Sunday, December 18, 2016

Be Careful What You Wish For

The British Broadcasting Corporation let loose with a bit of wisdom and advised that It's not unusual to get your dream job and then hate it.    Loving animals and wanting to work with them may, after an expensive and exhausting education, turn out to involve a lot of  outside work in bad conditions wherein the animals often die or in a veterinarian's office where too many decisions are made based upon money.  A dedicated archaeologist does not unearth this century's Tutankhamen but rather endures a lot of time hunched over, again in poor weather, using a small brush on large areas of dust and soil.   Don't forget, someone else will get the credit, whatever you find.

I wish job shadowing was a more established thing.   I know that a day in the school year is designated for parents to take their Grade 5 student to work with them.  I guess it's a start.   Some programs do require a certain amount of volunteer experience in the field as part of a university admission package.   Those programs probably have an excess of applications as they will lose three quarters of potential applicants after a few weeks at the job site.   One problem is that many volunteers have to pay for the privilege and young people are notoriously short of funds.   Another issue arises is that you have to know someone.  Not everyone does.  


But let's assume that you were admitted into the program, slogged your way through it and  graduated.    Hooray!!  You got a job in the field.   Double Hooray!!   You've grabbed the brass ring, as they used to say.  Ten years on the job and you have seniority and have reached the top pay category.   (and the lifestyle to go with it).  Now is not the time to realize that you never liked  _____.   (fill in the blank).   Or you liked it a little initially but now you truly loathe the work.   

There's no escape now.

(Well there is but it wouldn't be easy.)

Blog hiatus until the New Year!

Sunday, December 11, 2016



What is it with swearing?   I've written about this topic before, mostly with regard to verbal swearing by individuals in public place.     The internet has its own rules (or lack of them--incidently what happened to netiquette?) and this has spilled over into print journalism)  Perhaps it annoys me because I can recall a time when published swearing in magazines, journals and newspapers did not exist.   I don't think it was that long ago, either.    In the past few years it is as if a magic fairy waved a wand and pronounced, "Go to it!"   The New Yorker magazine to name one of many publications has apparently made an editorial decision that expletives make fine copy.  Today, I've been reading blog posts by an intelligent, educated woman with strong opinions on many subjects.   I just wish she could stop dropping F bombs in most posts.    

After a while, it is easy to think, 'It must be me.   Nobody else seems bothered.'   I try to reason my annoyance out and  consider whether in was the eleventh grade English teacher who opined that people who swear a lot are deficient in vocabulary skills (who wants to be like that?) or whether it was articles in women's magazines of the past that declared that swearing was 'unladylike'.  I'm a product of another generation.  But after all, what's in a word?

Swearing used to be something that was done for effect.   You really meant it if you added an expletive.   It was saved for heinous crimes not hangnails.  Surely, swearing must be losing its effect as shock value;  new words will have to be invented.

Sunday, December 4, 2016


Many years ago while visiting Scotland, an older relative by marriage, Fran,  related a situation that had become family lore.  She wanted to share it with me.    It seemed that Uncle Cy, God rest his soul, had lived a happy and carefree life.   He had been a pleasant fellow, well-liked, a raconteur at gatherings and a generous friend at the local pub.   A bit of a ladies' man, as they called it in those days, he was chivalrous despite a fondness for practical jokes. He remained a bachelor all his life and enjoyed annual sojourns to Spain during Scotland's brutal winters.    Towards the end of his life, some health issues forced him into a seniors' care home.   There he continued to charm the ladies, the staff as well as visitors for a further seven years until his peaceful end.   "We should all be so fortunate," was how the situation was summed up.

Then, there was Aunt Mabel.  She was cut from a different cloth.   Somewhat shy, a bit of an introvert;  life had made her fearful somehow, but she faced it with quiet determination.  Always expecting the worst, she starting saving for a rainy day long before her age-mates would give the future much thought.   She was careful with money, was how the relative described her, and, of course, she was Scotch so that came naturally.   She always paid her bills on time and no one could accuse her of not paying her share on the rare occasions when she attended a social function.   Her small house was well polished and Aunt Mabel was always pleased to provide a home for cast-off furniture from more well off relations.    She worked all her life except for the decade when she was married.   'At least she had that', was how it was described.   Her husband died of natural causes and Mabel had been alone again.  No children.  She knew Uncle Cy, of course, but except for semi-annual family gatherings, they moved in different circles.

Now,  Fran's voice rose a tone.   It seems Aunt Mabel, in due course, and it being a small town, ended up in the same senior's care home as Uncle Cy.    I had listened patiently to the story, interested to hear some details of how life had been during and after the War.   Scotland had been so affected by it, the River Clyde bombed incessantly.     But Fran's rising indignation concerned other matters.   It had somehow been discovered by the family that Uncle Cy had entered the government established and funded home with not much more than a smile and the clothes on his back.   Aunt Mabel, penny pincher that she was, had amassed a considerable amount, closer to a million pounds than a half million, was how it was described. The relations were all agog.  Both enjoyed equally the care, medical, social and emotional, that the home provided.   Uncle Cy was entirely funded by the state and Aunt Mabel paid the full monthly amount prescribed, for those with personal means.     Fran was pleased to tell me that Aunt Mabel could have, had her health allowed, gone on a never-ending cruise for the same price.

Aunt Mabel outlived Uncle Cy by nearly a decade, making it to ninety-eight.   What remained of her carefully scraped together fortune paid for a nice funeral.

"What do you think of that?" my husband's aunt enquired.   She didn't wait for an answer, me being a foreigner, but gave her own response.   "We've all learned from that, let me tell you."   She didn't elaborate.