Thursday, December 14, 2006

Book update

Finally, an update on what I've been reading (unfortunately, it hasn't been much.)

Book #23 took me a long time to read and I'm not totally sure why. The subject matter was interesting and the book was engaging and easy to read but I found that I wasn't in the mood to sit and read for hours on end about poverty. That said, I learned a lot from reading Out of Poverty: and Into Something More Comfortable by John Stackhouse. Stackhouse is a foreign correspondent with the Globe and Mail and in this book he travels to impoverished villages and war-torn countries in order to discover some of the ways the people were trying to raise themselves up without the aid of NGOs. He discovered that people could be incredibly resourceful and savvy when given a push in the right direction. This book was incredibly insightful and if you are at all interested in international development, I would recommend it.

For book #24 I decided to go with something light after spending months reading about poverty. I've always enjoyed Philippa Gregory's historical novels so I sat down with The Constant Princess. I wasn't immediately drawn into this book about Katherine of Aragon's rise to the throne but as I read more I found it harder to put down. Like all of Gregory's novels, she portrays Katherine as a strong woman who has a few flaws. There's not much else I can say about this book except that if you've read and enjoyed some of Gregory's other books you will most likely enjoy this one as well.

Gifts for book lovers

Do you have a book lover on your shopping list who is particularly hard to buy for? Head over to 50books.com and check out the Second Annual Holiday Gift Guide for some seriously kick-ass suggestions.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Woe is me

Last night I had the worse case of what I ruled out as appendicitis so assumed was really bad gas. I've been feeling off since Friday evening so haven't been eating a heck of a lot and have been sticking mostly to salad and bread. After having a small piece of pizza for dinner last night my right side under my ribs really started to hurt. It was incredibly uncomfortable, my back was killing me, I couldn't sleep and by 2:30am I was in tears.

A. decided that he was taking me to the hospital and after a fairly short wait and a painful examination the doctor determined that it was most likely gall stones (apparently greasy food can set off an attack.) They took some blood, hooked me up to an IV and gave me some morphine. That was only the second time in my life I'd had morphine but man is it ever good stuff. My scalp was instantly tingling and within a minute or two I was feeling better. The doctor let me lie there for about an hour and at 5am sent me home with some Tylenol 3 and a requisition for an out-patient ultrasound. I'm really hoping it's NOT gall stones but I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Snow Day #2

The college is closed for a second day in a row which means I get to stay home. Yesterday was Wonderfalls and baking my Amma's chocolate chip cookies, today will probably be Pride & Prejudice and banana bread. Frankly, I'm starting to get bored and antsy - especially since I know there is a lot to be done at work.

But first, I WILL finish the book that I have been reading for the past three months - this is madness.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The end of an adventure

I've been told that I was remiss in not posting photos of the completed renovation so I give those to you now. Everything looks pretty much the same as it did before except the carpet is slightly darker. I want to thank everyone for their kind words during this ordeal - it has helped immensely.






The complete set of Flood '06 pictures can be found here.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Snowflakes

Today at work a few of us decided to make the place a little more festive so we made some paper snowflakes - took me right back to Kindergarden.

Check out my handy work.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Sexiest Man Living

People magazine has chosen George Clooney as this year's Sexiest Man Alive but is he really? The folks over at Salon seem to think otherwise and, while I do think George Clooney is attractive, I tend to agree with their choices.

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In other news, we moved back in last week and everything is back to normal. The walls are freshly repainted, the carpet is lovely and soft and it feels so good to be back home.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

And we've got progress

Things are finally coming along and it looks like we'll be able to move back in sooner than expected. The paint is dry, the vinyl is in and the carpet is supposed to be installed tomorrow. I can't even say how much I'm looking forward to being back in my own condo. All this for a new washer and dryer...


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

On with the holidays

So Halloween is here which can only mean one thing - it's time to start thinking about Christmas. One thing that always gets me in the Christmas spirit is all of the holiday music. I'll listen to anything from an N'Sync Christmas to the classic standards. Stereogum has a nice list of new Christmas releases.

One of my personal recommendations are the Maybe This Christmas compilations.

Any particular Christmas albums you'd recommend?

Monday, October 16, 2006

GoogleTube

Check out one YouTuber's theory on what will happen once Google starts playing with YouTube.

Watch: GoogleTube

via. Table of Malcontents at Wired blogs

For all you Bloglines subscribers

It looks like when I changed my template, my site feed address changed as well so the old one isn't working in Bloglines. Use the "subscribe with Bloglines" button on the right to update your subscription.

The evolution of beauty

Dove has always been known for promoting real and natural beauty and they generally use normal, but still beautiful, women in their advertising. It's refreshing to see a large corporation acknowledge the fact that most women aren't 5'10" and 115 lbs. Their latest commercial, called Evolution, takes a nice looking girl and transforms her into a billboard model, all in a 60 second spot. You've probably seen snippets of this commercial on TV and now you can watch the whole thing.

Watch: Evolution

Sunday, October 15, 2006

And the planning begins

We at LTAIG had our first meeting yesterday to start planning our 2007 salary survey. I have volunteered to be the "project manager" which is going to be a fun task. Luckily our team is full of passionate and intelligent individuals and we all work really well together. It's going to be a bit of a learning curve, for me anyway, but I'm really looking forward to launching the completed product early next year.

Interested in seeing the results of our previous survey? Check out the 2005 LTAIG Survey of Canadian Library Support Staff.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Leaves changing in autumn blues

Do you ever get that feeling, as the seasons change, of an overwhelming sense of blah? Like nothing seems to be going your way and you're not sure it ever will? I've been feeling a little like that lately - work is blah, the condo is blah and I've been bored and antsy. One day I'll be excited that we are going to be getting a new custom made closet and the next day I'll be having an anxiety attack over the amount of money A. has shelled out and how much we still have to pay for.

