21 December 2005

And now for something completely different

Some of you may have found my blog a little on the negative side lately, what with all the posting about HIV/AIDS. I guess I've been feeling a little "activistic" lately, and what with supreme lack of funds, I feel the need to evangelize since I can't just dump $50 toward Amnesty International or UNICEF, MPH or CanAIDS as has been my habit in the past few years -- especially around Christmas.

Instead, I thought it would be fun to focus on something a little more light-hearted, on this first day of the long, dark season.

How about a story? And not just any story, a story about Santa!!

Santa Claus is one of many names for Saint Nicholas. In the Catholic tradition, St. Nick is the patron saint of children, sailors, pharmacists, thieves, girls who want to get married, and prostitutes, among other things.

One of the oldest stories showing St. Nicholas as a protector of children takes place long after his death. The townspeople of Myra were celebrating the good saint on the eve of his feast day when a band of Arab pirates from Crete came into the district. They stole treasures from the Church of Saint Nicholas to take away as booty. As they were leaving town, they snatched a young boy, Basilios, to make into a slave. The emir, or ruler, selected Basilios to be his personal cupbearer, as not knowing the language, Basilios would not understand what the king said to those around him. So, for the next year Basilios waited on the king, bringing his wine in a beautiful golden cup. For Basilios' parents, devastated at the loss of their only child, the year passed slowly, filled with grief. As the next St. Nicholas' feast day approached, Basilios' mother would not join in the festivity, as it was now a day of tragedy. However, she was persuaded to have a simple observance at home with quiet prayers for Basilios' safekeeping. Meanwhile, as Basilios was fulfilling his tasks serving the emir, he was suddenly whisked up and away. St. Nicholas appeared to the terrified boy, blessed him, and set him down at his home back in Myra. Imagine the joy and wonderment when Basilios amazingly appeared before his parents, still holding the king's golden cup.

Another story tells of three theological students, traveling on their way to study in Athens. A wicked innkeeper robbed and murdered them, hiding their chopped-up remains in a large pickling tub. It so happened that Bishop Nicholas, traveling along the same route, stopped at this very inn. In the night he dreamed of the crime, got up, and summoned the innkeeper. As Nicholas prayed earnestly to God the three boys were restored to life and wholeness. In France the story is told of three small children, wandering in their play until lost, lured, and captured by an evil butcher. St. Nicholas appears and appeals to God to return them to life and to their families.

Isn't he great?

But the supposed origins of Santa-N's gift-giving tendencies begins with the story of a poor man with three daughters. In those days a young woman's father had to offer prospective husbands something of valueÂ?a dowry. The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry. This poor man's daughters, without dowries, were therefore destined to be sold into slavery. Nicholas wanted to help the man, but knew he was proud and would never accept money, so one night, he threw three bags of gold in through an open window -- in one version it is said that the one bag landed in each of the girls' stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas.

And that's why we give gifts at Christmas. Sort of. The original idea was to give anonymously to those in need. Apparently, some people believe that their child is in need of an iPod or an X-Box 360. Personally, I'll be happy with a new dryer or dehumidifier. :)

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good weekend!

PS; Obviously I didn't just have all this knowledge in my head. I plagiarized much of it from other internet sites. Check them out:

St. Nicholas Center
Wikipedia: Saint Nicholas
Patron Saints Index

20 December 2005

I hate you, too

Lately, I've heard a lot about how much people hate commercials. They are certainly widely vilified for many reasons, most of which I comprehend, but don't quite understand. Yeah, I know those are synonyms, but I can't find a better way to explain.

You see, my entire life is built on commercials. I can't say that my life would be bad without them, but there's no way to prove it would have been better either. My father works in advertising. He's been doing it for 29.5 years. That's longer than I've been alive, and only slightly shorter than my brother's life-span.

Without advertising, I wouldn't have most of the material things I have ever owned. I wouldn't have family vacations as I remember them. I wouldn't have my car or my condo -- my father is a guarantor on my loans, you see. I would owe a lot more in student loans. I might still live in Newfoundland (not necessarily bad, I'm just demonstrating the reach of this particular issue).

But see, it's more than that. Advertising is art. Some of it is good, some of it has a social conscience, some of it is brain candy, and some of it is trash.

When I see a commercial, I don't just see its crass attempt to sell, sell, SELL. I see the nuances, the technique, the imagery. What's the message? What is the central point of interest? Does it make sense? Is it subliminal? Is it overt? There are so many ways to look at commercials (and I guess I'm really focusing on TV adverts) that I often miss the point.

I don't look at a Burger King ad and start drooling because the meat looks juicy; I wonder how many layers of shellac were used to create that effect. Food ads don't make me want food; clothing ads don't make me want clothes.

There are two types of commercials that work quite effectively on me: ads for international travel and ads for theme parks. I could hedge that by saying, well I always want to travel and go to theme parks, so it really only reminds me of what's already there....

Homework: What's your favourite commercial? What's your least favourite commercial? Why?

One of my favourites is for the Canadian Mental Health Association. It's a guy in a public washroom and another guy comes up behind him and startles him. "I'm depression." Talk, talk, talk. "Why don't you wear a cape?" "So people can see me coming?" Pause. It's great.

New Brunswick Tourism commercials top my list of least favourites. They're annoying, they show me nothing of what a real New Brunswick "vacation" would be like and I can't tell who they're supposed to be aimed at. They're too "busy" to be aimed at older folks, and too lame to be aimed at the young. Poor planning, poor imagery, poor job. I'd fire their communications firm with a SNAP!

17 December 2005

"If you love yourself, protect yourself"

A quickie:

That's a line from a song by an African (Malian?) singer with AIDS. He uses his songs to get the message out, as do many musical artists on the African continent these days. Governments hide from the spread of HIV/AIDS so as to avoid the wrath of conservative Western nations who preach abstinence to the exclusion of condom use. And you what? Some guy (oh, so articulate today) said it best (and I paraphrase); "Abstinence is their culture, and they can't solve our problems by imposing their culture."

Absolutely.

How is this so-called "aid" from the West helping? It's not. It's drives the problem underground and renders on-the-ground agencies ineffective and unable to do anything. If they hand out condoms, they lose funding; but they see that "Don't have sex and you'll be safe" is not a message that young people (carrying the largest rate of infection) are listening to. And in their case, it's not a matter of Hollywood tearing apart traditional values in the name of titilating and grabbing the audience's attention to sell, sell, sell! I'm going to bet that, in this "500 channel universe, Africa is grossly under-represented. Mauritias was the highest African ranking I could find at # 91 on a global ranking with 209.586 TVs per 1,000 people. This, versus the USA with 740.53 TVs per 1,000 people, ranking them at #3 (Canada is #6 with 655.388 per 1,000 people and the #1 ranked country is Bermuda with 1,009.71 per 1,000 people, accoring to NationMaster.com).

The AIDS crisis in Africa is not going to be solved by the G. W. Bushes and Popes of the world (to use two of the higher profile figures) parachuting in with a stop-gap that will turn the tide any more than Ozzy Osbourne is going to cause millions of youngsters to try to bite the heads off bats by doing it at a concert. It just doesn't work that way. I think groups (NGOs, etc.) and countries that want to have a real impact on stemming the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa have to work within the culture first educating them about all kind of prevention; first the extra-corporal kind such as condoms so that those who see extra-marital and promiscuous (both a mode of activity and a moral judgement) sex as part of their cultural heritage will have the tools to protect themselves and others; then we can teach the individual choices that are fool-proof and 100% effective, such as abstinence and faithfulness to marital partners (another Western judgement).

So, disagree. Or continue to feel helpless. But there are two effective things you can do.
  1. Protect yourself.
  2. Start talking: to politicians, friends, the media, and anyone you can get your hands on. Ask them to start funding the HIV/AIDS fight in Africa -- all parts, not just the moral bits.

If you're interested in other ways to get involved, check out the website of Stephen Lewis. He's Canadian, and the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa. You can also read more about the man here.

And with those sobering thoughts, I must hie me to a Christmas party. Yes, it's Christmas here in Canada. But do they know it's Christmas in Africa?

Wait. Wrong cause....

30 November 2005

I am disappointed

I must admit, I have been purposefully been not-blogging because I was hoping to hear some feedback/opinions on my last post. Seeing as how the mainstream media all but manages to ignore the continuing AIDS epidemic globally and regionally, I was hoping to spark some form of thought in my generally shy and quiet audience.

Here's the thing. I wasn't talking about some guy who was waving a gun around wildly and it accidentally went off and two people died. This isn't that kind of murder. This is a guy who allegedly infected people -- women -- on purpose, maliciously. And from the audience:

....

