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 ....)

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Lists of Things

Due to the fact that I am always lamenting how I wish I had more time to do things, I thought it prudent to draw up a list of all the things that I wish I had more time to do. This way, if I do find myself with the time, I won't have that temporary indecision that comes with suddenly finding oneself in an unfamiliar state, and I can get just on with all those things I wish I had more time to do!!! The problem may be, however, that I will be forced to priorize my list when finding this elusive extra time, which may cause some delays, but that's a risk I'm willing to take. So, the following lists makes no claim to being in the correct order of priority (it is also subject to change; I am a woman, after all).
  1. Piano playing.
  2. Long walks in the wilderness park across the street from my house (weather cooperation-depending).
  3. Reading (this one should actually have sub-lists, but I wont' go there just now).
  4. Writing. I have one nearly-finished novel that currently stands at about 110,000 words. I like a lot of it, but I actually think most of it, let us say, needs a considerable amount of work. I also think of new storylines nearly daily; some for short stories, some for novels, some for rants-about-the-world essays, some for humor (Dave Barry has inspired me to write a humorous totally tongue-in-cheek math textbook), and some for serious reflections on the world type things. My problem with any and all writing is that I am a perfectionist and don't tend to start anything unless I know it can be properly researched, written, rewritten, proofed, edited, etc., etc.
  5. Redecorating my house. It needs paint. Seriously.
  6. Lounging at the local Chapters/Starbucks (for my American friends who aren't familiar with Chapters, it's a HUGE bookstore, the inventory of which is sometimes not great, but, hey, it's a bookstore, and it has a Starbucks right in the store! What more could a person want?!) discussing philosophy, world events, what-have-you, or just catching up with friends.
  7. Going to the gym (that was an obligatory entry, given the monthly dues I'm STILL paying).
  8. Knitting! Actually, getting STARTED on knitting and any and all other creative projects that have flitted through my mind over the years, including drawing, painting, beading and collaging (my personal favourite).
  9. Doing math recreationally and furthering my abilities math-wise (i.e., working on my calculus, linear algebra, and working on writing a math textbook).
  10. Cleaning my house (boring but necessary). Notice how this is absolutely last on my list. Even a priorizing of my list would undoubtedly see this entry remain where it is.

That's it! For now, anyways. Oh, I suppose I should add blogging (both posting and reading). Until later.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series of Books

Before I even had a chance to add the latest book in the series The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, The Full Cupboard of Life, to my "Now reading" list, I had already finished it. I actually had my copy over a week and a half ago, but was saving it for the long weekend. These books are so good!!!! Once you begin one, it is very difficult to put it down before you have it finished. I believe I finished this latest one in two sittings. They are an easy-enough read, yes, but not in a mindless way. These books are like sitting down with an old friend over a cup of "bush tea" (readers of the series will understand) in the shade of a friendly tree on a warm day and catching up on all the news. Maybe one of the reasons I like the books so much is it gives me a taste of what it must feel like to be able to have that kind of down time, the sort where you're not checking your watch every few minutes because you have somewhere to be or deadlines to attend to. Not being good at time off, and in fact being somewhat of a workaholic, it allows me to feel that lazy-summer-day, on-summer-holidays-from-school feeling. That is a feeling that as an adult I think it is impossible to recapture. If there is a way, I don't know what it is. Does anyone out there?

Also, does anyone know what happened to writer's block? I'm still not getting her blog and am worried. If you're reading this, writer's block, please write!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Apologies in Advance

Right now all I can think of are weather reports. The wind has stopped (thank God), but, guess what? It's snowing again. Okay, flurrying. You couldn't really call what's coming down snow. Still no writer's block. Where are you? What's happened? I can't say I'm not worried. It's like phoning someone you phone every day and suddenly without warning their phone's been disconnected and you have no way of finding out whether they're okay or not ...

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

I. AM. SICK. OF. WINTER.

For me, this is saying a lot. I LIKE winter. I like cold weather better than hot weather. But enough already. I AM SO SICK OF WINTER. I want it to be spring. NOWWWW!!!

Wahhhhhh!!!

