Wednesday, October 21, 2009

SHOCK THERAPY Can electricity zap away the years? Celebrities are lining up but some doctors are skeptical.

Reprinted from ELLE Canada
November 2009

By Amber Nasrulla

Long before diamond facials, clay masks, and chemical peels were invented, women created their own age-defying concoctions: cucumber slices to soothe eyes, milk baths to soften skin, sugar and salt scrubs to purify and exfoliate skin and lemon juice to remove blemishes.

Now a new anti-aging technology is kicking the simple facial to the curb: radio frequency (RF) technology. In Europe, a handheld device called the TriPollar STOP – which claims to smooth wrinkles using RF energy and micro-electric currents – is generating buzz.

Physicist Dr. Zion Azar, who created the TriPollar STOP, hopes to sell it in North America in 2010. “It turns back time five to 10 years,” he effuses by phone from Tel Aviv, Israel. “It’s actually making the skin younger.” Azar says that the TriPollar STOP stimulates collagen production to provide a “non-surgical facelift”. (Collagen gives the skin elasticity, so more collagen means plumper, firmer skin.) For anyone with wrinkles deep as ravines that Sherpas could fall into, the allure is obvious.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has cleared six handheld cosmetic devices. (Health Canada regulates medical devices but cosmetic technology doesn’t require pre-market approval.) Suzanne Somers, the duchess of late-night infomercials, sells the FaceMaster ($250), calling it “a lunch-time facelift”. NuFace, a $350 device from California, promises an “instant youthful appearance within minutes.” Creator Carol Cole says NuFace’s micro-current “is like Pilates for the face. It strengthens the core muscles.”

Micro-current facials and RF are a fixture in salons in Beverly Hills, New York City, Miami, Vancouver, and Toronto. As with headlight-bright teeth and customized spray-on tans, Hollywood A-listers are poster children. Oscar-winner Kate Winslet frequents the Tracie Martyn Salon in Manhattan and is reportedly devoted to the Resculpting Facial that offers micro-dermabrasion, micro-currents, and calming creams. In a note to Martyn scribbled on a cover of InStyle magazine, Winslet gushes, “It’s only because of you that I look good enough to be on this cover.” (Winslet doesn’t mention the phalanx of chefs, personal trainers, make-up artists and stylists, who ensure she looks heavenly.) Susan Sarandon, Madonna and Liv Tyler are also rumoured to be fans of the $360 treatment.

For years, physicians and physiotherapists have used micro-current technology (also called TENS, or transcutaneous electrical neuromuscular stimulation) to help heal soft tissue injuries and alleviate neck and back pain. Dermatologists have Thermage, which uses patented RF technology to generate heat that penetrates deep into skin. Clinical studies show that Thermage stimulates the body’s natural production of collagen, which tightens skin and gives it a smoother appearance. Doctors can contour or remodel the face with Thermage says Dr. Vince Bertucci, a consultant dermatologist a Women’s College Hospital in Toronto and medical director at Bertucci MedSpa in Woodbridge, Ont. “It’s not a facelift but the results can be significant,” he says.

Micro-current technologies and RF have been tweaked for non-medical use in dermatologists’ offices. But salon devices (and handheld ones) are weaker and don’t penetrate skin as deeply. Some use two or three electrodes while others use patches. Some claim to stimulate muscles while others report that they increase collagen. After short training sessions, aestheticians can do treatments without a physician supervising. (Session fees run from $200 to $400.)

But some dermatologists are skeptical. The marketers’ scientific language sounds authoritative, but there’s often little evidence behind the claims. “It’s getting harder to separate the blue-ribbon science from the bluff,” says Dr. Douglas Hamilton, an assistant professor of dermatology at the University of California at Los Angeles and chair of the New Technologies Committee of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. Hamilton has a dermatology practice in Beverly Hills with numerous celebrity clients. “There’s no consumer czar to help people make a decision,” he says. “It’s buyer beware.”

