surviving montreal winter: gear edition

so. I’ve had this active dog for over 7 years now (and for a couple of those years I was living alone with her, responsible for all walks) and I know a thing or two about having to go outside when it’s the last thing in the world you wanna do. proper gear makes this season less unbearable.

I advise against spending a lot of money on a coat no matter how nice or good quality it is. come march, (or april, or may, or at least after the following winter) you will never want to see the thing again. and I mean, styles change. the good news is you do not have to shell out a lot for a good jacket. teeny bopper stores are great if you can stand the music. recognizable brands = you are wasting money on branding rather than materials and construction. also, do not buy real fur trim. it’s the current lifeline of the fur industry, which needs to diaf immediately. there is nothing good, neutral or even acceptable about the fur industry, do not give it any of your dollars.

things to look out for: the outer fabric should be thick and at least a little bit stiff. this is what keeps the cold and especially the wind, out. it should have a good weight to it, if it feels suspiciously light it probably isn’t warm enough. make sure the hood is big enough to fit over a hat or second hood, nothing is worse than a shitty little too-small hood. pay attention to the neck, shoulders, waist and wrists for a good fit over scarf, thick sweaters, etc.

protip: wear secondary, backup (crappy) winter gear to clubs and places where you have to check your stuff. that way your life isn’t over if it gets lost or stolen. don’t leave it in the car and then stand in line outside drunk or shivering, everyone thinks you look like an asshole.

your hat and scarf are the only things where the look doesn’t necessarily have to give way to more important considerations, so I recommend taking the time to find stylish ones that won’t make you die a little inside when you pull them on for the three thousandth time. again, they do not have to be expensive. try etsy or the gap (on sale).

oh, and forget gloves. you do not have fingers for the next 6 months. ski mittens are the only way to go. big, hard, padded, waterproof, washable mittens (they are going to get dropped and they are going to get gross), preferably in the same colour as your jacket.

protip: a trucker cap under a hood keeps snow from blowing in your face. sometimes the weather will call for a toque, sometimes two hoods. don’t be afraid to experiment, and be versatile.

as a fan of the bomber style of jackets, I’m a big proponent of snow pants. they allow you to wear whatever you want underneath and protect your ass when you slip and fall in the slush. warmer legs also mean you can afford to dress a little less warmly on top, which tends to be more comfortable.

one-piece ski suits look great (or hilarious, depends) but in my experience they are not convenient and not warm enough on top for colder weather. layers are great and everything but they get bulky and uncomfortable fast, plus the more layers you use the greater the chance of the colours not matching, even black. too many top layers make a fitted one-piece ride up into your ass (visible wedgie). if it’s big enough to accommodate layers, it will sag and look dumb without them. you can’t have it both ways.

warning: snow pants, any type, are guaranteed to trap farts. you’ll be enjoying the aroma well after you take them off. never stuff them into a closet or bag. let them air out.

basic considerations: waterproof, warm, non-skid, breathable. you have few options for boots proper, namely sorrels or similar. personally I find them too heavy and not my style. I highly recommend NEOS (new england overshoes). they make fancy ones that are insulated and non-slip. I bought the cheapest model ages ago, they are very slippy but incredibly durable, still in perfect condition after years of use. they don’t breathe per se but since you can wear any shoe that fits inside them, you never have to have a problem with sweaty feet. and you can go out in your slippers or sandals all winter if you choose.

protip: rub wet snow on your boots regularly to keep road salt from destroying them.

put your feet in hot water when they feel cold. the best gear in the world is not going to warm you up if you have poor circulation and don’t exercise, and cold feet suck.

always dry your crap on a rack and boot tray next to a heater when you get home so it’s useable in case you need to step out. if you’re dating or usually care about your impression on other people, wash that smelly scarf frequently. wash your jacket if it smells like fried food or b.o. (unless you’re into that).

a word on materials
I haven’t tried those fancy new fabrics; I am old skool when it comes to underlayers. most synthetics feel gross on your skin as soon as you break a sweat anyways, and I’m sure even the wicking ones smell bad at the pits. I like cotton bc it’s absorbent, or bamboo. (bamboo has the advantage of not really feeling wet when it is. everything I learned about bamboo is from cloth diapering tho.)

you know when there’s that chill that goes right through you no matter how warmly you dress? that’s humidity. wool is unbeatable for wet weather but make sure it’s covered on the outside with something waterproof and on the inside with something soft and absorbent, bc wool feels like scratchy and/or wet shit on your skin, yes, even merino. take good care of your woollens.


