Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The final countdown

Because of a schedule shuffle, I got home early today. Which means that I can make one last valiant effort to hit my personal NaNo goal for this year.

I have my thinking cap on, so off I go!

(Cross-posted to my NaNoWriMo blog; link to the left)

The Pogues

Michael Schaub remembers the Pogues at Bookslut.

I love the Pogues, especially their cover of the Rolling Stone's Honky Tonk Women, and their version of Wild Rover they did with Soldat Louis. For me, the Christmas season doesn't start until I hear Fairytale in New York on the radio. I was disappointed when Shane MacGowan left the band, and wasn't fond of his new project, Shane MacGowan and the Popes.

A (sort of) reunion would be cool.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

As for the rest of the weekend...

...mostly, it involved vegging. In front of the computer. Ostensibly, I was working on my NaNo story, which I did make some headway on. I won't be hitting 50,000 words by Tuesday night, and it was a nice fantasy of mine, believing that I would get anywhere close to that, seeing as November is generally a hectic month for me. If I hit 25,000 words, I'll be happy.

I also managed to make it to church on Saturday night (I'm a Liberal-Cynical Catholic). Somehow, every year I manage to make it to the first Advent mass, and then miss everything else until Christmas. But it was good that I made it out, if only that I now realize there's only roughly four weeks 'till Christmas. It's a nice church, and even though the priest's attempts at humour sometimes fall flat, I don't get the overwhelming urge to stand up and argue with him during the homily.

It snowed. Then it rained. Rained some more. And then it snowed again. Right now, I think it's just windy. I know this because I've discvered that there's a draft around my balcony door. I have some rags that I can stuff into the cracks.

Aaaaand.... it's back to work tomorrow. Bother, as Pooh would say.

A night at the movies

Last night, Karen, Karen's friend Kris(tina), fellow-Dal-alumni-and-Sudbury-resident Lise and I went to see Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. It was okay - there were a few genuinely funny bits - like the fountain scene and the scene where she teaches the women in the Thai jail to sing "Like a Virgin" - but overall, it was kind of "meh." I don't generally "do" chick flicks because they annoy the bejezus out of me, but the group of us were going slightly stir crazy and wanted to see a movie. It wasn't that I didn't like it, but I don't think I need to see it again or even read the book now.

The previews were long and slightly dull. Here's what I thought (because I know you want to know what I was thinking) :
  • Meet the Fockers - um, no. I'd rather not, thanks. Dustin Hoffman scares me a little. Also, De Niro looks past his "best before" date. Just sayin'.

  • Hide and Seek - oh look - more De Niro, looking slightly less dried up. And - awww! Dakota Fanning is all Goth! She's what - 10? Nice to see Hollywood is making the kids cynical and pessimistic earlier.

  • The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou - I love Wes Anderson. His movies are quirky and weird, and often have the coolest soundtracks. I can't wait for this one.

  • Finding Neverland - I don't remember this. (I called Karen and asked her what previews we saw, but I don't remember seeing this preview. Also, she said to make sure that I mentioned that the previews were, like, half an hour long, and mostly car commercials*)

Additionally, I was floored - nay, shocked! - to discover that Karen's a fan of the Blade movies. So we are most certainly going to see Blade: Trinity when it comes out. We did the Lame White Girl Posse knuckle-tap-thing to seal the plan. (It was at this point Kris and Lise began to question the wisdom of being seen in public with us.) I think we all agreed that Ocean's Twelve looks like fun, the poster for the new Star Wars film is cool, and that Johnny Depp will be a very interesting Willy Wonka.

Afterwards, we retired to Tim Hortons, where Kris got scared by an extra-smiley chocolate chip smile cookie (it was seriously freaky).

(* For the Canadians - have you seen the new Bell commercial where the guy looses oranges down the stairs and two girls help him pick them up, and then he holds the subway door open for the old lady - the "pay it forward" concept commercial? From now on, start calling it the "pick up an orange, get a toy" commercial. 'Cause, that's what it comes down to, really.)

Friday, November 26, 2004

This just in! Canada Reads lineup announced a while ago

Well, the lineup for the fourth Canada Reads contest has been announced. The competitors are as follows:
  • Rufus Wainright defends Leonard Cohen's Beautiful Losers;
  • Olivia Chow fights for Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake;
  • Donna Morrisey sticks up for Frank Parker Day's Rockbound;
  • Sherraine MacKay (a fencer! Woo!) sides with Mairuth Sarsfield's No Crystal Stair;
  • Roch Carrier (former National Librarian! Woo!) goes to the mat for Jacques Poulin's Volkswagen Blues (translated by Sheila Fischman)
(Thanks to Bookninja for bringing this to my attention. I'm sure the list of books being debated on Radio-Canada is on the CBC web site somewhere, but I found the list in the Bookninja forums - the list includes Life of Pi, The Handmaid's Tale, and Un dimanche à la piscine de Kigali (Sunday at the Pool in Kilgali))

Once again, it will be hosted by Bill Richardson. He's not as good as Mary Walsh was, but I liked him the last two times. The whole thing gets underway on February 21st.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Jesus, Jude, and just plain tired

I received the coolest early Christmas present today at work. Robin, a former co-worker, sent me a Dashboard Jesus - it's a plastic Jesus figurine on a spring that you can mount on the dashboard of your car. Currently, he's sitting atop my television, looking down at my computer and making sure that I don't surf for porn or use bad language. Thanks Robin! I love it!

