Posted by: Hannah | 04/16/2015

oh Thursday, that has such people in it

I haven’t done a surly Thursday in a long time but here we are, it’s Thursday, and I’m surly, so I guess I’m allowed to rant and rave for a little while, right? Right.

Things that are bothering me to an unreasonable degree at the moment include:

The series finale of The Newsroom

Here’s the thing. I never watched The West Wing. My first exposure to Aaron Sorkin was via that Facebook movie. I know he’s incredibly polarizing, and I can see why, because The Newsroom can be summed up as “Aaron Sorkin has unflattering opinions about American cable news networks, and he would like to beat you over the head with them”. That said, I thought the first season had merit, and the second season was even better. I was looking forward to watching them hit their stride in season three.

Well, we watched it this week… the third and final season had only six episodes. Four were good. One was uncomfortable and made me really, really dislike a character I had previously loved, but hey, it was Sorkin making a point, so whatever.

The finale was so bad it stained backwards through the entire show like when you spill a cup of tea on your sister’s diary and somehow there is tea on every goddamn page. It had treacly sentiment. It had a surprise pregnancy. It had a Jeff Bridges musical number (yes, it fucking did, please don’t ask). It didn’t have Reese Lansing, a key character in the season three “we’re going to lose the network” subplot, which may have been because of Chris Messina’s busy schedule but it felt very obvious that he wasn’t there.

I will never again be able to think of this show without seeing Jeff Bridges standing up at Sam Waterston’s funeral, looking exactly like his character from Dumb & Dumber, because he’s poleaxed that he’s going to be a father. It wasn’t sweet. It was idiotic. SHAME ON ALL OF YOU, NEWSROOM CAST.

The smell of preschoolers

Charlie has a mild intolerance to kiwi fruit, in that every time he eats it he has explosive toxic acidic poo for about 24 hours. His mom keeps forgetting this and so about every three weeks, I suddenly have on my hands an adorable little shit-grenade who will go off at the drop of a hat, and I have to remind her – again – that he can’t digest kiwi fruit. We are currently at the tail end of another kiwi-poop cycle, so he smells just delightful. The other preschoolers aren’t much better. I don’t know if it’s an expensive time of year, or if the parents have just given up, but the lunches they are bringing lately are frankly depressing. Today Daisy had a peanut butter sandwich, a yogurt tube, a Fruit Roll-Up, and a chocolate-dipped granola bar. Her nap area had a green fug around it by the time I woke her up. They are all getting lots of sugar and no fresh produce, except for what I give them at snack time, and it’s horrifying. Yuck. When Ron and Arthur came home today they both commented on the smell in the house, because it’s not warm enough to open the windows today. Do you know how embarrassing it is to realize that your house smells like literal shit, all day long, because you have three little garbage-guts in your house farting and pooping up a storm for nine hours?


Spring has arrived in Halifax, albeit a late, cold spring, and so it’s pothole season! This year the potholes are worse than ever before. Michael has now hit potholes hard enough to damage rims twice. I slalom carefully in and out around every shadow and irregular spot on the road, trying damn hard not to hit any myself. You can put in a claim to the city for damage caused by potholes, so the first time I did. I went through all the hoops. I got a call at home on a Saturday afternoon, and I don’t know who makes these calls, because I swear this is what he said: “you’ll be sitting on your deck with your feet up drinking a beer before you hear a decision on your claim. Seriously it’s going to take at least twelve weeks and the answer will almost certainly be no.

Thanks for that, apparently-disgruntled city employee.

Blissdom Canada

Regular readers will know that I have gone to Blissdom Canada for the past two years. I enjoy it so much that I spend hundreds of dollars I don’t have, take a day off work for which I don’t get paid (thus also inconveniencing three other families who need to find backup childcare), cough up $100+ for cab fare to & from Pearson to the hotel in Mississauga because the free courtesy shuttles only run on the day before the conference proper begins, and conquer my fears of flying, meeting new people, group work, and dancing in public so that I can go.

I met two of my very best friends at Blissdom, and it’s because of the many conversations we had at the conference that we recently started collaborating on a new blog, Throwing It BackI was kind of hoping to go back this fall; even though I don’t really have the money this year, I thought just maybe I could make it work.

