What’s with Men and Nature Shows on TV?

nature shows

A few nights ago, late at night, I fell asleep listening to the following words (imagine a perfect British accent), “The eagle eyes it prey. It readies it wings and takes flight.” Or something close to that. I think I was more asleep than awake. The sound of the screeching eagle, or some other angry bird, takes me further out of my deepening sleep. I look over. David is fully unconscious, remote control in his hand. I guess the latest episode in his series of nature shows, about birds of prey, wasn’t that interesting. But there’s always tomorrow night.

Take a look at the shows recorded on our home’s PVR, or personal video recorder, and you will find a theme. About 25% of the content are children’s shows, like Elena of Avalor or Peppa Pig. Another 25% are shows I watch like Madam Secretary or shows our whole family watches like Master Chef. David recorded the other 50%, with titles like:

Borneo’s Secret Kingdom

Wild Nile

The Beginning and End of the Universe

Walking with Dinosaurs

Destination Wild

China’s Golden Monkeys

Do you see a pattern? Nature Shows. Dozens of them. What’s with men and nature shows? Why are they attracted to documentaries about animals eating other animals? I know lions consume antelopes in the savannah (okay I learned that in the 1990’s when I watched Lion King) and about the hunting habits of birds of prey like eagles and owls. But do I need to hear about this every day? Or to be more to the point, is this what I want to hear as I drift off to sleep?

David admits he is a bit addicted to these nature shows. He has learned all about the life cycle of the trees of the Amazon and the increasingly polluted waters of the Nile River. He and countless other males. I am quite sure these documentaries are produced by intelligent people, who spend weeks, maybe months, researching, writing, shooting and editing these shows. But I just can’t bear to watch them.

Do women watch these? Is it just men? Have you ever checked out the commercials that run during nature shows? There are a few too many focused on erectile dysfunction and Viagra. Sometimes there is a commercial about a cleaning product like Oxy Clean, with a man on the screen, or Head and Shoulders dandruff shampoo. And when David channel surfs late at night, looking for one of these shows about animals eating animals, you can bet there will also be commercials advertising condoms or 1-900 number dating services.

Back to the nature shows. Some fathers bond with their sons over sports. They wait for the day when their son is old enough to watch the Stanley Cup Final or game 7 of the World Series. Not my husband. David started showing Matthew shows about the lost monkeys of Brazil or the mating habits of the Siberian Tiger when Matthew was a very little boy. They like to cuddle up together on the couch, late on a Saturday night, often with snacks in hand, and watch their nature shows together. If there is a special on TV about how the Anaconda kills its prey then I know it’s a boy’s night and I should stay far away from the family room.

Do you watch nature shows? Do the men in your life watch nature shows? What do you think of them? Let me know. Leave me a comment here, post your thoughts on Facebook or Tweet me @AiciaRichler.

I am a CEO. Of my House.


It wasn’t my dream to be an executive. When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a doctor. When I was a teenager I wanted to be a sports journalist. I also knew that I wanted to be a Mom. Little did I know that one day I would be a CEO – not of a retail company or a non-profit organization, but of my house. That’s right, my house. I am a CEO, the Chief Executive Officer, of my house.

I attained my first executive position at a very young age, on June 25, 1998. It was the day I married David. We moved to France, where David was fortunate to get his first engineering job working with his brother-in-law. We lived in a sweet little house in a small village. I would say that was my first foray into executive leadership. I didn’t have a traditional job, but I worked. I ran my first household. It was a small business, with few needs and demands. But it kept me busy, as I learned how to live away from my parents, how to cook and how to live life with another person.

I was promoted through the executive ranks over the next 8 years, as we moved our home from France to Israel to New York and back to Toronto. I had achieved the title of Senior Vice-President by 2006. In June of that year I learned that I was pregnant with our first child and accepted the role to be CEO of our household. In March of 2007 I was formally installed into my position of CEO – Chief Executive Officer – of my house.