Apparently, Jude Law has been named People's Sexiest Man of the Year. My reaction - meh. I thought he was fabulous in eXistZ, but I haven't seen anything else he's been in. Besides, I find him prettier than I find him sexy. It's not so much, "Wow - he's dreamy!" as it is "Wow - I'd kill for those cheekbones!"

And after being up really late every night last week and this weekend, consuming vats of coffee, and helping Karen move, I'm exhausted. I'm so tired it's not funny. (And, somewhere, Karen is reading this and hollering, "Whaddaya mean, you're tired? I'm the one who moved!" And she's right - she has much more to be tired about than I do. But this is my blog, so I get to be more tired than her - at least here.)

Right. Normal and coherent posting should resume at some point after the weekend. It's not that I won't post before then - I just can't guarantee that it will not be rambling and incoherent, much like this one has been.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

I'm a Linking Badass!

For the last.... 3 hours? Yup - 3 hours, I've sat here tinkering with my links (to see the full list of links, click on "Click Here to View" in the left column.) See, I wasn't really happy with it because it meant that I had to maintain two Bloglines accounts - one for my personal use and one for the blogroll on this blog. The problems with this included:
  • Throwing off people's stats - it looked like two separate people were linking to their blogs, when it was actually me twice. Sorry guys.
  • Updating - It meant logging out of one account and logging into another account to add blogs to my list.
  • Non-RSS blogs - I couldn't include blogs that I couldn't subscribe to. I don't have very many at all that don't have RSS (which stands for Really Simple Syndication).
So... wait, I'll back up a sec...

Allow me to slip into geek mode for a sec. Anyone who isn't interested can go get a drink or a snack or something - this won't take long.

The Blogger template that I'm using as the basis for this uses CSS, which stands for Cascading Style Sheet. It's a way of formatting everything, from background colour to underline style, in one place. For example, if I were using plain HTML and wanted all the section headers to be a different font, colour and/or size than the rest of the font on the page, I would have to tell it the font, colour, and/or size every time I wanted to add a header. With CSS, I can tell it that whenever I use header tags, I want them to be a certain font, colour, and size. It saves room in the body of the source code, because all the formatting info is in one spot. It also guarantees that if you change the formatting for, say, underlining, it's changed everywhere, and not just in the places you remembered to tell it be dotted as opposed to solid.

You're back already? No, this won't take much longer - can you go change the CD? Thanks.

Anyways. The nice thing about CSS is that, since it's all together and in one place, it can be stored in a separate file and linked to in the source code. Which is what I did. The file for the CSS for this page is stored off-site, which freed up some screen-space. (It doesn't take up actual memory. But since the code was quite long, I had to scroll through a massive amount of stuff to get to where I wanted to edit anything - which was usually the Reading section.)

So now I have more screen-space to play with. Which is why I decided to change how I linked to other blogs and web sites. (Okay, you can come back now. I'm out of geek mode.)

(And to the real geeks reading this - leave me comments if I've FUBAR'd the explanations in any way, shape, or form.)

Now the links are right there on the page. Yes, it's a lot longer than the snippet of javascript which Bloglines gives you for your blogroll, and updating it means poking at the raw code with a stick, and it takes up a load of space. However, the benefit for me is that it's easier to add blogs and such that don't have RSS-feeds, and it gets rid of the little advert at the end of each of the lists. (Bloglines is useful, and I love it, don't get me wrong!)

The benefit for the people whose sites I've linked to is that if they search for sites that link back to their sites, mine will show up. So that's one more person linking to them and giving them notoriety, and the fame and fortune and everything that goes with it.