Add comment December 7, 2014 ginginbonbon

another one about the mommy wars.

this post really needs a disclaimer. I’ll start with this:

we make a lot of decisions as parents, and the ease with which I’ve made mine is without question a product of my privilege. I like studies; I received a good education that allows me to parse information with confidence. I really wanted this baby and I was ready to give parenting my all. I was lucky enough to receive excellent pre- and postnatal care and support. I could go on, but you get the point.

I’ve been seeing a lot of internet posts about how formula feeding is equivalent to breastfeeding, or why not just have an elective c-section, and how everyone should just shut up and stop being so judgmental. now the mommy wars are truly a toxic thing. they loom over every online exchange of ideas. sometimes it feels like everyone is suspicious and has an agenda. but at the same time, let’s not sit here and insult each other’s intelligence.

real talk: when it comes to breast milk, science doesn’t even know the half of it yet. there are well-documented risks involved with epidurals and caesarians. a newborn can’t consent to having his foreskin cut off. real talk might make people defensive, but it doesn’t make it any less true, or less necessary. there absolutely are people out there who just want to be right, who are writing or commenting on these posts purely to make others feel guilty, and that is fucked up. but silencing every last sanctimommy in the world won’t change reality, either. I believe it’s far more damaging to gloss over or distort the precious few facts we have so that more people can be comfortable with their choices. and I think that a lot of people saying well thought out, reasonable things are being drowned out, outnumbered and derailed right now by those saying it doesn’t matter, we’re all equally good parents, everyone gets a gold star for their effort, end of discussion.

[on a more personal note, and in case anyone wants me to come down off my high horse, I did have an epidural. I did my research and I really, really really didn’t want one, for a number of reasons. but I got to a point where I couldn’t deal with the pain anymore, and it was a more effective, less risky option than the opiates. I cried bitter tears when I got it, but then I was relieved and grateful. I will try to go without pain meds the next time around if it’s at all possible, but I don’t feel any shame about needing them when I did. My hope is for other people to be able to speak more openly, freely and frankly about this kind of thing. mommy wars be damned.]

since when is “not being made to feel bad” the most important thing moms need? it’s nowhere near the top of the list! I want to tell some of these vocal reactionaries to get over themselves. if there was ever a time when it ain’t all about you, this would be it. the point I want to make is, when we know better, we do better. this is our job as parents. we do what we can with the hand we are dealt. but then we have to move on, and hopefully we have learned something from our experience. THAT is something worth sharing on the internet.

Add comment December 4, 2014 ginginbonbon

selective abortion and ableism.

I’ve been reading about selective abortion and ableism, and I have some disjointed thoughts about it, and don’t know where to put them. so, apologies, they will go here.

first of all, I’m not sure about reproduction as a social justice activity. maybe this is just me, but the decision to have kids? makes no sense on any level except as a biological impulse. it has its own rationale, too; its own sense of what’s “right” and not so right. if I’m gonna have kids, I need them to survive when I am gone. I want them to be able to care for their own children. I feel that I have a responsibility to all of them. I also feel that the opportunity to reproduce is limited by time and resources. it’s not fair, but there it is.

my second train of thought leads me to ask certain writers a few questions:

are you a parent? do you know the amount of work that goes into raising a non-disabled child?

are YOU going to be changing shitty diapers on a twelve year-old? a twenty year-old?

have you lost a child? would you advocate that other parents knowingly put themselves through that? for any reason, let alone a political one?

