE!

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Now let’s think about how many children die from vaccine-preventable diseases. Actually, we don’t have to wonder (3 cheers for stats!) According to the WHO, 7.6 million children under the age of 5 die from vaccine-preventable diseases each year. Not just in developing nations, either. Since June 2007 (the birth of the modern Anti-Vaccine movement), there have been approximately 139 199 preventable illnesses and 6265 preventable deaths in the United States (for the record, cases of autism linked to vaccines? Big ol’ 0). The movement is making its way here, as evidenced by outbreaks of measles and whooping cough, and I believe it is time to address it. So, because no one seems to have any issues shaming parents for harmless decisions (see: screen time and wine, above), how about we start holding people accountable for choices that are actually harmful.

You wanna know what else needs to be addressed? Stupidity; Good Ole fashioned, down home, granola eating, research impaired, uninformed, ignorant stupid folk. There needs to be a foundation created dedicated to the victims affected by stupid people.

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These poor kids being born to stupid A and stupid B who think their new found enlightenment on the subject after watching a celebrity share their one sided narrow viewpoint on The View or on Oprah, gives them the right to not only a) endanger the lives and well-being of their own poor little bastards but also b) Put at risk the health and well-being of everyone else’s children who have not yet reached the age where they are ready to be vaccinated.

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 The Autism argument is so ridiculous I cannot even comment without really risking a heart attack from the rage – a – thon I might embark upon if I get going on it.  So I shall take a deep breath and encourage you to watch the following link. My sentiments exactly Penn and Teller.

Penn and Teller on Vaccinations

I’m a scientist. I’ve been taught and trained to approach complex issues armed only with the facts. Keep your emotions out of my medicine. And so, I will try to keep my rage at bay and explain the situation calmly…

…Not that any of those ignorant-as-shit, daytime TV watching, Jenny McCarthy-following lemmings would ever bother to read anything that wasn’t about how to choose a “cake smash” photographer, get cheap cloth diapers online or how to cut Precious’ sandwiches into a sunflower. How can you dismiss the greatest medical development in human history and then call yourself “informed”? Parents in other countries would literally KILL to have the access to vaccines that you do. If you are stupid enough to listen to a playboy model who “doesn’t need science-Evan [her son] is my science”, then you are too stupid to be making medical decisions for other people. But I digress…

I really don’t understand why there is not more public outrage over this. Seriously…

Agreed. Why are we respecting this “opinion”. Here’s an opinion- you’re an idiot.

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Great! Now look what you people have done. Santa is NOT coming…THANKS ASSHOLES!

The Immune System: A Brief (and very general) Overview

Our Immune system has 2 primary branches:

  • The Non-specific branch which includes the skin, sweat, mast cells and compliment system and works like an electric fence or heat seeking missile: The don’t know who they’re attacking or keeping out, they just work against anything that isn’t from the body.
  • The Specific Immune system, including B-cells (from the bone marrow) and T-cells (from the thymus) work like hired goons or assassins. They’re smart, they’re fast, but they have to have a clear target in mind. This is where vaccination comes in.

Vaccines: How they work (again, very generalized-for more information, visit your local library!)

  • Without being immunized, it takes about 3 days for the body to mount a cellular IgM response. So, 3 days for the B/T cell assassins to learn their target, make a plan, and recruit some help. During this time, we get sick. Then once our immune response has formed, the target has been acquired and killed, we get better.
  • However, what happens if in those 3 days, this illness does irreparable damage to our lung tissue (Whooping cough), causes brain damage from acute encephalitis (Measles), or infects the spinal fluid (Meningitis). Well in those cases, 3 days is too long, isn’t it?

Vaccines give your B/T cell assassins pictures  of their targets (usually in the form of dead virus/ bacterial pieces) ahead of time so that they can prepare, work out and get super jacked and be ready to mount a 1-day response when exposed to the real deal. This prevents the illness from infecting our body at all. The illness does not occur. Pretty cool, right?

MIND=BLOWN

Final thoughts from a Scientist:

  • Vaccines are 100% safe for anyone who is immune competent and not allergic to any of the adjuvant or manufacturing ingredients (ingredients like eggs, and aluminum, which is also found in your drinking water and the air that you breathe, fyi). They do not cause Autism. They do not cause the illness they claim to prevent. They cause immunity. That is all.
  • Herd immunity, the phenomenon where a vaccinated community protects its non-vaccinated members, works down to 85%. We, as a society, cannot afford for that 15% to be taken up by children of ill-informed Mommy n’ Me groupies. Those spots are reserved for children in chemotherapy, children with immune deficiencies and children who cannot respond to vaccination. Every time a healthy child is not vaccinated, a sick child is put more at risk.

Final thoughts from a Protective Parent:

  • People are 100% capable of doing a little bit of research from credible sources and/or talking to a few doctors who actually know what the fuck they are talking about so that they can make an educated. Informed decision about vaccinations. In no way am I saying not to question something if you think there are reasons to feel unsure but once you have been given clear, supported answers from scientifically sound experimentation done by educated, credible people…TAKE THE GODDAMN ADVICE OF THE PROFESSIONALS AND VACCINATE YOUR KIDS!
  • Just remember….if you don’t get your kids vaccinated…

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Are you really willing to take that risk?

Kerry is a Laboratory Scientist who writes a blog about books (and whatever else she feels like writing about) called heybookworm.com. She lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband J, and ill-tempered cat Sophie, who is also fully vaccinated.

Chelle is a high school teacher and mother of 2 beautiful boys. She writes a hilarious blog chellerobb84.wordpress.com about motherhood, teacherhood and everything else. She lives in an over priced house in the middle of suburbia in Guelph and owns a dog that incessantly shits all over said expensive house….the dog is also vaccinated.  If she wasn’t I guess she would likely have autism….*Her spouse has made it clear that in no way does she condone the writings of her slightly unstable wife*