I want to walk in Fish Creek Park for hours (this morning I was doing a little birdwatching with one of my students out my patio door and he was telling me he's never really seen woodpeckers before; and I told him, oh, if you go into the park in spring/summer, you'll see at least one on every outing, and that made me think of the park, and want to whine, as I'm doing now).

HOWEVER, what can you do? YOu can't change the weather. By the way, it's snowing.

Does anyone know what happened to writer'sblock????? Her blog isn't coming up.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Shrouded in Mist, Covered in Snow

The weather in Calgary has got to the be the weirdest ... Never lacks for interest, that's for sure. It's always a bit of an eerie feeling -- yesterday morning I couldn't see across the valley that is Fish Creek Park that we live on the edge of; where normally I can make out the individual roofs on the houses (not that it's that close, but because the air is so clean most of the time, especially in winter). Yesterday, there was no other side of the valley, and I had to ask myself -- has it disappeared? This morning, everything is covered in snow. The weather has been icky lately. I'm ready for SPRING already!!!! Hello?! Is anyone listening? Of course with spring come gardening duties and mosquitos, okay, the mosquitos don't actually come until later or mid-June depending on how wet/cool the spring has been. Talk about blathering.

Kudos to Toner Mishap on an excellent post about blogging. You should read it. Makes me feel rather inspired. Though I have to say I think if I had more time to write I'd probably get back to my fiction ... start writing some of these stories I have brewing in my brain (several new ideas pop into my head daily) and finish the novel which by now I realize needs A LOT of work, but which I've pretty much figured out how to fix (it's about 110,000 words and nearly done, in terms of the telling of the story, then, like all works of fiction, needs to be rewritten, and then rewritten again, and then rewritten again). Sigh. If I had ten lifetimes I sometimes doubt it would be enough time ...

Monday, March 21, 2005

Lazy and Busy

Hello all! My apologies for being away so long. Besides having little new to say, I've also been:
  1. recovering from that blasted cold and
  2. too busy for words
Mr. P has started working some overtime; not an easy nor usual thing for him as he is Mr. Routine Extreme. That has made our weekends even more crazy than usual and so trying to find some down time has been tricky.

I ordered sheet music for Pirates of the Caribbean. AAAGHHHH! Most of it's pretty hard! But there is one piece, set in 12/8 time (yikes) which I'm going to tackle. I know what my music instructor will say when he sees it. I'll reason with him. I'll say, look, either you can help me or I'll just have to do it on my own. Either way, I'm going to learn it. See what he says to that! The piece in question for those who know the soundtrack is He's a Pirate (wish it were called She's a Pirate)!

I have a private golf club as one of my few leftover graphic design clients. I have my own graphic design company which I operated for about 12 years before blending that with writing freelance articles and books (I'm actually nationally published!!!) and before later abandoning it pretty much altogether for math tutoring. I'm getting more into Social Studies tutoring, too, now. It's endlessly fascinating, this study of history, I think. Anyway, I've had some work to do for the private golf club: their annual roster and annual report are on my desk and awaiting my production skills. Well, I got the roster done yesterday (the guts, though not the cover) and this morning before my first student arrives I have to try to do the guts of the annual report. So that's what I spent most of my Sunday doing. Blah. Boring.

We finished watching The First Churchills. A bit of an anticlimactic ending, but a very, very good show. I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys BBC productions. Next on the list, I think is The Six Wives of Henry VIII.

That's all for today. I must get to work. Long weekend next weekend!!!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Source for Political Cartoons

Does anyone know of an on-line source of political cartoons? They MUST be from the 17th or 18th century. Topics include the French Revolution, Napoleon, Europe in general, colonialism, etc. Nothing from the US, PLEASE! These seem to be in over-abundance. I thought maybe the Misanthrope could help me.???

