Friday, April 29, 2011

Sweat – not sweet – Sweat

 That’s what I do, sweat. And believe me, it’s not fun. I don’ glow, I don’t perspire, I don’t get dewy. I sweat. Unattractively so.

Having just come out from a long winter, I almost forgot about this unbecoming aspect of my corporeal being, along with the degree to which I detest it. But I was brutally reminded a few days ago when rushing to the book launch of a friend.

I left work at a moment that unintentionally coincided with a brief, but torrential rain. Cussing my timing and freshly-drenched hair, I ducked into a Starbucks to dry off and freshen up.

I came out of the Starbucks into an utterly different climactic zone from the one I was in upon entering. The clouds had dispersed, the sun was shining and it’s veritably hot outside. Odd, I think. It didn’t take me that long to freshen up.

I have three blocks to walk to the bookstore where the launch is being held. I want to get there on time because I have to bow out early, so pick up my pace. I arrive only a few minutes after the event begins.

I see my friend, and another woman I’m friendly with, who also has a short piece in the book, a collection of essays titled I Feel Great about My Hands: And Other Unexpected Joys of Aging.

Before the formalities begin, I go up to my friend to congratulate her and have a short chat. It’s lovely to see her and we’re chatting away when I realize my forehead is completely covered in sweat, as is my upper lip and the back of my neck. My sweater is sticking to me.

As I mentioned, I don’t glow. I sweat. Therefore, the beads of perspiration from my forehead and upper lip are succumbing to the forces of gravity. They are traveling downward. I now have sweat in my eyes and my lips are wet, not moist, wet.

I’m aware that my friend’s too polite to say what she must be thinking. It has to be, “Wow. Linda, you’re really sweating. Your face is soaking wet (poor thing).” 

Instead, we carry on an enjoyable conversation and pretend nothing’s happening. For awhile.

I’m boiling, embarrassed and utterly uncomfortable. I can’t stand it anymore. I say excuse me, then reach into my purse in search of a handkerchief. I never leave home without one, for reasons such as this.

I take my red print Marc Jacob 1950’s cowboy handkerchief out (memo to self: buy white ones next time), and wipe –not pat – my forehead like a truck driver who just finished a long haul to New Orleans. I do the same to my upper lip, cheeks, then chin.

I’m now thinking my friend must be saying to herself, “Wow, you really needed that handkerchief, Linda. I’ve never seen anyone sweat like you.” But she doesn’t of course. And maybe, just maybe, she isn’t even aware of my “condition.”

It’s time for the editor of the book, Shari Graydon, to introduce the authors who will be reading short excerpts from pieces they have in the book.

I take a seat, continue to wipe my brow, and quickly down a cool glass of Chardonnay, still mildly embarrassed about my encounter of the sweaty kind.

Shari shares with us the genesis of the book she created, a humourous and positive response, by women of a certain age, to Nora Ephron’s lament about aging, I Feel Bad About My Neck.

Shari then talks about one of the book’s contributors who couldn’t be with us that evening. It’s one of my favourite Canadian humourists, Newfoundland’s proud daughter, Mary Walsh.

Mary’s been play-acting older woman for years in her comedy routines, or as she puts it, “I played an endless series of big, loud, opinionated old bags…” and now freely admits, “I’ve become one.”

Well, I’m glad she has, because in the book, Mary hits a home run on a subject near and dear to my heart. Mary tackled the subject of...body temperature.

Describing the physical state she now finds herself in, Mary says, “My volume- control button had drifted up on “deafen” there a few years ago, and my internal thermostat got permanently stuck on cremate.”

Oh my God, Mary. Bingo. Cremate! My internal thermostat’s stuck on it, for God’s sake. Why hadn’t anyone told me that sooner? That’s why I want to dive into a cool cave every summer and not come out until it’s time for the bears to crawl in.

While I live in a state of continual and embarrassing discomfort because of my thermostatic malfunction, Mary, of course, puts a positive spin to it. “I’m hot and loud now. More like a Caribbean carnival than an actual human being.”

Why can’t I be more like Mary? It’s good to be like a Caribbean carnival, no?

I will work hard to achieve the apparent resolve Mary has achieved. I have to. According to my doctors, there is no help for me, other than ­­– get this – Botox injections. Seems that the cosmetic treatment for wrinkles, otherwise known as a forehead freezer, also stops excessive sweating. I’m not going there.

