Sunday, December 27

A Cog in the Consumerist Machine


Oh Christmas. A big struggle of mine is to avoid purchasing goods that I don't need and be satisfied with what I already had. Well, I cracked over the holidays (and I still have to buy textbooks....where is the "queasy" emoticon when you need it?).

It all started with an apple. It is, of course, a glorified email checker. A gloried email checker with time-sucking games and pretty graphics. My favourite 'app' so far is the CBC Radio one....mmmm Vinyl Cafe.








Then, from wonderful Mark, I received one of the most spectacular pieces of technology I have ever owned. It is called a BAMBOO and it is glorious. I can write in my chicken scratch and it translates it into type. It is pressure sensitive: a lighter touch means a thinner line; press harder and get a thicker line. The main reason for the gift is my digital scrapbooking hobby. Unfortunately, my current/old laptop is so clogged that I am unable to open the necessary photo editing software.


Which leads to my true consumerist glitch: a new laptop. I fell for Boxing Day. The beast (aptly named "Zack Morris") just three years old but with a stuck mouse button, a screen that doesn't stay where it is placed, etc., etc. It has been replaced with a shiny new Samsung. I agonized over my choices with both my brother and my manfriend being subjected to hours of "But will it run Photoshop?" and "Which one would you buy?". I feel like a got a decent deal and it runs more than one program without stalling so check one for me. The screen is lovely.

A few other fave gifts I received (in no particular order):
- TWO Mr. Potato Heads! (one regular, one spidey....great for SLPs)
- A custom t-shirt with Bill Nye the Science Guy's mug on it and the line "Science Rules" (the back reads "Inertia is a property of Matter")
- Bananagrams


Some of the favourite gifts I gave:
1. Hamgburger Phone. To: mini-sister
2. Hand-made scarf. To: boyfriend. (it looks rather handsome on him).
3. Ice cube tray that makes teeny glasses (ok "shot" glasses). To: mini-brother
4. Beer. To: dad.

Thursday, December 24

Food Brainstorms (StomachStorms?)

When my dad and I get together we mostly talk about food. He is good at cooking it (I'm slowly picking up a few of his skills) and we're both good at eating it. We have a knowing look when something should have had goat cheese involved but the rest of the family vetoed our choice.

Today I fried up some perogies with onions and little bacon; standard fare. I like to mix cuisines so I dressed it with salsa since the perogies were a little on the bland side. That got my dad and I stomach-storming about how to make our own perogies and how to do it in a bit more exciting way.

We came up with a few ideas*:

The main ingredient in all the recipes would be potatoes with the other ingredients mashed inside.

1. Italian-style: goat cheese, sundried tomato, fresh basil leaves
2. Greek-style: feta cheese & olives
3. Indian-style: cauliflower, curry paste, (goat cheese?). Maybe some mango chutney and yogurt for garnish.

The question is, how motivated am I feeling?

*These have likely already been done but they were original to us.

Monday, December 21

Squints

Feeling somewhat helpless. Without my glasses anything more than a foot in front of my eyes is a big blur. This computer screen is about 18 inches away but I can detect movement so I know where the cursor is; good thing I can do the typing-without-looking thing. PS. My glasses broke tonight. The lens popped out and isn't pop-back-inable (the transparent wire that holds it in place snapped). I actually think I'm doing pretty well for typing but excuse any mistakes please.

I flew back home a few days ago and have been mostly in chill mode. We decorated the tree (after some family drama) and finished Christmas shopping. My goals for vacation are 1) to finish reading Oryx & Crake (for bookclub), 2) Order my textbooks, 3) Run every second day. That's about all I gots.

Tuesday, December 15

Procrastination Post

This week is exams. Just three but I'm out of practice (and I haven't done one as intense as anatomy since.....well, I haven't ever!).

All week has been spent at the school. This means consuming too many calories by eating out all the time (trying to now bring more food to conserve funds) and living in the study rooms. Spending hours drawing out all the different motor and sensory pathways. Study breaks for McFlurries and dancing to "Single Ladies" and "All I want for Christmas is you" by Mariah Carey.

Things I still have to do before christmas:
-Shop
-Send Cards
-Pack
-Clean my room
-Post an ad for the place I live (planning to move out at the end of Feb....have I taken on too much?),

Looking forward to: making gingerbread houses, snowshoeing, late night coffee dates, hanging with family/friends/Mark, decorating, NOT STUDYING

Thursday, December 10

Worst Present Ever....

We had our gift exchange today for the SLP students (woot!). Since not everyone does Christmas we kept it P.C. and called it ANEGS (Anonymous Nondenominational Exchange of Goods & Services aka. Secret Santa). I got to be the gift giver outer (who happened to wear a santa hat).

What a day. People were so generous, creative and thoughtful (quite a few sweet Mr. Potato Heads!). Not gonna lie though, I think I got one of the WORST/best presents :)

Earlier in the month we had been discussing what to get our 'chosen ones' and I was saying that I would be fairly tough to shop for because I don't like traditional generic gifts: I don't use candles, I don't want body products (I'd rather choose my own, thanks) and I don't drink hot drinks like tea or coffee very often.

I saved mine for last feeling awkward choosing my own gift. Opening it I got: tea, a bar of yummy smelling soap, candles. Yikes. I'm thinking to myself "How did they manage to get all of the things I dislike in one gift??!"
But I opened it in front of everyone and apparently I put on a pretty good show of excitement.

Then I came across the note: If you hate these gifts yell "I hate these gifts" and my nondenominational elves will bring you something better. So I did*. And I got a new gift: the always awesome seashell chocolates and a gift card for BMV books. What more could a girl want? So, apparently you can't trust anything I say if I tell you that I like something.

Included in this gift was a little something extra. The night before I had asked my secret santa on facebook for A's on my exams without having to study. Here is the declaration I received:

"From this day forward, Ms. Katie V. of the SLP class of 2011 will receive a mark no lower than A+ on every exam she takes, regardless of her performance on aforementioned exam. Furthermore, Ms. V's chair must be pre-warmed before each class and she will be provided with a basket of fresh baked pastries and refreshing, tangy beverages. Ms. V has the right to put a halt to any lecture in order to demand a thorough back massage from the lecturer (or from anyone else in the room should Ms. V. deem the professor below her standards). This is assuming she attends the lecture, which for her (of course) is optional."
-Someone very powerful at the U of T.

I can't wait for next semester to instate these rules!

*I ruined it a bit and read the note out loud. I guess I was supposed to just yell that....but I felt terrible!

Tuesday, December 8

Leslie V: November 15, 1928 - December 1, 2009

My grandfather was the type of person who always gave of himself and never mentioned it to anyone. He raised 6 children with my grandmother in what must have been a very busy and very crowded house. They were go-with-the flow-type of people: they let their children bring home stray animals, let turtles live in the bathtub (the only bathtub for 8 people, I still haven't figured that one out), let hitchhikers tent on their lawn and draft-dodgers live at their camp when they needed a place to stay.

He lived his whole life in the North where he became a skilled fisherman and hunter. He and my father once took me fishing and we landed a good-sized pike. When we got to the shore and the fish was still suffering in the bottom of the boat he handed me his wooden club and told me to give it a good whack on the head. At the time I was mortified but I realized that the fish was going to die anyway, he just didn't want it to suffer. Grandpa Les was also a fantastic gardener. Just this summer I started the first garden of my very own and he always had great advice for me. (He told me to tie the leaves of my cauliflower plants around the head so that they would stay white; now you know too!). That was another great thing about him: he didn't hoard his talents or knowledge but shared it with his children and grandchildren. At work he was recognized as an expert at splicing rope and cable in the mines and his hard work kept the other miners safe.

One of the greatest things I will remember about grandpa is the way that he loved his wife and how he cared for her for the 12 years that she was sick. As my grandmother slowly lost the use of her body he worked tirelessly to ensure that she retained a high quality of life. They would do exercises together everyday to keep up her strength. The family got a special chair so that she could go outside where they both loved to be.

This past Saturday I had the honour of helping to carry the casket of this truly good man.

Sunday, December 6

My grandfather died on Tuesday. It was unexpected. He was a very good man and I have something in the works about who he was to be posted later. The funeral was this Saturday.....in Wawa. When you don't go there very often you start to forget how hard winter hits. I remember now: 2 feet of snow in less than 2 days.

Thursday: took the Go-train to Georgetown. Sat in the corner on my suitcase and did homework on the way. Did you know that commuter trains have no baggage areas?
Drove with my aunt from Georgetown to Sudbury. (just over 5 hours).