As to the links themselves...
  • You'll notice there are a boatload more than there were. Pre-tinkering: 47. Post-tinkering: 73.
  • "Commenting on Things" is the closest thing I have to a "Miscellaneous" category. Some of them are media/political commentaries, while others, like Boing Boing and J-Walk, are more generalists.
  • "Secret Masters of the Universe" are librarian and library-related blogs. It's based on a line in a Spider Robinson novel where he refers to librarians as being "secret masters of the world." But I like "universe" better. So there. This is also the section I should work on breaking down somehow.
  • "If You Can't Stand the Heat" is cooking/food blogs.
  • I have a list of blogs written and maintained by women, but not one for men. The problem is that I don't have that many blogs written by men that didn't fit into another category. I think the only strays are Ironpants, Postcards from the Reg, When Crustaceans Attack!, and Wil Wheaton. Hmm... two of them are Antipodean, so maybe I'll group the other ANZACs together and call it "I Come From a Blog Down Under." I'll think of something.
  • The assigning of blogs to one category as opposed to another was completely arbitrary. So, while Chicklit could be in either the Canadian or Literati groups, I put it where I did because the contributors are international, and the literature they profile usually has something to do with women's studies.
Aaaaand.... it's taken me another hour to write this up. Sheesh. For now, or at least until I redo everything, this is how it's going to stand.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Breaking up is relatively easy to do

One of the things I did manage to accomplish this week was to break up with my annonymous online journal. I started it last year, and was pretty good about keeping it up. However, the posting interface was clunky and limited, and I would sometimes have problems getting to it at all. I'd outgrown it, but wanted to make a clean break so that the last post people would see would explain why it was so hopelessly out-of-date. I'm not going to link back to it, since a) I don't post there anymore, and b) it was meant to be annonymous. It's not that I posted nasty things about people there, but I'd rather just let it go.

So, anyways, here's what people will see when they go look at my old journal. May it rest in peace.

Sit down, we need to talk

I know that no good ever comes of conversations that start with "sit down we need to talk." Some of the worst conversations I've had started out like that.

But I need to tell you something, something that you're not going to want to hear. [Name of service], we've been great together, and I appreciate everything you've done for me - namely, get me writing on a regular basis. But I'm sure you've noticed that I haven't been around for a while. My last post was in September - and that was a while ago. I know you've been wondering where I've been and why I've been so distant and uncommunicative. You're not going to like this.

I've found someone else.

There - I've said it. It wasn't easy, but you deserved to know. I've been seeing this other blog since August... yes, I know - we were still together then, and I was cheating on you. But you have to understand - I grew, and I needed more than you could give me. This other blog has challenged me to do things I couldn't do here, like learn CSS. I couldn't tell people about you, because you were supposed to be an annonymous thing, so no one (except for a very few people) knew who I really was. Now, I feel like I can be myself, because it's all out in the open.

I'm so grateful for what we had, but it's time I moved on. Thanks for everything, and I hope that you'll find someone else. In fact, I know there are others out there who would love to have you. Go, be with the ones you love.

Good-bye ;(

Wake me up Monday morning

Man, it's been a busy week. I woke up this morning convinced it was Sunday, and was only marginally happy to realize it was actually Saturday. Wait - I was happy that it was Saturday because my Pepe was coming to visit. I think Thursday night I was home, but I did some of the laundry, so was distracted. But I've been on the go every other night.

The happiest part is that Karen is finally all moved into her new apartment! Naturally, it piss-poured rain all morning until the last load arrived, and it stopped. Pretty much all the boxes and small things had gone over Tuesday and Friday, so it was mostly furniture today. When I left this afternoon, quite a bit of unpacking had been accomplished. It was at the stage when there's boxes and packing materials and knick-knack all over the place, but everyone is asking her where things go and there's so much going on that it's hard to finish anything. Hopefully, she got out to get groceries sometime this evening.

Pepe came up this afternoon to take me out for supper. Yes - that's right. He drove for 6 and a half hours to take me out for supper, and will be heading to Guelph tomorrow morning to have supper with Denise. Isn't that sweet? It was fun - he and my grandmother came over around 4:30, and we sat around and chatted for a while, and then went out for supper. We had to wait for a while, but it was worth it. After supper, they dropped me off. (Right - they also brought a bag of stuff I had asked Mom to send me, plus a few surprises! A Nativity set from 10,000 villages! A cheddar and broccoli rice mix! Yeah... Not so much a surprise as a "Huh?")

And apologies for not posting that much this week. All my writing has suffered this week, due to a deadly combo of lack of sleep and caffeine overdose.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

And the award for Most Inappropriate Motivational Cheer goes to...

The grade 8 teacher from my Mom's school who was coaching the boy's vollyball tournament yesterday. Apparently "The Smasher" was overheard yelling:


And, knowing him, he probably wasn't even aware of what he said.

Marquee Club

Marquee Club to close Jan. 11


(Thanks to Audra for the sad news)

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Woo-hoo! Saved!

A big thanks to my sister who helped me solve my Christmas knitting dilemma. Whew! I'm so relieved! I now only have one Christmas present to knit! Plenty o' time!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Word count confessions

Last night after curling, I semi-hysterically admitted to Karen that I wasn't doing so well with my NaNoWriMo word count (as of 11pm last night - 6754 words). As of yesterday, I should have 25,000 words. Yikes.

