The Internet, Critical Thinking and Mr. Rogers

I received an email from my sister that immediately got a “hmm” response from me. It was a neat little story about Lee Marvin, Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Rogers. Supposedly Lee Marvin won a Navy Cross at Iwo Jima along with Bob Keeshan (Capatian Kangaroo) and Mr. Rogers was a Navy Seal before becoming a minister and the t.v. personality that we all loved. The story just didn’t feel right.

My other sister and I were discussing it and she agreed with me. So she checked it out on Snopes. Thank goodness for Snopes.

It turns out that Lee Marvin received a Purple Heart for an injury incurred from the battle of Saipan, Captain Kangaroo was enlisted in the army but did not see any action during World War II and Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers) never served in the military.

In my mind this begs two questions; why do we assume that there is any truth to these internet stories and why is there even a need for such stories? The cool thing about the internet is that it has made information so accessible, it has equally made wrong information so accessible. Now instead of having to buy a gossip magazine filled with lies we get them sent to our email accounts. Really, these were not bad stories in any way, there was nothing malicious about them as there is about so many internet untruths. But, the simple fact is that they are still untruths masquerading as facts.

As a strong supporter of Israel I see the danger when lies are treated as truth. Public opinion wants to believe what it wants to believe. Truth is irrelevant and bias is considered a point of view. Up is down and down is up.

The next time that someone sends you an email that seems vaguely suspect or that even seems interesting check it out. Do a little research, it won’t take long. Remember, if you receive an email with the header, Here’s an interesting story, chances are it really is just a story. A story, as in fiction.

I will always love Mr. Rogers, his being a Navy Seal would have made him no more or less wonderful to me. He was the star of a very sweet half hour t.v. show that brought comfort, warmth and information to my day. Wasn’t that enough?

Snap, Crackle, Pop

Yesterday wasn’t a good day, but it could have been worse.

I had to go downtown (at most a 5 minute drive) to pick up my son’s new lenses – he insists on calling them an “upgrade” – and then run them over to him at his school. He suggested that he go with me and that he just go to school a couple of minutes late. I caved and he came with.

I pulled into the underground parking garage – first hour free, ya gotta love that – and decided that it would be easiest to back into the spot. There was a pricey little sports car parked next to me so I fastidiously paid attention to it so as not to hurt the cute little thing. Then I heard it, the unmistakable sound of glass cracking and shattering and then cracking some more. The sports far was fine, my van not so much. I got out to look at my van all the while cleaning the garage floor with my jaw. You see the upper portion of the back wall extends over the lower portion which is recessed.

My rear window was in a million pieces, some of them falling onto the floor. I looked at the garage attendant as the black flies flew into my still gaping mouth. He set hazard cones beside my vehicle and said, ” I’ve seen this happen many times, sometimes cars even do it to their front windows.” That made me feel better, it wasn’t me, it was my van that had done it.

My son looked at me and said, “At least it wasn’t the bumper, that would probably cost a lot.” I just blinked.

We got his glasses, came back to the van and could still hear the glass crackling. I took him to school, gosh you can really see well out the back window when there isn’t one there. I took the van into an automotive glass shop where they told me that mine was about the fifteenth car they’ve repaired from that garage. Misery and stupidity both love company.

Anyway no one was hurt and all has been repaired except that my trunk now does not always open, it sounds like there’s glass in there.

Even though I know it could have been so much worse it was not a great day.

My Clean Fetish

When I was a little girl I was boy crazy. Chase boys around the school yard, catch ’em and kiss ’em kind of crazy.

As I entered high school I was no less boy crazy but I was incredibly shy. If I hadn’t been so shy I think I could have become a great sprinter.

