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The Spiral Staircase

I used to joke with my sister and some of my friends that I might open the world's first Baptist convent. That is easy to say when you are bemoaning your lack of dates as a sixteen year-old. Now, I do not know that I could handle the sort of structured, monotonous life that being a nun seems to entail.

I am still, however, somewhat envious of the contemplative life.

The Spiral Staircase chronicles the life of an ex-nun, Karen Armstrong, who joined the convent at 17 and left it in 1969, at the age of 24. This is where the story picks up (apparently a prequel gives insight to her years of vows). I was fascinated for most of the book. I love autobiographies - people have such interesting lives and thoughts. Even those who are not particularly "famous."

I find it especially thought provoking to read the struggles and questions of a woman who is highly committed to academia and acclimatized to faith. We are similar in many ways (epilepsy is not one of them), yet where spiritual …

Today's Theme Song

I heard this carol earlier today, and the second-to-last verse caught my attention. I thought of posting it but decided against it...then, while half-listening to the King's College Christmas Choir, someone read the poem, written by Longfellow, interestingly enough. Again, I found myself struck by the same stanza. So this time, I decided to share, in its entirety.

Christmas Bells

I HEARD the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men! And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men! Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men! Then from each black, accursed mouth

Just Like Bridget

It's 8pm on Christmas Day, and my family is gone. I miss them already. And now I'm feeling a bit like Bridget...

Minus the booze and smokes. And the fact that it is Christmas, not New Year's. I did, however, just finish watching an episode of Frasier.

Have a Happy PC Holiday

It seems to me that the need to be careful with our words is increasing: not offending people whose cultures, religions, and beliefs differ from our own. And there's nothing wrong with that, although I do believe it can be taken to extremes. As for me, I like Christmas. And I like Christmas songs. But I am baffled by the popularity of this song by BandAid. It seems to be the most...ethnically arrogant and stereotype-reinforcing song possible. I understand that it is intended to help raise awareness and funds for those who are suffering. It still sits ill with me.

Maybe someone else can fight for all the radio play this song gets. Maybe some of you have been thinking the same thing?



It's Christmastime
There's no need to be afraid
At Christmastime, we let in light and we banish shade
And in our world of plenty we can spread a smile of joy
Throw your arms around the world at Christmastime

But say a prayer

Pray for the other ones
At Christmastime it's hard, but when …

Baroque-a-nova

I picked up Baroque-a-nova because it is Canadian content set in Vancouver, and had a mild literary theme to it.

It had great potential. Plot elements of Canadian folk music from the seventies, literary protest in a high school, a longtime friend turned love interest. A German reporter, and a quebecoise VJ.

But it didn't come together. I finished it, only because I can't not finish books, especially when I hope that they pull it off in the end. Unfortunately, the author ends up painting the main character as a self-centred apathetic child instead of fleshing out the complexities of his personality.

My only consolation is that if this can get published, then someday I can too.

The Kite Runner

I have waited awhile to read this. I tend to resist the big frenzies around books, especially when they are made into movies. But I wanted to read it before the movie came out, so I finally have.

The Kite Runner is tragic, insightful, and beautiful. One of the things I enjoyed most about my university degree is that through the lens of literature, we are exposed to many other things. In The Kite Runner, we see politics, history, psychology, anthropology, and so much more!

The only thing that left me a bit sad was actually a pivotal moment in the book. Essentially, the story is about making things right, atoning for sins and the mistakes of adolescence. In a letter written to our now-adult hero, his father's best friend writes

And this is what I want you to understand, that good, real good, was born out of your father's remorse. Sometimes, I think everything he did, feeding the poor on the streets, building the orphanage, giving money to friends in need, it was all his way of rede…

Under the Banner of Heaven

This is the first of my Christmas reading, and I actually started it before my holidays began. Under the Banner of Heaven is disturbing and heartbreaking. This book traces the history of the Morman church and then a couple of its Fundamental offshoots, focusing on a 1984 murder of a twenty-four year-old woman and her fifteen month-old daughter.

I was fascinated by the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Ladder Day Saints (LDS), including the trek across to Utah and the longstanding antipathy between the church and the government, which really only ended after the LDS leaders renounced polygamy as a tenet of their faith and agreed to allow the US government to rule them.

Those who continue to hold to the idea of "celestial marriage" still exist - within Utah, of course, as well as its bordering states, not to mention Mexico and Canada. They are not sanctioned as a part of the mainstream Mormon church, but are nonetheless alive and well.

Two of the more interesting statisti…

Laziness

I think that if I tried hard enough, I could reduce pretty much all of my blog entries to my Twitter feed. Sometimes, I am tempted to do that. Like tonight.