Clearly, I’ll have to live with my sweat problem. I know, I know, it could be worse. But you non-sweat-ers have to try to empathize. Picture yourself in a room where everyone else looks cucumber cool, and  you, yes, only you, are actually wet. You can't even ask anyone, "Is it hot in here, or is it me?" because you already know the answer.

My condition makes me dread summer, and that’s not a good thing. As many of you who have read my previous blogs know, I already don't like winter. There's not much left.

So I’m going to really work at this Mary Walsh thing. The next time I’m in a conversation, and beads of sweet are dripping downward on my face, you’ll hear me saying something along these lines:

“You probably think I’m just a hot, unattractive, post-menopausal woman with sweat sliding down her face. Well you’re wrong. I’m a …hot and steamy Caribbean carnival.” Great, eh?

And while I’m working on my personality revamp, I recommend you read I Feel Great About My Hands, a charming, delightful book by forty-one women over fifty, reveling in the benefits of maturity. And that includes sweat. Sorta.

I Feel Great about My Hands, Douglas&McIntyre, $22.95

Great Mother’s Day gift!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Going Cold Turkey Tomorrow: Giving up bagels for Passover

I always loved bagels. New York bagels to be precise, dating back to my childhood when my dad took me grocery shopping for our family’s weekly bagels and lox Sunday brunch. Last stop on our rounds was always the New York Bagel Factory (in Detroit!) on the corner of 7 Mile Rd. and Schaeffer.
The NewYork Bagel Factory, a hole-in-the wall, barebones storefront, was called a factory instead of shop because of a little brick oven and boiling pots in the back. Called New York because bagels come in styles, and New York are boiled, dense and chewy. Not like Montreal’s slightly sweet or Toronto challah-textured.. Yecchh. Not worth mentioning.
You would never have seen a dundried tomato, blueberry, chocolate chip or basil pesto bagel in those days.  “I should be against the law,”  my father said in later years when they hit the market.  Coming from such a quiet, peaceful man, I was a little taken back when he added, “Whoever invented them should be shot.”
If there wasn’t a line-up outside the bagel factory when we got there, we’d go straight in, cross the creeky, cornmeal-dusted plank wood floors and walk four steps to the counter. Upon our entry, Moishe, the round, elderly, Yiddish-speaking owner would nod to me, then look at my dad and say “Nu? Charlie.” It wasn’t much, but enough to get a conversation going about family, even world events.
I would salivate standing there, the sweet yeasty smell in the store was heavenly, beyond heavenly if a fresh batch of hot bagels was coming out of the ovens. “
"Don’t even think about it,” my dad would say without even looking at me, knowing I was watching lustfully as the sweaty baker dumped dozens into the bins. "You know what your grandmother used to say…”

"Yea, Dad, I know. ‘Never eat a hot bagel straight from the oven. It will turn to cement in your stomach. You’ll get a terrible stomach ache.’”  

It was a little game we played. My dad knew I didn’t know my grandmother, so couldn’t really remember what she said. He just wanted to keep stories about her alive. I was glad he did. I liked hearing everything he could tell me about my grandparents. I never met either of my mother’s and my dad’s mother Bela died when I was three, followed by my grandfather Sam when I was five.

I have only one, vague memory of Bubbe Bela, It’s such a storybook scenario, though, I wonder if I made it up.

I’m standing in her living room. Six different bowls of candy in cut class dishes are spread on a table in front of me. My grandmother keeps telling me to take as many candies as I want. “Go, stuff your pockets, too. Just don't tell your mother.”

Moishe would stand behind the big glass bins filled with different types of bagels and specialty buns. My dad would place his order by pointing his index finger and, giving instructions as he moved from left to right along the row. Moishe shuffled slowly along on the other side, filling up big brown paper bags.
“Three bialy        
“One onion pletzl 
"Four poppyseed
“Three egg
“Four sesame. All crisp.

When my Dad stopped ordering, Moishe had the same response. He’d point to the bins my dad had skipped and say “Always the same Charlie? No cinnamon?  

“It’s chazerai,”  my father, the purist, would respond. The twinkle, ever in his eye, indicated there must be something wrong with Moishe for even asking. “Who needs cinnamon on a bagel?”

