Friday, February 29, 2008

Last post ever.

On this laptop, that is. Fred has arrived, and will be picked up tonight on my way home from work.

Wait a minute! I'm still AT work!* So I'm not even blogging on the old laptop at the moment! That would make my last post, the last post ever on the old laptop, whereas this post now becomes a post about how the main statement of the post (that it's the last post ever) isn't even true!

Which, in a way, makes this also somewhat of a pointless post. Meh - I'll submit it anyway.***

* But done for the day, so don't worry - not blogging on company time.**

** Also: I'm slightly disturbed that I started this blog post from work as casually as if I were sitting at home in my jammies. That either means I really like my job and feel comfortable there, or I am at work so much that it feels like home. *shudder*

*** If nothing else, it will keep my fans happy, as it will add to the number of times I have posted this week. LOL

Monday, February 25, 2008

That C.O.P.S. show ain't got nothin' on this...

So I'm walking downtown after work, having decided to do a spot of shopping at the Rideau Centre. I'm walking down Wellington, the street that runs past the Parliament buildings, having cut over from Rideau, and I'm just across the street from the Chateau Laurier.[1]

A police car, headed in the direction of Parliament, suddenly pulls a U-ey[2] and starts heading down Wellington towards Rideau. I think nothing of it; Rideau Street and the Market area can be a tough part of town,[3] and it's also rush hour. Could be anything.

Crossing over the river and then in front of the convention centre, I see the same police car, now pulled roughly in front a small grey car. A Canada Post truck is stopped behind the grey car. Ahh, that explains it : an accident.

But then I realize the driver of the grey car is lying face down, arms spread wide, on the ground near the back of his car. Huh?

And standing a few feet away, a police officer, his gun fully drawn and pointed at the guy. Oh shit.

Though dying of curiosity, I and a few like-minded passers-by decided to just keep walking. There was a gun involved, for heaven's sake. You don't stop to look, just in case.

I went down into the underpass[4] and when I got back up, at the corner just before Rideau, there were 3 or 4 other police cars, sirens and lights ablaze, pulling on to the scene.

In the middle of rush hour! In the middle of Ottawa!!! Obviously I moved to Orleans not a moment too soon.

[1] This description is mainly for the benefit of those of you who know Ottawa, at least a little bit. For the rest of ya, come visit and I'll show you where it all goes down!

[2] God, I say that all the time, but how do you actually spell it?

[3] Again, this is Ottawa, so I use the word "tough" loosely.

[4] Yet again, the mental image will only be clear for those from (or heaven forbid, those intimately familiar with) Ottawa. (It's a really well-known underpass, and was recently the source of much controversy when city council decided to erect a fence down there, blocking off the part of it that had become very popular with homeless and beggars and other such "undesirables" as a place to get out of the cold for a while.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Introducing the newest member of my family

This is Fred.

Fred is the newest member of the family, and we expect him to arrive sometime next week or early the following week (you can never be sure about these things). We looked everywhere for someone like Fred, and he's finally agreed to come to us all the way from Cornerbrook, NFLD.

I'm so excited I can barely wait. In anticipation of Fred's arrival, I bought a really cool carry-case, so I can take him around with me wherever I might choose. It isn't as interesting as Fred will be, nor does is it capable of doing as many things as Fred will be, but it has lots of zippers and pockets, and I can wear it as a handbag, over my shoulder, or like a backpack. Multi-purpose, and stylish to boot!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Recipe for disaster*

Take a very tall, plastic glass out of the cupboard and fill it up with nice cold water. Now bring it upstairs, and put it on your nightstand. You are going to drink it while reading in bed, since you decided to go to bed early (9:30).

Remember there is an eclipse tonight, so go downstairs and outside to check it out. The eclipse is really cool, and you'll want to share it with those you love. So, go back upstairs, call your mom on your phone, get her to look at the eclipse, then, just for good measure, talk to her for a while.