Right, so here's a little education session on behalf of avert.org:

  • An estimated 40.3 million people WORLDWIDE are infected with HIV/AIDS.
  • To November 2005, there are 4.9 million new infections this year.
  • To date, 3.1 million people have died of AIDS in 2005.
  • More than 25 million people have died of AIDS since 1981.
  • By December 2005 women accounted for 46% of all adults living with HIV worldwide.
  • More than 6,000 young people (15-24 years old) become infected with HIV every day.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa, and South and South-East Asia lead the way in new infections this year with 25.8 million and 7.4 million respectively, to date.
  • Africa has 12 million AIDS orphans. Maybe I'll write that one out: 12,000,000
  • Of the 6.5 million people in developing and transitional countries who need life-saving AIDS drugs, only 1 million are receiving them.
  • In Canada, females accounted for 7% of AIDS cases reported with known gender in the period 1979-94; in 2004 that proportion was 21%.
  • The provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec account for 85% of the population of Canada and for 95% of the nation's AIDS diagnoses.
It's true, we're no longer living in that "everyone will know someone who dies of AIDS" world that was the prevalent message in the late-80s/early 90s. But it's still a huge problem and there is still NO cure. Antiretrovirals are great at allowing people to live with these diseases, but they are still subject to costly and sometimes nauseating drug cocktails.

So, to think that someone may have infected people on purpose, is a pretty upsetting event. I'm actually sad that people didn't seem to have anything to say about this, other than a couple of people privately commenting that they'd "write something later", which is why I waited to post again.

I think I'm going to put my trivial "recently in my life" post on hold for a bit and just let the AIDS thing sink in. Because if you haven't thought about it recently, it's about time you did.

And if you think you know so much about it, congratulations. Prove it.

17 November 2005

Don't it make you a weapon?

So, there's this guy in Canada. He has HIV. This (unfortunately) is not overly uncommon.

What is perhaps uncommon is that he has been charged with two counts of First-Degree Murder. In Canada, that's the most serious offense in criminal law. Wait, not that he was charged at all, but why he was charged.

He allegedly knowingly spread HIV/AIDS to 13 women. In all 13 cases, he was initially charged with aggravated sexual assault, the AIDS virus being considered the weapon.

Well, two of the women are now dead. One died in December 2003 and the other in May 2004.

It seems that under Canadian law, this charge can be commuted to a first-degree murder charge if the person dies as a result of the original offence.

The distinguishing factor would have to be that the women asked about his STD status and he claimed he was clean, knowing full well that he wasn't.

So, now there's a debate. On one side, you have certain (NOT all) AIDS activists who say that turning the transmission of AIDS into an indictable offense will stigmatize an already margianlied population. On the other, you have the people who say that it's about deterence and that people with AIDS have to take responsibility for themselves and for ensure that they don't infect other people.

I think this is a fair and excellent debate. Yesterday morning on The Current, they had some guests exchange various viewpoints on this issue. You can listen to this debate here.

I'm going to be purposely controversial, because I know this isn't an easy question to answer.

I am of the opinion that this man has to take responsibility for his alleged actions. I can't quite recall, but I seem to remember hearing something years ago about some guy who did something similar because he was angry at women because he got AIDS from a woman. Maybe it was an urban myth. Unfortunately, "guy spreading AIDS" conjures up a lot of hits on Google.

I don't mean to be glib. This would have huge implications. For one, prisons have higher infection rates than the general population. Will every one who transmits AIDS in a prison be subject to a murder charge? And what if they're in on murder? Do they become "dangerous offenders"? I know this isn't a simple, "Yeah, throw the book at the (alleged) disease-spreading bastard."

But I do think there needs to be accountability. Are the women accountable for their actions? Absolutely. If he was a stranger, they should have (and apparently did) asked his STD status or insisted on him wearing a condom. If he was known to them, they hopefull had the conversation with him. If they didn't, well they don't deserve AIDS, but he shouldn't be held accountable for their lack of prudence.

I think it's really going to come down to whether he actually hid the information from these women; and further than that it will be a question of semantics. Does answering "Yes" to "Have you ever been tested for HIV/AIDS/STDs?" require an immediate disclosure of the results of those tests? Is it unethical to stay silent if the follow-up "What was the result?" never comes?

Even as I write this I find it difficult to retain a sense of conviction in my argument because I know the pitfalls. I know that education has to come first; that new patients need to be taught what their responsibilities should be to themselves and others. I know that even "protected" or "safer" sex carries risks. I know that unless you follow a blood sample from vein to test result print-out, you're really just taking a huge leap of faith when your intended sexual partner says, "No, I don't have an incurable, fatal STD." And I know that this is a group of people who, first of all, suffer from enough stigmatization, and secondly have enough to deal without worrying about a first-degree murder charge.

But in this man's case, omission is the key. And I find it untenable that someone who KNOWS they have this incurable, fatal STD would risk infecting someone else ON PURPOSE (allegedly). AIDS is not influenza (avian or other). It is not something that can be floating in the air or on a doorknob for hours after an infected person deposits it there. There is intent in that there are limited means to transmit this disease, and if you know you have it, you (should) know how to prevent someone else from getting it from you.

The whole debate makes me sad. Know why? Watch And the Band Played On, an excellent Historical Drama about the discovery of the AIDS epidemic and the political infighting of the scientific community hampering the early fight with it (courtesy IMDB). If people had just listened to Matthew "what-have-I-done-lately?"* Modine, and not been so concerned with prestige, homophobia (Regan), and "It doesn't affect me" syndrome, then maybe we really wouldn't have to worry about legal ethics like this.

And don't even get me started on Africa.

*Actually, quite a bit, but where are the baby-faced promo tours?


Note: I use the "alleged" tag so much because, I do believe in "innocent until proven guilty", in theory.

06 November 2005

Or maybe not

The man from upstairs called this afternoon. He's no longer interested in doing the switch.

"I'm too old to be moving. It's too much at this point in my life."

I feel bad. I think it's because I was forcing that timetable on him. But I really don't think he can expect me to live here all winter and then up and go because it's convenient for him. It's not fair to ask me to live here and not get settled; to live in a half-furnished space because I don't want to go moving furniture in and have to move it later; to live in limbo where I don't feel I can make my space... me. I didn't buy this condo to be a transitional home, I bought it to live in. If I'm not staying I should be able to go; if I am, I should be able to settle it as my own.

And then learn to share it.

I guess I feel bad because I know this man has limited options. Staying upstairs probably means that he'll have to give up his independence sooner. I could see how frail he was was he was looking around yesterday. He had to stop and lean against a wall or sit in a chair to take a rest. If he lived here, it would already be modified for him and he could probably live alone longer. I don't want to feel that I'm making his life more difficult by not giving him more time. After all, I'm young and have longer to sort things out. I'm afraid I'm somehow being selfish.

Truth be told, I don't know what he would have said if I hadn't mentioned a timeline. His decision could have nothing to do with the perceived pressure I exerted. Or his son could have talked him out of it after all.

I'm looking around my bedroom, and it's pretty bare. Dad hung my degrees on the wall, I have my Hello Kitty calendar next to my bed, and a framed print of a Théâtre de l'Opéra poster that Lew gave me for my birthday in high school or early university. My full-length mirror is leaning against the wall. My dresser is arbitrarily placed where Dad and Andrew put it down when I moved in. I have plastic storage shelves on one side of the bed, partially because there's nowhere else to put them. It's not an elegant room by any means, but I get to choose what it will look like. At some point, I will get to choose paint for it, and maybe I will ask for a wardrobe for Christmas, so I have lots of extra space to hang my clothes.

I'm sort of excited about this now.

And maybe in a year or two, the man upstairs will need to think seriously about changing his situation again. And if he's still reluctant to leave the building and the neighbourhood he loves, maybe we'll talk about it again.

I feel bad that we couldn't make it work, but I think I'm happy to just have a decision.

05 November 2005

Here I go again?

I'm moving!

Well, maybe.

There is an old gentleman upstairs, who is suffering from a number of ailments. Firstly, he suffered a stroke a few years back. Secondly, he suffered a heart attack shortly thereafter. Now, it seems, his spine is in collapse.

My first encounter with this man was mere days after I moved into my condo. He slipped a vaguely-worded note under my door asking me to call him. I did and he started this spiel about his new disability and understanding that the unit I owned was modified for wheelchair access, including a wheelchair ramp with ground-floor access to the outside.

A few weeks ago, he accosted my mother who was here helping me put up shelves, and he started in on her, too. After discussing it with my parents, I decided to go have a look.

Mom and I went up a few days later, and it's a nice place; almost identical to mine, but on the other side of the building. I started to get really excited about the idea, but then calmed down as I thought about the pro and cons of moving/staying.

This afternoon, the man and his grown son came down to look at my place. It was all going swimmingly until I mentioned the timeline.

In all my deliberations over whether I wanted to do this, I decided that I wasn't going to let this process go on forever. I have things I need to do in this place if I'm staying, like remodel the kitchen so I don't break my back while doing dishes. I'd like to have this done before Christmas because after that, it's January. And January is a terrible month to remodel. I also can't live with it the way it is. The counters are too low and the sink is awkward for me. Plus, I don't feel like I have a good space for preparing food.

The man doesn't seem comfortable with this timeline. I think he thought we could agree to it, but wait until spring to do the actual moving. I mean, really, in a way, it's about putting pressure on him so I'm not living in limbo until he makes up his mind.

But I do have sympathy. I know this can't be an easy decision for him to make. He's been living in the same unit for 22 years and is only moving because he's 83 and can't really manage stairs anymore. Our building doesn't have an elevator, and as I mentioned, I have a wheelchair ramp that opens to the parking lot.