(I also should note that I did not slip and fall at all last night. However, our team - who were all there - was most profoundly and thoroughly beaten. Embarassingly so. I won't even admit the score, except to say that we inquired about the "mercy" rule after the 6th of 8 ends.)

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Things to keep you amused this afternoon

Normally, I don't post a lot of links, but I though I'd share these with you guys.

Homstar Runner is silly and goofy and fun for the whole family. The Strong Bad emails are the highlight, but I would play the games, too.

iLL WiLL PreSS is one I've mentioned before. The animation isn't as slick as HSR, but it's pretty funny nonetheless. Watch "Free Your Mind", "Nuts to You" and "The Jiggly Butt."

Weebls Stuff is very musical. Maybe you've heard/seen the annoyingly infectious Badger song video (if not, what are you waiting for?). Magical Trevor is also pretty catchy, as is Kenya. (Denise, I'm warning you - don't watch the Salad Fingers cartoons! They creeped me out!)

An unexpected Sunday morning

I was supposed to curl in a funspiel (a bonspiel, but without the competitiveness) today with Karen, her dad, and someone else. It's not that I don't enjoy curling (when I'm not falling on my butt), it's just that I didn't feel like it this morning.

As I was making a mad dash for the door this morning (it was almost 9 and I couldn't remember if I was supposed to be there at 9 or 9:30), Karen called. For whatever reason, our team wasn't registered, and there was already an even number of teams signed up. So we didn't have to curl. YAY!

(Note to my mother: No, I didn't get changed and go to church. Since I was in my sweats anyways, I went for a walk instead.)

In other news, I got the tires on the car changed yesterday. It took about 3 hours - an hour for the car to go in, half an hour to change the tires, and 1.5 hours of me waiting for them to tell me it was done. It was still on the lift but there was no one around, so finally I went and asked. "Oh. Oh yeah! It's done." Well, were you going to tell me or keep me around for another 3 hours?

I can keep myself amused in Canadian Tire for - tops - 45 minutes. During that time, I looked at the cheap prefab shelving units, wandered through the lighting section, strolled through the sportsman/hunting section (and got Dad's Christmas present), and meandered through the Christmas decorations. I also called Mom on the cellphone and begged her to amuse me, but she was teaching someone to make bread, so there went that idea.

While I was in the paint section, I started grabbing random paint chips, just because I wanted to get some ideas for colour if I get around to redoing this site, or even for knitting projects. I lucked out when I found the colour scheme chips - they're strips with four or five complementary colours that the manufacturer recommends putting together. Tres cool.

Now, to work on my NaNo story, on which I'm woefully behind.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Why I'm not (and won't be) blogging about work

Quite a few people who have blogs (and whose blogs I love) talk about their day jobs, along with other things. That's fine and cool - sometimes, that's why I read them.

But you'll note that I rarely - if ever - talk about my job. Oh, I might mention co-workers current (Hi Karen! Hi Jeff!) and past (Hi Robin!), but I won't talk about the specifics.

I am trained as a Librarian - I refer to myself as that, even though that's not my job title right now. It's just a lot easier to say "I'm a Librarian who works with other librarians" than try and explain what a Library Consultant (not actually my job title either) does. Since I graduated with my MLIS from Dalhousie in 2001, I've worked in a few different jobs, some of which included the word "Librarian" in the title, but basically I was always working in a library-type environment. But now I'm working in an office, and the job is slightly different. So why not?

1. Privacy of our clients. We work with a specific type of library in Northern Ontario. Not that anyone besides the organization and our clients would be interested in what we're doing, but I'm not going to talk about what I'm doing for a specific client(s) because the conversations I have with them are confidential, as far as I'm concerned.

2. Privacy of my co-workers. I love the people I work with - they're a good bunch. We have weekly meetings where everyone gets updated on what everyone else is doing, but again, not really of interest to anyone else but us. I respect their personal and professional privacy by not talking about them or their work.

Karen and Robin are exceptions. Robin and I started at roughly the same time, but she left in September. Karen still works for the organization. Both of them are friends I hang out with outside the office, so I will occasionally mention them. However, I don't talk about what they do at work since I'm respecting their professional privacy.

4. Privacy of the organization. We do stuff. The people we do stuff for know it. What goes on behind closed doors stays there.

5. This is a personal blog. This isn't a professional blog, where I'd post stuff targeted towards the clients. If/when I start a blog that is work-related (updates, articles, help, etc.) I will not be linking to here from there, and I will not be linking to there from here. I am making a conscious effort to keep my professional and personal lives separate. Here, I can post about stuff that amuses me (and my family, for the most part.)

6. It's boring. Really? You'd start snoring if all I did was talk about work. I can pretty much summarize my workday thusly: get to work, change the message on my voice mail, check my email, do stuff, have lunch, do more stuff, and go home. There you have it - the exciting life of a Library Consultant in an nutshell. I'm doing you a favour - trust me.