Although physicians use TENS devices, the results can’t be extrapolated for cosmetics facial rejuvenation. “There’s not a lot of great published science behind it,” cautions medical and cosmetic dermatologist, Dr. Benjamin Barankin, of The Dermatology Centre in Toronto.

The gold standard in medicine is double-blind placebo controlled trials. Clinical trials evaluate thousands of participants over several years and the results are published in peer-review and scientific journals. To date, none of the doctors consulted for this story has seen clinical studies on cosmetic RF or micro-current devices.

One manufacturer talked about its 30-day-study of five people that found a 67% reduction in wrinkles. Another manufacturer sent ELLE Canada its study of 23 women over six weeks, and reported an 86% improvement in eye wrinkles and 76% of mouth lines. The manufacturer also tested a single sample of human skin and found collagen increased by 40%. “Medical journals publish high-quality research with lots of patients in the studies so we can generalize the results to the population,” notes Barankin. “A study with one patient – the inventor’s wife I’m sure – counts for nothing.”

The results “stretch credibility,” agrees Hamilton, because of few participants and short duration of the tests. “There’s a huge disconnect in skin care. Many things work beautifully in a test tube but do not work at all on complex, living, human skin.”

How do these devices come to market? The FDA and Health Canada “approve” the treatments for medical use. The FDA classifies machines for cosmetic differently and “clears” them, meaning they’re safe but not necessarily effective. Neither the FDA nor HC conduct their own, independent, clinical studies; instead, they rely on the information provided by the company applying for approval. (They also don’t specify the number of people required.) In his book Beverly Hills Beauty Secrets, Hamilton spells it out: “This potentially corrupts the integrity process and, at the least, reduces its efficiency.”

So what’s the secret to Winslet’s radiant skin? RF and micro-currents can irritate the skin so it swells and facial lines disappear, says Barankin. The effect is likely temporary. Manufacturers recommend treatment three or four times a week because “you have to keep initiating the inflammation and swelling.”

Dermatologists also question manufacturers’ claims that micro-currents strengthen facial muscles. True, the body sags less when muscles are stronger. But over time the muscles could grow bigger. “Those muscles will contract more and make deeper furrows, grooves, and wrinkles,” says Barankin.

When manufacturers trumpet their contraptions bump up collagen production, Hamilton responds: “To stimulate collagen is no great trick.” Shaving and micro-dermabrasion do it too. “It’s all a matter of degree.” So, is it likely the devices induce enough collagen formation to reverse wrinkles? “No.”

His conclusion? “This could be one trend when it’s best not to be at the front of the line.”

For the complete feature, pick up the November 2009 issue of ELLE Canada.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

GOOD INK Angelina Jolie vs. Amber Nasrulla: Tattoos are not your friend

Reprinted from ELLE Canada
October 2009

By Amber Nasrulla

I’ve seen exquisite tattoos. The vertical trails of a Buddhist incantation etched in Khmer on Angelina Jolie’s left shoulder blade rank high as does the treble clef on Rihanna’s right foot. My tattoo is a horror.

My sweet husband says it resembles a USDA stamp (but not as elegant). The kind you see on Prime Grade-A slabs of beef. It wasn’t supposed to be that way.

In the summer of 1995, I was working at The Globe and Mail, had a decent salary, great friends, and a funky apartment. Life was sweetness.

One afternoon a friend and I wandered into a tattoo parlour on Queen St. West in Toronto. The dude behind the counter had blonde dreadlocks and was smoking a joint. We had two choices a) share the joint or b) leave. We eschewed those options and asked him to ink us. He did and smoked up the entire time. My friend selected a magenta-and-emerald green lotus from a stencil catalogue and he tattooed the flower on her back.

I flipped through books and magazines and looked at the customer photos on the walls. There were dragons on backs, Chinese characters on wrists, and Haida whales on ankles. No patterns appealed to me.

Then, I had a Da Vinci moment and sketched azaadi or “freedom”, in Urdu script. I speak Urdu but it’s not my first language so my penmanship is at a Grade 2 level.