His son seemed to think it was a good idea, but probably only because, if it's what his dad wants, it's better than his current situation. I don't think anyone in the family is trying to force him into a nursing home, but he needs a better situation.

I wonder, if the son had been more resistant to the idea, if the man would have been fighting harder. Reverse psychology and all.

For my part, I'm fine either way. I hate packing and moving, but his place affords a lot of nice features -- a screen door, a large balcony, normal kitchen. Staying means getting a dehumidifier, but I get to make the kitchen look how I want, and all my stuff is already here. I and make this place into what ever I want. :)

There are pros and cons to both. But really, unless I absolutely decide I don't want to do it, I just have to wait on him.

29 October 2005

Uninspired

I just ate 4 two-bite brownies. That's 8 bites.

I'm listening to the sound of my fingers typing and the dryer's steady, rhythmic hum.

A car alarm was going off a little while ago. I could hear my upstairs neighbour go to the window to see what was going on. It amused me because finding the source of the honking wasn't going to make it stop.

My neck hurts and I've been sitting up far too long for my "condition". I should be resting more, but lying flat is pretty boring.

I think I need a new dryer. The one I have works, but I'm approaching 1.5 hours to dry this one load. That seems a bit much to me. I just cleaned the lint trap (I hate this lint trap) so hopefully that will help.

I'm going to see Nikah tonight, which is exciting. I think it's been almost a year since I last saw her. She's having a Hallowe'en party. I'm going as a "Call Girl". It's not what you think. I'll try to get a picture and post it later.

Jenni has just informed me that she won't make brunch plans for tomorrow, so I am sad. I tried to book her early so she could make time for this, but I guess it's not going to happen. It was supposed to be her belated birthday present, and I had the perfect place in mind. Good food, but not too pricey. She says maybe next weekend, but next weekend isn't after payday. Hopefully I'll remember to save some. Lately everything extra I end up with goes straight on my credit cards.

I have no interest in seeing this new Zorro movie. I saw a scene from the last one on TV a while back, and it struck me as contrived. I feel that Disney should be able to do better. I think they're trying to piggyback on Pirates of the Carribean, because they've not had much success with their live-action movies of late. I think Antonio Banderas as the man with the mask is a bit too cliché. I guess he takes the parts that don't require too much effort so he can spend more time with Melanie Griffith. She used to be hot, so maybe I'd want to spend time with her too.

I want Everything is Illuminated to come, but I guess it must be too artsy, because Empire decided not to open it on any screens east of Ontario, I guess.

Here, Empire really is just that. Like a dictatorship. They have a monopoly on movie-going in NS, with the exception, I think, of a few independents in more rural areas. I don't think another megaplex would necessarily help, unless the theatres started actually bidding for different movies, instead of just fighting for more copies of the same movie. I guess the same problem exists with Canadian cinema, too. But I suspect, as I heard someone say on the radio, that marketing plays a huge part in that too.

Google Talk should be awesome, but it sucks. I don't understand why they didn't wait to give it some actual useful features before they released it. There are probably lots of people who would rather use it because it's not a Microsoft product, but they have a long way to go before they're on par. Part of the awesomeness would be that it's advertising-free, but it will be hard to convince people to switch from MSN. We are all indoctrinated.

I guess I will go get supper so I can get ready for the party. Happy Hallowe'en.

17 October 2005

Hey everybody, guess what!

I was rear-ended this morning.

Yes, it hurt. Yes, I am okay. My neck and shoulders are stiff and sore. I already saw my doctor and he has referred me to physio. I have an assessment tomorrow.

My car is driveable, but needs fixin'. The bumper needs a patch and paint, along with the read driver's side panel.

The other person was at fault because she hit me from behind.

I don't want to sue. I just want some assurance that this won't spike my auto insurance.

Sigh.

I was sent home by my doctor for rest and ice. Now I am bored.

15 October 2005

Addendum

The letter from Matt Good's Management Company:

07 October 2005

I Hear Matt Good's a Real Asshole

Or not.

...

So, Lani wins the Going for a Longshot award in the Friends category.

After my car was hit up for a smash-and-grab, Lani wrote an e-mail to Matthew good via his website. She told him about what happened to my car and about how my CDs were stolen. I'm not sure exactly what she said. I never saw the e-mail.

Anyway, that was back in August. Of course, months go by and you assume nothing will happen because Matthew Good is a rock star and a very busy man.

Yesterday, I got home from work early, because I had a doctor's appt mid-afternoon and didn't feel like going back.

When I checked my mail, there was a big package stuffed in the box that I had to yank and swear at to get it out. The mailperson obvious forgot that the hole to put mail in the box is bigger than the hole to take it out. It took some pulling, but it finally came.

I didn't recognize the return address. It was from somewhere in Toronto. My first thought was, "Did I sign up for something at the trade show in Toronto and give my home address instead of work?"

I sorted through the former tenents' mail first (if you ever more please pay to have your mail forwarded -- it is a pain in the ass for the new tenet, or they may just throw it out and then you'll get dinged on your credit card bill). Then I went at the package. It was something large inside a manilla envelope. I tore open the envelope with thoughts that my enemies had finally found me and I was about to meet my doom with a mail bomb.

Inside the manila envelope was a sealed, padded FedEx envelope. This is when I got the first glimmer that it might be something good. I poked at it and felt around to see if I coulf figure it out. I could discern two separate solid objects.

I grabbed the scissors and went at it. The first thing I saw was White Light Rock & Roll Review. That's when my jaw dropped open as seven -- count 'em SEVEN -- Matthew Good CDs tumbled out of the package.

Holy Shit!!

That's about all I could think for a while, so it took me that much longer to realize that, indeed, that were all SIGNED!!!

I was shaking, I started sweating, and I pranced around for a minute trying to figure out what I was supposed to do.

When my brain kicked in, I lept for the phone and called Lani's cell. It was only 3:20 in T-dot, but I thought I would be catching her after work. Not on. So, I called her apartment, waited impatiently for a dozen rings, then the painfully slow outgoing message before... BEEP!

I don't even know what I said. It was probably pretty frightening listening to it on Lani's end. I'm pretty sure I said "Holy shit" a whole lot. Maybe it was an out of body experience, because it felt like I was hearing my voice outside my head. After babbling for a few minutes I hung up and danced around again.

The I called Andrew and freaked out. Then I called Foo and freaked out. I think I told many of them that I was, in fact, "freakin' out." I really was.

I eventually found the note in the manila envelope that said that my friend Lani wrote about what happened, and here were some CDs to "help you out". :D

I called Steve from work (he's an MG fan, too) to share the news. He was appropriately impressed. He even called a friend to brag about what a nice guy MG is. :) One of the CDs I got is actually a duplicate. One of mine was spared pilfering because it was on my desk at home. Another copy was included in the package I got. Feeling generous, I offered him a duplicate. I really don't need two, and sice this was such an amazing nice thing, I wanted to share the wealth.

I wrote MG a letter thanking him for being so generous and kind. I sent Lani a million (L)'s on MSN, and a big mwah.

These CDs will NOT stay in my car. They will sit in the comfort and safety of my apartment. They will be photographed and catalogued against future attempts on their safety.

You know, these ones are more valuable to me than the ones he signed at his concerts. The ones he signed then were just for Girl #1 in line at his bus. First in a long line. These are ones he signed and sent to me specifically, at Lani's request. Even better.

THe only thing left to sort out now is what do I do with the CDs I boguht on eBay?

04 October 2005

I'm not an American, but i'm still a Democrat

You are a

Social Liberal
(60% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(18% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Democrat




Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

02 October 2005

Welcome to October

Today I have been in my condo for 3 weeks. It is still messy, although most of the dishes are done. I even did some laundry.

In some ways I still feel like I'm recovering from Heather's wedding last weekend. In others, I know it's way past time for me to get off my ass and start sorting out my own life.

The wedding was awesome. Definitely the best I've ever been to, although I think being somewhat involved and actually being good friends with the bride and groom helped. I wasn't the youngest person there, I wasn't the distant friend from out of town, and I even had a date.

The three most frustrating things that happened (in no particular order) were:

a) The limo broke down. It appears the the limo drive was just pulling out of his driveway to come get us when the limo died. We had a small panic. The limo company had a small panic. In the end they sent two town cars, which worked out well. It just didn't fit what we wanted, which was to all be in one car as a wedding party. We were late, and so the ceremony ran late, but it eventually worked out and meant less standing around after the fact.

b) My hairdresser sucked. Kelly, my regular hairdresser, was taking her salon to a Women in Business show, so I booked the bridesmaids into a neighbouring salon. I had a very clear idea of what I wanted done because Kelly had done it a few times before and Heather had actually asked that I do something similar. Kelly would have done it. The girl I had did not.
It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't quite what I wanted. And it definitely looked out of place from what the rest of the girls had, which made me sad. In retrospect, I should have just asked for something similar to what Jeannie and Jennetta were getting so the bridesmaids all matched. I didn't look terrible. We all referred to it as my "rock star hair." I just sort of wish that it had been a little more conventional.

c) It was cold. It was actually a lovely day, but as the sun started to go down, the wind came up, and we all stood in strapless dresses, being outside for wedding photos felt like a bad idea. I'm pretty sure my lips matched my dress (see above). I'm hoping they can airbrush that out.