Our family of four, the day we moved out of our old house
Our excited kids three years ago, on the day we moved into our current house

I will admit the first three paragraphs of today’s post are a bit tongue and cheek. But I am trying to make a point. I really am the CEO of my house. I run a very busy household that includes five members, ranging in age from 1 to 44. Each person has a unique schedule, a unique role and unique responsibilities. And I’m in charge of making sure it all runs smoothly. I strategically consider everything each member of the family needs, and I carefully make plans to achieve success. I am not just a wife and mother – I am the leader of the family. I am the CEO.

Since Matthew was born 10 ½ years ago, I have held this position on a full-time basis, on and off, for just under three years. For the other seven plus years, I have also had a job in the general workforce. But why isn’t CEO of my house on my resume? Am I ashamed of the 9 months I was a full-time CEO of my home when Matthew was a baby, the 11 months when Julia was a baby and year that Nessa was an infant?

I have been a CEO for over ten years and have gained valuable skills during that time. Here is a list of some of them:

  • I have experience managing people – I currently lead four people
  • Multi-tasking – I can make dinner, help the kids with homework and tidy the living room at the same time
  • Budgeting – running a household can be an expensive endeavor, and it is important that funds are available to pay the bills, buy groceries and save for the future
  • Passion – okay this is not a skill, but it’s something I have. I love my family and am deeply committed to helping them be successful in life
  • Strategic communication – this skill is key in the successful leadership of a household. Language and tone must be carefully considered every day. Whether it is calming down a 2-year-old throwing a tantrum in a grocery store to a 10-year-old who refuses to go to bed at night, a strategic approach to how one communications can be the difference between success and failure.

Right now, my resume includes many skills and leadership roles of which I am very proud, including my years as a student, as a journalist and a communications professional. Maybe I shouldl add one more section to my “professional experience” – CEO, of my house.

I love when the Carolina Hurricanes Visit Toronto


Last night was a great night, and I mean a really great night. Why? It’s because not only did the Carolina Hurricanes play the Maple Leafs in Toronto, but they beat the Maple Leafs in Toronto. And my Hurricanes didn’t just win, they won handily, 6-3. This brings me great joy.

It’s been a busy week and I did not have a chance to write a post on Sports Wednesday. I had intended to write about my annual World Series fever, but that will have to wait until next Wednesday. So instead there is a special Sports Friday post as I revel in the Hurricanes win over the Leafs.

As I wrote about back in June, I have been a Hurricanes fan since 2001. During the 2001-2002 season the team made it as far as the Stanley Cup Final only to lose to the Detroit Red Wings in 5 games. It just wasn’t their time yet. But I learned what a first-class organization the Hurricanes were and became a fan for life.

The following season I was laughed at. People made fun of me. They heckled me as I kept my promise to be a big fan, even when the Hurricanes finished in the basement. They fought their way back, and my excitement culminated in June 2006 when they won the Stanley Cup.

But I have to say that one of the highs for me goes back to the Hurricanes’ amazing 2002 playoff run during the series against the Toronto Maple Leafs. I proudly cheered on my Canes, when I watched the game at home with friends or in very public spaces. One of my friends who was – and still is – a Maple Leafs super fan – made fun of me and dared me to keep cheering on the “enemy” in the middle of Toronto. Who won that series? The Hurricanes.

My teams has had its ups and downs since the famous 2005-2006 season, but I have always been loyal. I tried so hard to convince my son Matthew to follow in my footsteps and be a Hurricanes fan, but he refuses. This Toronto boy has joined Leaf Nation, with all the disappointment that goes with it.

So, when the Hurricanes come to town it’s always a ruckus and wild night in our house. I loudly cheer on my team and Matthew tries his best to make me be quiet. That was impossible last night, as my team went up by a score of 2-0 less than three minutes into the first period. It just got better from there, ending in the big win, 6-3 over the Leafs. Great game.

Even the Leafs coach, Mike Babcock agreed, when he stated about the Canes at his post-game press conference, “They deserved to win. We didn’t deserve to win.” You got it, Mike. I love when the Hurricanes win, especially in Toronto.

Keep your Head up and no more Distracted Walking

distracted driving

Are you going to be a zombie for Halloween this year? Or are you a zombie every day and maybe you will make a change on October 31 and wake up. If you live in Honolulu, Hawaii, you may consider going as a giant ticket or a traveling smart phone this year because zombies are not welcome in this city anymore. We have all heard of distracted driving, but have you ever heard of distracted walking?

