Tuesday, December 30

Nothing Better to Do

Mark was kind enough to drive me (through the white white blizzard) tonight to give away my 'lifeblood' (although I prefer to call it just blood). It had been over a year since I had to wait after going to Peru. The heart rate test was on the verge again but I squeaked past just below the cut off. It took some prodding but a vein was found, stabbed, and drained. 12 minutes. A little slow but nothing to worry about.
However, my flawless record of easy giving has been tarnished. I did NOT faint. But I may have been pretty woozy and I guess I looked it because one second I was sitting up and the next my head was down, my feet were up and I had cold cloths coming at me from all angles. A little rest, some orange juice and all was fine. I was very grateful to have Marky Pants there (that is his last name for blogging purposes), especially to drive me home.
Remember those boots from my last post? Yes, just scroll down one post. Everyone LOVED them! I felt like a violated pregnant woman except everyone was stroking my feet without asking and inquiring where I purchased the boots.
Note: drink ridiculous amounts of water two days before giving blood next time.

Sunday, December 28

Christmas 2008

The week of Christmas has been completely relaxed and wonderful. Mark stayed to celebrate with my family and was awoken at 730 Christmas morning by my siblings so we could all open presents. You would think that would stop when your siblings are 21 and 16 but it doesn't. I got my dad two cases of beer for Christmas. Got Mark a sappy photobook. Rockband 2 for the siblings and some camera accessories for my mom.

These boots were a solid take-home for me on Christmas morning. Never will be feet be cold or unstylish again.

I baked 6 loaves of Finnish Coffee bread. It is something my mumu used to make but no one continued. We crushed our own cardamom seeds and made the house smell delicious. It is actually one of the only bread that is actually better the next day, not warm (but not cold). The recipe is surprisingly easy.

Wednesday, December 24

Consumer Alert

Not that you hadn't already guessed but SHAMWOW! is well, a bit of a sham.

See video here.

Does it pick up more water than a a towel of the same size? Yes.

Does it do the trick with the pop on the carpet? No.

My brother and I decided to experiment. A can of Pepsi was dumped (notice the use of passive voice) onto a piece of carpet and given a few seconds to soak in. Without pressing there was little result. With pressing we still had stains. It took lots of pressing and some AWESOME! (best carpet cleaner ever -- it got out the blueberry juice we spilled on the off-white carpet the other day) to get it all out. Careful what you buy from a crazy guy on TV.

Monday, December 22

Were you aware that....?

It has been bitterly cold here. Hibernate-order-groceries-on-the-phone-three-layers-pants cold outside here since I got back. This isn't a complaint, it is a fact needed to explain why my brother discovered that the sounds made by MSN (when you get a msg, when someone comes online, etc) can be changed to just about anything.

So far we have experimented with monotone "message", teen girl squad voices (courtesy of me), Rick Rolling oneself constantly, using only sound bites from Zelda (gamecube edition) "Hey, look over here". The microphone from the Rock Band set is actually quite good quality and works well for creating these sound bites.

A fun activity brought to you by 'nothern ontario cold snap 2008'

Thursday, December 18

The Missing Piece

Even though I don't really take pictures anymore I still see myself self as "into photography". I have the DSLR, the regular SLR, although my favourite was my (now broken) Cannon Elph 1000. It took some of the best pictures and was easy to carry. Some of the lack of passion for me is just not being willing to lug such a conspicuous piece of equipment around very often.

The other one is developing. The digital revolution with cameras is perfect for me since I'm cheap and love to take multiple pictures and test out different settings. But there is something missing and I think that developing the pictures myself was a big part of the connection I felt with photography in high school.

Yesterday I woke up and half day-dreamed, half remembered the calm environment of the darkroom. Only mountains of books can make me feel more tranquil.

The best parts/what I'm missing:
-experimenting and seeing the results
-slapping the wet test strips up on the black board and tracking the changes as the photo emerges
-the grain in the grain finder
-watching it appear (90s developer, 60s stop, 90s filter. Wash)
-making contact sheets of the negatives
-the eerie orange dark and ticking of enlarger timers

At least for now, my own darkroom is a bit unrealistic. I don't have a space of my own (or, let's face it, money). I hope I get to develop again.

Tuesday, December 16

Really not willing to vouch for the accuracy

I took the 43 Things Personality Quiz and found out I'm a
Self-Knowing Traveling Extrovert

Safe & Sleepy

I'm all snuggled in for a long winter's nap back home tonight. First time in a few months and it was taking a toll. I craved being home (maybe seeing Mark too, just maybe)

Today I:
-left way too early for the airport
-spent too much on too little food in the airport (food I barely touched or enjoyed)
-bought Proust & the Squid (a book about how our brains work and why some of us have difficulty learning to read)
-didn't get a chance to read much of it since my second flight included sitting beside a pilot with some interesting stories (try getting a turkey dinner in India!)
-both mom and dad picked me up at the airport
-finally saw Mark and, due to excessive lack of sleep (read: less than 2 hours), we just chilled with my sibs and watched a movie. Anything would have been good, and it was
-going to bed with the promise of cracking open a book about exotic fruits

Thursday, December 11

Songs I can't believe I Like

(in order of "in-my-headness")

Poker Face, Lady Gaga

If I were a Boy, Beyonce (no, I'm not calling her Sasha Fierce)

Womanizer, Britney Spears (possibly my greatest shame)

Tuesday, December 9

One less thing to worry about

Except that --and I was proud of myself for this-- I had already decided days ago not to think about the GREs. I can't lie though, they were contributing to the stressful feelings.

It seemed at first that the weather was reflecting my doom. Multiple cars gave me a good soaking while passing me in the slush created by the rain as I trudged to the testing centre. Taking the test I was fairly relaxed and it went more smoothly than any practice test I had finished. The guy beside me stunk of b.o.

It was a surprise at the end that before my scores were revealed I had the option to cancel them, without ever seeing them, to avoid putting them on my permanent GRE record. I didn't feel especially positive about the tests but I could never just walk away without seeing my marks. To be honest I didn't even know what the scores I received meant but the woman at the testing place encouraged me to submit them (McGill takes GRE marks but does not need them for SLP, no other Canadian schools require them for the program). They have been submitted. I looked up the scores online after. Let's say I had a good stroke of luck and, thank apple pie, I will not be taking them again.

Monday, December 8

Most of my thoughts and stress and thoughts about stress have somehow been focused on grad school applications. I want to be a speech-language pathologist more than anything I have ever wanted to be (except maybe paleontologist from grades 2-6). By nature I am an uncertain person but this I have no doubts about. I have spent years trying to determine what I want to 'be' and now it is up to a bunch of committees to judge my worth based on 3000 characters of intent, transcripts, reference letters and volunteer experience. You know what, I would be an amazing SLP. How do I show them that over the other 300 applicants (for less than 30 spots).

Applications are going out to Western, U of T, McGill and Dal. I'm dropping money like it is hot; burning lava hot. The application fees seem like a money grab but protesting that now won't get me far in my career. Tonight I started biting my nails again for the first time since I decided to quit in September. It isn't the prospect of three more years of school or being away (although those things can be daunting) but the fact that I just don't know what will happen. I can get through more studies if they have a direct purpose, a specific goal I just have to tough out to reach the end goal. None of this education will be pointless but it will be so difficult to see the benefit if I do not get in. I don't yet have a back up plan except applying to colleges in the Communicative Disorders Assistant program to buy myself some experience. How do I stand out?

Friday, December 5

Old Question, New Answers?

An article in Scientific American* postulating the potential reincarnation of neanderthals with a new technology involving either Human or Chimpanzee embryos. The technique isn't what interested me so much as the implications. Bringing one of these creatures to life would be able to answer innumerable questions about how closely they resemble humans and how they interacted with each other. The curiosity in me says 'go for it!'.

Obviously there are way more implications to a move like this. It would challenge what we consider human and what defines us as different from animals. Just the uncanny resemblance to your hairy uncle Hank would make facing one in a zoo uncomfortable. What if they actually have the capacity for language? Do they then gain all of the rights given to humans?

Would it be wrong to keep them captive? We do this to chimps and orangutans in order to study them. Maybe they would be billeted to families, or request their own freedom to live in our world unrestricted. If they are/were self-aware, linguistic beings, where does God fit into this? Would he have created Adam and Eve only to make Gog and Lu in almost the same image?

*the article I attached is not the original one I read. I continue to search for it but the theoretical questions still intrigue me.

Monday, December 1

No humbugs here

This weekend swept past fabulously. The highlight was a visit to the apartment of Miss Mitts & Company to be whisked off to a delightful pub dinner and subsequent soulpepper rendition of 'A Christmas Carol'. A very talented group of actors, an intimate stage setting and wonderful company made my first real theatre experience very positive.

Sunday was spent in Belleville decorating a christmas tree and eating a glorious turkey dinner cooked by the fabulous Mrs. M. One last day of major lazy before the stress of finishing the semester kicks in.

6 more spanish quizzes
2 big exams
and one really scary GRE

Thursday, November 27

They even have a Tori Spelling

It took a while but I found out some time this semester that the "Hills" people refer to in sentences like "I need to be home in time to watch the....." was not a cooler name for "One Tree Hill" that I was not privvy to. It is actually a show all on its own! So I have no seen an episode.