part of me doesn’t want to disagree bc in theory, it _is_ ableist to abort a disabled fetus. but anger on behalf of these fetuses is meaningless in context. we are pro-choice bc the alternative is unacceptable. so how is it any different when the alternative (being forced to have the child) is even more difficult for everyone involved?

if we can be real for a minute, I’m willing to put it out there that in a significant proportion of families, the bulk of the care work falls especially on moms and grandmothers. and unless you have been living under a rock you know just how much judgment these primary caregivers have to deal with every single day, every time they go out in public with kids, every time they look at the internet. and yet, no one is a harsher critic than we moms are on ourselves, usually. these articles always say we need better support for people with disabilities and their families, that it’s not about shaming women for (ableist) selective abortions. but we don’t actually have a fair and just society. and if you just want to say the former, then why frame it with the latter? no one benefits from that at all.

children don’t ask to be born, as they say. doesn’t this include disabled children?

Add comment December 4, 2014 ginginbonbon

always with the victim blaming


I hate gossiping. Why did I react the way I did regarding the current Canadian scandal? As a sexual assault victim and a victim of domestic abuse I learned that in Canada the law is on your side. Always. And you can remain anonymous to the world. Only your abuser will know once charges are pressed against them. Who wrote that press release stating the scandal and why even bother telling the media? Speak to a sexologist if you need help, speak to your friends and family it was abuse, use the law. It’s all in favour of the victim. This obsession of making everything public is what made me react the way I did, just because it’s about a celebrity we feel the need to publicity strike them and just because it’s a celebrity we care about it? The internet is full of ignorant idiots. Want to have a public discourse about our system? The law is on the side of the victim always. If you don’t want to be bashed publicly then don’t make it public and don’t notify the media. I’m sorry that humans are pigs and don’t know how to apply grace and pace or accept rejection. I’m not sorry for my perspective of weakness and human subjects acting like a zoo.

14 likes!! (not a lot for this fb user)

my comments:

I don’t expect to change your opinion, most likely I will just unfriend (if you don’t do it first!) as is the extremely rare case when I disagree so strongly with someone on a social justice issue, in the interest of maintaining a safe space on my feed.

I’m sorry you’ve experienced these things. and I think it’s a step in the right direction for us all that your reporting with law enforcement went relatively well. but your claim that the system is universally in favour of the victim or of the victim reporting is outrageous, and honestly really hurtful to scores of Canadian victims.

so whatever, I’m going to speak up here and tell you it’s AWFUL that you are saying “cops or stfu” like we’ve never heard that one before. I’m crazy disappointed. I don’t know you, but I thought you were better than that.

0 likes and counting…

If one doesn’t want to go to authorities as I hadn’t in a three year abusive relationship, there are free government programs that available to help the victim. Free therapist visits, or go see a sexologist to help or speak out to friends. Why write to a news paper about it?

1 like

The women in the Ghomeshi case aren’t speaking up about it now that the public knows. That’s what I find ridiculous. They speak to a newspaper but then go silent. It’s an emotionally complicated circumstance and I get that. But their sensitivity is not my problem and neither is the pig of a man who this story is centered around. I’ll keep my energy for my family and friends and choose to pick my battles.


keeping their identities hidden is of vital importance if you think about what will happen to them if they go public. as for the free programs, you don’t know that they aren’t also getting help if they need that. yes, it’s gross that this is a salacious news story; yes, our culture is broken in many ways with respect to this kind of thing. I guess I just don’t understand why you seem to be focusing so much on the accusers specifically (or at this point, maybe I’m being willfully obtuse. you have friends who seem to be happy to support you in making this into a discussion of the accusers’ behaviour, which is classic victim blaming btw). they weren’t supposed to talk to the newspaper? why not?


They can do whatever they feel is necessary. I think it’s counter productive to inform the star then remain silent when news breaks out.

(counter-productive to whom amirite? XD)

I’m not mad at the accusers specifically. I’m mad at the way the story broke out. Anonymity can be kept by police if the women press charges. No real justice can come from this if the women don’t press charges. All they’re doing is giving Ghomeshi a bad name. Is that satisfaction enough for the women? I hope that’s not it.