Birth Announcement

From Steel White Table - Her Water Broke

Congrats to Jody and his wife on the birth of their second child, a son!

Mother, Father and child are all well. Uncle Phillip, on the other hand, is beside himself...

Get happy now, damn it!

Okay, so things are a little less distressing now. I suppose the pot of coffee I'm drinking is part of it.

At any rate, Jessica (of Ultratart) posted a list of songs she can't possibly be unhapping listening to. Looking over the list, it seems like a good idea.
  • Brass in Pockets - The Pretenders
  • Every Inambition - The Trews
  • Go - The Apples in Stereo
  • No for the 13th Time/Size of a Cow - The Wonderstuff
  • De Rhum, Des Femme - Soldat Louis
  • Margaritaville - Jimmy Buffet (I can't sing worth a damn, but it's so liberating to wail away to the chorus. "WastiIiin' awaaAAayyY agaAAIin in MAAArrgaritaAAVilLLLL!" Pick a key - any key! - and sing along!)
  • Honky Tonk Women - Rolling Stones
  • Excursion Around the Bay - Great Big Sea
  • Five - Look People
  • Radiation Vibe - Fountains of Wayne
  • Tug on the Line - Tommy James and the Shondells
  • Istanbul (Not Constantinople) - They Might Be Giants
  • Montgomery Angel - Leslie Spit Tree-o
  • Home for a Rest - Spirit of the West (admit it - this was your theme song in university, right?)
  • Oye Como Va - Tito Puentes
  • Dancing Queen - ABBA
  • Le Lys Vert - La Bottine Souriante and The Chieftans
  • Northern Lites - Super Furry Animals
  • Get Up - Starkicker
  • Walkin' on Sunshine - Katrina and the Waves
  • Lovely Rita - The Beatles
  • I'm An Old Cowhand - Harry Connick Jr.
  • Blue Heaven - The Pogues
  • I Love Rock And Roll - Joan Jett
  • Groovy Train - The Farm
  • April Fool - Rufus Wainwright

Friday, November 12, 2004

It gets better... well, not really

I think I killed Natty Boho.

(Natty Boho is my African violet. He's named after the beer in Drawing Blood.)

I've had him for a few months now, and he's been doing pretty good. I watered him once a month, and ignored him the rest of the time. He, in turn, didn't die on me. Like Spike, the ornamental pepper plant did (a month). Like the unnamed miniature rose (less than a week - I think it was on its way out when I bought it.) Like the Newton Pulsifiers (I through IV), all ivy plants. And all the nameless other plants who've fallen vicitm to my black thumb.

Natty was different. He didn't die. He was happy on my bookshelf, out of direct sunlight, like the little information spike in the pot said. I would walk by and smile, knowing that I had finally met a plant who wouldn't leave me like the others did.

But something went horribly wrong. I think I overwatered him last week. The last time I'd watered him was before Thanksgiving (so, last month), and all I'd really done was wave a glass of water in his general direction. I thought that this month, maybe I'd give my dear Natty a little extra to make up for last month. Alas, I think I overdid it.

His little leaves are limp and weak. One stalk is already dead, and there's another that isn't doing so well. The stuff I thought was new growth is pale green and fading fast. I've put Natty on the table in the dining area in the hopes that being in the sun will perk him up a bit. However, I'm afraid it's too late....

Natty, I'm so sorry!


My stupid car. Man, it's in good condition, but it's going to make me crazy. Any time I finally manage to save up enough to make a really significant payment on my Visa, it goes and does something that needs to be fixed ASAP.

However, this time it's waited for the opposite situation. I had enough to get me through to the next paycheck, get some groceries, maybe go out for dinner on Saturday night (I had to pay the rent on this past pay). But! The oil needed to be changed. Like, badly. I won't say how badly because Mom will tell Dad, and I'll catch hell from him. But! It's done, so I'm good for another few months. And maybe I'll have to make do with some of the leftovers in the freezer, but still - I can get some fresh veggies and stuff. It's not terrible.

Then the mechanic pointed out that the rear driver's side tire is flat. Like, really flat. It should have 35 pounds of pressure - yet, it only had 2. Not good, but he filled it for me.

This morning I go to leave for work and look at the tire. Guess what? If you said it's flat again, then you are correct.

Crap. Shit. I need new tires.

I had planned to do this anyways, at least for the rear tires, which are the old front tires. The front tires are all-seasons, which I got last year, so they're fairly new. So I could replace the tires that are on the back with the tires that are on the front, and get new snow tires for the front. That's what the ol' Visa is for.

I just wish it could have waited until next weekend to do this to me!

Thursday, November 11, 2004

We Remember

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada and other parts of the Commonwealth, and Veteran's Day in the U.S.