The pothead jackhammered the fleshiest part of my left arm just below the shoulder. I wanted swirls. When he was done, my freedom tattoo was trapped in a circle of red and black flames and not by the lustrous Moorish flourishes I’d envisioned.

I hated it immediately. At home I scrubbed the tattoo with a Brillo pad. It bled. One week and many tubes of Polysporin later, I pulled the bandages off and looked through my fingers into the mirror. The wretched tattoo was still there.

It’s one of the worst things I’ve done to my body. (Eating bricks of Lindt chocolate doesn’t count.) First, getting the tattoo done by a stoner, and second, the utter lack of design.

In 2002, I went to the laser clinic at Women’s College Hospital. Doctors use lasers for hair removal, to remove port wine stains (visualize Gorbachev’s stately stained forehead), and other cosmetic procedures.

I paid $100 for the tattoo and in the last seven years have spent more than $3,000 trying to get it to disappear. It still hasn’t faded completely. I suffered a second-degree burn during a recent treatment. Apparently the skin on my upper arm is very sensitive now. Seven years of laser will do that.

I want to go on a national speaking tour to educate young women. It’d be dramatic: “If you think it’s cool to get a tattoo on your coccyx, jog into the future. You’re in labour with your first child. You need an epidural. You’re freaking out as the needle goes through your tattoo and into your spinal canal. Oh, and if you ever need an MRI your tattoo could sizzle if it’s made of dyes that contain magnetic metal.”

Sometimes I have a glamour fantasy. I’m sitting at LA Ink with my artfully tousled hair flowing over my shoulders as Kat Von D creates an extravagant tattoo that completely covers the USDA stamp. Reason slaps me awake.

The writing in my tattoo is gone but a shadow of flames remains. It is a mistake that will stay on my Prime Grade-A skin for a lifetime. And leave me gazing with envy at the exquisite tattoos on others.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

SIGG bottles contain BPA

Feeling betrayed. SIGG bottles contain Bisphenol-A. Into the trash! Must confirm, must confirm this horrendous news.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Latisse Eyelash Growth. Perfection or Pathetic?

The depths of our dissatisfaction with our bodies knows no bounds. Latest cosmetic 'improvement' technology is Latisse, an eyelash growth product. Brooke Shields is the spokesperson and in a commercial I saw last night, the former child supermodel exuberantly paints a chemical on her eyelids. Presto! Her eyelashes are longer, stronger, and dazzling, and able to solve world hunger and the energy crisis in America.

Not sure I heard the voiceover correctly but it sounded like side effects include 'blackening of the eyes that may be permanent.' Just try to imagine the whites of your eyes are now black - sort of like the zombies the witch Maryann created on True Blood. Or like burnt egg whites.

From colonics that promise to detox and cleanse our innards to plastic surgery for every conceivable inch of our skin science and technology seem to conspire to remind us (well, torture us), that the bodies we were born with are imperfect and no amount of tinkering, nipping, tucking, slicing, dying, liposuctioning, lasering, and so on, will ever be enough to make us perfect.

Perfect monsters, maybe. Pathetic and creepy, definitely.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Snotty Questions That Aren't Anyone's Business!

People are asking if I have started toilet training Kamran. Nope. People are asking if he can count to 30. Yup. People are asking if he knows all his colours. Some. People are asking if we are going to have another kid. Up to God. People are asking if my 28-month-old can drive. OK that last one was a lie...but it just goes to show that people will ask the most probing questions the answers to which aren't any of their business.

In other news got some news this week that gave me the heebie jeebies. Check back in 7 months for details of a hellacious union!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Multiple Mommy

If you think media reports are the gospel truth then you probably believe the definition of a mom is someone who bears multiples, twins or triplets at least. And if you have some eight children then you can score a reality show and sock away the earnings for the kids’ college funds. (OctoMom; Jon & Kate Plus 8.)

