apjournal

Amateur philosopher, deep but impatient thinker, not much time on my hands, exremely opinionated on certain subjects (America, dog food, pharmaceutical companies, lawyers, math education ....)

Thursday, December 30, 2004

About Two Weeks Away

The Grand Piano will be in my living room in about two weeks. It hasn't sunk in yet, though on occasion I remember that it really has happened -- we really did buy this piano -- and then I get so excited I can barely stand it. We phoned the dealer and they said they wouldn't have taken our deposit had the whole purchase not been approved, so ... it's approved. Woo-hoo! I can't believe it! Like I said, it hasn't sunk in yet, it's like a dream. I've been working diligently in my theory book since last night (renewed enthusiasm) but now I find myself so tired that I can't think too straight.

Tomorrow night Mr P and I are staying in. We always do on new Year's. I've never been a new year's eve fan myself. I think the main reason is that I am a very emotional person, and also tend to be nostalgic, so I think New Year's Eve for me is more of a lament and sadness at the year gone by than a looking forward to the year ahead. I always sob when I hear Auld Lang Syne. So it's early to bed and then the new year doesn't start groggy and stupid. We also don't drink alcohol at all (I once saw a bumper sticker by MADD that said "It's OK not to drink" -- it's sort of one of the little slogans I live my life by), and so we'll probably watch a movie or two, and head to bed. It's a peaceful ringing in of the new year when you're tucked up warm and snug in bed.

Does anyone out there have any suggestions (other than nearly killing your plants from starving them of water) to get rid of these blasted fungus gnats????? They drive me batty. The first year we moved in this house I'd routinely kill a couple of dozen a day, then we were told in a garden centre to cut down on the watering, which I did, and we also stuck those sticky yellow things in the plants. This helped a lot. We were down to nearly none pretty quickly and then last year we didn't have any; this year they are back again, though not as bad as the first year. I have a LOT of plants -- mostly figs and spider plants, and I hate to see them going yellow and limp from lack of watering. Anybody have any ideas?

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The Ink is Drying on a purchase contract for a C2 Acoustic Grand

Yes. We actually did it. With a whole lot down and a bit each month for some time to come, I'll have my grand. Oh, it is lovely. Lovely, lovely, lovely. I can picture it in my bay window now. The financing hasn't been "officially" approved yet, but I don't foresee any problems (cross your fingers, everyone). Now the furniture has to be rearranged (jeez, that's going to be hard .... NOT!). The sales guy figured that it would be in their shop in about a week and then after that I go and tinkle on it to make sure it's all okey dokey, then they ship it to our house!!!!!

It hasn't sunk in yet and I don't want to celebrate just yet because you never know, the financing may fall through, but oh, oh, oh, oh .... I can't say more than that. I'll have to just wait and see.

We took our boy to the off-leash this morning and he played with a lovely young lady, a Rhodesian Ridgeback named Halo. Very pretty dog ('course, not as pretty as our boy!), but I may be somewhat biased. Then we came home and I had a few hours of tutoring ... nothing too taxing; tomorrow I've got four hours and then another three days off before the rubber meets the road again. End of January, there's a bit of a break and then, the new semester begins.

I have a story idea in mind; it involves a world where women rule the roost, only women are in government, and there are only women soldiers. Sort of a Lord of the Rings, but with women in charge. I've worked out some of the details with a student friend of mind who is into fantasy writing and all the fantasy stories like Lord of the Rings, Pirates, HarryPotter, etc.

Anyway, should run.

Piano Shopping

Those familiar with my recent posts may be interested to know that today I actually am going out to look at pianos. There's a Yamaha dealer in town that has some good prices until Dec 31 and my music teacher has consented to visit the store with me and Mr P on Friday and vet whatever strikes my fancy, giving me his most expert opinion. I'm excited, to say the least, but there is also a measure of trepidation at making such a big commitment financially.

Celebrity Stuff
I love to hate the celebrity culture. I find it distasteful at the best of times. The idea that certain people's lives should be "celebrated" more than others simply due to the fact that they have piles of money, often very little talent, many of whom made their fortunes and came to fame because they had "relatives" in the biz or had shrewd business managers, is repugnant to me. Still, it can be a bit "titillating" ... you'll excuse the pun as I carry on. A story in today's paper told how celeb parents are now boasting about, among other things, their daughter's bra sizes (more accurately, cup sizes). Just when we thought JenLo had given hope to millions of women with bottoms bigger than a pair of Granny Smith apples, we have "ample" reason (oh, God, sorry everyone, for all the terrible puns) to groan anew at the commercialization of the female body, held up for show like so much cattle at an auction, to be rated, criticized, stamped, and finally bought by the person with the mostest money. Sigh ...

