The Best-Laid Plans

Call it the axiom that never seems to fail.

I should be out in the fantastic June weather on this gorgeous Sunday afternoon, atop the enormous deck of a friend in Kensington Market.

Instead, I’m indoors, as I’ve been all weekend, trying to recover from some mysterious stomach bug – not the flu – that I’ve had since last week.

In addition to that, it’s looking like the trip to Spain for four has disintegrated into a solo trip (unless I magically get sick again by then, too. Heaven forbid).

One of my friends dropped out long ago, due to finances. Another dropped out of sight, period. I’m chalking it up to a series of changes in her job, living arrangements and life as of late. But an e-mail or phone call would be nice.

And yesterday evening, the last buddy pulled out due to a family illness. That’s sad to hear, but understandable.

It probably wasn’t meant to be. But damn if it isn’t downright poopy.

I realize that this happens to everyone at some point or another. But isn’t it the weirdest thing, when it does happen to you, that you feel as if life is going as it should for everyone else? Selfish, I know. But still.

I’m sure the universe will unfold as it should. But for now, as i look out the window and look at the breeze passing through the pine tree next door, I can’t help but think:

“Le sigh.”

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A Rock-n-Rollin’ Good Time …

I’m normally not one for sporting events.

But last night was pretty cool.

A bunch of girls and I went out to a west-end sports arena to take in some roller derby.

That’s right, folks. Two teams of tattooed women in team uniforms and co-ordinating skirts and roller skates, pushing, tripping and jostling each other for points around a flat track, for three 20-minute periods.

It was awesome.

Up until a week and a half ago, I had no idea the league even existed. But I’m glad when a friend suggested taking in a bout (not a match), I took up the offer.

It was great! Just seeing women glide, and occasionally whip around the track was fun. And of course, you had to say, “OHHHHH!” every time a girl fell, or took down a couple of other skaters in the process. The audience was just as cool, yelling, and banging on the fibreglass windows.

In between periods, Toronto’s Pillow Fight League kept crowd interest with fights of their own. You might think it was just two women in short shorts, fishnets, and wrestling-styled boots whipping each other with regulation pillows. But there were a few wrestling-styled tackles and pin-downs involved, too. Pillow fighting is not to be underestimated.

And the arena was definitely old-school, right down to the old signs, the royal blue seats, and the nostalgic aromas of equipment, co-mingling with the smells of concession stand foot and sweat.

The two teams we saw – the Smoke City Betties and the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad (or D-VAS for short) – are just two of a six-team league being run in Toronto, which only started last year.

And from what I hear, Toronto’s flat-track league is currently the biggest in North America. There are leagues in Hamilton, Montreal, and Burlington, with news of others springing up across the country.

But really, don’t take my word for it. You can go to the Derby’s Web site. They’ve got matches on between now and the end of August too. It’s totally worth checking out, if only at least once.

Wedding Season

Until about five or six years ago, I’d never been to a wedding in my entire life.This year, I might be making up for that. It seems like 2007 is the year a lot of my friends are taking the plunge and tying the knot. At last mental count, I think there are about eight weddings that I know of, between now and the end of October.

Not that I’ve been invited to all of them or anything like that. But the air in my world has been pungent with talk of it. Some people are exchanging vows right here. Others are doing it overseas. There will be big ones … small ones … civil ones … religious ones … it’s dizzying.

It’s also one of those things that’s both a joyous occasion, but a sobering reminder of adulthood. With that single rite of passage, things change. People change a bit because life changes. (Okay, not an earth-shattering thought, I know. But in my mind, I still think I’m about 20 years old, with a few more pounds to my frame, bodily pains, and spider veins.)

But it should be fun. So far, I’ve got a wedding to go to in town here in July, which will be so much fun, I’m sure.

I also just got an invite for a wedding at the beginning of August. In Dubai. I’m still mulling it over (since my official vacation is in the middle of August).

But just being part of one of the most important days in my friends’ lives is really all that matters to me. If I’m invited and can make it, I’m definitely there.

It’s 30 Seconds, Not Five!