Every time I go over to the condo I just get frustrated at the lack of work done and at how dirty everything is. Trying to deal with Meloche and get them to send us a cheque has been one of the most frustrating experiences of my life. I've worked at an insurance company before and know that sometimes things take awhile but when it's been a MONTH and there hasn't been any action I have to wonder what kind of people they have working over there. I realize that my $18 a month policy is but a tiny fraction of their book but I have sent a lot of business their way and have had policies with them for the past 8 years. You'd think customer loyalty would be rewarded but apparently not.

On top of it all, I really want to go away with A. but we can't afford to go anywhere. We can't afford to visit either of our families and for the first time ever, Christmas will be spent in Vancouver on our own.

I make it sound as if all of this is the end of the world when in reality I'm just having a pity party for one.

What are your coping strategies for the fall blues? Any suggestions for exciting things to do on the cheap?

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Fforde Affair

Books 19 to 22 were delights to read and I've been recommending them to everyone I know. If you've ever wondered what it would be like to be able to live inside fiction or ever fantasized about trading places with a fictional character (I've always wanted to be Elizabeth Bennett) then the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde is perfect for you. I read the series out of order but my enjoyment of the books was not diminished and I was able to easily follow all of the plot lines.

I read Lost in a Good Book, which is the second book in the series, first, and by the end of the first chapter I was hooked. Fforde has an incredible imagination and has created a parallel universe in which there is a yearly mammoth migration, people keep reengineered dodo's as pets and travel long distances either by airship or in tubes that go through the center of the Earth. This is a world in which the Crimea War is still raging in the year 1985 and there is a policing agency called Special Operations that oversees everything too "weird" for the regular police. SpecOps has a vampire and werewolf disposal unit, a Chronoguard division whose operatives can stop time, and the Literary Detectives of which the main character, Thursday Next, is a member. Thursday usually spends her days investigating forgeries and dealing with crazed fans who insist the Shakespeare's plays were written by someone else (Francis Bacon being the popular favourite), until she has to find a way into fiction to stop a madman from destroying Jane Eyre. I wouldn't call these books science fiction or fantasy or even just regular fiction - they are a genre all to themselves.

The third book in the series, The Well of Lost Plots, is the one that I read second. In this one Thursday decides to take a vacation from the real world and joins Jurisfiction's (the policing agency of the Book World) Character Exchange Program. She takes up residency in an unpublished book currently residing in the Well of Lost Plots and tries to solve several mysteries that have occurred in the book world all while trying to regain her memory.

The Eyre Affair was third and gave me all of the background that I was missing from the other two books. This is the one that started the whole series and takes the reader on a wild ride as Thursday follows advice and clues that she doesn't totally understand.

Finally, I read the fourth installment in the series, Something Rotten. Thursday seems to take on more than she can handle as she tries to save the world by winning a seemingly unwinnable croquet match, foiling the Goliath Corporation yet again, finding an escaped Minotaur and trying to defeat a long-time enemy. This final book will keep you enthralled and the ending will reveal all.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Direct from Whoville...

On Saturday evening A. and I attended the Best of the Fest show which capped off the Canwest Comedy Festival. The show was awesome (how could it not be with comedians such as Janeane Garofolo, David Cross and Scott Thompson?) and before the show we were treated to a sight we had not been expecting. There, in the lobby of the Centre for Performing Arts was Cindy Lou Who herself. I managed to take a few pictures as evidence but since they were taken with my camera phone, from one floor up, off a mirror, and on max zoom, they aren't incredibly clear. Still, I present to you... a Who!


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Pandora

I realize that I'm probably behind the curve on this one but I recently discovered Pandora.com and I'm loving it! I like listening to music at work and most of the time my station of choice is CKUA, a listener supported radio station out of Edmonton, but occasionally I like to listen to music that I know and this is where Pandora comes in. I've created stations based on some of my favourite artists from different genres such as Hawksley Workman, Belle & Sebastian, Edith Piaf and Loudon Wainwright III and Pandora then creates a custom station of other artists based on similar musical characteristics. You can also create stations based on a song you like rather than just an artist. If you haven't already tried it I suggest you do.

Listen: Hawksley Workman radio

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As for our condo issues, things are moving slowly and when we stopped by the condo on Sunday the carpet was still half torn up, there were still giant gaps in the drywall and nothing else had been done.

Our temporary accomodations are working fine for now but we'd both rather be home. Hopefully things will start moving along and we won't be out for too much longer.

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On the reading front, I've completed several books that I need to write about and after I'm done my current one I'm going to move on to some International Relations non-fiction. I'm contemplating possibly doing a correspondence degree in International Relations from the University of London so I thought I'd do some reading first to see if it's something I'm actually interested in it.

Any advice on taking courses by correspondence or on the usefulness of an IR degree would be appreciated.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Flood '06

This has been an interesting week to say the least. A. and I had purchased a new washer and dryer team that was supposed to be delivered this past Friday. In order to have time to clean the closet and get ready for the new appliances we hired an appliance company to come in on Tuesday and take away the old ones. Our old washer and dryer isn't a standard apartment stacker but two separate pieces with the dryer mounted on the wall. In the process of removing the dryer they knocked the sprinkler on the ceiling and set off the alarm and the fire suppression system in our unit. There was water everywhere and the guys stood there useless while I ran around in a panic. Our unit wasn't damaged that bad (the flooring will be replaced and they've cut out several sections of drywall) but the unit below us has to be entirely gutted. Thank god for insurance!





