Sunday, December 30, 2007

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow...


Parting with books, that is. In a bid to "de-clutter" our lives (thanks to Peter Walsh's It's All Too Much), Hubbs has been on a giveaway spree. His first project? Our bookshelves. He was smart enough not to filter through my books, but was ruthless in gutting through his own collection of development books, cartoon anthologies, fiction novels, and self-help/leadership guides. His rationale? If he hasn't touched it in 6 months or will no longer need it for reference or re-reading, it is apparently worth more to him to have space on his bookshelf than to keep those books around.

As he was going through his purging process, every fibre of my packrat being fought the urge to grab his discarded books and hide them elsewhere in our home, out of his line of sight. It pained me to watch him throw out books that we paid significant amounts to buy not more than 6 months ago. It killed me to see these pristine hardbacks and paperbacks, with nary a spinal crease in sight, getting tossed like old socks onto a garbage heap in the middle of our living room. I pleaded with him, begged him, and tried to convince him to hold on to a few of these precious texts, but he was coldly unyielding in his very focused attempt to simplify our living space.

In the end, I was only able to persuade him to do the following:
- hold on to some of the newer dev books in his discard pile, to see if any of his dev friends might want to take some of them off his hands
- hold on to some of his comic anthologies, to see if any of his comic-book-loving geek friends might want to take some of them off his hands
- give away all the new, nearly-flawless books to the public library instead of dumping them in the "recycle room" in our building
- let me hold on to "A Million Little Pieces" and a Dilbert novel that I have every intention of reading in the next 12 months.

His purge resulted in the freeing up of 3 entire rows of one Billy bookshelf in our office, when previously his collection was so full that he was double-stacking two of his rows. While this is a much-needed improvement in our living conditions, the cost to my heart has been great.

His next project is our "catch-all" kitchen drawer, and after that I think it is going to be our wardrobe and closets, followed by our kitchen cupboards. I may not survive the purge to my beloved wardrobe (and my stockpile of "stuff" for those "just-in-case" emergencies) so if I do not live to see a fully decluttered apartment, do know that I have appreciated your loyal readership over the years ;)

It sucks being married to a non-packrat. It makes it twice as hard for me to gratify my natural instinct to save.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Catching Up with the 21st Century...Again

As I have said before, I am woefully behind technologically for a woman married to a software developer whose daily routine includes reading up on new technologies. In fact, I am so behind that prior to yesterday, I had no idea that there were cordless phones operating on a frequency better than 5.8 GHz. I'm sure Hubbs knew, but he never bothered to catch me up on this advancement in modern technology.

Anyway, DECT 6.0 is apparently the new-and-improved frequency for cordless phones. It is supposed to be almost completely immune to household interference from wireless modems, cell phones, the Wii, the DS, and other such invisible transmissions. It also offers a level of encryption to help enhance security during conversations, and its voice transmission quality is superior to that of the 2.4 and 5.8 GHz phones, even from a greater distance away from the base. Best of all, its battery life is said to outperform its predecessors'. This is particularly appealing to me since I have had a tendency of forgetting to put the handset back on the receiver following a lengthy phone conversation, which has resulted in some very inconvenient situations involving important calls and dead handsets. 0:)

Anyway, for Christmas I had received some cashola, some of which I chose to allocate to the purchase of a new set of phones. This prompted me to do a bit of research online, and to try to bone up on my cordless phone technology knowledge. After a bit of digging, I found myself my Christmas present:You like? It has a colourful display and I love that it is small and sleek. We're still charging our handsets right now but so far, the call display has been quite an improvement on our previous 5.8GHz GE phone, and our new ring (a musical melody from some classical piece that involves chirping birds) is fantastic. :)

I can't wait to get my first phone call! Simple pleasures for simple minds, non? We've already missed a call, which I was able to use the navigation menu on the phone to find out about. I am just thrilled to have this new toy to play with for the next day or so.