When you're done (take your time!), go back outside to check on the progress of the eclipse.** Afterward, go back to your bedroom, settle down on your bed, and pull your laptop out. Surf around for a while. In fact, be so intent on surfing around that before you know it, it is 11:03, and you've squandered your chance at an early bedtime.

Put the laptop away, preferably just down on the floor next to the bed. Then turn the light off, and lie on the bed for a while.

Now this next part is important, so pay attention!

It's not a good idea to sleep in your jeans and sweatshirt; you should really put on your pyjamas. They are are, after all, lying right next to you on the bed. No excuse.


Don't put the light back on, and whatever else you do, for heaven's sake, DON'T stand up to properly get changed. Just pull your jeans off whilst lying on the bed in the pitch black. Got it? Good. Now, don't listen to your mother and fold the jeans up neatly; just toss them to the floor at the side of the bed. Furthermore, make sure you toss them there in the laziest fashion possible (ie., a nice wide arc, jean legs slicing elegantly through the air, etc.).

Almost 100% guaranteed, THIS is the moment where you will suddenly here a "plonk - SPLOOSH" sound.

Did you hear that? What could it be?

Certainly not the giant glass of water that remained by the side of the bed, at the edge of the nightstand, for a few hours, untouched, undrank, and unspilled. Certainly not. There's just no way.

- You might want to keep a towel handy. Or at least, a good pair of screeching lungs so that, when the water suddenly decides to flow faster and harder than Niagara Falls, your partner-in-crime comes bounding up the stairs and into the room with a towel in hand faster than you can say "There'swaterinthatglass!"

- I don't want to espouse unbridled, out-of-control disaster. So make sure you engineer this scenario so that somehow, miraculously, the deluge, though expanding across at least four square feet of floor space (who knew one little glass could hold so much liquid?), reaches to within only a few millimetres of where your laptop is sitting. Otherwise, this story would be even more poignant: How to destroy your laptop only 3 days before you plan on replacing it with a newer model***. On that note, just in case things go awry, I recommend you try this experiment with an old laptop, and not the new model that you may have just picked up.

- Make sure it is a nice tall glass. And don't over-do the disaster - use plastic, not glass. Trust me, with water all over your wooden nightstand, hardwood floor, jeans, and a few books, not to mention about 8 skeins of various yarns that you'd pulled out the night before in an attempt to figure out a complicated knitting stitch - there's enough water and disaster as it is without glass shards being thrown in to the mix.

* Don't try this at home.

** Technically, it's not necessary to have an eclipse in this Recipe, but it adds a romantic or literary aspect to the whole thing, don't you think?

***I do plan on replacing my laptop this weekend, with any luck. I also plan on never drinking water or other liquids again. You never know what might happen.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

92 years ago...

grandmaman et son chien, loup
Ma grandmaman Cosette dans la vingtaine, avec son chien, Loup.

As many of you already know, my grandmaman passed away last July, shortly before I left Japan. Aujourd'hui aurait fit sa fête; elle aurait eu ses 92 ans. Elle me manque toujours.

As you can probably imagine, I was really upset at the time. Devastated. It was a few weeks before I stopped feeling like I'd been punched in the stomach anytime I thought of her. About a week after she passed away, I sat down at work one day (I was leaving in a few days and had nothing to do anyway!) and composed a long, well, tribute, I guess might be the right word. It was a compilation of memories, thoughts, et cetera, about her and her life. I was planning on posting it to my blog. But Murphy's Law kicked in: I'd been so focused on what I was writing (just in a simple Notepad file) that I had neglected to save it. It doesn't take a genius to figure out what, inevitably, happened, right as I wrote the last word.

I thought about rewriting it. But it had taken a lot out of me, and the passion and drive just weren't there anymore. I've thought about that text a lot over the past six months or so, and have always decided to not rewrite it. Any attempt to do so would undoubtedly become an attempt to recreate it as faithfully as I can, rather than the simple collection of thoughts and memories that it had originally been.