Such is life in 2009 when medical intervention makes it possible to have a litter. And litters abound. Julia Roberts has twins; Brangelina has twins; Marcia Cross, the redhead from Desperate Housewives; Rebecca Romijn, who plays Mystique in the X-Men series; Jennifer Lopez; Patrick Dempsey’s wife, Jillian; Dennis Quaid and his wife. (Even Red in Hellboy has twins at the end of The Golden Army!)

Maybe the Olsen twins started it… well in reality we know it’s because women are getting married later.

I’m thinking about his because a) I have one child; b) people keep asking me if I want to have another c) people say “don’t you wish you’d had twins coz then you’d be done” (implying I had a say in the matter!) and d) people keep saying “it must be so easy having ONLY ONE child.”

The last statement, d, rankles me the most. Yes, I am jealous of people with more than one child! But I’m desperately happy with the toddler I have. And somewhere in there is the implication that having one child isn’t enough. That my uterus hasn’t fulfilled its purpose.

I don’t if it has but I don't want to be counted out yet. One is enough. Not eight.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Facebook Frenemies

Facts & Arguments

Facebook frenemies
In school they taunted me, spread rumours and challenged me to fights. Why would I want to catch up now?

Amber Nasrulla
From Tuesday's Globe and Mail, Monday, Jun. 15, 2009 06:23PM EDT

I've known all kinds of people – bullies, the bullied, the voyeurs. I met them growing up a brown girl with a non-Canadian name in small-town Ontario in the 1980s.

When I was a preteen I confess I brought darkness into some students' days, but nothing I did compares to the bullying I endured at my junior high school in Newmarket.

A typical day in Grade 8 went something like this: I'd walk the halls doing a shoulder check, constantly on the watch for the inevitable kick in the butt and the shout of “lard arse.” For the record I was less than 90 pounds and hardly overweight.

The students taunted me about my black hair and asked if I washed my tresses with motor oil. One boy spat a glob of bubble gum into my hair. My tormentors left nasty notes on my desk and hissed, “Paki, Paki, smelly Paki,” as I walked by. They stole my shoes from the locker room while I was in gym class. They spread rumours about me.

They challenged me to fights in the woods across the street from school. Many of my afternoons were spent sprawled on the grass as students slapped, scratched and punched my face and body.

I stuck up for myself but was consistently outnumbered. I was vulnerable everywhere except at home, which was my only sanctuary. I didn't tell my parents or brother or sister how horrid each school day was. I always felt that if I endured I would become stronger.

Now, more than 20 years later, a curious and uncomfortable event is unfurling. Three F words sum it up: Fake Facebook Friendship. The same people who tormented me have found me on Facebook and recently asked to be friends. Apparently they don't remember what they did to me. A couple of them even invited me to a junior-high reunion. As if.

It's not like I've spent the past 20 years in suspended animation, but I would be lying if I didn't say this splinter of a memory irritates me occasionally.

I'm too polite to tell them to bugger off. I've accepted a few Facebook requests although I'd feel a lot better hurling bottles of shampoo at them. There was no Facebook 20 years ago, but if there had been I'm sure someone in class would have created an “Everybody Hates Amber Nasrulla” page. Bullying wasn't outsourced back then.

I've forgiven the bullies (but not forgotten them) because they helped make me who I am today – a curious observer and someone who loves to travel far from where she grew up, to learn about the world and see if cruelty is universal (it is). Thankfully, kindness is also universal.

I studied hard and made the honour roll in high school. I went to university and was fortunate to befriend people from countries all over the world, including Ghana, the Caribbean, South Africa, Israel, Scotland, China and, of course, Canada.

I got married, moved to California and now, as it turns out, live in Orange County, a homogeneous neighbourhood known to the locals as The O.C. or The Orange Curtain. It's absurdly beautiful but it's a yuppie-saturated wilderness that is fiercely Republican.

Back to the mid-1980s and the subtleties of adolescent anthropology. Two events brought an end to the bullying.

