Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I know I have been seriously slacking on my own blog here, but there are so many interesting blogs just to read. Will you people please slow down so I can write too?

I will offer a little anecdote here, just so people know I am still alive.

As some of you may remember, I took my first trip to the UK in October. It was a fantastic holiday. I saw so many things and met some great people. I wanted to blog about my experiences there a little, and perhaps I still will someday, but work is kicking my arse right now. Year-end deadlines are looming. Holiday shopping has to be done. There are many many parties to attend and drinks to be drunk. Woe is me.

Anyhow, one of the highlights of my vacation was seeing the new James bond movie Quantum Of Solace 2 weeks before anyone back at home. I had made a plan to go before I even left Edmonton because I thought it would be so fitting to see this particular film on its opening night in Blighty. It was difficult getting tickets for the show as it was selling very well, but after about an hour on the phone, I was rewarded and looking very forward to it.

There were a lot of differences that made the evening interesting, including the fact that you can drink alcohol at the theatre. What a brilliant idea. I'm not sure if there is such a thing as a typical theatre in London, or England, for that matter, but I chose the closest one to my hotel, the Odeon on Kensington High Street. It was a rather small theatre compared to the kind I am used to at home, with a rather small screen, but that was the only disappointment of the night.

For one thing, people dress well in London. I could go on and on about this, but I can't tell you how pleasant it is to go out to a restaurant or to a show and not see people in pajamas or track suits. Even the teenagers dress nicely. And people are so polite. I don't know if it was the fact that everyone was jazzed to see the film, or excited because they had got tickets to the biggest opening in a good long while, or if it was the alcohol, but people were just very pleasant to be around.

Maybe it has more to do with people in the UK being used to queues, but people actually speak to each other in line, or in the elevator, or down the pub. Imagine, complete strangers speaking to each other. This is quite rare in my hometown. People tend to walk around pretending that no one else on earth exists. Whatever it was, it made for a very convivial atmosphere. Everyone arrived early to get a good seat, and there were a lot of helpful staff around to help with that. By the time the show began, the whole crowd was buzzing in anticipation.

And contrary to the opinion of *some* other bloggers, I actually enjoyed the new theme song. I like Jack White. I have seen the Whitestripes live at a smallish venue, and I was blown away by the sheer talent of that 2-man band. I think it was a great choice by whomever actually gets to pick the artist.

I quite liked the film itself. I am not a huge Bond fan, though I have seen a few of both the old and newer ones. I thought Casino Royale was far and away the best Bond movie ever, until I saw Quantum Of Solace. It was all action, all the time. We got to see a lot more of one of my favourite actresses, Judi Dench. She is one of the sexiest women in film, with a power and grace that leaps off the screen. Daniel Craig was even more convincing than in his previous turn at the role, which I didn't think was possible. He is just a ball of pure energy that you can't take your eyes off of. I liked the action, I liked the story, and I loved the OTT of it all.

One of the best things about seeing this film in London, though, turned out to be that there were no children under the age of 16 in the audience! I have been to a lot of movies, in theatres in Canada and in the US, and even if the film is rated R and full of nudity, violence and harsh language, there are always a few idiots who bring their kids along. They ruin it for the entire crowd, what with the crying, the loud talking, and the kicking of the seat backs. I think this is the first movie where not a single soul left their seat during the entire flick. Yay for grownup bladders. It was just such an adult evening overall.

It's virtually ruined me for movies back home. I think there may be a good investment opportunity for an adult-only movie theatre that has a liquor licence. I know I'd be there a few times a week.

Doubtless, I will remember this film-going experience for a good long while.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Vote Science

Tomorrow is the election already, and I wished I had got this link up earlier. I think it goes a long way to explaining why I don't want a conservative majority and have been working my ass off out in the real world trying to make sure they don't get one. The crazy religious nutcases that are running the conservative party have been quietly undermining science in Canada and they can't be allowed free reign to continue this nonsense. Please read this article about what Canadian scientists think. Vote wisely. Vote Science. Vote.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Blog, what blog?

Do I have a blog? I know it doesn't seem like it. But it's a crazy busy time right now. Less than one week until the Federal Election. I am afraid it's starting to look like we will have a conservative majority and that worries me far more than the economy ever could.

I am also preparing to take a trip to London. I am beside myself with excitement and can really think of little else. It's like I'm 12 years old again getting ready to take my first trip to Disneyland.
I will post some pictures when I get back and maybe have a few stories to tell and all.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Enough Said

Really, what else do I need to say?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Liberal Freedom (Part 2)

This isn't really a blog post.

In the past year or so I have been lucky enough to come across some really excellent thinkers. Not only have I learned a lot from them, but I've also just been so gratified to see so many people in the world that think like I aspire to. A lot of them you will find in my blog list, and I hope you do so.