But then! The Blissdom folks announced they’ve changed the venue, moving the whole thing to a resort two hours north of Toronto. If you are coming from out of town and can’t get flights that mesh with their courtesy shuttle schedule, this leaves you completely up the creek when it comes to getting from the airport to the hotel. I can’t imagine any taxi that would take you. You can rent a car, but you need to rent it for the whole weekend only to drive it for four hours. (Do that math, friends! It’s not good math.) It’s goddamned inconvenient, is what it is, and when a few of us (politely, respectfully) explained that this new venue would make it impossible for us to attend, did we get sympathy? An acknowledgement that this change presents a problem for anyone outside of Toronto? A commitment to perhaps investigate running additional shuttles on the opening day of the conference? Anything that would have reassured us that our concerns were heard?


Instead we got bland PR reassurances from the Blissdom Twitterbot, and outright bullshit platitudes from other Blissdom attendees. I think my least favourite was “if you really want to be there, you’ll make it happen! Don’t start complaining, start making arrangements!” as if I just need to read The Secret, do what it says, and magically all of the logistical problems will repair themselves. Oh, and a leprechaun will show up with a big bag of money.

Honestly it feels like they are trying to exclude anyone who doesn’t blog for a living (although they always said that was not a prerequisite for attending or indeed for being a part of the community).

There is a real trend in parts of the wider internet world to call any & all dissension “bullying” or “hating”. People, we are not Taylor Swift. Yes, haters gonna hate, but in a supportive community there should be room for criticism and disagreement. The fact that there isn’t makes me sad.


And finally, Harry is doing his best to train for next month’s track & field meet, as well as a youth 4K run. The snow only just melted enough that we can safely be on the road, so last night I gave in to his pleading and went for a short run with him.

Well, really, he went for a run, and I went for a wheeze and stagger, dragging my lazy 85lb dog behind me as a hostage to fortune. I sort of waddle-jogged, and then ran a little, and then walked, and then stopped to pick up dog poo, and heaved and gasped and choked my way along as Harry sprinted on ahead like a damn gazelle or something.

It was frankly mortifying what terrible shape I’m in, but we went a kilometer, and I’m going again tonight… that being said, running sucks, my lungs felt like they were straight-up on fire, and I will never understand runners if I live to be a hundred (which I won’t, because I’m out of shape, see “I hate running”, above).

There. Whew. Next time, a return to happy thoughts. Promise.



  1. Every now and then we have to be surly. It balances out all the sunshine and unicorns. 🙂

  2. I am sorry you are feeling surly, but my God that’s a great word isn’t it? So perfectly apt.

    The things you are surly about are legit. I am sorry. The potholes. They are HORRID! I drove Thing 1 to band this morning and it is just as you said, a slalom to and from. There is a pothole on Clayton Park that I am fairly certain a SmartCar would get lost in! You can fill in the city reporting forms, but I fear the same helpful phone call person is gleefully deleting reports. :/

    YOU RAN!!! YAY! (Look, just go with it, here. I am apparently a bit surly, too. I need hope, man!)

    The Drs. NS run club was supposed to start three weeks ago at Thing 2’s school. They can’t run. They are not allowed to run on the snow covered schoolyard. 😦 The BlueNose Marathon is in 4 weeks. Will the snow even be melted by then?

    I’m a little tired from reading about your run. I think I’ll go have a Mini Egg. *pfft* As if anyone could have a single Mini Egg. *sigh*

    • I ran last night, too. I need to find a place in Halifax that sells decent sports bras for, ahem, the fuller-figured gal. *bounce bounce bounce*

      Our school is having track & run practice in the gym for now.

  3. Blissdom is definitely changing. I haven’t gone since it moved to Mississauga which is a bummer because I’d have loved to meet you. I’m close relatively speaking but I live in a suburb on the other side of the city. Close enough that hotelling felt too decadent (especially since the conference price went way up) but far enough that driving back and forth each night would cause me to miss some of the fun.

    Like you, I pay for this myself and it’s a lot of money. Now that it feels more business-focused (from the info I’ve seen) I figured I just wasn’t their market anymore. It bums me out. I wish them success – they obviously do have a niche they fill – but the cavalier attitude they had with you definitely turns me off. Guess it’s time for an “unconference” for all us unprofessional bloggers who do it for love and enjoy the community.

    • I love this idea of an “unconference”. I don’t profit from my blog either and I feel excluded from all blogger communities. The food blogger community in Canada seems pretty tight but I guess nutrition rants don’t count as food blogging. In Halifax I feel like there is some sort of local blogger community which I’m not privy to either. I don’t know how you get to be one of the in-crowd, I don’t even know if I want to be, but I do occasionally suffer from FOMO. There’s my surly addition.