Friday: Sudbury to Wawa. 6 hours in good weather. We hit a snowstorm half way there and chugged at 60km for the rest of the way.

Saturday: Woke up to a foot of fresh powder and closed highways. Some family had to get a police escort into town for the funeral. Funeral post-poned by an hour.
10:20 pm: leave Wawa for the Soo. Hit white out approx 50 km from home. At times we couldn't see the sides of the road to know that we were still on it. Big props to cousin Greg for his mad driving skills.

Sunday: The Soo to Toronto. 8.5 hours. Parry Sound to Sudbury we had 10 feet of visibility, slushy roads and wind.

Total distance logged: 2100km.

I will be using just my feet for transportation for a long while.

Monday, November 30

33.5 minutes

That is the amount of time it took me to run (translation=jog) 4.9km on Sunday morning. Not actually a personal best but definitely a personal only attempt since grade 10. I've never been athletic. I don't even like exercising very much. But at the end of September I started using the gym next door and HATED IT SO MUCH that I tried running outside. For me, that was a big deal. I tend to decide that I will start running and then I do it one time and quit because I despise the act of running. The most shocking development: I (kind of) enjoyed myself. So much that I tried it again.

I haven't mentioned it on here often because part of me is afraid to jinx it; I still can't really believe that I run three times a week. Every week. A major contributor to my motivation is the new running wardrobe I purchased a few weeks ago. Now I feel like a runner. (I am a runner. Be the runner.)

Most days I only go between 3-4km but I try to up the distance on the weekends. As of right now there are no half marathons or cross Canada sprints in my future but I feel healthier. My big barrier is 5km. I've never done more than that. Maybe this weekend I'll map out 7 and see how far I can get until I have to walk/crawl the rest of the way.

Wednesday, November 25

City Dreams Come True

Another big-city-living dream of mine came true today. I go to Kensington market fairly frequently but it never seems to be planned. From school I can jaunt there in 10-15 minutes but from home it is over a half hour. This is by walking, I'm too cheap to TTC*. As usual I ended up there today somewhat unexpectedly but finally decided to make the most of it.

I bought someone's gift in a specialty shop that sold only that gift and every possible variation on that item.

I compared the quality of produce across vendors. Tomatoes, yellow peppers and grapes at one. Fresh basil at another. Turned my nose up at the abysmal Bosc pear selection.

My bread came from a bakery. It was warm and smelled fresh. I talked to the store clerk about the bakers attempting to make my favourite bread (Finnish coffee bread, I ask everywhere I go and no one ever makes it ;(

The fresh Bocconcini for lunch tomorrow came from a little cheese store with friendly and hilarious service.

On my way back to school (not so idyllic after all) I stopped by the Chinese bakery that Mark and I "discovered" on Dundas and picked up a bag of pineapple coconut buns to freeze for later *drool*.

This would have been almost perfect except for the fact that I *gasp* forgot to bring reusable bags and had to tote everything around in plastic from the store. For shame.

*Let's see what happens in January. One hand: The fare will go up from $2.75 to $3.00. Cheap me will cringe when purchasing tickets, this will encourage walking. Other hand: It will be bitterly cold and the transit will be so easy and warm. This will encourage me to "Ride the Rocket".

Shiny New Blog Feature: What I Should Be Doing! Find out what I should have been doing when I wrote this post.
Today: 1) making study notes for physiology (book is sitting open on my lap)
2) Writing SOAP Notes (you don't need to know) for an assignment due Friday.

Tuesday, November 24

My new Hobby

Tickets to live-tapings of CBC's The Hour (with good ol' George Stomboulopoulos) are surprisingly easy to acquire. And free. The key is free.

Most tapings start at 330 giving my classmates and me time to finish out class at 3 and be at the studio on time. But not today. Less than 24hrs notice they moved us up to 245 to tape something for their Christmas special. A little bitter but determined to see Steven Levitt (author of Freakonomimcs) we missed our very first anatomy lecture on the larynx. An SLP who doesn't know the larynx? Hopefully we can wing it ;)

It was wholly worth it. I have found my new hobby. The audience is small, they entertain us in between, Georoge seems to pretty much wing everything. The snacks were minimal (free crispy things in bags and free energizing drinks: I'm not going to do a plug) and we did not get a copy of the new SUPERFREAKONOMICS. Apparently things are different on Canadian television. They did randomly give away free items between taping. We flagged down a free box of salty chocolates.

The Interviews:
Steven Levitt: nerdy, knowledgeable guy (but I still find economics fascinating yet disturbing). He at least admitted that no one wants an economist running the world. No, we don't.

Anika Noni Rose: the voice of Disney's new "The Princess and the Frog" (she was also on the movie Dream Girls). Very sweet and very well-spoken.

The Sadies & the Mighty Pope: interesting musical mix covering White Christmas. Not my normal style but a treat.

Downside: You can't use the washroom. At all. From 245 to almost 6pm. Tell me there is no washroom available and watch me squirm. It is torture; all I can think about. I have nightmares about having to relieve myself and not being able to locate a washroom.

I made it though, in case you were wondering.

Monday, November 23

Nerdy Dreams

One of the things on my big life list is to host a book club. I finally decided to act on this ambition during a time when I only consume textbooks and journal articles. About 10 people in year 1 SLP are in for the challenge. We will be reading a book over the holidays and meeting to discuss themes and eat sugary snacks in the new year.

It is a challenge to choose a book that would appeal to everyone in the group/me. I decided to choose 3 and let the group vote (this process took me 2 weeks!). Some of the things i considered:

1. Length: 400-ish pages or less*. Poor, over-read grad students get 2.5 weeks of holidays and I wasn't about to ask anyone to spend the whole time reading (unless they *cough* wanted to).
2. Style: going for non-fiction but modern (no Victorian-era novels) with rich theme
3. Availability: re-emphasis on poor, I tried to choose books that would be easily available at the library or used book stores (ie. not so common as to always be checked out, old enough to have a paperback edition, etc.)
4. Cringe-factor: does it make me cringe. I'm trying to be open to books I wouldn't always choose but some things are just out (aka Twilight).

The choices:

Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

The Fifth Business by Robertson Davies

I don't really prefer one over the others. Here's to books!

*If I length was not a factor the top 3 would have looked significantly different: A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry), The Story of Edgar Sawtelle (Wroblewski), and East of Eden (Steinbeck).

Tuesday, November 17

Frugal Rebel

Class was skipped today. By me. It was the first time since the program started that I skipped a class while I was in town (I've skipped two others for traveling/holiday purposes). It was productively spent at the mall. Yikes. I never feel good about myself after leaving the mall (I need a whole new wardrobe!).

We did spend almost an hour in Sephora making up our faces with all the testers. There was a powder foundation that made my skin flawless. $35. I justified it for self-esteem reasons and hunted out the necessary make-up brush. $25. Yikes. But I forged ahead to the cash (guilt twinging).

$79.10. What happened to my $60 purchase?! If $60 caused guilt then $80 felt ludicrous for make-up. I hesitated and asked why the price hike. She responded that the brush was $38 but when I asked where I could find the $25 brush that I intended to buy (not a very organized brush section) she gave me a hasty "I don't know".

"I'm sorry, I can't spend that on make-up". And walked out. Maybe a bit embarrassing but glad I didn't complete the sale just because she had already rung it up. My skin doesn't have a flawless sheen but I would still have a knot in my stomach if I had dropped that cash.

Thursday, November 5

Brought to you by the Letter K

Yes my name starts with K. Other than that I'm not a big fan*. I loathe the icebreaker where everyone is asked to say his or her name with an adjective doing two things: representing oneself and starting with the SAME LETTER as said person's first name.

All is well if you are Brainy Bailey or Fabulous Francine but what about all us K's?

The standard two:
Kinky: in most contexts this is cringe-worthily inappropriate.
Kooky: while I can be a bit strange I find this word awkward and I don't feel that it relates to me at all

I enlisted the help of some nerdy, er, highly intellectual classmates. This was the result:
Kerfuffled: there is an element of truth to this. Check, I would use it.
Kite-flying: I have once flown a kite, yes (thanks Mark!) but I hesitate to define myself by that experience just yet.
Kinesthetic-learner: Kinesthetic Learner Katie, it has a nice ring to it. Ignoring the fact that it is outrageously incorrect it has about the right level of nerdiness to get across my true nature in a two (three) word introduction.

The search continues for a great word. Any suggestions? What do you call yourself during these uncomfortable meetings?

*An inventory of sounds suggests I have something against velarization: hard G sounds (as in gone or gargantuan) are wholely unappealing to me.

