Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Because I dig words

Words of '07.

Personally, I love that "facebook" can be used in every context.


New: An Ottawa-based group has released a report is recommending the city bring in more taxis to help people find rides home from bars and at night time. They are calling for at least 60 more taxis. Service in this city runs a little differently with over half of all cabbies owning their own vehicles. Owner-drivers can decide not to work evenings and weekends which is when the taxis are really needed. They call for a higher rate at night to attract more drivers to that shift. The city is also being encouraged to allow taxis from the counties around Edmonton to alleviate the stress. Most taxi drivers don't like the report. CBC Radio Edm.

If I were a cabbie in Edmonton I would be so not worried. The problem is less that there aren't enough cabbies and more that there are zero dispatchers. If you call the cab company and actually get something other than ringing or a machine, they'll tell you to go wait in the street because they are too short-staffed to connect you. And if they do connect you, chances are the cabbie will opt to pick up someone off the street as they travel the distance to where you are. They have a ridiculous amount of business. And they price gouge like it's going out of style. Dear Ottawa group: our city is not like your city. I've taken cabs in both, and this is a whole different world out here.

Want a cab? Walk to a hotel. Seriously.

"Jesus" fails to live up to the hype

Last night, the roomie and I did something we absolutely love to do together. We went to the Jube. For the past year we've been hitting up every "Broadway across Canada" event we can fit in, which really just consisted of The Producers (her Christmas gift from me last year) and Mamma Mia (my birthday present from her). For her birthday this year, I got her tickets to Jesus Christ Superstar, a show that she's been wanting to see since she took her musical Broadway class in university. Last night was the night.

We performed our regular routine of pre-show Starbucks and catch-up (these days we don't see all that much of each other, even though we live in the same apartment) and squirmed with excitement.

All of this excitement was for naught. I never thought I'd say that Jesus let me down. I'm a pretty easy person to impress, really. And it seemed like roomie and I were the only two un-enthusiastically clapping politely and remaining in our seats at the end of the show. The entire time I was just thinking about this article from the Journal back in November about how Edmontonians give the standing-O too freely.

In the "Stand Off" which coincides with the article, "Hal" says, "Edmontonians tend to give anyone recognizable a standing ovation. The quality of the performance isn't taken into consideration. It appears that some performers get a standing ovation just for being here."

I think this is definitely what happened here. Ted Neeley, almost 40 years after appearing as Jesus in the rock-opera, has resurrected his role here in Edmonton. Neither roomie nor I was impressed with his very 62 year old sounding voice in the role of a young prophet. He sounded old. His rock and roll wailing grew old fast. If you're going to make Jesus a rock star, make him a rock star.

Last night's show at least was riddled with technical difficulties. From the back of the auditorium we could hear the microphone feedback. We couldn't hear one solo artist who was obviously singing his heart out. Sound levels fluctuated often.

Not to say that there weren't good moments. There were a few good songs, namely the Jesus Christ Superstar title song and the section of the play which featured King Herod. The comic relief. The actor who played Judas was also extraordinary and personally, I feel his talent far exceeded that of Neeley.

Both roomie and I, neither of whom are overly religious, came out of the theatre feeling blasphemous. It irked us how Mary was portrayed for outright throwing herself at Jesus and claiming she's in love with him (whereas our impression from her Catholic and my Lutheran bible-studying upbringings lead us to believe otherwise) and for having it seem like Jesus was falling for her wanton ways. Yes, it's speculated by some that the two may have had a love affair, but there was much lost by this portrayal. Also, Jesus' mother Mary reaching out to Jesus from afar as Jesus wheezes and wails and begs for water on the cross? Someone gave that boy some water, yes? Not here. The two main women in his life merely watched while he died of thirst.

Also, I felt the ridicule of the crown of thorns, the throwing lots for his clothes, carrying the cross through the streets were all completely lost. Because the show didn't feature any of this, which is kind of big in the story. As well as the other criminals on the mount, one asking for a place in Heaven. That's the whole point of Jesus dying, yes? So the sins of others can be forgiven?

We felt as though this Jesus was whiny. Annoying. Very un-superstar. At one point roomie turned to me and whispered, "Will he just die already?"

For the Journal's bit on JCS, go here.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

An update of sorts

Life has been a little crazy as of late.

Work has been a madhouse. I've been filling up my time with friends, including meeting new friends and saying goodbye to some old(er) ones. It's strange how close you can get to people in such a short amount of time. Sometimes you just click with people. Sometimes people surprise you in fabulous ways. And sometimes they let you down.

Christmas is on the horizon and while I often say that I am not a big fan of Christmas, that's a lie. I'm not a big fan of the rush and the swarm of people in malls and the consumerist buy-buy-buy of the holiday season. However, I am a huge fan of finding something for someone which I know they will absolutely love -- seeing the look on their face when they get that perfect, yet unexpected gift, family, old-fashioned christmas carols and holiday drinks at Starbucks.

This month I made the first trek back to my university city. Wasn't there long enough to scout out the old haunts and count all the things that have changed -- but had the opportunity to spend a fabulous weekend catching up with old friends... which is absolutely worth the air fare back there.

We also picked up a girl at the bar. She hates this story. Maybe because we exhaggerate just a little. (Exhaggerate? Me? Never!) We actually met her cute male friends while she was off dancing with a boy and took them back to our house to play Cranium. They got a kick out of how I hid my flip-flops under a little deck near the bar so I didn't have to walk home in ridiculous heels (gorgeous yet not so fabulous after dancing most of the night away). We got to kick their behinds after they trash talked us all the way back to the apartment. It's pretty much a win-win situation. It's always good to meet new people, and it's fairly easy here, I find, since most people have come from somewhere else we usually find ourselves in the same boat -- not having nearly enough friends around. We befriended this sweet girl and made her come to our Halloween party, though she was apprehensive of course, and she's been stuck with us ever since.

Sometimes life is about letting people go as well. Whether it's letting people you've become close with leave the city to begin a new chapter of their lives (in Saskatoon? Yeah... okay). Or whether it's about writing off a friendship that was very obviously not meant to be.

On that note (which seems unrelated and isn't overly really) -- drive safe during the holiday season. It's coming up fairly quickly with Christmas parties (I've already been to two!) and whatnot... so drive safe. Stay sober, pay attention, buckle up, slow down. All of that. That's my little lecture for the day.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Speech by the sisters three: Jenna and Andrew

Thank you Andrew and Jenna for having us be a part of your special day.

Andrew was always pretty clever.

When we played house, he was the best banker he could be. He guarded that stack of Monopoly money with everything he had.

He drew up an air-tight contract to ensure that when he offered to pay me $5 an hour for playing "boy games" with him, he'd never actually have to pay out since I couldn't bear to stay in for the hour he had stipulated. Don't worry Andrew, there were times we wished that you had gotten a little brother too... just to save us from playing whatever you wanted to play.

And anyone who has ever had the pleasure of seeing the accounting books that Andrew had for his farm set -- keeping track of revenues, expenses, market prices and so on -- knows that this boy has a lot of brains.

That being said, we can say with full confidence that making the decision to marry Jenna was the smartest thing that Andrew has ever done.

Andrew and Jenna go together like peanut butter and jelly. She's sweet and he's stuck on her.

Welcome to our family Jenna.

Cheers, to Andrew and Jenna. To love, laughter, and happily ever after.

Speech: Meg and Stephen

Thank you Meghan and Stephen, for letting me be part of this incredible day.

A while back I received a rather inappropriate post card in the mail and was told by the new Mrs. Bartolo that it was my job to make sure she walked down the aisle this morning.

…I can tell you all that this was the easiest task I’ve ever been given.

From that first conversation detailing her run-in with a strange boy on the bus… to the ecstatic phone call in the middle of the night from Tobermory announcing their engagement… it’s never been of any doubt that these two would end up together.

Even when Meghan was not so impressed with her new husband, like the time I visited the pair and Meghan decided to take shots for every sip her increasingly intoxicated boyfriend was taking, her love for this man was apparent.

Even clutching the toilet bowl, insisting I hold her pukey hand in mine… Meghan talked of nothing but their future together. …Now that’s love.

From the many visits to Ottawa over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to witness Meghan and Steve’s love each other as well as their love for pushing each others’ buttons…

…And now they get to annoy each other for the rest of their lives.

People claim that fairy tales don’t exist but I beg to differ. The real fairy tales are the ones that we make ourselves. Contrary to the stories we read as kids, fairy tales aren’t always easy. Relationships aren’t easy. They take work. There will be bumps in the road. The important thing is that when you hit those rough times you remember why you got together in the first place.

For those of you who don’t know the story of Meghan and Stephen, you’re in for a real treat… a real modern day fairy tale.

You see, once upon a time, back around four years ago, there was this girl with a smile that could light up any room. As you can see, she’s doing it here and now with this room today. This girl was at the bus stop, with her eye on a mysterious hottie. Anyone who knows Meghan knows she’s nothing if not subtle. So she took off her dark sunglasses and began flirting with this boy in earnest once they had boarded the bus.