We've spent the past couple of days living in hotels, dealing with our insurance company and packing all of our stuff so we could store it in our rented storage locker. It's been busy and emotionally trying but we've gotten through it together and now we have a new place to live. I spent most of Friday morning looking on the 'net for rented short-term accomodations but everything was booked. I finally found a real estate company that did short-term rentals so we got a place close to Granville Street that will do nicely for the next month. It's not home but it's better than living in a hotel and eating out everyday.





Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Jessica Alba?! I wish...

There's a website called myheritage.com that has a nifty little face recognition feature. One of the perks of this feature is being able to compare yourself to your celebrity look-alikes. All you have to do is upload a photo of yourself, click a button and it will show you pictures of the celebrities you most look like (or so it claims, because frankly, I don't think I'll ever look like Jessica Alba.) Here is my completely unrealistic collage.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Time After Time

I was listening to Z95 on my way to work this morning and they had an interview with Cyndi Lauper. She talked about her appearance on Canadian Idol a few weeks ago and her new acoustic album, The Body Acoustic. Then they played the new, stripped down version of Time After Time (which is a song I've always loved) featuring Sarah McLachlan and I was blown away. I'll admit that Sarah has a beautiful voice but I've never been a huge fan. However, the more I listen to her stuff, especially covers like this one and the Beatles' Blackbird, the more I start to like her.

Download: Cyndi Lauper - Time After Time (featuring Sarah McLachlan)

Monday, August 21, 2006

The art of getting things done

I've been incredibly bad about posting anything lately so instead of boring you with long "we did this and then we did that" paragraphs, I give you my favourite time saver - the bulleted list.


  • During the long weekend, A. and I rented a car so that we could GTD (get things done). We ended up with a shiny Mazda 6 that we both fell in love with.
  • Went to IKEA, spent way too much money but ended up with a great half-round gateleg table, two wooden chairs, two folding chairs, and a shoe rack that I have wanted since it came out.
  • That same night we went to Steveston and had a delicious dinner at Sockeye City Grill.
  • Woke up early Sunday morning so we could head down to Washington. Spend 1.5hrs in the line at the border.
  • Stopped at Anacortes because we wanted to head over to the San Juan Islands but the next ferry wasn't for another two hours and it would have taken up the rest of our day so we decided to nix that idea and head down to Seattle. (Pictures here.)
  • Drove around downtown Seattle looking for a hotel and ended up at the Hotel Monaco.
  • Did some shopping and then went up the Space Needle.
  • Had another amazing dinner, this time at The Brooklyn.
  • Monday morning, went to Pike Place Market for wandering and breakfast. Also saw the first Starbucks.
  • On the way home we stopped at Alderwood Mall and Seattle Prime Outlets and spent waaaay too much money. Got dinged at the border.
  • Emma and Laurel hosted a kick-ass "Hobo Reunion" on the 12th at which everyone had a hobo name. Mine was Gnarles Boxcar and A. was Spits McGrifter. People also brough hobosnacks, ours being worms and dirt.
  • This Saturday A. and I went to Sears and checked out new washer and dryer teams (I love that they call them teams.) We are probably going to wait for Scratch and Save next weekend and go back for the Kenmore front-loaders. Is it sad that I can't wait to do the first load of laundry in the new washer and dryer?
  • We also lusted over a pair of Movado watches. I love the Rondiro watch.


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Books I've read recently

Despite the warnings that other book bloggers have written about, I have waited way too long to write about what I've read recently. I don't really remember characters or what my initial reactions were so here again, is another list.

15. Saturday by Ian McEwan. I'd never read any of his other books but had heard excellent things about this one so I picked it up at Chapters one day. I really enjoyed the story and love the way McEwan can bring a scene so vividly to mind.

16. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver. I've had The Poisonwood Bible on my shelf of to-be-reads for years but hadn't heard anything about any of her other books. I read this one on the recommendation of A. who said he had really enjoyed it when he was in school. This was a heartwarming tale about the power of family and friendship and I sped through it. An excellent story.

17. The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith is another book I have heard a lot of people talking about over the past few years. I discovered that they had it at work so I started reading it on my lunch breaks. The story and the main character of Precious Ramotswe captured my imagination and, like the Outlander books made me want to go to Scotland, this book made me want to visit Botswana. Maybe one day...

18. Morality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith is the third book in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series but I read this one second because they also had it at work. Again, an excellent read with intriguing characters and subplots. I'm looking forward to reading the rest in this series.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Hair be gone

Yesterday I got my hair cut shorter than I've had it in a loooong time and, while it will take a while to get used to, I love it. My new glasses also came in so the combination of hair and glasses made me look like a totally different person. It's now day two and I managed to make my hair look fairly similar to how the hair stylist did it. I'm pretty proud of myself because usually I'm useless when it comes to hair.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Vistors from the outer reaches

According to my site stats I'm getting visitors from all over the world (Argentina, Germany and England to name a few) and several from the United States. Leave a comment and let me know where you are from. I'm also curious about how many people are actually reading and how many people just stumble across the blog randomly. Come on, indulge me.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Vacation from the vacation

I returned on Saturday from my week long vacation in the prairies and now I’m feeling like I need another vacation to get over this one. I had a great time but it sure was busy.

Friday afternoon I landed in Calgary and Brooke and I drove up to Lloydminster (with a few stops along the way) to stay at our cousin’s for the night. Saturday we drove into Saskatoon to pick up A. at the airport, go to my aunt’s for coffee and drive out to the park for the potluck dinner at 5pm. (There are few things better than a Saskatchewan potluck – more food than you can even imagine!) We spent Sunday and Monday morning in Sonningdale and then A. and I drove the 6 hours to Drayton Valley to visit his family. Then Wednesday afternoon had us driving back to Calgary to spend a few days with my family. So basically, between Friday and Wednesday I drove in one giant loop - I think I’m done with driving for a while.