It was a statement, not a question. No one. They aren’t real bagels.

Moishe and I would laugh, my dad would pay, and as we turned to leave, Moishe would inevitably give me a wink. It was code,

When we came home, I’d bring the bag of bagels in from the car, and announce to my mother and sisters that while they were getting the lox, cream cheese, smoked fish, cheeses and cut-up tomatoes and cucumbers prepared for the dining room table, “I’ll put the bagels on a platter and bring them in.”

I knew that a delicious, chewy, moist and still warm cinnamon and sugar-studded bagel was waiting for me at the bottom of the bag, mny weekly gift from Moishe.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Go Ethnics Go!

My favourite ethnic meal is roast beef, Yorkshire pudding and creamed peas. It surprises friends when I tell them. That’s not what they think of as ethnic. Chipattis, egg rolls and perogies, are,

It appears that the term ethnic is relative. Basically, it means anyone other than the group you come from. And while my group was eating cabbage rolls, chopped liver, beet borscht and bagels and lox for Sunday brunch, the predominant culture in Canada, the one that doesn’t consider itself ethnic, was having a fry-up and kippers, instead.

The question of ‘ethnic’ has gotten Prime Minister Stephen Harper in trouble recently. It’s election time, and Stephen is courting the ethnic vote. Therein lies the problem. 
Who’s ethnic? And how do you tell? By the way they eat and dress, of course! 
The latter is what’s gotten the PM in particular trouble here in Toronto. With good reason. This video, "Eat It," a clever take off on Michael Jackson's "Beat It," will tell you why.
According to the 2006 census, more than 50% of Toronto's population (1,237,720) was born outside of Canada, up from 48 per cent in 1996.
I can understand Harper wanting all these votes. We have a lot of immigrants here. The problem is, everyone who votes has to be a Canadian citizen. They don’t see themselves as “ethnic.” Or at least not the way one of Stephen Harper’s staff members perceives ethnic when he sent the following email yesterday:
We … are trying to create a photo-op about all the multicultural groups that support Ted Opitz our local Conservative candidate and the Prime Minister,” r
“The opportunity is to have up to 20 people in national folklore costumes which represent their ethnic backgrounds. These people will sit in front row behind the PM – great TV photo op (sic).”
“We are seeking representation from the Arab community. Do you have any cultural groups that would like to participate by having someone at the event in an ethnic costume? We are seeking one or two people from your community.”
Dumb move. Ironically, the invitation was received by an Arab organization recently defunded by the Harper Conservatives. The invitation might as well have said, “Sorry about that, but that was last month. We need you now. Would you mind playing a little dress-up for the occasion? You'll look kinda ethnic and the rest of your kind will see that you like me, okay?’
Gone are the days when ‘ethnics’ dress-up to make someone else look good. They’re more interested in having a political voice. Power would be good, too.
Cultural groups want to choose their own time and place for dressing up in native garb, playing balalaikas or bhangra. They do it because they want to, not because it’s going to win votes for a politician. Too condescending. And by the way, people wear clothes, not costumes. It ain’t Halloween.
So “Eat It” Stephen Harper.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Keith Richards: More than a pretty face. Who knew?

I love to dance.

Some people say they have no regrets in their lives. Alas. Not so for me.  I have many. One of them is taking to heart my childhood ballet teacher’s message: “You’re too tall for ballet.” Standing en pointe, she said, I’d dwarf the budding Nureyevs and Barishnikovs of my day. Find something else.

I can say now, so many years later, it was her loss. She never got to see my choreography for Morning Suite from Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt, or Odile’s dying scene in Swan Lake, conceived and performed alone in the privacy of the living room of my childhood home.

Fortunately, I moved on. By my early teens, the Motown beat of my hometown Detroit had me in its iron grips.  I had soon mastered the Stroll, Madison, and Continental along with other dance crazes of the time, including twist, watusi, funky chicken and frug (do I see a PhD thesis in the making here, on the geneology of these dance names?). And lest I forget, I was queen of the mashed potatoes, immortalized by Dee Dee Sharp in her hit of the same name.

I react to a beat. Strongly. I have good rhythm. The right beat vibrates through my body and I have to move with it. Can’t stand still. Don’t stand still, in fact. The rhythm can be Latin, Afro-Caribbean, disco, reggae or rock ‘n’ roll, but when it’s right, the force is with me.  You’ll see me jump and jive, and I’ll have the right moves.