Conclusion: I don't get it.

Monday, November 24

Not my usual perspective

I don't intend this post to be an argument for abortion. Although, after much consideration (soul-searching if you will) I find myself more pro than con to choice.

What triggered this line of thought was a blog I read over a week ago that really bothered me. I won't link to it since it matters more what was said than who said it but basically this person thought they could never vote for Obama (or anyone) who supported abortion, regardless of their views in other areas. They did not say that they would automatically vote for the other candidate (if we're talking the US, yes just the one other anyone mentions) but either way it is not a vote for who otherwise may be the better candidate. Because of one issue.

I can't look at this from the perspective of a mother but I'll just say why this bothered me.

1. The traditional (but I believe fairly sound) argument that if abortions are illegal women will still have them but through much more dangerous means (The Worst of Times, Particia G. Miller).
2. This candidate that supposedly supports abortion could still have a bigger impact on the overall number of babies aborted in the long run depending on their other policies. Are they going to do more to make birth control more accessible? Lessen poverty? Maybe it is more important to combat the conditions created by society that allow for unwanted pregnancy (poverty, rape, no access to birth control/education, abusive relationships, etc. etc.)
3. this is purely subjective but it appears a bit....selfish? stubborn? To risk the future of an entire group/people/country based on one stubbornly held belief.

Maybe I'm wrong. This post seems to take the position that this person is the best candidate aside from this one belief. This hasn't been proven. I don't love the idea of women choosing to end a life (in the majority of cases that they indirectly or directly chose to create) but I do believe in giving people the option to choose, even the wrong choice. I'm surprising myself.

Thursday, November 20

Not blogging about it

The situation in our house has become more strained in our house over the week. I struggle to determine the true reason behind the problems especially one person is having. There was an incident when a bunch of Guelph friends visited that, out of anger and frustration, I had written a blog about but then chose not to post. I erased it. It still feels that I can't give any more details about what is happening but it makes being at home somewhat uncomfortable at times.

On top of that, my freedom, due to the beater, has potentially been cut short. Driving to pick some books last night with my housemate another car pulled out right in front of us and I was forced to hit the breaks hard. Since then the breaks no longer respond much when used. Yes, they stop the car but are completely loose until my foot is almost at the floor and then the vehcile swerves while stopping. He is on his last wheels.

My housemate's grandfather was kind enough to take me to school today because I didn't feel comfortable driving without breaks in the snow storm this morning but this means no ride to dinner tonight, getting up at 6am to catch the bus on Saturday. Part of me wants to just risk it. I'll drive slowly.

Sunday, November 16

Like a collander (meaning a little strained....haha)

The parents of the housemate I am closest with have gone to Rwanda for just over a week. Neither housemate nor her brother drive so I have been graciously lent "the beater" for the time being. It is a lesson in being prideful. The rust I can handle. The rubber from the wipers that trails when wiping? No big deal. No radio, ok. Doors that don't work, the obvious age (1991?), the dirt....hey, it drives right? But, the lack of a muffler. Now I'm not an especially prideful person but do I look poor in that car. The old girl likes to call attention to herself as she revs up the hills.

Being in the car with others makes it a fun adventure. Being in the car alone and my self-conscious, materialistic side comes out just a bit. This afternoon was amazing though. Housemate's grandparents treated us to the Mandarin (what is that place?) for lunch so we all (Housemate, Housemate's Brother, grandma & granpa with me driving) pile into the tin can and roar off to eat. Some of the best conversation I have had in months. I miss grandparents.

Tuesday, November 11

Clash of the Sirens

This is the first time in all my moving around that I have ended up in a house where personalities just ram into each other head first*.

One person in particular can only seem to communicate via written note on the refrigerator.
-Take out the garbage
-House meeting
-Don't use her plates and bowls (another difficulty with the house: a few people vehemently refuse to share, who has heard of three separate cutlery drawers???)
-This morning i got the pleasant: "Katie, do NOT use my pan. You scratch it up"
Ouch, considering I didn't use it. Ew, I have my own pan, with stainless steal: I'm afraid of Teflon!

The tension is creamy and has a bitter aftertaste. Adding to the mix are two cats (whom I love dearly) but are barely tolerated by one other roommate. Yes, this post is a bit whiny but I'm a bit frustrated. Yes, I actually do try to sort this out in a adult-like manner and talk to these people myself. This is step 2, when I'm alone in the house, and annoyed.

*While Calgary project had its share of petty disagreements it doesn't count for two reasons:
a) it was mostly pleasant
b) it wasn't exactly a living situation as much as a psychological experiment with that many females (read: hormones) living in such a confined space

Sunday, November 9

Seamonkeys Day 1

A housemate was gifted a sea monkey kit this week so we promptly took it home, waited the 24 hours to let water sit out and added the smonkey powder at 3pm today. Right now it looks like slightly murkier regular water. Luckily they should be much less maintenance than a cat, not requiring their first feeding until 5 days after hatching. Disadvantage: little affection. Benefit: hours of intellectual stimulation. Since reading Archie comics with mail-away coupons for s'monkeys I have been fascinated with the idea and this will be my first glimpse of the flecks of shrimp eggs.

Also, tomorrow is my last midterm: syntax. Definitely a challenge, but interesting. I must also complete a stats assignment, my chapter of our Spanish story and the written portion of an interview for Spanish class to be presented on Thursday. After that I am mostly home free until exams and I will have access to a car (which I am told is a junker and embarrassing to drive) for about two weeks.

Tuesday, November 4

Maybe they weren't trying to be funny

This week I have come across some ironic stuff (or just regular funny?)

-a bake sale for diabetes (there have to be other ways to raise money!)

-Canada Post raising money for Mental Health

Clerk: Would you like to donate $1 to mental health?

Me: Sure. (thinking: yeah, I support mental health, why not?) What organization does the money go to?

Clerk: Um, I'm not exactly sure. Well, you can see this brochure, it is through Canada Post itself.

Me: Oh I get it, post office supporting mental health causes. Cute.

Monday, November 3

A vicious cycle

Since catching up on Bones (and now eagerly awaiting Wednesday night) I needed a new show to procrastinate with on demand. So I downloaded Man vs. Wild and Survivor man, not remembering which one was the coolest. Man vs. Wild. Bear Grylls is completely insane and that makes good 'reality' TV.

For those unfamiliar with the Discovery Channel show this guy gets dropped out of a helicopter over some inhospitable and/or dangerous habitat with a knife, a water bottle and maybe a flint. Oh and clothes, no he isn't naked (all the time). Then the show is over when he finds his way to help. Places I have gone with him so far: Costa rican rainforest, Moab Desert, French Alps (where he ate maggots and a live fish).

Three foods Mr. Grylls would take on a deserted island:
1) avocados
2) mayonnaise
3) chocolate

Three foods I would take:
1) chocolate (definite agreement here, but it has to be the milky kind)
2) my dad's chili (we obviously aren't concerned with how this will actually stay fresh)
3) clementine oranges

I'm assuming there will be pineapple and coconut there just hanging out so those don't need to be taken (not that coconut would be).

Thursday, October 30

It was like being in residence again Monday night with drunk people disrupting my sleep between 4am and 5am. These two especially brilliant debaucherists (?) rang the doorbell in a constant string of dings and dongs to get the attention of their brother/friend who was visiting a housemate of mine. Problem: they wanted his car keys to move his car and access theirs. Problem #2: They were drunk.

Sorry guys, no bones. But that also meant they remained at the door rotating between doorbell, the old fashioned knocking method and just yelling up at the bro/friend for about one hour. I went down, grouchily opened the door and used some choice words: the ringing stopped but their polite knocking was stilled punctuated with polite yelling. Eventually, props to my housemate, she called the police who escorted them from our lawn and removed the illegal substances from their possession.

While writing this I am polishing off my first sweet baby oranges (I can't afford the real deal Clementines but these are good) to go with our first snow. I hope that gets it out of London's system, especially the transit system that was set back hours by the thick and sticky water.

An interesting development in this household is the new bond between our cats. Gigi and Carl love each other. Or Carl likes having something to do and Gigi likes to be tormented. While only about 1/5th of Carl's size she constantly provokes him into flipping her over and batting her around. Typical girl, goes right back to the guy who hurts her because he pays attention. Oh Gigi, so much to learn!

Tuesday, October 28

Pounds per square inch of force

Feeling the self-implosion inducing forces of the future crushing in on me. That came off a bit more dramatic than I anticipated but, nonetheless, it is reasonably accurate. The long process of applying to grad school begins (not just GREs but personal statements, reference letters, transcripts, etc.)

The scary thing is that this is where my plan ends. If I don't get in to grad school in Speech Pathology I have to come up with something else. Most of my expectations definitely come from what I think I should be, that most of my worth comes from being a student, being intellectual (smart) and I'll lose that if I don't choose a career that is 'intellectual', that sets me apart from other people (yeah, I'm going to say it is a pride thing). Brainstorming other acceptably 'smart' things to do with my life...

Thursday, October 23

Abnegation of fun

Abnegation is from word list one (of 50), meaning self-denial or self-sacrifice, one of many I didn't really know the definition of until this evening.

My housemate has been encouraging me to find a London boyfriend so I have, "Master the GRE 2009". I think it is male, and we are going to be spending many long hours together (eating, listening to music, studying, watching TV, riding the bus....if that isn't a relationship....)