1 like

hmm. I get that the way these stories reach us can be very personal. you’re free to judge these women for how they handled it and you’re entitled to your opinion on what real justice is, but I’m not sure that’s what this thread is really about anymore. sometimes the only satisfaction you can get is knowing that you put the information out there for other women.

0 likes, but I win the internet, right?

1 comment October 29, 2014 ginginbonbon

addiction. or codependence? Kathleen Hanna? care to weigh in?

Last night I went to see a show, some 90s riot-grrl that I listened to back when my brain was young and supple enough to remember lyrics. Rad to see familiar faces still kicking so much ass. I used to shop at the same health food store as the bassist when she was in the Casual Dots, and as 2 of the 8 people under 35 in the DC area at the time, in the same shop, we would smile and sometimes wave. So, I’m practically famous.

A friend was there that I used to be very close to and with whom I enjoyed this music in particular. But she was with another friend a few paces away and chose to completely ignore and avoid us (another very close friend and me) the entire show. It was kind of unbelievable, even for her. And seriously heartbreaking to hear these songs performed live like we had done, drunk in the streets in our 20s on so many occasions. I was literally just over at her apartment hanging out two weeks ago. Not that I’m all important or anything, but it’s kind of a big deal, for me at least, because I have a baby and don’t get out much.

I’m 100% sure she was, you know, “partying”. Like I give a shit what she puts in her nose at this point (we’re 33, not 16. And yes, we have been tight since that age.) Like it’s us, her friends, who make things weird and awkward.

I don’t know much about addiction. This friend in particular has been just as shitty plenty of times when sober. It’s hard to believe that the addict in her can take up that much space and be so active even when there are no drugs around, but there it is. There was the time this summer when it was our friend’s birthday and she just didn’t show up, didn’t text, the usual. On her birthday, I was heading out to tam tams and gave her a call to see if she wanted to meet up. She said she couldn’t–later I saw pictures of her and a bunch of her friends that day, her sister and family too, having a nice picnic. And of course there was the shiatsu mattress I loaned her when she had a houseguest. I asked for it back during the holidays because I wanted to use it in our baby’s play room (and told her as much), but at this point I don’t even know how I can get it back. Or if I want to. When I went over there two weeks ago she had turned the small room with the mattress in it into a closed-door, no-air-circulation smoking boudoir.

It’s been so WEIRD to be extremely casual acquaintances with someone who used to be your best friend, for no reason that I can figure out other than they can’t quite seem to manage to not treat you like total crap at every turn. I used to react badly when she would pull stuff like this. (A lot of that I regret actually. I think that apologizing, or forgiving myself, will be most of the closure I can get.) Now I don’t say or do anything, but it hasn’t stopped happening. I often feel like I need a clean break, but that seems impossible. We know all the same people. This girl is super popular, while I struggle socially. Avoiding her, even stealthily, would feel contrived and stupid, and I’m no good at those games. Besides, it’s not how we do here. We pretend everything is fine.

Add comment April 5, 2014 ginginbonbon

No one told me I would cry more than my baby…

People always say that squeezing out a bald puppy will radically change your life. I knew this, was prepared for it, sort of. But even though I was, and am, cognitively aware of these changes as I experience them, I’m continually surprised by their strength, their flavour, and how unsettling they are.

It’s not just that I don’t go out and enjoy all of the same activities as before, or even the new, additional responsibilities and considerations. Before I became a parent, I wasn’t able to anticipate how drastically my perception and focus would shift, or what that would be like. Yes, doing things both inside and outside of the house requires more planning, certainly, more time, more energy, etc. But it also doesn’t feel the same to do all of these things. They are qualitatively different.

By far the biggest challenge for me has been social. I had a friend over the other day and it was the first time since I gave birth, maybe before, that I didn’t feel supremely weird just hanging out. She has a baby that is two weeks younger than ours, and we mostly just sat around, breastfeeding and going over to the potty to hold our babies over it. It was a relief to be able to give my baby most of my attention and know that this was okay and normal and to relate so fully to someone else who is living the same thing and who has a very similar approach to my own.