Continuing in the spirit of not writing anything original … here’s a little proof that a post-secondary education in North America isn’t in vain …Behold the newest reason for foodies to celebrate, as explained in South Florida’s Sun-Sentinel yesterday:

Dropping a piece of food on the floor and then picking it up and dining on it is a germaphobe’s nightmare.Streptococcus. Staphylococcus. E.coli. Oh, my!

But how bad is it?

A college professor and her students are challenging the prevailing wisdom of the so-called five-second rule, which for generations has governed how long little morsels can remain on floors uncontaminated.

The window, the Connecticut team has concluded, really is 30 seconds.

“We wanted to look at a real-world situation,” said Anne Bernhard, assistant professor of biology at Connecticut College in New London, noting the difference between her team’s work and that of an earlier researcher.

In 2003, Jillian Clarke was a high school intern at the University of Illinois when she confirmed the five-second rule after painstakingly coating floor tiles with E.coli, then dropping gummy bears and cookie pieces onto them.

But as with all findings in science, there was room for challenge.

Most people, Bernhard said, do not smear their floors with E. coli.

And therein lies her “real-world” research. She and her two students, Molly Goettsche and Nicole Moin, chose the college’s busy cafeteria as a test area.

Instead of gummy bears and cookie pieces, Bernhard and her students chose apple slices and Skittles.

“The students wanted two different types of food sources: a wet source and one that was a dry food source, to test any differences,” Bernhard said.

“You would think that a wet food source would be more likely to attract bacteria very quickly.”

Each food item was dropped in triplicate for specific intervals that ranged from 5 seconds to 5 minutes.

“We did this experiment in the main dining area and about 2,000 students traffic through that area,” Moin said yesterday.

“So you’d think there would be a multitude of bacteria on the floor.”

But in the first set of tests, in which moist apple slices were dropped, the students were stunned to find they had blown the 5-second rule to smithereens.

What they saw after 5 seconds were pristine morsels. It wasn’t until the 1-minute interval that they found bacteria developing on the apple slices.

It took 5 minutes for organisms to colonize a Skittle.

The conclusion, Bernhard said, is that instead of a 5-second rule for moist foods that have fallen, the standard should be 30 seconds: As long as you eat a moist food within 30 seconds of its fall, you’re very likely to be in a zone of safety.

For dry, less porous foods, she added, you might be safe even if you allow them to stay on the floor for 1 minute.

Each of the foods was picked up after its allotted time on the floor and placed in a petri dish.

Bernhard said the object was to see whether colonies of bacteria grew in the dish within 24 hours.

“I can say only one thing,” added Moin, who is going to veterinary school in the fall.

“This is really testimony to the great housekeeping at our school.”

Still an open question for any scientist willing to take the challenge is the longstanding “kiss it up to God” rule.

So when you see me pick up that half a cookie I dropped on the floor at work, know this: It’s me exercising my democratic right not to waste good, germ-free food.

I am prepared to deal with the fact that I may lose friends after this.

Even BETTER Than Nintendinitis.

Yes, fools. I’m at work and I’m not getting any work done.

Just read the story.

BOSTON (Reuters) – When Dr. Julio Bonis awoke one Sunday morning with a sore shoulder, he could not figure out what he had done. It felt like a sports injury, but he had been a bit of a couch potato lately.

Then he remembered his new Wii.

Bonis, 29, had spent hours playing Nintendo Co.’s new video game in which players simulate real movements. Bonis had been playing simulated tennis. It was not quite tennis elbow, he decided.

“The variant in this patient can be labeled more specifically as ‘Wiiitis,”‘ Bonis, a family practice physician, wrote in a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine.

“The treatment consisted of ibuprofen for one week, as well as complete abstinence from playing Wii video games. The patient recovered fully.”

Wiiitis — pronounced “wee-eye-tis” — is the latest ailment to develop from the video game era, beginning with Space Invaders’ wrist in 1981, which was caused by the repeated button mashing required by the popular arcade game.

Nintendo’s Wii game can captivate for hours and “unlike in the real sport, physical strength and endurance are not limiting factors,” Bonis of the Research Group in Biomedical Informatics in Barcelona, Spain, wrote.