I would write:
Q of the night: What do you become if you are lonely, but dislike animals too much to become a cat lady?I shouldn't be allowed to access Wikipedia. It's information goes beyond helpful to dangerous.Reading = good times.Snow + Vancouver = Lovely & TreacherousShopping makes me happy when I know what I want to buy for others.
But this sort of reduction is exactly what I want to fight...well, it gets my back up. We are all about the little sound bytes, the little blips of information that we can skim, get the basics, and draw our conclusions.

None of these personal headlines really tells the whole story though. They probably don't even tell enough for me to remember what I was talking about in six months. So I will expand myself slightly:

1. I went for dinner with a friend I haven't seen in eight months. …

Backless Gowns & Diets

Last night, we watched White Christmas. In a true Christmas miracle, it started snowing here in Vancouver while we were watching. Amazing!

On top of the singing, the dancing and the romance, I especially love the dresses. In the fifties, women got to wear truly splendid outfits for dress-up occasions. They flounced. They fit, but they didn't slink. They showed back without being scandalous, and shoulders without being skanky.

Today, I wore a backless gown. But it was not in the least bit flattering. It was a hospital gown.

Now before you all start panicking, I am okay! I am not in the hospital; I just made a brief visit this afternoon (during which I got to start a truly fascinating book which I will blog about at its conclusion).

Anyway, I have been having these pains in my side and have seen the doctor and am going back in January...but this weekend was more consistently painful, and it was starting to impinge (this is my current favourite word) on my eating habits. Since the doctor…

Psychics & INFJs

I am an INFJ, according to the various free Myers-Briggs personality tests that I have taken. According to Wikipedia, this is the rarest personality type (of the 16 options), which is fine by me. I like being different.

I just listed some of the more surprising truths about me (& INFJs). Less surprising INFJ qualities include good communication skills and affinity for language, creativity, valuing orderliness...and so forth.

I read a wholebunch of info about INFJs. A couple pages mentioned that their intuitive side is strong enough that they sometimes report "psychic phenomena" occurring.

I have had that. I have known things, in my heart, that I had no way of knowing. To tell the stories would be a whole other blog entry, or maybe more...

But it is fascinating to me that that is associated with a specific personality type. And it opens up some fascinating thoughts about our minds and relationships and the limits of human knowledge...

Now that I've got you all curious abou…

Awake or Asleep?

It felt like I had fallen asleep hugging my cell phone, and now it was ringing on vibrate. My torso and my arms were silently shaking, and I woke up.

But I couldn't move. My arms were stuck across my chest, my head immobile. I remembered that I had put my cell phone beside my pillow, alarmed and ready for the morning. As I thought about it, I couldn't feel anything except my own self and the sheets. There was no phone touching me, no reason for me to be vibrating softly.

I tried calling out, but no sounds came. In my mind, I rolled onto my side. Nothing. I tried wiggling my fingers. I thought of the fact that my roommate lay sleeping less than 20 feet away but was entirely unaware that I was trapped in my own body.

I forced myself to calm down, to breathe deeply. As I did, I found myself dreaming I was in my childhood home. This time, I called for my mother.

Mmmmmmmmmmmmoooooooooooooooooooooooooom!

I could feel my vocal chords straining. But I don't think my lips even formed th…

Silent Night, Lovers in Japan, & Beyonce

I blame it entirely on my biological make-up and things that I cannot control.

This commercial makes me tear up and ooh and ahhh like a child watching fireworks. Only with more inner-emotional angst.



Also, I just found out about this site - but apparently I can no longer download Coldplay mixed with Jay-Z (could there be anything cooler than that!?).

Waking Up

I finally finished Wide Awake by Erwin McManus. I read three chapters today (previously, I have only been reading one at a time). My two favourite quotes from this last chunk are:

One of the evidences that you're living the life God designed you to live is you begin to enjoy your life even when your environment doesn't seem to dictate that.

Have you ever considered the possibility that how we pray and how we engage God is pretty much senseless? Do we really think God is saying, "Oh, thanks; I don't know how I missed that. Oh, you need a job? I thought you should be unemployed all your life. Oh, you want a wife? I was going to give you a poodle for Christmas. I'm so glad you're clearing everything up for me"?
When we pray, we act as if God has been missing the point the entire time. "This is what I need, so pay attention, God. Amen." That's not really what prayer is supposed to be about. God invites us to connect on a much more profound level. &…

Political Satire

CBC makes this whole Canadian political kurfuffle easy for Americans to understand.

So our Conservatives are a bit different from yours. Down here, you'd probably call them Democrats. And fairly liberal ones at that...But, as I said, they won our last election, which is a pretty low-key affair compared to yours. The campaign lasted a few weeks instead of two years...I'm not quite sure how to explain the NDP. The other parties like to call them socialists...
Now, the Conservatives aren't taking this state of affairs lying down...They've been talking about shutting down Parliament for a while until they can think of some way to prevent the opposition parties from throwing them out.

