Monday, December 20, 2010


It's come to my attention that there's another entity on Blogger by the name of Cultural Flotsam, this one with a hyphen in the URL.
Ever the competitive gal, I am happy to point out (rub in) that I launched my blog a full 103 days before this guy. Woot!
Furthermore, he seems to have had a rather short run at it (essentially 7 posts to my, ahem, 56 and counting).

Still, I can sympathize. According to some researchers, up to 95% of blogs are abandoned within their first year of life. This New York Times article by Douglas Quenqua, titled "Blogs Falling in an Empty Forest", paints a rather dire picture (why bother when one can just Tweet?). It also reveals that most people who blog hanker for a huge following, constant feedback, and even imagine they can make money or land a book deal out of it. But I recently came across a rather enlightening site (you may have heard of by now) by Chris Guillebeau called The Art of Non-Conformity. I became aware of it via his inspiring, free how-to manual titled 279 Days to Overnight Success, (which you can download from his site), which essentially chronicles his journey from Joe-job, 9-to-5er, to ProBlogger. And one who actually makes a decent living at it, to boot.

While I am light years away from that (and have other, equally off-the-beaten-path priorities that I've invested enormous time and effort into already and am doggedly dedicated to) I love hearing from other people who are doing it, succeeding at it, and who are re-writing the codes for every day living. We should all be so lucky and inspired.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rules / Signs - New York Special

I was in New York City recently for the NY Art Book Fair, the now colossal event put together by Printed Matter. But that was just a convenient excuse to finally get my butt down there after a too long absence. (It's like, 6 hours away by car. What's my problem??)

But this isn't about that. As you can imagine, this edition of Rules/Signs is just a taste of what's out there...

BEAUTY BAR - somewhere in Chelsea:
The great thing about this type of place in this type of city is I'm still not sure if this place is a bar, or a hair salon, or a "gentlemen's club" or cosmetics store, or all three. It's possible.

On the way up to The High Line (which is awesome, by the way). Um, why the allusion to giant crumbling alpha-blocks of concrete, anyway?

BROOKLYN: Keep it clean!

Lions and Burgers and Rolls! Oh, my!
When plain old black just won't do.

This next trio is from The New Museum. I didn't realize every square foot of real estate in these places has been sponsored by patrons. How amazing to have a drinking fountain named after oneself. That's nuts! Had they run out of emergency exits? In the hierarchy of sponsorship, seems the drinking fountain would be kind of low on the totem pole. Still worthy of a plaque tho. Well, thank you for supporting contemporary art, Mr and Mrs Campbell!


Ha ha. It's CANADA Gallery, silly!

Last one:

Dexter Sinister. This was actually an on-purpose destination. Unfortunately, we just caught the tail-end of their book launch (no more booze) but we picked up a publication or two.

Warfarin' Stranger

I usually wear earplugs to bed. This habit began years ago not due to a snoring spouse, but because I was being driven half-crazy by the scratching, gnawing, squeaking sounds of a mouse. When it became clear that my usual arsenal of poison, traps, steel wool and even the occasional 'cat for hire' wasn't enough to keep them at bay (especially in the fall and winter), I resolved that if they were going to have their way in my kitchen at night, then gosh dern it, they would not rob me of my sleep.

Growing up on a farm, I was used to the sight of mice, although usually in the jaws of a cat. But that was long, long ago. I so wish I could deal with these little problems with the poise and matter-of-fact calm I once possessed as a nine-year old barnyard explorer.
But no. I scream. City life has turned me into a wuss.

I should stress here that although I am by now quite familiar with mus musculus, this is not an indication of an unkempt house. I practice good, solid housekeeping skills, all my dry-goods are in jars or plastic containers with tight-fitting lids, and I have plugged and re-plugged every single crack, hole, and crevice I can find. But aie, there's the rub. They know the place better than I do. Some people mistakenly believe that only drafty 100-year-old houses have mice. Wrong-o (they have ghosts). Mice can squeeze through holes the diameter of a pencil. A PENCIL!!! So don't underestimate those tiny crevices. They are a mouse's portal to Nirvana!

For those of you who share my plight but are new to the game, here are few tips I've learned over the years.

BARRIERS: Medium steel wool is best for plugging holes. Jam it in there real tight. If they try to chew through it they'll cut the insides of their delicate mouths (plus it's a killer on those fillings). Silicone and expanding insulating foam are totally useless. They chew through that like buddah.

TRAPS: I find the old fashioned snap traps the most effective. As mice have very poor vision and navigate mostly through smell (hence the poo-trails) they are wary of new obstacles in their paths and may avoid traps despite the tempting food (although they can also be finicky eaters). A very effective tip is to place a few unset traps out for a few days to let them get used to running over them, sans conséquence. Then bait and expect results. Also, wear rubber gloves in order to not leave any human scent on the trap. Place traps in groups of two or three with bait side against the wall, in areas you suspect they frequent most.

BAIT: I've tried lots of different mouse trap bait options. My current favourite is cold BACON GREASE. I've also had success with raisins and peanut butter. Despite ubiquitous representation throughout the history of popular culture, cheese is not their preferred choice. I've had a few remarkable experiences with bait disappearing without the trap being set off, which baffles me to this day. I have actually tied things like popped corn, nuts, etc. to the lever, and they somehow managed to get away unscathed.

DISPOSAL: Once the deed is done, don't just toss the whole shebang in the garbage. Lift and separate! If you can't bear the sight of the thing, cover the whole mess with a plastic bag and feel your way through it to lift the snapper and release the vile creature into the trash. Come on! Channel your inner farm-girl and be a man! No toilet disposal either. That's just stupid.

EXTERMINATORS: If all else fails (or your nerves are just to fried to deal with it anymore) it may be time to call in the pros.
Like most exterminators, Poulins Pest Control has a great sense of humour. I'm not sure they still do this, but for years this Winnipeg company had one of those roadside signs with changeable letters that usually advertise specials, etc. They had a rotating roster of so-bad-its-good pest themed puns that made the drive to or from the Norwood Bridge just a little brighter. Anyone out there in Winnipeg-land remember any of them? (Brother Don - this one's for you...) Their site is super informative. As you can read in the 'About' section, the business began, circa 1946, as a result of the death of the young Poulin boy's puppy by a pack of rats. Talk about revenge!

Word on the street has it that many of today's rodents are resistant to the once ubiquitous warfarin. This immediately conjures horrifying visions of "super-mice" (Mighty Mice?) who will one day grow the size of bears and strangle me in my sleep. But in the meantime, there are other, more potent products out there that are keeping us at least one step ahead. Products such as: Rodend! Ratak!! Ratsak! Pestroy!! Pestoff!!! (emphasis mine!)

Of course, as most people's advice dictates, I could just "get a cat!".
Sure, but then I would have a cat.


Wayfarin' Stranger

Happy Holidaze!

I hate to think that my bloggerism is diminishing, but the truth is in the numbers: I need to post 3 more times before the bell tolls on December 31 in order to match the number of posts I had for 2009 and 2008 (a meagre 10 - but at least they were all earnest, informative and cheeky).

So, in a bit of shameless, last-minute rattrapage, I will produce over the next few hours (days if necessary) the required quota - if only to save my pride and convince myself and my 3 regular readers (more like "occasional checkers" by this point) that there are still interesting things in the world to share on this here site.

And while I'm at it, I wish you all (three of you) HAPPY HOLIDAZE!!! and BEST WISHES FOR @)!! Oops! 2011. Too bad you probably won't read this until the spring.

CEO, Cultural Flotsam Enterprises, Inc.