I couldn’t quite put my finger on it before, what it was that bothered me about my interactions with friends over the past months, but now it makes more sense. People don’t understand how immersive the experience of having a kid is, and those who do are uh, submerged in their own situation. It’s super difficult to make time for anything in a meaningful way, because a baby’s needs are around the clock. You are always splitting your attention, with everything else taking a back seat. Even when she is actually asleep, I have to be able to drop whatever I’m doing, and there is so much that I would like to do during those few, fleeting moments, god, it makes me want to cry all the time. And I do.

I am blessed to have such lovely friends, people who want to come over and spend time with us, and ask if we need anything. They are wonderful. But some people are more monopolizing than others. No matter how well-meaning they are, concentrating on a conversation and tending to their thirst and hunger while they are over is tough, especially when I’m trying to put my baby down for a nap, for example. This is generally a really arduous process on its own and can take hours.

I don’t want to be ungrateful. People come over and it’s great, it’s just that it’s never helpful, not unless it’s my mom. She is the only person who plays with my baby, changes her diaper or helps with any other house or care work. Maybe it’s way too much to ask of anyone else. I don’t know. What I’m saying is, I don’t feel isolated because I don’t see people, I feel isolated because the precious little socializing I do mostly stresses me out, and that hasn’t traditionally been the way things work in my life. It’s not that I don’t appreciate it, that I don’t care about what’s going on in my friends’ lives or that I’m no longer interested. It just feels like I am on a distant planet. And it seems like it’s impossible for them to relate to what my life is like.

Add comment June 11, 2013 ginginbonbon

Welcome to my mood journal.

A few days ago, I was subjected to some gross nastiness by a guy who really hates Québec and our “seppie egos” on a friend’s fb post. And unlike when, for example, I’m faced with people hating on women in some form (never happens!) and I know to just leave it because there’s no point, I replied a bunch, mostly with big words and sarcasm, to his fuck you all suck fuck off fuck I hate this province venting. Still, it wasn’t pretty, so the next day I posted a short apology to my friend’s wall, because her status wasn’t the time/place to duke it out like that and sometimes I should learn not to take the bait when someone is wrong on the internet. Sometimes. I don’t know if she saw it, but she did not respond. I also noticed that my friend told the hater guy that she loves him in an unrelated thread the next day, so, without making too many assumptions, a picture is beginning to form in my mind about where she stands overall. 

I get that my behaviour is not perfect, and there are a lot of things mixed up in there that have nothing to do with this friend and are just about shit I’ve been going through lately. I mean, I understand that my reaction was not just about what this douche said even though I am able to keep things on-topic when arguing. The sad truth is that it hurts when people provide their ignorant, outsider “critique” of something that is part of your identity, so vocally and with no apparent consequences. In relatively few words, he managed to say really a lot of stuff about Québec culture that is both offensive and incorrect. And lemme tell ya. Being a white-looking, bilingual lady in this province, I am no stranger to hearing all kinds of cringe-worthy opinions. People who know I am half Chinese (but have temporarily forgotten) have complained to me about Chinese people. Bus drivers will say blatantly racist things to me about “other” people (not to be racist, of course!) And for some reason, I am not completely numb to this. I guess it’s different because of its invisibility, unlike sexism which I have never been able to escape from in my public life for even a second.

No worries, I am not succumbing to a victim mentality. I’m not about to make widespread systemic injustice in the world all about my fee-fees or my inability to adapt socially. I’m not even saying that anti-Québecois sentiment is akin to racism, because I don’t believe that it is, but I do think it’s something. It is definitely a thing. I don’t know what I expected, it’s not like this friend and I are really tight, and I don’t know anything about her relationship with this other person, and mostly, I shouldn’t give a shit. But I do! I guess I can get pretty attached to the sane, conscious people in my life, because I don’t feel that there are many of them. It just makes me feel helpless. Be a dear and pass me a lobotomy?

Add comment July 7, 2012 ginginbonbon

I don’t pay my annual licensing fees, and I don’t donate to Mira.