      • Confession time: I read very few Halifax blogs. So many of the ones I’m familiar with are monetized and there aren’t many bloggers in my opinion who continue to have a clear & unique voice once they start writing for ad revenue.

        I also hate sponsored content with the fire of a thousand curmudgeonly suns.

        Food bloggers are a breed all to themselves. That community generally appears super-competitive, and there aren’t many food bloggers that write just for the fun of it anymore – most are paid gigs. Again, totally fine, but if you’re trying to buck the trend it’s hard.

        I don’t think of you as a food blogger, per se; I think my closest comparison to you would be Yvette d’Entremont, the Science Babe. She’s in the debunking-and-sensible-science-based-thinking niche, and that’s what I see when I read your blog, too. Just a thought. 🙂

        • Some food bloggers are okay, Hannah! xoxo

          • Yes, they are. And by “they” I mean “you”. 😉

            I should have clarified that I didn’t mean all food bloggers, rather the community as a whole.

    • I would LOVE an “unconference”. I have been a part of small-group meetups before, and it’s really been great.

      I think you’re right that we aren’t Blissdom’s market anymore, and that’s certainly their prerogative… I just wish they were being more honest about it.

  4. I’ve never been to Blissdom and it’s highly unlikely that I ever will go. BUT I used to have a job that required a lot of travel, so I thought I’d see if I could draw on those skills on your behalf. Because I like reading your blog, and it seemed as if there had to be a better way.

    So: assuming that Blue Mountain Inn is where it’s being held (that’s what the internet says, anyway): Simcoe County Airport Service is a shared-ride van service that will run out there. See rates: mountain inn

    If you clubbed together with some other people who were coming in at around the same time as you, you could end up with a pretty reasonable number; ditto with going back home.

    Of course, this is only useful if you still want to go. I don’t know if I would. I might still want to take an extra day off and do something special for a three-day weekend, but I think I’d do it on my own schedule and at my own price point. I think it would bother me too much that an organization that used to be a good fit for me was going in a different direction, and I wouldn’t be happy about giving them a lot of money because of it.

    • You are so kind to look that up for me! I know I have other readers who are planning to attend Blissdom and are having trouble juggling the logistics, so I’m sure this will help them. Thank you.

      And your last paragraph summed it up for me, exactly. This is EXACTLY it. It’s not just the logistical issues, it’s what they represent – a complete change of direction & focus in support of a different kind of blogger. Totally up to them, but not a good fit for me anymore.

      • Thanks Angeline! That’s awesome news!

  5. Man, I love surly posts. Sometimes a good wallow in the grump is the only way to go. All of that sucks, but let’s take a moment to hate on running, shall we? And runners. Especially the runners who like to pep talk “If you keep going, it gets easier!” No, no it doesn’t. IT NEVER GETS EASIER. And let’s not even discuss the myth that is the “runner’s high.”

    Everyone else can keep running. I’ll be back here, strolling along, enjoying the day.

    • My sister ran a half-marathon for charity last year – she trained up from nothing to that. And at least she’s been honest with me. “It’s going to suck. Your lungs will burn. You will never get runners’ high and you’ll probably hurt yourself.”


  6. Running is the worst! For me. I know lots of runners. But it just seems so…jarry. I just can’t do it – although I love fast walking (not speed walking with ankle weights or anything, just regular walking).

  7. That’s even quite inconvenient for those in Toronto who don’t have cars or lots of money to spend on rentals/transportation up to wherever it is. I don’t blame you for being angry about it. I’m sorry that it’s inaccessible this year, but if you come to TO to visit your friends from Blissdom, this time, we will meet up!

  8. I used to run. I even ran a half-marathon. I got much fitter, svelter and more able to casually drop an impressive anecdote into dinner party conversations (“When I ran the half marathon…”). Now, I swim. By which I mean I have bought a swimsuit and been swimming once. My goodness is it hard work after four years without so much as paddling. But it feels so much less hassle than running! I recommend it.

    I bet an unconference would be way more fun, and less scary for people who are unnerved by strangers and public dancing. I am 100% certain that you have people in your circle who could organise an unconference which would blow Blissdom out of the water, and cost less at the same time.

  9. I keep reading this and thinking I’ve commented and then realizing I haven’t. I think. RUNNING IS ASS. But I was thinking we haven’t done a good Surly Thursday for a while, so thanks for bringing it with a vengeance. GOD PEOPLE FEED YOUR KIDS SOME VEGETABLES. And maybe open the window anyway? *gasp*

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