I'm just so impressed by another blogger I know, that I'm just going to link to her most recent post. It is the source of my desire to give high-fives all around right at this moment. Read
this. It speaks to me, and hopefully to you too.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Liberal Freedom (Part 1)

In my mind, it seems a pretty simple choice. I enjoy freedom more than I enjoy money.

I realise that it hasn't been that apparent judging from my first few attempts at blog writing, but I think that it very much ties into my reasoning about who I cast my vote for every election.

I was lucky enough to have been born in a pretty well-off area of a very rich country to a decidely middle class family. I got a very fortunate start right there and don't I know it. I was lucky to have been genetically gifted with enough intelligence to get myself through post-secondary education along with the help of student loans and scholarships from my very generous government. And charmed enough to land a decent job at a very solid company.

I have never truly experienced financial hardship. I'm young enough to not be at all worried about money and perhaps that is why I think I value other things more.

Of course money can provide a certain amount of freedom, you might say, and I might agree. I have the liberty to pursue my happiness because I don't need to worry about food, clothing, housing, or medical care. What if most people on earth had that freedom? So far, at least, in my country, they do. I pay a goodly portion of taxes to help provide that freedom for myself and others and that actually gives me pleasure. I think this provides an excellent basis for the pleasure of all. (Because really, anyone who knows me, knows that when I'm happy, everybody's happy ;)

These freedoms are always there for the rich, no matter what country they may live in. They are not always there for the poor. I feel supremely lucky to live in a country where so far freedom is not just for the rich.

There are also freedoms that have less directly to do with money, and these are the liberties I worry more about. Right now in my country, I have autonomy over my person. This has only very recently been the case for women, and so I do not treat it lightly. I revel in my good fortune. Only a few years ago gay people were granted the freedom to marry all across this country. This is another example of the type of freedom that I cherish every single day.

I say that these liberties have less to do with money because governments can grant these freedoms without causing taxes to go up or economies to crash, though you'd never convince the naysayers of that. But make no mistake, rich people across the world can ignore that poor people in their countries may not have these freedoms because with enough money, they may live as though they themselves do. If a wealthy person lives in a country where abortion is illegal, they can afford to take a trip to one where it is not.

This is why I will always side with the "left", which in Canada is the Liberal Party, and in the US is the Democratic Party. These parties are far from perfect. They are made up of politicians, after all. But they are the lesser of 2 evils because of one thing - the acceptance that freedom is for every citizen, not just the for the rich.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Laptop Quest

Who would've thought that going out to purchase a new laptop could be such an ordeal? Certainly not me. I will try to convey the feverish evening that started out as a simple shopping trip and turned into a complex quest that lasted an entire night.

The best phrase I have come up with to describe situations like the one that took place last night is "fucking schmozzle". It all began innocently enough. While I was at work, I began my initial investigations into the purchase of a shiny new laptop as a present to myself for my birthday. I utilized the interwebs to pick out the model I wanted, wrote down the number and the price. I also took the time to look up a portable hard drive I was interested in, checked out some reviews from cnet and whatnot, and wrote that info down too.

So right after work, I hop in my little black Mitsubishi Spyder convertible and cruise on over to Best Buy. We have 3 of them in Edmonton, and 4 Future Shops, and those are where I generally go to get my electronics. Best Buy had the best price online so it made my choice easy. Once I arrive, I wait and I wait. It's stinkin' busy this night like it hasn't been since the economy started to tank. Ah, shit, I realize, back to school! Everybody and their dog is after the same laptop I am.

After a half hour of waiting and trying to catch the eye of one of the Geeks, I successfully corner one only to find that there are no dv6918se HPs left at this store. Buddy tells me to go over to the west end store; there are 2 left according to their computer inventory but they can't hold one for me so I'd better haul arse. None of the copper-coloured ones that I had initially had my heart set on, mind, but the identical model in with a white carbon-fibre case might still be had if I hurried.

So off I go all the way to the west end and wait 20 minutes this time to talk to a sales guy; none left. Tells me there are none in the entire city because it's a popular model with a good price - 650 bucks, and every college-aged student in the river city area is after one. I pretty much resign myself to the fact that I am probably not going to get a laptop tonight, so I buy my portable hard drive and I decide to head over to BK to get some supper.

On the way to the restaurant is a Future Shop. I decide to stop in, crossing 4 lanes of traffic, blond curls streaming in the breeze, in order to make the exit. It's funny, but once I get it in my mind to spend a specified amount of cash, very little on earth can dissuade me. After 15 minutes of waiting to get a sales person at the second best electronics chain in the city, I find out, nope, not one of the model I want are in stock.