Giggles, the hair flip, the whole nine yards.

In order to speed up the process, our protagonist decided to give this mystery boy fair warning before her stop came up. Though she made everything so obvious, to her dismay, she received no acknowledgement from the boy. So she cut her losses and went on her merry way.

A few moments later, walking down Sparks Street, the girl turned around to find our mystery boy literally running down the street towards her. Being the suave girl she is, she decided to play it cool and slow her pace to let him catch up as she watched his reflection near in the windows beside her. As she was patiently waiting to cross the street, our boy gently taps her on the shoulder and calmly says….

“Excuse me, you were supposed to ask for my phone number.”

After a firm handshake and waiting the two standard days to call, our lovebirds have been together ever since.

Earlier this week, I was talking to Meghan about boys, clearly not a shocking topic of choice. Meghan oh-so-wisely told me…

“You will not find love. No matter how hard you look. Love will find you. And, it will probably be at a very inappropriate moment, as it doesn't have the greatest timing, nor does it care what is convenient for you.”

Apparently love waits until you’re late for work and forces you to do things you’d never do. Like follow a gorgeous woman down the street, armed with only a vague idea of what to say and with your pride on the line.

My only advice for you today, Meghan and Stephen, is to remember those little moments. Remember Stephen, what pushed you to get out of your seat and follow Meghan down the street, even though it was totally inconvenient and out of character.

And Meghan, remember what had you focused on this cute boy (other than just his cute backside) and what made you say yes to the gentleman who gave you an introductory handshake when all you wanted to do was throw yourself at him.

Meghan and Stephen, this day today and your love for each other is proof that fairy tales do exist.

Congratulations Meghan and Stephen on your beautiful wedding. Cheers -- to love, laughter and happily ever after!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Today's Starbucks wisdom (#283)

"The most important thing in life is to stop saying 'I wish' and start saying 'I will.' Consider nothing impossible, then treat possibilities as probabilities." -- David Copperfield

Thursday, August 30, 2007

No substitute for the zoo

These ads brighten my day. I adore them. Clever, simple, effective.

There are tons more... this series is dogs that are made to look like other animals, but there's also one I've seen of a hairy man eating a banana... hilarious.

Somedays I am proud to be a new Albertan... and others?

News: "Adapt to our voting patterns or go back where you came from" is the message from a man looking to run for the PCs in Calgary Egmont. Craig Chandler says people who have moved here have told him they plan to vote Liberal. He says the conservative culture made Alberta what it is and if people don't like it they can leave. Premier Stelmach says that message isn't coming from the PC Party. CityTV Edm., CHED

Yikes. I think many Albertans fail to realize that without immigrants (either from other countries or other Canadian provinces) Alberta would be in incredibly bad shape right now. Alberta needs people badly to keep this economy going the way it is. Labour shortages are already at dangerous levels... imagine what they'd be like if people started leaving!

I agree that Alberta does have a somewhat small "c" conservative culture... but that shouldn't be a problem, even if people do want to vote Liberal. I don't see it as a "take it or leave it" situation, it's certainly not what democracy is all about. I function quite well here thankyouverymuch.

Colour me impressed

Oh McGuinty. I love it when any politician is willing to make something completely controversial into an election issue. It shows that they are not only willing to make a decision rather than sit on the fence, but they are willing to place their political life on the line for aforementioned issue.

Which is apparently how it is with McGuinty and pesticides (full article here).
Mr. McGuinty will make a provincewide ban on the cosmetic use of pesticides on lawns, gardens and parks, which can pose a health risk, part his platform for the Oct. 10 provincial election, a Liberal party source said yesterday.

"We're going to better protect the health of kids and families," the source said. Ontario would be following Toronto and many other municipalities in the province that have enacted such bans.
It's actually slightly surprising that the provincial government is moving on this so fast. It's been a little more than a year since we passed a bylaw banning the cosmetic use of pesticides in London (Ontario, not UK)... and when we were talking to citizen groups and the Medical Officer of Health, etc. there... they seemed to think that it would follow smoking and take years for the province to take a stand.
Good for you McGuinty. For proving us wrong.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Haunted by lemony visions... and the prospect of more weddings

A couple weeks ago I had this incredibly random dream which involved light, fluffy, lemon cupcakes. I can not gets this vision of cupcake heaven out of my head, even though I have long since been a huge lemon fan. Must. Make. These. Cupcakes. The need haunts me and I know not why.

I think there may be a problem with the fact that every time I get a drunk-dial in the middle of the night I fear it is another friend telling me that they are engaged. Who calls me after 4 a.m., boyfriend in tow, merely to tell me how in love they are and yet how they are thinking of me at the same time? ...oh right, Erin does. Stay away from the Koolaid.

Speaking of weddings, my cousin is getting married in Cuba in the spring and I'm seriously considering going. Even with the prospect of Europe. One of my friends called me "moneybags" last night when I was explaining this to which I say... no mortgage, no little family, no car... what else is there to spend money on but travel? Works for me.

Megpie's wedding countdown is three weeks. Brother is getting married in five. Airplane tickets have (finally) been purchased and I don't nearly hate Air Canada so much anymore due to the lovely ticket counter lady at the airport. Though I still hate them plenty. West Jet is my airline love. The dress is nearly ready. My bags are far from packed. My duties are still a little bit unclear. But I am getting a little bit excited. It'll be good to go home and see all the friends/family who I have left back in Ontario. And I shall get to spend the night with the littlest sister in her university abode, which will be all sorts of girly fun (though she must wake up in the morning for class before we head home to the farm).

Still reading Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs. Still loving Klosterman. Even though at times he is ridiculously pretentious and I don't particularly agree with him... I can't remember actually laughing out loud at a book so much. In weird places. Like on the bus surrounded by sweaty strangers. Hilarity. People should read this book if only for this reason. The man is funny.

Last night, went to Packrats with my peeps. Had the best wine of my life. And the food. Oh the food was amazing. Everyone must go (or try to go) here. My new favourite restaurant. Ever. Also, check out the Fringe. Because it is arty and awesome. And deliciously dirty.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Memories of summer

My lovely lady E sent this to me this morning at work for a little reminder of the greatness that was her visit. Ahhhh what a good year it's been!

Wine at 10 a.m.? Yes, please!

In the midst of slaving away this morning, I dug into my purse for lip gloss and pulled out a bottle opener (left over from Saturday night). *sigh* Too early in the day for that I'm afraid.

I'm currently reading Chuck Klosterman's "Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs" and find myself literally laughing out loud as I go over his words. Hilarious. And yet he also caters to my cynical side.

In the first chapter, Klosterman talks about "fake love". He surmises that no woman will ever be able to completely satisfy him, just as he will never be able to fully satisfy any woman, because both parties will measure the relationship against the prospect of fake love. The man has a point.

We're given chick flicks and sappy love songs and fairy tales and Harlequin romance novels... and the other sex is supposed to compete with that? Maybe this is the real reason why girls fall for jerks. Because we can maintain the flicker of hope that these guys will get better and that happily ever after will exist whereas with "nice guys" what you see is what you get. You get into a relationship with a guy who is already compassionate and romantic and nice and that's as good as it's going to get. And too often, it's not good enough. It just doesn't measure up to the concept of love we've dream of since we were little girls and so we throw it back and try to catch something new. Someone new. And then we wonder why we can't find anyone "good enough".

Ridiculous, let me tell you.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

In love.

Have I mentioned yet how much I love this province? ...Oh right, I have.

Stampede with the girls was completely spectacular. It combines my hicktown roots with my big city love. Nine days with four girls in our apartment or crammed into a hotel room in Cowtown and there was no drama. Oh how I adore these people. We're already planning our next getaway... Belgium or the south of France (depending on where the Big E is next year)... and NYC the year after. Oh the joy of having a real job with real time off.

My own birthday was fabulous as well. Took in an Eskimos/Roughriders game with my PR gal pal from London, Suz. There was beer and a streaker and mad cheering... everything a football game should be. The next day, the roomie surprised me with tickets to Mamma Mia!... which I can not begin to describe. We're big fans of this "Broadway across Canada" thing. We also had a lovely party where friends new and old came together to have some drinks and plenty of laughs. "We picked good friends," the roomie said after. I agree.

A year after being in this lovely province, we've actually gotten around to seeing more of it. Last weekend we went white water rafting on the Kicking Horse River in Golden, BC. 35 degrees + SPF 60 and this girl is doing fine! It's no small miracle that I don't resemble a lobster. Rafting was so much fun... I definitely recommend it. And, I adore the mountains. Oh Ontario, we had beaches and good times... but the mountains... oh the mountains!