But, considering that those were the three worst things that happened, I think the wedding went really well.

Heather and Mike looked so happy. Mom took this picture while they were having their First Waltz. Andy really came through as Best Man wit his speech and video. If he ever sends it, I'll try to post it for people to see, because it was seriouly an awesome project. He did a funny reenactment of when Mike and Heather first met using heads on sticks and quite a bit of creative license. For example, Mike doesn't really sound like Christopher Walken as mafia king.

The whole thing made me a little afraid of weddings. Being that close to the planning and seeing how much work it is made me a little nervous. It seems like a lot of stress for a few hours of benefit. But, being an event planner, I guess I understand. It just all seemed so crazy and seemed to go so fast. I never got to ask Heather if she was actually enjoying herself or if it was all just a blur. I've heard so many people say that -- and that's why videographers are essential now; people actually want to remember what happened.


The other strange/interesting/neat thing about Heather's wedding, was the "high school reuinion" aspect. Heather is a lot better at keeping in touch with her friends from high school, even though she's in a different place in her life. Heather is my only friend left from my high school, and Foo is the only other one left from my high school era (Kris doesn't count because, really, we're friends from pre-school). She didn't have a ton of high school friends there, but she invited quite a few more than I think I would if I were getting married now. Those are the six of us. Amanda, Krista, Heather (you know, the one in the wedding dress), Courtney, me, and Lindsay. Of all of them, Amanda and Heather would be the only ones I'd invite if I were getting married tomorrow. It's weird to even have conversations with some of them. Especially when you can pinpoint the end of the friendship with certain ones. So it was weirdto put all that aside and just talk. I guess weddings are as much of a reunion as a union. Well, the big ones anyway.

Maybe they aren't too much work after all.

21 September 2005

All cultures have lesbians

I saw a great film last night at the AFF called Saving Face. It was a comedy about a Chinese American lesbian who has been hiding her life from her family and community and it all starts to unravel when her widowed mother shows up on her doorstep, pregnant, having been kicked out of her father's house.

Hijinks ensue. Seriously, if you don't mind some hot girl-on-girl action, check it out. It's pretty funny, and the cast is really well chosen for their roles. Vivian makes me want to punch her, but the rest are all really engaging.

My point: There's a scene when the pregnant mother is being dressed down by her father. He goes on about what a disgrace she is, how her honour is ruined and how she has shamed the family. This is when I had my little epiphany. Obvious to many, but sometimes you need to put things in front of people to make them click.

Often people will point to certain religions as examples of oppresive behaviours toward women. Two that come to mind are extreme right-wing Christian groups and extreme Muslim groups. The former in Western society as advocates of the anti-abortion and anti-birth control movements, the latter in the Middle East as having regimes that keep women out of the workforce, and as the property of men (note: this is a basically another bastardization of the Koran/Qu'ran -- it doesn't say to keep your women locked up at home and you have to let people rape her if you do something wrong).

But, you know what? It's really everywhere. And it's not just based in religion. Even though Andrew and I even had a debate (which I won) about how Christianity (early Roman Catholic church) corrupted women's traditional role in (Western) society in favour of giving all the status and power to men. This is another debate for another time.

What struck me last night is that what happened to this pregnant mother is exactly what happened to the character Missy on Jack & Bobby. She was a minister's daughter. I think the presumption was supposed to be that he was evangelical, because they're the acceptable punching bag these days. Missy was not a "good little Christian"; she ahd sex. Then, she got pregnant. She originally blamed it on Jack because she knew he'd do the right thing (i.e., marry her). When the truth came out, "The Rev" kicked her out until she was absolved of her sin. Apparently, this means two things: a) get married; b) get rid of it. So, Missy got an abortion. (Much easier then labour and adoption, plus, c'mon, we're on a schedule people! We have to solve this before the season ends!)

The mother from Saving Face was offered similar choices. "Don't come back without a husband!" Her daughter and others ask her if she's going to keep it. The whole community knows the quandary: She's a whore if she keeps it, she's immoral if she gets rid of it, and without a husband, she's a dishonour to herself and her family.

Did I mention that this is a comedy? It really is. I swear!

My epiphany? Oh, yeah! Other cultures do this too. And it's not based in religious dogma.

It is still based in a women-as-chattel mentality that relegates us to "weaker sex" status, but living in a culture where all the arguments for limits to personal freedom and civil rights seem to be based in religious doctrine, I guess it's easy to forget that it's not the only reason for the battle.

I know a little about how the aforementioned extremist Muslim culture grew to push women down so much; about how women used to be prized as opposed a burden and a shame. I don't know how it evolved in Chinese culture (apart from scattered references in Mulan) or how prevalent it is contemporarily. I also don't know how it affects social debate (of which there is very little in a "Communist" dictatorship, I understand).

All I know is that, in the same way that Fire opened my eyes to homosexual struggles in India (in a much more tragic story), Saving Face reminded me that not all morals or values are institutionalized in religion.

Not bad for a comedy about some hot lesbian lovin'.

19 September 2005

I am sick

Because of my illness, I have little will to write anything. So instead I'll introduce you to Amelia.

15 September 2005

Moved in

I am officially living in my condo. I still have lots of cleaning and organizing to do, but most of that will have to wait. Some days the hot water works, some days it doesn't, but that will have to wait. Some days I love my kitchen, some days I'm ready to gut the whole thing, but that will have to wait.

Currently I am in WEDDING MODE. Lew is getting married next Saturday, and as a bridesmaid, I have much work. For example, the bachelorette is tomorrow night. Dinner, drinking, dancing. The usual fare. Plus some Lew-specific fun; GNI with movies and sugar.

I'm also taking two days off next week to help with anything I can. That will also include an appointment for underarm torture and eyebrow weeding. And, if I can squeeze it in, a manicure. I'd really like to go get a spray tan for my pasty skin, but they're expensive and I'm afraid of looking like a streaky blood orange. Jury's still out.

In the meantime, I'm going home to the parentals for supper and a needle.

10 September 2005

Almost done

In about 24 hours or so, I will be officially living in my condo.

I have groceries. I have some clothes. I can do laundry and even bake a cake (Hooray for PC Organic cake mix!).

And how do I feel about all this? Tired. Stressed. Run down. Frustrated. And topping the list: Scared.

And all I get from people is "How exciting!" etc., etc. Except my mother who says, "You're leaving tomorrow? Forever?"

Yes. And it is exciting. And in the very near future I will become more and more aware of how wonderful it is to be a grown-up, and how I will enjoy being able to do ____ when I feel like it, and how much better it will be to have a shorter commute to work, etc., etc.

Until then, I just want to wake up and have it all done. My room here cleaned out, and everything magically away and organized in my new space. I want my new blinds bought and mounted. I want actual furniture. I want to find my dishpan, drying rack, shower curtain, and tools. And then I want all the old unusable, crappy stuff I own to magically organize itself into piles for my to sell at a yard sale.

Until then, I have laundry to do and pack.

I'm tired.

08 September 2005

Career remorse

Yesterday I discovered that I missed my chance to get my dream job by 30 minutes.

I had been talking to Amanda the night before and she said they were still posting term positions on the HRSB website and that I should check them out.

Bad idea.

There was a position posted for Grade 10 English, Drama, and Canadian History. It was a 100% full-year term position. I know I would have got it because I haev all the qualifications. Okay, so my history isn't the strongest, but I took lots of courses in university, and it's Canada! I think I could figure it out. At the very least, I could rent Canada: A People's History and base my course on that!!

I checked at 3:30, the job closed at 4. I didn't have a resume ready to post. And I accepted my current job a month ago. I felt so boxed in. Besides the fact that I work with my father, I'm prominently placed for a bunch of upcoming projects that I really want to work on. I don't want to shoot myself in the foot now.

But with all the kids (and some of my teacher-friends) going back to school this week, I'm feeling a little bit of remorse. A little bit of questioning. Should I have stuck it out longer? Should I have tried the subbing thing for more than a few months? How bad would it have been?

I know that I would have learned to hate teaching if I was stuck subbing for a long time, but I don't know how long "long" is.

So, today I am a little sad about that missed opportunity and wondering what I would have done if I'd seen that posting sooner. I know it's a pointless exercise, but I don't think it's a surprising reaction.

02 September 2005

Let me clarify

Moving out is great. Moving SUCKS.

I hate packing. I hate unpacking. I dislike big cleaning jobs. I dislike upfront organizing. I prefer to organize an already established mess.

My furniture is in. What I own, anyway. I have a bed. I have a dresser. I have a chair and ottoman (from IKEA!). I have a kitchen table and chairs. That's it. I do have a desk, but it's in MB, and I don't know when it'll get moved up.

Dad has a lead on some other furniture, which is great. The downside is that it will almost exactly match my carpet. Dad says I should just suck it up and live with it, which I will do for a while. But eventually, I want my condo to look like a home, not a dorm.

