from The Globe and Mail:

Scent of a woman gets up bus drivers' noses
Calgary employees say they refused passenger because she wore too much perfume


From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

Natalie Kuhn likes to wear the perfume Very Irresistible, but two Calgary bus drivers think she's anything but and have refused to continue their routes with her on board.

The city was investigating Tuesday after Ms. Kuhn complained she was singled out three times in a week. In each case, her bus driver said she was wearing too much perfume.

“The bus driver had told her the day before that if she showed up wearing perfume in the amount that she did, he'd call a supervisor, and he did,” said Calgary Transit spokesman Tony McCallum, describing incidents on Thursday and Friday.


“Everything was fine for the first eight minutes of the bus ride, and then he pulled over and started opening all of the windows,” the 25-year-old said.

They began to argue, she said. With the bus parked and the other passengers waiting, Ms. Kuhn called the city to complain and the driver paged his supervisor. The standoff ended, again, with a transit employee arriving to escort Ms. Kuhn to her destination.

The incidents left her rattled. She's is now worried about taking the bus again and sobbed during interviews while describing the situation.

She was quoted saying that being asked to sit near an open window at the back of the bus made her feel like “a modern-day Rosa Parks.”

Ms. Kuhn insists that no other passengers complained about the use of her favourite perfume, which is made by Givenchy. But the situations appear to illustrate a growing unwillingness among some members of the public to put up with other people's odours.

Hell yeah! I can't stand perfume, unless it is extremely subtle and barely there, and I applaud the recent changes to rules in many different industries that restrict scent applications. More and more people suffer from scent allergies in part because of the abundance of scented products now available: laundry detergents, scented deodorants, body sprays, room "fresheners". From an article published in the Flavour and Fragrance Journal (2002, 17(5)), "The incidence of skin allergy to fragrance has increased with exposure. A conservative estimate is that 1 -2% of the population has skin allergy to fragrance. There is a direct correlation between use of scented products and development of skin allergy to fragrance." Additionally,

Fragrance is increasingly cited as a trigger in health conditions such as asthma, allergies and migraine headaches. In addition, some fragrance materials have been found to accumulate in adipose tissue and are present in breast milk. Other materials are suspected of being hormone disrupters. The implications are not fully known, as there has been little evaluation of systemic effects. There are environmental concerns as well, as fragrances are volatile compounds, which add to both indoor and outdoor air pollution. Synthetic musk compounds are persistent in the environment and contaminate waterways and aquatic wildlife.

Paradoxically, now that many environments restrict scent applications, I think we notice them even more on the odd person who refuses to give up products like perfume, etc. I absolutely hate getting on a bus only to have someone take the seat next to me who doesn't understand that aftershave or cologne are effective in a dab rather than a bath-load. And yes, I'll move away from them if possible. I think the bus drivers in the story above are well within their rights to demand a safe and pleasant work environment. Plus, she's a chiropractic assistant, meaning she is leaning into, over, around people's bodies all day, subjecting the patients to an overdose of whatever Givenchy shit she's doused herself in. They might be too polite to mention the affront, so the bus drivers have saved her patients the embarrassment and the foul stench if this episode causes her to reduce her use of perfume or quit the stuff altogether.

What do you think? Am I an odor fascist? Do you agree or disagree with the drivers' actions? Are you a perfume addict?


Vancouver magnolias and other Sci-Fi events

The magnolias are in high bloom around Vancouver right now and their blossoms are a stunning pink. They are huge blooms on spindly trees, making the flowers appear heavy and luscious. The picture and some comments about the breed of magnolias mostly found around Vancouver are found here.

Before they bloom, the buds look like alien pods quietly morphing an inconspicuous tree into a pod person producer! The pods are quite large and hairy - trust me, you'd wonder about their mission, too.