If you are already immersed in the DECT 6.0 world, drop me a comment to let me know what you think, okay? I have read great things about these phones, particularly the Panasonic ones, and I would love to hear more anecdotal experiences to help me validate my purchase ;) (Even with Christmas money, I have buyer's guilt/remorse. It is part of the stingy that runs in my blood.)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I trust that you had a wonderful holiday filled with laughter, love, good food and good cheer! May the true reason for this Christmas season, the celebration of the birth of Jesus, give you reason to hope and be joyful, and may your 2008 be filled with good tidings and great surprises!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tick Tock Went the Clock


...and I am still awake. Fully awake.

I made the mistake tonight of asking Hubbs to give me a cuddle. In bed. The mistake is not in the request itself; the mistake lies in combining said request with this particular location. Add to the mix the fatigue my poor hubby has been feeling, and you get two people who end up falling asleep at 7:00 p.m.

He has been sound asleep ever since. Not me. My brain woke me up at 10:30 and it has been on full alert since that time. It is now 1:23 a.m. I am still wide awake.

I wonder why I do this to myself? Why do I take naps that wreak havoc on my routine sleep schedule? You would think that by now, I would have learned to fight the urge to nap, and just hang on until bedtime. Unfortunately, I am a slow learner in this department, and thus I must now endure the consequences of my poor decision-making.

I feel silly. And also not entirely motivated so that I could actually get some work done. Stupid stupid me.

Guess I'll be playing Spider Solitaire until the fatigue sets in again...if it does at all.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Why My In-Laws Are The Best aka Rubbing It In


Did I happen to mention that I have the best in-laws ever? =) While others gripe about spending time with their "out-laws," I invite mine to come along on getaway holidays to Vancouver. While others dread coordinating Christmas visits between their parents and their in-laws, my parents and in-laws look forward to sharing Christmas meal(s) together. I am so blessed. I often hear nightmarish stories about how people have difficulty getting along with their in-laws, or how the two sets of parents rub each other the wrong way. Neither is the case with me. I love my in-laws and very much enjoy the nights we spend sleeping over at their place during the Christmas season; we have very interesting conversations with one another and the general experience of spending time together is wonderful. My parents love my in-laws (and remind me regularly to treat them well), and the respect is reciprocated by Hubbs' parents, who have nothing but excellent things to say about my Mom and Dad. Overall, I have a pretty ideal set-up going on.

And the icing on the cake? My in-laws are very thoughtful, exceedingly generous, and so much fun! The other day, while Hubbs and I were at dinner with his friend, my in-laws dropped by at the restaurant to present us with a homemade advent "calendar." Unlike the cheap chocolate-filled store variety of advent calendar, this advent calendar box is custom decorated by my father-in-law, and is wrapped and tied together intricately with ribbons and bells and Christmas stickers. Behind each carefully cut and sealed door are many small, fabulous treasures that we look forward to opening. We haven't peeked behind any of the doors (we're being good just like Santa directed), and have only opened two in keeping with instructions. Behind one were two McDonalds gift cards. Behind the other? His and hers chapsticks!! I wonder what else I'll be getting from behind the 10 remaining doors?

The point isn't in the value of the gift, but the reflection it offers of its givers. What a completely awesome, thougthful set of parents-in-law! I am the luckiest girl in the world. :)

Thanks Mom E. & Dad E. for this very cool gift! It will be among my favourite gifts this year, no doubt about it!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Fighting the Cheap

Maybe it's because we grew up lower middle-class. Maybe it's because I was forced to learn the value of the dollar the old-fashioned way (my first job at 14 was working at the library for the meager wage of $4.23/hour). Maybe it's because my parents passed on the genetic condition of packratitis to me and the hoarding is coded into my DNA. Whatever the reason, I find myself at a crossroads every month.

I can't bear to throw away my disposable contact lenses.

The rational voice nattering in my brain knows better; it argues that lenses worn beyond its lifespan will detrimentally affect the health of my corneas. It reasons that professionals know what they are doing when they set these expiration dates, and I would do well to listen to their educated advice. It even justifies that since I have plenty of replacement lenses housed in my bathroom drawer, I do not have to keep these lenses beyond their monthly limit.