Most of my life culminates on December 9th 2008 (yes, if you wait too long to book your GREs you could end up writing them during your exams). Going in i though the math section was the most frightening. It is not. Math I can do with little review. It is the verbal section demanding a specific (and labourious) WAY of thinking. Plus essays and junk. Committing to this means I have committed to at least two hours of my daily life devoted to studying for the GREs (ie. conforming to the 'correct' way of thinking as judged by a standardized test).

Taking the test is to give me the option of applying to American universities for graduate school. Why do Americans love their standardized testing so much? Few Canadian universities (at least for Speech pathology) require any form of testing. Weird, they are willing to look at my qualifications and marks as judged through years of testing in my undergraduate degree.

Tuesday, October 21

Maybe having a social life is counter-productive

Since when am I the student who answers all the questions in class?

The one who goes out for coffee with her professors?

Who sits on committees of campus clubs? (As of this week I am one of two VPs of Communications for Autism Western)

Who volunteers with a professor and phd candidates? (Starting last week I code data into a computer system as part of a major project creating a database of all Spanish/Latin American-produced art and art housed in Spain - I get to look at paintings and listen to music!)

From my Guelph undergrad I am used to coasting on decent marks and keeping my involvement in school activities to social/religious-related occurrences. Hopefully this new involved citizen makes it out of school.

Sunday, October 19

Return of the Prodigal cat

Carl is back! Mark drove me home on Thursday of this week for a visit and to attend and friend's wedding. It was a beautiful ceremony and perfect location to appreciate the autumn weather. My mom spoiled me and I got a sassy new haircut on the morning of the wedding instead of spend time on it myself. It looks pretty snazzy if I do say so myself. But back to Carl:

A nice couple found him down by the train tracks where he approached them asking for food and affection. They obliged and took him home, shaving his fur where the sap stuck and would not be removed (which we heartily mocked Carl about once he settled back in...haha bald patches). Somehow they saw our posters pleading for his return (we only posted a few in the area, most being put into mail boxes, but not theirs). A new challenge for us will be keeping Carl, an adept hunter, from making a snack out of the 3 month old kitten the downstairs housemate brought home after Thanksgiving. To Carl it would taste something like squirrel.

Tuesday, October 14

Weekend come and Gone

Good thing the latest hiatus between seeing Mark is just a day and a half this time. Tomorrow we hang out here then head home on Thursday for a few days. The leaves are supposed to be at their brightest right now.

Thanksgiving weekend had more pie than I could have imagined. But the dead-yeast buns are likely what caused me to pull a stomach muscle. This weekend I saw an apple tree for the first time. And picked an apple off a tree (10 pounds of apples to be precise). Apple trees are shorter than I expected, my drawings of apple trees as a child were pathetically inaccurate.

Other accomplishments: convincing the children at our massive thankful dinner that I am cool (it is always so much easier with kids). The oldest, L, taught me all about the Jonas brothers who I was (sadly?) ignorant of previous to Sunday.
Bit by a snake (Mark must be so tired of this story haha). It sounds tough until anyone actually saw the snake, measuring in at a fearsome 15 to 20 cm. But I was bitten nontheless and we're going with non-poisonous because my finger has not turned black. Oh yeah, I was bitten because I tried to catch the adorable little snake, so my bad.
I purchased gum at a store with the confusing name "Piggly Wiggly". Confusing because what does that have to do with convenience items?

This time to end, Carl is still gone. We are losing hope.

Friday, October 10

Day 4: Still Missing

Carl has now been gone for 4 days. Before having a cat in the house here I never knew how much I love having a soft, furry ball of affection to greet me and follow me and chill with me while I do my homework. We are getting desperate with Thanksgiving coming up we won't be in the house if he comes home. I printed up some posters and distributed them around the neighbourhood while asking anyone outside if they had seen him.

We had some very encouraging reports and followed them along the fence until we found another cat that would fit the description of Carl but was not Carl. Now this cat will disrupt our search, we will be getting all these calls about this other cat, while cool, definitely not Carlzipan.

Yesterday while searching the neighbourhood a bit closer to home a young guy said that a half hour before a cat fitting Carl's description walked right into his house and then ran out again. Could it have been him? I hope that he is safe. But I'm leaving in half an hour to spend the weekend in Windsor with Mark's family....mmmm really good pie.

This is Carlzipan:

Wednesday, October 8

One nice thing

The saying "If my head wasn't attached I would forget that too" was definitely started by someone just like me (or possibly by me, but I forget). Today was one of those days. I walked right out of my first class and half-way down the hall until I remembered that I was covered in something coat-like when I entered the class and went back to retrieve my jacket off the chair.

From this class I fled through the rain directly to a professor's office hours to get some guidance on homework questions. From there I wandered to another building to wait for someone and decided that, since I was early, I would work on some problems. But I didn't have my notebook. So back to the professor's office in the downpour I went. (note: this is the same prof I visit weekly for help, two weeks ago I was asking for help and dropping off an assignment which I forgot to leave behind).

Luckily it was there but then he did something unexpected. He offered my his extra umbrella until the next time I saw him (almost two weeks because class is canceled Thanksgiving Monday) because he noticed I didn't have one. People just don't do that anymore. Although I am there every week at 1030 without fail so I'm sure he isn't worried that i'll disappear. I spent the rest of my day a less-wet fan of the Philadelphia Flyers.

One more potential loss: Carl hasn't come back! We let the cat out sometimes at night but he didn't come back last night, or this morning, or now and it is raining. I hope he is safe and warm.

Tuesday, October 7

Finally, a Shakespeare Reference

So we have a different cat. His name is Carl (although I usually call him "Beebee beebee" in an annoying high-pitch squeal or Carlzipan).

Carl is an adorable grey tabby with big green eyes and soft soft soft kitty-type fur. So soft. He is also more aggressive than Bok Choy and should be renamed Shiloc for he constantly seems to be demanding one pound of flesh from me (although I don't recall making deals). The cat really is gentle most of the time. Except this morning. When he smelled the bacon. Usually he is in Julia's room at night but I took him as a favour which is always worse for me because I am a complete push over. The cat wants to lie on my outstretched arm until it falls asleep? Sure, just careful, don't move that arm or you'll bug the cat. He comes in every few hours to get his chin scratched and I oblige.

My conclusion: I am being trained by a cat. I have scratch marks up and down my arm to prove it (hey, wrestling with him is fun, I know the price)

Friday, October 3

Wasting Time

With school, a job, and volunteering as much as possible to have a shot at grad school I should be busier than ever. And I am. Except, I'm bored and the rain is locking me inside. I rarely felt so bored in Guelph but I think it is due to my lack of friends. Not knowing many people here means that my free time becomes all mine, instead of social time. I really only need so much 'me' time and right now what I'm getting is too much.

Some of this extra free time is very productive. Some of it is spent watching Bones. Yum, Agent Seeley Booth of the FBI (aka Xander from Buffy, aka David Boreanz). Usually I bore of these types of shows as the story lines tend to blend but I enjoy the characters; the awkward geniuses are endearing. Also, it has a surprisingly lovely soundtrack. My new favourites:

Sara Enan: Bring on the Wonder
Syntax: Pride

Both mellow and emotional (wait, emotional....am I going emo??)

Monday, September 29


I have come across studies dumbed-down in magazines like Time and Psychology Today a few times explaining to exasperated parents that their teens, while they look like adults, have brains wholly unique to adolescence and young adulthood. Teens make irresponsible or just bad choices where the correct or best choice should be so clear to an adult. The brain is supposedly finished forming into a fully-functional adult with great decision making skills (I'm sure they'll concede that this doesn't always result) by the age of 25. That means I should be responsible in 1 and 1/2 years. Gone is my neuro-psychological excuse for rebelliousness.

Most of that was to say, I seem to make mostly good, rational decisions and then sometimes I make really stupid decisions (even after knowing the consequences).
Good decisions: do my homework,
go to bed on time,
plan ahead for reference letters needed for grad school (by being a total keener...)
choose studying over TV and fun

Bad decisions: choose TV and fun over studying (this one is a process)
lending my housemate (of-age-but-doesn't-have-a-licence-housemate) my ID to hang out with the boy she likes knowing it could be taken away (oh, and it was)
brownies for breakfast (not today...but it happens)

I'm sure there are many more additions to my good choice/bad choice list, just from this week.

Monday, September 22

I'm hoping it is just the glasses

Today I met with a professor who I had been communicating with by email through the summer and now am taking one of his classes. He is teaching linguistics and is easily one of the most learn-ed people I have met (he has studied Quechua in Peru, Inuktitut in Northern Canada, speaks french, spanish, norwegian and various African dialects) and quite possibly may be too smart for our class. He made the remark after we had sat in The Spoke talking over organic English Breakfast that he was relieved to find that I was not nearly as 'rigid' as i appeared in class. Always great to know I give off a "tightwad" vibe (no less according to a 60 year old professor).

Class today will be long, getting home at 10pm after much tossing and turning last night. I never would have wanted to admit that a man could have that affect on me (no longer talking about the professor here!).