I remember doing some research on the Mira Foundation when my dog, a shelter mutt with no special training other than what I learned from the internet and reading books, was doing zootherapy with children. She is fantastic with people, a real natural. And ok, she is special, but you know, they all are. (tldr; that is my point.) Mira, on the other hand, is intent on breeding their own animals or at the very least, only putting purebred dogs of a few select breeds to work.

While Mira does not claim to be any kind of animal welfare organization, I find their position surprising. Given the business they’re in, I’m sure they’re well aware of the transformative power of dogs. Domestic dogs can do some pretty incredible things. They change and enrich people’s lives. They are beautiful, honest, happy creatures that deserve much better than the short, miserable lives afforded to most of them the world over as well as in our own country.

Dogs bred by Mira have no trouble finding loving, stable homes, this is true. Thousands of people get on waiting lists in the hopes of acquiring just such a dog, one that didn’t make the cut to assist a person with a disability. But a lot of these homes would be perfect for a shelter dog, too, maybe it wouldn’t be a Labernese or whatever, but still a dog that is really just as good for your average family. (It’s true. Take a purebred puppy, for instance, acquired from a breeder at an age when you can’t even really tell what the temperament will be like at maturity, not that would-be dog owners know jack about that sort of thing, or care. A person would have a very difficult time, to say the least, convincing me that that puppy is somehow a better option, like a smarter purchase for them or some shit. Dogs are living, sentient, intelligent beings, not manufactured goods. I can’t understand how people who pretend to care about animals in any capacity can breed them, and/or, in most cases, $upport breeding operations, no matter how “ethical,” when so many die simply for lack of a home. Let me reiterate: they are put to death, in droves, because there is nowhere for them to go.) It is well known that mixed breed dogs live longer and have fewer health problems than purebreds, and they can be very bright. The expected lifespan of a Bernese Mountain Dog is a whopping 6 to 8 years.

Basically, Mira insists on trying to accomplish through breeding what could be done by applying some elbow grease to what is currently an out of control fucked up situation. In trying to establish a Labernese breed standard for themselves, they reject dogs with the wrong colouring, for fuck’s sake. Shelters and rescues are literally overflowing with sound animals with strong working abilities, trust. With these dogs, you also wouldn’t have to wait for months, providing costly care for a puppy, to know if they will be able to do the job as a young adult, and then of course bury them at the ripe old age of seven. And on and on it goes, litter after litter after litter. It’s ridiculous.

I know you can hardly post a negative opinion of animal breeding in certain corners of the internet without a bunch of people jumping all over you for being just so MEAN and don’t you know responsible breeders do it for the love etc. I’m sure it’s real rewarding to be so devoted to a breed and all, but when you’re done being super defensive via walls of text, kindly join us back here on planet Earth. Spend a day with the dogs at a shelter, or better yet, get to know tons of them by volunteering regularly or fostering. You’ll see, NOTHING is worth that kind of suffering. The idea that you must breed and breed and breed to get the dog you want, or to get some kind of idiot-proof working dog (as if that’s how it works, and as if all that breeding itself comes at no cost), that is just plain wrong.

1 comment April 5, 2012 ginginbonbon

White people are PISSED.

I have, at times, embarrassed the people around me with my casual complaints about white people. It is true that I often complain about white people, and that I do so in a casual manner. It is also true that I try to surround myself with people who are moderately aware of and generally on board with ideas pertaining to social justice and cultural critique, and/or people who prefer not to identify as white.

A big part of the backlash against ever daring to mention race while in polite company is that (not just white) people find it alienating. It’s true that you’re not going to win allies by making people feel awkward, or worse still, bad about themselves, they’re just going to stick to their guns, whatever guns they have lying around, with even more conviction. I just find the idea of walking on eggshells around the existence of white privilege or racism is a slippery slope; we need more honest, frank communication, not less. Not to mention, I have no idea how that kind of hand-holding would even work. I don’t need permission from people who have never given the issue a moment’s thought to have a conversation about it. I’m certainly not asking these hypothetical people to frame the terms of the discussion or decide what kind of language is appropriate. (And anyway, people who want to pick apart how or when you approach white privilege are never interested in talking about white privilege. They want to change the subject as quickly as possible, or maybe make it seem like you were wrong about something one time and therefore nothing you have to say about anything has any value whatsoever. Apparently this is how argument works in 2012.)

