Unphotographable

This is a picture I did not take of a middle-aged woman in a blue Hyundai, pulling up to a stop light, with her car’s spinner rims gleaming in the sun. This is also not a picture of the acute embarrassment I felt on her behalf.

2008 retrospective meme

Since all the cool kids are doin’ it…

1. What did you do in 2008 that youโ€™d never done before?

Took two vacations. Ate frog legs. Cried over an election (not ours).

2. Did you keep your New Yearsโ€™ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don’t really resolve. Decided some changes were needed this year, and have gotten started on them. Hoping fruition of some degree comes in 2009.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

A few folks, though no one really close to me.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Again, no one really close, but an aunt and my cousin’s fiance.

5. What countries did you visit?

France with Sherry. Visited the Canadian west coast with Andrew for the first time as an adult, too.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?

No debt.

7. What date from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory?

A few important things happened, but it will be the events I remember. I suck at attaching dates. Starting the new job, the first evening in Carcassonne, finding out about Dexter, US election night. December 8th and December 22nd are of note, but they carry over from past years.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Finding a job I like.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Managing my finances (as usual). ๐Ÿ™‚

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Nothing major. Apparently my body decided to finally agree with me that I have a lazy thyroid.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Can’t remember if I bought my brother and SIL’s laptop early this year or late last year. If it was last year, then… I dunno, the livestock I got my family for Christmas was pretty cool.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

My brother’s. US voters.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

Canadian non-voters. Canadian politicians. Those who voted in Prop 8. Those who keep launching bombs in Israel.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Life, couple of trips.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

The news about Dexter. My niece starting to hit lots of milestones. Quitting my last job.

16. What song/album will always remind you of 2008?

I Kissed a Girl. (Hey, didn’t say it had to be a good song. That one was just ubiquitous.)

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

1. happier or sadder? slightly sadder
2. thinner or fatter? slightly heavier
3. richer or poorer? both

18. What do you wish youโ€™d done more of?

Writing, exercise.

19. What do you wish youโ€™d done less of?

Procrastination. Working at a job I didn’t like.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

Nice, quiet day with the family.

21. Who did you spend the most time on the phone with?

Probably Mom, maybe even Chad. I don’t spend much time on the phone with anyone.

22. Did you fall in love in 2008?

I wish.

23. How many one night stands in this last year?

None.

24. What was your favourite TV programme?

True Blood.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didnโ€™t hate this time last year?

I don’t bother; I just discard as needed.

26. What was the best book(s) you read?

Crikey, umm… Bonk, In Defense of Food, The Graveyard Book, The Southern Vampire Mysteries (the Sookie Stackhouse books — high entertaining trash factor), The Daily Coyote, and many more.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Nothing comes to mind.

28. What did you want and get?

A new job.

29. What did you want and not get?

A beshert. A dog. New jeans (the malls will be safer this weekend). ๐Ÿ™‚

30. What were your favourite films of this year?

Does Dr. Horrible count? ๐Ÿ™‚ Beyond that… The Dark Knight was probably the biggest one. Death Race and Quantum of Solace were probably the two most highly anticipated but not good ones.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 33, and Andrew took me to Toronto for delicious Korean BBQ and braaaaaaains! (I.e. Evil Dead: The Musical.)

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

As Sherry noted: winning the lottery.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?

Librarian.

34. What kept you sane?

Good books, book wine, snuggly kitty, yoga, friends, work I enjoy, cooking.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I’ll cop to a bit of an Obama crush. Lafayette on True Blood’s awesome. Daniel Craig’s eyes. Jason Statham when he’s not talking. ๐Ÿ™‚

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

Again, as Sherry noted: Prop 8 in California; the prorogation in Canada.

37. Who did you miss?

My 23-year-old self.

38. Who was the best new person you met?

There were a bunch. Of the in-person meets, Melissa, Havi, and Amrita come to mind.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.

Something that goes on with you or your body for more than a few days — long enough that you actively notice — is not temporary and random and is indicative of something you might want to get checked out. Also, it’s hard to avoid adapting your lifestyle to those you spend a lot of time with (i.e. eating like and not sleeping like a 20-year-old geek).

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year?

Why’d you sing Hallelujah
If it means nothing to you?

Sporting

The annual World Juniors hockey tournament is on, and I have to admit that while it’s always good to see Canada put forth a strong showing, their game results so far don’t sit terribly well with me.

8-1 and 15-0 aren’t hockey games — they’re bloodbaths — and under normal playing circumstances it’s unlikely the guys would run the scores up so much. It’s one of those unwritten rules of the game that when things are obviously very uneven, after a point you just let up.

The way the rules of the tournament go, however, total goals could be an important consideration in the event of a tie, so wracking up the points matters. But you can’t help but feel bad for the kids on the losing end of those scores, like the Kazakh kids who’ve so far lost 9-0 and 15-0.

I’ve been reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, and couldn’t help but think about the players on Canada’s team and on some of the other teams.

Even without taking theories of opportunity like Gladwell’s into account, the Canadian (and US) players have a helluva lot of advantages over many of the other players. Some of the Kazakh kids look positively tiny — I recall one of the announcers commenting that a Kazakh player was only 128lbs! The lightest Canadian player is 175lbs. The heaviest Canadian player is 216lbs. That’s not just a weight disparity; in a physical game, that’s dangerous. I don’t care how fast you are.