Tuesday, September 16

External Locus of Control

Going for my bi-lifetime physical (I'm assuming I have been to the doctor for a check-up before last week but I can't actually remember a time) has revealed some biological shortages that could become problems. Basically I want to use them as the reason I am a terrible runner.
My iron is low (16, normal range is 10-291). Not below normal but the range is large so apparently I'm just getting enough to meet my very most basic daily needs but don't store any. I'm actually happy to hear that I was getting that much. A handy B vitamin of the 12 variety is below the normal range so we are going to work on bumping it up. So now I am gulping vast quantities of supplements in the mornings (ok, like 4 pills) The iron ones are little green discs that smell....bloody. I also added a regimen of Vitamin D since I am Canadian and will not get enough for most of the year and CBC radio recently aired a discussion about Vitamin D that hinted that we may actually need it for almost all bodily functions and in quantities hundreds (even thousands) of times what Health Canada recommends.

Other than the slight deficiencies (apparently B12 deficiency belongs to vegans and old ladies) I am pretty fit and have been instructed to carefully watch my moles due to the lack of pigmentation in my skin.

Friday, September 12

Isn't it always the case

An update on my junk food craving: I had some. It wasn't that good. Maybe I chose the wrong thing and I'm sure i had a bit too much. Afterward there was no satisfaction just bloatedness. And a sugar crash. Too bad I know I'll have to just keep on learning this lesson.

My obsession lately has been names. This isn't connected to wanting children, there is no place in my life right now for things that cry all the time, are messy, and constantly demand my attention. But I am fascinated with how people name them. Almost daily I find myself on the babynames website perusing the message boards to see what other people like. Some are pretty out there and some are growing on me.

My forever favourites:
Maggie (but as a nickname, I'm trying to come up with something other than margaret for this)
Ezekiel (Zeke)

And then, from being on the site more than is healthy, some names I would love to use but most likely wouldn't. Let's call them guilty-pleasure names
harper (for a girl)
August (boy)
Dmitri (this one I've loved forever, I tried to convince my mom to name my brother this 16 years ago)

And i'll stop because i could go on forever.

Monday, September 8

I WANT COOKIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Or brownies, or donuts, or sugary sugary cake, or cheesecake, or rich rich ice cream, or a chocolate bar......

I has been over a week since I have had junk food. I want it. RIGHT. NOW. I'm too cheap to buy it and it is safer if it isn't in my house. But I am in the cafeteria and i can smell it.....

My lunch is good: and orange, some quinoa with salsa and cucumbers (also will be my dinner). Where the chocolate at?

Thursday, September 4

And His Brother Asparagus

There are now 6 mammals living in our house (that we know of, there could be something in the walls). Yesterday, while starting a friendship with the girl in the room next to mine, we/she spontaneously brought a cat home from Pet Smart. So we have a cat. Sort of. Someone is allergic (it is ok, long story, i'm not typing it all) but it means the cat is somewhat restricted. He is black with fabulous green eyes that fade to rhinestone yellow. A very sweet temperament letting me play with his paws (!) which are the cutest part of a cat. His new name is Bok Choy, way less cliche than Midnight; the appellation on his adoption form. The really cool thing is that I have never had/lived with a pet. At least not a real one that could roam. I have had fish and a crab, neither of which require much attention or care or give it either.

Today was my first class. Spanish. It should be fun and challenging: a good combination. The real excitement for the day was biking over 10k (ok not that far, i couldn't have run it!) to a volunteer orientation. I will be doing the Talk It Up program on Saturday afternoon at the London Speech and Language Centre. Basically it is additional therapy for children with communication difficulties in the form of a small classroom with a teacher and an assistant/volunteer (that's me!) to every one or two children. We have the opportunity to sit in on their individual, half-hour therapy to get to know them better and learn as much as we can and then we apply the therapies and work on goals in the classroom setting. One of our biggest goals will be to encourage social interaction and using words or practicing specific sounds. Tonight was an orientation, Saturday is the first therapy day. It is the perfect opportunity to get me on track to eventually be a Speech-Language pathologist (SLP)

Tuesday, September 2

Finally trying to stop

I have painted my finger nails and decided not to bite them. Must be that fact that classes haven't started yet but it has worked, almost a week now and without much temptation! i started to notice a difference today in that it is slightly more difficult to type with my nails hitting the keys and sliding off. that is a new one for me! they are still little and may need even a few years to rejuvenate before I'll love my nails but it is about time. Now that it is public everyone can slap my hands away from my month if I try to bite. Besides, it was wearing at my lower front teeth and causing pain. I can't afford new bottom teeth!

I biked to the Western campus today for the first time. It was a surprisingly easy and fast bike ride, no more than 10 minutes but i forgot to actually time it. The day was spent in lines, first for a student card, then a bus pass and then student health services. Now i am enjoying some time off before classes start. I am mostly unpacked and will just continue to pick up things here and there as I need them. The last of the 5 girls moved in today and it is a very full house ie. everyone brought a lot of stuff. I had some time to wait this afternoon so i spent some of it browsing the library periodicals....D.B. Weldon Library, you will be my refuge.

Saturday, August 30

Lying awake. Leaving tomorrow. Why doesn't anything feel real until it is half-way done....

Wednesday, August 27

Preteen Dream Fulfilled

Even though Girlicious opened for them I won't be holding it against the Backstreet Boys. The first hour was a bust however I wasn't expecting much from a group formed by a TV show (anyone remember O-zone?......didn't they have that one nasty song about liquid dreams).

The boys (sans Kevin) put on a good show. They had fun choreography, props and really seemed to have fun. And it gave me a chance to sing along to all the songs I memorized in elementary school. Some things have changed. Howie, who I found fairly repulsive as a 13-year-old, is now the most attractive and least aged of the group. Nick is still Nick. Brian had his adorable son with blond ringlets introduce the band; if he didn't already have spawn I would offer my womb. But A.J. He passed that line from being funky and cool and had more in common with dirty old truckers. What a beard. The tattoos on his less sculpted arms are no longer very cool. It is hard to believe they are all in their very late 20s and early 30s now. At least I've now seen them before they start looking like the Rolling Stones.

PS. We were on the floor level right in front of the DJ/sound section and who was there? Aaron Carter cheering on big brother Nick. He hasn't grown at all since his video on the playground.

Tuesday, August 26

Tropic Thunder

How could I miss that Tom Cruise nose? It only took me half the movie to figure out which character he played (ok, I asked Mark). "THAT is Tom Cruise?" The images of him with fat burly hands club-dancing will forever be sloshed around in my nightmares.
With the spoof trailers I started to worry that I would have to mange on some crow and own up to its brilliance but thankfully I do not. It had its moments, some characters were even endearing but it was all just too much. Maybe I'm more of a subtle humour kind of gal.

4 more sleeps and I will be in London. I haven't really mentioned it on here. I guess it doesn't seem like it is actually happening. It has been over a year since I have been in school! I will miss everyone here so much. Two days before I leave I have a ticket to see the Backstreet Boys. Yes, it is a teen dream come true. But my not-so-secret-anymore-secret? I don't love concerts. In fact, I'm not excited. The idea of the lines and crowds and finding the seat and waiting for the concert and getting pushed around....sounds like a hassle. When did I become this old?

Saturday, August 23

How I Spend too Much Free Time

My new obsession is Photoshop. Specifically scrapbooking with the program. While I got into the paper version I often was discouraged from starting a project because of the plethora of supplies I had to take out, the lack of a good printer for details and the expense of the really fun items. Now everything I need is stored on my computer, literally at the tips of my fingers. Layouts can be created and changed in seconds (well created in minutes, changed in seconds). There is all kinds of free stuff online like papers and ribbons, etc. Along with tutorials on how to make my text glow or follow a shape or pretty much anything I could want. Thank you people-who-beat-the-path-first. Here is one of my latest creations from my time in Peru.

Thursday, August 21

The Next Member of the Coast Guard

I like to defend Canada. I can't help it, I like my country.

A friend posted a keen observation here that China has more silvers than we do medals. Total.

Here is my response. I did all these painful calculations so I thought it was only right to reuse my work.

"ok, but sometimes i like to break it down by population and do it as a proportion of medals to population. we have 13 medals to 30 million people. China? 85 medals to 1.3 billion. We have one medal per 2 307 692 people. They have one medal for every 15,294,117 people. Wow, we are so much more accomplished, PER CAPITA! You know what, i'm putting this on my blog. haha, i'm a dork; admittedly."

I even left in the juicy details.

Sunday, August 17

Things I would have taken pictures of

Yesterday Mark, Andrea, Sean and I went out to Sean's camp for some relaxing. Forgetting my camera I was forced to take mental snap shots.

1. The clear plastic cup that imprisoned the doomed worms Sean and I found under rocks and rotting logs. Also found: ant colonies furiously guarding their eggs, a teeny newt, a similar sized salamander, a giant black beetle and so many more curiosities.

2. The rock bass I caught the moment the hook hit the water. The two other fish I caught, even if they all had to be thrown back (hey, I was fishing off a dock in shallow water!). The two fish Andrea caught.

3. The view over the lake from the jagged white bluffs.

4. An amazing sunset in pinks with blue-gray clouds. So what if it is cliche? It also had a docks in it.

5. Sean dropping his ice cream in the parking lot, right off the cone. Oh, and then subsequently picked out the rocks and ate it. Waste not, want not.