It was all over the news yesterday. Honolulu is the first city to formally pass a distracted walking law, also known as the “Zombie law.” The city wants people to wake up and pay attention when they cross the street. A person can be ticketed and fined if a police officer deems that individual to be distracted while walking,

Let’s be real. What does distracted walking really mean? It refers to people who are more engrossed in whatever it is on their smart phone than what is on the road ahead of them. As I wrote about earlier this week, we all share the roads, and we all need to respect the others around us.

It is easy to picture the distracted walker. The person could be male or female, 25 years old or 65 years old. The smart phone is held tightly in one or both hands. The body is slightly slumped forward with both eyes fixed on the screen. Sometimes the fingers are typing away some inane message to a friend or colleague. The person is totally unaware of the busy street – or world – around him or her.

This person bumps into other people on the sidewalk, crosses the intersection when the light is about to turn red and does not check to make sure a car is not coming. Whatever is on the screen of the phone is clearly more important than staying safe as he or she cross the road.

I will admit that once in a while I become a zombie when I walk down the sidewalk. I try to avoid this behaviour unless I need to contact someone urgently, but yes, sometimes I am guilty. Admit it – you are guilty too. We are becoming a society of zombies. You don’t need to waste money dropping $15 at a movie theatre anymore to see the latest zombie flick. Just head downtown and watch the zombies cross the street.

But do we need laws that actually ban people from checking their smart phones while they cross the street? I would say no. As we embrace technology and change our lives each day to include it, we must adjust our behaviour and be responsible. It’s great that I can text my family who live in New Zealand while I am in downtown Toronto. I love that I can check the score in the baseball game no matter where I’m walking. And it thrills my mother that she can call her three children no matter where we are.

But I can send that text when I sit down at the local coffee shop. While I am a big sports fan, I don’t have to know the score in the game while I’m walking along the sidewalk. I can speak to my mother on the phone later. What I – or anyone around me is doing on the smart phone really is not urgent. Whatever it is I or those around me are doing really can wait.

Let’s face it, distracted walking is dangerous. It’s dangerous to the distracted person and to everyone – the pedestrians, drivers and cyclists – on the street as well. It even seems to be dangerous to “motionless objects such as street signs, doors or walls,” according to a warning in the United States from the National Safety Council (I have never walked into a street sign, door or wall while using my smart phone. Have you?!).

Be smart when you use your smart phone. When you are walking to your car, running for the bus or crossing the street to get a coffee, drop your phone in your purse or pocket for a few minutes. Don’t be accused of distracted walking, especially if you live in (or are visiting) Honolulu.

Honk if you’re Angry – Part 3 – Share the Road

share the road

Part 3, that’s right. I really want to think the best of Toronto drivers, but my anger on the roads lately has been bubbling. Every day, when I drive around the city, I encounter a combination of aggression, rudeness and utter stupidity. I had to write another post about it. Today’s theme is: share the road.

What do I mean by share the road in the context of this post? Every time you leave your house you travel to a destination. You may drive, walk, take public transit or cycle. At some point on your journey you are on the road, and you share it with other people in your community. I am asking everyone – drivers, pedestrians and cyclists – to really think about the word share and how we can really embrace what it means.

First of all, drivers share the road with other drivers. If we are all courteous to one another, if we follow the rules and yes, even show some kindness sometimes, I know we would be much less angry. Here are some examples:

I am driving down a busy road and approach an intersection with a green light ahead. There are no cars behind my car. If you are approaching that same intersection from the opposite direction and wish to turn left, please wait to make your turn until I am through the intersection. Why do you have to play chicken and beat me, forcing me to slam on my brakes? Or if you wish to turn right at that intersection, when you have the red light and want to go in the same direction as my car – also, please wait your turn.

Okay, maybe this is an aggressive side of me. I learned, years ago, in driving school, that a driver is supposed to gently inch into the middle of the intersection when going left at a traffic light. If you are that car in front of me at a green light, waiting to go left, it’s okay to move into the intersection while you wait your chance to turn. It means I too can go left after you. If I have to miss yet another light as I wait for you to turn left I start to become angry.

