Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Don't judge a book...

Something happened in the library today that made the newest Unshelved Strip very relevant. A patron wanted Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow". The only copy we had was in the children's section. It was the full text, not an abridged version, but the patron refused to take it home. Because it was in the children's section and he was not a child. It's amazing how people's perception of something will change depending on what label you slap on it.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Okay, y'all know I've been bitching about work lately. Well, I've got a question for the blogosphere:

1) Are children's librarians usually considered to be part of management?

2) Do children's librarians usually manage their own staff?

If anyone has any experience to offer me, especially if you work in a smaller city (Ash? This might be one you could answer) that would be great. I'm trying to figure out if my job really sucks or not.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Work is driving me crazy. I came home today and felt like punching someone. I'm supposed to be doing eighteen different things and I have time for none of them. I do stuff all day, and I feel like nothing gets done. I have no budget, thanks to the previous librarian who kindly spent it all for me in June. I ask people to do stuff and it doesn't get done. I am understaffed, underpaid, and under stress.

I will not get any more specific than that, cuz really, bitching about work on your blog is not a good idea. But suffice to say, I'm not having the best time right now.

There. I'm done complaining. Maybe I'll have something more intelligent or enlightening to say later. Maybe. Some day.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

My Beef with Vegetarians

The other day I received a book about vegetarianism called "Why are people vegetarians?" for my children's non-fiction section. I did not order it, the previous librarian did, and it was so one-sided and full of crap that I really didn't want to put it on the shelves. But as I am a librarian who is whole-heartedly anti-censorship, I put it on the shelf. I am now searching for another book to offer an opposing viewpoint. The search does not go well. So, in the meantime, here are some of my opposing viewpoints.

Vegetarianism is kind of 'in' right now. It's the cool thing to do. But I am not, nor will I ever be, a vegetarian. But many people are, and they become vegetarians for various reasons, most of which, in my humble opinion, are completely illogical and silly.

Reason #1: Being a Vegetarian is more healthy

Okay, first of all, humans are omnivores. That means that we eat both animals and plants. We have biologically evolved in this way. Meat is not some foreign substance that we are invading our bodies with. We're supposed to eat it. When most people think of vegetarians, they think of lots of vegetables, fruits, and other good, healthy non-meat foods. But let's say all I ate was potato chips and pop-tarts. Am I a vegetarian? Yup. Am I healthy? Not so much. It is true that many vegetarian diets are healthier than the average western nation diet, but it is not because they don't eat meat. Rather it is because of what they do eat (fruits and veggies). They're just healthy in general. The key here, people, is balance. If you took someone who ate a healthy diet including all those fruits and vegetables AND meat, and compared them to someone who ate a healthy vegetarian diet, there would be little to no difference. In fact, I'm betting the meat-eater has a slightly better chance of being more healthy. As someone who perpetually struggles with an iron deficiency, I know where I'd be if I tried to be a vegetarian. Yes, you can get enough iron without meat, but it is way more difficult. So, in conclusion, a healthy diet is a healthy diet, whether you eat meat or not. Period.

Reason #2: I don't like the way meat tastes

This one I actually think is somewhat legitimate. It's a personal taste thing. You don't like it, you don't like it. I don't like coconut or green peppers. That doesn't mean that I'm weird, it's just the way I am. However, I would like to point out that beef, pork, chicken and fish are all very different in texture and flavour. I find it difficult to believe that someone doesn't like the taste of any of them. I think that at least some vegetarians who use this reason are really fooling themselves. It's not the taste that gets you, it's the fact that you associate the taste with killing poor innocent creatures and that is what turns your appetite off. That doesn't mean that it's impossible for someone to really and truly dislike the taste of all types of meat. But be honest about your reasons. Which brings me to my next point:

Reason #3: Killing Animals is Cruel

This also has some legitimacy in my opinion. Some. First of all, I would like to point out, perhaps unnecessarily, that killing animals is natural. Animals do it to each other all the time. Cats catch mice, wolves catch deer, bigger fish eat smaller fish. And people are animals. We have our place in the food chain too. If people stopped eating animals, I would argue that there would be some serious ecological consequences. Populations of animals depend on the food chain to keep them in balance. If you eliminate a predator, then the population of the prey explodes. The fact that humans have taken over the territory and therefore severely reduced the population of many natural large predators does not help. So what's more cruel: letting some hunters make deer sausage out of a few does, or watching them slowly starve to death over winter? Also, if humans stopped eating animals, we would be condemning many billions of domesticated creatures to death and possible extinction. There is one reason to keep these animals around: lunch. Otherwise there is no economical reason to keep them. Now, you might keep some cows around for milk (but vegans won't do the dairy thing), chickens for eggs (except some vegetarians won't eat them either), and sheep for wool, but your populations will be severly reduced. We could release them into the wild. But most of these animals are so domesticated that they couldn't survive in the wild. These animals depend on us. I would also like to ask the question of just where we draw the line between what we will kill, and what we won't kill. So, plants are okay. And we don't have problems killing viruses and bacteria. Other single-celled organisms? Well, we can't see them. How about a worm? Or a bug? When's the last time you swatted a mosquitoe? Set any mousetraps lately? Oh, but those are pests, right? Well, an out-of-control rabbit population could be considered pests too. Wouldn't it be better to chow down on some rabbit stew rather than just poison them all and burn the carcasses? But rabbits are cute and furry you say?

Well, I agree. It's difficult to want to kill and eat something like a bunny or a deer. Or even a cow (although anyone who says cows are cute, I say you have NEVER actually had to deal with one). I don't think this is a logical response, but it is an emotional one. I admit the thought of someone killing, skinning and eating my Avery cat is absolutely horrifying to me. And let's be honest, in some cultures that happens. And despite what I said before about humans being animals and it being natural for animals to kill other animals, humans are also not JUST animals. We have a gift called critical thinking. We can think about our actions and choose to do or not do something. We are not a slave to our instincts. And we can therefore choose not to kill and eat animals. I think it is a purely emotional response, and not based on any logical reasoning, and as I said before, if everyone chose this route, I think we would be in trouble, but if you can't bear the thought of a fuzzy creature dying for your dinner, then I respect your decision. And lucky for you, we live in a society where food is plentiful enough that you can actually choose what you eat. Good luck with that when western society comes crashing down around your ears and you're back to hunting and gathering off the land.

There are also those who state the additional reason that many domesticated animals, like cows, are kept in very bad conditions. Dark, dirty, over-crowded feedlots where they can't even turn around and they suffer horribly, etc. I don't know how legitimate these claims are, I've never been to a feedlot, though I suspect they are not even close to as bad as rabid animal rights activists would have us believe. But, I do agree that animals shouldn't be kept in those conditions, if those conditions exist. However, there are alternatives other than swearing off meat completely. There is such a thing as free-range beef. These cows are raised on pasture in wide open spaces. Not kept in a barn and fed grain. So if you would like to eat "happy" meat, then you will simply have to search a little harder for it. It does exist. Money makes the world go round. If there are people willing to buy it, then more will become available.

Reason #4: Vegetarianism is better for the environment

This is by far the stupidest reason I have heard yet. Proponents of this argument cite the fact that animals such as cows, sheep and goats are major producers of methane gas, a contributor to the greenhouse effect and global warming. Yes, this is true. Do you know what else produces a ton of methane? Wetlands, swamps and bogs. Do you hear environmentalists running around saying "Drain the swamps!"? No. Because wetlands are a natural contributor to global warming (i.e. not man-made) and getting rid of them would cause much more harm to the environment than it would save. How about we focus on UN-natural producers of methane like petroleum drilling, coal mining, and landfills, hmmmm? But, you might argue, cows are kept by humans for food, and are therefore man-made, not natural. However, let us not forget that these cows were in fact at one point wild and roaming free over the earth. And cows produce methane no matter if they're in the wild or in a barn. There are an estimated 1.3 billion cows in the world right now. However, back in the day before Europeans arrived in the Americas, there was another methane-producing animal roaming at will over the plains of North America: the bison. There was an estimated 50 million of them. Now there are only about 200,000 left. So, before the interferance of humans, the earth supported a large number of methane-producing grazing animals. Was the world-wide total 1.3 billion? Probably not that high, but still. Cows were on earth producing methane long before humans got organized enough to domesticate them.