Thanks for clarifying, Neil MacDonald. Maybe some day, we'll make you Governor-General as a reward.

Foreman at the Forefront

I've been thinking a lot about Switchfoot today, mostly because I'm loving Jon Foreman's solo album: Limbs & Branches. Here are three videos for your viewing pleasure:

Video #1: Switchfoot's first ever music video. I remember watching it.


Video #2: Jon Foreman performs In My Arms. Not the greatest quality, but it'll do.


Video #3: Switchfoot covers Beyonce. Priceless.

Warning: Sweeping Generalizations Below

A British immigrant told me recently that shortly after he moved here, he asked someone, "What are Canadians like?"

Some sort of joke was told, which I can't remember...but then the friend answered, "Canadians want to be as successful as Americans, but without the risk."

This is profound to me. I've never thought of that as something particularly Canadian, but as I mull it over, it seems to fit. And this has implications in many different areas of life. We don't like to risk in relationships, we don't risk making commitments (not even to make plans for a Friday night...), and we definitely don't like financial risk. Yet we expect our lives to mirror those south of the border, where the rewards are great but so are the risks.

The Brit went on to say that for the first several years he lived here (he's been here nearly 30, I believe), his prayer was, "Lord, don't let me be an arrogant British immigrant, where everything was better at hom…

Those Times.

You know those times when you're about to blog about something that is maybe a bit borderline too personal (either about yourself or someone else), but you think, No, it'll be fine! which is maybe a bit of a lie, but sometimes you want to anyway, because you know people will want to read it and know more - and then you're too tired to write, so you go to bed, and the next day you forgot about it?

And then the day after THAT, something happens or you have a conversation and you say Woah, I am glad I didn't blog about that...

Yeah. This blog is about one of those times.

Say That 10 Times Fast!

"Three weeks ago, the Liberals were trying to force Stephane to step down. And now they want him to run the country?" (Thank you, Sarah, for this quotable quote!)

We're an international news item, finally. This has never happened in the history of the Commonwealth.

The proroguing of Parliament has reminded me of an episode of 30 Rock, mostly because it is difficult to say. I shall share it with you here:

Who Would Win in a Cage Match...

Stephen Harper?
Stephane Dion?
or Michaƫlle Jean?


With all this upheaval in Canadian politics, I am feeling all in a tizzy.

When does Canada ever have exciting political stories to tell?

Apparently, we do right now.

WHAT WILL GOVERNOR GENERAL JEAN DO!?

This is the one time in her life she will have to do more than just smile, wave, and shake hands. Oops, was that harsh? No offense to Michaƫlle, but for the most part, the Governor General seems like a pretty sweet job to have. I suppose though, that she exists for such a time as this.

The role exists, not the person.

Anyway, I'm curious. I voted in the election, so it's interesting to see how my elected representatives actually represent me (although the candidate I voted for didn't get elected in my riding, I don't think...).

Who knew politics could be so exciting in our own backyard?

Phew. I think it's time for bed.

A Potpourri

Random thoughts and musings that have nowhere else to fit:

Dance Dance Party Party was a fantastic success. I love my housemates, I love good music, I love the freedom to dance like an idiot and not care. I am currently in love with the song No Diggity by Blackstreet (feat. Dr. Dre). I don't know why it's so catchy, but it IS. This afternoon, I heard another song that has replaced No Diggity on the mental repeat: Golddigger by Kanye West. Just to warn you, the video's not appropriate. So click on the link and then minimize the window...

I managed to shortcircuit our heating system with a pin. Yes, it's true. I went to turn the heat back on after our party, opened the cover to our thermostat, and hit the poppy sitting on top. The pin went into the thermostat, and bye-bye screen. Turns out, it's bye-bye heat as well. Hopefully we'll get that fixed before too long.

The month of December and the completion of a successful party are ushering in our Christmas season. We…

Before and After

Q: What is the difference between a duck?

Last night Aimee made us Thanksgiving Dinner. Hurrah for America and a second turkey!! Andrew made us chocolate pecan pie and it was rich. Also, delicious. The whole evening made me happy and a little bit sad. New Housemate Aimee is almost Old Housemate Aimee - as in Former Housemate Aimee. She is leaving at Christmas and not coming back.

I am really sad about this, as I have told her several times. I am surprised by how quickly she squeezed her way into our lives. I could rant about how wonderful she is, but she reads this and will be awkward-ed out. If she isn't already.

A: One of its legs are both the same. *

I visited my friend Nadine's blog again today just to watch a youtube video of a music video from a movie (how's that for confusing), so I decided to post it here so you could all enjoy it!