I managed to see a few people while in Calgary but it was mostly time spent with my family which meant there were a whole lot of people I didn’t get to see. That’s the problem with these whirlwind trips, you always need more time.

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I finished reading book 14 a while ago but haven’t got around to writing about it yet. Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner centers around four new mothers who are all trying to deal with the challenges of motherhood and life. It touches on love, loss and friendship and covers each with compassion and just the right amount of humour. It’s also a novel that allows someone who has never had children before (like me) to have a glimpse of what that kind of life is like. It was a touching read that made me laugh several times and, like all of Weiner’s other books, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Pet peeve (one of many)

Something that drives me nuts is when people add an “e” to the end of listserv. It is apparently incorrect to use this word to describe any generic email list but people do it anyway. And if they are going to do it the least they could do is spell the word correctly.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Yowza

I just realized that it's been over a year since I started this blog and announced I was going to Afghanistan. It's hard to believe how fast time flies - I've been back for 7 months already! That's longer than the entire time I spent in Afghanistan yet it seems like it was only yesterday. What an amazing year it has been and I can only look forward to the years getting better.

Book 13

It’s taken me a month and a half but I finally finished book 13. After finishing The Da Vinci Code I decided to give The Name of the Rose a try. It took me two weeks to read 100 pages until I finally decided that I just wasn’t into it. I had purchased The Complete Stories of Truman Capote awhile ago and after watching Capote, the movie, I decided to give the book a try. Turns out, it was exactly what I needed – a collection of short stories that I was able to read at my own pace. I’m generally a fairly fast reader but lately I seem to be in a funk. Nothing is gripping me and aside from reading while I eat lunch, I haven’t sat down with a good book for a long time.

The stories in this collection got progressively better as Capote aged (they are arranged chronologically) and like Doppelganger over at 50 Books, I also think that he was at his best when writing autobiographical stories (just try reading "A Thanksgiving Visitor" without alternately chuckling and feeling sorry for him.)

If you are at all interested in Capote’s work, this collection is an excellent introduction.

Training: The Ultimate Challenge

Week 4 is drawing to a close and the number on the scale is slowly shrinking. Dan has been torturing me with lunges and various other hamstring exercises - oh, the burning… He says my pain tolerance must be pretty high because I haven’t complained yet. Apparently I know I’m in trouble if he brings out the whistle.

Dan gave me a challenge on Tuesday. He said if I can lose 20lbs in the last three weeks (which is possible, provided you’re healthy) he will put me on one of his billboards and continue to train me until I’m under 140. I told him that the last time I weighed that little I was probably 14 but he seems pretty convinced that it’s possible. So, I’m trying my hardest. I’m eating a lot of fruit, drinking a lot of water and most meals consist of a LOT of spinach. I’m pretty pumped about this and provided I can stand spinach and chicken for the next 2.5 weeks I should be ok.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Training: Abs, abs, and oh yeah, more abs

So last night’s training session was particularly brutal although, surprisingly, today I feel pretty good. Dan came over at 6pm and immediately told me I wasn’t going to like that day’s session. I asked why not and he told me it was because we were going to be doing 1000! sit-ups. I thought he was joking but it turns out he wasn’t. So, for the next 45 minutes we did various different ab exercises. I thought I was doing pretty well but at around 700 my legs were burning and my muscles were exhausted. I made it through though and I’m pretty proud of myself. Frankly I’d rather be doing 1000 sit-ups than going running but I don’t think that will fly with Dan.

One of the only bad things I’ve discovered so far is that I had set my expectations way too high. It’s now been three weeks and while I think I’m getting stronger, I haven’t noticed any outward changes. I think I look pretty much the same as when I started which is a little disappointing. I know I shouldn’t have expected to become lean overnight but I had all these visions of losing 3 dress sizes and having my after picture be like one you see on those diet commercials. Before was saggy and schlubby and I wanted the after to be hot and ripped. Somehow, I doubt I’m going to achieve that in six weeks but I’m going to continue to work hard at it.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Training: Week Two

I’m halfway into week two of training and feeling pretty good about it. I haven’t noticed any changes yet but Dan said it will probably take a few weeks. Saturday we went for our first run and it sucked. I was tired from the Run for Light which was the night before and didn’t have a lot of energy in me. Monday the nutritionist came and asked me questions about what I eat, what I crave, hate, etc. She also looked in the fridge and cupboards and said that overall she was pretty impressed by the food we eat. Our problem is portion control and hopefully with the personalized 30 day meal plan she is developing we’ll be able to fix that problem. Then Dan showed up and we did the regular strength training and he really made me work hard. We incorporated some exercises using a big exercise ball and did a lot of ab work. By the time he left I wasn’t feeling too hot and was certain that I was going to end up throwing up. Thankfully, after I soaked in the tub for a bit and A. got some food into me I felt much better. Yesterday we went running again and it was much better than Saturday. We went to a track at a nearby school and did laps. Ran for approximately 2mins, walked 1min times 6. It was harder than I remembered it being last year but at least I managed to finish. After that we did some sprinting exercises where we jogged a bit and sprinted for 10 meters times 10. That was a lot harder than I expected. Even if I end up not losing a ton of weight/inches I’ll be happy with getting more muscle definition and generally toning up. 4.5 more weeks to go!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Training: Day Two

I’ve had two one-hour sessions so far and I’m already paying for it. I have never sweat so much in my life or worked so hard. I know that if this was a gym membership and I had to get there under my own steam I would have given up already. Luckily (and unluckily) for me I can’t. We did my weight and measurements yesterday and frankly, I’m disgusted with myself. The fact that I have to post these numbers on the Z95 website for all to see is definitely a motivation to do really well and shed the pounds. But I hurt - it has never been so hard to stand up. My legs hurt, my shoulders are sore and my butt is killing me. Personally, I think trainers take a little bit of pleasure in seeing their clients suffer. I really hope that all of this pays off in the long run and that I can continue doing the exercises long after Trainer Dan has left. Dan told me to find something I like about the training and think about that. He also said that some people can trick their minds into thinking the pain is good rather than bad. I’m not at that point yet but I am liking the exercises. Yes, they are hard and yes, sometimes I don’t know if I’ll be able to finish but I always do. I like seeing my muscles work in ways they haven’t in years and knowing that I still have some strength left under all the padding. Now I really need to cut down on my portion sizes and hope for the best.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Slightly embarassing...

but if it means I lose some weight and get in shape for summer, so be it.