With all these engineer friends I have, I need one to develop a "pause" button for summer. I don't want it to end. I'm definitely not looking forward to -40 and snow for eight months. Looks like I may have to take up a winter hobby... like snowboarding perhaps.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Mamma Mia

A birthday is a time to look at what you've created and see if it still serves. Change is necessary. Life is opportunity.

My mother is a genius. Of course, this is something I've known for years... but I am just in complete awe of her. She's confident, she's brilliant, she's successful, she's strong, she's compassionate. She's an inspiration. Yesterday was her birthday.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Oh Calgary, you and your big ego...

From Paul Jackson's editorial today in the Calgary Sun:

Stelmach could easily have eradicated Calgarians' angst in two quick strokes: Give the energy portfolio, now held by Grande Prairie MLA Mel Knight to a Calgary MLA and give Danyluk's municipal affairs and housing portfolio to another Calgary MLA, perhaps Fritz. The energy portfolio obviously belongs in our city, and municipal affairs and housing should as obviously go to an MLA from a major city, not some northern, far-flung riding.

Honestly. Thinking Ministers from your city deserve top portfolios simply because of where they are from is a ridiculous idea. Since when do we choose any job applicant because of where they originate from as opposed to what they bring to the table? Mel Knight has energy industry experience like no other MLA, who do you expect to take his place? "The energy portfolio obviously belongs in our city"? I don't think so. And Danyluk is a pretty good minister. Municipal affairs, in my opinion, sort of belongs with someone who isn't from the big city... yeah, Calgary has housing issues which could be fully understood/visualized by a Calgary MLA, but municipal affairs is important, especially in a cabinet which seeks to embrace rural Alberta which has been feeling left out for a long time. I think originating from rural Alberta helps Danyluk in this portfolio. Though that's not the reason why he's good at what he does. I watched him speak at the AAMDC conference a few months back and the Reeves, Councillors, etc. adore him. He's built relationships with these people.

Dear Calgary: get over it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Starbucks wisdom of the day

The Way I See It #247

Why in moments of crisis do we ask God for strength and help? As cognitive beings, why would we ask something that may well be a figment of our imaginations for guidance? Why not search inside ourselves for the power to overcome? After all, we are strong enough to cause most of the catastrophes we need to endure.

-- Bill Scheel, Starbucks customer from London, Ontario. He describes himself as a "modern day nobody."

Edmonton needs a PR makeover

June 27, 2007: Edmonton is still having problems promoting itself to the rest of Canada. A Toronto PR firm has been hired at a cost of $175,000. Council says Edmonton needs more exposure. Mayor Mandel says in the past we haven’t done as good a job as we should have done to promote the city. Between 2002 and 2004 according to the city, Edmonton appeared 25,000 times fewer than Calgary in National newspapers. Global Edm.

Last night I attended a forum put on by Next Gen re: Edmonton's image in the media. It was pretty interesting, especially from the view of someone who wasn't raised here. Panelists included Bridget Ryan from City TV; Mari Sasano from the Edmonton Journal (‘8 ½ Things to Do’ every Saturday in ED Magazine); Jason Manning, Music Director from Sonic Radio, 102.9 FM; and Ted Kerr, freelance photographer and writer.

I found myself nodding quite a bit to what Jason Manning had to say (as someone who also flocked here for opportunity and is astounded by how great a city this is). Edmontonians kind of brush off pride and put down the city a little bit as Redmonton/Deadmonton/etc. They tend to focus on the negative effects of the boom and what has come of the city's rapid growth versus the positives the city holds.

Bridget Ryan talked about a recent trip to NYC, where her cab driver's eyes lit up to hear she was from Edmonton because he was moving himself and his family here in a couple weeks.

Edmonton does have an image, we need to focus on not hiding the negatives, but also on promoting the good. We have an awesome arts/music scene that is fairly unique from that of Toronto/Vancouver. We have the river valley, which is one of the largest greenspaces in North America. We are a quietly diverse city which doesn't exploit our multiculturalism and segment our population into ghettos and stereotypes (though these surely exist to an extent). We have Whyte Ave, a bustling little community... and downtown, which is getting there. On the flip side, the city has a drug problem which needs to be tackled before it can truely flourish.

Ted Kerr talked about the importance of story telling versus marketing, which I do think is a great idea... focus on the lives and stories of individuals rather than "come to Edmonton because it's the land of milk and honey". Make it real for people. Which also means not lying. Yeah, we have a housing problem. Yeah, infrastructure needs work. Yeah, winter is pretty damn cold (but there are plenty of cool things to do even with the temperature at -40).

I've said it about a million times, and I'll say it a million more. One of the things that I noticed about Edmonton pretty early on is how many successful young people there are. There is a great opportunity for success here, and success early on in life. Which is quite different from the scene in Toronto where you need to know people to get anywhere. For me, as a recent graduate and young professional, I find this incredibly inspiring.

One of the other interesting things that was mentioned is that a lot of great things in Edmonton get overlooked because they don't have "Edmonton" in the name... they opt for using "Capital" whatever or "Alberta" whatever. These are the instances where people automatically assume that these things are based in Calgary (for example, University of Alberta, Royal Alberta Museum, Capital Heath). It's going to take change on a larger scale to change the views of people across the country and around the world. Many people do think that Calgary is the capital since it's bigger and gets more attention.

What do you think? What makes Edmonton great? What can the city do to get this message out?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Girls, girls, girls.

I remember a time talking with the sisters about how awful boys are. The reality of the situation is that girls are so much worse than boys. They are catty and vindictive and they hurt our own gender far more than the opposite sex does. This has become glaringly obvious through conversations with one of my best girls... girl drama is the new boy drama. And it's completely ridiculous.

Why can't we be supportive of each other? Why must girls be so petty and jealous and vindictive? For the most part, I stray from these girls. I have my core little set who typically are the ones who have more guy pals than girl friends, who are always ready with a bottle of wine or an escape to a patio with a plethora of beer when you need it, either to celebrate or to get over a bad day. Ones who never throw out the "I told you so", even though they do have rockin' advice when it's needed.

Even in some of the confusion that has surrounded my little universe these days, it's not men that are the problem. I can handle men. I am not naive, I am realistic, I know who I am and know that things don't always go the way I want them to. I can accept that. I can exist in a world of unknowns. For now. It's the girl talk that has my head spinning and my soul aching to escape from this place.

It's the girl talk that makes me start questioning myself.

This weekend consisted of a glorious (though short) visit to Ontario to visit ma famille. It's kind of funny how I've barely been in this city for a year, and yet it feels so right. Even if I were to return to Ontario, I wouldn't move to my hometown. I couldn't. It's not who I am anymore. I'm not sure it's who I ever was. Though there are aspects of it that I love, love, love. I love the family. I love the seclusion of the farm (though there was a time in my youth when I absolutely detested this luxury). I love waking Kiki up to play catch on the lawn in our PJs because it's doesn't matter what you look like when no one can see you. I love my dog. I love the quiet. The escape. Nature.

And yet, I come back to the sirens and the hustle and bustle of a city of over a million... greeted by my buddies in the airport and swept off for a drink... and it just feels right. Someday I'll regain the peacefulness of my old life... but for now, the balcony suffices. Our glorious downtown balcony with our herb garden and barbeque.

With the last week at this department wrapping up and the permanent department on the horizon, the trip home only made me crave more of an escape. Plotting imaginary travels with one of my guy friends and squealing over the real to-be travel to Stampede with one of my best girls is just going to have to do for now.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Happiness, Vaginas and Strong, Inspirational Women

This is absolutely incredible. Eve Ensler is hilariously funny and incredibly brilliant. Her talk about her journey, V-day and the Vagina Monologues is definitely worth a listen.

The women whose stories she tells near the end of the talk are absolutely astounding. I have been blessed to never be in a situation even remotely close to anything any of these women have encountered, and I can't say that if I was I would have this much strength to affect change.

In university, a friend and I were part of a group which went around to highschools and discussed violence against women and healthy relationships. It was all part of something that one brave woman put together after her daughter was killed by an ex-boyfriend that she had been in an abusive relationship with. This woman traveled to schools everywhere in order to show other young girls what abuse looks like and discuss how to get out of that situation. Incredible.

Even if you're not into the Vagina Monologues, watch this clip.

"When we give in the world what we want the most, we heal the broken part inside each of us."

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Wish list, not overly Canadian

Facebook has this "Great Canadian Wish List" thing going on right now. It's an interesting experiment by the CBC to interact with the younger generation, they plan on compiling all the data and releasing the list on July 1.

I'm interested in seeing what things people think would make our country better; which ideas they have to make our country greater.

A few examples of what has been written:
Abolish Abortion in Canada (top wish)
Spirtual revival (number two)
Pro-choice Canada (number three)
Restore the Traditional Definition of Marriage (number four)
Lower/eliminate Tuition Fees (number five)

I'm a little afraid for this future. There's also a "wish" that Canada be completely athiest. Yikes. Let it be said that I consider myself to be more "spirtual" than "religious"... mainly meaning that I don't think the problem lies in people believing in a higher power, but that the problem mainly lies in the politics and drama of organized religion itself. I believe that it is our differences and the toleration of these differences that make our country what it is. Tolerance and respect, no matter which culture, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, gender, age, etc.

