Wednesday, January 25, 2006

And the winner is...

As Rebecca would say, with her usual mix of eloquence and brevity, "Meh."*

When I was a kid, my grandmaman gave my brothers and I two great books. (I'm sure she gave us more than just two, but these two really stick out for me.) The first was It's Raining, Said John Twaining. A series of rhymes about a man trying to get out of the rain (at least, that's the fancy way of describing the book). Mainly, the rhyme sticks in my head for the third line, which introduced the notion to me of there being people in this world called "Wilmot" (though the Wilmot I later met spelled his last name "Willemott", if I remember correctly):

"It's raining," said John Twaining.
"Keep me dry," said John Rye.
"No, I will not," said John Wilmot.
"Stand over there," said John Square.

I don't remember the rest.

Anyway, the point of this post is the second book, "Could Be Worse!" by James Stevenson. A book about Grandpa who is never fazed by anything. When I decided I should post about the federal election, I'm afraid that the only thing that popped into my head was, "Could be worse!" But as bad as it looks, it could be worse: there could be a majority Tory government, for starters.

Not going to say much more on the topic; can't really add anything useful that the pundits haven't already said. I am interested in seeing how this minority government works out, and I hope that the other parties are able to keep a necessarily short leash on the Conservatives. Whatever else, it sure won't be dull.

* Actually, to be fair, she had much more than just that to say.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

How are you voting?

Our federal election is quickly approaching and if you're still trying to cut through all the fluff and figure out what each party stands for, the Globe & Mail has compiled a chart comparing all of them (and for once, the Green Party is actually included):

2006 Party Platforms

It's worth taking 15 minutes to read this over. Some interesting things in there. Make sure you bring all your skepticism, cynicism and criticalness with you, however; things often sound better on paper than they are in real life.*

If this still doesn't help you, let a short quiz decide your vote for you! The Politics Watch Vote Selector Quiz asks you 18 questions and then based on your answers (Strongly support, etc.), will generate your preferences for each party's platform. I'm not ashamed of my results (and no one who knows me even slightly will be surprised to hear these):
1. New Democratic Party of Canada (100%)
2. Liberal Party of Canada (100%)
3. Bloc Quebecois (77%)
4. Conservative Party of Canada (33%)

Every time I do one of these quizzes, the Conservatives come up with an amount surpassing 0% and I don't understand why! The real surprise for me, though, was that the Bloc Quebecois didn't dominate the results (which is more usual since other than Quebec separatism, I think they have a well-balanced, socially-conscious platform) - here I think it's because the second-to-last question is a very loaded one which (a) shouldn't be part of the quiz, and (b) isn't one to which I could ever agree. ("Do you support a plan for Quebec to send its own hockey team, separate from Team Canada, to international competitions?" Um, no.) I bet they added that because after people finished the quiz from the 2004 elections, they were all shocked to see that their preferences lay with the Bloc.**

* "Spend money on physical activity, including amateur sport"? Sure, that sounds like a great idea! But wait, how are you doing this? Are you providing real monetary support to programs targetting inactivity and obesity, or is this just a thinly-veiled tax credit that will largely benefit the middle- and upper-classes?

**The other problem*** with this quiz is that it links your final results, not to the party as a whole, as I have listed them here, but to the individual leaders. As most people who know me will know, I have an affinity for the NDP but cannot stand Jack Layton. Same for the Liberals but minus the doddering old fool who heads them up (plus many of the current members of Cabinet, I might add). If I had to vote for the leader of the party directly, rather than the party and its policies, my vote would probably go either Green or independent every time.

***The other, other problem with this quiz, of course, is that it does not include the Green party as a voting option.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The balance is restored to the julieverse

I am feeling complete again: this academic session, Algonquin College did not cancel Japanese Level II and so once again I am able to pass my Tuesday evenings trying to remember the proper response to "Gambatte kudasai".* Tonight was the first class.