Z95 (a local radio station) is putting on a contest called Operation: Swimsuit where the winner gets to train 5 days a week for 6 weeks with a personal trainer and I am one of the three finalists! I'm sending out a plea that you all follow this link, check out my hideous picture and vote for me (I'm C.) I would really, really like to win this thing and I need all the help I can get. Tell everyone you know to go to the website and vote!

**UPDATE**
I WON!!! Thank you for all of your support. Check back here for progress reports.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Attacking the exercise front

A. and I went to Canadian Tire after dinner last night because I had decided that I wanted to buy a bike with part of my tax refund. I tested a few out, rode up and down the aisles and realized it has been a VERY long time since I've been on a bike - so long that the 16 year old sales boy asked me if I wanted training wheels. Har har. I found one that I liked (mainly for it's pretty robin's egg blue colour) but decided to give it some more thought. Since returning from Afghanistan I've had a hard time justifying spending money. I find that I go shopping with the idea that I want to buy things and half the time I end up talking myself out of it. My reasoning this time was that, although I liked the bike, it was $300 and what if I don't end up using it as much as I should? Then I will have spent $300 and I'd be unhappy with the purchase. So wait it is. If I decide to get a bike I'm thinking I should just go for the $99 Canadian Tire special. We shall see.

After looking at bikes A. tried on some hockey-style rollerblades and zipped around the store. The boy is crazy but seems pretty stable even without the handy brake on the back. He decided not to get them though because his mom had mailed his out from Ontario and they arrived the other day. Probably a good idea to give the old ones a try.

Finally, we stopped in the camping section and checked out tents and sleeping bags. We'd really like to go camping at some point this summer but, not owning any equipment, it will be quite the investment to get everything we'd need. Plus, we have different ideas of what camping is. I'm all for the "load everything you'd need to survive for a week into the back of the car and back the car into the spot" style while A. is more of a "whatever we can strap to our backs and carry 5 km to the site" camper. It's proving to be a bit of a hurdle as neither of us is willing, so far, to try the other's style.

On the topic of camping, does anyone know of any good spots in the Lower Mainland, be it drive-in or hike-in? A. would really like something on a lake so that we can go swimming but I'm thinking that's something we'd have to go to the Interior for.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Book 12

I finally gave in and read The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown despite telling everyone that I never would. The movie is coming out soon, as you all know, and A. said he was taking me to see it whether I liked it or not (well, maybe not those exact words.) I figured if I had to see the movie I might as well read the book and I admit it - I actually liked it. Yes, Brown is obviously a big fan of the thesaurus but the story was interesting and I definitely didn't see the ending coming. I still don't know if Tom Hanks was the right choice to play Robert Langdon but I guess I'll leave that judgement until I see the movie.

Speaking of movies, A. and I have started to make a habit of going to the movies on Friday nights and last weeks pick was Stick It starring Jeff Bridges, Missy Peregrym, and Vanessa Lengies. It was supposed to be like Bring It On with gymnastics and while the comparison is appropriate, “Bring It On” is still the superior movie. “Stick It” was funny and showed some brutal gymnastics mishaps and I’d definitely recommend seeing it, either in theatres or when it comes out on DVD.

Gmail continues to rock my world

Wow, every time Google rolls out a new feature I fall more and more in love with them. This time my adoration is focused on a nifty little tool in Gmail and Google Calendar that allows you to create events and invite people. You can enter all the information in the form and it evens adds a link to Google maps for the address. You can track which guests are coming and who has declined and there is a discussion feature for people to add comments. To make things even better there is a little check box that allows the people you've invited to invite people.

Google calendar event screen shot

Once you've entered all of your information and email addresses and clicked on send, a nice invitation will pop up in your invitees mailboxes.

Google event invitation

This is definitely a feature I will be using in the future.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Link of the week

Trying to cut down on what you carry around in your wallet? Try out the Jimi wallet. It is made out of hard plastic and has enough room for 5 cards on one side while the other side has a money clip that will hold three or four folded bills. It also comes in various colours to suit your style. If I didn't have so much crap I needed in my wallet, I just might try one for myself.

Books 10 & 11

It's been a while since I last posted about what I've read so I figured I should take a quick minute and update the list.

Book 10 was Deep Six by Clive Cussler. Lately it seems like I've been reading mainly light fiction that doesn't require a lot of thinking and Clive Cussler always fits that bill. I've read many of his other books and have always enjoyed them and this one was no different. They have the right blend of adventure and intrigue with a splash of romance thrown in - Dirk Pitt is, after all, quite the ladies man. I've been trying to convince A. to give Cussler a try because we tend to like the same books but he refuses. One day I will prevail.

Book 11 was Without Remorse and was also the first Tom Clancy book I've ever read. A. recommended this one specifically so I thought I'd give it a go. The story was interesting and the characters had depth but man, was it ever long. I've been told that this is the way Clancy writes but frankly, I think a lot of the extraneous details could have been removed. I do have to admit however, that the last few hundred pages gripped me and it was hard to put the book down.