On Abortion: I don't support the idea of abortion. I don't think that anybody really does. But I do support the idea of trusting women enough to make these life decisions for themselves. I know that no matter how much I may disagree with any decision that somebody else makes, it is in fact their decision to make. Not mine. And the people who will have an abortion now, are the ones who will continue to resort to this end even if abortion was not legal. It is far greater to have these procedures carried out in a medically controlled, safe environment rather than in basements and back alleys. This was the whole purpose of legalizing it in the first place. Abortion should never be used as a form of birth control, and when people consent to having sex, they adopt pregnancy as a possibility. They have to be prepared for the consequences of their actions.

However, there are a plethora of situations out there which makes this whole topic a very sticky thing. It's definitely not black or white. And I am not one to determine what anybody else should do in their own, unique situation. I don't believe anyone else should make this decision for them either.

We should rather build a community of acceptance which allows women to feel safe enough to discuss their options and possibilities so that they can be sure their decision is an informed one. And no matter whether they carry through with a pregnancy and raise a child, give birth and put that child up for adoption, or terminate the pregnancy... in every situation these women need support. They don't need to be shamed.

The Spiritual Revival wish claims that "40 years ago, there was the Hippie Revolution - a turning away from the ways of our Lord Jesus Christ. 40 years has our country been trapped in the ideals of free love, drug uses, practices of abusive lifestyles et cetera; we are turning too far away. Now is the time for this and our younger generation to step up, get out of our comfort zones and pray together for a spiritual revival in Canada from sea to sea to sea!"

Blech. Way to blame the hippies for all the troubles of our country. I grew up in a family that went to church every Sunday and didn't give in to the free love, drugs, and abusive lifestyles. And let me tell you, those church-goers were far from perfect. Furthermore, they should know about the values that God/Jesus/InsertHigherPowerHere teaches. What's that? Tolerance, respect and love? Love thy neighbour as thyself? Treat others the way you want to be treated? No where does it say only to love the other Christians. It says everyone. Regardless of their creed. The great thing about religion is that nobody really knows what's right or wrong. And so really, people shouldn't pretend they know it all. It's not possible to know it all.

All we can do is respect each other and be kind to each other and hope that in the end it all works out. Again, the great thing about Canada is that it does have this convergence of values, cultures, beliefs. And ideally, we would be accepting of the values and views of others... celebrating our similarities as well as our differences. It definitely makes democracy a lot more powerful when ideas are discussed from different viewpoints before people are elected or decisions are made. Our differences are one of our greatest strengths.

On marriage, it's kind of like everything else that has been discussed here. You know what? Any two people getting married is none of your business. And people who use the argument that gay marriage "demeans" or "lowers" the value of their traditional marriage... they are full of crap. Any marriage is a vow between two people and two people only (and God if you so believe). The only thing that can decrease the value of that vow is those two people involved.

And for those religious people who believe that homosexuality is wrong? Even if that is your view, the Bible/various religious texts say outright that it is not your job to judge people. That if anyone makes a wrong choice or acts in any way which could possibly be considered "wrong", they are the ones who answer for it in the end. So be quiet. You don't have to agree with the decisions and beliefs of others. You do have to respect human kind and the ability of people to make decisions for themselves. Further to that end, I would suggest that the only thing that would possibly demean this sacrament in my eyes, is when people enter into it lightly.

And on tuition fees, I think I've written on this before. I have. February 7, 2007, for those who care to look back. Basically, I don't support lowering/eliminating tuition fees. I do support people learning the value of money and having to work for what they get. People who don't have things just handed to them tend to value what they get out of it and work harder. I think an increase in grants, scholarships and financial aid is a good thing. Education should be accessible for those who really want it. That doesn't mean that it should be free.

I think this is all the ranting and raving I've got for now.
What are your wishes for Canada and the future of our country? Go.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Read this... absolutely incredible article by the LA Times' Megan Stack.

I just can't imagine living like this. We do have a lot of rights in this country, and on this continent, that we take for granted. Yes, there are still things to work towards but what we encounter is nothing like what Stack encountered in Saudi Arabia.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Ode to Kiki

I know I haven't been posting lately. Work has been complete insanity (in a good way of course) and there are a couple outside-of-work projects which I have been passionately slaving away on as well.

However, today I will take some time out to say a few words.

Oh Kiki. So many memories. So many fights. So much laughter. You and Kitty holding hands as you played soccer as toddlers. Kitty punching you in the nose to show you that the baby of the family could be tough too. Dressing up in clothespins and using the things that held the clothes lines together as ties. Your irrational fear of cows (definitely not good for a little farm girl)! Jump rope with Andrew in the middle. Sneaking out your window in the summer, laying on the grass and chatting about anything and everything. "Lea, are you awake? I wanna talk about boys!" Late night walks down back country roads. Coffee dates. One Tree Hill marathons. Building forts at the barn. Going to the bar to celebrate your belated 19th birthday and getting you water -- you needed it. Being so far away now and being closer than ever before.

You are the older baby sister. I've always felt the need to protect you and worry about you, and yet, you're all grown up. You are beautiful and smarter than you'll ever give yourself credit for. You have a good heart. Don't forget who you are and where you come from.

I will always love you, my little dark-haired baby. Je t'aime.

Happy birthday Kiki.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

interVivos: Lunch with the Premier

Anyone ages 18-35 interested in attending lunch with the Premier (for free! No $5000/plate dinners here!) click the invite below. Seating is very limited and is filling up fast. Make sure to RSVP to the e-mail address provided.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Giggles and bare feet on the dashboard

Somedays I just get flashes of great memories. Today, I found myself listening to online country radio... and well, that just spells trouble right there. Unlike many urban dwellers, I love country music. I don't listen to it exclusively, but it reminds me of summers back home... beer on the porch with friends in the summer, beachy trips, adventures or various random road trips (such as Dad's inclination one summer to hit up all the small towns in Ontario with waterfalls). Today, it was of a road trip from a time I went home last year... I'm thinking it was for one of Grandma and Grandpa's anniversary shindigs.

You see, it was May. I had two sisters eagerly anticipating senior prom. So, while Kiki was working, Kaye and I decided we would have ourselves a trip to the mall (about 45 minutes from home). All went fine and dandy, we had a great drive singing along to tunes on the radio... we scored a classic, super cheap prom dress (that Kaye is known for being thrifty), we decided to grab a bite to eat and call Mom to let her know we were beginning the journey home...

...and then, we got lost.

We came out of the city from a completely different way that we went in. We had no clue where we were. We did not have a map. And Kaye and I have a reputation for having absolutely no sense of direction. It would seem as though we were doomed.

But Kaye and I giggled and pointed ourselves in the direction that home was surely in and went on our merry way. We were keeping our eyes open for signs that we were on the right or wrong track. We did come across a town with a gas station, thought we may find a map... but it was closed. So, we just figured we'd keep going, and this is something how it went:

"Berlett Road? We know some Berletts! Good sign!" Keep going.
"Cows! We have cows! Good sign!" Keep going.
"Cemetary! Uh oh, bad sign, bad sign!" Turn.
"Wellesley: Home of Apple Butter and Cheese Festival. I like apple butter. I like cheese. That's definitely a good sign!" Keep going.
"Abandoned house? Bad sign!" Turn.
"Oh look at that... military guys? Why are there military guys in camoflaged Jeeps in the middle of nowhere? They have guns? Um... good sign? ... maybe?" Keep going.

Everytime we spotted a "sign" we would burst into fits of giggles. And, strangely enough, we made it to "Anna Mae's! GREAT SIGN!"... because then, we knew exactly where we were and how to get home from there. We had managed to turn ourselves in the right direction amidst our travels and made it safely home.

We were torn between telling people or not as they may never have let us take out the car or travel together again... but in the end decided that the story was far too hilarious to keep Mom out of the loop. Others expressed their astonishment that Kaye and I survived. Without a map. On our own. But we knew all along that we would make it... and we just enjoyed the ride.

Cheesy moral of the story: You don't need a map, or a set of concrete plans to get where you are going. Sometimes you just have to follow your gut.

The gym: summit to solve the world's problems?

One of the groups I'm involved with, interVivos, is holding an event on April 20, 2007 with Premier Stelmach. Last night, we determined the title for the luncheon: What the boom?! Is there sustainability in prosperity? Because sure we are doing well enough now, but what happens in 20-30 years when the boom is over? What is Alberta going to look like then?

I was telling Roomie K all about this when we met up at the gym. Amidst all the hulking, grunting men, we are there lifting our weights and talking about politics. Roomie K is not a political girl. She doesn't have a political background, she has not been involved in things political in the past. She is, however, involved in the non-profit sector working with persons with disabilities (before that it was working with at-risk youth). The girl is incredibly passionate about what she does, and is thoroughly loved by both the youth she has worked with in the past, and the individuals she works with now.