The word rhythm is believed to come from the Greek word ‘Rhein’ meaning to flow or stream. For me, the rhythm river runs through.

So what does all this seeming self-aggrandizement have to do with Keith Richards? Only this.

Reading his autobiography Life, it’s becoming all too clear that I may have the good fortune of a few much-appreciated dancing and rhythm genes, but I didn’t luck out the same way when it comes to ‘knowing’ music the same way. Keith does. For him, the river of music runs through, deeply. It’s in his soul, and he’s got the power of rock’n’roll language to tell us about it.

This tall, lanky, white bad boy from the British Isles has the blues and rock and roll oozing out of every pore and page of his book. When he’s talking music, he’s talking pure gut.

While I love reading dish in the book about Anita Pallenberg’s abusive relationship with Brian Jones, Mick shagging Marianne Faithful, and great heroin of the ‘60s, what really knocks me out is hearing Keith talk about making music with his guitar.

Unfortunately, I don’t really understand a word of it. It’s not that he’s talking intellectually or using high hifalutin words. Just the opposite.

The guy goes in detail about stuff I can’t experience: reaching Nirvana when hitting a certain note at the right moment; tuning his guitar a certain way; turning his guitar into a five-string from a six. It’s beyond me. But for some reason, I don’t skim. I like reading it, anyway.

His love for his music is contagious and makes Keith appealing in a new way for me. R-e-s-p-e-c-t is no longer reserved for Aretha. So much so, I’d like to share a passage from the book that comes midway through. I particularly like what he says here because it's not about sound, but movement, something I can better understand:

To quote Keith:

There’s something primordial in the way we react to pulses without even knowing it. We exist on a rhythm of seventy-two beats a minute. The train, apart from getting them from the Delta to Detroit, became very important to blues players because of the rhythm of the machine, the rhythm of the tracks, and then when you cross onto another track, the beat moves.

It echoes something in the human body. So then when you have machinery involved, like trains, and drones, all of that is built in as music inside us. The human body will feel rhythms even when there’s not one.

Listen to “mystery Train” by Elvis Presley. One of the great rock-and-roll tracks of all times, not a drum on it. It’s just a suggestion, because the body will provide the rhythm. Rhythm really only has to be suggested. Doesn’t have to be pronounced.

This is where they got it wrong with “this rock” and “that rock” It’s got nothing to do with rock. It’s to do with roll.”

I love that line. Wish I could have said it half as well, Keith.

For all of you who can understand music better than I, and certainly those of you who play the guitar, you have a real treat in store for you in Life. Not into music or the guitar? The gossip’s pretty fab, too.

Who knew Keith was more than just a pretty face?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Chopped Liver

The Jewish Holiday Passover, Pesach, arrives this year at sundown on Monday, April 18.  I say ‘this year’ because no Jewish holiday starts on the same date from one year to the next, let’s say December 25, for example. 
Whenever, like most Jewish holidays, food will play centre field. Food is a particular focus on Passover because the holiday begins with a seder, a huge ceremonial meal. 

While each family has their own opinion on what foods should grace their seder table, one thing they all have in common. There will be no bread. Jews eat symbolic matzo on Passover, a form on unleavened bread. It's to remind us of the hasty departure made during their exodus from Egypt, allowing no time to allow their bread to rise. Five thousand years later, we’re still eating matzo. You'd think it tasted good.
Other traditional seder dinner stand-bys include: chicken soup, chopped liver, gefilte fish, brisket, roast chicken, potato kugel and mile-high sponge cakes.
In honour of these traditional foods, I’m devoting this blog to one of my favourites from that list: chopped liver.  This much-maligned delicacy (am I the first person to use the words chopped liver and delicacy in the same line?) has special meaning to me. 

I’m going to share an excerpt from a chapter from a memoir I’m working on to explain why:

My childhood rabbi called us ‘Chopped Liver Jews.’ “You think all you have to do is eat a little chopped liver, go to shule on Yom Kippur and you can call yourselves Jews?” he asked. No way. It wasn’t good enough to keep the religion alive, he told us. The warning signs were already there in the 1950s. Intermarriage was looming.
Both chopped liver and chicken soup did play more significant roles in our home than Jewish law or theology.  Perhaps my mother used comforting Jewish foods as metaphors for “I love you,” words I don’t remember her ever saying. 