Monday, November 2

Fed Up with FedEx

About 5 weeks ago I won an iPod from Crystal Light. Go entering contests online! I didn't say anything before now because I wanted to have it in my hot little hands for real to make sure I wasn't being tricked or scammed. They used FedEx to ship it to me. Problem. FedEx can't get me my package in downtown Toronto.

They call me this morning at 7:18am (I went home this weekend and arrived back in TO on the Greyhound at 5:44 this morning so let me tell you, a 7:18 wakeup call was exactly what I needed).
When can we bring the package? Having class every day from 10-3pm I said after 330. They agree to this arrangement.

I rush home with excitement to see my new prize and wait in the living room to be sure I hear the door. Just after 5pm they call me again:

FedEx: I guess you realize there is a problem with your package.
Me: um, no.
FedEx: The address is a nightclub.
Me: No, I'm pretty sure I don't live at a night club {I proceed to provide very specific directions}.
FedEx: So when can we bring it by?
Me: Tomorrow after 330pm.
FedEx: Sorry, he does your route in the morning.
Me: Sorry, I have class everyday until 3pm. You can drop it off before 930am or after 330pm.
FedEx: We don't guarantee times. Is there any way that you could not go to class???

We keep negotiating: they can't drop it off to security of the condo next door that owns the townhouse.
They don't have an office in downtown TO (that's right, FedEx Ground can't be picked up in DOWNTOWN TORONTO. I'm welcome to go to Mississauga or Whitby though.
I may not be able to sign for my own package because I rent: I have no i.d. that proves I live at this address.

Solution: They are shipping it to my parents' house 8 HOURS AWAY. I can get my package in two weeks when Mark visits. So much for the world's most reliable shipping conglomerate.

Sunday, October 25

Documented

My hobby right now is taking advantage of snooty cultural things for cheap or free. Last night I happened to share that hobby with some good friends seldom seen (NotwithInk & OnHerToes). Our choice of restaurant was chosen by proximity to our next destination so it was not snooty at all but my drink was blue.

The main event was at the ROM Theatre; a documentary by the name "Voices of El Sayed". Major low-budget but the quality of production was wholely irrelevant to the purpose. El Sayed is an unrecognized* Bedouin town in Israel with a large Deaf community. Almost every family in the village has at least one Deaf member and most have more. The village even has its own unique sign languge. The crew follows and interviews three main people/groups: 1) a young Dead man who is a central part of the Deaf community and proud of his way of life. 2) a young deaf girl who loves to be Deaf and aspires to cameraperson. 3) a family with 5 hearing children and one deaf boy (Muhammad) who gets a cochlear implant at 2.5 years old.

The film examines what it means to have an identity and a culture. The Israeli government visited the community to educate them on cochlear implants and offered to pay for the operation and therapy. Muhammad's father decides to take advantage of the offer and his son is given the implant.

In the government's haste to 'cure' deafness they fail to consider the case in context and, one may argue, cause undue hardship to the family. Instance A) Only after the toddler has undergone the surgery (that involves drilling a hole into his skull) does the medical team inform his family that the device must be plugged in to a power source at night. Um, they only get electricity for a few hours a day. The family manages to tap in to a generator.
B) After months of intensive therapy (with his oldest sister trained to work with him to develop language) and still no speech from Muhammad his family starts to worry. Not until now does the doctor play a sample for his father of what scientists believe speech sounds like through a cochlear implant. It is robotic. It is difficult to decifer. His father bluntly tells the doctor that, had he known how speech would sound to his son, he would not have chosen the surgery.

There is so much more I could say about the film but my favourite part of the evening was the sign language interpreter. The movie was subtitled but the question and answer period required interpretation for the hearing and non-hearing members of the audience. Sign is so expressive. So much of the meaning is related through facial expression that to a hearing person seems awkward or over-the-top, but it really is beautiful.

The question period was tense. The expected issues surfaced with a few hearing people asking the director about the potential for a cure, for genetic testing, why no one had tried to help this community. The Deaf audience members took great offense to the suggestion that they needed to be cured or helped in any way or that they were something to be prevented. Who decides what is a disability and what isn't?

*80 000 Bedouin people in Israel live in villages unrecognized by the government because they are outside designated settlement areas. The villages have little access to services and only receive electricity for a few hours each day.

Saturday, October 24

What you missed in GreekTown

The Danforth. Everyone talks about it but I finally visited.

You weren't there. You missed:

Messini: Greek food (in Greektown!). Chicken souvlaki....with french fries inside? Somehow the authenticity plummeted but the taste was still Mediterranean-y with garlic-full tzatziki.

Jack Layton busking for quarters to give to Africa. His children dared him to sing on the street for money in response to the Stephen Lewis Foundation's Dare campaign*. He brought his guitar and a few musical friends (and the orange tent with his name on it). He isn't bad.

Me. Posing with an "I [heart] Librarians sign" on the Danforth. It should be posted on their website: iheartlibrarians.tumblr.com within the day. And it is true: I do.

*Premise: you dare someone (or someone dare's you) to do something to raise money for the fight against AIDS in Africa.

Tuesday, October 13

Sugar Daddy

I keep finding money. In bathrooms. When I'm with Mark. The logical conclusion: he is sneaking into the women's washrooms ahead of me and leaving cash on the floor out of pity for tuition-induced poverty. That must be love ;)

$10 in Spring Rolls (across from the Eaton's Centre).
$5 in the Chatham Via Rail station (This one time in Chatham....I found $5).

Of course there is always the initial guilt about taking the money but with no one around to claim it I just enjoy the little bonus. Hummus and crackers with an orange juice on the train.

Sunday, October 4

Nuit Bland

Last night was Nuit Blanche Toronto*. I didn't get it. Of course I had a great time with the group I went with but the streets were SO crowded and I never could figure out what exactly was drawing such a huge crowd. Technically most of it was installation art but unless I asked one of the (very well-informed and relatively easy to find: check Scotiabank) volunteers I had absolutely NO IDEA what the point was of most exhibits.

Case in point: giant black puddle of vodka with change thrown in to it lying in a schmancy building on Bay St. Any takers?
My initial interpretations:
-Throwing our dreams/wishes into liquid brain toxification
-Looking for fulfillment in the wrong place
-Donating money to the Ontario government
The real one:
Apparently we were supposed to stare into it and contemplate....the financial crisis. Ooooh. The metaphor was that vodka = power (currency or exchange) in many places since the crisis. And it was on Toronto's biggest financial district.
And the money in the pool (you're thinking, oh I get it, money in the pool, yeah): NOT SUPPOSED TO BE THERE! Someone threw in the first one and everyone just followed suit. The artist was apparently pretty ticked off. Meh, it made more sense to me with the pennies.

There were a few neat interactive ones but the wait times were just intense. We did participate in an improv choir and make sounds with our voices.

This isn't to say that I'm giving up on Nuit Blanche (and going home early like last night....in bed by 2am) but I will be making some adjustments for next year:

1) Be more organized. I just followed the crowd but with a big group it is harder to find something everyone likes so we ended up bouncing after a few minutes. Next year I'll have a few key things I want to see/do and have it mapped out (with room for flex of course).
2) Get a nap beforehand
3) Have lower expectations of interactivity

One more exhibit:
We waited in line for a half hour to smell porta-potties. You couldn't use them either. It was another one that made absolutely no sense until I asked someone and then it made almost no sense.
The Scene: A row of about 10 port-potties
Interactive: You go inside and shut the door for about 4 seconds (the volunteers rap on the side to get you out after that long). There is some sort of artificial smell, sometimes a prop (flowers, dirt) and a plexi-glass cube with little scrolls of paper that were too rolled up to read.
My interpretation: ......
The deal: Each was supposed to be a scene from Alice in Wonderland and the scents were to relate to that. If you looked really close (during the 4 seconds you had the booth to yourself) you could sometimes make out a few words from Lewis Carroll's book. I feel like I maybe could have 'gotten' that one with more time. And maybe taking some notes. And if the little scrolls were legible. And if I were high.

Did I mention I think i'll have to bring some potent weed next year? I didn't get that memo before going out but it would have come in handy.

*An all-night event where art installations, talks, music and just random things are situated all over the downtown. Almost everything is free.

Wednesday, September 30

Not Underwhelmed. Not really Overwhelmed.

Can I just be 'whelmed'?

It has been weeks (almost a month?) since I have updated here which makes it so difficult to describe everything that has been happening in the last few weeks.

Week 1: Orientation week. Saw my first baseball game (it was a record-breaking SMALLEST CROWD EVER at a Jays game). Went to a live comedy show (YukYuks) for the first time. Entrusted with a human skull.