*this is one of my favourite jokes, courtesy of my grade 7 teacher. My mom reminded me of it tonight on the phone.

Set Yourself Spinning

(the last of the poetry birthed out of my writing class, which ended tonight)



How do you spin
when there's no reason to dance?

How do you climb
with no mountain in sight?

How do you search
for what you cannot find?

How do you stand
if you don't have any feet?


Something compels you.




It's waking up knowing
that you dreamt something sweet.

It's hearing a comment
that's begging to be.

It's an infinite number
of stories untold.

It's a fear of what's missing
as life unfolds.



There's a spot in my side -
maybe next to my liver -
that shakes when it wants,
with restless desire.

It craves what it craves.

It craves to create.

It longs to explain,
to know,
and to name.


A restlessness

that only finds peace,

with paper and pen
and sweet, sweet release.

Limbs & Branches (and Being Subtle)

I realized last week that there is another genre of music that I don't like.

It's right up there with scream-o, which rubs me the wrong way - these bands have sick musical skill, and then they just guttural yell the whole way through... I had a conversation with a new friend about this. He likes the "rawness" and appreciates that we often experience emotions more like that than we do many of the carefully "polished" songs. I agree. But I stand by my dislike.

Anyway. I am a fan of subtlety, which has gotten me into difficulty with the opposite sex, and which I am sure will continue to plague me for years to come. When it comes to conflict, I value carefully chosen words and gentle truth-speaking.

I understand that men are generally direct communicators and that they need directness from others. But isn't music an exception?

I'm pretty much guaranteed to dislike a song that begins:

I hate all your show and pretense
The hypocrisy of your praise
The hypocris…

Yellow Door

Yellow Door
Originally uploaded by bethaf. I was gone and now I'm back. I like traveling. Scratch that. I don't like flying, but I like being in a different place. I like change.

I am tempted to sit down and write out, verbatim, all that I remember from this trip. It's the only way I will have a clear picture of it in six months.

Speaking of clear pictures, here is one for you to stare at.

I also like doors.

Puppy Love

Last night at a friend's birthday dinner, the conversation somehow came back to the live puppy streaming. Which led me to comment on my thought of buying a puppy next fall instead of a car. Which led someone to suggest that I buy a husband instead, since what I am clearly looking for is love and affection.

Ha.

Anyway, the conversation continued and somehow we came up with a reality TV show. It is a mix of The Bachelorette and Love It Or List It. Except, instead of deciding whether to stay or move, I would be deciding puppy or man. I revisited this conversation with some other friends after church, at which point we arrived on the name Puppy Love and some of the more detailed structure ideas:

I would have one friend (or group of friends/experts) looking to match me with the perfect puppy. And one group looking to match me with the perfect man.

The season would start with the process of finding a group of candidates for both positions, then follow the elimination & final selection. …

Until Next Time, Keep Fit and Have Fun

Last night, my house discussed Body Break, the infamous commercials from the 90s starring Joanne MacLeod and Hal Johnson (aaaaaaaaaaaaand if you're Canadian, that totally rubbed you the wrong way).

"It's Hal Johnson and Joanne MacLeod!"

Here they are.



Then this morning, Aimee introduced me to 8 Min Abs. It's amazing. Try not to stare at the spandex. And don't forget to congratulate your friends when you're done.




PS. If you're wondering, you can book Hal & Joanne on their website for your next corporate event!

There Is No Poetry Where There Are No Mistakes

Poetry comes in stops and starts.

With words and pictures,
faintly held together by a spider's thread.



My mother coughs like the December wind.
Cold.



A fragment of yesterday,
an umbrella for tears.
Something to hold,
with tight fists and shivering fingers.



Risk and reward is the base.
Everything else is a flight away,
a jump or a leap

into wide open space.



With wing-tipped thoughts and heavy hearts.

We live like poetry -
in stops and starts.





*another writing exercise from my class. Again, not formatted exactly.

Trying to Toss & Turn

I didn't sleep well last night. It took me over two hours to fall asleep, and then, two hours later, this happened again. Not the weird presence part, but the sleep paralysis part, where I wake up but am completely unable to move.

Completely.
Unable.
To move.

In my dream, my roommate was walking past my bed or to my bed - and I realized it was a dream, but wasn't sure if she was maybe really up, and if so, was she ok? So I woke up, and couldn't even open my eyes.

Couldn't.
Open.
My eyes.

I know I was awake. I panicked just a little. I can't explain how frightening this is. And what a relief it is when your body finally obeys.

A Moment of Silence

We huddle together under a plaid umbrella. Three girls in pea coats - one tall, one petite, and one exotic looking. We all have poppies on our left lapel. You can't show up at an event like this without one. We hold hot drinks, not because we are thirsty, but because we are cold. We have arrived early to claim our space and hope that our view will at least exist. Behind a row of umbrellas, I can't imagine that others can see anything.