Another environmental argument that people use is that cows use up land that could otherwise grow food to feed all the starving people in the world. There are several things wrong with this statement. First of all, there is no global food shortage. That's right people. We could feed the world right now. It's not a production problem, it's a distribution problem. Western nations have too much (we're all getting fat) and developing nations don't have enough. Secondly, most of the land that cattle graze on, i.e. natural grass and pasture land, is unsuitable for other agricultural production. It's rugged and dry and if you tried to cultivate it, you would ruin it. Also, natural grassland evolved with grazers, and it needs animals grazing on it to keep it healthy.

So, in conclusion, unless you are absolutely psychologically unable to reconcile yourself to killing an animal, or you really don't like the taste of any meat, then you have no excuse for being a vegetarian. Get a Life, Eat a Steak. Take that you stupid book.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Perks of being a Children's Librarian...

One of my most favourite, favourite things about being a librarian is that I am surrounded by books all day. Good books. Especially Teen Lit, which I really, really love. So I've been reading up a storm.

The Raintree Rebellion - Janet McNaughton

This is the sequel to The Secret Under My Skin which those of you who were in Anna's Children's Lit class will be familiar with as the book everybody (except me) hated. I mentioned The Raintree Rebellion a few months ago and said, rather defiantly, that I was going to read it, and I was going to like it, so there. Well, I'm not done the book yet, so I hate to pass premature judgement, but I gotta say, I don't think it's a good book. The premise is good; a dystopic, technophobic future set in Canada. But McNaughton just doesn't pull it off. Let's compare it to reading something like Philip Pullman's Golden Compass Trilogy. Reading The Golden Compass is like eating expensive chocolate truffles. Like the small, solid, round truffle, the plot is tight, compact; everything has a purpose and works toward enhancing the story. Yet every single tiny molecule of the truffle is bursting with sweet, chocolatey flavour, and you want to savour every single morsel. In contrast, The Raintree Rebellion is kind of like eating overdone steak. The cook has done a very good job coating the outside with a tasty barbecue sauce, so it's not completely unpalatable, but man oh man do you ever have to chew a lot to get it down.

Despite the fact that I did enjoy reading The Secret Under My Skin and subsequently defended it in class, I never denied that there were flaws; these same flaws continue to exist in Rebellion - only this time around I can't be as forgiving.

First of all, the world in the 24th century, as described by McNaughton, is kind of mixed up. They are technophobic, and yet they have inexplicably integrated various frivolous technologies into their lives such as walls that can change colour, and a ceiling that mimics the sky outside (total Harry Potter rip-off BTW). They all keep saying that it's such a mystery what happened during the technocaust, but Blay is only 18. She was two when it happened. That's only 16 years. We're not talking 50 or 100 years. There should be many, many people around who remember what happened. You also find out in the sequel that the Technocaust only happened in North America. So they ask places like Australia and South Africa to send them news reports to help them piece together what happened. Huh? The whole reason the Technocaust happened is because the world was an ecological disaster and people blamed technology for making it that way. The Ozone layer affects the entire earth people, so how come good old Australia managed to hang onto democracy and didn't descend into chaos? The first book was like this too; it was like she would be writing along and then all of a sudden remember, oh yeah, this is the future, let's throw in a bit of inexplicable, useless technology. Oh yeah, this is supposed to be a dystopic future, let's throw in some sort of description of the degredation of society. It's patchy at best, and I don't think the book hangs together very well. We're left with too many Whys?

She also has a tendency to overexplain some things. And I think she is perhaps trying to make up for the fact that parts of it are indeed hard to understand, but she explains the wrong things to you. Finally, I have a little bit of a problem with characterization in this one. And this is maybe why I forgave the first one its flaws, but couldn't forgive this one: I liked Blay as a character, but in this book she's angry all of a sudden, and I was like, "Huh?" Blay was just not the type of person to get or stay angry at someone.

Anyway, all in all, I think we can say skip this one. It's not worth it.

I have however, done some really good reading too.

Ella Enchanted - Gail Carson Levine.

I'd never seen the movie or read the book, so when I came across it on the shelf, I just had to have a go. And coincidently, the day after I finished reading it, the movie was on TBS, so I got to do both. And the book isn't as goofy as the movie. The movie makes fun of itself quite a bit, there is a lot of parody, etc. The book takes itself more seriously, but it is equally good, if not better, in its own way. It is a re-telling of the Cinderella story, complete with evil stepmother and stepsisters, a handsome prince, glass slippers, and a masked ball, and a couple of fairy godmothers, but the funny thing is that I didn't realize this until near the end when it became painfully obvious, so it really is quite a different story than the original Cinderella. I really recommend this, even if you have already seen the movie.

Dairy Queen - Catherine Gilbert Murdock

This was so good. It is set on a dairy farm in Wisconsin and it is about a girl who, over the course of the summer, ends up training the rival school's snobby football quarterback. She ends up liking the football quarterback guy, and has so much fun training, that she decides she wants to go out for her own school's (all-male) football team. Will the quarterback like her back? Will her school let her play? And if they do, how can she play against the guy that she likes? I'm not going to answer these questions because you should read the book. I just thought that the whole setting - small, rural community; rival towns; schools that are absolutely obsessed with football - oh yeah. I lived it. And every once in awhile, it's good to go back.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


This fun meme is from Ash.

Look at the list of books below. Bold the ones you've read, italicize the ones you might read, cross out the ones you won't, underline the ones on your book shelf, and place parentheses around the ones you've never even heard of.

The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown

The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger: Maybe, someday.

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy - Douglas Adams: I've heard good things about this one.

The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald

To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee: The movie's good too.

The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger: I'm not sure if I should bold this one or not, because I've only read half. But the half I read was really good and I would've finished had my sister not stolen it back from me. I will finish one day.

His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling

Life of Pi - Yann Martel: Um, not sure what I should do with this one. I've skimmed it and read the beginning and ending. Which I know doesn't do it justice. But now that I've read the ending, I probably won't read it all.

Animal Farm: A Fairy Story - George Orwell

Catch-22 - Joseph Heller

The Hobbit - J.R. R. Tolkien

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon: I've read the first chapter of this, and it sounded really good. I will finish it sometime.

Lord of the Flies - William Golding

1984 - George Orwell

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling

One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Heard of it. Sounds boring.

Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

(The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini)

The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold: Mom said it was good.

Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut

Angels and Demons - Dan Brown

Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk Never seen the movie, no desire to read the book.

(Neuromancer - William Gibson)

(Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson)

(The Secret History - Donna Tartt)

A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess: Weird abstract books give me headaches.

Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - C. S. Lewis

(Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides)

(Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell)

The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien

Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

Good Omens - Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman: They are good authors and I've read other books by them, so I will have to check this one out sometime.

(Atonement - Ian McEwan)

(The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zagon)

The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

Dune - Frank Herbert

So there you have it. I've read a lot of them, but I must confess that several of them were forced on me by University Professors, and while I am glad that I have read them and think that they have enriched my mind, I probably would have never picked them up on my own.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

My Life, or a reasonable facsimile thereof...

Well, where do I start?

My beast is dead. He is in the shop again, and I am very upset. It is really hard to get around in a small prairie city when you have no transportation. It takes me 40 minutes to walk to work. The bus system here is a joke. And not a very funny one at that. It is the same thing that was wrong the last time. And this time it is not my fault, just a faulty part. But unfortunately, I chose to go the cheap route last time and got a used part, which means NO WARRANTY. So now I have to get another one, and it will cost me just as much money (if not more, since I will probably get a brand new part having learned my lesson about used parts).

I am crazy-busy at work. I just had my first story time today, and it went fine, except I forgot the last two lines to a song, and so I just made something up, and it didn't rhyme, and it didn't even have the correct number of syllables, but give me a break, people. I'm just barely clinging to sanity here.

