Calculate your tax savings! Go

Calculate your tax savings!

Go here for a Canadian gub’mint java-fueled calculator that will tell you how much tax you will save in 2002 as a result of the recent tax cuts. (It also tells you how much you’ll save by 2004, when the program peaks.)

Beware, however, that someone in the Canadian Department of Finance does not understand double negatives. Your savings show up as a negative number, so if you’ll save $1000 in taxes this year it appears like this: Your tax savings for 2002: -$1000. Smart people like us know that if your savings are displayed as negative, that means you have to pay! But fear not, you’re not in trouble–it’s just bureaucratic lameness. Disregard the negative.

That’s one nutty noggin! While

That’s one nutty noggin!

While taking a break from work today I was thumbing through a book of Mensa puzzles in the Indigo book store downstairs from my office. I can be a pretty smart cookie sometimes, and as dumb as a post others. It all depends on what kind of smarts are required for the particular task. I’m surprisingly bad at word puzzles (considering I call myself a writer) and you might as well ask me what J Lo ate for dinner on June 25 as give me a numeric puzzle. But I’m usually pretty good at anything involving pattern recognition.

I looked at a few pattern puzzles in the Mensa book. The first one was easy–I used some lateral thinking and figured it out in about six seconds. The next one took about ten seconds but only because I did it twice because it seemed too obvious. The next one took about thirty seconds because it involved about sixteen boxes containing black and white dots and I had to register the patterns across several dimensions (number, color, horizontal, vertical), and I did it twice to make sure.

Of course my answers were all correct. Pretty satisfied, I decided to reward myself with a 50¢ piece of fudge from the little kiosk by the entrance to my building. I left the store, feeling pretty bright and wondering how I can turn pattern recognition into career possibilities. Perhaps, I thought, that explains why I never get lost–correlating a map (or even a memory of a map) with the patterns I see on the ground just comes naturally to me.

Oh, geographical me!

A couple of minutes later, as I was paying for the fudge, I noticed something weighty in my hand. Gee, it was the coffee-table-sized book that I was planning to buy back in the bookstore. Whoops!

(Yes, I went back and paid for it.)

I finally saw the movie

I finally saw the movie “Moulin Rouge” today

. Wow, it was fabulous. What a luscious visual treat. What marvelous art direction and such a rich aesthetic with all that frilly fabric and those velvet drapes everywhere. So tactile! Manna for the heart, too (I cried), although it was occasionally painful on the ears. I’m glad I got to see it on the big screen as it is such a Big Movie. I just loved the setting (all CG, but wonderfully and magically imagined and rendered). Of course the setting was highly romanticized, but then, I’m highly romantic-ish when it comes to stuff like that–especially anything involving Paris. The movie was all about the turn-of-the-20th-century Bohemian ideal: truth, beauty, freedom, and above all, love.

It makes me wonder what the turn-of-the-21st-century Bohemian ideal is… Perhaps cynicism, irony, anti-everythingism, and above all, high-speed access.

Daegan talks about hermit fantasies,


talks about hermit fantasies

, and I’m so there. I’ve always maintained a hermit side to my Gemini personality, although what I’d really like is to be just a part-time hermit, spending a few days a week in a cabin and the rest of the time being useful in the city. I was sort of like that this summer, when many of my friends were out of town and I was in exile in Westmount (where I remain even now). Weekends were very hermity, but I really liked that. I got a lot of reading and writing and good cooking done, and lived entirely according to my own schedule. It was a real treat, although at times I felt like I was going a bit batty. There’s a fine line between sublime hermitage and cabin fever.

I remember when I was a kid–maybe ten years old–my dad took me with him one day to visit a hermit he knew. I have no idea who this man was, or how my dad knew him, or even why we went to see him. It was very unusual, in that my dad was not the type to hang around with hermits, or to expose my impressionable self to anything unconventional.

To get there we drove out of town for ten or fifteen minutes, then down a dirt road for a few miles. We came to a small tarpaper shack in a clearing on a hill. The shack was smaller than the office I’m sitting in now, with only one room, probably twelve by fifteen feet. It was a bit dark inside, and somewhat cluttered, but I don’t recall it being dingy or smelly. There was a small wood stove, a small table, a dresser, and a bed built into the wall. It was very rustic, with raw wood all around. It was not “refined” rustic–things were rough and the threat of splinters was everywhere. There were two or three greasy windows letting in smeared light, and a few natty pictures here and there. I think there was also some kind of makeshift sink, although I doubt there was running water.

There was also no electricity. Instead, there were three or four kerosene lamps and a few candles. I was struck by how cozy everything seemed. I particularly remember the bed, which also served as a sofa. I remember imagining what it would be like to curl up there at night by the glow of the kerosene lamps. I’ve never lost that feeling.