It is pouring rain, and the umbrella is our way to both keep dry and claim our space. It separates us from the crowd around us. Yet at the same time, it connects us. I am supremely aware of the inevitable umbrella drip. I know how irritating it can be to make your best effort to stay dry only to have an incessant stream of water falling directly down your neck or on your shoulder. Only five minutes ago, a nearby umbrella caught itself in my hair, which went unnoticed until the offending holder tried to walk away.

"Uh, it's caught in my hai…

Things 1,2 & 3

Thing 1: The Friend

It is always good to hang out with a friend whom you haven't seen in awhile. Or at least, had quality time with. It is good to be with people that you have the freedom to both laugh and cry with, to be honest or to say nothing. It is good to visit.

Thing 2: The Dog

I never thought this would happen, because I decided in my late teens that dogs are too smelly and slobbery for me. But I fell in love. With a little dog, no less. A little dog that snuggles and sits and sleeps on your lap. Who doesn't smell or slobber. Delightful company and a good bed-warmer. If I'm going to be single, a dog is starting to make more sense. Seriously. Maybe I'll trade in the $300/month car for a $300/month dog. At least I'd get some affection out of it.

Thing 3: The TV

Arrested Development, 27 Dresses, Friends. How many hours of TV can you watch in a row? A lot. And this is not inherently bad. It can be the perfect way to unwind. Also, it seemed we were on a bit of a wedd…

[untitled]

Poetry is a tricky thing to share because it's kind of weird. But I am going to share it anyway. It's what came out of a writing exercise in class tonight. I've been both surprised and encouraged by the bits and pieces that I've written within the frameworks we've been given. Tonight we were "reaching past the known into the unknown, the centre of the project." We were not allowed to use adjectives or adverbs.


Walk past walk through
Talk pasttalk through
Go past go through
Go to the past go through the past
Talk to the past Talk through the past
Know the past Know through the past
Walk Talk Go Know

*final editorial note: the formatting is not how it's supposed to be...

Pinch Me

Yesterday, I discovered that I know nearly every word to this song. As it is both fitting for my weekend and stuck in my head, I thought I would share. Last fun of the night, and then I'm off to bed. (Also, I am still sad about the cocaine thing.)

Shameless Self Promotion

Do you ever have a weekend where the highs are so high and the lows are so low that you don't know if it was AMAZING or THE WORST WEEKEND EVER?

Me too. I really loved this weekend. I really hated this weekend. I think the love is winning out though.

I have made a list (because I am secretly task-oriented) on my other blog about all the good things.

Now you want to go read it, don't you?

Am I Allowed to Say This?

I have found myself needing to censor my words in the last few days. Thoughts that wouldn't (or shouldn't) be expressed outwardly. Due to frustration, inappropriateness, and the potential to cause hurt.

So I've been thinking about this. And why it's happening. Either I am:
a) PMSing (sorry boys)
b) a worse person than when I was 17
c) a more honest person than when I was 17

All three are possibilities. I won't expand on #1, except to shrug and to quote Maurice Moss, "Women and their mysterious ways...the moon...Glenn Close...all the other sorts of women..."

The second one is possible. But I don't think it's true. Because I don't think I was all that "good" of a person at 17, even if I "seemed" that way. Also, I love Jesus more now than I did at 17, and if loving Jesus doesn't help make me a "better" person, than I honestly believe that nothing will.

Which is why I end up with option #3. I am more honest. I am willing…

His Middle Name is Hussein

Obama and Biden.

Osama Bin Laden.

The Beginning of the End Times.*

The End of the Bad Times.



In every generation, there is some political event or time period that defines that generation. For my parents, it was the Cold War. For their parents, World War 2. For their parents, World War 1. Before that? I'm not really sure, but there was something. I'd bet on it. And now it's my generation's turn.

I can't help but wonder In fifty years, I wonder what they'll call all this. "All this" consists of 9-11. Of soaring gas prices, of the most watched election in the history of mankind. Of whatever will happen in the next few months as the market falls and the USA becomes more deeply in bondage to debt.

I don't really think that Barack is a saviour or a swindler. I don't think McCain & Palin are as frightening as some do. I also realize that I know little about American politics.

This news video is pretty much the opposit of Swing Vote. And I can guarantee…

In Room 111

For the first five minutes, I hate my writing class. As soon as my teacher says, "Well, how do we feel about a sounding?" I think We feel stupid. And a bit ridiculous... I can't help wondering why I signed myself up for this.

Singing the scale in Hindi? Concentrating on my chakras? Drawing in abstract what I feel flow from my subconscious?

This is not what I do.