However, my cheap Chinese ass is not so easily persuaded. The frugal part of me rationalizes that since I only wear my lenses 3 days a week (as opposed to all 7), it makes mathematical sense that I can therefore extend the lifetime of the lenses to 2 months (with a few days to spare, no less!). I also consider the fact that, according to my naked (blind) eye, there are no visible traces of debris or tearing on my perfectly-good lenses, nor are my eyes crusting over with infection or bloodshot from lack of oxygen. Does that not suggest that these lenses are still good? My conspiracy theories kick into full gear to support my thrifty ways; maybe the manufacturers are in cahoots with the
optometrists and the dispensaries, and the whole "dispose after one month" line that they feed me is simply a money-making gimmick to lure unsuspecting contact wearers to purchase lenses more frequently than they actually need to!

And so the debate rages on in my brain as I take my perfectly-functional, past-due lenses out of my eyes. Do I let these expensive little contacts shrivel up in the dry heat of an Albertan winter? Or do I let them soak in the bliss of some sterile Opti-Free Solution, spared of their fate for one more day?

You would be surprised at how torn I become whenever this decision has to be made.

And it did tonight. My current contacts are now nearly 2 months old (worn only 2-3 times/week - don't judge), and yet I struggled with the decision to throw those things in the garbage after taking them out of my non-irritated eyes. You would be proud of me - I did finally throw them out, after much internal warfare. But don't think I was happy about it. It hurt every fiber of my cheap-wad being to do this, and even now I wonder if I can't fish those things out of the garbage and re-soak them to vitality once more.

I guess in the end, I have to acknowledge the reality that I'll be fighting the cheap for the rest of my life. This is just the cross I must bear.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Vancouver and Back Again - The Meltdown After-Story

Following my mini-meltdown, I did fly out and join my Hubbs in the glorious city of Vancouver. Though I barely saw him during that first night of my arrival (he had one last meeting that night), the next day was beautiful and he and I got to spend some time together. The sky was clear, the air was crisp, and it was totally the Vancouver that I love. As we sipped night-caps in the lounge that evening, we were even able to spend a few moments with his hero, JP, and some other very nice developer dudes from all around the world.

Highlights of our trip:

* Hubbs and his dad enjoying a brisk walk at Stanley Park
* Mom E. and I shopping Robson
* Our visit to Granville Island market
* Breakfast @ Paul's Omelettry with my in-laws, then again with Kyle Baley
* Dinner at C (seared foie gras! YUM)
* Hubbs making up for lost time by doing on his wife :)

However, this trip was plagued with unpleasantries, unlike my previous trips to Van. The lowlights of the trip:

* slushy snow for 2 full days of my trip in Van
* not getting to drive a mid-sized vehicle (practice for our new Accord one day)
* not getting to visit the whirlpool/hot tub at the Wall Centre hotel
* the delayed flights leaving Van (due to the snow)
* sitting on the tarmac for an hour waiting to be de-iced
* the cold temperatures we returned to following our trip

And last but worst of all:
* coming home to an apartment where all the elevators are not working

Yes, it is true. As we unpacked our bags from the car and headed towards the elevator, we were met by some random Samaritan from the building who told us that, because of the idiocy of one of the residents on the 15th floor (not us!), the garbage chute had been left open and a pipe froze as a result. This led to flooding in the elevators, which meant they became inoperable. He broke us the bad news that we would have to haul our heavy suitcases and carry-on bags up every flight of stairs from the 3rd floor parkade to our 15th floor home. He, being the kindly Samaritan, offered to take one of the bags up for us from the parkade to the 10th floor. We were met there by the security guard, who was kind enough to lug that bag up the rest of the way. Meanwhile, Hubbs had to haul up the gigantic suitcase carrying all of his stuff from the week, and I had to carry both carry-on bags plus our dinner, wearing 2" boots, up these cursed steps. Unreal.