Anyway ... c'était sa fête, je n'ai pas oublié. J'ai pris quelques moments, parmi la vitesse et les obligations de la journée, de m'en souvenir. Elle me manquera toujours, sans doute, mais j'ai mes souvenirs d'elle, et de plus, j'en ai beaucoup. In the absence of my grandmaman herself, those memories will just have to do.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Why I don't blog on a daily basis

6:56 a.m. : Wake up with a start, realizing I've hit the snooze button on my alarm at least four times already. Crap. No time for breakfast. Again.

7:04 a.m. : Take a shower. It's nice and hot.

7:32 a.m. : Decide that since I'm probably going to be late for work anyway, I can sit for an extra 3 minutes on the couch.

7:57 a.m. : Step out of the house only to see that it's very, very icy (it had been raining on and off since Sunday afternoon) and so I have to be very, very careful.

8:04 a.m. : Finally make it off my front walk and across the little parking lot to the park across the street. (This usually takes about 30 seconds, and is possibly the only interesting part of my day today.)

8:10 a.m. : Get to bus stop. Wait.

8:11 a.m. : Board bus. Take out book. Read.

8:37 a.m. : Get off bus.

8:39 a.m. : Realize it is Family Day and all 3 of the coffee shops in my building are closed. Damn. I'm dying for a muffin. Why, oh, why do I work for the federal government? C'mon, Mr. Harper, give us the day off!

8:41 a.m. : Get in to my office and turn on the computer.

8:42 a.m. : No new emails. Read the daily update of happenings on Parliament Hill. Turns out Jack Layton is giving a press conference on the Hill today where he will ask Mr. Harper to extend Family Day to all federal employees (ie., make it a federal statutory holiday). Or maybe he issued a press release; I don't remember. Anyway, I'm amused that Mr. Layton and I agree on something.

8:46 a.m. : No new emails.

8:51 a.m. : Since there are *still* no new emails, I decide I can't avoid the inevitable any longer, and start real work. My task: Find all the provisions of the criminal law statutes of Australia, South Africa, and Scotland which grant a sentencing judge a certain type of discretion. No problem.

9:12 a.m. : Argh. As I'd suspected in preliminary searches on the topic that I did on Friday afternoon, the situation is very complicated. For starters, criminal law is individually administered by each state and territory of Australia, meaning there are many different criminal law statutes, none of which specifically refer to what I am looking for, and, further, to add insult to injury, that many of these jurisdictions have additional non-criminal laws that create criminal offences. Everyone should just follow Canada's lead and have ONE Criminal Code for EVERYTHING.

9:32 a.m. : Double argh. South Africa has a similar hodgepodge of criminal law (although just at the federal level, but it's spread out over many different statutes).

9:37 a.m. : Triple argh. Scotland, in fact, has NO criminal code but just charges people with offences as outlined by hundreds of years of common law precedent. Excellent.

9:40 a.m. : Discover that, no, there IS a Scots criminal law, but it isn't yet in force (despite being passed in 1997), at least not in its entirety.

10:12 a.m. : I'm really tired, and it's time for a break anyway, so I shut my door, put my head down on my desk, and have a 10-minute nap. I've never done this before and it feels awesome.

10:27 a.m. : Go see one of the other librarians about the lack of criminal laws in other jurisdictions. She finds this amusing and, in the end, gives me a number of good suggestions about how to proceed. She also gives me some tea bags and a cup so that I can make myself a cuppa', which I desperately, desperately need. (I meant to bring a spare cup in this morning, but forgot.)

11:00 a.m. : Sipping tea and composing a preliminary email to the client regarding the criminal law problem.

11:27 a.m. : Finally a new email! One of the lawyers in my department would like me to search for the whyfores and whetherhows of a certain regulation. This means pouring through old debates in the hopes of Parliamentarians having mentioned a regulation (odds are slim to none).

12:21 p.m. : Finish drafting the preliminary email to the client regarding the criminal law problem, and go see the same librarian as above. We chat some more, bouncing off other ideas.

12:51 p.m. : I should go for lunch.