But I do it. Well, sometimes I cheat. Instead of concentrating on my chakras, I think deeply about God. Instead of being lost in the sound of our voices, I try not to listen to the out-of-tune person across from me and think instead of my own voice bouncing of the wooden rafters two feet above my head. I can feel it. I hear it in my throat. Or I think I can.

I cannot subdue my conscious mind well, so my drawing exercise turns out to be tentative, careful, and semi-abstract. But then, as I explain what I think it means, I discover [give] meaning that I hadn't seen before. And I think perhaps my instructor is right…

Born In the Wrong Decade

Tonight, I am a blogging FIEND. Check out these photos. See if you can guess the decade...and tell me when I should have been born!

Also, if you tell me that I look like my mom...you are probably right. Although only roughly 4 of you know what my mom looked like when she was under 40.

Gregor Is a Weird Name

This was my introduction to Strongbad. And Homestarrunner. Oh, all the fun we had laughing four years ago...all because one of my friends said to me in a weird voice, "Beth looks like a dude." And then had to explain himself.

Another quote from this lovely children's book is "Gregor is a weird name." Which is true. And is a thought that has crossed my mind several times in the past few days. I have started seeing posters for the upcoming municipal election that are encouraging people to vote for Gregor Robertson. Two things caught my eye on the sign.
1. His name is Gregor (and Gregor is a weird name).
2. His photo was quite striking.

He looks like he could be Gilbert Blythe or some sort of sweet leading-man from a film set in the 20s. He looks young. Too young to be running for mayor. But he's not. He's not too young to have a wife and four kids. The eldest is only a year younger than my little brother.

He's also not too young to be the co-founder of a g…

Old Stuff & Cable TV

I'm on a bit of an antiques kick. It's the terrible influence of my mom, exposing me to estate auctions and helping me get a steal of a deal on a lovely antique Japanese vase... (Thanks, Mom!)

This weekend I am house sitting, which of course requires me to spend the night and enjoy some solitude and cable TV. There isn't much on during Saturday afternoon (I'm about to watch Dharma and Greg, which I haven't seen in YEARS!). But I did catch The Antiques Roadshow. American and British versions. And now I am thinking of every item in my parents' house, and all the things I sometimes wonder about buying at thrift stores...

I am convinced that everyone has at least one item sitting on a shelf somewhere that is more valuable than they could imagine.

I think a big part of my love for all things old is due to my love of stories. Old stories. Peoples' stories. Lives and moments from the past that we barely even know happened. Connections and skeletons and intrigue and t…

#501

I missed the milestone entry yesterday, apparently. It was numero cinco cente. That is some sort of gibberish for five hundred.

Last night, as I drove home from the airport, I learned two election-related Guelph factoids that made me proud of my hometown.
a) Guelph had the longest ballot of any riding in Canada. You could vote for any one of ten candidates, including both the Communist Party and the Marxist-Leninist Party. Oh, and let's not forget the Marijuana Party.
b) The new ID rules? Thanks to a Guelph man who, in the last election voted at five different polling stations, just to prove a point. (For the record, he spoiled his ballot at each station)

This morning, I went to my first-ever auction. Four doors down, there was an estate sale. My mom went early to take a perusal of the goods. And there were many. Many, many, many! Time flies when you are spending money, and it is fun to find out what is valuable. $700 for a watch! $400 for a lamp! $75 for a bowl! I now own a few more …

Raindrops Are Falling On My Head

A few brief snippets before I get on a plane:

I own a car. It is a silver Civic and it will be mine until the end of May. I currently dislike ICBC and the expensive car insurance rates. Maybe I'm just being cynical, but I think Ontario's is cheaper. I haven't gotten to drive the car yet because its previous owners have it until tomorrow. But on Wednesday! then I get it.

I have a cold and sound a bit manly, but I don't mind because it is better than an evening of vomit.

I love The Office but I hate the rain.

This is an interesting article about food and the economy. I like its microscopic view.

Ellen is growing on me. I mean, I knew I always liked the show, but watching it two days running made me decide that I would watch it on a consistent basis if I could. She's just so absurd and funny. This is one of the funniest random pranks I've seen in awhile.

How Did THAT Happen?

That's pretty much my question. I was compulsively searching Wikipedia today, and as we all know, "naked mole rats" are kind of the default weird thing to look at. So I did. Here they are.










But you know what's crazy? The creature is actually fascinating. Yes, it makes me want to barf. But it is incredibly unusual. It lives underground, and has metabolism like a cold-blooded animal, and organizes its social structure similarly to ants and bees. There is a "queen" rat and there are "worker" rats. They eat tubers, and no pain signallers in the skin. They live in eastern Africa.

They are, most literally, a freak of nature.

(photo and all data thanks to wikipedia's page)

10:01PM

It is almost bedtime. But first, I really do need to recap three things.