At the last meet-up, grab-a-drink-and-chat politics event, I convinced Roomie K to come with me. She became engaged in deep discussion with a boy on the subject of what she does, and fought his disgust as she tried to convince him that not everyone in low-income/poverty in the city wants to be in that position. Some of her kids from her previous jobs had single mothers who worked two jobs and went to school full time in attempts to make life better for the children they were raising. One woman was raising a son that was not even hers, but that her room mates (a couple) had left in her care when they disappeared one day and never returned. Not everyone in this group has the "lazy" stigma that has been associated with them. Far more of them are forced to work harder than anyone in the middle-class in order to provide the basic necessities for their families. What Krista couldn't make this very conservative boy understand, was that for many people this lifestyle is a cycle from which they have been unable to break free.

With both that job and the new one, it has become glaringly obvious just how hurting the non-profit sector is for dedicated workers. I found this when I worked at Chrysalis as well. In Alberta's booming economy, people can work at MacDonalds for more than they get paid at some of these non-profits. A lot of people are more concerned with the money than the good they are bringing to the lives of others. These non-profits are fighting for grants and government funds in order to sustain themselves and can not afford to hire staff, let alone work to keep those staff.

What we came to a conclusion last night between leg presses is this: these organizations need to stop competing. Each organization excels in different areas, some at going out with individuals into the community, some at group home care, some with certain disabilities over others... and these groups need to come together in order to be strategic. Because not only are they fighting for money, but they're fighting for staff. Organizations which pay $10 per hour rather than $12 find it impossible to get staff, and as a result, the program suffers. Rather than this be the case, there could be programs targeted towards these different facets of care and levels of disability throughout the city. Specialization: let those which have the ability to best provide the program, provide the program. The CEOs and strategic planners of these organizations need to come together to determine what is best for their clients, because in the end, it will also be what is best for the organization. Certainly, right now, everyone is feeling the pressure of the economy and cuts in funding (such as the constant decrease in PDD funding over the past few years).

Sometimes we get so caught up in the boom and prosperity of the province, that we forget that not everyone is getting positive fall-out. We need to work with the organizations which cater to the most vulnerable in our society and make them strong. A society is only as strong as it's weakest link and, in Alberta, non-profits such as these are straining to survive.

Friday, March 23, 2007

As if there wasn't enough reason to love Dave Hancock

Oh Dave Hancock. How I love thee with thy desire for a province-wide smoking ban. I know it's something Albertans aren't keen on. I know you're a fighter. And it irks me how Albertans are making the very same excuses against the ban that other provinces (ie. Ontario) used... excuses which have not only proven ineffective, but untrue.

And, in case that wasn't reason enough to deduce that you are quite lovely... you go and do something like this.

A province-wide colorectal screening program!

As behind as Alberta is on the anti-smoking legislation, they are far ahead here. This was something that we tried getting the Ontario government on board for when I was working at the Canadian Cancer Society. What the news release doesn't tell you is that while colorectal cancer one of the top killers, it is NINETY PERCENT curable if caught early enough. NINETY PERCENT! And yet it still kills so many people. Why? Because people don't get screened for it. They hold off on their physicals, they avoid the doctor and then they find out it's too late.

I remember having this argument with my grandmother in the summer. She was talking about how one of her friends had been diagnosed and then died three weeks later. She mentioned how she hadn't been to the doctor in years and years and refused to go. And, oh what a shame it was that she was gone. I talked about how curable the cancer was, and grandma said something along the lines of, "Well, I don't blame her I don't like going to the doctor either." This completely blows my mind.

I realize that going to the doctor may be unpleasant, but in this case, getting your check ups literally means life or death. Bravo to Hancock's Health and Wellness for putting this screening program out there.

Now if only we could get people to quit smoking...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

In the world where I am not writing on the internet... oh wait...

Since Kaye is essentially the only person who reads this, I don't feel particularly bad about writing about my personal life. Ha! Some days/weeks just make me want to crawl into bed and stay there, and this is one of them. Which is probably why I've been more domestic and less debacherous as of late. I've been cooking and baking pie and making single mittens because apparently I get bored making two that look alike (I'll get around to it, I swear).

Let's see... my schedule is simultaneously clearing and filling up. Classes are almost done for right now, two more French and no more Spanish. This is good since it means that I will get home before 10 p.m.. However, Relay is going to start consuming my life since meetings are basically quadrupling until the end of May (the point in which I fall asleep for an entire weekend). interVivos is also gearing up now and we're actually starting to get things done, which is very exciting. It seems as though I'll no longer be able to make it to Wednesday night suppers with the boys, but since they've been happening on Sunday quite a bit lately... that's okay.

The countdown is on until the great department swap. I'm holding my breath and crossing my fingers in order to not end up in St. Albert. It may mean that I read a whole lot less, but the commute is the worst thing about my job (and it's not even that bad, really). I'm getting antsy to find out where I'll end up. Exciting stuff.

Roomie K and I finally got around to taking shoes to the shoe doctor to get fixed on the weekend and so I got to pull out my most favourite pair of shoes and wear them today. For the first time since I moved. In July. And they were broken before that. I just want to caress them.

There you have it: the girliest, least informative, most superficial post yet!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Pussycat Dolls: Good role models? Right.

One of the most terrible things that could happen at the gym happened to me the other day -- the batteries died on my music player. Due to this, I channel-surfed through the whole four channels on gym-TV. One of these channels was Much Music, airing at this time was the Pussycat Dolls show. The only snippet I caught was the Dolls claiming that they are "feminists" and "positive role models" for young girls. Right.

Apparently grinding on poles on buses like strippers and throwing your leg above your head between gyrating obscenely is role model behavior. Sure, sex sells. These girls are making a whack of money not because their talented, but because they dress in skimpy outfits and gyrate around.

Here is the article from The following snippets are clues that you're not a good role model.

1. When you serve as the role model to Lil' Kim. “Everything the Pussycat Dolls are is everything that I’ve developed myself into being,” said the rap star Lil’ Kim, who is a judge on the show and who served a prison sentence for lying to a federal grand jury about a shooting outside a radio station.

When you want to pick someone who convinces others that your gang of women are good role models... you may be better off not to choose Lil' Kim. I don't know of any woman who would consider Kim a positive role model.

2. When teenage girls believe that you represent a step backwards for women. When one reporter said his 17-year-old daughter looked at the group and their antics as a giant step backward for women, the Pussycat Dolls’ founder, Robin Antin, became defensive, invoking female role models who follow the Dolls. “There’s a reason why people like Scarlett Johansson, Gwen Stefani, Cameron Diaz have all been so interested in what Pussycat Dolls is all about,” she said. “They feel that it is empowering to get up there and dress up like a Doll. It’s fun, and it’s something that every girl in the world — she may think one thing, but I think inside every girl in the world wants to do it.”

In my humble opinion, I don't think anyone is verified to make broad statements about "what every girl in the world wants to do". That would be like me claiming I know what all everyone wants. Complete ridiculousness. And, actresses are generally not your best bets as role models either. While it may be fun to dress hoochie and dance around, that by no means makes it the action of positive role models.

The sole thing I did to celebrate International Women's Day last week was to talk briefly to my mother. Though we haven't always had the cheeriest of relationships, she has been the greatest role model I could have ever asked for. This is why:
  • She always told me that I could be whatever I wanted to be, but encouraged me not to sell myself short. Though she didn't necessarily agree with what I went for school for, challenging me to ensure it was the right choice for what I wanted, she let me do my thing and supported me throughout my university career.
  • Though we debated almost endlessly, she encouraged me to stand up for what I believe in. This was stressed when we left the church near our house, where my mom was Sunday school superintendent, and went to another one due to differing beliefs between Mom and the Pastor. She believed in God, he believed he was a god.
  • Also, through discussions on religion, philosophy, the world... she taught me to base my beliefs on solid foundations and research. Don't take for truth that which you are merely told.
  • She got involved in municipal politics when I was young. It was empowering to see a bright woman making change in society. I firmly believe it was the dinner table discussions on municipal politics which spawned my love of politics today.
  • As the sole woman for over a decade on municipal councils, she also taught me that women were just as good as men in this arena. She is confident, well-informed and hard working. Yet as busy as she is with meetings, she made time for us as well.
  • And, farm women work their asses off. My mom didn't merely cook and clean. When we had dairy cows, she was in the barn every morning and every night for chores, she was throwing hay/straw bales in the mows, she was helping in the fields. And then she did all of the housework on top of that. And she kept track of all the finances. She was a regular superwoman.

For me, my mom embodies a lot of what feminism is about. It's about knowing what you believing in and standing up for those beliefs. It's about being informed and confident. It's not about having to choose between a career or a family, but about partnership which enables you to have both. It's about being able to do what you desire to do. It's about making a positive impact on society be it through your children, through your career, by being involved in your community or through any other way which may seem small to you but is a big deal to others. It's about realizing that society/life is unfair but not letting that hold you back from your dreams. It's about not giving up.