I wish I could say things in a way that made everyone feel comfortable enough to really give it some thought. But for now, if my white mama doesn’t get it, or it makes me unpopular at parties or something, so be it. I’m working on it. If someone gets offended, I don’t think there is a whole lot I can do about it. It’s bigger than you and me and our delicate sensibilities and our social circles and and and. I do wonder about how I must come across, as a white-looking person complaining about Shit White People Say. Mostly I think it’s probably something I can live with. And because I try my best to consider this, the notion of perception, I’ll have to remember to ask someone playing devil’s advocate* in a conversation about marginalization what they think they look like.

1 comment April 5, 2012 ginginbonbon


I have few sustained interests that don’t directly involve my own carnal enjoyment (food, music, you know, good times). Judging from what I read, I like feminism and dogs. My intellectual pursuits in feminism as well as dog training provide a kind of egotistical validation–I expect that being fluent in these things makes me a better person, and I am hell bent on being a decent person, because I have always been so very proud, and vain.

Let’s be clear: when I say feminism I mean basically everyone getting yelled at on the internet and me occasionally being able to go yeah! That’s the kind of feminism I’m talking about, the check yourself and mind your privilege, also did you know you are totally racist? kind. At least, I seem to learn way more when someone’s ass is being handed to them by vastly more articulate and intelligent people.

So, my passions fit pretty squarely within either Ethics or Behaviour. Also, I consider Ethics and Ethology (the study of behaviour) to be two sides of the same coin, a coin with which I’ll be attempting some far-reaching conclusions about life in this post.

A blog I sometimes read, by a dachsund owner, once had this pearl in it:

You can be “right” or you can get what you want, and you often have to choose between the two.

It’s easy to apply this to just about anything. True problem-solving is about finding a way to satisfy everyone, whether or not they “deserve” it. Teachers, for example, are constantly being challenged by their students, especially in high school. A teacher can try to be “right” all the time, by arguing, or they can encourage their students to call them out on stuff, which may inadvertently cause the students to give a shit, learn something, and respect their teacher for providing those kinds of opportunities. I don’t know.

I also think the word “right” is interesting in the context of that quote. Where does doing the right thing come into play, and when is that roughly equivalent to getting what you want? When is it not? Or the many ways to protect one’s rights–some of them seem to involve abusing other people, who may or may not have had it coming, in the process. Etc.

A great deal of ethics has to do with understanding behaviour. Certainly with dogs, one must be able to interpret behaviour, since it’s the only language we have in common. I try not to ascribe overly negative motivations to any behaviour, canine or human. I’d prefer to think that my neighbours feel like they have no control over things that happen in their lives, so they act like little tiny bitch authoritarian tin pot dictators in the affairs of our building, rather than assuming they’re out to get us because they’re jealous or something. (Although to be fair, since they do in fact have limited control over lots of things, mostly as a function of their lack of interpersonal skills, I don’t doubt they resent us for appearing to have it all. And we do, actually. Have it all, that is. Except nice neighbours.)

Ethics is also something I believe can only be correctly ascribed to behaviour. I don’t wonder too much about whether a person can be ethical or not, because the only way to ascertain it is through their behaviour. With dogs, it’s straightforward. Do you want to be “right,” feared, intimidating, alpha, top dog, or do you want a happily compliant pet? Do you know that you can’t hardly tell the difference between “respect” and training, when the training is done properly?

It’s a little more complicated with people. Sometimes people think that vindication is what they want, but that’s actually just being “right.” This idea of vindication is much more satisfying when you win people over. To your “side.” Willingly! So actually, not so different than dogs. I’m sorry this post made no sense. I was just sick of it being in my drafts.

Add comment April 5, 2012 ginginbonbon

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