One spring afternoon I was in my usual spot fighting a popular girl in the woods. Miraculously, I managed to knock her down after she pulled out a clump of my hair. After that small victory the kids started to leave me alone.

More significantly, a new student named Stacy joined Grade 8 a few months before the end of school. Her parents were older, probably in their 40s (to a preteen, fortysomething is crypt material). They often dressed her in a lacy pink frock – think Laura Ingalls Wilder and Little House on the Prairie . She had red hair. You see where this is going. The situation was horrific for her. I'm beyond ashamed to say that I was almost as mercilessly cruel as the other students. I recall throwing candy at her.

I apologize to Stacy for being unforgivably unkind. I have a toddler now and my heart cracks as I imagine my Kamran enduring just a sliver of racism or bullying. I don't know what effect my taunts had on Stacy but I'm so sorry.

I've blocked the bullies on Facebook now but am still trying to find Stacy. If I do, I'll apologize and ask her to forgive me. I can't imagine she wants to be my friend.

Amber Nasrulla lives in Orange County, Calif.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Taliban Grab Pakistan

Read a wonderful column by Cowasjee this week. He writes that the MQM in Karachi are seizing lands designated to be green spaces and playgrounds and building homes on them. There is no environmental assessment and it's clearly a land grab.

You could say land grabbing is the least of Pakistan's problems but it's indicative of a deeper rot. A way of thinking that doesn't include the welfare of children, doesn't honour local government, and is, at its core, selfish.

In NWFP, there's a land grab of a different, more cancerous sort going on. Roughly a million people are pouring out of the SWAT Valley desperate to flee the Taliban. For the Taliban it's not just about land, it's about the subjugation of women, the owning of arms, and the spreading of a vile brand of Islam.

Relatives tell us that young children are being snatched from refugee camps and enrolled in Madrassas, Islamic schools, where they are indoctrinated with the Wahhabi brand of Islam. And girls are stolen by the dozen and forced into marriage with perverted old men who say they can have multiple wives. If the Prophet (PBUH) did it, then so should they.

There are so many things wrong with their way of thinking and it all comes down to lack of education. Lack of appreciation of the world, of the environment, of art, of beauty, of music. A fear of all things imaginative.

Yes, war does have something to do with it but ultimately it's the lack of education that has destroyed Pakistan.

It's too late for that once glorious, gorgeous country where I spent summers in the Karakoram Valley in my youth. Dear God help this sad, sad lost land.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Death in Gaza

The tears will flow easily and often while watching Death in Gaza, an Emmy-Award winning documentary airing on CBC this week.

First, James Miller, the British documentary maker/director/cameraman and father of two, was shot and killed in 2003 by an Israeli soldier while filming in Rafah, at the southern end of the Gaza Strip. (The film opens with Miller's obituary). Second, the primary interview subjects are three Palestinian kids, Ahmed, 12, Mohammed, 12, and Najla, 16. It's an understatement to say their future looks bleak.

Death in Gaza
Miller worked with reporter/narrator Saira Shah. Their goal was to make a documentary about the effect of violence from the perspective of both Palestinian and Israeli children. After Miller's death his colleagues shifted the focus to his bravery and commitment and documented the desperate lives of the children of the West Bank and Gaza. Despite the fact that the team never interviewed Israeli children the film is balanced and clearly has a message of anti-violence.

Violent Days and Nights
Miller effectively and chillingly captured life in the streets of Palestine. During the day viewers are shown buildings pock-marked with bullet holes, dust-choked streets, posters of young martyrs rather than movie stars on walls, and Israeli tanks patrolling the rubble-strewn streets. Young children throw stones at the tanks that respond by firing live rounds into the air. The region is essentially an open-air prison.

North American viewers are familiar with these images of the Middle East in 1½ minute news items but Miller's film goes far beyond that to capture the day to day horror that is a way of life.

Playing Jews & Arabs
Mohammed and Ahmed's version of Cops & Robbers is Arabs & Jews. Clusters of youngsters play in the alleyways with toy guns fashioned out of scrap wood. They also spend their days throwing rocks or homemade explosives at Israeli tanks and other armoured vehicles.