Feminism, for me, is not even a little about the Pussycat Dolls.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Sometimes he's awkward, and sometimes he's just so delightful

Ms Blakeman: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Again to the Premier: will the Premier join with the Alberta Liberals and finally stand up for Calgarians by recommending that they fully fund the new hospital in south Calgary? Do the right thing.

Mr. Stelmach: Mr. Speaker, I don’t have to stand up with the Alberta Liberals. Alberta Liberals aren’t funding the hospital. The money for the hospital and all other infrastructure comes from the taxpayers of the province of Alberta.

So delightful!

Yesterday, I was at this. Harper said, "the era of empty rhetoric on the environment is over!" and I can only hope that this is true. Harper is a surprisingly good speaker, very confident and strong... unfortunately, our own leader is not so confident. He's just such a sweet man though, you can't help but feel for him. When Harper brought up Ernest C. Manning and how he said that Albertans dream of changing the world from their tractor seats... it was heartfelt when Stelmach later added that he was proud to leave his tractor seat and play his part in changing the world.

Yes, there were a whopping six protesters outside (protesters who frequently broke down into giggles at that). However, I think that we have got to start somewhere. We can't fix the environment overnight, but this announcement shows a commitment to change from both governments. I don't believe it's subsidizing the oil companies, you do have to give them a reason to want to change and cut back on their emissions. Besides, money isn't going to the oil companies, it's going to new technology to cut down on greenhouse gases.

Canada shouldn't be reactionary and depend on the rest of the world to come up with solutions. It should be a leader. It's the same sort of thing Dion was talking about during his campaign and his speech at the Liberal leadership convention... it's just a shame that it takes fear of a Liberal government to get Harper to focus on the environment.

Books on the Bus: February Edition (...a little late, I know)

I have to admit, I haven't been reading a whole lot on the bus during the month of February. The winter blues had me a little down so when I wasn't reading (or knitting) on the bus, I would sleep with my iPod buds tucked into my ears. This past week has been absolutely incredible, warm and bright... so hopefully, this means more energy pour moi.

The following are books that I have read during February:

1) The Russian Debutante's Handbook: Gary Shteyngart
This book is very funny and full of adventure. It's fabulously written and I recommend it. It was one of those books that I had trouble putting down, speed reading through parts to find out what happens so that I wasn't left hanging until I picked up the book next.

2) Bitchfest: Ten Years of Cultural Criticism from the Pages of Bitch Magazine: Lisa Jervis and Andi Zeisler, eds.
Admittedly, this book isn't for everyone. There were essays I liked and others that didn't particularly tickle my fancy... but that's generally how Feminism and Feminist lit strike me. It's all about finding stories that are relatable. However, I do enjoy reading the opinions of others, and though I don't necessarily agree, it does lend a new perspective on some situations.

3) The Yarn Harlot's Knitting Rules!: Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is absolutely hilarious. Who knew knitting could be so positively amusing?! Generally, I have taught myself to knit new things via internet patterns/tutorials, but it's good to have a book to refer to rather than getting off the couch and running back and forth to my trusty little box of all knowledge. Yes, reading this book further underlines my geekdom, but I simply don't care. It was too delightful to pass on.

4) The Kiterunner: Khaled Hosseini
This may have been one of the most incredible books I have ever read. The imagery is astounding, the writing beautiful and the story heartwrenching. It may be uncomfortable but it further leads to understanding the plight of the characters. Absolutely stunning. This book I recommend to everyone, just as it came highly recommended to me.

In February I also started reading Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina"... I have this urge to read more "classic" literature. However, I haven't gotten very far into it as of yet (and it is a huge book) so you'll have to wait until March's list comes out to get the down low on that one.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Blue Alberta Going Green

In the past week or two there has been a huge influx of CAMRIF (Canada-Alberta Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund) announcements, many focusing on "green" infrastructure initiatives such as an energy efficient fire hall in Yellowhead County, wetlands around the North Saskatchewan and fuel-efficient (and some hybrid) buses for Strathcona.

Today's throne speech further underlines this government's environmental initiatives:

"Working with Albertans, the government will turn current environmental challenges into new opportunities. This will enhance Alberta's standing as a leader in practical, innovative nad sustainable environmental policies.

Your government will encourage all Albertans to take personal responsibility for energy efficiency and reduced consumption... because the environment is a shared responsibility between government, industry and all members of society.

Alberta's legislation for regulating greenhouse gas emissions was the first in Canada specifically addressing climate change. But this government knows more must be done.

This spring, the Government of Alberta will introduce legislation that will complete implementation of Alberta's ground-breaking Climate Change Plan. It will establish greenhouse gas emission intensity targets for industry under the Specified Gas Emitters Regulation.

These will be the first legislated emission intensity reduction targets for large industrial emitters in Canada.

At the same time, the government will work with Albertans to outline its next steps on this important issue. By fall 2007, Alberta will have a new climate change action plan to move beyond what's been accomplished so far."

Interesting. Very interesting. The speech is also highlighted in this Calgary Herald article.

Speaking of climate change, the temperature was supposed to hit zero today... and it's a whopping fourteen degrees. Wow.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Tickle thinks I'm smart.

I took some lame IQ test last week at and found out that they think my IQ is 136. Today I opened my e-mail to find they sent me the "indepth" report for free because I was one of the site's top scorers. Whatever.

You scored 136 on Tickle's IQ test. This means that based on your answers, your IQ score is between 126 and 136. Most people's IQs are between 70 and 130.
In fact, 95% of all people have IQs within that range. 68% of people score between 80 and 120.

How do you relate to other IQ test takers?

Your Intellectual Type Is:

Like a meticulous collector, you've fed your brain a unique set of facts and figures over the years. Words, numbers, you've got it all. That's what makes you a Facts Curator.

Whether or not you intend to absorb every piece of information that comes your way, your mind has certain steel-trap qualities to it. You are a knowledge sponge. You have almost enough words in your head to fill a dictionary, and you're equally adept when it comes to manipulating numbers. You can also detect important patterns in number sequences, and probably remember the mnemonic devices you were taught in grade school.
You may feel comfortable in classroom settings where absorbing details is critical. You're also able to learn from example and piece together all the little facts in life to get to the big picture. That's why you never stop accumulating information as you walk through life.

Your strengths lie in both the verbal and math realms — placing you in the same arena as someone like Bill Gates. Gates has the ability to not only store and retrieve an especially large amount of specialized data, but to translate and present that information to the population at large. His entire empire is based on this unique talent. And to think — your brain works in this same way! When it comes right down to it, you and other Facts Curators can ride a wave of information to live a truly enriched life.
Great Jobs For You
Because of the way you process information, these are just some of the many careers in which you could excel:
  • Tech writer
  • Astronomer
  • Computer engineer
  • Algebra teacher
  • Copy editor
  • Doctor

Some of Your Greatest Talents
You've got tons of strengths. It wouldn't surprise us if you:
  • Can process information quickly
  • Can articulate knowledge clearly
  • Are a thorough researcher; almost detective-like
  • Are the person friends want to call for their "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" lifeline

Mathematical Intelligence
Your Mathematical Percentile

100th percentile

You scored in the 100th percentile on the mathematical intelligence scale.This means that you scored higher than 90% - 100% of people who took the test and that 0% - 10% scored higher than you did. The scale above illustrates this visually.

Your mathematical intelligence score represents your combined ability to reason and calculate. You scored relatively high, which means you're probably the one your friends look to when splitting the lunch bill or calculating your waitresses' tip. You may or may not be known as a math whiz, but number crunching might come a little easier to you than it does others.

Visual-Spatial Intelligence
Your Visual-Spatial Percentile

80th percentile

You scored in the 80th percentile on the visual-spatial intelligence scale. This means that you scored higher than 70% - 80% of people who took the test and that 20% - 30% scored higher than you did. The scale above illustrates this visually.

The visual-spatial component of intelligence measures your ability to extract a visual pattern and from that envision what should come next in a sequence. Your score was relatively high, which could mean that you're the one navigating the map when you're on an outing with friends. You have, in some capacity, an ability to think in pictures. Maybe this strength comes out in subtle ways, like how you play chess or form metaphors.

Linguistic Intelligence

Your Linguistic Percentile

100th percentile

You scored in the 100th percentile on the linguistic intelligence scale. This means that you scored higher than 90% - 100% of people who took the test and that 0% - 10% scored higher than you did. The scale above illustrates this visually.

Linguistic abilities include reading, writing and communicating with words. Tickle's test measures knowledge of vocabulary, ease in completing word analogies and the ability to think critically about a statement based on its semantic structure. Your score was relatively high, which could mean you know your way around a bookstore and maybe like to bandy about the occasional 25-cent word to impress friends.