The pods make me remember The Day of the Triffids, a horror film from 1951 that scared us silly when we were little girls. The triffids are mutant plants that feed on decomposing human flesh. They aren't alien (as my faulty memory would have said) but their propagation is blamed on "the reds" from the Soviet Union. Oh McCarthy, we owe you so much! The more appropriate film to mention in the context of magnolia pods is Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1956. Alien plant pods drift to Earth, find suitable subjects and grow replicas of human individuals. The replicas have no emotion, which leads their loved ones to suspect they are not who they claim to be. The pod people aim to replace the entire human race. It's a fight to the finish - who will gain the ultimate upper hand?!

I wonder, should we be concerned about the magnolia pods and their potential for effecting harm to the human race? Some would say that Vancouver is well on its way to being populated by pod people. Just look at the Lululemon set in Kits, or the soulless Yaletown dwellers. This speculation requires further research. I'll have to go find a mad scientist out at the University for some sage advice; hopefully he'll have a large room cluttered with fantastic looking glassware and bulky old metal scientific technology. Nothing like a rusty chronophyllumgraphicometer to really get the story rolling!


Breakfast of champions

1 egg, scrambled in a small dish with salt and pepper, microwaved on high for 1 minute + 40 seconds.
1 English muffin, toasted
two slices of ripe tomato
handful of mixed greens
1 tsp or so of tarragon mustard - the clincher!

The whole shebang comes out to less than 250 calories and about 6 grams of fat (thanks to the egg). Takes less than 5 minutes to prepare and tastes really superscrumdiddlyumptious.

I cannot start the day without a nice breakfast. Sometimes nice means a preferred cereal with soy milk, but sometimes nice means something a little more elaborate. I've also been eating a lot of oatmeal lately, cooked with cinnamon, a bit of salt, some maple sugar and vanilla, and a random fruit like raisins, dates, banana, or apple. Pretty tasty. That's thanks to Miranda telling me how to make breakfast oatmeal in under 3 minutes. Muffins have started appearing regularly; for instance last week I made a batch of Sunny Corn Muffins from The Post Punk Kitchen (exchanged the oil and yogurt amounts to cut down on fat and added 1 cup of blueberries). They were pretty awesome, even if they didn't rise very much.

I heard an interview with Jann Arden* a few weeks ago on CBC and they spoke about her recent substantial weight loss (I think it's along the lines of >50lbs). She claims she used to be the kind of person who ate once a day, a huge meal, usually in the evening. She began to eat breakfast - just something small - everyday and her weight started dropping. I've never been that eat-once-daily person so eating breakfast is not going to cause any substantial weight loss for me, but it's interesting to hear what small changes will have a dramatic effect on our bodies. Rocco was never a big breakfast fan but since we've been living in sin he's been eating breakfast most days. When he's running too late and I'm lazily still lying in bed (i.e. not in the kitchen to chide him into eating something) he now really notices a difference in energy and hunger throughout the day.

So who's the real champion here? Breakfast! We love you breakfast!

*I know, I can't believe I referenced Jann Arden on my blog, either! Will wonders never cease?


Soda bread

In preparation of tomorrow's Day O' Green, I made a cake of my granny's soda bread. It smells awesome and it's going to be hard to resist a warm slice with slabs of butter! I use whole wheat flour to make it even more hearty -yum!
Here's the recipe:

4 1/3 cups of self rising flour
1/2 cup wheat bran
1 heaping tsp of baking powder

Mix well. Add 2 cups milk and mix well again.

Turn into greased round cake pan. Bake at 400 for about 40 minutes (til golden brown and hollow sounding).

Self-rising flour? Aha. A staple in Irish households but not as common in North America. Make your own with the following recipe.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Sift together well and use in place of self-rising flour. I use whole wheat flour and it works fine for that too.

Have a fun St. Patrick's Day everyone! Slainte!


Switchin' it up

Mere hours after my parents left Vancouver, we finally moved in our new loveseat. It was purchased from some guy a couple weeks ago and it's taken us this long to arrange a van and a mover guy. Finally FINALLY the god forsaken futon has been taken apart and is now advertised on Craigslist (quite poetically, as a matter of fact). We've had a couple nibbles and with any luck it will be out of the apartment by tonight.

And, yes, we chose the new couch to match the cat. Now any visitors will have to check carefully before they sit down or suffer a cushion full of claws!