Friday, August 15

Lace is the new Polyester

"Sex is no longer cool. What's cool now? Status. Narcissism. Rich is the new porn."
-The Last Pyschiatrist Blog

Not saying I agree, I haven't processed it yet. Nor do I follow culture to know what it up and coming.

Thursday, August 14

Crazy Cat Lady

Right now I'm just watching other people's cats, often. These latest two are a fun pair: one slightly crotchety and overweight black and brown cat and one brand-spanking-new cream coloured one with brown ears and tail. The little one likes to sneak up on the big one and wave her arms in her face. Here are some cute pictures including one of Nissa (nee-sa) in her favourite hang-out.

Books on the Brain

The other day I had a refreshing conversation with a fellow bibliophile, let's call her Beth because that is her name. I would love to say that it brought me back to thoughts (fantasies? ) about books however I was already there.

What I am reading now:

Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky.
-This is almost complete after weeks and weeks of reading faithfully over my lunch hours. This isn't the kind of book I could ever recommend to anyone because I have enjoyed reading it but to be honest: it is really long and tedious! Why should I hate it? Humour is mostly related to quotes from old Russian writers that I have never heard of, it is almost 1000 pages with itty-bitty writing, it was written in the 1800s and translated from Russian (I'm using this for the reason that absolutely everyone is ridiculously over-dramatic, the women are 'hysterical', everyone makes eyelid-drooping speeches.....) Why do I like it? No idea. But I will feel soooo good when I finish these last 90 pages.

Born to Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All of its Moods by Michael Wex
-Mostly this is much more linguistic based than it is funny. Looks funny, isn't really. If you like how languages evolve then this book might just be for you. Kvetch is Yiddish for "to complain" which is basically what the language seems to have evolved around, at least according to Wex.

Vandal Love by D.Y. Bechard
-Canadian lit I could actually not wait to open. So far I'm only a few chapters in but it has already surprised me quite a bit. The description focuses on the Herve family that alternately births runts and giants. I wasn't really expecting boxing to come into it, but hey, I'm open. I'm still excited but have no idea what to expect.

Monday, August 11

I have never really looked good in hats

This past weekend my mother and I passed a significant portion of our lives in the van, with my stuff. Thanks to my uncle Frank who decided to come with us to London (with his two kids as well) we unloaded everything much more quickly than my mother and i could have done. Oh, and he put my desk together. It looked easy but it was not. I would have just remained deskless. The verdict is...not in yet. Although the house is quite large, 5 floors total (tall, skinny townhouse) it is so far sparsely furnished. Cons: old furniture, very white, somewhat depressing. Pros: nice big kitchen, dining area is cool and overlooks living room, someone brought a super nintendo.

It also appears that i may be living with people who are vastly beyond me in coolness level. While we didn't meet yet there was a piano in the entrance beside the long board (skate board that is long) and down the stairs from the guitar and keyboard. Musical and sporty. Those are my two....weaknesses? Inadequacies? things that make people cool that I don't have....
Plus i'm at least 3 years older than two of them. So I'm old. They are younger than my little sis. I realize this doesn't actually matter but I do feel old (helped along by the fact that I already have a degree and took a year off to travel/work).

I am excited for all the classes I will take and the great volunteer placement I have already secured (key for applying to grad school in speech pathology). It is working with a group of children on Saturdays to do therapies assigned by their SLPs and teachers during the week.....I believe. Or something along those lines. Woot! But sad. I love it here, I belong here, I will miss Mark terribly. Why do I need more school?

Thursday, August 7

Starting Over

For over 10 years I have held on to the same debit card but it died this weekend. It is like that record-breaking pet hamster that doubles the typical hamster 3 years, or more. I wish I had documented it's use, maybe it was worthy of the guinness book of world records. If I am to top this with another card I will be about 35! I can't even think that far. *fingers crossed I'm done school by then*

Monday, August 4

A hirsuit Dennis the Menace


That first line of blogging is courtesy of the furball I am keeping company over the week. Little Rizzo, gray with black stripes and white paws is a big ball of mischief. From the moment I enter the house until I go to bed and shut him out he constantly needs to be at my side. The other cat, Gonzo, has barely taken the time to say hello but has glared at me from afar twice. It isn't that I irresponsibly ignore my charge either. We play, bond over a spring-loaded red pompom with a bell and he purrs while I offer my hands to rub himself against. This is my first experience of having a real pet, meaning a pet that requires care and/or has free range of the house. Previously my family has housed fish and a crab. That is it, neither really enjoyed interacting with me.

I don't mind i suppose. The unlimited affection is nice, he is pretty cute as he naps beside the mouse with his extra claws that catch on everything sticking up. Really though, I can't sit to eat because then he has his face in the food. No playing on the computer without my toes being nipped or someone trying to catch the mouse (well the vitual manifestation as the cursor). Ideally I would have a cat just slightly less interested in me than Rizzo is and maybe not a dog after all. They are much less work and easier to leave for an entire day (due mostly to the indoor waste excretion). Maybe a cat it would be. They make nice companions, tonight I'll try telling him all of my secrets and troubles.

Friday, August 1

This Entry Needs a Photo

A photo with all 10 of us awkwardly arranged around the table would have perfectly captured three hours last evening. The big meeting, referred to as a "Meet-the-Fockers-party" by a woman at work, was held last night with better-than-predicted results. That is right folks, my parents and Mark's parents met and nothing collided nor crickets chirped. On the whole it was a pleasant evening. Even my 16-year-old brother stuck around for most of the chatting; the brother that repeatedly asked me if he had to eat with us and then if he was required to stay after he finished (which he was not).

They brought oven mitts as a gift. My dad cooked heaps of meat and roasty veggies. We looked at pictures of Mark and I (by their request, it was not forced). His mom said awkwardly nice things (I'm not good with the outright in font of everyone compliments.....uncomfortable), which can't really be complained about but I will anyway. All of our brainstorming of potential topics of conversation or areas of similarity were was unnecessary.

Wednesday, July 30

Some Things are Taboo for a Good Reason

Mark's parents are in town. Well, not IN town but at a cottage (camp!) outside of the city. Last night we drove the 2o minutes to visit and, even though the scenery is very Ken Danby -esque, we avoided the junky weather by playing board games indoors. Everyone more or less enthusiastically took to Taboo. For those unfamiliar with this classic players are broken into teams and each person takes turns trying to get their team to guess words on a card. The kicker is that you have to describe it and can use personal anecdotes, etc. but each has a list of 5 'Taboo' words that you cannot use. For example, in describing The Dark Knight you couldn't say Gotham, Movie, Batman, the Joker, Heath Ledger (if only it was that up to date!)

All this explanation for one of the best moments of my life (in terms of hilarity). Mark and I made up one team and his parents and sister created the other. We were annoyingly good at the game using all types of shared experiences and anecdotes.

I get the word Career and it is up to Mark to guess.

Me: "I haven't started this"
Mark (interrupting me): YOUR PERIOD!
Me: ....yet

His mom missed the comment however it wasn't lost on anyone else. Best line ever, especially when remembering that Mark is a fairly introverted person (especially around his fam). I'm not sure how happy he is going to be with this story on the internet.

Monday, July 28

I feel like a giant hickory stick

I lathered, rinsed and repeated. I let the conditioner sit for an extended period of time. I scrubbed. Twice. I STILL smell like campfire. Hopefully it is subtle enough that no one at work today connects the scent to me.

Most of the time it rained or threatened rain. Pancake Bay (where our church rented three group camp sites) is notorious for having cold water which it lived up to. I spent about 10 minutes in the water, in my clothing, mostly to make sure that I swam at least once all weekend.

One of the most popular topics on conversation in tent-city, where we all huddled to avoid the rain, was The Dark Knight. There is little left to say about the film that hasn't been said and a review would be somewhat redundant. Yes, Heath Ledger as the Joker was easily the best part of the film. Yum, Christian Bale as Batman. "Want to see me make this pencil disappear?"

Tuesday, July 22

Calm is my middle name

My little brother turned 16 a few weeks ago. Last week he called me at work to brag that he passed his G1 test AND drove home. With a whole 7 days of driving to his name I only had images of slight disfigurement (instead of a painful, horrible death) and said yes when asked if we could reverse driving roles and he take me to work instead of the opposite; Are you walking the dog or is the dog walking you scenario?
It really was just around a few corners and jail cell lengths down a busy street but I was fairly self-congratulatory as I tested my breathing and listened intently at my pulse. Not even on edge. I was the cool sister, cucumberesque. The only giveaway was that I kept reaching up and clasping the seatbelt that crossed my chest.

Thursday, July 17

Silver Medal Club

There is a club (unofficial) that meets in the four venue food court of the mall I work in. The only criteria for membership are either physical or subjective.
If the majority of these apply you're in!

1. Bifocals: you can't see far away and you can't read close up.
2. Grey hair (not just one or two but many). Died counts.
3. Cotton pant suits in bright or pastel colours. (Have flood pants in light green with pleats down the front?)
4. Hearing aid and/or dentures
5. Enjoy walking back and forth repetitively for exercise
6. Retired (bonus points if what you retired from was teaching)
7. Wallet/purse with photos of grandchildren
8. Plenty of complaints (mostly physical, weather or government related; extra points if you have arthritis pains from the weather and the government isn't covering the medical claims)

That is it, if you check off four or more then you are in. Show up before the mall opens, grab some comfy walking shoes and a coffee.