I also had my first go at weeding the children's fiction collection. The whole children's section needs weeding badly. So I'm getting pages to pull books that haven't circulated in the last four years. Then I go through them. I have discovered that I am perhaps not a very good weeder. Books gain my sympathy way too easily. I'm only too willing to give them a second chance. I'm always thinking, "but you are a good book! Why has no one ever tried you out?? You poor thing. Let me take you home and we'll have a good cuddle in front of the fire with a cup of hot chocolate." It's hard to remember that they are all good books. That's why they were purchased in the first place. But some of them have to go. In the end, my discard pile was at least twice as high as the pile that was going back on the shelf. So that's something. I dunno. Do you think I'm being ruthless enough? It is so hard to condemn a book that is only six years old, is attractive, and interesting, but for some reason has never circulated. Not once. I think we need a foster books program. To give unwanted and unloved books a home. All they need is a chance to prove themselves, and you will find out what good books they can be.

Yes, I know, another post and no France. I promise, I will write about my trip to Europe, in exhaustive detail. If it takes me until Christmas, I shall prevail. But until then, think of me, wish me luck, and consider becoming a foster book parent.

Monday, August 28, 2006

I love Paris...

So, on to more about Paris. First I'd like to talk a little bit about where K and I stayed, because we really got lucky in that regard I think. You see, K and I did not make any plans about where we were going to stay, so we were kind of flying by the seat of our pants you might say. But K got there a few days ahead of me along with a few other friends who had been in Ethiopia with her, and one of them knew of a cheap hotel called L'hôtel de l'Espérance. So that's where they stayed, and also where we stayed for the first couple of days. And I think it is in a really good place. It's just off Rue Daguerre, which is a small street off of Avenue Du Général Leclerc in the south part of the city. Avenue Du Général Leclerc is a fairly busy street with lots of shops, including an Internet café and a French-language movie theatre. Rue Daguerre is a little side street with lots of small shops and cafés, including a laundromat. And it also has a market every day with tons of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, bread and cheese. Plus, it is super close to a major metro stop: Denfert-Rochereau. In short, it is a fabulous location to explore the city from. We later moved to another hotel which was a few blocks further down Rue Daguerre. This was Hotel Télémaque, and it was pretty nice. It was only few more Euros than Hôtel de L'Espérance (about 54 Euros a night for a double bed and en suite shower and toilet), but it was cleaner and nicer, it was never full (probably because it was a bit more off the beaten path). Plus breakfast was included (nothing fancy, just a baguette with some butter and jam and your choice of hot chocolate or coffee, but still!). So, moral of the story, if you ever go to Paris, and you are looking for a cheap but decent place to stay, I highly recommend that hotel and that location.

Okay, on to our Paris trip. One of the first places we went to was Jardin du Luxembourg. It used to be some royal residence, but now the Palais du Luxembourg is the seat of the French senate, and the gardens are open to the public as a park. This beautiful and large public park was just north not too far from where we stayed. K and I walked there and had lunch a few times. It's got some beautiful fountains, and rows and rows of trees clipped into squares. It's tricky though, because some of the grass you can sit on, and some of the grass is forbidden as K found out (she was kicked off several lawns).

Jardin du Luxembourg
Jardin du Luxembourg
Fountaine de l'Observatoire in Jardin du Luxembourg
K liked these turtle fountains

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Today we're taking a break from France to answer a meme posted by Ash.

1. FIRST NAME? Violette

2. ARE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? Actually, my real name is after someone, a character in a book, but if I told you which book, it would give away my real name. And then I'd have to kill you.

3. WHEN DID YOU LAST CRY? I honestly don't remember. Not to give you the impression that I never cry. I do, and I'm sure I have sometime in the past month, but I don't remember when or why.

4. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? Yes, it's very loopy and neat and I get compliments on it all the time. But I worked hard to get it like that. When I was in elementary school, all the other girls had neat handwriting, and I was all jealous because mine was only marginally more legible than some of the boys.

5. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT? Pastrami, black forest ham... lunch meat is good in general if it's on a sandwich with mayo, lettuce, tomatoe and cheese.

6. KIDS? Two cats.

7. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? I totally would. Then I'd have someone to play supernintendo with.

8. DO YOU HAVE A JOURNAL? Off and on since I was a kid. Right now my journal is my blog.

9. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? Yes, I sometimes have quite the caustic wit.


11. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? I don't know. Maybe, if I had someone with me who tried really hard to convince me. I'd probably like it once I did it.

12. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Right now it's Oatmeal Crisp the three berry flavour.


14. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? Physically not so much, mentally I like to think so.

15. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? I love ice cream in general. I don't know if I have a favourite, though I tend to gravitate towards caramel and butterscoth flavours.

16. SHOE SIZE? 9

17. RED OR PINK? Red.

18. WHAT IS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? I have an annoying habit of not finishing what I start.

19. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? Friends who don't live near me anymore.


21. WHAT COLOR OF PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING RIGHT NOW? Jean shorts, no shoes, just very dirty feet (from jumping on the trampoline).

22. WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE WRITER/BOOK/MOVIE (at the moment, anyway)? Okay, I definitely stress AT THE MOMENT: Writer: Libba Bray; Book: Rebel Angels; Movie: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. (I too like Holly Black, and Valiant is on my list of books to read, so maybe fav writer/book will change again soon. I loved Tithe. Such a gritty, urban faerie tale.)

23, WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? The sound of the wind sighing through the trees outside my window.


25. WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE SMELLS? Books, baking, rain


27. THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE YOU ARE ATTRACTED TO? I'm not sure. Some combination of looks and personality. I don't think it's any one thing.

28. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? Yes, Ash is a lovely person.

29. FAVORITE DRINK? Chocolate Milk or Iced Tea.

30. FAVORITE SPORT? I'm not really a sport person, but I'd have to pick the only sport that I have ever enjoyed playing and been good at: Inner Tube Water Polo.

31. HAIR COLOR? Brown.

32. EYE COLOR? Blue.

33. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? Yes. But I'm annoyed with both my glasses and contact lenses right now and am saving up for eye surgery.

34. FAVORITE FOOD? Normally I would say pizza, but I'm kind of sick of it right now. I think maybe zucchini pie.

35. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDING? Happy endings. Scary movies always seem like a good idea at the time, but the aftermath (i.e. me not being able to sleep with the lights off for a week) is just too costly.

36. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. (I saw it twice: once in London and once back home in Saskatchewan. Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom in the same movie? That never gets old.)

37. COLOR OF SHIRT YOU ARE WEARING? Blue and white stripes

38. WINTER OR SUMMER? They both have their merits. Over all though, I think I prefer Summer. I hate driving in the winter.

39. HUGS OR KISSES? Hugs, but it does depend on who's giving them out.

40. FAVORITE DESSERT? Ooh. Sex in a pan is good. I also like cheesecake.

41. WHO IS MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND? Don't know, don't care.


43. WHAT BOOKS ARE YOU READING? Rebel Angels, by Libba Bray. It's really good YA lit for girls, about magic and set in Victorian England. Rebel Angels is the sequel, the first is called A Great and Terrible Beauty. They're good, and I just found out that they're supposed to be made into a movie. Is it just me or is there a lot of teen/children's fiction being made into movies? How to Eat Fried Worms is coming out like, this week or something. Come on people, let them read the books! They're always so much better anyway.

44. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? I don't have one.

45. FAVORITE SOUNDS? Wind in the trees, my cat talking to me.

46. WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON TV LAST NIGHT? I didn't watch TV last night.

47. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES? Beatles. I have never gotten the big deal about the Stones.

48. THE FURTHEST YOU'VE BEEN FROM HOME? Ummmm. I think that would be New Zealand.

49. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? I have many special talents.

50. WHEN AND WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Swift Current, Saskatchewan, 1980.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Welcome to Paris

So Monday, June 5th, I arrived in France. I had told K that I would meet her at the hotel by 11 am that morning, but (as I have already said) my plane was late. Then it took forever (despite the extremely lax customs and immigration) to find my way out of the airport to the subway. Once there, I got on the wrong train, (not wrong exactly, went in the right direction, but did not go all the way to the stop I wanted) so I had to switch trains. Then I went one stop too far for the hotel and had to walk several extra blocks. With all my baggage. So needless to say, when I finally got to the hotel I just basically collapsed. The only significant thing that I got accomplished that day was a shower. Although K did manage to get me up to go for a little walk around that evening. Which actually turned into quite a big walk. We walked across the Seine to the Louvre and then back across again to the Eiffel Tower. My feet were complaining when we got back to the hotel around midnight (something which I was to get used to in the days ahead).