I'm currently reading The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person In the World by AJ Jacobs, which is about Jacobs' quest to read the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica from A to Z, and I'm finding it quite amusing. Hopefully after this little foray into non-fiction I'll be up for something a little more literary.

*****

My mom and Gary came out for Easter weekend and we had a great time together. They arrived in Vancouver on Friday morning and once we got our act together we went down to Yaletown to wander around the shops. I'd never actually been shopping in Yaletown and found it expensive and pretentious although I don't know why I expected anything else. After reading Matt's review of Milan's Bistro we decided to stop there for lunch and I wholeheartedly agree with his statement that the caramelized onions on the perogies were worth the visit alone. I'm generally not a big onion fan but these were incredible. After our shopping expedition, during which we bought nothing, we headed home and I made Siamese Dream pizza for everyone since it was high on the list of food requests.

Saturday we headed out to Steveston because my mom has wanted to go there ever since I talked about it two summers ago. We had a lunch at a restaurant overlooking the marina and then wandered around in the pouring rain and went from shop to shop. We stopped in at a gift shop called Pieces which was full of amazing little treasures. I walked away with some French freesia perfume and a beautiful necklace. I also bought some tea at a shop down the road. After we dropped off our purchases at home we headed over to North Van for some amazing Greek food at Anatoli Souvlaki. I've been raving about this place to A. since he got here so I'm glad he finally had a chance to try the food. I will never get sick of that place but only manage to go on the rare occasion.

Sunday was another full day and to start things off right we went to the Lion's Den Cafe for breakfast. We then spent the afternoon wandering around a PACKED aquarium but everyone really enjoyed it. We managed to catch both the dolphin and the beluga shows and everyone agreed that it was worth the $18 admission fee. Once we had all had our fill of fish we headed home and mom and I made a delicious Easter dinner of ham baked in beer, broccoli salad and potatoe casserole. We also had some fabulous wine and, of course, hot cross buns that Gary had brought all the way from Calgary just in case we didn't have any.

Unfortunately, A. had to work on Monday but the rest of us went for Thai food for lunch before my mom and Gary had to catch their plane back to Calgary. All in all, it was a great weekend but I think I'm still trying to recover my energy.

*****

Work has been going well and yesterday we got to go for a tour at AT-BC to get an overview of their services and have a discussion about how we can partner up with their agency to better serve our clients. It was definitely worth going and I am jealous of their office space. One day I dream of CILS having our own facility.

*****

This weekend is shaping up to be a good one, weather-wise, and on Saturday night there is an LTAIG social which Emma and I planned. Hopefully quite a few people will show up and it will be a great success. Fingers-crossed.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Calling all drivers

At some point in the maybe not-so-distant future, A. and I may buy a car. We went to the Vancouver International Auto Show this past weekend and saw a lot that we liked (not that we can necessarily afford mind you) which gave us a good idea of what we will be looking for. As part of my research I like getting the opinions of people who have actually driven the vehicles we are interested in. So, what have you driven in the past and really liked? What would you never purchase? Any tips? The cars we are thinking of at the moment are the Honda Civic and the Volkswagen Golf (most likely used for both.) I'm also trying to toss in the Toyota Corrola because I'm a big Toyota fan.

So tell me what you like and dislike. Go...

Friday, April 07, 2006

Link of the week

Are you interested in some knock-down, drag-em-out literary brawls? Check out The Morning News' Tournament of Books, "in which 16 of the past year’s best novels are pitted against each other in a battle royale for the coveted Rooster award."

I have to admit that I haven't read any of the books on this year's list but I'm pulling for Ali Smith's The Accidental because it sounds like an interesting story and well, it's the book I've heard the most about.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Link of the week

As some of you know, I work for a service that provides alternate format library materials to BC college students who have print impairments. Some students, especially those with learning disabilities, like to have the text on their computer screen read aloud while they follow along with the book. The problem is the screen reader software most students use, JAWS for Windows, is expensive and not everyone can afford it. If this is the case we usually recommend two free screen readers that students can download. One of these products is ReadPlease.

ReadPlease is an easy to use product that will read what is showing on your screen. It's not perfect but it's much better than the reader that comes with Windows. It uses a synthesized voice which can be difficult to understand but again, greatly increases the ease of learning for students. It's products like this one that only make my job easier.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Your Cover's Blown

The Belle & Sebastian show was Friday night and it was amazing. I loved every single minute of it and would have sat there all night, despite feeling like complete ass, if they had been willing to play their entire catalogue. I dragged A. along and we got in line at around 7:15pm because I wanted to get a seat since I didn't think I'd be able to stand all night without passing out. I expected there to a long line up but we were amazingly close to the front. Once inside I stopped at the merch. table and picked up a wicked tote bag. Would have liked a t-shirt too but they only came in smaller sizes. I can't even do the show justice so why not read a recap by Hanson who is much better with words than I am.

I'm feeling a lot better today but my voice is being slow to return to normal. Damn colds - this one was nasty.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Sweet Kensington living

My baby sister has moved into her own apartment in Kensington and I'm jealous - look at how cute it is!



Saturday, March 18, 2006

Blurgh

I've been lazy I know but I don't have a heck of a lot to say. A. and I just got back from a week in Kingston which was fun. I've posted pictures from our day spent in Ottawa on Flickr. We got back late Friday afternoon and then spent the evening at Celeste's for her birthday party.

In lieu of actual content I give you my sweet ass new toaster. I heart it.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Books 8 & 9

I'm ashamed to admit it but I had never read Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery until a week ago. I have owned the book since I was about 8 and I adored the mini-series when it first aired but just hadn't got around to reading the book. I'm glad I finally did. It brought back all those great memories of childhood and made me remember what a fantastic story it is. This is definitely a book I'll be keeping for my children to read.