I'm obsessed with renewable energy now. I keep thining about solar panels and wind turbines. I know they're expensive up front, but I can't understand why more people don't use them, including our illustrious power corporation, who whine constanly about needing rate hikes so they can afford to buy more oil and coal. Hey. Stupid. They keep getting more expensive because they're running out.

I'd love for my condo corp to decide to invest in solar power. I think it would be a great investment. It's pricey up front, but if we get enough panels, we could sell power back to the grid and actually make money. Just think of the cost and energy savings!!

I think I'm going to look at some energy efficient and eco-friendly things I can do. When I live in w/v, I had this stuff called Ecogent. It was a biodegradable cleaning product. As far as I could tell, it worked just fine. And I understand that vinegar is amazing, too.

So, current predictions have me moving in completely a week from Sunday. Dad's going away next weekend and Mom doesn't want to be alone the whole time. She'll help me get set up, figure out what staples groceries I need, and (hopefully) organize my kitchen.

In the meantime, I plan on relaxing for most of the long weekend. It's supposed to be sunny and warm. Perfect conditions for being lazy. :D

01 September 2005

gft5yn

I've added a fun new feature. I haven't been comment spammed yet, but Andrew was recently, and I'd like to avoid it.

30 August 2005

What fun!

If you Google worst president, take a look at what the first result is. Ha, ha, ha!

26 August 2005

Magic of the Mighty Leaf

"Since ancient times, a freshly brewed pot filled with
whole tea leaves has been revered as the richest in character.
Today we proudly continue the tradition. Our handcrafted silken
pouches are packed with our artisan blends of whole tea leaves,
fruits, herbs, spices and flavours too big for ordinary tea bags.
Enjoy the liberation of pure tea goodness and rediscover the
pleasure of the way tea was naturally meant to be."

18 August 2005

I want to party!

For the past few years, Ryan B. has had a birthday party at his cottage. This year, no one has heard any indication that it's going head. Well, not in my circles, anyway. I'm disappointed. I've always like Ryan's parties. The first one was cool because of the bonfire. The second one was fune because I hadn't seen a lot of people in a while. The third one was fun because, well, frankly, that's where I met Andrew. I think Iremember that better than he does, since he spent most of the night wildly intoxicated. Oh, I also spent a lot of time telling Todd that he is a cool person, and that there's nothing freakish about him that keeps women away from him. I still think he should get a haircut.

I suppose I'll get over it if it turns out he's really not having one, or that he's decided not to invite me. But it's always fun, a chance to see people I don't normally see anymore, and it's on a lake.

I always manage to somehow get through the whole day/night without peeing so I won't have to use the outhouse. That's a feat.

Rick said he'd call Jamie to find out. I wish I still had Ryan's number. I'd call him myself.

16 August 2005

It's not my fault

This guy has an interesting theory as to how men and women get along. I think it's a little misogynistic. Do you agree?

14 August 2005

This sucks

I have a cold. Summer colds are the worst. At least in the winter it makes sense to stay inside, keep warm, and moan all day. In the summer it's just a waste. I woke up shortly after 7 am with a sore throat and a stuffy nose. It's not a surprise. It's been coming for a couple of weeks and I've been using herbal remedies to stave it off as long as possible. But now that my weekend events are over, I guess I don't have a choice.

My plan for today is to do lots of cooking that will afford me lots of homemade frozen meals to keep me nourished for a couple of days, at least. However, it's after noon and I'm still in my pjs. I actually planned to do all this yesterday, but didn't get out of my pjs until 4:30 pm. I did manage to get to the grocery store, but that was the sum total of my productivity.

I don't feel like bathing. I don't feel like concentrating. I feel like going back to bed. If I can get one dish in the oven, I will consider myself a productive member of society. Then I'll reward myself with more sleep.

What makes me really sad is that it will be worse tomorrow and I can't stay home from work because I have two deadlines in two days, and I haven't started either.

I think the cold is my punishment for procrastinating.

12 August 2005

No more

I've decided to scrap the pseudonyms. Everyone who reads this knows who everyone is anyway. In fact, if you go back through my archives, I will eventually be removing all the old ones too.

Yup. I'm that bored.

10 August 2005

Interesting, methinks

Yesterday I heard an interview with a former US Attorney General who is now a leading civil rights activist who is advising Saddam Hussein's new lawyer (after his family fired his international legal team of 1500).

He thinks the war in Iraq is bullshit (my term -- he calls it "false premises"). Even without "WMDs", the US have a flimsy case at best. Invading a country to install democracy is about as legitimate as invading a country to spread Islam or Communism or Buddhism or kitty-worship in the eyes of the people who believe it's right about everything else. It's not a legitimate argument.

I'm paraphrasing.

I'm not writing to make an argument for or against the war in Iraq and it's motivations, but I think he speaks of a perspective that I've wanted to put into words, but didn't know how to form the thought.

Hear Ramsey Clark's full interview here.

04 August 2005

I was starting to like Wednesdays...

Now, not so much.

Two weeks ago (a Wednesday), I was finally offered full-time permanency at work. Salary, benefits, the works. I was more scared than excited, but I'm really happy about it now. I worked some unpaid time so I could get some day's off for Lew's upcoming wedding, then I'll get two weeks paid vacation every year! Whoo!! Not quite the summers off I would have had teaching, but still: Whoo!!

Last week (Wednesday) I bought a condo. I put the offer in on Tuesday, they countered, and I accepted. I close on August 22nd, but probably won't get in there completely before September. Maybe by the long weekend. It's a two bedroom, with a full bath, kitchen, dining room, and living room. I have a free parking space and a much shorter commute. I'll even be able to take the bus if I want!

Now originally, these two happy Wednesday incidents were supposed to make up the bulk of a fabulous, exciting post about how I'm going to start living an adult life.

Then yesterday (Wednesday) happened.

It was a day like most others. I was bored at work, and played an addictive game called High hat. I was supposed to leave at 4 to get measured for my bridesmaid dress for Lew's wedding, but she called in the morning and asked if we could postpone until Monday. I was fine with that.

Except it ended up allowing what follows to happen.

I left to go down to my car at about 4:45. I'm on the 8th floor of an office building that sits on top of a 5-floor parkade. I had 13 floors to get through on the elevator to 'A' level where my car was parked. I know what you're thinking, "Oh, no! She got stuck on the elevator!" Nope. Worse. By far.

As I approached my car, I saw glass on the ground. I looked around for the source of the glass and was dismayed to discover that it was from my car. Someone had broken the vent window on the driver's side rear door. Normally, there's virtually nothing in my car all day while I'm at work, thought I occasionally leave stuff in there without a second thought.

Yesterday, I had a grocery bag with two pairs of sneakers and a backpack in the back seat because I was planning on staying at deadwriter's that night. Whoever broke in, opened the back door lock to get in, took my back pack (left the $200 worth of sneakers), opened the front door lock, and went in the front seat to root around. They took the head-set for my cell phone, which was folded up on the ash tray, but they left all the change in the cupholder. They opened the glove compartment, but didn't take anything (not my registration, not my restaurant coupon book, not my SPARE KEY). At first, I was so baffled by what they took and left behind that I didn't notice the most obvious (and most upsetting) thing until much later.

I called my dad and he came down with me. I called the parkade security and they came to take pictures and get a statement. I called the police and filed a report with them (required in the event that I charged the repairs through my insurance).

It wasn't until all this was over and I drove home that I discovered the true cost of the break in. I don't care if that sounds over-dramatic. It's the worst thing they could have done. They stole my CDs.

I think there were about 14 of them in my car. About half were mixed CDs made by either deadwriter or me. Then there was the good stuff. The latest Duran Duran that Mom gave me last Christmas, the Matt Mays CD Lew gave me two years ago at Christmas and the worst of all... 6 of my 7 signed Matthew Good CDs.

Needless to say (though I'll say it anyway), I'm upset. I probably cried for close to two hours last night. I feel more confused than violated. And extremely disappointed that I have no way of replacing them. The only one I didn't lose is the second-oldest that I got the Christmas before he came in May 2004 (see #5). That's when I got this picture taken.

I don't have a way to properly convey my heartbreak.

The other CDs I'll get over. Even the one's deadwriter gave me (sorry, d) because I know he'll keep making CDs for me because he loves me. But the CDs aren't just the music, they remind me of the experience. Of the first time I saw him live in Vancouver. Of that time on the Hill when he played a grand total of 6 songs and I got kicked in the nose in the mosh pit. Of 2 nights in a row at the shows in May to hear him, and to wait outside his bus to get all my CDs signed, plus my ticket stub for a co-worker who couldn't go, plus going back the next night not just to hear his music, but also because I was stupid and needed another chance to bring my camera so I could get a picture. And then October when I just had the one CD (his latest).

I could write about this all night, but I won't. I'm sad. And some people are stupid and I hope bad things happen to them. Because I'm not perfect, but I don't think I deserved this. :(

27 July 2005

Technological Advances

Gotta get me one of these.

22 July 2005

Don't drink and...

I worked again this past weekend. I brought Andrew along for the ride. While I worked, he wandered and worked on his novel. Despite some logistical things, the weekend went well, but I won't bore anyone with the details of that.