Week 2: I cried. A lot. I've never missed home that much before. Instead of jumping right in I hung back a bit. People thought I was shy.

Week 3: Mark visited. For a whole week! It was wonderful! It actually helped me adjust. My milk went bad. Our taste buds went on a world tour. We had terrible shawarma (Mark's first taste).
Saw my second baseball game. Both losses. Mark saw his 7th game. All 7 have been losses. The Jays won every game that week except the one we saw. They shouldn't let Mark go to their games.
Bought my first lottery ticket. Lost my first lottery.

Now: Finally getting adjusted. Cooking meals. Packing lunches. Doing trendy things like buying organic rooibos tea in Kensington Market. Hit up Word on the Street. Reconnected with so many people; everyone seems to end up in TO.

That was just the surface of a very intense month (both good intense and tough intense). The burden of relaying so much information was keeping me away but I hope I'm back to blogging.

Sunday, September 6

Update: Moved In

If I'm going to subtitle this blog Toronto Adventure then a) I should blog about being in TO, and b) I should start being a little more adventurous. We rolled up Friday night, unloaded, unpacked and crashed. I'll admit that since then I've been a bit of a sourpuss. For the first time in all the moving around I have done I just wanted to go home. Take me back to the great white north, I'll work at Tim Hortons.

I guess I'm not looking forward to single-room existence again (the common area isn't very functional). The house felt small, the city overwhelmingly crowded (and BIG!), the choices too many (yes, the paradox of choice), the Mark's too few.

But I'm ready to tackle TO now. I've figured out where my building is, I've made my space my space, I've experienced Church street in a low dose (it is very lively: assless chap'd transvestite anyone?) and I've relaxed.

Things I look forward to:
1. A visit from Mark (10 sleeps!)
2. Buying some of my grocery items at specialty shops (a chicken breast at the local hormone-free butcher here, a wedge of brie from the cheese shop around the corner)
3. My ROM membership!
4. Meeting the people from my program (ice cream social tomorrow night!)
5. Trying out the gym in the condo (or at least i'm telling myself this)

Sunday, August 30

A Few of my Favourite Things

One of my favourite things: friends
Another one: turning over rocks and finding creatures

Exhibit one: MannyAnother Favourite things: water locations

Another Favourite thing: TRIUMPH! The only fish of the afternoon. A 3lb-ish, small mouth bass. (He was released)

Saturday, August 29

Last night Mark and I get all dolled up (well, I put on a necklace) and head 'across the river' (Sault speak for the United States of America) to see a friend sing/perform. It was at the local university - Lake Superior State if that matters - as a frosh event but it was the last chance to hear her sing before I take off.

We show up to the designated room (Flamingo Desert or something along those lines) right on time - because Mark and I can't be late if we tried to be late. We also show up looking a little too mature for frosh week (remember, I had a necklace on!) and walk in to a games room with about 50 first years playing pool, board games and ice breaker activities. No KT Antler (have you found this on google alert yet, KT?). So we grab 90s Trivial Pursuit and hunker down to wait. I'm the latte, Mark is a palm pilot (wasn't there supposed to be a Kurt Cobain???)

3 pies each, 45 minutes later (and no one questioning our age, thank you) my bladder signals and I go in search of a washroom. And there she is: right across the hall. So we missed the first set but we got to play some trivial pursuit (and we tied, which is about as close to winning against Mark as I thought I could get -- there was no Science section!)

We joined the group and chilled with her mom, pop and boyfriend roadie crew for a great show. Oh and the awkward/nice 'freshman' who sat down with us and told us all about ethanol production and asked us endlessly about curling (but of course, we're Canadian!).

Let me just finish with saying: that girl can sing. And play guitar. I'd take her home.

ps. And undergrad was fun and now it is done. Whew.

Thursday, August 27

NOT Ready to Use my First Aid/CPR

One minute Mark and I are making dinner (me: grilled cheddar cheese sangwich. him: pizza grilled cheese) and my mini sis is grabbing a snack. We're joking around. Sis is adding things to the conversation. Then she is totally incoherent; talking to herself almost. Then the twitching begins and the talking makes sense, she is almost trying to fight it off.

Witnessed my first seizure tonight. She's a pro now with three under her belt since April, but this was the first I've seen. Oh, and I don't like it.

Second time I've ever had to call 911. First time was for an old man who had a little too much happy juice and fell outside our house. He was ok. This time I was actually scared. I may have cried. I may have told the dispatcher to stop asking questions and send an ambulance already. It took a long time for her to come around even with the sugar that the paramedics pumped into her. But I was calm by then. That was 5 hours ago. She's been to the hospital and out and you would never know.

The first aid training I went through just two weeks ago at work? Well, I'd love to say that it kicked in. I can't really say it. Some of it did (you're still a good teacher T-rav!):

1. Get her to a laying down position: remembered! (someone was going to put her in a chair and I kiboshed that one)
2. Do you give juice? Not a clue. We played it safe and decided not to have her also choking. Did not remember.
3. Recovery position: didn't remember, but she ended up that way.
4. Move stuff out of the way: remembered!
5. Call 911: remembered!

I don't ever want to have to use my life preservation skills (and only in Quebec are you legally obligated, as a lowly first-aider, to help someone in need -- although once you start helping anywhere in Canada you have to keep helping until the professionals get there)

Wednesday, August 26

Snoop gone Country

Amazing country version of Gin & Juice (originally by Snoop Dogg). The twang just makes the tune. If you don't like swearing then you probably shouldn't listen. But if you do check out this Zac Brown Band song.

Saturday, August 22

Dodging bullets

This house is a junk food mine field. Getting back from the gym today I had to side-step numerous fatty-traps just to put my stuff away. Mostly successfully (two timbits and about 5 sun chips consumed....but you should see how much I DIDN't eat!). Never have a 17 year-old brother with the metabolism of the Flash.

Open the door: open bag of Cheesies on the Deacon's bench

Down the stairs into family room to say hi to sibs: various open bags of chips, chocolate bars, a massive donut box filled with baking goodies from last night.....(Here is my downfall: junk food 1)

Drop my stuff off in my room (home free zone!)

Up stairs (past the cheesies again!) to make a platter of turkey (protein!), cheese & pickles:
Kitchen table sports buns, skittles, cookies and open twix bar. I maneuver around that famously and avoid opening the cupboards where the rest of the packaged filth/scrumptiousness lies.

Barely dodge the chocolate milk in the fridge as I grab my intended meal.

To the living room where I browse the net, eat my protein and avoid the shiny wrappers of the chocolates on the piano.

One thing to look forward to about school: being way to cheap to keep junk food around the house.

Saturday, August 15

A Fine Saturday

Lately (about the last two weeks) I've been pretty down. At least significantly more emotional than would be normal for me (especially since I tend to cry semi-annually). It isn't all bad; maybe being a bit more emotional would be good for me. I think I've narrowed down the causes:
1) All my handy crazy drugs are now definitely out of my system.
2) Just a few weeks before a big change: back to school, leaving Mark, some stress and a busy big-city life.
3) Lack of purpose. I function best when I have things to accomplish. The first part of the summer I had a class to complete and a garden to tend to. Now I have my "A" secured and the garden just keeps giving and giving without much taking.

This Saturday was a good day. Hot, finally. Mark and I ventured to the 'other side' (aka America) to pick up the textbooks I had shipped to the US side to save on shipping. We took the afternoon to explore our twin town that is definitely fraternal. We took the shoelace express through the little shops, had a Bratwurst (that was NOT a hot dog), fudge and ice cream were involved.

Back from the Twilight zone we tried kite flying for a second time. Unsuccessfully for a second time after I managed to break our rainbow flyer within the first 3 minutes just a few days ago. Epoxy doesn't hold kites together. But it did get me to take out my camera again. It has been a while and it feels good. I was on a roll so I took some of my garden too.
Lil'sluggy enjoying my peas

Big poppa zuke
Some (zucchini) fruit of my labour
Broccoli gone to seed (pretty flower seed) with chamomile fleurs in the background.
The whole shebang!

Monday, August 10

Mission Accomplished

I played 3 games of ultimate tonight (just 1/2 hour ones) and I didn't embarrass myself. Luckily it wasn't very competitive and everyone was friendly, fun and encouraging. I had some great catches and even smacked the frisbee onto the ground so the (unfortunately named) Team Hymen Gels couldn't get it! But was I winded. The ladies I covered were talented and fast.