In one scene, when a Palestinian is killed in his jeep during a targeted assassination by an Israeli helicopter, children scramble over the smouldering debris to collect flesh, blood, and body parts in sandwich bags. They marvel over what they found just as children in other parts of the world might collect bugs, rocks, or seashells. The children's teachers are violence and hatred. They have no positive role models.

Cannon Fodder
At night, when citizens and street vendors retreat into the relative safety of their homes, the paramilitary comes out to recruit the young. They need cannon fodder.

Narrator Shah sits with 12-year-old Ahmed and the paramilitary soldiers he admires. While wearing black masks so their faces are entirely hidden, they first play games with him, ruffle his hair affectionately, and then teach him how to hold a rocket grenade launcher. Wide-eyed Ahmed complies. It's obvious he looks up to them.

Shah questions the morality of recruiting young children to be terrorists, and one hooded paramilitary member responds, "Don't worry about responsibility, sister, we're men, when we say goodbye to Ahmed, there are thousands more like him."

The 2004 documentary, Death in Gaza, airs on CBC on May 1 at 8 p.m. ET.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Navy Boy in Hawaii

I hope that I don’t start a fire. It’s kind of awkward here sitting on a balcony without an ashrtray. So here I am in Hawaii and it’s jut beautiful out there is no snow and I feel like I was meant to be here…

I can see the marina where the opening of Gilligan's Island was shot and there are a lot of pretty little white boats and I think is that some kind of rule or something? And they have blue covers and there are palm trees everywhere I look maybe a couple of kinds of varieties and they boogie in warm wind.

I can see people in shorts and flip flops and people looking like ducks out in the harbour and a surfer too. And the break wall to protect the little inlet. I met a funny little boy from Wisconsin yesterday on the flight. He was with the Navy had been since he was 16 I think. He works on turbines and has a great interest in scuba diving and now he's heading to Pearl Harbor… he joined he says because he wanted to see the world as a result he’s been to Guam to Iraq and he spent a long time in Bahrain in his soldier's uniform.

I wanted to know what makes a man want to join the army. It’s not something I ever wanted and not just because I'm not a man and I'm a mummy. We talked about it a little and he said he really just wanted to see the world. What a funny reason uhuh I mean you end up risking your life. But he was so young and he didn't even know about the massacre in Rwanda and hadn't heard of the Hutus fighting the Tutsis. Because I told him about General Romeo D’allaire’s book, Shake Hands With The Devil and this child hadn’t even heard of it. I should have asked him if he thought it was important for U.S. soldiers in particular to leanr military history and world history and not just their own because they happen to have parked their asses avec guns in so many places around the world. His lack of of knowledge and lack of concern for it was somehow frightening.

These blind little kids who just go and join for whatever reason and get involved in the politics of the elders. I should have liked to talk to him more about it. But there was something about this 6-foot-tall boy who barely has enough facial hair to shave and his lack of knowledge was freaky. Well we sat next to each other for six hours so I didn't want to insult him.

I suppose that I should not be judging him I mean who am I to question his motives? But I can’t help it when I think of him or his compatriots sitting in their SeaHawk with their powerful weapons of destruction and what havoc they can wreak with just a wee press of the button and jut blindly going what their military obsessed bosses tell them.

In six hours I didn’t even ask him his name and it gets me to thinking about how we meet people for just a minute and how these little meetings touch and change our lives even ever so minutely and that ultimately changes who we are. It isn’t like having a long-time relationship but what they say becomes a part of you and who you are… and it will change your perception of what you think and possibly even what you act upon.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Laguna Beach Boy

My first attempt at PhotoShopalooza is this piece of sweetness on the beach. (No rogue tsunami at Laguna Beach is gonna take my Mak Attack from me.) All the elements of preciousness are here - Kamran, Jennah, Noore. (I'll add Keyaan later.) I think I effectively distilled the seasons of toddlerhood onto an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet, don't you?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Baby's First Words

Mak Attack's fave words: Up-ee-down; Di-sore (dinosaur); I want; A cullin (coloring); Mine; Da-dush; Don tach eet (don't touch it); Mitta Bone (Mr. Bone, the neighbour); Blunkit (blanket); Kameem up (clean up).