Okay, enough about that. We are off to the dog park. Mr P is back to work next Monday so we have to take advantage of the trips we can take down there together, and I have a few hours of tutoring, and then ... some SERIOUS shopping.

Monday, December 27, 2004

After Christmas Resolutions

Yes. I'm as guilty of them as anyone. But I was reading in this morning's paper that by the end of January 36% have given up (forgotten) their resolutions, which means that the other 64% are still hacking away at them. The key is not to be vague about your goals. Be specific. The story in the paper also recommended that instead of saying, I'm going to lose 20 pounds, make a resolution instead to get out into nature more, and take your camera with you -- the photography is your passion, the side benefit is greater health and maybe a few pounds off.

But there are other resolutions we might make besides losing weight. We focus so much on how we look (living in a celebrity culture, which I think is damaging to our self image at the best of times), that we forget that our worries are nothing compared to those living in the other half of the world, the half where clean water is considered a luxury. Have you seen those pictures of kids in places like Nepal and Bangladesh receiving shoeboxes from Western countries? Have you seen the delight on their faces at the gift of a toothbrush and toothpaste? This is slammed home all the more now in the wake of the tsunami that has killed tens of thousands ...

We need to take our message from that. Instead of making a resolution to lose weight this year, make a resolution instead to give more to those who need it. Carry the Christmas message into the new year and beyond, and keep it alive as long as possible. There is so much sadness on the planet, and everyone can make a difference, even if a very small one.

Having said that, my new year's hopes are as follows:

1. That I will find some time to spend with friends.
2. That I stay healthy, and that all my loved ones do as well.
3. That I manage, at least some of the time, to stay in the moment, to live in the present.
4. That I do a little more housework, eat a little less junk food, and get back to long walks with the dog, now that he's older.

That's it. I won't try to be more ambitious than that.

Happy New Year, in advance, everyone. Go easy with the resolutions.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Elvis on the CD Player

Few can do Christmas carols like Elvis could. Later will have to listen to the Messiah and then watch (both) of either Alistair Sim or George C. Scott in A Christms Carol, and It's a Wonderful Life. Also have to find a half hour to watch the Boris Karloff cartoon version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The dog in the show (Max) reminds me so much of a little sheltie cross I used to have, whose name was also coincidentally Max. Same personality, same facial expressions. I LOVE the Grinch (well, the show). Didn't think much of the movie, though.

I've finished unwrapping all the gifts from my students (thanks, you guys; it means so much!!!). It's a beautiful Christmas morning. My husband and I are going to have breakfast now and then it's off to the off leash with the pooch (that'll be his Christmas present). I wonder whether it will be busy or dead down there ... my feeling is that it will be one or the other. The snow is supposed to hit later today and then I'd rather not drive there, so it's a good time to go ... poop him out so we can rest for a couple of days.

Well, best run and get breakfast on. Hope you all have a wonderful, restful, peaceful, happy day.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Merry Christmas

It's brown in Calgary tonight, but tomorrow the snow is supposed to hit, hard and heavy, and it's going to get cold.

Perfect.

Wishing you all a safe, merry Christmas and a very happy new Year.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Last Day Before the big break

Greetings all. Just one more day of tutoring then nearly 10 days off in a row, though am working a few hours on two days next week -- between Christmas and New Year's. It's been cold here in Calgary the last day or two. Minus 27 C with the windchill. Brrrrr. Makes walking the dog not so much fun. Today it's supposed to be warmer, so then I'll be off to the off-leash and my boy can have a good run before the lethargy of the holiday days sets in.

One of my students knit me a scarf as a Christmas present (thanks, Kaitlin!). Last night I was so cold watching Lord of the Rings in our living room (though the heat was up to 23), that I sat with the scarf wrapped up over my ears and head in an attempt to get warm. Just one of those days.




Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Days are getting longer again

December 21st is always a day for celebration. Living in Alberta, the winters are long and winter days are very short. I love winter. It is actually my favourite season (no bugs), but I don't like the short days much. So it is always a cause for celebration when December 21st rolls around. Starting after that day, the days are starting to get longer.

Those of you who take issue with the U.S.'s war on Iraq will want to check out http://costofwar.com/. Quite an eye-opener. Thanks, blogdog, http://saltysheepdog.blogspot.com/ for the link.