Same teacher as last time. No one from my previous session has continued this time, however, but this group seems like a good bunch. Randal is also taking the class with me this session (his last Japanese classes dating to a few years ago, he feels a bit rusty but up to the Level II challenge). Right now we can only ask each other out to movies and restaurants, and say that we are going to the grocery store together; I am looking forward to the day when he and I are proficient enough to conduct entire arguments in Japanese.

Anyway, since I am so good at instituting and maintaining new aspects of my blog, I am hereby announcing the Japanese Word of the Week section, coming soon to a sidebar near you.**

In other news:

Long time since I last posted and for that, I apologize. Here's the Christmas rundown, not as eloquent as Stuart's (parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5) or Rebecca's (while she didn't shame me by multiple posts on the topic, she, like Stuart, has multiple photos also posted), I'm afraid, but hey - they were timely, which I am not, and they had pictures available, which I do not (but I am working on ways to up the pictorial content of this site). Randal, Rion and I flew to Toronto on Friday, December 16. Early Christmas with my family on Saturday night. Visited some friends (Mala & Mark, Shoshanah, Heather). As per usual, much shopping. On Wednesday the 21st, in the evening, the three of us proceeded by air once again to Winnipeg. Spent Christmas and the next few days (until the 29th) in The Peg. Usually it is quite cold this time of year, but they were having quite mild weather (in fact, a 134-year-old temperature record has just been beaten in Winnipeg). Remained around zero degrees most days. Visited all of Randal's sisters' dogs (there's a lot of dogs in that family ... also a lot of sisters ... and a lot of family generally, actually). I hope to get some pics from then up on Flickr soon. (Randal has the fancy digital camera, not me, so it takes time to remember to remind him to download them and send to me.)

Back to Ottawa on the 29th and we spent New Year's here. We went for dinner at Al's Steakhouse (mmmmmmmmmmmmm) and were back in time to watch some of the end of Mars Attacks! and, of course, the ball dropping in Times Square. Then, as per tradition (started last year, Randal and I played a board game over and over and over in to the wee hours of the morning. The culprit? Ticket to Ride a train-building board game that is totally addictive. Present from my brother Jerome and sister-in-law Agnes in Vancouver which had arrived by snail just the day before - timing was perfect! Thanks guys! (A proper thank-you shall arrive on your doorstep soon ... uh, plus your Christmas and (one late, one early) birthday presents.) Hit the sack at 7:15. In fact, the next few days also followed that pattern, until I had to return to work (on the 3rd? 4th? I don't even remember now).

Since then, back to work. I have been reading lots. Haven't been updating my Currently Reading list, but am remedying that. In the last week alone, I have read Falling Sideways by Tom Holt, a sci-fi book about frogs taking over the world, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie, a fictitious story about two boys being re-educated in 1970s China and what happens when they discover some forbidden books, and Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams, a sci-fi book about the interconnectedness of everything. Plus my Art History textbook by Marilyn Stokstad, since I am taking Art History, part II, at the University of Ottawa (in French this semester, incidentally), and of course the beloved Japanese for Busy People plus other related Japanese-language materials. In addition, Randal and I are taking a 60-hour TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) course this month, which takes place over three entire weekends (last weekend and the next two). There is reading for that course as well, plus assignments.

Will continue work on my Flickr site soon - I'm thinking about "leaving" southeast Asia for a while and putting up some Amsterdam pics and pics of the dog. Plus, contemplating a site revamp for pixxiefish in the stacks - preferably in some way that makes me want to update it more often. I am way behind in my list of books.

So it's been a busy month and will continue to be until about mid-February.

Other than that, I am still the same. 10 fingers, 10 toes, brown curly hair except for the days when I wear it in a ponytail and then take it out later, which causes it to be straight (don't worry, Shoshanah; it will always be curly again the next day).

You are now up-to-date on my life.

* For those dying to know, see here for the answer.

** As soon as I figure out how to say that in Japanese, I will add it to the site - LOL :)