Here is another example. If I am driving down a busy two-lane street and I put on my signal, which clearly shows my intent to change lanes, why do you need to accelerate your vehicle just enough to ensure that I can’t do just that? If you slowed down a little or even just kept your same speed – and showed some courtesy – and shared the road – I would be able to change lanes. Try it some time. You will feel better.

When I talk about the importance to share the road, it’s not just about drivers sharing with other drivers. There are so many combinations of people out on the roads that I believe we should equally show courtesy to each other.

One combination that is forever butting heads: drivers and cyclists. I could write pages about this conflicting pair. I am usually a driver, but I also believe strongly in cycling. My husband usually cycles to work on busy downtown streets, and on his way to work he often cycles with my children to school. I am a strong advocate of cycling. However, I also believe that cyclists must be responsible, follow the rules of the road and share that road with drivers. Stop at a stop sign. Go the right way down a one-way street. Wear a helmet to be safe!

Drivers: when you make a right turn at a busy intersection, check first to see if a cyclist is there. Give space to a cyclist on a busy street. When you park, and open your car door, check first that the way is clear so that you don’t open your door on an oncoming cyclist. Drivers and cyclists: share the road.

Pedestrians, I haven’t forgotten about you. You need to wake up too. You need to know that while you have the right of way on the road (drivers, remember that!), you don’t own the road. Don’t cross at a red light. Look up from your smartphone when you cross the road. If the countdown clock flashes 3 seconds, it’s too late to start to cross the road. And drivers, remember that a pedestrian is a human being. If you hit that human being you could injure or even kill. Check for pedestrians when you turn right – or left – on any intersection.

Please, loyal readers, keep all this in mind the next time you leave your house and hop on the road – with your car, your bicycle or your feet. Keep words in your mind like courtesy, civility and gentility. And remember, share the road.

Are we too Tech Savvy?

tech savvy

We live in the Technology Age. If you look back through history, there was the Bronze Age, Iron Age, Middle Ages, even the Machine Age and Space Age, to name a few. For me, what defines the Age we live in today is our reliance on information and computerization of everything we do. To succeed, do we need to be tech savvy?

When I was a child, you knew a tech savvy household if your friend owned an Atari or a Commodore 64 computer. I remember my amazement, back in 1987 when my brother got his first computer. I think it was a DOS-based operating system. A short time later my father brought home our family’s first laptop. All I remember is that it was a 286. I couldn’t tell you any more than that.

tech savvy

My brother also had a Sega video game system and a Gameboy. We were one of the first homes on the block to get a VCR and later a flat-screen TV. I will never forget the first time my mother used our car phone – a behemoth that she shook in the air on the highway sometimes to let some rude driver know that SHE had a direct line to the police in her car because she had a car phone.

tech savvy

But these devices did not define us. No doubt we enjoyed those early computers, video game systems and technology toys, but we did not rely on them. Life was, in some ways, manually operated. But not today.

For example, my son is working with a partner from his class on a presentation for school. They need to prepare a 3-5-minute presentation on a particular topic. Their teacher told them that how they present is up to them When I was ten years-old and wanted to be creative, I put on a skit in front of my class or I used a combination of construction paper, scissors and glue.

But these two, tech savvy fifth graders, would have none of that. I watched and listened in amazement as they planned out a power point presentation, which will include a short video (that they will shoot and edit with an iPad) followed by a quiz for the class. In less than two hours they put together said power point presentation (video is coming soon), and I almost deleted it when I tried to press save. My son clearly knows more about power point than I do!

Julia, at maybe two years old, showed her grandmother the basics how to swipe through an iPad and how to get into her favourite app of the time, Angry Birds. Nessa, at 16-months old, deftly touches the FaceTime app on the iPad so she can enjoy late-night chats with my mother. When I was that age all I had was a plastic Fisher Price telephone. And if I wanted to get in touch with my grandparents when I was ten years old, it was an expensive long-distance call or a personally written letter – using that same construction paper.