“What convinced me to send the case report was that a friend of mine, after playing ‘Wii Sports’ suffered from a similar complaint,” Bonis told Reuters in an e-mail. “I have not found other cases in my clinical practice, but it is probably an underdiagnosed condition.”

It is not the first time Nintendo has received attention in the medical field.

In 1990, a Wisconsin doctor characterized the thumb soreness brought on by pushing the buttons on a controller as “Nintendinitis” after it affected a 35-year-old woman who played a Nintendo game without interruption for five hours.

With virtual golf, boxing, baseball and bowling already on the market, “future games could involve different and unexpected groups of muscles,” Bonis said. “Physicians should be aware that there may be multiple, possibly puzzling presentations of Wiiitis.”

Bonis said he still plays the games, “but I try to use it with moderation. Sometimes it’s hard to do!”

Wiiitis be damned. If I ever get a shot at playing this beautiful game system, I’ll play it till my pretty brown eyes burn out of their sockets.

I’m Becoming A Bitter Young Spinster ALREADY.

It’s that time of year again …

When April and May’s spring fever are giving way to June’s summer delirium …

The outdoor patios will soon be overflowing with people and festivals of every stripe will explode into being …

The barometer is shooting up and the layers of clothing are starting to disintegrate …

And young men and women’s thoughts are turning to many things. Cottage weekends. Love. More cold beers and mixed drinks. Parties. Lust. Camping.

And for unfortunate souls like me, visits from the Green-Eyed Monster.

I am a grown woman and am ashamed to say that today, I had an episode of jealousy, like a child.

(Well, not really ashamed right this minute. But I was just before this …)

The scenario: I went to a double-birthday party two weekends ago. The birthday girls, my friends, who are also roommates. Lots of people … chatter … alcohol. There was this one guy, a friend of the friend I’ll call Birthday Girl # 1, who seemed nice. By the end of the evening (and a couple copious glass globlets of rum-and-coke) real nice.

Last week, I missed out on two opportunities to go partying with my friend. And him.

Earlier this afternoon, I e-mailed Birthday Girl # 1, to see how she was doing (and how the fun weekend was).

She responded, and mentioned that Real Nice Guy and her roomie (Birthday Girl # 2) had hit it off.

“Hit it off”?

I felt my full lips set themselves in a line. My eyes narrowed a bit. And if I was a cartoon, you probably would have been seeing steam coming out of my ears a couple minutes later.

And then, my eyes started to water. And they kept watering. And watering. And watering.

I couldn’t believe what I was feeling. I should be inwardly squealing like a schoolgirl for my friend. But I was getting angry. Over a dude who doesn’t even remember what I look like.

I’m trying to remember the last time I felt this bitter. Right now the only thing I can equate it with was that one time in second grade, when my science project on electricity got passed over for first prize for a first-grade classmate’s project on garbage.

(Okay, sure – at the time, I didn’t really understand that I was supposed to do the entire project myself, rather than have my dad make the model transformers, and help me write out the written portions mounted on the board. But he wanted to help me. Tell me, how does an eight-year-old turn down homework help from Daddy?)

I don’t think I even got an honourable mention ribbon. Just a pat on the back from teacher for finally bucking up and – at her strong suggestion – walking over and congratulating the wee winner for a project well put-together. But I remember the little lips set together. And the eyes watering.

It’s made me realize how neurotic and pathetic I can be, simultaneously.

But I think this also means I’m becoming what I’ve feared:

A young spinster.

All I’m missing is the hair in a tight bun, a drab floor-length skirt devoid of any colour, and a matching blouse with some kind of high, ruffled neck, long sleeves. And a lace dickie.

I’m sure this will dissipate from my system in a matter of days. I know it’s completely unreasonable.

But do me a favour? If you’ve happen to read this and you run into me a couple days from now, please don’t tell me that I’ll get over it. Or that there will be others. Or that stuff will happen when I least expect it.

I’m not trying to be snarky or mean. But as The Pepetually Single Friend Who Likes Being So Most Of The Time, and hearing these lines from my friends or acquaintances for more than half my life, it’s like the equivalent of trying to tell me Santa still exists.

Buy me a drink instead. Rum-and-cokes preferred, but also willing to accept glasses of white wine or gin-and-tonics. It’s way more entertaining for everyone involved.