Today is the day I remember my Pepere, James Larocque, who fought in the Second World War. He never spoke about his experience, but he talked about some of it just before he passed away. He was stationed in London, which was difficult for him since he didn't speak any English at the time. Eventually, he learned English, and was in fact engaged to an Englishwoman for a while. In the end, he couldn't bring her back to Canada. The village he was from and where my Dad was born is in an isloated corner of Northeastern New Brunswick. It's not so bad now, but sixty years ago it would have been much harder to travel there.

He didn't say much about the fighting, except that he was at Normandy on D-Day, in the second wave. When they saw what was happening, they turned back.

To my Pepere and all the other vetrans of all the other wars - thank you.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

This is sad

St. Catharines, Ont. — A rural Ontario community was left reeling with grief Tuesday after a mother and her seven children perished in a massive overnight inferno that reduced their farmhouse to a blackened, smouldering ruin.

More than 40 firefighters arrived at the scene in the township of West Lincoln, south of Grimsby, Ont., just before midnight Monday night to find the two-storey home completely engulfed in flames.

(Original article)

My mom called earlier in the evening to find out why I hadn't called. "Called about what?" said I, who had just awaken from a nap. "Call to find out about the fire."

"What fire?" Oh crap, I thought. Something major in Fenwick has burned down. God, I hope it wasn't the library.

"The fire in West Lincoln [technically, my parents live in West Lincoln and not Pelham, but it takes too long to explain]. It was on the CBC."

No, I hadn't heard about it. I went to the Globe and Mail web site and found the article. A tragedy, that's what it is. The mother and seven children - all under the age of 12. My sisters thought it might be a family that went to our church and had gone to the school Mom teaches at, but it wasn't - thankfully.

The recent US elections? A setback and an annoyance. This is tragic.

We've got a curler down!

Last night was the second time I've fallen so spectaularily at curling that teams on the sheets on either side of us stop and come over to make sure I'm okay. Thank God for all my extra padding!

Last week, we finally met the two people who would be mine and Karen's new teammates (more on that later). The new guy and I were sweeping for all we were worth, and we'd just crossed the hog line. I glanced up to see where the other rocks were so I wouldn't trip over them (because I'd totally do something like that). I felt my left heel slip out from under me and I went flying, landing flat on my back and knocking my hat off. From everyone else's perspective, it looked like I either landed on the rock or hit my head on it. At any rate, I just lay there for a few minutes, collecting my wits, while several people came running over. I was fine - merely embarassed.

However, last night's fall was worse from my perspective. Our new new team's sub and I were sweeping and were about to cross the hog line. I could feel my feet slipping, but I didn't want to stop because the rock needed all the help it could get. I think I said "I'm slipping!" and went flying; this time, I landed square on my tailbone. Unlike last time, I tried to get up right away, but the skip on the team on the sheet next to us came running (okay, slidding) over, and started hollering "Don't get up if you're dizzy!"

Okay, I admit that I can be klutzy and clueless at times, but I don't think that was the dizzy he meant. I was halfway up and stopped because my lower back was starting to get painful in a bad way, and things were still swimming. I didn't hit my head, but I think I have a minor case of whiplash (it still hurts a bit). I took a few deep breaths, and sat out the rest of the end.

Today, my tailbone hurts in the way that anything that gets bruised will, but the rest of my back isn't sore. Had I fallen on my hip, or even hit my tailbone slightly to the right of where I hit it, they would have had to take me out on a stretcher. I have a trick back - old fencing injury.

There's a "fun"spiel on Sunday, and I'm on a team with Karen, her dad, and her brother. I may invest in hobnail boots before then just in case.

(The ongoing saga of mine and Karen's lack of teammates. It was expected at the beginning of the season that there would be others signing up for the rec league without a team, so we'd round out our team that way. As it worked out, there were enough people for seventeen full teams and one half team - Karen and I. For the first two weeks, our empty slots were filled in by a series of "Special Guest Stars", such as Karen's dad, her brother, and another floater.

Last week, we were told that the organizers had finally found another couple for us to round out our team. They played one game with us, and asked to be switched to another team. Mind you, it wasn't because Karen and I suck, but because they were in their late fifties, and wanted another couple instead of a couple of hot chicks to curl with. Ha ha. As it happened, another team had lost two of their team, so the two couples now curl together. And Karen and I were still without a team.

The team we played against had a sub, and he said that he and his friend could play with us for the last three weeks. Great. Terrific. At least, for the last three weeks, we'd have some consistency.

Last night? Buddy threw his shoulder out and couldn't curl. His friend did come out, and did curl with us. And our "Special Guest Star" slot was filled by one of the other guys on the team we curled against last week. And we did the best we've done so far - it was another team of people who were all roughly the same age as us, and at roughly the same skill level. We lost on the very last rock, but it was a close game all the way through.

Next week? We'll see what happens.)

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Wait, how do you do that again?