I felt like a salt-lick afterward. Moose would flock to me to replenish electrolytes. Showering was a must but I was reminded by this article from Good Magazine about my/our ridiculous water consumption. Feeling guilty I'm trying to make adjustments. Testing the military-style shower they recommend (only running the water to wet and rinse). This isn't me saying I'm now some super-eco but just that there are really easy things I/we can do. But this will only matter if I do it regularly. There are some not-so-easy things recommended in the article too. Like putting on a toilet seat on a bucket and relieving oneself into a bed of sawdust. Crap. Sawdust. Pee. Sawdust. You get the idea: bathroom backlava. Then just compost and, voila! Nutrients into your garden. I'm thinking that I'll never get there.

Wednesday, August 5

Blindness (2008)

Originally a book by Jose Saramago this story was adapted into a movie (the latest movie trend). The premise: people all over the US are suddenly struck by a contagious "white blindness" which causes the general public to freak out and lock up the sufferers.

Genre I thought it would be: thriller/action/doomsday
Genre it really was: Commentary on the human condition/thought-provoking

The film is set up as if it were a social experiment (the Milgram Prison experiment meets the Warsaw ghettos). What happens to humanity when any legal system is taken away, food is scarce and no one can see who you are.

And that is where it gets so disturbing we turned it off. Yep, there is lots to learn from this film. And a mass-rape scene. Skip that part.

Tuesday, July 28

The Proposal

But not mine. The movie. Fooled....anyone? Too obvious?

I might have a little girl crush on Sandra Bullock; she is so hot in this movie. It (briefly) made me want to go to the gym 6 days a week and stop eating carbs. Props to Ryan Reynolds as well but really, go Sandy B. This flick was hilarious and sweet and not even a total chick movie (but more a chick movie than not, let's be honest).

Garden update: HUGE. Zucchini: ready to be picked. Potatoes: bushy, need to be mounded more. Peas: a'flowerin. Broccoli: edible-sized (if that size is 'bite'). Cauliflower: invisible, sadly the cold weather has stunted the growth of this yummy veggie.

School update: the next big challenge is textbooks. No one likes to stare down the barrel of $800 in paper and ink. For one semester. Better things I could get for $800

1. and ipod touch and a new wardrobe
2. a laptop
3. a place ticket....don't really care the destination
4. a handmade quilt from etsy along with another $650 in cool home/room decor
5. laser hair removal (yep, I said it, and want it).

Saturday, July 25

Emo Band Math

How old the Emo band looks: 12
Add 5: 5+12 = 17, Oldest anyone is willing to believe the band is
Add 15: 17+15 = 32, Best estimate of Emo band's actual age

Mark took me out on a date last night. We found out that neither of us really like fancy food and we like our Pad Thai to taste like Pad Thai (not asking too much, are we?). Fancy restaurants always ruin great food with fancy ingredients. Think that cappeletti sounds good? Except for the blue cheese. No mushrooms, baked squash or mold for me, please!

The second half of the night was spent at a local club/lounge/bar watching a local Emo-punk band. The math above applies to them (note: I haven't actually confirmed their true ages yet). The music was good but the lyrics were....written by 12-year-olds. The bassist could have been a younger and much more awkward little bro to Michael Cera. The show was to kick off their (10-day!) tour. Hopefully the balding drummer has his license or someone's mom is also going on tour for 10 days. Not bad for local though. More creative lyrics and they could draw some decent crowds.

Wednesday, July 22

Hoping I'm not Being Scammed

For the second time I have agreed to rent a room from 8 hours away on the word of the landlord. If I get what they promise I'll be living in a classy townhouse in the LGBT area of Toronto just 2km away from the majority of my classes (not perfect for walking but definitely bikeable).
--Large furnished bedroom with two big windows (yay, no playing tetris with my furniture in the back of my mom's van).
--All inclusive hydro, parking, internet, phone, dishwasher, AC....
--Free access to the condo pool (ozonated), gym, tennis & squash courts, etc.
--Sharing a bathroom with just one other female student

Things I'm excited about:
--Frosh week! Yep, even us old grad students get our very own activities
--Indian food!
--Getting started on these final two years of edumacation
--A normal bed not 3 feet off the ground
--Visits from Mark :)

Wednesday, July 15

Good News

This Monday I received an email telling me that I received a scholarship for my grad program!

A few thousand bones for tuition.

AND

A few thousand bones for TRAVEL!

Somewhere 2011* is ON!

Of course, they aren't just giving me money and telling me to travel (not that I really need any ideas). My grad program includes 4 unpaid placements, the last being 2 1/12 months. It is this last placement that I'll be spending in a developing country of their choice. Them being the International Centre for Disability & Rehabilitation.

*This was previously India 2011 but the location is now a mystery.

Monday, July 13

As seen on Hwy 17 North

Just past Agawa Indian Crafts towards the soo....good thing we stopped so I could use their facilities.
A young bull moose with cute new antlers. My dad wouldn't let me get closer than 40 feet from him. Thidwick here didn't seem to be bothered by me at all; he dug around in the marsh for a bit then headed deeper into the swamp. This visit to Wawa: 1 moose, 1 partridge, 1 alien-looking crustacean in Hawk Lake. This thing was messed up, I'll post pictures when I get them.

Saturday, July 11

Uncommon Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss seems to get the most credit and recognition for just a few of his books: The Cat in the Hat and How the Grinch Stole Christmas being two of the most beloved. However, the cat in the hat can be considered comparably dull next to many of his other creations. If you like Dr. Seuss (or if you just like fun), try these other books.

Scrambled Eggs Super
--A young Peter T. Hooper gather eggs from birds all over the planet to create his amazing scrambled egg dish. You just know all those birds are going to have hilarious names.

Batholomew and the Oobleck
--Batholomew, assistant to the king, saves the day when his boss decides to have his magicians conjure up some new weather. The sky begins to shoot down sticky green oobleck that covers the entire kingdom. A touching story about being content with what you have and admitting when you're wrong (even if you happen to be royal)

McElligot's Pool
--Who knows what you might find in McElligot's pool. It might include wonderfully rendered cowfish, rooster fish or thing-a-ma-jiggers.

The 500 Hats of Batholomew Cubbins
--didn't know Dr. Seuss had recurring characters*? Well dear old Bart returns with a crazy assortment of head coverings.

*He makes it into one more Dr. Seuss story called The King's Stilts. If you grow to love Master Cubbins you may want to check this one out, too.

Other notable favourites: If I Ran the Zoo, Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose (I don't know if the large-hearted Horton was pre- or post- Thidwick), On Beyond Zebra, The Cats Quizzer, I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today

Note: While checking the wiki-list to be sure that I hadn't missed any of his greatest I came across The Seven Lady Godivas....where none of them wears clothes. Apparently this was Geisel's one and only illustrated adult book.

Monday, July 6

Notable This Week

This week looks extra social. Mark and I are going from never calling or making contact with people we like to having almost every evening booked. Don't get me wrong, I like people! I'm pretty excited. But I also have to be sure to get some down time (people can get tiring when you're not used to having friends).

--I made scones from whole wheat flour this morning to bring on a coffee date with a wonderful hippie to talk gardens, composting and grassy organic butter.
--Mail received:



Apparently, if you register for a Petro Points card online, you can get them to send you mail under any name you desire. Unfortunately the card doesn't have a name, drats! Any Friends fan knows what the P. stands for (it should actually be P.C. Bananahammock)





--(not actually this week) Mark had an empty wall in his living room so we covered it with matte-vinyl in the shape of a world map. So classy. From etsy.














--Found green caterpillars eating my broccoli. Picked them off and threw them into traffic. Broccoli plants looking a little better.
--Lots of the cousins (and their respective parents) visited over the weekend. Played entirely too much Apples to Apples. The cousins are finally old enough to be treated like real people. Fun times were had.

Friday, July 3

3 days Free

This is the third day that I haven't ingested any mind-altering substances. Too bad the end of this 'high' is just coming off Effexor. I've been weaning myself from this stuff/crap since March or April. Wow. Could this take any longer? Even stepping down one dose at a time in month three week intervals is bogging up my brains. *brain shock* Cross my fingers I don't go emo any time soon but as of right now I feel ok. The brain shocks are all over the place and I'm a bit more emotional than before but nothing that isn't normal or can't be handled. I'm tired of putting money into the pockets of mega-pharm. Looking back I sometimes wish I hadn't chosen the drug route, that I would have been stronger and not fallen for the solution being offered to waaay too many people these days. But then again, it really did help.

That means two months to adjust to feeling all of my emotions again before the big challenge of heading off to school.