Morbid History Books

Because I do a little Social Studies tutoring, along with math (which is the vast majority, mind you), I've developed a more active interest in history, though I have to say that I've always had (to my detriment, I sometimes believe) a keen interest in virtually everthing (exceptions: architecture, "extreme" sports, almost all professional sports, virtually all so-called "modern" poetry; and the most recent addition to what might be a longer list if I cared right now to take the time to compile one -- television). Okay, that was a long sentence. There are certain types of history that have always interested me:
  • anything to do with the the royal families of Europe from about the 1600's to about the beginning of the 1900's;
  • modern Chinese history;
  • the "human" side of the Vietnam war;
  • all Russian history
In terms of current events, I now am avidly seeking out any knowledge of the people of the middle east, particularly Iran and Saudi Arabia (and particularly of women and human rights issues), two of the most repressive countries in that region (am I right?).

I am now in to my fourth nonfiction history book in a row. This one is about (I believe, mostly) the Stalinist regime in Russia. The writer is VERY good. I have only read a few pages of the introduction, but her writing is very balanced, modest and clear, a total change from the book I just finished, The Gate, the prose of which was, at times, overdone and often self-serving (though it is a good book and I would recommend it to anyone).

These books are all really quite morbid, though. Our history as a race is one of death, hatred, destruction, ambition, betrayal, fanatacism and greed. I think it is important to have a solid understanding of what has come before so that we don't go there again and so that we understand what we are all capable of, both good and bad.

To digress, Mr. P. and I are both feeling much better but the cold still lingers for both of us and we are not yet completely over it. Monday night I cancelled all my students and I have to be really sick to do that. I worked my full day yesterday but didn't go to my music lesson. I've been a bit frustrated with the piano this past couple of weeks. Between being sick and all my chiropractic appointments, I haven't had as much time to practice, and then the Canon, which I feel ought to be done now, is frustrating me somewhat, because I still have trouble with certain spots and I feel that I shouldn't be. So I took a week off that one and am now going back to it, hands separate, short sections, slow and easy.

That's all for today. I wish you all a wonderful day.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

We Passed The Test

Regular readers of my blog will know that Mr. P and I recently cancellend our satellite dish (about 2 1/2 months ago now). The other day, Friday, I think it was, a guy from Bell XPressVu called, and mispronounced our name as he asked for my husband (grrrr). He offered us two months absolutely free, the same exact channels we had before. If, within the first 30 days, we decide we don't want it, we call to cancel, we still get the second 30 days, and it's still absolutely free. If we decide to keep it, it's also still free. I guess they are hoping that we will realize how much we missed it and end up keeping it when the two months are up.

That's not gonna happen.

Mr. P. watched a NASCAR race this afternoon. He is a fan and I think he was looking forward to it. He slept through a lot of it (we're still both really sick) and when it was over he shut it off and said, no, he likes the house better without the TV. I'd been thinking the same thing all day, just didn't want to spout off about it. Now, we had FOX on, which is never a treat, but the whole thing just struck me as so loud (and the volume wasn't up high at all), so crass, so celebrity-worshipping ( I intensely dislike the whole celebrity culture), so without any class at all. I felt like my home, my peace, my solitude, my contendness was being invaded and shattered. I'm SOOOOOO glad we both agree that it's not going to stay. Mr. P. thinks he'll call to cancel right away: why wait 30 days? 60 days? I have not had any desire whatsoever to even scan channels to see what's one. Zero.

So, it's going again! Hurray! Halleluja!

The Middle East
I've just finished reading two books that took place in the middle east. One in Iran and one in Saudi Arabia. They were both fascinating books and almost impossible to put down, especially "Inside the Kingdom - My Life in Saudi Arabia" by Carmen Bin Ladin (this is not a misspelling of her name; the clan is spelled Bin Laden, but for some reason some members of the family take the spelling Bin Ladin. Anyway, what a book. Unbelievable. This woman has an Iranian mother and Swiss father and she met a man who happened to be a younger brother of Osama Bin Laden. She didn't talk too much about him, but of course 9/11 was mentioned more than once. Mostly it was an account of life inside Saudi Arabia. This is beyond imagining. We in the west, especially us women, can scarcely even conceive of how women are treated in this, the centre of Islam. The book I read before, "Reading Lolita in Tehran" by Azir Nafisi, was a little less shocking and heart-wrending, but it was interesting to note the parallels between the two; the latter book mentioning what occurred in the former, so it was interesting to have the extra background.