The rest of the workshop was pretty interesting. Saturday was a melange of flamenco and "Oriental" (a term for a style of belly dancing - I'm fuzzy on the details). Naturally, I had taken the shoes I wore at the Friday night workshop out of my bag, so I had to do it all barefoot. The choreography we learned highlighted the difference between flamenco and the Middle Eastern style of dances - flamenco is aggresive, stronger and loud, while belly dancing is all about the feminine, soft movements, and grace.

We also learned some more about the history of the dance, regional variations, and the music itself. I will never understand 9/8 time; at the point where I started getting the rhythm, the instructor added a little hop-step, and I lost it again. It was a bit frustrating that I was having so much trouble picking it up.

Originally, I hadn't planned to go to the Saturday night recital, but I'm glad I did. Some of the upper level students, including Karen, did routines. The dancers were all amazing. Lucie , who is my teacher here, did an amazing piece at the end. Hadia, who lead the workshop this weekend, did two flamenco numbers and an Oriental piece.

Today was mostly Oriental, but the choreography we learned also had a number of South American elements to it. I had a much easier time with today's stuff - which isn't to say that I'll be able to go to class on Wednesday and teach it to the rest of the group, but I remember more than the first three steps.

And now I am exhausted. Fortunately, I took tomorrow off, so I don't have to get up in the morning. I may end up spending the day sewing the coins that fell off my hip scarf back on - yesterday, I lost four or five, but today I lost over a dozen. I found all of them, plus an extra someone else had lost after everyone had left.

Friday, November 05, 2004

An apology

I'd like to offer an apology for the somewhat angry tone in two of my earlier messages. I was seriously pissed off about the results of the US election, and even though I'm not American, I know people there, and I know that they're going to be hurt by some of the policies Bush is going to introduce, that are influenced by a strident closed-minded minority who aren't ashamed to force their views on others.

Anyways. I've decided to get rid of my anger, accept it and move on. I will use my Librarian powers for good - not evil - and wish good karma on everyone who will need it over the next four years. I will - to use the phrase my mother is fond of telling me repeatedly - "let it go." (You can tell that I've had trouble learning this simple lesson if she's having to tell me on a regular basis. I'm just very stubborn and my mother is blessed with an overabundance of patience.)

So, I'm letting go. NOW!

You know what else I hate about the election? (Kidding!)

One... two... three... GO!

And another thing.... (Got you again!)

Letting... go... RIGHT NOW!

Have I told you what I think.... (Tee hee!)

Hey! Wait! Come back! I'm really going to do it this time! Honestly!

Ole! *ouch!*

Flamenco - the dance designed to cause much pain to your feet and give you shin splints.

It wasn't that bad. It was actually interesting - we learned quite a bit about the history of the dance, where it originated (from the Roma in Spain, who were originally from India - there are strong ties to traditional Oriental-style dances), regional variations (Spain vs. Brazil vs. Argentina vs. Equador etc.), and the role of the dancer. Did you know that in proper flamenco, the singer is actually the leader, not the dancer? They call out the dance moves, the dancer performs them, and the guitarist follows along.

The dance itself is complicated. The music is in sets of 12 beats, as opposed to 8, and counting isn't much help since the timing is more intuitive than anything else. Arm movements are slower and bigger than in belly dancing, and you only really move the forearm - the elbow doesn't move. I won't even go into the footwork. Most of the time I spent with my eyes closed so I wouldn't watch someone else do it and get confused. There's one sequence that took forever to get down:

Pick up right foot; let it fall (basically, stomp gently)
Tap left heel on floor and bring forward slightly
Tap right heel on floor (left foot is still in the air)
Bring left foot down
Tap right heel on floor and bring forward slightly
Tap left heel on floor (right foor is still in the air)
Bring right foot down

The variation on this is to do the first four steps, then stomp with your right foot again and repeat steps 2-4 again. Eventually, you'll get the hang of it - and then we'll throw in the clapping and the timing. That was always the thing - I'd get the footwork down, and then we'd be shown the arm waving and clapping and finger-snapping, and I'd be lost again. Sounds fun, n'est pas?

That was the other thing - the instructor did most of the class in French. She repeated most of it in English, but sometimes forgot. Her French is quite good, and she wasn't using slang or dialect, so while I didn't understand every word, I got the gist of things.

Now, I'm exhausted. I want popcorn badly, but it's too late. I need to pry my contacts out before they glue themselves to the lids of my eyes, and go to bed.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Things that made me smile today

Because I'm trying not to dwell on my bitterness, here are some things that made me smile today:
  • The picture from CNN that Jody posted. Seriously - I laughed out loud!
  • The headline on the Weekly World News - "Marilyn Monroe Alive and Well!" Apparently, she's been living with 34 cats and a retired plumber in Cleveland all this time!
  • Clementine oranges are available!
  • It's snowing! Granted, it's wet snow and will probably be gone by the morning, but - snow!
  • My Pepe (a French word for grandfather) is coming to visit in two weeks!
  • At this time tomorrow night, I will be learning to flamenco! Ole!
  • My sister's description of her two cats!