I hit up JC Penny the other night and scored some sweet deals. I'll be living in Toronto so I figured it was about time that I owned some skinny jeans. *brain shock*. The list of criteria for my sweet new place there that I haven't found yet is growing too:

-within walking distance from school
-gym in the building (no excuse not to go!)
-affordable (ha!)
-two or three housemates

Maybe it isn't the longest list but being cheap and having high expectations don't really fit together in downtown T.O.

Monday, June 29

You Just Know

One of the most annoying answers to a question lots of single gals want to know (I've asked it myself): How do you know he is the one?

When the most important thing is knowing you'll be together. For me it has been the (almost) sudden realization that, if it came down to it, none of those childhood fantasy weddings, or honeymoons, or diamond rings, or big houses really matter.

I don't need a big hall, or a big party, or an expensive cake, or a fancy ring, or lots of presents, or a big crowd, or a pouffy dress, or really any of those things. Although some of them wouldn't be accepted gladly. Of course I want to feel special but I've just realized that I can compromise and that I'd give up some of the glamorous things if it meant him being happy or us being together sooner. I've known for a while but this is just one other level of knowing.

Sunday, June 28

Dead is the New Alive

At least for celebrities.

Just this week:

Farrah Fawcett
MJ
Billy Mays

They come from all levels of celebrity but still more or less household names. Apparently occult brain injuries are in too (Billy Mays & Natasha Richardson)

Thursday, June 25

Expected today: Studying for a test. Mark visiting for lunch (yay!). Breakfast.

Unexpected today: Michael Jackson died.

This may be our North American Lady Di, although I doubt I'll remember where I was when I found out though (for Diana I wandered upstairs early in the morning because I couldn't sleep and my parents were watching the news). He pretty much had to die young, I don't think anyone could really believe him as an old man. His tragic metamorphosis over the last two decades had to end somehow (sadly, it wasn't with his upcoming comeback tour).

His music is almost universal. I'd guess that most people have at least one memory connected to one of his songs. My strongest association is Free Willy (also rocking to this with B.Mitts to the haunting drums).

Tuesday, June 16

Celebrating two Years

Mark and I have been an official couple for two years and 2 days. And we still like each other. And to celebrate we exchanged cards (his for me included roses) and went to a concert.

Marianas Trench to be exact. Emo pop-punk at its most talented. Actually. They are all classically trained singers (f'ing choir boys, according to the lead singer) and harmonize throughout their songs. The lead singer had underage girls grabbing every area of his body as he serenaded them with great feeling. One of the young'uns even interdigitated with his outstretched hand...who does that?

The lead singer seems to be the only true emo of the group who actually cries himself to sleep at night. He tried to end the show with a love song to his youthful addiction: heroin. But we weren't having it so they continued to the long-anticipated Shake Tramp. And with the bassist looking like David Boreanaz....oh yeah.

Sunday, June 14

Earning my Nickname



My very first blanket has been completed!

Hoping this turns out to be a cheap baby gift alternative. And makes me feel productive when I do things like watch LOST on my computer.

Two weeks until the completion of my final undergrad class...so of course this is how I should be spending my time.

Tuesday, June 9

Not wanting to admit it

But I've officially become one of those girls who only hangs out with their boyfriends. I've disappeared. I never thought I would one of those people but it is so easy to do. Partly I try to fit in as much time with Mark as I can knowing that I'll be in Toronto very soon and missing him like crazy. Another point: I've just become socially lazy because I'm content with just Mark. Being with people all day at work and working with clients all day takes out my need for socialization at night. Funny how life can change so quickly. I always thought I'd be alone until I was in my 30s.

Friday, June 5

Just don't call me Late for Dinner

I've collected a few nicknames at my place of employment this summer:
Vixxen: a carry over from last year
Weird girl: this is my moniker during our lunch posse outs
Nonna: the most recent, translates as grandma in Italian. It stemmed from my habit of taking unfinished things in my purse for later (the can of juice I didn't open at a press release thing today. hey, free juice!). It could also be related to my garage-saling, gardening and crocheting....

Wednesday, June 3

Got put in my place

by a bunch of old ladies at my first yoga class tonight. Ok, well that isn't exactly the style of these people to "put one in one's place", but that is some crazy *beep*. Apparently not all the poses have easy names like downward facing dog but there was a cool one about being an beetle stuck on its back. I'm not sure if I'll go back. I wish there was exercise I could combine with my new relaxation found in crocheting. I'll put up a picture when I finish but my mother has been supervising my first work: a baby blanket in boy colours. 23 of 60 rows done. So far I've only had to pull out about 4 rows. This is going to be my new thing, it makes me productive when I catch up on LOST (what, all pregnant women on the island die? I'm that far behind). Plus it is a cheap baby gift alternative.

Other peaceful developments: the pea and carrott seeds are in the ground (no sprouts yet though!) and the broccoli, cauliflower, rosemary and spearmint have been transplanted into the garden...let's hope the current frosts don't get them. I'll be experimenting with my spearmint and chamomile plants once they become established to make fresh tea.

Thursday, May 28

Physiology text book talks Farts

"To selectively expel gas when feces are also present in the rectum, the person voluntarily contracts the abdominal muscles and external anal sphincter at the same time. When abdominal contraction raises the pressure against the contracted anal sphincter sufficiently, the pressure gradient forces air out at a high velocity through a slitlike anal opening that is too narrow for solid feces to escape through. This passage of air at high velocity causes the edges of the anal opening to vibrate, giving rise to the characteristic low-pitched sound accompanying the passage of gas." (Sherwood, 504)

Making farts sound excessively scientific: what a fun writing assignment! I feel like writing resumes every day with high school students about babysitting is almost equivalent.

Saturday, May 23

A note to self:






Order desired seed potatoes in March 2010. They sell out early! Why stick to boring varieties when the Andes mountains have created a whole spectrum of complementary tubers. Why not dig this out of the ground:

I would thrive on dinner parties where I served these unassuming outer-jacketed potatoes baked, only to have guests be blasted with different wavelengths of light when cut open.



Thursday, May 21

118/70

My blood pressure. According to me that is. Reliability is an issue though. 50% of the time I have found my patients/victims to be heartless and pressure-less. Taking an online physiology course does have its benefits. Part way through the year they send you a big box of goodies to perform experiments with. A REAL BLOOD PRESSURE CUFF AND STETHOSCOPE!!! Needless to say that I brought that to work this morning and took all the ladies' blood pressures. Remembering to put the stethoscope in my ears forwards (not backwards) was my biggest hurdle as it limited my ability to hear the blood squirting through the brachial artery.
Other things in the kit:
-fake blood
-typing serum for said fake blood
-a stop watch
-reflex hammer thing (there are more reflexes than just those obvious knee ones!)
-an eye patch

Sadly everything eventually has to be returned. Most experiments require a guinea pig...poor Mark.

Sunday, May 17

My most masculine attribute

probably has to by my handwriting/printing. It is just sloppy. I try to make it pretty and round and full but (especially if I'm writing a lot or the word is long) by the end of the word it is just a big jumble of bumps and lines. This is a stereotype attributing poor orthography to males but my experience has backed it up (I work with high school students.....)

Studying for a physiology midterm on Tuesday has caused me to focus on the shapes of my letters more than usual since I'm writing out key points (I just can't learn without writing it out!). Do you ever consciously alter aspects of your handwriting? I remember deciding in 2nd grade that 2's with the curly bottom were prettier and started to write them back. I returned to the less superfluous side back in high school. In university I adopted the flat-topped 3. Right now I'm in the process of assimilating the print-style 'a' (just like that one!). It is just so much more fun. I'm not sure how successful it will be since it is much more common than numbers so I often forget to form the shade-giving portion unless I'm focusing closely.

Maybe someone should have rapped my knuckles with a ruler when I made misshapen letters way back in the day, then others could read my writing now. Then I could read my writing now.

Monday, May 11

pet peeve

When someone gives a card without actually writing something in it (aka just signs their name). It just seems so impersonal. I mean, Hallmark is eloquent but I do know that all those fancy words were not written by the giver lol.

Anyway, this was not stemming from any specific experience except maybe Mother's Day having been yesterday. Lots of cards were given out, I hope most people put more than just their name in the cards for their moms!

My mom is pretty cool. She drove 8 hours to help me move back from school this year. TWICE! In one week!

This blog has been neglected for a few weeks. About as long as I have been home. Being back at work has been more stressful than I had anticipated, it saps a lot of my emotional/social energy. BUT I should really just keep reminding myself that I'm very fortunate to actually have a steady job right now. Times are extra tough here for students this summer. A lot of my stress comes from feeling like I'm not helping them enough!