I am looking for a blog of someone in one of these countries. It must be a woman. I am intensely interested in this whole thing now. Can anyone out there recommend one?

Friday, March 11, 2005

Restless

Those who know Calgary will know that the wind can howl here for days on end, bringing with it warm temperatures and something that, for me, is hard to define. I don't dislike wind as a rule. I don't find it upsetting or spooky or scary. It doesn't bother me. But it unsettles me. Every time another gust rocks the house or I can hear it whistling in the chimney I feel the need to look around, to glance outside to gauge its strength. What is that exactly? I haven't figured it out yet.

Mr. P and I are both sick AGAIN. Mr. P's got it worse this time. His colds usually settle in his joints and give him headaches; mine are the noisy, messy kind, with need of at least one family-size box of kleenexes and a fresh bottle of Otrivin. This time he's got the messy cold and mine is still evolving; hard to know what type it will be, but strangely it started out as a cough, and that's unusual for me. I've started taking my vitamins again. I confess I worry about this global flu pandemic they are predicting. So I am taking what measures I can now to build up the immune system.

I have had four visits to the chiropractor and a massage since last Saturday. I am feeling better though not perfect by a long shot. A few more visits and I should be back to normal again.

That's it. Nothing too exciting to report. Waiting for spring and a few days off at Easter.

Wondering if anyone out there knows of any Oriental Shorthair / Siamese breeders in the Vancouver Lower Mainland area. My mom is looking for a kitten. I've so far found one breeder (in Delta) but haven't been able to make contact yet. Any connections would be appreciated.

Monday, March 07, 2005

This is How Much it Rains in Calgary

Regular readers of my blog will know that I have a "new" dog. He is now going on a year old and has been with us eight months. He arrived last year on exactly July 1. Today I took him out for one of his usual bathroom walks and ... it was raining (well, spitting). Our next door neighbors have a boat in their driveway with one of those tarps over it, and the rain hitting it made a rather loud noise. The dog was all, what's that? What's that noise? I suspect, I think, (can it be?) he's never experienced rain before!!! Ha. I love Calgary. Vancouverites (it's where I'm from, so I can say this ...) Eat your heart out!

Saturday, March 05, 2005

A Crimeless Victim

Yesterday I phoned my chiropractor for an appointment. It was sorely needed (no pun intended). I had not visited my chiropractor in nearly two years. The nice lady who answered the phone said, hmm, you haven't heard, have you? The doctor was killed in a car accident last summer. A What? Are you Serious? Of course you're serious, etc. etc. Turns out he was on his way to Calgary from Lethbridge where he and his wife had bought a house for their daughter who was going to U of L. He was the passenger in the car driven by his daugher on (I think) a small, two lane highway with no divider when they were hit head-on by a young man coming the other way. I don't recall if I was told what injuries the young man sustained; apparently, though, he was exhausted after many long vigils at his father's bedside (his father had cancer) and fell asleep at the wheel on his way home from the hospital. The doctor's daughter sustained injuries to bones in her foot, but nothing more serious than that, and the doctor died in hospital about four days after the crash.

Apparently they tried to tell all the patients, but as there had been about 7,000 in total over the years, they sort of cut it off at any patient who'd been in to see him in the previous year, and so I didn't make the cut. It was quite a shock.

I booked my appointment with the other doctor (I'll call him Dr. C.) who had been working with my doctor (Dr. W.) for a number of years and who has since taken over the practice. He was very kind, and very gentle and I believe I trust him as much as I did the other one. What a loss, though. Dr. W. also was very active in third world countries, taking his medical skills there and working with people who most need help.

The kicker is that Dr. W. was born in the same year as Mr. P. I have taken a lesson from this that I've told to every student since I heard the news. Life is too short for minor irritations and stupid reality tv shows and arguments and fighting. We never know when our number is up ...

Friday, March 04, 2005

A Victimless Crime?