Some of my crushes still make sense to me and some of them just puzzle me. I had a crush on the son of one of my mom’s friends. This makes sense. He was handsome. On occassion he would babysit us. I loved it when he babysat us. I don’t think he did anything special I just think that I got to stare at him and he couldn’t do anything about it. That was enough for me. Until, one day when it wasn’t. His whole family was over visiting. I was gazing at his handsomeness and I was overcome. I had to do something. So I did the only thing a little girl could do. I attacked him. Tried to catch him and kiss him. He got away. They always got away. My sister went running for my mother – snitchcat that she was. My mom probably heard the screaming anyway. His younger brother looked at me and said, “I’m getting out of here before she tries that with me!” I remember thinking, “Are you kidding me?”

I don’t think he sat again for us. My sister just recently told that she also had a crush on the same boy and that MY mother would let her stay up extra late when he sat so she could get some time with him without me around. Et tu Mother?

The biggest question in all of this is where was my oldest sister who was never allowed to go out and always had to babysit us, but I digress.

O.K., so that was one crush that I still understand. But here’s one that leaves me a little confused. He was an older man, about thirty years older than me. He wore an earring back in the day when only pirates wore earrings. He was bald. Boy, did he have muscles! Did I mention that he was a cartoon? He was none other than Mr. Clean. Yes, the cartoon spokesperson for a cleaning product made my little heart go pitter patter. Did I know back then that I would grow up to hate house cleaning? Was it the muscles? The combination of good boy clean white t-shirt and bad boy earring? I cannot begin to guess. Whenever I see Mr. Clean these days, and yes we have maintained a relationship all these years and my husband even approves, I just smile to myself. What a goofy kid I was.

I may still be a little goofy because whenever I see my husband cleaning the kitchen my heart skips a beat. There’s nothing like a man who knows how to clean and who does it without me!

Electric Silence

You know I think those electric scooters are kinda cool. Kinda. Sorta.

They come in fun colours.

They’re not as scary as motorocycles.

They look fun.

They’re good for the environment. Like the Smart car of the motorcycle world.

You can’t possibly take any of your kids with you on them or shlep groceries. That has to be a plus and a minus.

You have to wear a big helmet with them. I 100% believe in helmets but those scooters kind of look like you should wear a bike helmet with them.

I would look like Bozo the clown on one of those things with a helmet on.

They are silent. So silent. They make less noise than a bicycle.

I was stepping away from my parked car on a main street when one of those silent, zippy, colourful scooters swished right past me. I never heard it coming. We could have collided. Luckily I spotted it first.

I’m not sure how I feel about those things.

Spring Has Sprung

So I think that spring has well and truly arrived.

All of the signs are announcing it to be so.

The grass is quite green.
Trees are budding.
The roads have been swept clean of the accumulated sand.
Birds are waking me in the morning.
There has already been a bear awareness assembly.
The smell of decomposing things has passed.
I’m getting nervous as I watch a robin make a nest too close to the ground in one of our cedar trees. Those birds never learn and our neighbour’s cat always manages to find them.
Kids are wearing shorts to school.
Even my mailman is wearing shorts.
Tulips have come up in my garden, the crocus(es, crocusi?) have already come and gone.
The peony shoots are showing above the earth.
Passover is so over.
The ice is off all of the lakes!!

Yet, why am I afraid to wash the kids snow suits and put them away?

Mothers’ Day Madness

I do not like mothers’ day. I have not liked it since grade two and I continue to dislike it.

Let me explain. When I was in grade two I was in a split class. There was a boy in my class who was in the older grade. We were only in the same class that one year. I did not know him. I knew that he seemed pretty nice. He was a quiet boy. I knew that his mother had died. When you’re a kid knowledge like that is overwhelming. It may not have been ever-present in his mind but it was in mine. I didn’t know how to talk to him. He sat next to me for a while. He sat next to me while we were making our gifts for our mothers. He was making his for his grandmother. He could have been very happy making her a gift. I didn’t know, I couldn’t look him in the eye during those art classes. I fastidiously glued my spray painted macaroni onto my soup can which would hold the pansies that we were planting. I felt sick to my stomach each and every day that we worked on those gifts. Maybe that’s why pansies always scared me, they looked like angry faces to me. Flowers shouldn’t have faces. I know it’s weird. Anyway that was the beginning of my dislike for this contrived holiday.