Instead, she offered affection through soup and liver – one a soothing broth, clear as a fresh-brewed tea, shimmering like golden honey. And the other – lumpy, coarse, brown-gray sludge that sticks to the roof of your mouth?
I wasn’t more than five when my mother introduced me to the secret of making a great, as opposed to good, chopped liver.
I watched in disgust as she unwrapped the slimy, blood-red chicken livers from the waxy pink butcher paper and slide them onto a glass plate. “How can you even touch them?” I asked, repelled as she rummaged through, removing errant veins.
She then pulled out a lidded metal container perched on the middle shelf in our fridge sitting next to the much-loved bright orange Velveeta cheese. 

“This is the secret,” my mother announced, whisking off the lid of a metal container, proudly displaying the contents as if a rabbit conjured from a top hat. 

“Don’t let anyone tell you different,“ she continued, slopping a big glob of gooey yellow grease into her copper-bottomed frying pan. Shmaltz

When the rendered chicken fat crackled, she added chopped onions, frying them into heavenly sweetness.  “You don’t get this with Mazola.” 

After the livers were browned and the ambrosial onion smell only a memory, my mother let me ‘chop’ the liver in her hand-cranked grinder attached to the turquoise formica counter. 

She put liver pieces in as I whirled the wooden handle round and round, watching them ooze onto a plate in long, unappetizing strands. “You’ll inherit this grinder one day,” my mother told me, “so remember what I said about the shmaltz.” 

It was one of the few pieces of advice she ever gave other than ‘cut your bangs,’ ‘get your hair off your face’ and ‘never marry a man who can’t dance.’ My father couldn’...

I know. This excerpt from my book doesn't exactly paint a pretty picture about chopped liver, or for that matter, my parents' marriage. I cover more on the latter elsewhere in the book.

As for chopped liver, here's:

The Best Chopped Liver Ever

  • 2 pounds chicken livers
  • 1 cup rendered chicken fat (shmaltz)
  • 2 cups medium-diced yellow onion (2 onions)
  • 4 extra-large eggs, hard-boiled, peeled, and cut up
  • 2 teaspoons  kosher or coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Drain the livers and saute them in 2 batches in 2 tablespoons of the chicken fat over medium-high heat, turning once, for about 5 minutes, or until just barely pink inside. Don't overcook the livers or they will be dry. Transfer them to a large bowl.

In the same pan, saute the onions in 3 tablespoons of the chicken fat over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, or until browned. Mix with livers, making sure to scrape out all the good stuff from the pan.

Add the eggs salt, black pepper, cayenne, and the remaining chicken fat to the bowl. Toss quickly to combine. If you have a grinder, now is the time to use it. Put the mixture in in batches, and grind into a large bowl. M ash with a fork until you get the right consistency.

No grinder? Transfer half the mixture to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.  Pulse 6 to 8 times, until coarsely chopped (do not turn into a smooth paste!).  Repeat with the remaining mixture. Season, to taste (you'll find chopped liver needs a lot of salt. See if you need more than the recommended two teaspoons.)

Chill. Serve on crackers or matzo. Enjoy!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Doing What We Do, II

 Why do we do the things we do? A youtube video I saw today has made me, once again, ask this question.

The first time I asked was in a blog I wrote not too long ago. I talked about my neighbour, Tom Butscher, who had just become the oldest person to row across the Atlantic Ocean after rowing 12 hours a day for 52 days. He completed the more than 5,000 kilometre journey from Morocco to Barbados aboard Big Blue, an ocean rowing catamaran.

Butscher, a former Canadian long-track speed skating champion and father of two who has already rowed solo across Lake Ontario, set out Jan. 11 with 15 other crew members. They rowed for two hours and rested for two hours, 24 hours a day.

Needless to say, it was an extraordinary accomplishment for Tom. I cheered him on every inch of the way. What he did was akin to climbing Everest, inventing Facebook or raising polite teenagers. Each takes Herculean focus, dedication, perseverance, commitment and remarkable drive. You have to really want to make these things happen.

My question in my previous blog was this: how do we choose what it is we do? Never in a lifetime would I want to do what Tom did. I can’t stress this enough.