Beyond sheer physical size, the Canadian kids have likely had all kinds of other advantages to get where they are — money, coaching, ice time, etc. And most of them are on track for lucrative NHL careers. A few of the kids from outside of North America could probably claim similar advantages, and goodness knows there are plenty of Slavic and Scandinavian names in the NHL, but a comparable percentage at this level? I doubt it.

I realize inequality exists in sports, just like anywhere else. But there are ways we can manage around it and still have good competition with strong teams and good match-ups. After all, a close game is much more exciting than a blow-out any day. So maybe Canada doesn’t play Latvia or Kazakhstan, but they play each other, and we get games with better matched teams, tougher competition, and lower overall scores.

These kids are the best in the world, and the future stars of the game, and certainly there is some damned good hockey to be seen in these tournaments. (Yeah, it doesn’t hurt that Canada wins its share of gold medals.)

But as much as hockey is Canada’s game, I gotta say that seeing dejected faces of kids who’ve just played their hearts out, and scoreboards displaying inflated, lopsided scores feels pretty un-Canadian to me.

born not belonging

Yesterday I read The Daily Coyote book, which I highly recommend, both for the amazing photography and the equally fantastic story.

Early in the book, Shreve, the author, mentions a quote from a Salman Rushdie book that grabbed me, though I’ve read little of Rushdie’s work, so I looked it up. The longer excerpt I found is even more fascinating, telling, and poignant. When I was younger, this is the type of quote that would have me dropping the book and jumping up to go grab my notebook or a scrap of paper and pen to record it.

I’ve posted the quote below, without comment, since it seems that whenever I express my thoughts and feelings on this particular topic, I get told I’m wrong and am subjected to expressions of my value to others, etc., which, while sweet, misses the point. ๐Ÿ™‚

“For a long while I have believed…that in every generation there are a few souls, call them lucky or cursed, who are simply born not belonging, who come into the world semi-detached, if you like, without strong affiliation to family or location or nation or race; that there may even be millions, billions of such souls, as many non-belongers as belongers, perhaps; that, in sum, the phenomenon may be as “natural” a manifestation of human nature as its opposite, but one that has been mostly frustrated, throughout human history, by lack of opportunity. And not only by that: for those who value stability, who fear transience, uncertainty, change, have erected powerful system of stigmas and taboos against rootlessness, that disruptive, anti-social force, so that we mostly conform, we pretend to be motivated by loyalties and solidarities we do not really feel, we hide our secret identities beneath the false skins of those identities which bear the belongers’ seal of approval. But the truth leaks out in our dreams…: alone in our beds (because we are alone at night, even if we do not sleep by ourselves), we soar, we fly, we flee. And in the waking dreams our societies permit, in our myths, our arts, our songs, we celebrate the non-belongers, the different ones, the outlaws, the freaks. What we forbid ourselves, we pay good money to watch, in a playhouse or movie theatre, or to read about between the secret covers of a book. Our libraries, our palaces of entertainment tell the truth. The tramp, the assassin, the rebel, the thief, the mutant, the outcast, the delinquent, the devil, the sinner, the traveller, the gangster, the runner, the mask: if we did not recognize in them our least-fulfilled needs, we would not invent them over and over again, in every place, in every language, in every time.” — Salman Rushdie, The Ground Beneath Her Feet

Assorted photos

These two were from Andrew’s camera, and I forgot all about them until cleaning out my email the other day. They’re from the BC trip.

This was the driveway leading to the Antelope Ridge winery in the south Okanagan.

Driveway to Antelope Ridge winery

This was Ernie the Accent as we abandoned him on a backroad to take pictures.

Ernie the Accent abandoned in the Okanagan

And these are two I took of the parking lot behind our building this afternoon. I just liked the patterns in the snow, especially since I knew that within a few hours they’d be covered up. Unfortunately, my camera battery died, so I had to take them with my crappy BlackBerry camera.

Parking lot tire tread patterns

Parking lot footprints

I haven’t really had free time the last while. Decided the work people needed sockmonkeys for Christmas. Now I have callouses and their sockmonkeys are being stolen by family members. ๐Ÿ™‚

Sockmonkeys for the co-workers

Went for a lovely afternoon walk a couple Sundays ago. These were taken on Father David Bauer Drive on the way home from Mark’s Work Wearhouse.

Perimeter Institute and tourist train

Afternoon moon and winter branches

Dear teenage girls…

I commend you for wearing woolly, winter-weight tights. They are most certainly proper attire for our climate and current sub-zero temperatures. And, really, people of your age do so often seem to go out poorly clad for winter weather.

However, I feel it necessary to point out that tights are meant to be worn under pants or a skirt, and not as the sole garment covering your lower extremities.

You’re welcome.

Winter photos

Across the road from my parents’ place.

Across the road from my parents' place.

Around the corner from my place.

Around the corner from my place.

This was cool — it was just some snow a snow plow moved out of a parking lot, but the middle of it looked like an iceberg.

Snow bank that looked like an iceberg.

To get you in the festive spirit…

I have the original 1978 album, which is infinitely superior to the remake that’s all PC and full of Elmo. It’s been my favourite Christmas song pretty much for my entire life. Just ask my Mom. ๐Ÿ™‚ (No, I don’t hate Christmas.)

Note: best sung loudly.

10

A decade ago today I got on a plane. It started with a quick hop from Pearson in Toronto to JFK in New York. I remember when I arrived it was dark and pouring rain. On the shuttle between terminals, I had a hilarious and surreal conversation with the porter about bulldozers.

Continue reading “10”