Okay, so children are tech savvy and from a young age know their way around computers, tablets and smartphones. Millennials could teach me a thing or two about how to properly leverage social media. But what about my generation – known as Generation X? Are we tech savvy now? Have we gone from construction paper and Fisher Price phones to email and texts?

I would say, yes, we have. I don’t know if most of us are tech savvy, but we are definitely tech reliant. And I think we are too tech reliant.

In my last job, and in my current consulting work in communications, I receive too many emails. I also send too many emails. If the person is sitting 30 feet away from me, wouldn’t it be easier to stand up to ask him or her my question? Or I could  pick up a phone and call versus sending a lengthy email? If I have a great idea and want to share it with a group, do I have another option than a multi visual power point presentation?

When people applied for jobs decades ago, they didn’t have LinkedIn. Human resources professionals did not have databases where they could type in key words that would be pulled from a pile of 100 resumes that had been uploaded to a website. Job searching and employee hiring was definitely more manual, and maybe it was also more time consuming. But it was more personal. A human resource professional or a hiring manager often read through all the resumes. The only option to follow up on a job application was to pick up the phone and have a conversation. Was that better, or maybe it was worse? It was definitely different.

When I send an email today – to my mother, to my friend, to my work colleague or to a potential employer – will that person see that email, in the hundreds that person may receive on any given day? Will the person read the email? Will that person reply to me? Do I rely too much on that email to determine my fate? Maybe I should pick up the telephone more often, or knock on my friend’s door.

Am I too tech savvy? No. Maybe I should be, or at least I should be with respect to some parts of my life. The Technology Age is here, and it’s not going away anytime soon. I love this blog, and I love that technology has given me an avenue to express my musings. I love that social media has given me a tool to amplify my blog and to share moments and photos instantaneously. But I also want to be careful and not rely too much on technology. I want to retain some of my manually operated nature and the personal interactions that go with it.

Everyone Needs an Uncle Bill

Uncle Bill

I love my Uncle Bill. He is one of my biggest fans and has encouraged me to be the best I can be ever since I was a little girl. I also know he will see this post as my Uncle Bill reads my blog every day. He leaves comments, he cheers me on, and really, he is just the best uncle a girl could have. Everyone needs an Uncle Bill.

William Gomberg is the brother of my maternal grandfather, my Zaidy. That makes him my great-uncle. And yes, he is a great uncle. He, along with my Zaidy and their two sisters, grew up in Montreal in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Uncle Bill eventually made his way to New York City. He spent most of his adult life in New York then moved back to Montreal, where he lives today with his incredible wife, Susan.

Uncle Bill
Left to right: Aunt Lil, Uncle Bill, Aunt Evey and my Zaidy Lou

But today’s blog is not about my Uncle Bill’s life. Today I am writing about my personal relationship with him and the positive and strong influences he has had on my life.

The first memory I have is his big, bushy beard. I don’t like facial hair (that may be for another blog post), and I used to tell him that he couldn’t give me those wet sloppy kisses he always loved to give his nieces and nephews simply because he had a beard. But he couldn’t help hugging and kissing his beloved nieces and nephews and always managed to convince me that his big, bushy beard wasn’t scary at all.

Uncle Bill
I think Nessa has a beard issues too.
Baby Julia also had beard issues

My brother, sister and I always looked forward, as children, to a visit from Uncle Bill. One reason, and I won’t mince words – he always came with a gift or took us out and let us choose a gift. Some of my favourite dolls and stuffed toys, which I have to this day, are from my Uncle Bill. But it was more than the gifts – he spent quality time with us. We felt he really wanted to be with us, talking, playing or reading books.

Uncle Bill taught me how to dance. Back in June 1981, when I was just 4 years old (almost 5!), our whole family travelled to our cousin’s wedding in the United States. Uncle Bill was my date, and though I didn’t like his bushy beard, I danced with him. I stood on his feet, he carried me, and he gave me the kind of special attention every child craves. I admit that I don’t remember much about the wedding (sorry Judy and Ira!) but I do remember my moments there with my Uncle Bill.