The Seine
The Seine River (I don't know the people in the photo, they were just some random people who happened to get in my shot)

Paris at Night
K on the Paris streets at night. We stopped for an ice cream sundae at a little café near here. You can see the Eiffel Tower in the background.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Where have you been?

Well, here is just a short post for those of you who have been waiting in agony for me to write something, anything, about my trip to Europe... I have once again been a bad little blogger. What can I say? I'm naturally lazy. I think I was a sloth in my previous life. And I'm afraid you will have to wait longer. Because I have NEWS.

I am now the new children's librarian at the library (the library that is in the place where I was working before, and therefore am still working). So. I just started the job this week. And I have discovered that children's librarians are very busy. It is difficult to find time to actually get any work done in between mopping up ferret feces, bandaging nasty skipping rope wounds, and rescuing endangered leopard frogs from deranged six year olds.

So, I think I will like the job (aside from the incidences mentioned above, but these things just come with the territory). I am not sure if this is what I want forever, but I think it is a very good thing for now. Just enough responsibility to make me feel terrified, but not enough to actually cause an anxiety attack.

I'll keep you posted on how it goes. SH (who was temporarily filling in for the children's librarian) has informed me that the other women who work at the library can be very clannish and difficult, especially the ones who've been there for 15 years or more. That they'd rather see you fall on your face than help you out. She said that my predecessor, who was children's librarian for 4 years, said that she went home crying every night for the first month she worked here. So that is concerning, but I have to say I am not all that surprised. I noticed that sort of atmosphere in my practicum in Edmonton. And someone suggested to me that it is just what happens when you have a group of women working together (there is only one guy on the library staff). So what do you think? When women work together, do we naturally all become bitchy? Why? What does that say about women and/or society?

Anyway, just something to ponder. À la prochaine mes amis!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I'm Baa-aack

That's right folks. I'm back in the country. Which is a feat more amazing than it sounds (more on this later). The trip was good, but exhausting. I think next time I do a trip like this one, I will make it shorter. The six weeks were great, but when you are always moving around, trying to book plane or bus tickets to the next city, trying to set up accomodation, etc. it gets to you after awhile. Not to mention the fact that by the time we got to London in week six, K and I kind of had an attitude like, "Oh, another church/castle/monument. Big whoop." We couldn't work up a lot of enthusiasm.

I will, hopefully, over the next few weeks be telling our story and showing some pictures. The pictures will be somewhat hit and miss because K lost her camera. We were at the Royal Show (an agricultural show in England, probably the biggest one there is) and her camera disappeared. It is quite likely that K set it down somewhere to taste something or try something on and then just forgot it. Or it could have been stolen. Either way, it's gone. So anyway, that's too bad, but we also had my camera so it wasn't a complete tragedy.

Now I would like to share with you the frustrating journey I had trying to get back to Canada (Beware this is a long story and will probably make you not want to fly):

First of all, K and I did not fly back together. She went on a trip to Ethiopia with one of her ag classes, and then just met me in Paris on her way back. Because her flight was being paid for by the university, she had to come back the way she went, so she had to fly back to Paris, and then fly from there to Canada. I did not have that problem, so I flew out of Heathrow. Now, I'm sure my travel agent knew what she was doing, but when I got to Heathrow I couldn't help noticing that there was an Air Canada flight direct from Heathrow to Calgary flying the same morning. I was not booked on that flight. Instead, I was booked to go from London to LA and then from LA to Calgary. A much longer flight with the added annoyance of having to go through US customs. But as I said, I'm sure there's a very good reason I was not on that flight.

So, I got on the plane at Heathrow, which unfortunately took off almost an hour late. This was a little bit upsetting for me, because my connection in LA was fairly tight (only about 2.5 hours between flights, now reduced to 1.5 hours) and we had to collect our bags and go through US customs in LA. I was flying United Airlines, and I can't say for sure that it was the airline's fault, but I flew them on the way to Paris as well and every single one of my flights took off an hour late. On the way there I had lots of time to make my connection in Chicago, so I didn't really care, but that is still a bad record. You'd think ONE flight could take off on time.

Anyway, I got to LA, and made it through customs all right, and there was still an hour before my plane was to take off. But I still had to re-check my baggage. It was tagged all the way through to Calgary, so I just had to place it on the baggage re-check conveyor belt. Except that no one was there and the belt was not running, and everyone's baggage was just sitting around, and I thought "Are my bags going to make it to the plane in time?" I was in terminal 6, and my plane took off from terminal 2. I considered hauling my bags to the correct terminal and checking them in there anyway, but just then an airport employee came up to me and said, "If you're making a connection just leave your bags there. They will transfer them to your plane." Okay lady, you obviously know what you're talking about, you work here, and the inner workings of airports are mysterious to me.

So I leave my bags, walk to terminal two, and get to my gate with time to spare. Yay! So we all get on the plane, the plane takes off and I am happy. Last flight. Then, about twenty minutes into the flight, the flight attendent announces that there is something wrong with the plane and we are going to turn around and go back to LA. NNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

I have been to LAX many times, and it is like an old friend, but I was nonetheless extremely unhappy to hear that I would be seeing it again so soon. And before y'all freak out, the flight attendant added that we were going back because the windscreen had cracked, and while it did not pose an immediate safety problem, we couldn't fly all the way to Calgary with it like that. So back we went. Our flight was cancelled, and there were no more flights to Calgary that night. So they said that they would put us up in the Holiday Inn for the night. I got re-booked on a flight that left at 7:20 the next morning. So inconvenient, but not horrible. And, by the way, you can collect your baggage at Carrousel 2.

My bags were not there. I went back upstairs to the ticket counter. They said to go back downstairs to the baggage office. I went there. She asked if I'd been upstairs to the ticket counter (yes and they told me to come down here you twit!) No one seemed overly sympathetic or very eager to help. She said she'd check to see if they had my bags. They did not. She said that United had obviously not transferred them to this terminal yet. They were still somewhere in terminal 6. At this point I cursed the airport employee who had told me to leave my bags there. I KNEW I should've taken them with me. So they never made it onto my plane, indeed never even made it to the correct terminal, and if I had made it to Calgary, it would have been sans baggage. Well, if they were still in terminal 6, could she contact United there and see if they had them. "No, they won't know where they are."

So my bags are somewhere in LA airport. I know because I saw them. But no one else knows where they are. They are in some sort of limbo, neither here nor there. As I have said, the inner workings of airports are mysterious to me. But after this, every time I get off a flight and my baggage has actually made it with me, I will consider it a miracle. So, the lady at the baggage office thought that they would probably turn up in time for my flight tomorrow, and they would read the tags and realize that flight was cancelled and send them on the first flight to Calgary, which would be my flight. But there was nothing else I could do. I just had to get on my flight and HOPE that my bags showed up. So off I went to my lovely room at the Holiday Inn, sans jammies and toothbrush.

This story does have a happy ending though. I arrived in Calgary at 11:15 am the next morning (on time even!) and yes, my bags did show up. I really didn't expect them to at that point, so it was a nice surprise. And they both had RUSH! tags attached to them. So I'm glad that someone actually made an effort to get my bags to me as quickly as possible. But needless to say, I'm a bit sick of flying right now. I think I'll stay on the ground for a while.

And now I will leave you with a few observations about the French:

1) French customs is a joke. Maybe I am just used to the US (although the customs in the UK gave me quite a working over as well!) but I was shocked. We got to Paris, I handed the guy my passport and that little card they always make you fill out. And he stamped my passport and gave it back to me. He didn't say one word. He didn't even ask me how long I was staying. And K, who was coming from Ethiopia, got the same treatement. Stamp, boom, you're in. We don't care how long you're here or why you're here or anything. I think customs can be kind of over the top sometimes, but that was ridiculously lax.

2) The French like pink toilet paper. It was everywhere. And that's never made sense to me. It's toilet paper people. You wipe you ass and flush it down the toilet. Who cares what colour it is?

3) The stop signs in France say "Stop". Not "Arrêt". "Stop". I thought this was really weird since here in Canada the French are so protective of their language, and they would throw a fit if one of their stop signs said "STOP" instead of "Arrêt". But I guess in France they're a little bit more secure and so don't mind if their stop signs are in English.