The fun started after the work ended. On the drive home Sunday, Andrew asked if we could stop and he would show me the camp where his family went every summer while he was growing up. They went through their church, so I was a little nervous about going. He assured me that there would be no one there because the camp was only open a couple of times a year, and if anyone was there, he wouldn't know any of them. I'm not afraid of strangers. I can generally hold my own. My main concern was snap judgments about what kind of person I am because of my outfit. It was hot on Sunday and I dressed for the weather. I was wearing a low-cut tank top and some shorts.

You know where this is going. Not only were there many people at the camp, but a sizeable number of deadwriter's extended family was there, too. I met his grandmother, three cousins, and an in-law. All of whom took a pointed look at my breasts upon introduction. Lovely.

His grandmother was very nice, though. She offered us cookies and squares and water. She and Andrew talked for a little while and it was nice, but I felt uncomfortable. And family members kept coming in to say "hi" and to look at my boobs.

We didn't stay very long. I just wasn't comfortable so I asked if we could leave. And that's when things got scary.

We turned out of the driveway of the camp to head back to the highway. We only got a few feet around a curve when I saw something coming toward me. It was a guy on a dirt bike. In my lane. deadwriter says there was a van in the oncoming lane that the dirt bike guy must have been passing, I didn't see it.

I slowed down , and paused, waiting for him to shoot back into his own lane but it didn't happen. I slowed down some more and tried to decide whether I should swerve. I decided against it, and good thing, because we both would have swerved in the same direction.

He skidded off to my right, slid through gravel (on his arm), went nose first into the ditch and flipped off his bike, head first.

I pulled over to the side of the road and stopped to see if he was okay. As we approached, he got up (sans helmet) and walked back to his bike. He pulled it upright and started inspecting it. I called out to see if he was okay, but he didn't answer. He had his back to us, so I called out again. We stood there for a minute, then Andrew and I headed back toward the car.

Up the road a few feet, a woman and her daughter emerged from a driveway. She asked if he was okay and I said, "I guess so. He's up but he wouldn't answer when I asked.

The woman, obviously disgusted, said, "He's been doing this all weekend. Him and his friends, I guess." By "this" I figure she meant tearing up and down the road at dangerously high speeds, weaving in and out of cars.

We all turned back to look at the man. He was walking towards us unsteadily.

"Are you okay? Do you want me to call an ambulance or a friend?"

Apparently he apologized a couple of times, but I don't remember that part -- deadwriter told me.

"Can you give me a lift up the road?" he asked.

I hesitated, looking at his bloody arm and elbow, thinking about my car's upholstery, wondering if he would be able to get in and out without bleeding all over it. I know it's a completely selfish thought, but I was annoyed. He did something stupid and dangerous and I didn't want to take responsibility for him. Still, I agreed.

The woman gave me a surprised look and then walked back down her driveway with her daughter. The man, Andrew, and I all got in my car (I wouldn't have let him if I'd been alone) and he told me where he was going. The second he sat in the car, I could smell it: beer. He was loaded. I don't know if that's why he was doing stupid things like passing on a curve, but that's probably why it took him so long to react when he saw me.

It was only a two-minute ride up the road. I guess we dropped him off at a buddy's house. There was a guy standing out front who he went to talk to when he got out. I turned around and drove off, but stopped up the road at a school to see the damage to my back seat. There was blood all over the car door by the handle, and a spot on the back of the seat. I took a bottle of water that deadwriter had and used tissue to blot at the stains. As I was cleaning up the blood, the man's buddy went by on a four-wheeler with another guy. They probably went to find the dirt bike. Andrew said the fuel tank had ripped off completely, so they'd probably have to get something to tow it back.

I kept thinking (and still sort of do) that I should have called the police. I don't know what they would have said or done, or if they could even do anything. I think I would have had to call before I drove him home.

I was really freaked out and grossed out. I am not a fan of other people's blood. Especially strangers. After I got my car cleaned up, we headed back to the highway and I stopped at a Tim Horton's. I went in to the washroom and washed my hands twice.

I kept thinking about all the things that could have happened. He could have snapped his neck and died; he could have hit my car and flipped off; he could have hit my car and come through the windshield; he could have slid under my car; I could have swerved and hit the van; there could have been a pedestrian walking down the road (as deadwriter says is entirely possible with the camp right behind us, and a store just down the road). I think we were all really lucky. But I'm afraid that he didn't learn his lesson, that he thinks he'll just have to be "more careful" next time. I just hope it takes him a long time to get his bike fixed.

14 July 2005

It's not the city, it's the weather

I've heard a lot of complaints about the weather lately, and sometimes I don't get it. Yes, sometimes I'd like a hot sunny day. But it's not 35 below, and that's good enough for me.

I try to make a point of not complaining about the weather (unless I have hypothermia/heat stroke). I can't control it. No one can. What I do on Tuesday has nothing to do with what's going to come out of the sky on Friday. You can't make the sunshine by thinking happy thoughts (or as is often the case complaining fiercely and without cessation).

People are so used to being able to control every aspect of their lives that we just can't accept that such a huge factor is entirely out of our hands. We can plan a camping trip or a day at the beach, pack food, sunscreen, bug spray, related gear (tents, towels, etc.), load it in the car the night before; but no amount of intricate planning can change the fact that a low pressure system has been circulating for days and it's going to rain. Or the day that you plan to spend indoors sorting your over-stuffed closet or reorganizing your cupboards is the day that the thermometer tops out at 38 degrees including all that disgusting humidity that makes movement painful and sticky.

I watch The Weather Network a lot. It's quite possibly my favourite channel. Reality TV in its purest form, if you will. If it weren't for the physics, I might have enjoyed being a meteorologist (psst! not everyone on TV who talks about the weather is a meteorologist -- increasingly there are more weather reporters). I like knowing how the weather works. I like knowing how storms are formed, that hail is generally a summer weather phenomenon, how the environment is affected by the weather and vice versa. Stupid as it may sound, I think this understanding has make me a lot less hostile toward the elements. Maybe in part because it doesn't surprise me. The only thing I want to hear more in the morning than the news is the weather.

I live in a temperate climate. Basically it means that we don't have huge swings in temperature. 15 might feel cold compared to 20 when the temperature drops at night, but it's nothing compared to life in the desert. "The southwest coast around Cape Sable is frost free for over half the year, longer than any other place in Atlantic Canada ... Winter temperatures are moderate along the coast ... The most significant aspect of winter is the marked day-to-day variation caused by the alternation of Arctic and maritime air ... Summers are relatively cool ..." (courtesy Environment Canada). All that moisture that makes it foggy and misty so much of the year is the same moisture that makes it bearable to live without air conditioning and makes it possible to actually have an outdoor life in the winter.

Sure, I hate shovelling heavy, wet snow as much as the neighbour, but I also like my 50% chance of a white Christmas. And occasionally we may get a hurricane, but we're generally free of the disastrous weather systems that result in multiple deaths and billions of dollars in rebuilding costs. Our floods don't kill dozens, we don't have high enough mountains to cause deadly mudslides, we're too close to water to experience massive drought, we don't have enough flat, open land to nurture tornados.... See where I 'm going with this?

I should mention that I'm almost positive that I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). For the past few years, by the time February rolls around, I'm pretty much in a constant bad mood. So it's not that the weather doesn't affect me at all. It's just that I'm starting to chose how much.

It 22 degrees and sunny now. I'm inside, but my office has a window.

12 July 2005

Cherish your enemies

People seem to enjoy vilifying others, especially those trying to be helpful.

My most vivid experience with this was in grade 12. I had a group of girlfriends and we hung out all the time. We had "Girls Night In" (GNI) where we'd rent movies, eat candy and order garlic fingers. Sometimes it was a chance to reconnect after spending too much time with our adolescent boyfriends; usually it was just a chance to be silly and girly.

Around October of that year, I remember becoming concerned about one of the girls. She ate like a bird, and exercised obsessively. I thought, "There's no way that's healthy." She would sometimes disappear to the bathroom immediately after eating.

What really struck me though, was in February when she participated in a Fashion Show/Modeling competition. I went with two other girls and the first this I noticed when she came out on stage was her knees. They were huge knobs in the middle of her legs. It looked abnormal.

I talked to some of the other girls about it. Some were skeptical, others suspicious. We all agreed to keep a weather eye.

By June, the signs (2 pages) were everywhere. The one I remember most clearly is standing at the bus stop one morning in early June. It was sunny; no one was wearing a jacket; we were all getting excited about summer and freedom. This girl, though, was wearing a wool sweater, earmuffs, and knit gloves. I also remember her mentioning how much hair would come out when she brushed it in the mornings.

After that day, a bunch of us gathered in my car after school and discussed what (if anything) we should do. Should we confront her? How? When? High school was going to be over in days. Was it worth the fuss to talk to her now?

In the end we decided to wait and talk to her after prom. There was no point in creating an uncomfortable situation for the sake of a few days.

Long story short: The day after prom, one of the girls went to the supposed-anorexic's parents and told her our suspicions. Then she left them to deal with the aftermath.

The story I heard was that the girl's parents confronted her with the information when she got home from a run. Only one of us have spoken to her since.

Now, I certainly don't approve of the snitch's method of dealing with the problem, but this is a common story.