Knives. He gave me my first knife, a beautiful Swiss Army knife, when I was 12 years old, for my Bat Mitzvah. Little did I know that it was to be only the first knife of many from him. Did you know that knife sharpening is an art? Did you know just how sharp a blade can be? Spend a few minutes (and bring your knives) to my Uncle Bill, and he will teach you. It will change your life.

Uncle Bill
Matthew looks in amazement as a package of knives arrives in the mail in 2015.

Books, newspapers, magazines, and now websites. My Uncle Bill ingests and soaks up knowledge like no one else I know. While today, at age 87, he may have physical challenges, his appetite to read, learn and educate others has not slowed down. It wouldn’t be a normal week if I didn’t receive a few tidbits of knowledge, via many web links, from my Uncle Bill. Do you want to know about the best knives available today? How about the history of the Jews of Lithuania? Or maybe you want to know about left handed baseball players who hit 30 or more home runs in a season? Are you into politics and want to learn more about the current situation in the United States? Ask Uncle Bill. He has a link, or a book, for that.

Just mention an interest or a new hobby to Uncle Bill, and you can see that his wheels are turning. How can he help you embrace your hobby? This summer we visited Uncle Bill in Montreal just after Matthew and I went to Chicago. Matthew sat with Uncle Bill and excitedly shared every detail about his recent experience and his love of baseball. To ensure Matthew is properly educated about some of the baseball greats, a few weeks later packages arrived for Matthew from Uncle Bill. First was a book about Satchel Paige, then another arrived about Jackie Robinson, then one on Ty Cobb.

Matthew was overjoyed to receive a special gift like this. He was amazed that his great-great uncle listened so attentively to him and was thoughtful to send him these books. Few children have a great-great uncle, and even fewer have the opportunity to sit down, face to face and have an insightful conversation with him. At age ten, Uncle Bill has already influenced Matthew’s life.

Uncle Bill
Summer 2011. This photo is just funny.
Uncle Bill
Just a nice photo from a visit last year.

I could write thousands of words about my Uncle Bill, but I hope all of you understand just how special he is. If you have – or if you had – an uncle like this you understand what I mean.

Uncle Bill, thank you for being who you are and what you are. I know you are reading this whole blog post because I count on you to read every time I post. Keep doing what you do, big, bushy beard and all.

Yep that’s me and Uncle Bill, just a few years ago.

Left Handed People have a Faster Track to Major League Sports

left handed

Yesterday’s blog on my pride about being left handed energized me, so I had to do a second post on the topic. But it’s Sports Wednesday today, so how could I connect the two? I turned on the Cubs-Dodgers playoff baseball game last night, and as I watched the Cubs first baseman, Anthony Rizzo, make a play, it occurred to me. If you want a faster track to the most elite level of many professional sports, you just need to be left handed.

You see, Anthony Rizzo is left handed. So is the Blue Jays first baseman, Justin Smoak. In fact, one-third of first basemen in Major League Baseball are left handed. Remember, we only represent 10 percent of the population.

And the real gems in all of baseball are the southpaws, or left handed pitchers. I am not going to go into the technical details of facing a left or right handed batter and the various pitches that a lefty or righty may specialize in. I am just going to do some basic math.

As I have discussed already, only 10% of the population is left handed, but every baseball team desires a few lefties, on their pitching staff, often at first base and other positions on the team. So a left handed person simply has less competition amongst the general population to make such team. My son, Matthew, often comments on this, and he is dumb-founded that his two left handed parents couldn’t have made him a lefty.  My baseball-loving son tells me he is determined to make the major leagues one day, and he feels it will be harder because he is right handed.

Oh, for fun, here is a list of just some of the greatest baseball players of all time, who all just happen to be left handed:

Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, Reggie Jackson, Sandy Koufax, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Tony Gwynn,  and Ty Cobb, 

I came across a fabulous British website, called Anything Left Handed, that was a gold mine of details about the advantages of being left handed in sports, in particular fencing, tennis, boxing and cricket (remember this is a UK-based website!). Here is one paragraph that particularly intrigued me:

The “leftie advantage” seems to emerge in sports demanding rapid reactions and good spatial judgement. In fencing for example 7 of the 16 top world fencers are left-handed, and so are 5 of the top 25 international tennis players and 4 of Europe’s ten best table tennis payers. In boxing, squash and cricket left-handers also enjoy more than average success. Among the scientists who have studied left-handedness in sport one in particular, a French neuroscientist named Guy Azemar, investigated the proportion of left-handers in world-class championships over several years. He reported that about a third of elite fencers are left-handed. One fencing great was the Italian Edoardo Mangiarotti who won a total of 13 fencing medals. Mangiarotti was naturally right-handed but was forced by his father to fence with his left hand as it was thought to be an advantage.” 