If that is retirement I don't look forward to it. Although I never thought I would like going to bed early or garage saling. Maybe waking up before dawn to meet the mall club is as inevitable as switching to elastic pants after a certain (for comfort of course).

Friday, July 11

You Hear it but you Don't really Know

After one boy and one girl are selected to leave So You Think You Can Dance each Thursday evening our Fox station switches to the local news, which in our area is Detroit and Rochester. It is beyond painful to watch but for about 10 minutes I did just that like I watch obese people on TV eat junk food.

Scenario 1: A severely overweight white lady with WAY-TOO-BLOND hair is interviewed while she waits alone in line to be served $1.50 per gallon gas as part of some white republican's campaign for office of something or other. (From memory) "It is sure worth the wait for us SUV drivers" Ok, that isn't really a quote but a paraphrase with the thick accent she was carrying.

Scenario 2: 'Special' interest story out of Mobile (pronounced: Mo-beel), Alabama. A group of people have spotted a Leprechaun and now hoards of onlookers wait for nightfall to catch a glimpse of the Leprechaun in the tree. One man claims that he plans to rip down the tree for a pot of gold. Another (with a mouth full of gold teeth) claims he believes! Believes!

Scenario 3: Merchants lament in a city hall meeting about the inevitable future downfall of their massive indoor shopping complex (aka a mall aka capitalist depression/ADD/social anxiety disorder maker). Why is this decline inevitable? Because of an increase in the sales tax by 3 EIGHTS OF ONE PERCENT! Oh no, people will feel it, they will stop shopping at the mall, property taxes will go up pushing prices up further and then they will never go back to the mall! Ever!

Although a little too dramatic for my liking it probably would even be good if the mall just shut'er down.

And a little treat from an hilariously fun tee website "Busted Tees". Think "saved by the Bell"

Wednesday, July 2

N'SYNC with NG

For the past two issues of National Geographic Magazine sent to my home as part of my subscription birthday gift from Mark (shout out) there have been featured destinations that I have actually seen. Yes, NG has probably featured 97% of the globe but I couldn't relate before. Last month (actually right before we left) there was a story about Stonehenge in preparation of our trip. This month there is the Salt Flats in Uyuni, Bolivia (or Alitplano as they called it). It is incredible to see things in NG that I have stood directly in front of myself, that I felt the strong gusts of wind and smelled the horrible smell of the flamingo poo.

Saturday, June 28

Mary, Mary Quite Contrary

Thank you, my garden grows quite well. I have weeded and covered and fussed for a few weeks now and the plants look good. My favourite time is watching the sprouts push themselves up from the soil; a whole row may come up while I'm at work. It makes me want to attempt stop-action photography.

Wednesday, June 25

Something I Avoid when it is my Responsibility

For the last three hours of work yesterday Amanda and I wrote a Valedictorian speech. The biggest surprise was that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm actually reasonably funny. This reaffirms my theory that I enjoy writing for others, I don't enjoy it if the pressure is my own to do the presenting.

Monday, June 23

Being Ushered (Grudgingly) into the 21st Century

Friday I caved and signed the next three years of my life away. It was about time, I will be dependent on this device away at school but it didn't really make it much easier. It felt like caving in, like giving up on my principles. I always thought I would try to hold out as long as possible and, in time, be the only person left above the extreme poverty line to own a cell phone. That is true no longer. Say hello to Isadora:

Actually neither are actually Isadora but her friends of different phone ethnicities. She is orange (a nice burnt orange, not tacky) and had me at the cool slide out QWERTY keypad since I am way behind on this texting thing. The plan is decent (Oh, the phone in an LG Rumour on a Solo plan), if not excessive. Good for a student away from home but I don't see myself using all 2500 text messages monthly.

Friday, June 20

Happy 16th Birthday, little Brother

16 years ago today, David Michael completed our family. He actually went by David Michael for the first few years of his life which allowed me to have a connected with Kristy from the Baby Sitters' Club (she had a brother of the same moniker).
Back on track, I have often thought that he was what saved our family from tearing each other apart. From shutting our respective doors and leading our separate lives completely. We could ignore each other but were connected at least through our little bro.

As a kid he was, sorry Dave, whiny and bad tempered. He cried and yelled when he lost at nintendo, he hated having dirty hands and he was terrible at sharing. How that bratty little brother become someone I brag about often, someone exceptionally generous, even-tempered and sweet can't be our doing; it must just be his nature. From oddly tinkering with wires and scraps of metal he can now take apart almost anything and fix it. He comes up with the most incredibly random projects and can figure out how to complete them. The light bulb that lit in his hand. His custom guitar. A conduit to switch gaming systems with the flick of a switch. Many others that I can't remember because I never understood them to begin with. He kicks my ass in math without even trying (Only 98% Dave? Where did the other 2 percent go?). He plays the guitar. Behind his head. During his guitar exams.

There is no doubt he will do something worthwhile. I can't wait to see what it is but either way he will just be my little bro and the great connector in our family.

Thursday, June 19

So much truth in it

While U of Guelph campus can fall into quite a few of these categories one comes to mind especially readily. This may be a result of living in South residence for my first year but the "Neo-Penal" is a perfect fit. How many tales of prison design origin and low ceilings to avoid thrown chairs were whispered to dismayed first years as they gazed on their southern home for the first time. Ah Guelph, a product of the 60s (established 1964).

Shout out the the very relevant (and I'm not even a grad student...yet) phdcomics.com for this image.

Sunday, June 15

Friday, June 13

Lies Suck

Even though my degree is in marketing (ugh) I still can't fathom that a person or company would just outright lie to make me/us buy something. While in London I did some shopping at the Portobello market for some jewelry (lovely 1940s stuff that I promptly forgot in London) and was given the same line by two separate women right away. I bought it grudgingly because I don't like to assume that anyone could outright lie.

The line was "ok, 15 pounds. That is my cost price, just for you"
Right, just for me, from the special bond we developed as a perused their selection. They lowered the price with almost no provocation but with the "cost price" caveat. How could I argue any lower? They wouldn't go to cost price so easily; it was a complete lie.

Companies are not immune to this an lately a few campaigns have been irking me. So You Think You Can Dance has lured me back into the TV watching world. The first is Hellman's. Mayonnaise is joining the real food movement. Real food for dummies. That isn't fair. But it is playing on the health and going back to organic trend but selling jiggling fat sandwich topper. Not too much natural about that stuff.

Looking at the site it does promote more locally grown foods (choosing local tomatoes over the ones shipped in and wasting fuel, etc.) but where does Hellman's come from? Where is my locally grown Hellman's?? Preservatives, shipped across the continent in transports wasting fuel, mmmm, such a great topping for my locally grown tomatoes on rye.

Next: Bounty towels. They have the audacity to tell us that choosing their PAPER towels with the option to choose smaller sheets will save the future. Look out future, I'm using smaller paper towels. If it was about the future then ban paper towels and everyone use something renewable...a cloth dammit! (excuse me, i'm getting into this). This is playing on fears of the future and helping people to feel better by doing dick all. It actually does more harm than good because people can allay their guilt while not helping the environment at all. I'm not perfect in this area but I hate when companies play people for foos. There is a website, I'll find it. Something about the future.

Wednesday, June 11

The Joy of Reading

When reading a book I tend to prefer the first 3/4 of the book over the climax and denouement. The bulk of the book before the crisis builds the characters. It tends to set a rhythm and establish grooves that the characters fit into. To bring the book to a close these balances are disturbed.

Currently the latest book to cause this desire to stop reading and leave the characters in tact, peaceful and, even if not in the best circumstances, content in routine and satisfaction. The book found my interest through Canada Reads 2008, even though it did not come out the winner. Its general premise is taken from Genesis and the story of the flood but little other than the water, animals and names are parallel with the Bible. Another day or two and I"ll give a full assessment.

Monday, June 9

So Closes my first year as a traveller

This time last year I was preparing my luggage for a week in Bermuda. At 515pm yesterday I was enjoying Chicago by Sufjan Stevens as the wheels of our airplane caressed the runway in Toronto. The air hosts neglected to ask everyone to turn off all electronics or personal music devices and, to me, that was an invitation to land with a soundtrack.

This puts my count of World Heritage sites seen at 9/851. Not that I'm exactly trying to see all World Heritage sites but I can't add any more Wonders of the World to my list after this trip.

Things accomplished:
1. Vicariously lived the posh Londoner lifestyle staying in the four bedroom flat near the centre with a private garden for the neighbourhood and a porter. Twiggy, former super model, also lets a flat in the building.
2. Rode the Tube with Oyster cards
3. 'Shopped' at Harrods. Decided not to buy the Mammoth tusk. Drank tea upstairs and ate clotted cream scones.
4. Tower of London.
5. Tower bridge
6. Roman Baths
7. Stonehenge
8. Changing of the guard
9. Portobello and Camden markets
10. Most free exhibits (British Museum, Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, and other free stuff)
11. Saw the Magna Carta
12. Cruised the Thames
13. Ate fish and chips in a pub
14. Realized that 'London Bridge' isn't anything to look at. It is Tower Bridge
15. Had a lovely dinner with Mark of all Indian food.
16. Hyde park
17. Generally touristy things

We were generously hosted by family in the city putting us beside a Tube station and within walking distance to Hyde park and other attractions or a short tube ride. London is greener than expected. Everything has a history. It is beautiful at night. You don't hear much English spoken in the breeding ground for the native tongue.