Thing 1: Jungle Jam. I don't really know how to explain this. Like Psalty the Singing Songbook, but somewhat different - with jungle creatures and much more subtle humour. Good Christian values and half an hour of laughs. The first tape we owned was The Singing Cheetah Sisters, where Cheetah Bonita goes solo. It features this song, which I can still sing, more than ten years later. There were two other full-length cassettes (ah ha ha ha ha), and then a series of radio shows, which apparently still continue today. Or at least, you can still download them online. I love that if I said to my brothers, Run, Millard! Run like the wind and never look back!!! we would all burst into giggles, and Stephen would do a Millard-style scream.

Thing 2: Philadelphia. I have not watched this movie before. It is worth it. HIV/AIDS carries such a stigma, and I rarely think about this. Except for the massive cell phones (that some…

Turkey & Ham & Cake, OH MY!

Wondering what Thanksgiving chez Fun City looks like?

It looks like this:

And this:

And this:

If you want to see more, visit this.

Man Stroke Woman

I've been laughing a lot at the Youtube clips (warning: some are decidedly British, and others are decidedly crude), but this one actually was a bit heart-wrenching.

Colour-Blind?

I apparently struggle to see the fine lines between blues and purples.










If you want to see how well you know your colour hues, click here. I scored 20, with a perfect score being 0.

Bon Voyage! You're Superficial & I Hate You*

Over the weekend, the male population of our house nearly doubled the females. Last week started with one housemate. By the end, we had five. Four boys and a girl. The girl is irrelevant to this particular story (although not the least bit irrelevant in real life). The boys, however - Nick, John, Greg & Connor, are the fascinating subject of today's study.

Two weeks ago, one of them had a brilliant idea: a bike trip down the west coast. In the next fourteen days, they all managed to buy the necessary equipment and get themselves to Vancouver, their starting point. My house was chosen, not because of my lovely smile or the fact that we live in the most beautiful neighbourhood, but because New Roommate Aimee is dating one of these adventurous boys. I really like New Roommate Aimee. So does Nick.

Anyway, this past week has been quite the fun one. I've had many opportunities to extol the virtues of Canada, including poutine, insulin, Douglas Coupland, and the invention of basket…

If....Then...

What do you say when your teenage daughter is killed while out for a walk?

Terry Stauffer said, "'If this gospel I've been preaching is not true today, it was never true at all.'"

My heart breaks for this family. And I love how profound and complicatedly simple his statement is.

Read more here.

Mamma Mia, Here We Go Again...

...My, My, How Can I Resist You?

I can't stop talking about boys. I try, but I can't.

It's not my fault, entirely. They're all around me. And they're interacting with all my friends. So then I have to listen and scream and laugh and cry.

And no, there isn't actually anything to report in my own life.

Bon, C'est Bon

Sometimes, I get this song stuck in my head. I love it because it is Canadian and it is retro and it has French in it and the best line, possibly of all times: "And she feeds me love and tenderness and macaroons." What more could a man want?


Sweet City Woman (The Stampeders)
Well, I'm on my way, to the city life
To a pretty face that shines her light on the city nights
And I gotta catch a noon train
Gotta be there on time
Oh, it feels so good to know she waits at the end of the line

Swee-ee-eet, sweet city woman
I can see your face, I can hear your voice, I can almost touch you
Swee-ee-eet, sweet city woman
Oh, my banjo and me, we got a feel for singin', yeah, yeah,

Bon c'est bon, bon bon c'est bon, bon,
Bon c'est bon, bon, bon, bon, bon
Bon c'est, bon, bon bon ci'estbon, bon,
Bon c'est bon, bon, bon, bon, bon
So long ma, so long pa, so long
Neighbors and friends

Like a country mornin', all snuggled in dew
Ah she's got a way to make a man feel shiny and…

Stuff White People Eat

I came to a realization this weekend, when necessity forced me into contemplating my week's menu choices for the fourth time. (We've just resumed communal cooking & groceries, which requires less work in the end, but also requires planning ahead so we have the necessary ingredients).

In my search for a dish that we've not yet eaten, I decided that as a white person, I am limited to, essentially, 40 different dishes. I've boiled it down (pun intended) to the following main ingredients: meat, starch, and sauce. Vegetables don't count because they're a minor thing, and they vary greatly within region, but not so much within house.

So our formula is currently M(eat) x St(arch) x S(auce) =V(ariety)

For meat, you have: chicken OR pig OR cow
Starch: potato OR rice OR pasta OR dough
Sauce: tomato-based OR white OR meat-based (ie broth/gravy)

V=3 x 4 x 3
V=36

Of course, there are variations that give me more freedom. I could eat seafood. Or veal. But these are too expensive…

A Dream & A Nightmare

Night #1: I am traveling with my family. A boy I know shows up (of course he is there too - apparently this is where he lives now!) and he is clearly interested in me. This is amusing to my family, and flattering to me. Until I wake up and realize that no, he doesn't actually like me. And I'm not somewhere on another continent with my family.