Along with children's lit I'm a big reader of historical fiction and I've always found Philippa Gregory's books very enjoyable. The Virgin's Lover was no expection. It follows the stories of Queen Elizabeth I and Sir Robert Dudley, her Master of Horse, as Elizabeth begins her reign and the two fall in love. It was a nice light read.

*****

For the past few weeks there has been a Pepto Bismol pink Hummer in the parking lot at the college and one of these days I'm going to take a picture. The thing is hideous.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Mmmm... SPAM

Gmail now incorporates headlines and RSS feeds at the top of your inbox that you can customize to suit your preferences. A handy feature if I didn't already use Bloglines to consolidate all my blog reading. At the top of your Spam folder they also have different recipes using, what else, SPAM. Frankly I don't think SPAM is ever a good idea but some of these meals sound truly revolting. Vineyard Spam Salad? Yuck. Or some Savory Spam Crescents perhaps? Noooo thank you. I think the next time I have friends over for dinner I'll serve some French Fry Spam Casserole. heh.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Canadian Culture

We received an informational package from Canadian Heritage about their new website culture.ca. It looks really cool - check it out.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Who Moved My Cheese?

It's been a week full of conferences, workshops and seminars and while interesting, it can get tiring. I never thought I'd say that about continuing education as it's usually something I really enjoy but three days in a row has been a lot. For the third year I attended the Disability Resource Network conference and took in some very interesting sessions. In the morning I learned about organizational and personal change and how to identify my reaction to it. Then after lunch I sat in on a very interesting session about chronic pain led by Dr. Chan Gunn of the Institute for the Study and Treatment of Pain. Dr. Gunn's approach to treating pain is to target nerves that aren't functioning properly instead of looking at blood and organs. Apparently he has made a real breakthrough in the medical field and revolutionized how people approach chronic pain.

Wednesday CILS held a workshop to introduce new people to our services as well as refresh the knowledge of people who are already familiar with us. We also discussed web accessibility issues and what library staff and disability advisors can do at their institutions to help make resources more available to students with print disabilities. I was able to meet a lot of people I've been communicating with over the years and was also able to answer a lot of questions from the people at my table so, for me, it was a success.

Today and tomorrow are the college's reading days so there was a staff development day held today which gave support staff an opportunity to attend some sessions. The theme was "The Balancing Act: Having It All" so most sessions focused in some way on balance. I managed to get some exercise in by attending a cardio-funk class which was a lot of fun and then in the afternoon I tried to "Beat the Brown Bag Blues." That one wasn't as useful since I didn't really learn anything new. Apparently my lunches aren't as boring as I thought they were. Now it's Friday again and back to the daily grind.

Other than that everything is just kind of meh. My evenings perk up for an hour or two but after the daily call I'm usually asleep on the couch by 9:30. I need more of a life. Only 7 more days and then hopefully things will be better.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Gabaldon strikes again

I ordered book #7, A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon, back in September when I was still in Afghanistan. I managed to read about 400 pages before I had to pack everything up and ship it back to Canada. When I got home I got caught up reading other books but I finally came back to finish this one. I had been a little disappointed with the first part of the book as it moves slower than I have an attention span for however, the more I got into it the harder it was to put it down. (I stayed up until 6:30am one Saturday morning reading it!) I don't want to give any of the plot away but I will say that it is set on Fraser's Ridge in North Carolina in the period leading up to the American Civil War. Gabaldon does intensive research to make these books historically accurate and it always pays off. I've been a fan of this series since book one and I'll keep reading them until she stops writing them.

Love in flower form


They were delivered yesterday after I left work but this morning there they were, in all their gorgeousness. Thank you so much A.

Monday, February 06, 2006

A whopping three parts

I did a Google search today to see who was linking to my photos and I found some interesting results.

Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library

Stereogum (Half-way down the comments.)

Yahoo! Travel

Science vs Romance

and last but certainly not least,

The Bingo Guide (The one for club members' bingo reviews)

I also got an email today from a photo editor with the New York Times asking if I could submit a self-portrait for a story they are doing on people who take pictures of themselves and post them on the 'net. Crazy!!

*****

A Graphic Revolution! Books 5 & 6

Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi continues her story after her parents send her to live in Austria in order to escape the war in Iran. She's lived an amazing life and the graphic novel medium is a perfect fit for her to bring the story to the masses. For a long time I had a negative perception of graphic novels but so far I've enjoyed all that I have read. I highly recommend both this one and the first one, Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood.

Continuing with the graphic novel genre I then read Blankets by Craig Thompson which I had received for my birthday from Laurel. Again, an excellent novel about Craig's life growing up in Wisconsin and his search for faith along the way. The drawings are amazing and the story is engrossing.

*****

In other news, my MP, David Emerson of Vancouver-Kingsway has crossed the floor to the Conservatives in exchange for a cabinet position. I didn't vote for him when he was a Liberal but I certainly didn't vote for a Conservative and am very much looking forward to a by-election. Maybe Ian Waddell, our NDP candidate, will get the majority of votes this time around.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Book #4

It's already February and I've only managed to read four books. I really need to pick up the pace if I want to get to 50. Lately I haven't been that inspired to read anything thought provoking - it's all about the easy reading! I need more recommendations. Come on people, I know you all read great books!

Me Talk Pretty One Day is the 4th David Sedaris book I've read and they have all been enjoyable. His collections of essays are easy to read and never fail to make me laugh.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Perk of the job

In our weekly meeting today it was mentioned that if we were to put on a workshop on the Island or in the Kootenays I would probably get to go. Sweet!

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

T.O.