4) The French are breeding an army that, in 18 years when they reach maturity, will take over the world. That's right people. We'll all be eating cheese and croissants and drinking wine. At least that is the conclusion K and I came to after being in Paris. There are pregnant women everywhere. We didn't keep count, but they were everywhere you looked. And when we were in London, which is a bigger city, we didn't see any. So it's just the French. Any other theories on why this might be?

Anyway, I'm glad to be back. I think I just go away so I can come back and appreciate Canada more than ever.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

X-Men: The Last Stand

I did not like this movie. Or, rather, I thought it was only okay.

Now to get down to the nitty gritty. I am about to give away details of the movie which may spoil your enjoyment of it, so I suggest you not read any farther if you have yet to see the movie.

1) Rogue. She was hardly in it. Rogue is and always has been my favourite X-man. And she wasn't even in the final battle scene! Why not? Because she was standing in line to get "cured".

2) They "cured" Magneto. That was how they stopped him. But the whole point of the movie, and why Magneto was mad, is that most mutants don't think that there is anything wrong with them. They don't need to be "cured". Now, you might say that they should at least make the cure available for people like Rogue, whose mutation is not extremely useful and in fact, only causes her pain. She can't touch anyone without sucking the life force out of them. So for her, the cure is probably a good thing. However, what made the mutants mad, is that the government was using the cure as a weapon. Not against all mutants mind you, but just outlaw mutants (like Magneto and his gang). But I don't think that is an acceptable use of it. Find other ways to contain criminal mutants, but using the cure on them as a weapon is a horrible violation of human rights. It's changing their fundamental nature, changing who they are. That would be like changing someone's eye colour, or hair colour, or something, permanently, just because they're a criminal. And I don't think you have a right to do that. And the X-Men didn't think using the cure as a weapon was good either. Beast resigned over it. BUT then they go and use the cure on Magneto. That, in my opinion, was the lowest thing they could've done. I couldn't believe it. I thought that would have been beneath the X-Men. They're supposed to be noble, you know? Not "the ends justify the means" kind of people.

3) In general I found the movie kind of lacked focus. For a movie that ended up claiming the lives of three X-Men, I thought it lacked a bit of punch.

Now, it wasn't a total loss. I liked a few things about it. For example, I thought the scene where Mystique got shot with a dart and got cured was very powerful. And then Magneto just abandoned her, despite how loyal she was to him.

I also like the part where Kitty is on her own trying to save the young boy mutant from Juggernaut. She can dash through walls and sink through floors and stuff. And despite the fact that she looks about twelve, I thought she did very well.

I also liked the scene where Wolverine told Jean he loved her and then knifed her in the stomach with his claws. That was a gooder. Although that was another thing that I thought was a bit fuzzy in the movie: the whole Jean Grey/Phoenix alternate personality stuff. I know that people who read the comics probably have a good grip on the concept, but I've never read the comics and so found it a bit hard to understand.

I also like the very last scene: Magneto, now just regular human, a very broken-looking, sad old man, is playing chess in the park. With a metal chess set. He is looking intently at the board, and stretches out a finger toward a piece. And the piece moves, very slightly. And then that's the end of the film. Oooohh. Looks like the cure isn't as permanent as they thought.

Anyway, go and see it, but don't expect to be blown away. I personally liked the second one much better. I think it's been the best out of the three.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Here is a picture of my darling furballs. Aren't they sweet? In this photo they have both stuffed themselves into the kitty bed, which was really only made for one kitty.

Avery and George

Sadly Sick

I am once again not feeling so good. Some sort of virus. I have been at home in bed for the past two days, and even now it feels like there are daggers in my throat every time I swallow. I have, for some reason, had a bad run this year. But I was due. I hadn't been really sick in a long time. It is bad timing too. I am trying to finish up as much work as I can at my job before I have to go, as well as plan a six week trip to Europe. I needed those two days. Oh well.

I finished another book on the weekend: Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception. This is the most recent installment in the Artemis Fowl series. I don't know if Eoin Colfer is done with it or not, but I have to say that I found this last one only lukewarm.

It seemed to me that Opal, the deranged evil genius pixie, was defeated a little too easily. The trick that finally got her was clever (I didn't see it coming in any case), but it just seemed to be over way too fast. Also, I kind of feel like Colfer has chickened out a bit on Artemis Fowl. As you will know from previous posts, Artemis was originally written as a 14-year-old evil genius in his own right, only relunctantly cooperating with the faeries when it served his own purposes. He was gradually warming up to them and beginning to trust them, but in this last one, I think Artemis totally lost his edge. He actually turned kind of harmless and has become a bit sentimental about the faerie folk. At the end of the novel he decides to reconcile his evil genius with his new-found conscience by becoming a sort of modern day Robin Hood: Stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. Bleccchh. I wasn't sure how I felt about the anti-hero, but now that he's been lost, I must admit that I would like him back. So, only 3 purple horsies out of 5 for this last one. Come on Mr. Colfer, I know you can do better than that.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Bartimaeus Trilogy: Highly Recommended

Warning: Spoiler Alert!
Please don't read any further if you have not read the trilogy, if you are planning on reading the trilogy, and if you'd actually like to enjoy the trilogy.

I've just finished the last in the series, Ptolemy's Gate.

I cried.

It was really good.

I think this series actually got better as it went along. This last one had a bit of a different tone to it than the other ones. Bartimaeus was less sarcastic, and the deeper side to his character was revealed. I was complaining in my previous post about what a little twerp Nathaniel was, but he actually pulled it out at the last and thoroughly redeemed himself. That is what is perhaps most amazing about this book. At the beginning, the three main characters hate eachother. But by the end, Kitty and Nathaniel are basically in love, and Bartimaeus has formed a special bond with both of the humans. I just didn't see how they were going to work it out before the end, but they did, and their characters seemed to evolve quite naturally.

The ending impressed me. Stroud could have made it into a happy ending. And I think Stroud has enough talent that he could've made a happy ending that didn't seem unnatural or forced. But he didn't. Like I said, I cried at the end. Sure, order is restored in the world, but the three characters, who had grown to love eachother, are parted forever. I mean, Stroud wasn't kidding when he said it was a trilogy. I honestly don't see how he can continue on with the series. You can't come back from the dead. Well, you can, but I've always thought that was a rather tacky way of continuing a series. In any case, although I felt the ending to the series was appropriate, I'm sad that there won't be more. I was really enjoying the world, and I felt like I was just barely brushing the surface. There is a lot of potential in that world, a lot of questions that were never fully explored.

In any case, I really enjoyed the series and I'm sad to come back to my own world where beings such as Bartimaeus only exist in books.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Anti-Hero

I have lately read a couple of books with interesting protagonists. They're interesting because you really don't like them.

Take the Artemis Fowl series: it's really a strange sort of series because the protagonist, Artemis, is a criminal. Now, I know that just because someone is a criminal, that doesn't make him a bad character. Vigilantes like Batman and Robin Hood abound in literature. Sure, technically they're on the wrong side of the law, but we know that they have good hearts and are totally honourable.

But Artemis has absolutely no scruples. He is extremely clever and devious, you have to admire that, but he is also extremely unlikable. I'm not used to reading books like this, and it felt weird. I sort of wanted him to win, but sort of didn't.

I have also just finished reading the second book in the Bartimaeus series. The protagonist in that series is Nathaniel. Nathaniel is an extremely talented young magician, but he is so self-centred and egotistical that you just want to smack him silly. His continual grasping for power (no matter what the cost to others) is absolutely disgusting. And it gets worse in the second book. In the first one he actually had some redeeming moments. So I'm eager to read the third one because at this point I don't know if the author can redeem Nathaniel or not. Maybe he'll just toss him over a cliff in the end.

So I'm not sure how I feel about the anti-hero. But it's a different reading experience anyway.

Désastre! Part Deux

So I phoned a branch today. I had sent out a form for branches to fill in and this branch had failed to send her form in, and I wanted to know why. She said she hadn't realized she was supposed to fill it in and didn't know where it was. I was like, "Jesus Christ, don't you ever read your e-mail?!" I had just e-mailed them all about it last week and told them where it was and that I needed it to be filled in.

But I was quite polite about it, and after I hung up, I decided to check and make sure that I had actually sent the e-mail.