12:53 p.m. : But first, I pop into the office of the lawyer looking for regulations, and we further discuss what it is she needs.

1:15 p.m. : I finally get out for lunch. I have not brought something today, thinking I'd get a sandwich from one of the coffee shops downstairs. I hope Mr. Harper realizes that his lack of action on Family Day has caused me to go without a nice healthy sandwich!

1:23 p.m. : In a food court a block away, most of the eateries are closed. I get some pizza and a chocolate milk, and bring it back to my office. I also, in a move I will soon rue, pick up a small bag of white cheddar popcorn. Smartfood, it's called. How bad can it be?

1:35 p.m. : Play some Scrabulous on Facebook and read a few online articles. Check CBC's website for interesting news. Try to relax. It's lunchtime.

1:51 p.m. : This popcorn is kinda icky. I shoulda known.

2:15 p.m. : Back to work. I telephone someone else in the library to follow up on an email I sent last week to see about the status of an unreported case I'd requested (she would normally then contact the courthouse to get it). No answer. I call someone else in her department, who also sometimes does this. No answer, and her voicemail says she is off today. Then it hits me: Family Day strikes again. Oh well, the client's not going anywhere; it can wait till tomorrow.

2:23 p.m. : I have to stop munching this terrible popcorn.

2:30 p.m. : I call the client who is looking for the criminal law provisions, and explain to him the immensity of this task. I offer to send what I have uncovered so far. He agrees. Seems like a reasonable guy.

2:47 p.m. : Another lawyer has emailed me, asking if I can find articles on a certain subject. Sure, I tell her, but not today. I put her research off till Wednesday, which she says is fine.

2:51 p.m. : Remember that I was supposed to email another one of our lawyers about some journal articles he is looking for. I haven't had time to do this yet. I email him, and thankfully he replies to say tomorrow, or even the day after, is fine.

3:03 p.m. : Hmm, when am I going to have a chance to look for the justifications for that regulation? I tell the lawyer I'll look in Hansard (the debates) tomorrow morning (I have to go to another location to do this). Meanwhile, I look online for articles that may have already done the research for me.

3:47 p.m. : No one seems to care about this aspect of the law. No one has written about it. Argh.

4:04 p.m. : I go see the other librarian, one last time, to ask a few stupid questions.

4:17 p.m. : I'm asked to find an online report and, finally, for once, the gods are smiling down on me, as I find it right away. At last! Proof I am not completely incompetent and/or useless around here!

4:19 p.m. : A phone call! It's the client who I sent the lengthy list of criminal law statutes to earlier in the day. And, hurrah! Good news: He's explained the complexity of the question to his superiors and they have decided that he (read: I) only needs to find TWO examples of this particular clause from each jurisdiction, not every single occurrence. I tell him I can probably do that in the next few days.

4:30 p.m. : Time to go but I'm trying to finish some stuff up before heading out.

4:32 p.m. : Randal calls on my cell. He wants to know if I'm going to the gym. "No," I tell him. I'm stressed out from the day, and my belly is slightly off anyway. I'm going to go to the grocery store and pick up some milk, of which we are in desperate need, then go home.

4:35 p.m. : Decide that, rather than go to the Loblaws near my house and risk the ice and possible rain, I am going to go to the grocery store downtown, which is about a 10 minute walk from my office.

4:47 p.m. : Finally make it out of the office.

5:01 p.m. : Get to the grocery store. Closed for Family Day. Figures.

5:12 p.m. : Back to the bus stop near my workplace.

5:15 p.m. : Get on bus. Take one of the last seats at the back of the bus. Take out book. Read.

5:37 p.m. : As the bus nears my stop, I look out the window to see if the Loblaws is open. I can't tell, but there's no one parked in the lot. Fine, then, I'll just go to Zellers in the mall. (Can you tell where this is going?)

5:39 p.m. : Get off bus. Look towards Zellers. All the lights are off. Shake head in disbelief (yeah, yeah, I shoulda known), then call Randal, who is still at work, on my cell. Ask him to find a convenience store somewhere, anywhere, downtown, that is open, and buy some milk. (I need my Ovaltine before bed.)