Logical Intelligence

Your Logical Percentile

100th percentile

You scored in the 100th percentile on the logical intelligence scale. This means that you scored higher than 90% - 100% of people who took the test and that 0% - 10% scored higher than you did. The scale above illustrates this visually.

Tickle's logical intelligence questions assess your ability to think things through. The questions determine the extent to which you use reasoning and logic to determine the best solution to a problem. Your logic score was relatively high, which could mean that when the car breaks down, your friends look to you to help figure out not only what's wrong, but how to fix it and how you're going to get to the next gas station.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Not in MY backyard

With the existing remand centre holding 750 people when it was designed to hold up to 338, Edmonton is definitely in need of a new facility. Prisoners convicted of crimes routinely get double or triple credit for time served awaiting trial at the downtown centre, guards complain about working conditions and prisoners call the facility inhumane.

Issues such as this one are always NIMBY issues. Thomas Lukaszuk is the prime example of this. He was talking up the issue so much with the previous government, then the site decision was made and he found out it's going in his constituency. Now, all he can do is complain.

The province consulted many people to find what the ideal remand centre would look like, and then looked at the four possible locations and determined the site on the north side to be the most desirable. Plus, the province already owns the land that the centre is to be built on, so it's saving money that way. And, it's much further from residential areas say, than downtown. A lot of people don't even know where the centre downtown is. Because it looks like a high school.

Personally, I quite like this guy...

...Andy Bordush who operates a small furniture manufacturing shop across the road had no worries about the remand centre plans.

"In society, we have to have these things unfortunately," he said. "It will just be a big building. If it was a dump or sewage plant, I would be concerned."

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

From there to here: the [abridged] story of my life

"You have brains in your head,
you have feet in your shoes,
you can steer yourself
in any direction you choose."
-- Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go!

I have contemplated my own decisions before; however, I have been doing this more often as of late due to recent events. I have thought about what would have been different had I stayed in Ontario. The chances I would have had. The opportunities to build relationships with those I'd known. But not once had I been made to feel guilty about those choices. Not until now.

I'm come from a farm outside a town of 5,500 to a city of about 333,000 to a city of over a million. From the dribble of a river called the Maitland, to the great Thames, to the majestic Saskatchewan. From Coles notes to briefing notes. From theoretical discussion to strategic planning. From an overabundance of Tim Hortons to a lack thereof. From jeans and flip flops to business suits and heels. From taking classes because I had to in order to attain my degree, to taking classes simply for the sake of learning. From politics courses, to being involved in political groups. From women's studies classes, to groups promoting women in politics. From a Liberal government to a PC government. From a province rich in water to a province rich in oil.

Along this journey, I've built friendships and strengthened the bonds with my own family. I visit less, but talk to them more. I've taken to calling home to ask for my mother's advice -- something I never imagined as I left home as a teen.

I've worked hard and faced many questions from those who didn't understand my path, finally to get here and hear those words I'd long since given up on hearing -- "I'm proud of you."

I've gone from a student's life of uncertainty, traveling down a road of unknowns, finally to come to this place. This place, though still moving along that same road, has afforded me stable ground and less questions. For the first time I can see where I am and where I'm going. Rather than being on a neverending path of uncertanty, this path has purpose in and of itself. No longer am I aiming to get a job -- just any relatable job -- post-graduation. Rather, I have found a career and am involved in my community. I have found my place.

I've gained a different perspective. I've lived another way of life. As the bus returning from work nears downtown, the view of the skyline gives me a boost -- I truly feel like I'm going home.

I've taken a lot of risks to be here. Within a week, I moved. Solely on the hopeful basis of a writing test -- not even yet an actual job interview. I took a huge leap and became the top choice of hundreds. Not just a job to pay for school, but a career. The career. The career I had been working towards through all of those all-night cram sessions and the endless essay writing.

And it was scary. It was terrifying to call up housing ads -- sometimes up to forty per day -- only to hear there were no vacancies. To interview for an apartment like my Ontarian counterparts interview for jobs. Sitting in that empty apartment, waiting for my sole piece of furniture -- my bed -- to arrive, wondering what I'd gotten myself into. Being flashed back to those first days in that old city, surrounded by people and yet feeling so completely alone.

It was all worth it.

Because of the people I've met, the friendships I've built, hearing the fabulous things coworkers have said about me. Because of small victories like figuring out the transit system. Because of weekly [early-afternoon] "brunches" with the girls at our little bakery, with the sweet-as-sugar man who greets us by name and regales us with stories of his own world travels. Because of the happiness I feel when taking the train across the river -- seeing the lights of the city reflect on the surface. Because of the fresh Alberta air and exploring the city with my partner-in-crime roomie.

I swore I would never move to any one city because of someone else. Likewise, I couldn't stay for that very same reason. I am satisfied that I left each place, each stage of my life, when I had finished learning. I have taken all that I could from these places, to stay and become stale was not an option.

Perhaps certain friendships are only meant to span periods of time. Perhaps they're only meant to add to us and help us grow when we need them, only to move on when we no longer do. True friends are the ones who are there no matter the distance between. They have proven their worth in late-night phone calls, surprise packages in the mail to aid homesickness, and the excitement they show in the tales we swap of our individual journeys.

Edmonton may not always be the place for me, but it is where I need to be right now. It's teaching me new things in the classrooms at the university, in my cubicle at work, in the organizations with which I'm involved and in my own living room.

Right now, I am home.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Oh, Suzuki.

Mel Knight, Energy Minister, announced that the government is prepared to help pay for a project into Canada's first wind forecasting study. The study will analyze varying wind patterns from the mountains to the prairies and substantially contribute to developing a made-in-Alberta solution for wind power that will work for the system operator, wind developers, the competitive power market and citizens of Alberta. Currently, there are 360 megawatts of power in Alberta's grid from wind generation, with a further 185 megawatts expected to enter the system by the end of 2007.

Knight said, "As a renewable energy source, wind power offers an environmentally friendly way to generate electricity for Alberta's homes and businesses."

Baby steps to environmental-friendliness are better than no steps at all. This is particularly interesting since on Friday, David Suzuki said in Calgary that if the premier "doesn't realize not doing anything about greenhouse gases is going to wreck the economy," he doesn't deserve to be a leader, according to a story in the Calgary Herald.

Even more interesting was Suzuki's response when questioned about it in Edmonton.
During a stop Saturday in Edmonton on his "if you were prime minister tour," Suzuki attempted to distance himself from his controversial remarks. "That was written by a headline writer, not me," Suzuki told about 800 people who packed a theatre at the University of Alberta. Suzuki said he was told by reporters that the premier, whose name he didn't know, was not going to do anything about the oilsands in order to slow economic growth. "I said: 'For the richest province in Canada to be saying we've got to bring onstream this very, very polluting oil development, well, you don't need that for your economic well-being.' It just doesn't show any economic vision or leadership as far as I'm concerned."

In my opinion, Suzuki is losing some credibility. I agree that being environmentally responsible will increase economic well-being in the long run, however, if Suzuki really wanted to make a difference and make change, he'd be up on the issues rather than simply making comments to what other people have told him. He's been known for years as an environmental expert and it's not like the oil sands has never been an issue (and it's increasingly an issue now). Maybe it would be good to look into the facts before traveling to Alberta to speak? It's poor preparation on his part.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Things that really blow about Alberta: #1

Premiums for health care.

Going from a province where you have a health card and don't worry about it to a province where they charge you over $300 since October just for having a health card sucks.

Honestly. If you're going to charge me an exhuberant amount simply to have a health card and not even use it, you could at least give me a real card rather than a slip of paper. If that is too much work, it could at least be laminated.

This is CANADA. The land of supposed free health care.

Apparently not.

Harper looks better; Harper's wife, not so much

This does not entirely make up for skipping the International AIDS Conference in Toronto last year, but it is a good step regardless of the [political] reasons behind it.

This collaboration between Canada's new government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is going to contribute to the global effort to develop safe, effective, affordable and globally-accessible HIV vaccines," said Harper on Tuesday.

He said the benefits from the joint partnership will be numerous. "(It) will allow us to accelerate the pace towards the discovery of an HIV vaccine, construct a facility to manufacture promising vaccines for clinical trials, move vaccines to the clinical trial stage more quickly, (and) improve access to an eventual vaccine."

He also said the initiative will help coordinate the activities of Canadian and international researchers so that information can be shared effectively.

Ottawa will pledge $111 million for the AIDS program, while the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will offer $28 million.

However, later on in the article, Harper does not do very much for the social image of his wife, Laureen.

Harper said his wife, Laureen, considers Gates "the world's sexiest man."

"When she first said that to me, I said really, is that true? I think he's the richest but I never thought of him that way. Laureen said to me, 'when a man has that much money, he's sexy,'" Harper told Duffy.

When a man has that much money, he's sexy?! Ouch. Laureen does not come off well with that quote.