Still speechless...

Almost everything I read today suggested that scumbag half-wit won because many people liked his stand on "moral issues" - in other words, gay mariage and abortion.

Yes, because that's what's really wrong with the country. Forget the economy. Forget the mess in Iraq and the Middle East. Forget the Every Child Left Behind education strategy. Forget the corporate scandals, the constant threat of terrorism being held over your heads, and the failing social support system. None of that was important. What really mattered were those damned gays and loose women.

Spare me.

I had a whole long rant composed in my head this afternoon about opposition to gay marriage. What it boiled down to was this:
  1. You think that a man marrying another man or a woman marrying another woman is a threat to the sanctity of marriage? Please. I've heard various numbers tossed around, but the divorce rate hovers somewhere around the 40% mark. And since only hetrosexuals can get married at this point - guess what? It's straight people who are messing up the institution as it stands. Not gays. Straights. Hetros.
  2. How sad is it they would deny the happiness and satisfaction of a loving relationship between two consenting adults simply because you're squicked out by it? The world is a big huge place filled with depressing, mean things; it's cold and impersonal, and when you think about how much could be done to make it right and how little is actually done to make it right, it's almost overwhelming. So when you find someone to share your life with, whose happiness is tied to your own, who knows all your faults and imperfections and still wants to be with you more than anything else in the world, why deny that? You love whom you love, and calling that sinful and wrong is surely a greater evil than saying, "I now pronounce you, Adam and Steve, husband and husband - go forth and be happy!"
As for abortion, I'm pro-choice. I don't think I'd ever have one for philosophical reasons, but that doesn't mean I think other woman shouldn't. It's a personal decision that a woman has to make, and just because she has the option to abort doesn't mean she will choose it. The analogy I use is this:

You want ice cream. Nay, you need ice cream - maybe for personal reasons, maybe for medical reasons. But all you have is vanilla. Vanilla just doesn't cut it for whatever reason. So, there's chocolate - chocolate is good too, another valid option. Now you have a choice - vanilla or chocolate. Sometimes you need chocolate because otherwise terrible things will happen. But sometimes you just want ice cream - and having the choice between vanilla and chocolate doesn't mean you're going to chose chocolate. At least you have that choice.

I think that's all I want to say on this. I'm still going to be fuming, but I'll be moving on shortly.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


I can't.... I'm just.... I'm... speechless... just....


I can't believe that lying sack of shit got re-elected. Jeezuz Goddamn Christ Almighty. What the hell were you thinking?

I'm so upset and angry that I can't even articulate it. I'm angry that enough people were able to look past his lack of accountability and experience and hatemongering and warmongering to vote for him again. I'm upset that Americans are going to be convinced that the whole world hates them when really we despise their politicians and politics. I'm heartbroken that the thuggish and bullying tactics that have been used since 9/11 on Middle East nations and other nations that wouldn't support that pathetic excuse to invade Iraq and don't believe the whole thing has been handled with anything approaching intelligence, will continue for another four years.

I had a headache for most of the day - a bad one. Partly caused by tar fumes from the building across the street, and partly because I couldn't stop thinking about my dear friend who lives in upstate NY and my Mom's cousin in Boston.

About a year and a half ago, my friend made the extremely difficult personal decision to come out of the closet. His brother is gay, and he'd been trying to deny the possibility that he might also be gay. But once he acknowledged it and told us, I congratulated him, told him it didn't change how I felt about him, and wished him well. I had hoped that by coming out, he could finally feel free to be himself, and that the weight of hiding who and what he was could finally be lifted off his shoulders. But no - apparently, his "type" are deviants and evil, and shouldn't be afforded the same rights and freedoms that the rest of the population are. Eleven states passed referendums banning gay marriage. What's next - discrimination, isolation, repression - I shudder to think.

My Mom's cousin in Boston works for Polaroid. It's a company that's not doing well at all. At the end of every month, she has to wait to hear if she's got a job next month because they are constantly laying staff off. And if the worst does happen, what does she have? She doesn't have a pension, because they lost it when the company was taken over a few years ago. She's not far from retirement, but what the hell is she supposed to live on if she makes it that far? Yet CEOs of companies who mismanage them to the point of bankruptcy get huge payoffs and bonuses - what? You're not a CEO and your company has gone belly-up? Too bad. So sad. Didn't you people remember Enron?

What's wrong with you? You actually think that idiot has any plans or goals beyond completely screwing up the Middle East and giving in to every fantasy of the wacko fundies? You thunk wrong.

There's nothing else I want to say, or can say without resorting to strong, family-unfriendly language. If you need me, I'll be quietly fuming over here for the next four years.