Night #2: I am back in the hometown. My parents are away for a few weeks, and I have their car. And one of their cell phones, which happens to get news headlines texted to it. I receive a headline that says Baptist Woman Slain By Husband and somehow I know precisely who it is. She is from my parents' church. So I try to call them, let them know so my mom can come back for the funeral. But I can't get through. Then I remember that they have changed their area code because they've moved or are away somewhere for an extended time...so I try the right code (250, in case you're wondering), but still no luck. Then I wake up, this…

Conclusion. (Post Case Study Synopsis)

Aren't you glad you're almost done reading this all? I'm sure glad I'm done writing...

Several things stood out to me as I was reading and writing.

1. Communication. We avoid vulnerability and are afraid of risks. I understand this. But if we're talking about well-adjusted adults here, the chances of a well-timed conversation bringing relief and peace to an uncertain situation is high. I'd guess 75% or more.

2. Girls. We don't always know what we want - whether it's the boy or just the attention. Sometimes we don't know til we're asked out (I speak from experience on this one). Sometimes we don't know til after we've been on a few dates (I speak from experience on this one too). But if we're relatively mature, we will still treat you with respect. And you will gain our respect for even broaching the topic of "where do we stand." Because if you've thought about it as a boy, we've probably been thinking about it for thre…

Case Study No. 5 - Seinfeld Non-Dating

Girl and guy know each other. Girl finds guy interesting. They bump into each other on occasion and he asks her to coffee. They have a good time. She's interested. Subsequently, she feels like he pulled a Seinfeld, indirectly asking her out on multiple non-dates, but nothing solid. 3 months later she's fed up with mundane interactions and feels like maybe it's time to have the DTR talk. Should she have the talk? Does she have reason to believe that maybe he's still interested but just immaturely avoiding?

I think a conversation is needed here. She should probably not come in guns blazing and shoot you down like the Gestapo. Either a) Guy is still interested but for some reason gun-shy or b) Guy is not interested but not able to transition to some sort of mature interaction. I don't think it would be out of place for her to say, "Hey, can we talk...?" Of course, some girls might not say anything because they are waiting for the guy to figure out what he…

Case Study No. 4 - Best Girl Friend

Guy's best girlfriend decides to hang out with Guy and his friends because she really has nothing better to do. Over the course of a couple months they spend nearly every day together. Guy has huge adamant respect for her, although he doesn't think he likes her romantically. He suspects that there might be more going on on her side, but doesn't know whether to breach the topic, or what he would say if she breached the topic. Also, almost everyone tells him that he should date her. He's actually considered it on occasion. What should he do?


"Best girlfriend" is a phrase I am sometimes confused by. Apart from romantic interest or a complete lack of female friends (which I think is a massive red flag in a girl's maturity), I can't understand why a girl would hang out with the same guy every day. Everything in this scenario says that she likes you, Guy. And while I am a strong proponent that you should not date someone just because everyone tells you…

Case Study No. 3 - Co-Worker

Guy has a potential crush on one of his co-workers. They are both working in the same place for the next couple of years and they go to the same church. He considers her a good friend but doesn't get any sense that she's particularly interested in him. He wonders if he should tell her how he's feeling or ask her out, but is fearful that doing so could make the next couple of years complicated and threaten their friendship. She also treats him like a "close guy friend" and even talks about other boys she's interested in on occasion. This is a bit confusing for him. Should he push the envelope here?

Wow, Guy. You get a lot of crushes! Oh wait, you're not a real person, just a conglomerate of many men...still. You know how to work the ladies.

Should you ask her out? I don't know. See, I'm not sure what the difference is between a "potential crush" and a good old-fashioned "regular crush." But I do know that girls sometimes tal…

Case Study No. 2 - Roommate's "Girl"

Guy's roommate and good friend spent the whole last 2 years being madly in love with this girl called "Enid". Guy always found Enid attractive but never really thought much of it because of his roommate's affection. It didn't work out between Enid and roommate and that recently became official. At the same time Guy and Roommate started living in separate residences. All of a sudden Guy notices a lot of attention from Enid, including her calling him and the occasional long phone conversation. Guy likes her but the risk is obvious in terms of relationship with roommate. Does he proceed?

Guy. Way to let your roommate have the girl. Enid likes you. Or is, like in Scenario No. 1, a fan of your attention. Enough reason for you to talk to her. How do I know this? Girls call boys to get their attention. Girls have long phone conversations with boys because they want to bond emotionally.

BUT The issue here is not actually about Enid. The issue is about Roommate. What…