The left handed advantage is not just some crack pot theory of mine – there is scientific evidence backing me up!

I found some thoughts about left handedness and basketball on THIS website, where it states, “In basketball, left-handedness has a meaningful effect on the game itself, but it also mostly manifests itself aesthetically. Something about a left-handed jump shot seems beautiful, perhaps just because we don’t see it as often.”

Some of the most memorable lefties in basketball include Bill Russell, Toni Kukoc, Lamar Odom, Isaiah Thomas, CJ Miles, Nick Van Exel, among others.

In hockey, a left handed slap shot really is a beautiful thing. Some left handed hockey greats include Cam Neely, Phil Esposito, Roman Turek, Terry Sawchuk and Tom Barrasso. But I have also now learned, from an interesting New York Times article, that as many as 60% of Canadian hockey players shoot left handed, no matter which is that person’s dominant hand. Maybe they just know that left is best.

Maybe after two straight days of reading my musings you all now know that left IS best.

Being Left Handed is not Sinister

left handed

My high school had an annual speech writing – and presenting competition. It was not optional. Each year each student had to choose a topic (any topic), write a speech, then perform it in front of his or her English class. The top two speeches in each class (as chosen by fellow students) performed said speeches in front of the whole school. The best speech I have ever written, and presented, was in front of my grade 10 English class. The topic: why life is best when you are left handed.

Yes, I am left handed and proud of that distinction. I come from a long line of left handed people and have always been surrounded by them. My grade eleven biology teacher even called my family a genetics miracle when she learned my parents are both right handed while my brother, sister and I are all left handed. I have a grandmother who was left handed (though was forced to write with her right hand), so is my uncle, so was my great-grandfather and piles of cousins. My husband, David, is even left handed. Somehow, we managed to produce at least two right handed children (Nessa’s fate is as yet unknown as she prefers to eat a crayon and toss a fork across the room and not actually show me which hand she prefers).

So back to that grade ten speech about why life is best when you are left handed. I did quite a bit of research for this speech, and I mean real research, as this was the spring of 1992, before kids went to Google to do their homework. I interviewed people and read books and even checked out a store in downtown Toronto that specialized in products for left handed people. One of my most cherished possessions to this day are my left-handed scissors. Try to use these babies to cut a piece of paper with your right hand – you are out of luck.

I remember that I learned that left handed people tend to be more creative, often more musical (though I dispute that with some lefties I know) and are usually more outside the box thinkers. I also recall that there is hard evidence that left handed people are better at reading backwards, and upside down. Now that’s a useful skill.

And here is a cool fact about the significant number of left handed U.S. Presidents. I found this paragraph here:

“What is perhaps most noteworthy about left-handed presidents is how many there have been in recent decades. Of the last 15 presidents, seven (about 47%) have been left-handed. That might not mean much until you consider that the global percentage of left-handed people is about 10%. So, among the general population, only 1 in 10 people are left handed, while in the modern-era White House, almost 1 in 2 have been left-handed.”

Do you know which are the seven?

I remember some other key facts about the better hand. For example, if you are reading this on your computer (or even on your phone just click on your keyboard), what letters do you type most? S? R? T? E? A? The letters on the left side of the keyboard are more commonly typed than the right. For those of us who live in a metric country (like Canada), go check out your measuring cup. Do you need to measure 125 ml of liquid or 250 ml? Made for a lefty. And clearly the British were on the right path with what is known internationally as “left hand drive.” The gear shift, and the cup holders, are accessed with the left hand.