Now by this time, I'm getting pretty used to the look of an electronics store. They're all very much the same, and owing to the fact that one company owns both Best Buy and their main competitors, they are even more alike. One odd thing that sticks out at me though, is that I'm sure I've seen a certain other customer at every one of my stops. She's wearing a forest-green, printed blouse that makes her stick out in a crowd. I just know she's after the same computer, so dammit, now I even have competition in my quest! For those of you who already know me, it'll come as no big surprise to find out that this knowledge actually hardens my resolve to go home with that laptop.

I can't continue racing around the city, however, on an empty stomach, so I go grab a quick chicken sandwich. Frickin' 660 calories worth, but I'm still under 1400 for the day, so I'm okay to mindlessly splurge on junk food. I do try to pay attention to what I eat, but sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

Once stoned on high-fructose corn syrup, however, the mind starts to play tricks. Damn, I think to myself, I really should let it go and call it a night. I'm back in the car and about to head home and my sanity returns. What the hell, I'll take a trip up to the last Best Buy in the capital city just to put my mind at ease. I have a habit of giving up at all the wrong moments. Not this time.

The parking lot of the electronics mega-store is surprisingly empty. My heart starts to climb up my throat a teensy bit in anticipation. I walk in, hoping against hope. The quiet fairly echos around me. I stroll down the cavernous aisles towards the giant Geek Squad sign. My heart skips a beat. The young blue-shirted nerds are milling about freely. Where are all the people, I wonder. Have I entered some kind of alternate universe where everything goes my way? I don't even see green-bloused lady.

I get help right away from the most awesome of sales dudes. He knows what I want almost before the words are out of my mouth. I am doubtful at his claims that he has just what I want. He disappears for what seems an eternity before I see him sauntering back, grinning from ear to ear with my white carbon-fibre HP laptop, complete with a 15.4" screen, an Intel dual-core processor, 3 Gigs of RAM and a 250 Gig hard drive. My saviour has arrived. My excitement is is ready to burst. I tell the guy I love him and we high-five right in the middle of the store. He is a ginger, though and so manages to blush profusely while we both grin like idiots.

Ahhhhh. There is nothing like the sweet completion of a successful quest. I pay and skedaddle off to my car with my precious. It takes pride of place in my normally empty passenger seat. I must relive the experience in my mind and gloat just a little.
But damn those college students! Damn them to heLL. They almost thwarted my efforts to get my hands on a new laptop. Alas, they failed...and I won. Neener.

By the time I got home it was 830ish, and by the time I got everything set up with msn and firefox loaded it was 11 PM. Bloody hell. I had to get to bed. What a night. :)

I really wish I could have bought the model with the copper-coloured case, but the white is nice enough, just a bit girly. I luckily had chosen the matching "marshmallow-coloured" SimpleTech 250 Gig portable Hard Drive. My computer is never going to slow down again. And, once I clear the 100 gigs of shit off my old laptop, I'll even get a few bucks back from HP for trading it in. :D

That will just about pay for the photo-radar ticket(s) I will inevitably be getting in the mail in a week or so since I sped all over the metropolis this night.

Monday, August 25, 2008


When I was growing up, we had one television set in our house. Imagine it kids, one TV. It's shocking, I know. It wasn't that we were poor, it was based on principle. My father had some strange ideas, but he did have a set of principles that I came to know well. I digress. On our one television there was one channel: Sport. Except for the one time a week I could get up early enough on Saturday morning and quietly watch cartoons before my dad woke up. I remember the year 1984 very well. That was the year TSN started broadcasting in Canada. (For those who are not Canuckleheads, TSN is The Sports Network - Canada's first all-sports channel). I think I remember feeling like if anything would cause my parents divorce, this would be it.

The reason I remember the premier of TSN is that previous to its humble beginning, the television set in the living room had very often been shut off. Reading and music were prized much more highly than the mindless drivel that came over the boob tube. But Sport was even more highly valued in my home, and I'm pretty certain it all began with my paternal grandfather, who was a professional "sportsman". I'll save his history for another time, but it's enough to say that he played many sports well enough to actually make a decent living at it. This, and the fact that my grandfather died when my dad was 13, probably ingrained in that teenager the one-and-only romantic love that lasted his lifetime. Sport was king.

I could go on about the importance of sport in our house, but I think you have the necessary background for me to continue meandering towards my point. If sport was king in my household, the Olympics was the king of kings. As long as I can remember, I have always loved the Olympic games. Most people have a preference for summer over winter, or vice versa, as do I. Personally, I have an historical preference for the Winter Games, as it happens. And you might be saying to yourself, well, that's because you're Canadian, and Canada typically has much better results owing to your temperate climate. It's a consideration for sure, but only a minor one. The real reason is that the Winter games typically take place during the school year, and my Dad so loved sport that it was the one and only time that I was allowed to skive off school to stay home and watch telly. Oh, dear old Dad. I do miss him.