Monday, April 27

Habituating Myself

To having coolness available at all times that is. I spent my morning touring my future campus and repeatedly reminding myself that I will, in fact, be able to acclimatize myself to the intimidating size of the grounds. I had been to areas so close to U of T before but had never actually been there. Even though the entire thing is actually quite impressive I will be spending most of my time taking all of my classes a few blocks away at the Rehab Sciences building. Apparently all of my classes will be in the same room. With the size of this school all of my classes are in the SAME ROOM?

I am already loving the fact that the campus is submerged within the city: be gone university bubble! The tour guide today was trained in historical tours but we mostly found out where to score free or cheap meals. There is even a haunting legend about a mason named Reznikoff (sp?) who finds out one of his workers is plotting to steal his money and his fiancee to which Rez retaliates by chasing him with a hatchet. You can still see the hack marks in the door which Diabolo used to shield himself.

The second reason for coming to the city before heading back to the Soo for the summer is to scope out some potential residences for September. So far I've found a pretty good deal at 40 min by transit and 30 min via bi-cycle. But I'd be sleeping in a loft bed. But the kitchen has black granite counters. But the room is small. But utilities, internet, cable...all included.
I still want to get a feel for places a bit closer to campus but this place may be my new home for a while.

After lunch with friends I wandered Kensington Market, bought a really neat-o fair-trade shrug and enjoyed some Smashing Pumpkins performed by two dudes on the street playing some punk cello. I would be infinitely happy if all of my days could include punk cello.

Monday, April 20

Completed


Just finished reading "The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible As Literally As Possible" by AJ Jacobs (he also wrote a memoir about reading the entire encyclopedia).

He is genetically Jewish but lacks almost any sense of faith or religious affiliation to start but decides to take a year and try to understand how we choose which laws/advice from the Bible to follow and which to ignore. He doesn't do it haphazardly but reads the entire Bible, makes copious notes and gets regular input from a variety of Jewish and Christian sources.
The lesson: there is always interpretation regardless of how literal you're taking things. He does end up gleaning what he wants from it and leaving the rest.

Worth reading almost just for the snippet about his attempt to fulfill the law in the Old Testament to "pebble" adulterers.

My brilliant plan I envisioned while torturing myself with statistics for 5-8 hours a day has been to do book reviews via Haiku. Get some creativity a'flowin. It was going to be just haikus but I'm thinking, at least to start, they will remain supplementary.

Beard: Symbolical
Open Bible quest for truth
Simply agnostic

Things Haiku can teach me if I keep this up:
--how to make every syllable count (a whole book in 17 syllables??)
--how to choose only the extremely relevant

Appraisal so far: needs work lol

Wednesday, April 15

Bragging Rights

o

When I get bored I watch TV or read or go for a walk or call a friend....stuff. When my brother gets bored he turns a 6 string electric guitar into a 12-string. What? Not sure where he got his technical ability from but from me it was definitely NOT.

For those of you who understand instruments/music this is what he did:


-17 hours work totall
-total cost $20 (I only had to buy the strings, and a small file set)
-Got the idea from Jeremie, who was only joking at the time

First thing I'm going to address, the controls;
There is no pick-up selector switch, I took it out and put in 3 volume knobs. And yes that is a volume slider, the volume slider is a master volume. Each volume knob controls 1 pick-up, so that is how you select your pickups (this allows for very nice tone controll). That black button is a kill-switch (that mod was actually made BEFORE it was being turned into a 12 string).

Secondly,
That one machine head** (AKA tuning pegs) looks a little funny because there wasn't enough room on the headstock to actually fit it on straight. The nut alone (white thing at the top of the neck before the tuning pegs) took me 4 hours to file the correct size grooves for each corresponding string gauge. That bar on the headstock between the nut and the machine heads was a last minute mod I had to make to make sure the strings have enough downward tension to the nut.
I had the machine heads just laying around.

Third,
The neck is staying very straight under the added weight of 6 more strings, I don't know how.

Fourth,
The saddles on the bridge I actually just flipped over and cut 2 grooves in each one with a dremmel for the strings. Some are better than others, but they all work.


There are still a few problems with the intonation (if anyone knows what that is) that I can't seem to fix, but it's not noticable if playing below the 7th fret

A photo-grapher he is not but I think he'll be ok without that skill.

**the only thing I think about with Machine Head is the old Bush song.

Monday, April 13

A (possible) New Annual Tradition

What can you do with
1 piece of styrofoam
1 newspaper page
1 straw
2 ft of string
1 plastic bag
some duct tape ??

Try to keep an egg from breaking when dropped from a height. Not just an elementary school project.

Thursday, April 9

LASTs

Yesterday was (sweet murphy brown let this be true) the LAST UNDERGRAD CLASS I will ever take. Yes, I still have 4 exams. And actually another class that doesn't end until mid-July. But those aren't classes and the other is online so not class! Ha! It only took me a lot longer than everyone else but I did it!

The deadline for acceptances is April 22nd. But mine was mailed two days ago. Why not? I know what I want and I wasn't taking any chances. There are still conditions: B+ in the last 4 prerequisites that I am taking. Not exactly crazy difficult but still a bit unnerving. I'd rather be unconditionally accepted but whatcha gonna do?

Some of us went out to celebrate last night. Some of us being people who went through the testing application process together and got accepted. Apparently McGill has made an oops and due to an "administrative error" all offers that were sent out over a month ago are still pending and won't be confirmed for another few weeks. Big mistake on their part. Especially because they didn't bother to tell anyone about the glitch until the day before the acceptance deadline. That doesn't sit right with me. Or with one of the celebrators last night who had McGill as a first choice but has now accepted UBC because she wasn't willing to let other offers slide if McGill couldn't give her a 100% offer. They are going to lose all their first round picks. Bad on McGill this year.

Another switch. Just a week ago I was stressing about whether I'd get THE email or not. Now I feel like the go-to person for advice on getting in.

ps. Happy --th Birthday on the 12th Mark!

Sunday, April 5

Under normal circumstances Gigi (the cat) is NOT allowed in my room, especially not while I'm sleeping (her favourite things to chew are my laptop plug-in and my cell phone).
However, she managed to sneak onto my bed while I was grouchily responding to the idiot who rang the doorbell 7 times at 430am (thank goodness for peepholes). When I returned I didn't have the heart to kick Gigi out, she looked so cute! So she stayed.

And she purred. Purred for hours. Remember those FurrrReal pets? Ever notice how they made the purring so real by just putting plastic box with a marble inside into the cat's head? Just saying.

Something else I learned: she likes the taste of make-up I was too lazy to wash off before bed. Do't you love it when a cat grooms your face for you then grooms their, well, special area?

Wednesday, April 1

Completely UNrelated to Fooling in April

This morning I awoke to a email of glorious acceptance. Then I ate breakfast and returned to an even more glorious email of acceptance. That's right, TWICE! Including my top choice school. So I will be (barring any unforeseen circumstances) be living in Toronto and completing a masters to become a SPEECH-LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST. Something I said, or something my references said, convinced them that I am the right kind of material they are looking for. At both Western and U of T but I'll be accepting U of T because, well, it is a year shorter: pretty easy choice!

Never thought I would have the chance to live in Canada's largest city. Think anyone will suspect I'm not from around those parts? haha\

[Editor's note: Soon I will be an expert on Canadian/Ontarian universities. The University of Toronto will be the 5th university that I have attended/taken a class at. The rest of the list: Guelph, Western, Athabasca, Algoma (just look it up). In fact, although I never took a class there, I got to know the University of Calgary pretty well too. I'm a serial student. I have 5 student numbers! 5 Student emails!]

[Editor's Note #2: Wait-listed at Dal. Well, Toronto wants me, so there Halifax!]

Thursday, March 26

Miraculously Sweet

There exists a berry (native to West Africa) that, when eaten, makes anything bitter eaten within a few hours after OUTRAGEOUSLY SWEET!!!! Sour lemons? Try Miracle Fruit. It has been on my radar some time and I (desperately?) want to give it a try. It has the novelty of breathing helium or optical illusions. I like things that mess with my senses (WITHOUT the use of illegal substances thank you). It is mentioned in the kitschy book "Fruit Hunters" by Adam Gollner. It will likely come out first in its most lucrative market for artificial sweeteners (all us obese North Americans who want to have our cake and eat it too, without it going straight to our guts, thighs or working out). Other potential uses: making food appealing again to cancer patients thus helping them to recuperate some strength and nutrients. Diabetics. What a funky berry!

Sunday, March 22

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! (tomorrow)

My 24th birthday was shaping up to be pretty pathetic. No real plans. Homework. Dinner (somewhat out of pity, let's be honest) with my boyfriend's sisters.