Lesson 1: Don't tease a girl who's handling pointy sticks

The thing that bugs me about most knitting books/blogs (yes, I read them, I'm a dork, we all know this) is that they describe knitting generally as something not just left to grannies anymore, but that it's exploded on the hipster "scene".

Let us set this record straight kids. I am not a granny nor am I a hipster. Not even a little.

Though I have never advanced to knitting in public, rather keeping it to the couch with a big glass of wine in front of me... I do knit. And I like it. It's therapeutic. With all the crazy busy madness that happens in life, it's there at the end of the day to take my mind off of all the stressful things that turn me into a big stress ball. It forces me to concentrate on something other than the thoughts swimming around in my head which tend to keep me from sleeping. I don't generally keep anything that I've knitted for myself, at school I've donated it to Warm Hearts, Warm Hands or given projects away to people. Just like the cookie fairy practice of old, it makes me feel good to create something that I know will bring joy to someone else. Be it someone who has no mittens when it is blessed cold outside, or be it someone who has tons of mittens but who knows the time and effort and love I put into making some for them. That's my story. I am no longer going to blush and hang my head and mumble, "yeah, I can knit". It's a lost art, people! It takes concentration and skill! My nurse friend Sarah tells me it'll prevent Alzeimer's!

So there.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Every Mile a Memory

I love country music. I turn it on at work and listen to it and it takes me back home. Summer sunshine, big blue sky, road trips with bare feet on the dash, big sunglasses, the drive-in, beer on the patio, two-stepping under the stars. It makes me forget the slushy mess that is going on outside and makes me feel warm inside. *sigh*

Speaking of beer on the patio, went for drinks last night with the girls post-work, pre-Grey's and found this gem. Yummy. As Cara noted, this beer tastes like Christmas.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy heart-shaped Hallmark holiday to all!

My winter blahs are frozen solid. -34 is absolute madness! My poor little face burns from the cold and makes me want to scream… and I would (scream that is) if I felt it would add any warmth. Instead I wear enough layers to keep my knees from bruising as they knock together from the shakes.

On the bright side (no pun intended), it is now light out when I get to work in the morning and when I leave! I get sunshine! This hasn’t happened in so long… oh how I’ve missed it.

I just wanted to take the opportunity to pimp out this website to all of you who desire equal representation (or at least closer to equal than we have now) in government:

Equal Voice

Chapters in several provinces and a youth chapter for those under 35. Fabulous.

Monday, February 12, 2007

PAB = Soviet-style agency? Cool.

I find the following, from an article by Darcy Henton featured in Saturday's Edmonton Sun, absolutely hilarious. This is mainly because it is just so untrue.

Liberal Leader Kevin Taft has called for the public affairs bureau to be disbanded, claiming it is doing political work for the Tory party rather than just informing Albertans about services and programs.

He calls the bureau the Tories' "secret weapon."

"It's the Tory equivalent of the old Soviet TASS news agency. It's the key to managing public opinion."
The PAB definitely does not do political work for the Tory party. And, since the bureau is non-partisan there are a fair share of both liberal and other left-wing employees who work there. I know this on a first-hand basis and I can say with complete certainty that I have never been asked to do anything other than inform Albertans about services and programs. Furthermore, I am not a Tory.

The bureau is actually a better solution than embedding public affairs officers within the branches because it provides a means for movement and flexibility and keeps things fresh. It keeps new ideas flowing and actually is a deterrent to political activity. People get reprimanded for being overly political and those who work in communications and were involved in any Tory campaigns had to take a leave from their job in order to do so.

Public relations has long since been chastised as a profession of spin-doctors and secret-weapons. And while some unethical practitioners may take part in these sort of activities, they are not ones which are condoned by the industry as a whole. We've gotten a bad rap.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Doubts re: Merck's new drug

The NACI is recommending that all women get vaccinated with Gardasil, the new vaccine by Merck to prevent against cervical cancer.

The two most interesting parts of the article are as follows:

1) The Calgary Herald reported that the Alberta government is studying the possibility of a school-based vaccination program. Bonus points to Alberta for being progressive.

2) I'm just going to quote this bit since it's the easiest thing to do:
“Studies have shown,” the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists of Canada stated, "that the vaccine . . . is 100 per cent effective at preventing disease from the HPV types that account for 70 per cent of all cervical cancers and 90 per cent of genital warts.”

Yet National Post columnist Colby Cosh also noted that “we only have five years’ worth of effectiveness data on Gardasil. And because cervical cancer is so rare, Merck had to measure the incidence of pre-cancerous HPV lesions rather than the incidence of the disease itself. As NACI admits (quietly), the anti-cancer effects of the drug have technically ‘not yet been demonstrated,’ even for the most promising 9-13 age group.”

Hrm. Interesting.

Stop marching and get back to class

Today is the big day. The day that the Canadian Federation of Students rallies the troops out of classrooms and up to parliament. They cry for lower tuition, spouting their utopian ideas that education should be free. Wah wah wah.

The CFS is not run by students. It's run by people who make a salary to do so. And on the tuition invoice, students pay fees to the CFS. If they really wanted to eliminate fees for students, they'd cut the money going into their own pockets first. Personally, I'd much rather pay tuition here than try to go to school in the states and pay anywhere from $20,000 - $40,000 per year.

My story is this:
I completed my Bachelor of Arts and post-graduate at the University of Western Ontario. I have seen how students live. I have been there. I have had friends that have worked their asses off to get their education and I have seen others run out of money several times only to get more loans and keep on with the partying/shopping/skipping school, etc. I had a couple roomates who had approximately 10 hours of class a week and still had "no time" for a job. In my post-graduate year there were weeks where I would work full-time hours at my low paying job to pay for the nearly $10,000 tuition. And while I am often idealistic, on this issue I am quite practical. I do not support the Canadian Federation of Students and their whining.

My parents cut off my allowance when I began highschool and taught me the value of money. We invested wages in RESPs and other investments, I got OSAP, and I worked a lot of hours. I sacrificed weekends to work and spent many nights pulling all-nighters to get papers written once I had gotten home from working an eight-hour shift. Though I was not always perfectly responsible with my money, I didn't go on vacations for Reading Week, didn't go out partying every night, didn't eat out all the time, etc.

Reading the Globe and Mail this morning online, I was quite pleased at many of the comments readers had left on this article.

I agree that post-secondary education is an investment and I also agree that students have to start holding themselves accountable for their own decisions. No one forced you to go to university, you made that choice for yourself. And for those who complain that they have no choice but to go to school since you virtually need a post-secondary education to get a job... imagine what it would be like if education were free. If education were free, everyone and their brother would have a B.A. It's bad enough as it is, hence why many feel they need a Masters degree to compete in the job market these days. Education is like other investments (ie. real estate, stocks, etc.), each person must assess which investment is most appropriate for them.

Universities are expensive to run. A recent Globe and Mail article contained an interview with the head of Concordia University (who has had a tuition freeze for some 13 years) and pointed out that this has not done the University any favours:

In an interview yesterday, Dr. Lajeunesse acknowledged that his speech is bound to ruffle some feathers, especially among student groups. But he said universities are struggling to provide a quality education.

"We're falling behind. We see our faculty-student ratios increasing, we see the cleanliness of our classroom and labs deteriorating, we see our libraries unable to provide as much as we would like," he said.

"The first people who suffer from lack of funding are the students, because they don't get the education that they deserve to be good citizens and be successful in life."
Exactly. To get the best education possible, it is necessary to have good teachers, to have accessible TAs who are available during office hours, to have a library full of resources and labs filled with equipment. All of these things cost money. It costs money to have people clean the school. Students rally behind professors who demand more wages and strike against the university and then don't like the increase in tuition to pay those salaries. How ironic.

Why should taxpayers (many of which do not have a university education) be left to pay the tab of university students, be they responsible students or not?

My parents weren't overly wealthy. My siblings and I all had to work for what we got and make our own decisions accordingly. And because we had to foot the bill, we cared a whole hell of a lot more about the decisions we were making. We know how much money goes to waste when you skip a class, or the value in studying something that you care about and can find a job in post-graduation.

Life is all about choices, folks. Better to realize this in university than to graduate and expect everything to keep falling in your lap. I do agree that universities should be accessible, but there is a big difference between being free and being accessible for those who do deserve it. And for those who are fighting a tuition freeze for this reason, my suggestion is to rally universities/the government for more scholarships for deserving students rather than to try to give your bill to someone else. Or, try fighting for more internships to create a bridge from university to the work force, perhaps. Fight for students who really can't afford the tuition hikes, the single mothers working and trying to get an education to better support their kids. An across-the-board cut to tuition doesn't do anyone any favours. If anything, the help should be going to those students who truly need and deserve it -- not those that are just looking for a free ride.

There are plenty of options out there other than getting a university degree. Want a good paying job? Pick up an apprenticeship for a trade. Ridiculously in demand, ridiculously good jobs.