When Beijing, China was awarded the XXIX Olympic Games, to say that I was not at all impressed is an understatement. It wasn't just that they had gone up against Toronto and beat them out for hosting duties. No, that was not it. It wasn't so much that they didn't deserve them, because sport is for all people, no matter where they were born which is one of the best things about the games. No, my problem with China has always been mianzi - one of the concepts of "face" in Chinese social relations. Truth is important to me. It is one of the things that I value and hold higher than anything else. In fact, the pursuit of truth is what led to my absolute and complete comfort with being an atheist. When I heard the news that China had been awarded the highest pinnacle of sport, my first reaction was that sport and mianzi absolutely do not mix. (Not to mention that I think one of the main reasons why the people of China don't demand more from their government is down to the cultural acceptance of the concept of mianzi, but that is another digression that I will leave for a future rant). I hated the Olympics for the first time in my life. I looked forward to this Olympic Games with a mixture of dread and disgust. I just couldn't escape the thought that a concept that values lying in order to preserve public prestige just goes against everything that I think sport should represent.

As the Olympics drew closer a few weeks ago, I tried very hard to maintain my disinterested distaste and haughty demeanor. I didn't just hate these games, I wanted to hate them. I will admit to you now that I went out of my way to find things wrong with China hosting my precious games. I relished all the talk about the pollution in Beijing. My feelings of empathy for the citizens that live with the horrid air quality was quashed by my sheer delight that there were problems for China they could not hide from the rest of the world. In my mind I embraced all the talk of unrest in Tibet only because it fed my need to see all kinds of mianzi for China. I told myself that I was not going to watch the Olympics this year. I wasn't going to celebrate it, I wasn't going to look forward to it, I wasn't going to The Bay to buy my official Olympic gear. For the first time in my life, I wasn't going to add to my Olympic hat and pin collections. It was my own private boycott and I revelled in my determination to hate all things Olympic.

But something happened on the way to the stadium. (Ha, see what I did there?) It crept up on me stealthily. Years of my father's influence could not be dismissed so easily, it seemed. My mind started inventing all sorts of interesting reasons why I should just watch "a little" of the opening ceremonies. The chief reason that kept swirling around in my head was that if there was some spectacular debacle that contributed to loss of face for the Chinese authority, I would miss out on seeing it as it happened. But then, there was also the fact that a year ago I invested in digital HD cable and a large HD TV monitor. How much had I enjoyed this past Wimbledon, not only because my man Rafa won this fabled tournament for the first time, but because I got to see every pore on his beautiful face as he celebrated his fantastic victory. Imagine watching the Olympics for the first ever time, in massive and amazing HD? This question reverberated inside of me until I could deny it no more.

And so it began. At first, I was watching it only an hour or so a day, but near the end, all bets were off. I took no calls; I allowed my new pet blog project to fall by the wayside. I skived off work a few days. Even my favourite Facebook procrastination tools had to take a backseat. What on earth was my world coming to? The hate was gone. The men's Eight rowing gold, Michael Phelps, and Matthew Mitcham were among the highlights that made my heart soar. The love of sport had won out. I had to release my tight embrace of my cultural prejudice a little. I had to admit that I was wrong to try to dismiss the Olympics. I am doing so publicly here and now as my final assault against the value of mianzi. I will always accept a little loss of lian however, because that is a social concept that I think every culture actually finds moral value in.

Now if anyone wants me, I'll be down at The Bay. It all worked out in my favour in the end. I bet all this year's official Olympic gear is now on sale!

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Since I am Canadian, I cannot start a conversation without first mentioning the weather, but bear with me because it may actually be justifiable. Even though we've had record temperatures the past few days, there is an undeniable feeling of fall in the air. The sun is setting earlier and the nights are fresh and sweet. Back-to-school is just around the corner and children across the country will be back where they belong, that is, off the streets.

But what really makes it feel like fall is the abundance of political posturing that has taken place in Canadian Federal politics over the last few weeks. The MPs are set to return to work on September 15th, and by all accounts parliament may be dissolved soon after. Since the minimum amount of time allowed between an election call and polling is 36 days by Canadian law, we could well have the campaign over with, and a new PM installed, before the US has even had their vote. At times like this I certainly appreciate the efficiency of our system.

The 4-year long campaign in the US is just so tiresome. Mind you, it does provide a profusion of media and pundit positions, and with the way the American economy is looking, they may be the only ones with any job security.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

First Post

I guess I am the rotten egg. Since everyone on earth has a blog and I am officially the very last person on the interwebs.
Now that I'm here, I find myself with nothing much to bitch about. At least nothing good enough for my first ever foray into worldwide permanence.
Hmmm. Maybe nothing will ever be good enough.
Wow. I think I've solved my ranting problem.