I had sent the e-mail. To every single branch but hers. Not only that, but every single time that I sent out a group e-mail to the branches for the entire 7.5 months I've been here, I have not sent it to her branch.

Why? Because way back, when I first started, I created an e-mail group called "branches" that I could just click when I wanted to e-mail everybody, instead of having to enter in twenty e-mail addresses one at a time. And for some reason, her e-mail did not get included.

Oops is an understatement.

No Freaking Wonder she always seems out of the loop.


In other news, Janet McNaughton has written a sequel to her science fiction novel The Secret Under My Skin called The Raintree Rebellion. This is for all my dear readers who took Anna's Children's Lit class and absolutely HATED The Secret Under My Skin. Well, I actually liked it, and I think I'll check out the sequel. It looks even more interesting than the first one. And that was my biggest complaint about the end of the first one: It was kind of a let down, and felt a bit incomplete. I didn't know there was a sequel coming!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Another piece of my childhood...

Does the name Jonathan Brandis sound familiar to anyone?

I just recently bought The Neverending Story II. I was 9 when it came out in theatres, and I remembered that I liked it. So I bought it kind of for nostalgia's sake. It is not as good as some of those other fabulous films of my childhood such as Willow or Labyrinth (my sister, my cousin and I were obsessed with the latter... except we always thought that David Bowie's pants were too tight).

Still, The Neverending Story II was pretty good, probably made better because every once in awhile I would see something and remember how it felt to see it as a nine-year-old. And I remembered the actor most of all. I was curious as to who it was, so I checked out the credits: Jonathan Brandis.

Hmmmmm. That name totally sounded familiar. So I checked him out online. Ah, yes. The Jonathan Brandis of Seaquest DSV fame, with those blue, blue eyes... blue enough to rival Jared Leto. I was thirteen when Seaquest debuted, and although I never watched it, I did buy all those Teen Magazines that gushed about all the cute stars of the day. So that's how I know Jonathan Brandis. His face was plastered all over the covers of the magazines I was reading. So whatever happened to our blue-eyed boy?

He's dead. Killed himself in 2003. 27 years old.

This may not come as a shock to anybody. Maybe I'm the only person in the whole world who did not know that Jonathan Brandis was dead. (Maybe I'm the only one who cares?) But it totally shocked me. And I feel a little bit like a part of my childhood is dead. I'll never watch The Neverending Story again without thinking about it.

                       "and what i want to know is

how do you like your blueeyed boy

Mister Death"

Friday, May 12, 2006

Nice Feet

Yesterday I went to the spa.

Way back in February, as a thank you for doing the staff workshop, I got a gift certificate for a half-day package at the spa. So yesterday I finally went. The half-day package includes a manicure, a pedicure, lunch and a facial. I'd never had a pedicure or a facial before, and only one manicure before, so it was totally new to me.

I think next time I will skip the facial. It was okay, but they put some kind of mint exfoliant on my face that really burned, and then when I left my face just felt all yucky and greasy. Plus my forehead feels like it might break out now.

The manicure was okay, although I was yelled at for peeling off my cuticles. The pedicure was good, and I was told I had nice feet. I have always thought my feet were nice, but it is good to hear from someone else.

Too bad I don't know any foot fetishists.

Monday, May 08, 2006


Oh god oh god oh god.

I have just turned down a job. It was a good job. It paid well and it was what I wanted to do. But it wasn't in Saskatchewan. And I wanted to stay here.

Have I just made a huge mistake?

Why oh WHY is it so difficult? I feel like I'm being torn in two: What I love to do isn't corresponding very well with where I want to live.

I feel like I'm going to throw up.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Home on the Range

Well here I am at home for the weekend. I come from a farm, near a small town. One of the things that is both annoying and wonderful about living in a small town is how everybody knows everyone else. This is bad if you don't want everyone knowing your business. Good luck keeping your affair with the Postman a secret. Even if neither of you tell anyone, Phyllis from next door will see him leaving by the back door at an odd hour and will inform everyone on Coffee Row the next day.

The good thing about everyone knowing you, is that in addition to taking a personal interest in your business, they take a personal interest in your welfare. If your neighbours find out you need help, then they pitch in, no questions asked.

Today, we had a fire in one of our fields. We do not know how it started, but suspect it may have been caused by a build-up of static charge on the sprayer. In any case, a fire started, and we immediately had several neighbours show up. It was one of those crazy "Get your torch and pitchfork" moments, except of course that torches wouldn't have helped much with a fire, so I guess it was more like, "Get your buckets and pitchfork". Anyway, we got the fire out, didn't even have to call 911.

So even though I sometimes think that living in a small town sucks, that is one aspect that is great. Finding that kind of altruism in the city is tough.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Spring has Sprung...

Today I walked out of my cave of an office out into the blinding sunlight just in time to witness a mass migration of Canada Geese. On my way home, I saw the first motorcycle of the season. I looked out my window when I got home just in time to witness another group of geese heading north as fast as they could flap their wings.

All of a sudden, it's spring.

And it's about time, dammit.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Paris, here I come!

Well, as they say, I'm blowing this popsicle stand!

My sister and I have decided to go on vacation to France and the UK. We're going in June and July. So, I'm wondering, does anyone have any good ideas about places to go, things to do, things to see, tours, good places to stay, eat, dance, drink, etc...

I've never been to Europe before, so I really don't have a clue what I'm doing.

So how about it? Any worldly travellers out there willing to share their knowledge??

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

It's just one controversy after another...

Well, my old Alma Mater has done it. The University of Saskatchewan's student newspaper, The Sheaf is now up to its ass in alligators. Why? Did they publish those ol' Muhammad cartoons? No, no no. That's old news. They've done one better and published a wonderfully new offensive cartoon entitled "Capitalist Piglet". The cartoon depicts a pig getting a blow job from Jesus. You can view the cartoon on this person's blog.

So anyway, they published this cartoon in The Sheaf and surprise, surprise, people were offended. The president of the University, Peter MacKinnon, sent an e-mail to everyone in the university saying that the cartoon had little value other than to shock or offend, and suggested that The Sheaf owed an apology to everyone.

Several people have gone one further and demanded that the newspaper be dismantled, that everyone on the Sheaf staff should be made to resign, and then John Gormley parks his ass on CTV news and suggests that the Sheaf owes monetary damages to all of the poor Christians it offended. (My loathing for John Gormley and every idiotic sentence that has ever fallen out of his big mouth knows no bounds.)

Obviously, I don't agree with the people calling for the resignation/termination/suing of the Sheaf staff. I can't believe how stupid people are. FREEDOM OF SPEECH people FREEDOM OF SPEECH. Without the Freedom to offend, Freedom of speech doesn't exist. You know what? I really hate listening to a lot of things out in the world right now. As I've said before, I think John Gormley would be improved 100% with a big fat piece of duct tape over that mouth of his. BUT no matter how much I don't like what I'm hearing, I will defend to the death the right of people to say it. So everyone who was offended by that cartoon, please get a life. You absolutely have the right to write in to the Sheaf and say what a horrible cartoon it was. And Peter MacKinnon absolutely had a right to send that e-mail out to everyone (although I will disrespect him forever now for doing it, the old prude.) But you don't have the right to sue people for it, and you don't have the right to censor people.

However, having said that, let us not forget the context in which the cartoon was published. The Sheaf, not so long ago, published an article explaining why they were not going to publish the Muhammad cartoons. The Sheaf says that republication of the cartoons merely detracts "from the serious and necessary debate that needs to take place around a myriad of issues that this clash uncovers". Fine. But then why publish this cartoon so shortly afterward? A lot of people are calling The Sheaf staff hypocrites, by refusing to publish one set of cartoons offensive to Muslims, and then going ahead and publishing another cartoon offensive to some Christians (and let's admit it, "Capitalist Piglet" is way worse than any of those Muhammad cartoons).

Under fire from all sides, The Sheaf is now saying that the cartoon was not meant to be included and was an editorial oversight. Ummmmmmm... I'm not buying it. Even if they did decide not to publish it at the last minute, the fact that it "accidently" made it into the final cut suggests that they were at least seriously considering it.