Spoke to a neighbour yesterday about my piano purchase dilemma. When I told him we were considering an electronic, he wrinkled his nose, and wondered, why on earth would we do that? I shrugged my shoulders -- cost? What else? And he said, yes, but people invest in boats and RVs for their middle years enjoyment (middle years is my term, not his -- that's what he meant); why wouldn't you do the same with a piano if that's what you want to be spending your time doing? I don't know ... Actually, I think he's right, and we are leaning more and more towards the acoustic grand.

Today tutoring is a bit lighter; winding down for the holidays. Merry Christmas everyone.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Should I buy a Yamaha GC1 or C2 acoustic grand piano?

Those who read yesterday's entry may still be thinking of a way to formulate a response; while I, today, am leaning closer to that acoustic grand again. Sheeshh. Talk about a tough decision (not really, only the cold hard cash stands in the way). Sigh. We shall see. I think between Christmas and New Year's my husband and I will visit the Yamaha dealer and have a look at that C2 he was telling us about. All the online reviews say it is a wonderful piano. Even the GC1, which is considerably less expensive, may be worth a look at, though the reviews say its bass tones are just acceptable (at 5'3" it's hard to get decent bass tones, I think; though, being a more-than-novice piano buyer, what do I know?)

Meanwhile, I had 7 tutoring hours booked yesterday and only four made it. This is most unusual, but not for the time of year, perhaps. I don't care so much about the loss in income as I do how it throws a wrench in my day. With the dog, I can't run out if I suddenly find myself with a few extra minutes. Trips away from home when the dog is left alone (at least at this stage of his life) must be planned in advance. So it carves up my day needlessly when I could have been getting things done. Oh well. A bit frustrating. Thursday is my last tutoring day and then .... freedom for a few days. No math. (Though I will probably work on brushing up my calculus to prepare for the next semester beginning at the end of January as I have consented to tutor ONE of my students in calculus).

Anyway, all this is rather drivellish, so I'll depart. Anyone out there have any comments on the benefits of the Yamaha C2 over the GC1? Anybody own one or the other? Tried both?

Monday, December 20, 2004

The Trials of Buying a Piano

Okay. I've outgrown my keyboard. Though it is a lovely keyboard and I'm fond of it (it has lots of neat features and has been good as a starter unit), I'm ready to move on. The biggest problem is the action of the keys and the limited working of the sustain pedal. I really wanted a grand piano, but the cost is prohibitive. The minimum model I'd be interested in is about $15000 Cdn. A fair chunk of change. I spoke to a Yamaha dealer who was SOOOOO helpful and he has suggested a whole range of different types of pianos, including a series of electronic ones, whose touch is virtually indistinguishable from that of a real piano, and with the new sound sampling, etc., there is also no way to tell the sounds of the two apart. I first started thinking about an electronic piano on my husband's suggestion. I REALLY want a grand, and I think he'd really like me to have one, but we're both realistic in that ... can we afford it? I think he wants me to have the piano and is looking for a way for me to have it sooner, ... ergo the electronic models.

On the plus side, with an electronic piano, I'm paying A LOT less but I don't have the grandeur of a beautiful grand piano (which I'd have room to put in my house; in fact, it would look awesome in my living room), also there are no maintenance fees like tuning.

On the minus side, well, I um, don't ... have ... a grand piano! The Yamaha dealer was very nice and of course he is looking to sell his products but I got the impression he wouldn't sell me anything I didn't need or wouldn't be happy with.

Then my music instructor tells me that the $4,000 or so I'd spend on the electronic piano the Yamaha dealer recommended is way too much money and I could get one that would suit for about $1,500. To further complicate matters, there are lovely units that you can program to accompany your playing and that will record you and act as karaoke units, neat for me because I'd also like to get back to singing. So .... what on earth to do????

My head is spinning from all the information. Anyone out there got any advice? Looking for feedback.


Friday, December 10, 2004

I've been away and I've lost you

Bloggers take note. If you like certain sites, don't save bookmarks for them in only one place. I lost all my blog bookmarks when my browser crashed one day. I have just recently started blogging but had found several blogs that I'd quite liked. One was in New Jersey (can't remember your name); two were in Alberta (one of these in Edmonton, but not sure where the other was). One of you recently wrote about your son listening to Vince Gauraldi Christmas music and helping with the writing of Christmas cards. If you read this, please respond as I am looking for you! I really enjoyed your site. Shooting parrots, you were easy to find with a quick google search, and lastly, Dysfunctional thoughts: you were, what, Writer's block? AAAAHHH!! If you guys know who you are, please post a comment so that I can start reading your blogs again.

That's it for now. I have just over an hour before my first student arrives and I must feed my pooch. Merry ho ho to you all.