5:57 p.m. : Home again. Dog is happy to see me. I put him outside, get changed, bring him back in, curl up on the couch and read a magazine for a bit.

6:38 p.m. : Randal arrives home, milk in hand, and announces his intention to go to the gym tonight. This we know is open, because I looked it up on the Internet this morning, and it specifically announced it would be open on Family Day.

7:35 p.m. : Randal leaves for the gym. I reheat some leftover Chinese food.

7:55 p.m. : Randal arrives back home. Huh? Turns out that while the gym is, indeed, open, the mall wasn't, and he didn't feel like walking all the way around the mall on the icy sidewalks just to go to the gym and then have to walk all the way around again (it's a big mall, and usually we cut right through).

8:20 p.m. : Start writing a blog entry about why I don't blog on a daily basis. It was originally planned to be a much, much shorter entry. But somewhere along the way, it turned into this.

8:57 p.m. : Start reading the blog entry back to Randal, who instantly wants to know why it sounds like I live alone. My reply: "Because it was 6:56 in the morning and you weren't up until I left to say goodbye." His reply: "Blah. I was busy at 6:56 being woken up by your alarm." And now you also know, my dear readers, why I don't blog about mine and Randal's conversations on a daily basis. LOL

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Who, me? Camera-happy? Nawww...

Seoul at night (3)

So, Part 1 of 2 of Day 1 of 6, otherwise known as The First Thousand of What Is Undoubtedly a Million Photos from My Trip Almost One Year Ago to Seoul, has made it online. I figure if I get the rest of the photos online before the one-year anniversary of said trip, I'm doing well.

Anyway, suffice it to say, the camera doesn't lie, and I loved Seoul. It was one of the highlights of my year in Japan (OK, almost every trip we took, including the shorty weekend jaunts, were a highlight of our year in Japan). I really, really, really liked Seoul, and I took a lot of pictures of Seoul. Don't delay; go check out the first half of the first full day of our trip.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

One less piece of history...

Yesterday, I was saddened to hear about the loss of the beautiful Namdaemun, or South Gate, in Seoul, this weekend.

Namdaemun (3)
The guards are there more for tourists than for guarding the city, these days, and, alas, are not there at night, when the fire that largely destroyed the building was started.

We visited Seoul last March, and being the cultural heritage junkies that we are, visited the Gate. The gate, made largely of stone and wood, has stood for over 600 years (with renovations, of course, including a major overhaul in the 1960s), and is (was?) the only remaining part of the great city walls that once surrounded the city of Seoul. Think of the Quebec City walls and gates, only much bigger and much older.

I still haven't posted my photos from our South Korean jaunt, but this occurrence has made me determine that I will attempt to do so, at least in part, this weekend. In the meantime, you can see more great photos of the Gate on Flickr.

There's a gate like this in the middle of every large city, no?

Namdaemun (4)

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

It's his party, and he'll cry if he wants to

Today is my dad's 62nd birthday.*


While I admire my Dad for many things, not least of which is his penchant for Star Trek and a myriad of other stellar (pun intended) and not-so-watchable sci-fi shows, the most noteworthy aspect of his personality is his ability to stay calm as a cucumber and happy as a clam in the face of clear and present danger**:

Say chee --oh crap.

* But who's counting, right? Hey, only 38 more years till your centennial! heehee :)

** With thanks to my mom (Photoshop is her best friend, but I won't tell you which part has been 'Shopped in), from whom I stole this photo without her consent. What's she going to do? Sue me? Her daughter is a lawyer, true, so I guess it's always possible.

Le weekend (et la vie) roundup

My mom came to visit this weekend. And true to form, just to prove to her, once and for all, that she was glad she no longer lives in Ottawa[1], she arrived in the middle of a snowstorm. Luckily, she was taking the train, and so was able to make her trip without worry or bother.