Here's what I think happened: The Sheaf decided not to print the Muhammad cartoons. Sure, the reasons they cite have merit, but let's be honest: they were really afraid that if they published them, someone would burn down the Sheaf office, or they'd get their butts kicked by the University Administration. Judging from Peter MacKinnon's reaction to the Capitalist Piglet cartoon, they were probably right about that last one. But, after that, they were feeling a bit ashamed (and damn straight they should be... should've published the Muhammad cartoons you spineless twits) and so said, "Hey look at this cartoon. It's really offensive and gross, but it's about Christians, so we won't get into trouble, but we'll look real macho and controversial." Except that they did get into trouble. Hence the backtracking, profuse apologies, and claims of editorial incompetence.

Another reason that I believe the Sheaf really was just thinking about shock value when they published the cartoon is the absolute lack of context for it. I don't believe that the cartoon is just totally gross with no point. I think it has something to say about Christianity compromising some of their principles to pander to a capitalist society. However, most people can't get past the offensive image to even see the point. That is a poorly thought out cartoon, because what's the point if people don't get it? You should have the right to be offensive, but for goodness sake, use the power wisely.

So although I think the people who are raising such a stink about the cartoon definitely need to relax, I do agree that the Sheaf has conducted itself poorly. 1) You should have been honest about your reasons for not publishing the Muhammad cartoons; 2) The Capitalist Piglet cartoon, while it did contain some authentic social commentary, was published without context or frame of reference, and nobody got the point.

So was it really worth it? Do you feel all rebellious and defiant now?


Thursday, March 02, 2006

Abortion rant

Some days I look at the world around me, and I am honestly frightened. Where are we going? Where will we be in a few years? Sometimes I feel like we're moving backwards. All those civil liberties that we fought for over the last century seem to be disappearing one by one. It's enough to make you cry.

Mississippi is about to pass a law banning abortions. "The measure would prohibit all abortions except in very rare cases when the life of the mother is in jeopardy. It does not allow exceptions for abortions in cases of rape or incest."

Oh. My. God. And don't think we're safe up here in Canada. South Dakota just passed a similar law. This trend seems to be creeping northward. Don't forget we just elected a conservative government with a socially conservative agenda.

Personally, if I had an unplanned pregnancy, I would not have an abortion. I'm done school, I have a job, and even if the guy didn't stick around, I have a really supportive family who would help me out. Unfortunately, there are many women out there who just don't have this option.

Often people will say they are for/against abortion based on when they think the fetus becomes a person. Is it the point where the egg is fertilized by the sperm? Is it when the baby starts to look like a baby? Or is it only after the baby is born? I personally believe that all of this theorizing is beside the point.

Let's say that the baby becomes a person as soon as the egg and sperm become one. Therefore, when you have an abortion, a person dies.

Theoretical scenario: Let's say that one day you get a phone call. A relative of yours, who you have never met or heard of, is dying in the hospital. The only way they can be saved is if you go to the hospital and become hooked up to them for nine months. They need to use your body for that time until they can get an organ transplant. You are their only hope. Without you they will surely die.

So, do you go? You might say that you have a moral obligation to go and help them out. After all, even though you have never met them before and have no feelings toward them, they are another human being.

But a legal obligation? I don't think so.

The point is that one person's rights shouldn't supercede the rights of another person. I am a person, and I have the right to do with my body as I wish. And if I do not wish to be a life support system for another person for nine months, than I should not have to be.

Women should not have the rights of their person violated simply because we are in the unique position of being the sex that gives birth. And do not give me the bullshit of, "You had sex. You took the risk, now face the consequences." Yes, you should be using birth control, but nothing's fool proof. Women should be able to have a sex life and not have to worry about "What if I get pregnant?"

Men do not have to worry about this. They never get pregnant, so they can have consequence-free sex (although I do realize that responsible guys don't look at it this way). They never have to be pregnant for nine months, throw up every morning, get stretch marks on their tummies and then go through the pain of giving birth.

Gee, I wonder how many women were consulted on that decision in Mississippi?

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Well, I have just finished the staff workshop. I had to do FOUR presentations on searching online databases for the librarians. The past week has been exhausting. First of all, the workshop was moved up two weeks due to a grant deadline. Then I was sick all of last week. So I was scrambling to get my presentations ready. I worked on Friday, which was supposed to be a holiday. I worked twelve hours on Tuesday, and then on Wednesday, the first day of the workshop, I had to go back to work in between presentations to work on stuff for today.

And now I have an interview to go to on Monday.

Here is what I have to do for it: "A short presentation (approximately 10 to 15 minutes) on the development of possible children’s programs."

I am too tired to think of anything. Can any of my smart library friends help me out?

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Aaaahh... Finally someone with some backbone

The Strand, a student newspaper from the University of Toronto, has jumped into the whole "Muhammad Cartoon" debate. However, they have not attempted to re-publish the original cartoons (which the student newspaper at the University of PEI already tried, only to have their newspapers yanked from the stands before they could be distributed), but have published a new cartoon featuring Jesus and Muhammad kissing in the "Tunnel of Tolerance". Awwwww. Isn't that sweet? And what nobler sentiment could we choose to portray than that of love and tolerance despite our differences? In a Yahoo News Article, The Strand's managing editor Nick Ragaz is quoted as saying "the cartoon was intended to provoke debate, dialogue, and thought, and should not be understood to promote violence or hate". Thank you. Exactly.

To view the cartoon and the accompanying editorial, you can visit The Strand online. Select the Editorial, "To print or not to print?". Definitely some food for thought.

Monday, February 13, 2006


I've been tagged by librarychik!

Four jobs I've had in my life:
  • Mapping a cemetery and transferring the records to computer (actually one of my favourite jobs ever... cemeteries are really nice places to spend a summer afternoon)
  • Pumping gas and manning the till at a gas station/hardware store (my least favorite job ever)
  • harvesting cut flowers for export in New Zealand
  • library assistant at a medical research foundation
Four places I've lived:
  • Sherbrooke, Quebec (on a three-month exchange; my twin and her family were really nice)
  • Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
  • Tauranga, New Zealand (this was only for three months, but I had a job, so it wasn't just a vacation)
  • Edmonton, Alberta
Four websites I visit daily:
Four places I have been on vacation:
  • Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos Islands
  • The Cook Islands
  • Vancouver, Whistler, Victoria, Vancouver Island (that was a marathon week, and I took the bus there from Saskatchewan. Longest car ride ever)
  • Rivière-du-Loup, Quebec (this was for a 1.5 month French Immersion program, so technically I was supposed to be going to school and doing work, but considering the amount of goofing off that was accomplished, I think this counts as a vacation)

Four of my favorite foods:
  • Thai Food, yum!
  • Calamari at Alexander's in Saskabush
  • Lemon Meringue Pie

Four places I'd rather be:
  • France
  • The UK comes a close second to France
  • Australia
  • New Zealand

Four albums/artists I can't live without:
This is a tough one for me since I listen to such a wide range of music. I also tend to have a "flavour of the month", but these are the albums/artists that stick out in my mind as being the most influential over the years.
  • The Mamas and the Papas, Greatest Hits (Dream a little Dream of Me)
  • Classical Music (Beethoven (love Moonlight Sonata), Gustav Holst (The Planets Suite: Jupiter), Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite, and various others too numerous to mention)
  • Aerosmith (I really like Pink, Jaded, Amazing, and Blind Man)
  • New Kids on the Block (Yes, yes I know. But they were really important to me when I was eleven. My friends and I were kind of obsessed with them. I had all of their albums, my bedroom walls were papered in posters of them, I had t-shirts, books, videos, keychains, earrings, slippers, and the pièce de résistance: a Joe doll. Joe and Barbie actually made a very nice couple. Besides, whether you admit it or not, I think some of their songs were kind of catchy.)

Four Vehicles I've Owned:
  • La bête bleue: The beast himself, a 1991 sky blue GMC Tracker
  • A Honda Prelude, sun roof and CD player, it was Sooooo nice (it's what I drove in New Zealand, so the steering wheel was on the right and everything, and it handled so nicely on those curvy Kiwi roads...)
  • That's it! I've never owned any other cars. Though I do enjoy driving my mom's Dodge Ram 2500 when I'm at home. That thing is a tank.

Four people I'm tagging:
  • I'm only tagging one person: Puddleglum. Maybe she'll get off her ass and write something. But I suppose she is writing her thesis. I am minorly sympathetic.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Religious fundamentalists have no sense of humour...