Monday, February 2, 2009

Obama, Obama, Obamaaaaaama!


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Head to Toe Coverage

Overweight? Tired? Frumpy? Body-image problem? Tired of the way you look in photos? Forget Weight Watchers, visiting the gym or cutting calories.

No, the Taliban have the ultimate solution. Purchase your own head-to-toe ninja ensemble - Style No. "Muslim Fundo" - and you'll never look frumpy again. In fact, you'll look the same in every photo, which is to say you'll look like nothing at all!

The Muslim Fundo outfit is yours for only two payments of $49.99. Please specify if you want cotton or polyester. You'll never leave home without it.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I'm a Nillionaire. Are You?

I have a couple of Coach bags. I have a couple of Gucci bags. I have some Louis Vuitton bags. I just picked up a delightful Anya Hindmarch tote. I have some Cole Haan bags and shoes. Jimmy Choo clutch and heels. Check. Chanel - not yet. Not yet.

I'm wearing a chunky David Yurman bangle on my right wrist - a birthday gift from my husband. I have a decent amount of 22 carat gold and diamonds. I drive nice cars.

But here's the kicker.


I, who have nothing, look like I have a lot. More than most people.

I am fortunate. I am fat. I am a flimsy excuse for a human being.

Really I should be saving for my son's college fund. I opened a Fidelity fund for him but given the way the market is working he'll be lucky if there's $20G in it by the time he's finished with high school. He is 20-months-old right now.

So, to All the Nillionaire Ladies out there - how are you saving?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Last week we were noodling around Laguna Beach (pictured). This week we are freezing in Southern Ontario. Not so bad for me as most of my work is done in a computer. Inside.

Kamran, on the other hand, joined a new daycare this week and has to go out into Siberia twice a day.

Kaleidoscope of Kids
The daycare is a life-sized kaleidoscope - cutout snowflakes hanging from the ceiling with bendy-bobby string, foam toys with tiny smushed fingerprint imprints on them (this is what passes for art at 19 months), dry macaroni and rice in the texture table, a few colourful rugs scattered about, and a dozen rosy-cheeked chunky kids in each room.

Since he's only been going there for three days (and was at a different daycare at Harbourfront until November) he's a bit weepy in the a.m. when I drop him off. I duck into the hallway and after a minute or two I hear him asking for "cee-wee-ul and appo". Translation "cereal" and "apple". He's confident and outgoing and I'm OK to leave once I hear his husky voice giving orders in choppy toddler fashion.

Planes, Trains & Automobiles
I am aware that he belongs to me just as much as he belongs to Canada and the U.S. I carried him for 39 weeks and four days and he's holding my DNA but he's not really mine. I was just the transportation, his plane, his train, his automobile. He will breathe different air, have different conversations, see a different world, love differently than I have loved and, oh God, I can hardly type it, feel the blisters of loss. But not too soon, God, please not too soon.

I can see the changes already in his imagination and joy as he experiments with new things - the snow, icicles, a toy plane, a fat crayon, a textured book, my sandals, and how he plays with his cousins and how his laugh erupts from somewhere deep in his belly and then every molecule of his body is joyful. He is new and I am decaying.

It's -30C outside (serves me right for leaving SoCal in January!) and there are icicles in my brain.

Just five more hours before I go collect him from his colourful playland.

My God, give me mountains to climb and strength to climb them.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Obama, FedEx, Koala Bears

Why do FedEx drivers keep the doors open during delivery? Granted it must make for quick in and out but does it really save them that much time getting packages to clients?

Why do bees come so close to our ears?

How do koala bears sleep in trees and not fall out?

Can Obama save the global economy?