Once I was married and we were ready to have kids and it just wasn’t happening I liked the holiday even less. It was salt in my open wound.

Then my kids started bringing me home their crafts from school and all I could think is, this is so sweet but were any children hurt in the making of this gift? We live in a society where families take on many shapes and forms. They do not always contain a mother and a father. We are so sensitive to matters of religion, having all white classes inclusively singing Kwanza songs, why aren’t we more sensitive to this issue?

More than the gifts that the kids have ever made for me I love the things they have written for me. Those, ‘I love my mother because she…’ lettters that I have received. But, I don’t need to get that from the school. I tell my children all the time why I love them and why they matter to me. We need to be freer with our expression of our love.

Don’t tell me that on this date my children will tell me that they love me and I will tell my mother that I love her. If we need an institutionalized greeting card holiday to do this then we are in trouble.

My kids think I’m a little crazy because (well, there are probably many reasons) I won’t tell them that I love them if they say it first and I don’t want them repeating it to me if I say it to them. When they say it to me I always respond with “Thank you very much, that means a lot to me.” When I explained it to my daughter she said to me, “I get it, it’s like regifting, but that doesn’t mean we don’t mean it.” I know they mean it, I just want them to realize it on their own. Those three words are so beautiful when spoken from the heart and so meaningless when robotically repeated back to us.

So tell the people that you love that you love them. Mean it when you say it and say it when you mean it.

I Heard the Chocolate Call My Name

Every now and then I have a craving for chocolate that I cannot fight. I try not to keep chocolate in the house so that this craving might just pass before I fulfill it.

It hit me yesterday like a ton of bricks. Fortunately there was no milk chocolate to be found in the house. But then I remembered, a bar of Lindt dark chocolate with chili pepper was hiding in my pantry trying to avoid its fate like a prisoner on death row. Now, I don’t really care for dark chocolate but for some reason this particular combination happens to be my favourite. My husband believes that if you don’t like dark chocolate you are not truly a chocolate lover. I beg to differ. He is a man who can forget about a dark Belgian bar of chocolate that has been bought especially for him. It will sit in the pantry slowly turning white until it dies a sad, lonely, painful death from neglect. At least my chocolate will be revered before it sacrifices its existence to the greater good.

Back to my pantry. The boys were all out of the room and my daughter was nearby but engrossed in a computer game. It was safe. Did I mention that I don’t love sharing? I quickly opened the package and broke off a square. My daughter’s head shot up as though zapped by an electric current. “Did you hear that SNAP?” she asked. “Mmm” I replied, busted. “THAT must be good chocolate.” she added with raised eyebrows. “Yeah, come here.” I said handing her a square.

When someone is a kindred spirit you just have to share.

I’ll Love You Forever, From A Distance

When my eldest niece was a little girl I would read her a bed time story called Love You Forever. She would sit there joyfully, her smiling face flitting from the pictures in the book to my face. She was waiting for the moment when I would tear up.

It’s the story of a baby who grows up. Every night his mother rocks him in her arms singing a song to him about loving him forever. As the boy grows up his mother peeks in on him in his sleep, takes him in her arms and sings the song. He gets married, she drives to his house at night, climbs in the window and sings to him. Eventually she is too old and frail and you see the son sitting in a rocking chair, holding her and singing the song to her. How sweet is that?

At some point during my courtship of my husband the story went from being sweet to kind of creepy. This sweet, loving mother was now giving me the heebie geebies. I mean, there comes a point as a mother when you have to let go. It seems to me that your child sharing his bed with a woman would be a good indicator of that point.

Mothers do not climb through that window, not even metaphorically.

Last night as I was putting my daughter to bed she gave me a kiss and said, “What would this family do without you?”

I melted a little at the time, but now I’m only afraid of becoming the creepy lady from the story. Hopefully my fear of heights and a modicum of sanity will keep me away from the windows.