People who express concern for other's well-being are often turned into the enemy. I'm sure I've done it, though I can't come up with a specific example (feel free to enlighten me, but be fair and just). Still, I see it all the time.

It's easy to forget that we're fallible; that we're often blind to our faults and mistakes. And then someone points them out to us. Conversely, we're sometimes hyper-aware and turn resentful when someone points them out.

So when someone says to you, "I'm concerned because..." it's so easy to turn on them and call him/her an asshole/bitch; to accuse them of not understanding or being judgmental. I've seen friendships end, my own friendships included, because of misguided pride and lack of insight. I say this a lot, it's not that people know better than you, it's that they have a different perspective because they're not you. In the long run, they may not be right, but that doesn't make their concern/advice/perspective any less valid. And I don't think that it's a good reason to treat them like shit. Exceptions do occur when the critic is callous and rude, or inconsiderate of feelings, but your own sensitivity can contribute to viewing it that way.

If all your friends are Yes-men, then they aren't real friends because they're not being honest with you.


Looking back, I don't know that our friendship with the anorexic (she later sought counseling for the disease) would have survived if we had staged a many-on-one intervention. It might have made her feel even more hostile towards us. If she got better, I wonder if she does appreciate that "telling on her" might have been the turning point -- more because I wonder what made her admit to her illness, not because I'm looking for credit.

Lani said something in a comment to a post Robyn wrote: "I want to be the "change" that a particular student needs in their life." When I first read it, I thought it sounded a little selfish, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. She wants to help students become better people -- to see their potential, to make choices that are good for them, instead of because it's what everyone else is doing. She's like that in her life outside work too. And that's how I want to be.

It sucks to think that there will always be people who turn me into the bad-guy because of that.

08 July 2005

This makes me more sad

Not everyone has a direct link to what happened in London, so posts like this really make me pause.

In all the years I went to church, I don't ever remember someone telling me to launch violent attacks on others to "spread the word". In the same vein, I don't like hearing the media refer to terrorists as "Islamic militants/extremists". I think it sends the wrong message about the religion -- even with the caveat adjectives. "Not all Muslims, just the crazy ones." Shut up.

I don't remember anyone calling the IRA "Catholic extremists". I think it creates psychological divisions that keep the general public from seeing the humanity in others.

Whenever a London/British official talked of the "innocent public lives lost", I felt sad. The I realized the irony and felt even more sad for civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Don't people realize the links. I'm not saying that any attack is justified; it's not. But let's not pretend we exist in a vacuum, either.

My heart goes out to everyone who suffers from the aftermath of violence.

06 July 2005

That makes me sad

I just heard that London won the 2012 Summer Olympics. I am saddened. I wanted Paris to win. I'd like to go to the Olympics some time, and I thought that a combined vacation to Paris would be a nice treat. Time to reschedule my plans.

04 July 2005

Temporary relief

A real weekend.

I had three whole days off, and it was bliss. I'd like some more, please.

I worked every weekend in June (as anyone who talked to me heard repeatedly), so it was nice to be relatively obligation-free.

Thursday night I was supposed to go to see Mir in a tent on the waterfront. I tried to get a bunch of people together to go, but either they weren't available, or didn't want to pay the $12 cover. Defeated, I just went home. deadwriter got season 1 of Smallville on DVD from the library, so we watched a couple of episodes of that instead.

Friday was a gloomy day. I was hoping to get more people together for Canada Day fireworks, but by mid-afternoon, they were postponed due to the weather. deadwriter and I watched more Smallville, had supper and walked to the video store to rent some movies. It really turned into a movie weekend. First we watched Kinsey, a bio-pic about the man who brought sex out of the bedroom and into the scientific realm. It was entertaining. Living after the "sexual revolution", I guess it's easy to forget that sex used to be off limits as a topic of conversation, let alone a recreational activity (see the double entendre?). Some parts of the movie did annoy me, and the reivews I read when the movie came out in theatres had me searching for a plot line that just wasn't really a factor, which frustrated me, but it was much better than our 2nd choice for the weekend....

Saturday, I went to a wedding with Lani. It was of a girl we were in Ed. with. Lani was invited as the flute player in a flute & violin duet. They played before and during the ceremony and it sounded lovely. They also played at the reception for an hour or so. We had dinner and listened to all the speeches, but we didn't stay much longer after that. We didn't really know many people there, and were mainly just there so Lani could play. The groom's brother spent a few minutes flirting with Lani and trying to get her to go on the post-reception pub crawl, even offering the use of his hotel room if she needed a place to crash. How sweet. I was pretty glad to get out of there, though. I met a couple of people who were very nice and inclusive, but I mostly felt out of place.

After the wedding, Andrew and I watched our second rented movie, Ocean's Twelve. Oh, my poor brain. It was terrible. The first movie was so... cool. It oozed cool. The characters were cool, the plot was cool, the action was cool. This movie was so... dumb. It practically vomited dumb at every turn. The characters were dumb (and totally lacking in depth or motivation), the plot was dumb (and didn't really appear until mid-way through), the action was dumb (and cheesy -- the graphics were so bad in one scene, I thought they might have been trying to make it suck). We had been hoping that it would be an exciting movie that would liven up the evening. Instead I begged to turn it off at about midnight because it was making me sleepy.

For some reason, it wasn't painful enough, so we actually finished it off Sunday morning. I'm not sure what we were thinking. I kept hoping it would redeem itself, but it just never happened.

I went swimming with Foo in the afternoon. We went out to Tea Bag Lake, so called because of the colour of the water. It was lovely. The sun finally came out, the air was warm and the water refreshing. We (plus deadwriter) had a lovely, healthy supper of salad and samosas chez Foo, then we all met up with Rick to see Batman Begins on Imax. It was large. Entertaining, but not perfect, i.e., if you build a machine that vapourizes water instantly, then wouldn't humans vapourize too, since we're 50-70% water? Major plot flaw. Oh, and what about all those puddles on the street? Aren't they water? I certainly hope so....

Still, it certainly made me forget about Ocean's Twelve and gave me some faith that sequels can be good, not just studio sludge churned out to capitalize on consumers' continuous vulnerability in believing that as much effort is put into the follow-up as in the original. A sad misconception.

That was a long sentence. Microsoft Word's grammar assistant would have made me chop it up.

That was pretty much my weekend. I'm off this coming weekend, too, which is an extension of fantasticness. Also, new summer work hours have me off at noon on Fridays!! It will be a pay cut (until they determine my salary), but I think it will be worth the bit of extra sanity I'll glean as a result. Robyn can expect a visit very soon.

I guess that's it for the weekend. I'd like to do Martini Monday tonight, and I guess there are some fireworks in the Basin, too. It'll depend on who's available, willing and able. But it's summer and I want to have fun!

28 June 2005

In the mix

It's Tuesday.

This is a short week because Friday is Canada Day. I may make it even shorter. I am spinning my wheels with very little I can actually work on right now. It seems like everything I was doing has gone into someone else's hands, so I'm left here waiting for decisions.

This time a year ago, I was in sunny Prague, on a wonderful vacation with my family. I'm starting to realize how limited my travel options are about to become. I'm looking for a condo right now, because I want to move out in the fall. Living at home is wearing a little thin, especially when home is 25 minutes away from everything I do and everyone I know. I have a car, so it's not a huge deal, but it definitely limits my spontaneity.

Sunday I met my cousin for lunch. She was in town for work and it was out only chance to connect. Afterward, I met Foo and we discussed our options. She suggested swimming or a movie -- something to escape the humidity. But my bathing suit was at home in the 'burbs, so that limited our options to one. We saw Madagascar, which was entertaining, but I think I would have preferred to be doing something active. So, I either need to carry a bathing suit and towel with me at all times, or I drive an hour round trip to get what I need. And I can't afford the commute.

Back to travel. I want to go to Italy. I don't even know what I want to do or see there, but I want to see it. I've heard great things about it from my parents and Lani. Nayana's interested in going, and it wasn't too hard to convince Andrew that it could be fun. It's the money, though. And moving out is going to affect that a lot. Everyone tells me that I won't be able to travel once I'm on my own. I don't know if I believe them. I know it will be difficult, and take longer to save up the money, but why shouldn't I be able to? It's what I want to do with my money.

I can see how being an adult is difficult, and a lot of hard work, but that doesn't mean it can't be fun.

26 June 2005

Me neither

Very articulate, Mr. Good.

24 June 2005

Here's how it all ends

So, after many hours of seething, wandering around not getting anything accomplished, sucking at the report I was trying to write and getting chastised for the suckiness, going for a walk to "soothe" my unquiet mind, I got an e-mail. From the SC prez.

"Can you call the caterer and ask them about...?"

Yes, I agree with your reaction. WHAT?!?!

Deep breaths. Deep breaths. In. Out. In. Out.

I made the call.

I am many things, but stupid, doormat, or schmuck are not labels I would generally apply to myself when someone launches verbal projectile vomit in my direction. Generally, I react right away, and I was surprised at my self-restraint when I was being attacked. But the powers that be intervened and gave me this wonderful opportunity to come out on top.