Well, I'm sure everybody has heard by now about the cartoons of Muhammad published in a Danish newspaper that has caused Muslims to freak around the world. Normally, I'm not one to wade into these sorts of issues, and I know that others who are probably much more knowledgeable than me have already blogged about it here and here. However, I think this is getting out of hand, and as a librarian - who by definition should stand up for the rights of freedom of speech and freedom of the press - I feel I must have my say.

First of all, I know that the outrageous actions (i.e. burning of buildings) of a few Muslims do not represent the majority. But for those few I have these words: Get a sense of humour people!!! No one should take themselves or their religion that seriously. I understand that Muhammad is sacred and that it is against Muslim law to depict him at all, much less depict him as the cartoons did. However, if we want to continue to live in a free and democratic society, we must open ourselves to criticism, including any religious beliefs we might hold. And I'm not just talking about Muslims. Christians and Hindus and other religions must also be willing have open discussion about their religions take place. Sometimes, these discussions may be in questionable taste, sometimes people will get offended. But political correctness should never take precedence over freedom of speech. We must not let ourselves be intimidated. If we start tip-toeing around because we're afraid that we might OFFEND some psychopath who will subsequently blow us up, then what are we left with? Where do we draw the line? The truth is, we will always be offending someone.

Having said that, it is perfectly okay to be offended. But instead of trying to shut down discussion and dialogue through intimidation, a better thing to do would be to provide more information. Provide an alternate viewpoint, explain why these images offend you, draw a cartoon of Jesus, anything, but keep the dialogue going. Trying to stifle opposition through violence is totally wrong.

A University Professor (I believe he is from St. Mary's University in Newfoundland, but I can't really remember for sure) had the cartoons up on his office door. The university made him take them down. This to me says that the university was intimidated by the actions taken by some Muslims and simply caved in because they wanted to avoid the issue. I understand their caution, but I personally think they were being chicken shits. A University should set an example to us all as an open forum for the discussion of ideas: ALL ideas no matter who it offends or how politically incorrect it is. If we refuse to examine something because it is going to be a little uncomfortable, then maybe we should just give up. Let a dictator take over, we'll all move back into caves and cease thinking critically at all. Seriously that is how discouraged this whole thing has made me.

Personally, I support that Danish newspaper, and every other newspaper and blogger who have continued to publish those cartoons in the face of such violent opposition.

To those Muslims out there who thought it would be a good idea to burn down an embassy, and to all nuts, regardless of faith, who take their religion too seriously:
You're offended by something I say? Fine. Be offended. Tell me all about it. Tell the whole world about it. But don't try and tell me what I can and can't say.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Save the Octopus!

Complete and Utter Exhaustion

Wow! And I thought after university, I would never have another week like this one has been. Do you remember those weeks? The ones where you had work, and like, four assignments due, and you worked 18 hours a day and collapsed into bed, only to wake up with the realization that you had to do it all over again the next day?

Well, that has been what the last week has been like. My Tracker is STILL broken. It has taken Canadian Tire over a week to order in a part that is supposedly coming from Regina. Geez! How long could that take? Shall I drive to Regina myself and get it?? So, I have been getting rides in with one of my co-workers. Lucky for me, four of the people I work with live in this neighbourhood, and the one lives only about a block away. So I ride in with her to work. But she gets there an hour earlier than I usually do. So I'm used to leaving for work at 8:45 (or later, I've been bad for that lately) and now I leave for work at 7:45. I have never been a morning person, so this has been hard on me. Plus, I have been doing a lot of workshops, where I have to drive out to various towns (using the library vehicle), and some of them are at night. So I get to work at 8:00 am, and get home at 11:30 pm. How's that for a work day? And I didn't go into law school because I didn't want to work 14-hour days. HA!

I am banking some over-time, which I will get to take off later...that is if I didn't have so much work to do. We have just discovered that a grant we didn't think had to be used up until the end of March, has to be used up by the end of February, so we had to move our staff workshop (which is being paid for by this grant) up two weeks to the end of February. I am in charge of most of the sessions. I was counting on having those two extra weeks to work on my sessions, so now I have to fit that in right now with all of the public workshops I'm doing out at the branches.

Needless to say, I am right now so exhausted, I'm not even sure what my name is. And the next few weeks are just going to be more of the same. But I do have the night off tonight, so I will relax and think happy thoughts.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

La bête bleue, part deux


Apparently, when my fuel pump went, it also fried the computer in my car. Computers are even more expensive than fuel pumps. In total, I see this whole thing costing me close to $1400. I'm not even sure my car is worth much more than that. Even worse was finding out the reason that both my computer and fuel pump got fried was because the fuel filter got clogged. Why was it clogged? Apparently it just builds up over time, and most people (according to the Canadian Tire guy) get theirs changed every year or so. To change a fuel filter would cost about $60. Sixty Dollars. Sixty Dollars a year, versus $1400 dollars PLUS the fact that I do not have a vehicle and likely will not until MONDAY or TUESDAY. WHY don't people tell you these things??? I check the pressure in my tires, check the oil, the coolant, the windshield washer fluid. I get oil changes twice a year. I even check the air filter once in a while. WHY in GOD's name did no one tell me to change the fuel filter???

I guess there's no one to blame really but myself, but I have honestly never heard that fuel filters are one of the things that need to be changed on a regular basis. Does everyone else get their fuel filters changed and am I really out to lunch on this one???

In other news, I think they must be really desperate for librarians in this province. I went to a meeting today, and then on a tour of provincial library, and I was STRONGLY encouraged to apply for jobs both at provincial, and at another regional library. At provincial, they even went so far as to show me "my office" where I would work if I got the job.

The thing is, I am just not sure right now if I am ready for that kind of job. You know the kind of job I mean: you work in an office, your duties are administrative and managerial. Sure, you get paid more, but I'm just not ready for that. I'm not done playing around with web sites, and making up funny newsletters, and doing fun workshops and programs. For the time being, I am quite happy to leave the supervising and strategic planning for someone else. Perhaps I should add this to my cover letters from now on:

P.S. I just really want to play with puppets, okay?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

La bête bleue

My car just died on me. Driving down the street, it suddenly stalled and would not start again. I had it towed. Turns out it is the fuel pump, a very expensive part to replace. Very upsetting for me. Which brings me to one of the biggest disadvantages of living in a rural area: you need your car to get around. The public transit system sucks.

If I was living in Edmonton and this happened, I'd be like "Meh." I either walked or took the bus or the LRT to pretty much everywhere I needed to go. Here, it feels like my right arm has been cut off. I am not within walking distance of work, or a grocery store. There is bus service here, but it would probably be at least a 45-minute bus ride to get across town to work, where it is normally a 10-minute drive, max. Very frightening. But at least they know what's wrong now. And though I will be very poor afterwards, I hope to have my car back soon.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Don't Forget...

Life, it's ever so strange
It's so full of change
Think that you've worked it out
then BANG
Right out of the blue
Something happens to you
To throw you off course
and then you

Yeah you breakdown
Well don't you breakdown
Listen to me

It's just a ride, it's just a ride
no need to run, no need to hide
It'll take you round and round
Sometimes you're up
sometimes you're down
It's just a ride, it's just a ride
don't be scared
don't hide your eyes
It may feel so real inside
but don't forget it's just a ride

Truth, we don't wanna hear
It's too much to take
Don't like to feel out of control
So we make our plans
Ten times a day
And when they don't go
our way we

Yeah we breakdown
Well don't you breakdown
Listen to me

It's just a ride, it's just a ride
no need to run, no need to hide
It'll take you round and round
Sometimes you're up
sometimes you're down
It's just a ride, it's just a ride
don't be scared
don't hide your eyes
It may feel so real inside
but don't forget it's just a ride

Slowly, oh so very slowly
except that
there's no getting off
So live it, just gotta go with it
coz this ride's never gonna stop

Don't you breakdown
No need to breakdown
No need at all

It's just a ride, it's just a ride
no need to run, no need to hide
It'll take you all around
Sometimes you're up
sometimes you're down
It's just a ride, it's just a ride
don't be scared now
dry your eyes
It may feel so real inside
but don't forget...

enjoy the ride

jem - "just a ride"