Friday night, she stayed over at my aunt's place, and then she and my aunt came over to our house on Saturday morning. Randal and I made a big brunch of mixed-berry muffins, orange and cranberry scones, turkey bacon, hash browns, and my world-famous scrambled eggs[2], and we sat and ate and talked and opened some very, very late Christmas presents. My aunt gave me some lovely flannel pyjamas, and the most incredible pop-up book featuring the seven books in Chronicles of Narnia - if I wasn't worried about copyright issues, I'd take some pictures of the pop-ups - amazing!

Eventually, my aunt left, and Randal went to the gym. Mom and I stayed home with Rion, and watched one of my favourite movies, Gross Pointe Blank. When Randal got home, he made dinner - salmon with garlic and white wine sauce, rice, broccoli, butternut squash, and spinach salad with cucumbers, walnuts, and pear-guava dressing.[3] Soooo good. Then we watched another movie, Hot Fuzz, which, if you've never seen, go see![4]

Sunday morning, we started over again, with more food. My aunt and uncle picked us all up, and we went to a nearby pub called Tartan's, which has a Sunday all-you-can-eat brunch. It was tasty-tasty. Then we headed back to our place for about an hour before my mom had to leave for her train back to T.O.

Other than that, not much interesting has happened. We finally painted our living room and dining room a few weeks ago. Despite it looking in the can like a yellowy-green somewhere between baby poo and baby puke, the colour is AWESOME. Golden-yellow during the day, darkening to an orangey-yellow like the inside of a pumpkin by afternoon, and a soft camel brown at night (but almost limey green in direct light). I love it, and will post pictures soon. Just waiting to put some pictures up on the wall, then I'm going to take a whole slew of photos of the place.

Work is good. The first two weeks were tough, as I was training, and not doing a heck of a lot each day. But I've been in my actual section for over a week now. The work is interesting, and I'm just busy enough to not be bored during the day. Soon, apparently, I will be quite busy - it's a busy section. As I explained before, basically I am working in a research division with a bunch of lawyer-analysts. Whenever an M.P. (sometimes other people, but the M.P.s are our main client group) has a question, about anything whatsoever, they contact the library. Those questions related to law or government mechanics are sent to my division. Some of the questions go to the analysts (if they want a short research paper written on a topic, for example), but the majority go to the four of us librarians. It can be as simple as "What laws deal with adolescents who've committed crimes?" or "Can you find me such-and-such a case?", to much more complicated issues, like "What is history of food regulation in the European Union?" or "What did Trudeau and/or Pearson have in mind when they implemented the bilingual policy in the federal government?" Anyway, the work is interesting, and it will be good to sharpen my legal research skills. But I miss the daily interaction with people (most of our questions come via email, and I only rarely have to talk to someone on the phone, let alone in person!), not to mention my students.

Living in Orléans is great. We love our place. It's so nice to have so much space, and the dog is really happy. It takes about a half hour to get in to work in the morning, plus about 10-15 minutes walking time (10 to the bus station, 5 to my office). If I leave at 7:50 (which I've never managed yet, but there's always hope), I can get to work by about 8:30.[5] I usually read and/or listen to music. In just over 3 weeks, I have already finished two books![6]

Anyway, that's it for now. See you again in about 3 weeks.[7]

[1] She grew up in Ottawa.

[2] They really are the best scrambled eggs you'll likely ever have, if I do say so myself. I add a bit of milk and lots of cheese (cheddar and gruyère, this time), and make sure not to cook them too long. Anyone who comes to visit us (on a weekend) is welcome to a helping. Now come visit!

[3] Yes, we like food. And yes, if you come visit us (on a weekend), you can have some good food too!

[4] My friend Mark has a short, but pithy, review of it here.

[5] Those of you who know me well, know that I am not a morning person. However, I actually chose that start time. Right now I work till 4:30, and it's great leaving so early in the afternoon. After April 1, it will be 5:00, but it's really not so bad.

[6] Hey Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland, and I'm almost done The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordecai Richler.

[7] Just kidding.