This is how it went:

I waited an appropriate amount of time before making the call. Then I waited until the SC prez was alone in her office. I walked up, knocked on her open door and waited for an invitation to come in.

I sat down, and said, "I made the call and got the information you requested, but before I tell you, we need to get a few things straight."

I listed my demands:
a) Not barging into my cubicle and verbally abusing me. "You are not my boss. I am not your employee. I don't consider that appropriate under any circumstances (she does it to her staff all the time) but you and I are essentially equals, and that will not happen again."
b) Respecting that I have other work to do. "I told you twice that I was on a deadline for my boss and asked that you come back later. It was inappropriate for you to not respect when I'm working on something, and unfair that you wouldn't give me a chance to defend myself when I refused to engage you at the time."
c) Not calling me a liar. "Maybe there was a miscommunication, or misinformation, but I did not intentionally mislead you. I am not a liar, and if you want anything accomplished from me, you will not accuse me and then expect me to work with you."

She interrupted a lot, but I kept going. I kept my voice calm and stuck to my guns.

And she apologized. She admitted to being wrong about the first two, said she didn't think I was a liar and apologized for "accidentally implying" that I was kicked off the Social Committee. She asked if I was still going to help with set up for the staff summer party.

I did. And not because I'm a big masochistic sucker, but because I really did want to help.

I will be limiting my involvement in the SC for the duration of her term (end of March, or April). But I'm going to stay involved because I like it. I like finding ways to make the office fun.

The party was last night and it went well. The game we had planned got screwed up, so it was a little frustrating. But I ate lobster, drank lots and feel fine today (a day off!) so I consider it a success.

23 June 2005

I really don't invite this stuff

Yesterday was quite the day.

I was fired for the second time in my life.

The first was from working at a major office supply box store for something I wasn't responsible for. I didn't really like the job, but it sucked.

Yesterday I was fired from volunteering.

I'm on the Social Committee at work. I was asked to join in the winter, even though my job at the time was tenuous at best. I was happy to oblige. It sounded like fun.

Well, a few weeks ago a new SC president was chosen by acclamation (no one else ran). She's more of a despot than a committee leader. She consuults us nominally, and then goes ahead and does what she wants anyway.

For example, after weeks of complaining about the cost of out summer party meal, she decided to offer everyone free drinks (even though we don't have the budget for it). She also "agreed" that hiring a dj would be too expensive, but rented a stereo system, instead of letting someone lend their own.

Yesterday was 6 days past the deadline for our catering contract to be renewed. After asking her to send it in, I finally went ahead and did it myself. I have a good relationship with these people, they were cutting us a deal, and I wasn't about to let this woman's incompetence ruin that.

So, I faxed it off (which was well in my authoirty since I was the contracty contact), and sent the committee an e-mail to that effect.

I got an e-mail back from the SC prez, demanding how I could do that without consulting anyone/giving her notice/etc. I wrote bck outlining the WHOLE process of the contract, includng the numerous times I'd asked for her input.

Shortly thereafter, she burst into my cubicle, accused me of being a liar, and proceeded to rip me a new asshole (which, as I understand from Robyn, is quite unpleasant). I wasn't listening, though. I had headphones on and was working on a deadline for Don. I asked her twice to come back when I was done to talk about it. She said, "No. You're done. We don't need you." And stormed off.

Pause.

YYYYYYYEEEEEEAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGH!!!! (internally)

Part 2 to follow.

20 June 2005

This is true

And well-written.

How to Blog.

Courtesy of Tony Pierce, via Raspberry Sundae.

17 June 2005

I'm on Matthew Good's blog!!!!

No one would know it was me, unless they knew who I am.

A few days ago he asked fans to send in pictures from his shows. I sent in a bunch from his show here at the now-defunct M.C. in May 2004 (the 2nd of his two shows I attended). He used on of my stage shots, and the one Red took after the show when I was getting his autograph at his bus after the show.

When I checked to see if he had posted anything, I saw MY picture as the sample next to Fan Photos.

Check me out!!

08 June 2005

Life is Short

You know, at 26, I can't exactly claim that life is rushing by, but I am suddenly aware of the fact that it's almost mid-June.

My grandfather, at 88 + 1 day moved into a nursing home. He made the decision himself because he finally realized that he's not up to doing it all on his own. I went up the weekend of the move to help. The old house (that he built himself) essentially looked the same as it did on my last visit 6 years ago (bad granddaughter), but as Mom and I were cleaning, it was obvious thta this was not the house my grandmother (who died in 1996) kept. Things were getting worn and frayed, the vacuuming wasn't done, the laundry was done rarely, the fridge was scarcely stocked with low-quality foods. It made me sad that this is what it came to for him. Granny cooked grand meals -- mostly with boiled root vegetables, but she didn't skimp on anything.

It has occured to me that this didn't happen because Grandad is lazy or it's "just old age". It snuck up on him. One minute he was 23 and getting married, then he had 3 grown children, then he retired, then he had grown grandchildren.... Blink -- you're 88.

He was married for almost 55 years. And then he was alone. He didn't want to leave his house, his community, his church. He was comfortable where he was. And then it snuck up on him again. "I can't do this anymore."

And he shouldn't have to. After 88 years, he deserves to have someone cook for him, and help him with cleaning and laundry. The sooner he lets someone do this for him, the longer he'll be around.

I've been joking that I want to sign up for a home now, but in reality there's too much I want to do with my life.

I'm trying to learn to let go of the crap that's happened. I'm trying to be mindful of other people's feelings. I'm trying to relax and not fret over things I can't control (ha, ha). I know I can't do it all, I know I'll backslide all the time. But I know I need to do these things to make me happy.

Life is what happens when you're making other plans. I don't want to spend so much time planning that I miss the important moments; like sitting on the couch with deadwriter watching TV, talking and laughing with Foo, reading an e-mail from Nine, or chatting on MSN with Lani.

Life is laundry and grocery shopping.

It's student loans and credit card bills.

It's being late for work (every day) and staying late to make up for it.

It's fighting with your boyfriend/girlfriend/best friend/father/mother/brother/sister/whoever and wanting to punch them, but loving them anyway.

It's "I really meant to call, but forgot."

It's friends moving away -- to the other end of the province, the country, or the world.

It's your dog dying, even though he's the best thing that ever happened to you.

Life is full of shit, but without it, you wouldn't know how good you had it.

Life is short. And I don't want to waste anymore of it planning.

02 June 2005

That being said...

As much as I'd like to be able to look back and say that it all happened differently, I'm too big a believer in things happening for a reason.

Yes, that means the negative consequences, too. Like the belief that drove me to believe that if I was ever going to have sex in a relationship, I'd have to get it out of the way first.

Believing in things happening for a reason means taking the bad with the good. That's not always easy to see when you're in the middle of the bad -- like a painful break-up, or a stressful week at work -- but if you reflect back, and see where you came from, it usually turns out for the long run. I had to date some assholes to learn how to identify them in advance. I had to live with a sociopathic roommate, and hang out with manipulative friends to learn to spot these people in advance and keep them out of my life. I had to hate my parents for years to learn how to appreciate and be friends with them.

This shocks some people (and others wonder why I waited so long): I had sex with the DebtMaster 5 days into our relationship -- one week after I first met him. And I got drunk to do it. At no point in time did anyone ever indicate that I should wait until I was comfortable with myself, or anyone else, before taking the plunge.

Again, that didn't help. And it didn't take long for me to learn to hate sex. That, really, is the saddest part. Sex is something that should be enjoyed by two mutually consenting adults. It was only by eliminating it from my life completely (both voluntarily and involuntarily) that I learned to respect it, and eventually found my way to enjoying it.

But I covered this in my last post.

I guess my concern for others comes in when they can't see their mistakes, or they take ownership in defiance -- "This is my mistake and I'm going to make it if I want to."

How many times I did that before I decided to listen to people who've experienced similar things, I don't know. But all of that taught me to listen to other people; that their experiences have valuable lessons, and that I don't exist in a vacuum, where nothing else applies.

Things happen for a reason, and maybe someone else's reason is to help you avoid the same pain.

My brother had an excellent MSN name recently: "Don't bother to watch what you say. People are endlessly ingenious at being offended."

a) Exactly.

b) It points to people not wanting to listen to others: unless they're saying what we want to hear.

No one is saying that you can't run your own life, but external input isn't a bad thing. Taking advice isn't a bad thing. Some of the wisest people in the world take advice. And if you have the faculty of deduction, you can generally discern good from bad. And if you can't, you have a much bigger problem.

There are those who take it too far and don't blink without consultation (btw, it's a good thing -- if your eyes dry out, you can go blind). But I've learned that there's a balance. And if you pay attention, there are clues that you'll learn to identify when it's time to get off the "bad time" train.

Long story short: I did make some bad choices when it came to sex. I'm lucky that I figured it out before I had a chance to do more harm to myself -- or let someone else harm me. But it's definitely not a route I'd advocate.

A lady on an Oprah show said, "Doubt is your best friend. If you have doubt about what you're doing, then you need to stop and reevaluate whether you're really ready." Wish I'd known that 7 years ago.

So, while I don't have a great story for how it all panned out, it got me where I am. And I'm certainly not disappointed with that.