Thursday, May 29


Tomorrow we are outs. UK here I come! I plan to see everything I can in London and a few towns outside (Bath, Oxford and Stonehenge I believe). To be honest, I think I am looking forward more right now to just the time off work. What will I do when I'm a real grown up and I have to work 50 weeks a year with no fancy vacations???? Not get a monotonous job I suppose.

Tickets go on sale tomorrow, right after I leave, so a friend is buying me one along with hers. For what? For me to live out my preteen fantasies. To see the Backstreet Boys! Live! In Concert! Sans Kevin! That isn't really positive or negative. Something I should have done 10 years ago but will be seeing them right in here in my own home town at the end of the summer. A good for me, an obvious fall from grace for them to be playing here.

Tuesday, May 27

Can't Figure it Out

Why was Jully Black (semi-famous Canadian Hip hop/R&B artist; was the female voice for "Money Jane" with Baby Blue Sound crew years ago) wandering around the Station Mall in the Soo for hours today? I saw her walk by twice (I was at a Youth Employment fair for work) and apparently she had been there for a long time. I was determined to ask her the next time she walked by but she didn't. Traveling through? For the wilderness? For a show we hadn't heard about?

[note: Case solved. She had a tour date in thunder Bay yesterday and has one in Hamilton tomorrow. Apparently she isn't big enough to fly yet so the place in the middle of a 18 hour drive: Sault]

Sunday, May 25

Dirt Under my Nails

On a show about gardening by CBC Radio someone mentioned that if each of us were to devote half of the space that we have outdoors (half a yard for house-folks or even half of a balcony with potted plants for apartment folks) to growing food we could noticeably reduce the strain of the world's food supply (not to mention cut carbon used to ship 'fresh' foods) in just one season!

That got me thinking about our garden outside. So far it is nowhere near half at 3.5' by 7' (ish) but it will be enough for our family when it blooms. Yesterday I purchased the seeds and prepared the soil. Today I planted carrots, peas (the yummy kind where you eat the pod!), beans, cucumber, and will be adding potatoes (little teeny baby red ones), tomatoes, and yellow peppers! This was my first attempt at planting without much guidance so my father assured me that if I screwed up there was still time in the season to replant. I felt greatly encouraged.

The garden got a late start yesterday due to my Saturday morning ritual garage saling. I purchased two games (Outburst for just 10 cents!), some necklaces and waaayyy too many children's books. The only adult books were "The English Patient" and........that may have been it. But they were so cheap! Bernstein Bears, Robert Munsch, a potty book, Critter, and hardcover children's books for just 5 or 25 cents! One of the best finds was a "You Are Mine" by Max Lucado in perfect condition. I will keep the ones i really did mean to buy for the future and give away the others to some of the many many children at our church.

Last weekend I took out the digital SLR for the first real time. It was in Blind River (ie. a little bush town 1.5 hours outside the Soo). The pictures were ok, just nice to have a camera in hand again. Something odd happened with the colour, though, and most were on the blue end of the spectrum. Thank goodness Picasa has a function to fix that.

Friday, May 23

Couldn't if I wanted to

There is a challenge out there, possibly brought to mind while lounging with the library's copy of Adbusters, to live on $1 a day.

This arises from the oft-quoted statistic that approximately 1 Billion individuals (human beings) live on less than $1 per day. That is food, clothing, shelter, water with no room for extras (or basics for that matter). It started me thinking that at this point it would be impossible for me to live such a frugal life. Not one day could pass where I wouldn't even consume more than $1 of material.

Food isn't the problem. Although, with rising food prices that we have been warned about for years, $1 doesn't get what it used to we could conceivably plan meals in advance and buy in bulk to stay within budget.

Transportation could easily be taken over on foot or bicycle (uh, what if it rains??) to save the gas.

I'm not even talking about the money it costs to be using electricity, continually refrigerate food, keep a telephone in service; all things I would likely overlook.

One of the biggest difficulties would be my own mental health. I (or my insurance company when I have one again) spend at least $2 every day on fancy brain chemicals to keep me balanced. These slow release tablets of dubious usefulness carry warnings of severe withdrawals should a taker stop taking. Shakes, brain shocks, dizziness, dry mouth, vertigo, vomiting.....and so on. Well that sounds normal an fun. The point being, I suppose, is that I am a believer in the theory that there exists so much anxiety and depression in our society due to our disconnect from each other (caused in large part by over consumption/working/phone/internet/tv). So basically if we spent less in general to support our lifestyles we would likely be happier and less stressed and would not need the added expense of happy pills (which would be better named "not sad" pills or "apathy" pills, or possibly "stability" pills).

Apparently it is ok to designate $2 per day to my brain chemistry which would double the food available for one six of the world. Something is unsettling.

Post 300!

It is sunny outside. The warmest day in a long time. Something cheery for my tricentennial so I can put my rant next.

Thursday, May 22

Like an Amusement Park without the Amusement

That is assuming that everyone finds them amusing (which is not the case but just go with it)

There was a Career Expo' here yesterday. To be fair it wasn't advertised as a JOB Fair. Good thing because there weren't really any jobs to be had. In fact, many of the large employers actually refused resumes.....at a career fair. Just take them and throw them out! (not that I advocate wasting paper).

I was there to represent one of many many employment agencies, none who actually had jobs in their agencies I might add, that filled a good percentage of booths. I understand our desire to be there but it must have been a disheartening sight to see government agencies touting services in spaces where employers could have been. I left tired but the soul weary disillusionment. I have been experiencing that quite a bit lately which is counter-productive. Especially for my job where I have to help others but I constantly feel like I can't provide the kind of help they want or any real help at all; I then want to avoid helping at all.

Wednesday, May 21

The Spice whos?

At a resume workshop tonight I was helping a grade 9 student (translating to about 15 years old) write a first resume. Somehow the topic came up and again I am incredulous at how large of a pop culture generation gap exists now with me and people in high school.

Me: "Do you know who the Backstreet Boys are?"

Much younger person: "uh, I think I've heard of them."

The chasm that spread between us was immeasurable.

Monday, May 19

3 Days of Weekend

Should be refreshing no? I can't say that it wasn't fun, because it was. A wedding with fun people and good dancing on Saturday night and friends from school but it was all soured by the undertow of the nasty, goopy cold that began Saturday night and brought mucus and fatigue with it. With work coming up tomorrow and no possibility of missing for anything less than acute poisoning or sky diving accident I do not feel refreshed from the extra day at all.

At 930 right now I would already be in bed except that my sister's mysterious boyfriend from Ottawa arrived last night and I have yet to meet him. Hopefully they will return before I can no longer hold myself upright on the couch. I'll have to get back into my latest book, The Life of Pi, to keep myself alert. I had attempted to read it a few years ago but never finished. What was my problem? I'm now obsessed and just must consume more of this book.

Monday, May 12

First of the Season

Saturday I went garage-sale'ng. With a friend and a carefully mapped route using Map Quest.

It wasn't incredible but a good start.

TriBond: $2
Jenga: $2
Clue: didn't buy it but should have

The Great Gatsby: 50 cents
Three other books that just looked good: $1.00
50 Below Zero (by Robert Munsch! Who sells that???): 50 cents
Toilet Tales (a lively book about why animals can't use a toilet...some good arguments): 10 cents!

Friday, May 9

Except for an obvious Flaw

In my next life (if i believe there were 'next' or 'previous' lives) i want to be sporty. I'll trade my smart for sport and find out what it is like to be coordinated. To see the whole field in my mind and know where to be; to actually be a right-place-at-the-right-time person. To play for hours sans tired or bored or san without ever touching the ball/net/frisbee/etc.

It wouldn't be easy to choose what to trade though. Maybe I could trade smart for pretty. Or rich. Maybe one life for each. Although if it was a trade it wouldn't be easy to give up smart since I couldn't imagine the tedium of school over again while being required to try. That sounded snobby. It just wouldn't be an easy trade. I'm sure anyone who is athletic to give that up and see how the uncoordinated half lives.

Friday, May 2

The Game

That instinct that other people have for "the game", for knowing when to hold'em and knowing when to fold'em, scheming....I just didn't get that gene. At work I've been learning all about the game though. Another opportunity this week has been the good and the bad of a little more responsibility and control. I scooped up control of the hiring process of "my assistant" and screened resumes, set up interviews, chose the questions, sat on the interviews, helped make decisions.
It was exciting to be part of the process and helped me to understand so much better what the reviewers really think of your application and your interview. As payment for all this knowledge and experience I had to pay penance by informing all of the unsuccessful candidates. There is no part of me that enjoys informing bad news. I really thought I would end up just caving and giving everyone the job and sorting it out from there.

I haven't updated much lately. Work has been busy and life a bit monotonous I suppose. Being sort of sick changed pace a bit but not really in the way hoped for. Here here for a better week to come.