In the case of Facebook, I might have liked to conceive and develop it, but clearly, don’t have one iota of whatever it takes to do so. I don’t even know what the words would be to describe ‘what it takes,’ other than a one-in-a-million weirdly-wired brain do what Mark Zuckerberg did. Nor would I imagine twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who sued Zuckerberg for 'stealing' their idea, would know what it takes, either.

Regarding the polite teenagers, I did actually take this on. The jury’s still out on how well I did, however. Not a lot of feedback. But the will, drive, and commitment were definitely there.

For the record, I do have additional lifelong goals and commitments.
But they’re not necessarily the same as other people’s. In fact, they’re definitely not the same. 

Case in point. Looking at the youtube video today, I saw a group of people construct something absolutely extraordinary. OMG, what clever, creative, committed people they are to have done so. I don’t want to say any more about what they’ve done until you look at their creation. (I'm giving a second chance here to all of you who haven't looked at the video yet).

By the end of the video, I had two burning questions. How did they do what they did, was one of them. The second was, why did they do what they did? As you’ll see, it would take the exact same drive, commitment, perseverance and focus that it did to get Tom across the Atlantic Ocean. No, there was no danger in their pursuit, as there was in Tom’s, but as you’ll see, in addition to remarkable creativity, it took focus, focus, focus. And more focus.

I sometimes find myself so very lacking in this particular quality, I believe it’s related to how extraordinarily impressed I am with people who apply it in such constructive, one-of-a-kind ways (the pun on ‘constructive’ is intended, as I hope you’ll see from the video).

So, ladies and gentlemen, please keep on doing the things you do (as long as you’re not in the Tea Party). The world is a richer place because of it (as long as you’re not in the Tea Party). And to the clever people in the video, I can’t wait to see what it is you do next. I’m glad you do what you do.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Europe by Numbers: Great Interactive Guide

 I’ve just learned everything I’ve ever wanted to learn about the European Union, not knowing I actually ever wanted to know anything. But I'm glad I did. This  guide turned me around.

I’m not only fascinated by what I’ve learned from looking at a bunch of moving circles and statistics about each of the countries, but by the questions I now have about them. Take a look, it’s fascinating.

Like why is the life expectancy of men in Latvia 66 while it’s 85 in Sweden? Does the standard of living alone account for a twenty year difference?

Why is Latvia expected to lose 26% of its population by 2060, while Great Britain’s will increase by 23%. Can’t be poverty, alone, because Germany’s expected to lose 13% and its economy is booming. And how did Germany get seven million foreign citizens? Makes me wonder how many Canadian citizens we have born outside of Canada. Would we even collect that statistic?

For me, the most fascinating of the statistics are the homicide rates.

The big questions I have is, why did Romania have 493 murders in one year while Greece, whose population is only slightly smaller have only118? And Lithuania, the size of Austria, had 406 murders while Austria had 46? Something not so good is going on in Lithuania and Romania, no?

That‘s a whole lot of murders for not-so-big countries. I come from Detroit. While I was growing up, it was called Murder City. Nothing to be proud of.  Hundreds of murders every year. As a kid, I used to think that everyone who was going to kill someone would have already done it, so the murderers would die out. I didn’t realize that new, prospective murderers were being born every second as I spoke.

By the way, Cyprus had nine murders, Luxembourg seven. France has the highest number in the EU at 899. Not good, France. By comparison, Canada had 564 in 2007 (the latest number I can find).  France has 62 million people, roughly twice our population. Germany, which has 82 million people, had 632 murders.

You’ll be pleased to know that there are 458 doctors per 100,000 people in Austria, the highest in the EU. The number I found for Canada is 121. Is this possible?

For those of us who want to travel and worry about how far our buck will go, check out the Czech Republic. Their cost of living is closest to ours. Where’s it most expensive for us? France, Finland and Denmark. Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Poland are the least. Just don’t get clobbered in Romania.

Note to country: Let’s not feel too sorry for ourselves. The jobless rate in Span is 22%, Ireland 13%, Latvia and Lithuania, 18%.

And... the last fact I’ll leave you with:  23 out of 27 countries in the EU have more phones than people. Portugal, Greece and Italy have the highest concentration of phones and lowest internet use rate.

I could go on. But won’t.  Take a look yourself.