Okay, so all of you righties reading this (which is most of you seeing that 90% of the world’s population is right handed) are thinking…. Hmmm… that’s a lot of useless crap she is talking about. You are correct. The fact is, life can often be challenging as a lefty. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that we are discriminated against, but I feel that I am living in a right handed world that is often insensitive to my left handed needs.

I remember once walking into an exam in university and discovered only right handed desks. There was no way I was going to sit for three hours bent over sideways to write my exam. I demanded a left handed desk or basic table and got what I wanted. I need to use my right hand with a standard can opener. My hand is always covered in smudged ink when I write as English just had to be written left to right (I much prefer Hebrew, which is written the other way – clearly Hebrew was developed by a bunch of lefties). It took me years to figure out how to play tennis, and it was only in university when my intelligent tennis instructor showed me how to properly grip, serve and hit the ball with my left hand.

left handed
Can you find a left handed desk?

I still play hockey right handed, because I was told, “that’s how you hold a stick,” when I was a child. I do own a left handed baseball glove, and my son is proud that his Mom is a switch hitter (again, I was told how to bat, but I defied them all and hit from both sides!).

Check out the definition of the word “sinister” at Dictionary.com. It gives a list of explanations, including “threatening or portending evil, harm or trouble; ominous; bad; evil; wicked; unfortunate; disastrous; unfavourable; of or on the left side; left…” Sinister, or sinistra, is the Latin word for left handed. Really? Am I evil or is it unfortunate to know me? I think not.

You may be wondering, if her grade 10 speech was so good, did she win? Was she chosen by her classmates to present this brilliant speech in front of the whole school? The answer – no. Why? They told me they simply could not select a lefty, or at least a lefty who boasts about why life is best as a left handed person. I’m still bitter.

Journey through a Grocery Store

grocery store

This blog is a place for me to share my musings. Some of the topics I think about are more serious. They range from current events to my career to choices I make for my family. But sometimes I think about more trivial matters, like how many times my carton of milk or bag of apples travels around before they are consumed by my family. More specifically, I think about my regular travels through a grocery store and the many steps that are taken to get those items from the grocery store shelves to my fridge and pantry. Have you ever thought about this?

I will walk you through the process.

While I know the actual food production and distribution process begins days, weeks or sometimes months before I even step into the grocery store, this post is about the actual grocery store experience. I am going to use a carton of milk as the focus of this post. However, I never go into a store and only buy milk. Anytime I enter a grocery store, whether I have a long list to cover for a week of groceries or only a few items, I always find a way to load up my cart and spend at least $100.

My first step, once I park my car, is to pull out my “bag of bags,” which is my huge pile of reusable grocery bags. I grab a cart, place the bags under such cart and enter the store. Again, let’s stick to the example of a carton of milk.

I head over to the refrigerated section and find the milk. I pick up the carton of milk and put it in my cart. This is its first step on its journey from grocery store to my home. I wander around the store to pick up everything I need and walk over to the checkout line.

When it’s my turn, the milk takes its second step and goes from the cart to the grocery checkout conveyer. Then the grocery store clerk lifts it and places it in one of my many grocery bags. Then I place the milk, in the bag, back in my cart.

Once I have paid for my groceries, I roll my cart through the exit and over to my car. Now the milk, in the grocery bag, goes into the trunk of my car. I get in my car, and the milk and I drive home. How many steps is that so far? If my math is correct, that’s five steps.

Once I arrive home I take the carton of milk, which is in a grocery bag, in my trunk, and I carry it inside to my kitchen. Step six. I take the milk out of the grocery bag and place it in the fridge, where it will stay until it is consumed by my family, which is step 7.

You may be asking now, so what’s your point? I don’t have one. There are just random thoughts that swirl through my head sometimes, in particular when I wander through a grocery store. I pick up that carton of milk and put it down and move it around so many times before I drink it. Same for the apples. Actually, there are more steps with apples. I start by placing those apples in a clear plastic bag before they hit my cart. And I don’t just place that bag in my fridge – I take the apples out of their bag and put them in the crisper in my fridge. So many steps!

So those are the random thoughts that were in my head on my most recent visit to the grocery store. I wonder what I will think about next.