Friday, April 25

I Think You Have a Little Something on Your Face

Sitting at the front desk after our morning meeting I opened one of the two subscriptions to the local newspaper to search for the usual (job postings, obits and garage sales). What stopped me on the second page was my own face. *Right, there was an article coming out about summer jobs* It would have been a reasonably flattering shot if not for the black smudge that happened display itself right on my nose. *Oh, must be a printing mistake, I'm sure the other copy is fine*. Not so much (although I later saw that my parent's copy was sans dirt smudge so some of the city doesn't think I have rampant skin cancer on my face). The administrative professional in our office (who was celebrated Wednesday on Administrative Professionals day) was kind enough to make me a black and white paper nose to wear in case students came in looking for the SJS Coordinator and didn't recognize me without the carcinoma.

It wasn't half as bad as what I was quoted saying. In all the explaining I gave about our services I mentioned that students were sometimes making the mistake of going downtown only to be sent up to our office because we could offer better student-based services (politics, there are two offices but ours is the only one that deals with students). Luckily my boss, of course, does want the traffic at our office but politics say that I better bend over for the boss down at the other office soon.

Short-lived fame. Monday I have to review all the resumes submitted for the positions of my assistant (it sounds glamourous to have an assistant but we work pretty on par). I'm looking forward to finding a good candidate and even a little to the (guilty) enjoyment of being able to judge what the candidates have submitted. But each has to be marked on a rubric and there are 20 or 30 or 40 of them. Maybe I'll get to put in those extra hours before my holiday after all.

Wednesday, April 23

Committing to Practice

After some initial confusion:
-Dan your new student is here.
-uh, I have Dave at 5pm.
-Are you sure you're with Dan?
-*across the hall my sister's voice teacher pipes in* That has to be his older sister. I knew she was a Vixxen when she walked in.

I'm not sure what makes me such a spot-on representative of my family name but this is not an isolated occurance. He was a bit uninformed but very gracious about the change. A bit overwhelmed I left with 5 or 6 sheets of little songs (oh, like, Jingle Bells) to help me learn to read and play notes and a few chords to work on (D, Em, G, C). He ended saying that he could tell I was musical and could be playing decently in a few months. I'm going to choose to hold onto that hope even if I think it was said more out of encouragement than truth. If how i play drums on ROCK BAND has anything to say about it I am NOT musical.

Home for some dinner, a show and a quick practice (jingle bells, jingle be.....Jingle bells, Jingle bells, jingle al....jingle all....and so on). Then back out the door for sign practice. Luckily the signing class is two hours and slightly more practice intensive (vs. taking everything home to learn by myself). I picked up the alphabet fairly quickly (I missed the first week so was slightly behind the other students) and we moved into basic questions and descriptions. The emphasis on the facial expressions seems to have a mocking sort of tone but it acts as the intonation a prosody in English when we raise our tone at the end of a sentence to ask a question or point out a subject under our breath. There is even a way to write ASL. IX-loc is "indexing-location" ie. the speaker is pointing to the object. Or Run++ this is the equivalent of Running (gerund) but means "repeated" because the sign repeats to create the gerund.

Another great feature: the bluntness.

English: What is your name?
ASL: you name what? With the unacceptable-outside-deaf-culture index finger pointing at the questioned party.

Now to practice guitar 3 (THREE??) times a day as instructed. Who wouldn't be good in a few months after that?

Monday, April 21

Self-Directed Learning

Finishing my only class at the local university frees up some time. Meaning Tuesday nights for some self-directed learning. Last year it was Spanish, the year before Linguistics. This summer doesn't have a theme per se but I have been graciously given the last 5 weeks of guitar lessons that my brother "isn't feeling challenged by". I wonder what the chances are that I'm actually a music prodigy (according to Rock Band: very slim).

Tuesday nights will also be taken up by learning various hand gestures to communicate with. In other words, sign language courses. Shouldn't interfere too much with my Spanish.

In terms of excitement there are now tickets to England booked and one has my name on it!

Tuesday, April 15

Second Offer

Two down and neither what I want. McMaster sent me an email today. Acceptance to the Linguistics and Cognitive science program. While I do feel smarter just being accepted Western is still my orange jelly bean (preferred above all others but not readily available).

Queens Deadline: April 25
McMaster Deadline: April 30
Western: had better do some accepting before I have to

Monday, April 14

5 Year High school Reunion

This may not be that small of a town but it seems like that the mark of success is getting out. At work I ran into someone I had gone to high school with. I was the plump nerd who was 'totally crushin' on him and he was cute, sweet and dated one of my good friends. Actually maybe he dated two.

I was way too shy to say anything to him until it was too late. Until we were friends and he was securely in a long-term relationship. "I didn't think I would see you still living in this city". I take that as a compliment and quickly explain that I left for school and plan to leave again. Failing to mention, of course, that I actually may be back for good after that. He is fat now. He has so much responsibility. Children; children that depend on him for support. A new baby. There is no satisfaction that his life didn't turn out like we all think it will in high school. Everyone takes a different path, some surprise you. Some disappoint.

Thursday, April 10

Some diseases I have thought I had

There are a few conditions on this blog. The first is that I don't mean any disrespect by listing a disease. At some point in my life I really did manage at some point spend much of my caloric intake worrying about the condition. Also, hypochondria seems like the new vogue. With all these diagnoses available online (and late at night) it has become a plague (that no one actually has).

1. Hypochondria: maybe i'm not neurotic enough for the actual diagnosis. And I don't have a doctor so it saves plenty of time.

2. Cancer: This can be brought on by headaches (brain cancer [see aneurysm]) or neck lumps (so many muslces, glands and natural lumpiness!). This is actually a serious topic and I wholeheartedly suppose self-monitoring.

3. OCD: actually true but on the low spectrum (once you get to the low spectrum who doesn't have it?). I could regale you with bunches of stories about childhood neuroses.

4. MS: I read an ad as a preteen about MS that asked "Do you ever wake up in the morning and can no longer walk?". This stuck with me. I once woke in mid-night with a useless arm and not remembering having slept on it, which caused some heart palpitations.

5. Aneurysms: this does run in the family.

6. Diabetes: this really runs in the family (maybe I shouldn't advertise all my bad genes if Mark reads this?). I pee a lot. Excessive peeing = "oh no! My beta cells are kicking out!"

7. Some sort of brain wasting: This is more just passing and easily dismissed. But I am SO FORGETFUL!

I'm sure there are more to add but I should be thankful for actually be pretty darn healthy. This is when I'm supposed to be at my peak. I can't believe I should start feeling older from now on....

Monday, April 7

Not to be Left Behind

I too have discovered Flight of the Conchords, [muthah uckers]. It seems that this singing duo has reached its "tipping point" with everyone discovering and subsequently blogging about them. I was initially skeptical but was quickly won over by their clever tunes in various genres. They are from New Zealand (not to be confused with barby-usin', kangaroo-riding Australians) and are navigating in their new home of New York city trying to survive on no gigs for their band not booked by their agent, Murray.

Now that I have established myself as one of the 'in crowd' [good Bernstein Bears book] on to the rest of my glamourous and media-filled life.

8:51 [on my 5-minute-fast clock] wake-up
-eat breakfast, straighten hair
10:35 - arrive at the local science fair just a bit early. Chat up some friends.
11:25 - Present Attilio Berdusco award for Best in Health Sciences with a $75 checque to a deserving project. Pose for pictures.
12:08 - Begin my workout

skip forward one day [because doing homework on the deck and watching FotC doesn't make me seem so glamourous]

930 - wake-up
1025-1:32 - church
1:41 - arrive home. Receive a message and return the call. "They are almost finished, come right now!"
1:48 - pull into YMCA parking lot
2:15 - present Giant Cheque of money raised during the high school free throw competition [sponsored by the YMCA and my affiliated employer) to Easter Seals on two TV cameras and some local newsprint.

Rest of day: homework, hanging with Mark, playing Bohnanza, watching Flight of the Conchords

Friday, April 4


Choosing to let the rrrrecord stand.

My first roll-up-the-rim-to-win from Timmies this season brought home a free coffee. This already shatters my oh-fer-nine of last year. I choose to bask in the glory and stop playing now.

Thursday, April 3

Work or play?

I have started working full-time now.
Meaning no more sleeping until 10am or watching e.r. reruns and reading until 1am.
No more starting my workout by 5 after 4pm (I work until 430 now unless I feel like starting at 8am - I do not)
But yay to bigger cheques and more purpose.

The boss (el jefe) has a plan where each employee has to have three activities or initiatives that they run this year. One for Morale. One for Communication. One for Image. Mine are now in writing.

Image: write an article about the program I am running here for the local newspaper
Morale: a team-building game during one lunch hour in May

And the one that I can't wait for
Communication: Spanish lessons in the weekly meeting (but not until July!). We will work on some basic pronunciation and then everyone will be introduced to 5 Spanish words to practice over Peruvian Muna tea (and possibly some Maracuya-mango jell-o).

Here are the words so far:
-el/la jefe/a (boss, I'm sure he will appreciate this)
-el trabajo (work or job: the words are employment related since I work in an employment office)
-el/la empleado/a (employee)

Those are three and I will carefully choose the last two. I'm thinking one more employment or office work (oficina, computadora, papel, almuerzo [lunch]....so much to choose from)
And then one that is fun and unrelated (manzana/apple, zanahoria/carrott, perro/dog for that rolling 'rrr') The possibilities are endless (actually limited, to the number of Spanish words I suppose). Suggestions are welcome (in english or Spanish)