But Mark to the rescue! He arrived at my door at 2pm yesterday with no warning. I hadn't heard from him the night before or all day yet and was resisting the annoying girlfriend desire to message him constantly and call to see where he was. I'm glad I played it cool because his absence was travel related!

What a great birthday surprise! He's here until Tues to celebrate with me and even the most mundane birthday seems special now. It was completely unplanned on his end too (which adds to the romance in my opinion) he decided Friday night at 430 pm and left the next morning at 430am. 430 am! He must really love me. 4am blows.

I opened my gift a bit early too:

Lonely Planet: Best in Trave 2009 (we spent the afternoon planning our hypothetical round the world trip only going from west to east)
Bastard Tongues: all about Creoles....its perfect!
AND a nifty wide angle/macro lens attachment (which I still need to test)

Sunday, March 15

The Best Spring Day is Made of....

Cruising in a red 1990 Mazda truck
Windows rolled down for the fresh air
Country music on the ever-so-slightly crackling radio
One-handed grip on the worn steering wheel
Glorious sunshine

Friday, March 13

Salt n'Peppa

With no experience to draw from I often wonder how I will handle the inevitable 'sex talk' with my future children. I know I want to be straight forward and just use the real words in an age-appropriate way. But I believe it is just as much about HOW you say it as what you say (kids will pick up if you are sweating with nerves and awkward about it.) Being uncool myself the suave sex-talk just doesn't seem likely to be something I'll excel at. Basically what I want is for not to have THE talk and that is it, I want everything to be open forum in my household.

Such a contrast from how I grew up. I don't actually think that my parents are total prudes who would avoid questions about sex but we just never talked about it. Somehow I picked up very early that asking about sex was embarrassing and awkward and I found anything I needed to know from my friends long before my parents thought to bring up the subject. Not just sex but (the possibly more uncomfortable) puberty topic.

The one conversation my mother and I ever really had about sex or puberty:

Mom is outside vacuuming the van and I go to offer some help.

Me: Would you like some help?

mom: Sure. So....do you want to talk about your period?

me: No. (turns and goes back inside).

I was about 11 and already had the info. Why can't we be more like Europeans? This topic came up while I studied and eavesdropped on a a gaggle of undergrad girls recounting how they learned about sex/what their parents told them. It seemed like the only one with a completely comfortable experience was the one who spent summers in Germany with family where everything was just matter-of-fact-of-life type stuff. Oh my poor first child...

Thursday, March 12

Child's Geography

This may not be easy to explain now that I face putting it in words but I still remember some small parts of how the world looked to me before I really had looked at a map or connected the cartographic lines with actual places, places that I knew.

Let's see if I can make sense of this:
B.C. - now standing for the Province lining the west coast I used to picture it as a large land mass to the north. I also believed that is somehow stood for (the letters BC that is) the literal end of the world (meaning that is where the lemmings jump off, the world just ends)

Toronto: I thought everything was Toronto. We visited my aunt every summer in Georgetown, which I thought meant basically Toronto. Etobicoke too. Kitchener. Burlington. Gravenhurst (gravenhurst??? yep, Toronto) All pretty much Toronto.

Guelph: this place name really meant nothing to me until I applied to the university there but I do remember having an image of a town on the very bottom tip of Ontario on an island. Has to be on an island.

The first time I actually entered the city limits of Toronto would have been over Christmas break in grade 12, meaning I was 17. But I sure thought I had been there almost every summer for my entire life.

Tuesday, March 10

Reasons I could Lose my Mind

Thursday evening I have a midterm for 7 chapters of an online physiology course. I haven't had to work this hard to memorize so much material since high school!
As for the reasons:
1) does scurvy cause madness? I'm out of everything but eggs and can't go to the grocery store until late thursday
2) I thought doing the study guide as instructed would help...it does. But it also ELABORATES and gives more details than even the textbook...awesome
3) I emailed the T.A. for some reassurance and got none. Less than none. I have been informed that yes, all of those nit-picky little details about which protein allows doublets of microtubules in cilia to slide past each other (dynein) will be included. His exact words "It is exceptionally difficult, but doable. Study hard" Thanks.
4) Other classes can't be skipped to study because I have midterms in both of those classes next week.
5) I miss Mark.

Are those enough reasons? I could come up with more but those are the most pressing. I will be getting my nourishment in the form of knowledge these next few days (ok, i'm sure i'll grab snacks from the convenience store too).

Also, I realized that I routinely commit a heinous gym crime: visible non-white socks at the gym *gasp*. Acceptable: sockies that can't be seen above the shoe OR white sport socks
My socks: colourful flamingo socks above line of shoe (I have pants so this isn't a tall sock-with-shorts thing) but my workout pants do make me look like i'm waiting for a flood.

Saturday, March 7

Walking Pathetic Fallacy

The weather has been like a woman in menopause lately (up, down, tears & hot flashes) and it is taking me along with it. I'm a sucker for a sunny day but drabness and rain get me down when I'm already a bit lonely or looking forward to two weeks with 4 midterms.

My distraction outside of homework this week has been Big Love. Yep, a tv show and it is all about polygamy. But it makes the characters so endearing (even the cute brunette from "He's just not that into You" is one of the wives). It focuses on a Utah family (one husband, three wives, 7 kids) trying to keep their lifestyle a secret while living in a normal neighbourhood and running a very public Home Depot-type store. All the sister wives just love each other (ok, they disagree, a lot). Just imagine this scenario with the genders switched: One woman bringing home the greasy bacon and three doting husbands all sharing the wife and submitting for the ultimate good of the family. Ha! I was going to get all huffy about the husband and how he is constantly in a state of indignation when he feels he is being lied to but pretty much constantly keeps his business dealings a secret (you know, wouldn't want to worry all those wives). How he blatantly went on dates with another woman (can't get into heaven without lots of wives). But, well, it is a show about polygamy......

Where is the show about polyandry?

Tuesday, March 3

Some People just Don't Know Funny

Joking around is my style, I just can't take everything too seriously. I typically get a kick out of my own jokes. Sometimes other people do too. Often people do not appreciate my humour.

Today in Spanish class we were working on vocab and the word was desdén (disdain). The prof asked us how we might show disdain/dislike for someone non verbally.
"Not talk to them"
"Not invite them to a party"
"Ignore them"

"Put flaming dog poo on their doorstep"
*silence accompanied by blank stare by professor*

Continuing on. I get a nudge from a classmate, "You would actually do that?"

Um, no, it was a joke.

Monday, March 2

I'll Hit 400 Posts Next Time

This weekend I: got to chill with a good friend (and together take my drunk housemates out for McDonald's, at least they were being responsible); go to my last volunteer Saturday for the language centre where I worked with children with communication difficulties; threw a bridal shower for a friend; had dins in St. Thomas for Mark's grandmother's 89th birthday.

About three of my Friday night hours were spent making these:

I can now make something impressive and all it took was a recipe for marshmallow fondant (because the real stuff is just way over my head for now). A few tips though: 1) have someone else around to help you add ingredients (your hands become encased in marshmallow pillows)
2) Plan for a few hours to do the decorating, at least until you get the hang of it
3) Have a tub of icing and use an icing bag (or ziploc with the corner cut off) to save time when applying the decorations (it doesn't stick without regular icing)


It is definitely no Bakerella but I'm on my way. It was fun, maybe I can combine my scrapbooking and cake decorating....that would be a challenge.

Tuesday, February 24

Just to Drive Mark a little more Crazy

Today was a study day. My chosen distraction was laundry and organizing my 'bookmarks' and revisiting pages I had tagged as interesting at some point.
This brought up The Name Wizard, a cool site that lets you see a name in many different ways. You can see a graphical representation of the popularity if (almost) any name using NameVoyager (Katie has a big spike in the 80s of which I was born smack-dab in the middle).
A person can look up a name and get a meaning, rank it on a series of attributes (How sexy is Barnaby?), see its international popularity and even common sibling names.

Speaking of names, I would have been Matthew Ryan had I had a penis. April was also considered but I'm pretty happy I dodged that one (I always associated with the sidekick girl in the horrible yellow suit from Ninja Turtles). Oh and Victoria (with obvious last name problems). My brother is David but I begged my mom to use Dmitri (I still love this) or Darcy. I guess she stuck with the "D" theme and we do still like to joke that he could have been a Vladimir (I think my mom really did toy with this one)

Another site that came up in my stumbling was I love you more than.com. Just a bunch of little hearts professing love using comparison (this would be a good exercise for beginner Spanish class: Te amo más que...) but they are sweet. I may have submitted a few myself but I won't say who for...