Home from spending the weekend in T.O. with A. and wishing I could still be there. The flight out on Friday was fairly uneventful except we flew in one of the new Westjet planes that didn't have satellite TV installed yet. Boooo. We checked into our hotel and went to the Elephant and Castle for dinner. (Does every Delta hotel have an Elephant and Castle attached to it? I noticed the Vancouver Airport Delta has one as well.) Then we went for a walk past Eaton Centre and over to Nathan Phillip Square. There were people skating and music playing and it looked really nice. Unfortunately it was cold and windy and my ears were aching from the wind so we went back to the hotel.

Saturday was spent shopping at Eaton Centre and meeting A.'s sister for lunch. We went to H&M and I was a little disappointed - all I bought was a sweater. In fact, I wasn't in much of a shopping mood (and haven't been for a while.) The weather on Saturday was gorgeous and I was very happy to spend time outside. We walked a lot and just generally enjoyed the sunshine. By the time we had to head over to Danforth for dinner it was raining but thankfully it wasn't too cold. We had a lovely meal at Lolita's Lust and then went back to the hotel so we could go up to the pool.

Sunday we woke up to a grey and miserable day. It was cold and it was pouring. Unfortunately we had planned to go to the markets as well as some other outdoor activities but there was no way we were going to spend all day out in the cold. Instead we went to a Thai restaurant for lunch and went back to the mall for a bit. We were both pretty sick of shopping (and I was cranky) so we got in the truck and went for a drive around downtown. Along with the rain it was really foggy so we couldn't even see the CN Tower. But, even with the disappointment of the day, it was really nice just to be able to spend some time together. A. had to drive home Sunday night so I spent the evening in the hotel room watching TV and getting ready to leave on Monday. We hardly saw anything we wanted to but there is plenty of time in the future for that.

Now here I am, back at work, willing February to pass as quickly as possible.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Books 2 & 3

Book number two took me three months to read, mainly because the subject matter is so intense. Shake Hands with the Devil by Romeo Dallaire tells the story of his time as the commander of the UNAMIR mission in Rwanda. The horrors that Dallaire witnessed caused him to contemplate suicide once he returned home and frankly, it's not hard to see why. The atrocities commited in this small country that no one seemed to care about would make anyone rethink the nature of humanity and their place in it. The writing is detailed but almost detached which makes the subject a little easier to stomach. This was an amazing book and one of those stories that makes me think I should be doing something more with my life.

The Lion's Game by Nelson DeMille is the second novel that features John Corey. This time we find him working for the Anti-Terrorist Task Force (ATTF) which is a joint force between the FBI and NYPD. The story centres on a Libyan by the name of Asad Khalil who is on a mission to avenge the deaths of his family and countrymen at the hands of the Americans. This is a nice easy read that covers a realistic topic. It was interesting reading about Corey and his colleagues trying to figure out what Khalil was up to next and what his motive was when you, the reader, already knew. This is the third DeMille book I have read and I've enjoyed them all.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Funny Little Frog

Who wants to go to Belle & Sebastian with me on March 24th? I'll be buying tickets tomorrow so let me know. (They're $39.50.) A. what do you think?

****

Also, don't forget to vote on Monday!!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

They're multiplying!

After cleaning out my bathroom I confirmed something that I have suspected for quite a while - I am a product hoarder. I have a mass of small bottles of shower gel and lotions that I'm never going to use. The question is, what do I do with them? I don't have space in my condo to be storing things but I feel bad throwing them out. They've never been used and it seems like such a waste. I need suggestions.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Only 2.5 weeks

In another fit of spontaneity I have purchased a (very cheap) plane ticket to Toronto for the end of this month. This way A. and I can spend the weekend wandering around the city and the end of February won't seem so far away. I am very excited and can't wait until Jan. 27th.

So, everyone who has been to T.O. what should I do while I'm there?

50 Book Challenge

My efforts at keeping track of what I read last year went a little downhill once I went overseas but I've decided to give it a go again this year. So, in the spirit of the 50 Book Challenge here is my first book of the year.

Plum Island by Nelson DeMille is the first of three books (so far) that feature the main character of John Corey. John is a NYPD homicide detective who is convelescing in Long Island after being shot. The story revolves around his involvment in a double murder investigation and his efforts to discover why two of his friends were murdered. The murdered couple worked on a top-secret government facility called Plum Island where they dealt with highly infectious diseases. John suspects there is more to the story than the official line put out by the FBI and takes matters into his own hands. It was an interesting read and Corey makes for a good main character - he's cocky and arrogant but above all, sarcastic and funny. I definitely recommend it for anyone who likes cop mysteries and is looking for a light read.

*****

On that note, I also need some recommendations for things to read this year. They don't have to be new books just ones that you really enjoyed.

Friday, January 06, 2006

And here I always thought I was just intimidating

My good pal Day called me the other day and in the course of our conversation she mentioned this Maclean's article which states that men are generally turned off by funny women. She said it made her think of us - two attractive, intelligent and ambitious women (although admittedly she is MUCH funnier than I am) who, on the whole, have never really had very many boyfriends. I always thought that maybe we were just intimidating but apparently it comes down to something I never even considered. Who knew that having a sense of humour could be considered a bad thing? Thankfully, I seem to have found someone who is secure with his own (wacky) humour and even says mine is one of the things he finds attractive. Frankly, I would never even contemplate being with someone who didn't make me laugh and I'd hope it would work both ways. What's the point in being in a relationship that is devoid of laughter and fun? I'm glad I am able to make A. laugh (even though it's generally when I'm acting strange) and I hope that it continues. Maybe it's just the unfunny men who are turned off by funny women.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The wait is over...

Eeee... after hoping and praying for years, the wish has finally come true - Belle & Sebastian are playing the Commodore on Mar. 24th! I am sooo there.
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