Being well out of the "partying" years, and never having been one much for parties anyway, it's been a long time since I've been around the whole marijuana culture. I don't pretend now that I don't approve of its use, though, as with the alcohol, I keep my mouth shut and don't pass judgment on others who imbibe (the difference, being, of course, that one is legal while the other is not; perhaps this can be viewed as merely arbitrary -- a case could be made for that, I think). However, the death of four RCMPs while busting a grow-op in Myerthorpe, Alberta, deserves a mention, and some musing. Surely many individuals who smoke a joint now and then consider it a "victimless crime". Who's it hurting? they argue. It's my lungs, after all. Well, sure, but what is also true is that the pot being grown nowadays is far more potent than what was grown 20 or 30 years ago, and it is grown by criminals that live just down the street. The pot people smoke at parties and in their living rooms at night to wind down is grown by these people -- people with big guns who aren't afraid to use them, people with big, vicious dogs who are taught to attack.

Question of the day: is there such a thing as a victimless crime? If such a thing exists, why is it deemed a crime in the first place, when it hurts no one?

Pirate Update
Hubby was home for a few more days and this altered the routine around here; one of the many reasons I haven't blogged all week (sory!!). But he's on the mend; back to work and all that so things are returning to normal.

While my energy level seems to be returning, the condition of my lower back is another matter. It hurts!!! No matter what I do it seems to make no difference. I think a few fix-me-up visits to the chiropractor are in order. I don't, as a rule, trust chiropractors. They always make me feel good when I go, but I always have some trepidation about going. I think I can't put it off any longer, though.

The music's going well. I'm learning two new pieces and the learning is coming more quickly. I'm also being a bit harder on myself in terms of perfecting the pieces. I now am more apt to break the piece down into a few bars or a line and work it, work it, work it, until it's very smooth. Flawlessness may not come for some time.

Eggs & Personal Space
Okay, last Sunday we were at the grocery store doing our usual weekly routine. I was NOT in a good mood and NOT feeling well. Just one of those days. First I lost Mr. P. in the store. At the Superstore (newly enlarged) this is not a good thing. It must have taken us near ten minutes to find each other. Next time we'll each take our cell phones. Then THAT can't happen again ... :)

Then I went to pick out some eggs to buy. I picked up a carton, rested one end against my sweater to open it up and make sure none of the eggs were cracked, when one right at the end of the carton I had resting on my shirt was literally sheared in half. The top half of the shell was missing. My sweater now had egg white all over it. Growwwwwwwl.

Then when we were done shopping I had to go back over to the first part of the store to pick up a prescription I'd dropped off. Mr. P. went through the checkout while I went to pick up the prescription. It took a while to get it. I must have been waiting for ten minuts or more. None of this is a big deal, but you know how when you're in a bad mood everything just pisses you off more? Yeah, like that. Anyway, I'm waiting, and the two women behind the counter were off to the side, behind the glass, not "receiving" any new customers for the moment while they finished off my prescription, when this woman came up behind me, wondering, where are the pharmacists? Why don't they come and serve me? She wasn't being obnoxious, just somewhat daft. They'll come, lady, when they're ready. Quit looking around for signs about where you should be lining up and BACK OFF! She was standing way too close to me behind me and she was chewing Juicy Fruit gum. Agghhhhh! I felt my stomach grow queasy and lurch I felt so sick. Plus I was too warm and had egg on my sweater!!!

Okay, I'm done now. That was Sunday. The week has gone well. I've had lots of time to play the piano (well, not lots, but enough). My music lessons continue to go well.

We are getting estimates on having the sliding glass doors that lead from our kitchen onto the back deck replaced. They are so hot (the door faces west) that even now the temperature in the kitchen by about 4 in the afternoon can soar to 24 degrees. We were going to replace the doors last year, but didn't get on it quickly enough. We want to get the kind with the lowE coating and argon gas, which insulates against both heat and cold, but they're pricey! We're going to pay at least 3 grand for this door. Sheesh.

Last but not least, we have received two of the four boxed DVD sets we ordered: The First Churchills and Edward the King; we're still waiting for Elizabeth R. and The Six Wives of Henry VIII. We have started watching The First Churchills this week. It's very good so far! Frank Churchill and Sarah Jennings are excellent characters and the acting is superb. More updates forthcoming.