And so, here we are, the morning after one of the more disastrous weekend trips I've ever taken, and still the elevators do not work and I have school stuff left to be hauled up from the car.

I am starting to think that we should consider moving somewhere warm and snow-free, like Austin, TX.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Don't Mind Me..I'm Just Having a Mini-Meltdown

Hubbs and I are never apart. We hung out nearly every day when we were dating. When we got married over 2 years ago, we sort of holed up and again, shared every night together, with the exception of an occasional conference for me or him, in which case we were still never more than 2 nights apart from one another. There never arose any situation that could not be rectified by one of us joining the other, to ensure that we were only 2 days or nights away from one other.

That is, until now. My dear Hubbs is living the high life in Vancouver at this very moment, there to speak and attend a big nerd convention/conference that runs nearly a week in length. I will be joining him, but not until Thursday; I am working and cannot spare the time to go any earlier (parent-teacher interviews), and he wouldn't be available to hang out with me prior to that day anyway. This means that, for the first time in our relationship (not including the long-distance courtship at the beginning), we will be apart for more than 2 nights - 4 nights, to be exact.

And I, being the Stage-5 clinger that I am, am not feeling very cool with it. It is an irrational uncoolness, however, not based in reality or rational thought whatsoever. Hubbs has been great; he has MSN'ed with me, been on the phone with me, and has even been willing to send me text messages to keep me in the loop on how he's doing. I honestly have no reason to complain, given that many other husbands I know of don't even bother to call their wives when they are away on business trips.

However, the awesomeness of my man has in no way detracted from this terrible lonesome feeling that is eating away at my insides. Though I have never been abandoned, I feel as though I have abandonment issues. I have no idea why. I'm sure it's rooted in some deep-seated fear or traumatic experience from my youth, that my subconscious has suppressed up until now. Whatever it is, it has rendered me nearly incapable of functioning normally when I talk to, or about, Hubbs. I fall to pieces and big alligator tears start rolling down my cheeks. Then, the ugly sobs come.

See, I told you it was irrational. My poor man has to deal with the stress of his presentation and the stress of, well, ME. Isn't he a lucky guy? ;)

I am hoping that, after I get back into "work mode" today, my strange mini-meltdown will begin to pass. It's either that, or else I will be a basketcase by Thursday, and deemed unfit to travel, which would ultimately lead me down a cycle of loneliness that would result in my mental and emotional demise by Sunday.

Happy Monday!

Friday, November 23, 2007

greed, need, fear
fuels the heart to seek
in forms grotesque
not idols tangible to eye and hand
but godless deities nonetheless
opportunities for wealth
offered by
others equally greedy, needy, fearful
blinded by empty promises of a better tomorrow

the blind lead the blind
skeptics are alienated
arguments left unheard
not wanting to burst this delicate bubble of hope
with critical thought

upline! downline!
build build build
make friends opportunities
new teammates, partners
joined in the pursuit
of barren idols
to begin establishing
a personal kingdom
of profit

"You shall have no other gods before me"
what about after You?
number two
challenging the position of Number One
in time, and heart, and mind

so pursues the heart
over time, overtime
desperate to find
the promise not realized
the residual is not incoming
to quell the greed, and need, and fear
only residual effects
relationships strained
hurt feelings
and the price is not worth the profit

what holes in the heart
demand this blind, ignorant faith
replacing the Promise with promises
of no value?

Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness
And all these things will be given to you as well
the desires of the heart
the needs of the body

to what value is it
to seek anything else?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Achy Breaky Heart

I feel terrible today, and not for the usual reasons of illness or fatigue, though I am still sick with congestion and completely burnt out from report cards.

The reason why I feel terrible was initially rather inexplicable, actually; it was this jumble of mixed feelings that sort of leapt into my heart when I stopped at a red light while I was driving home this afternoon. As I was stopped, I happened to look to the left side of the intersection, where a person in a wheelchair was perched near the garbage can close to the crosswalk. I think that the individula was waiting to cross. I couldn't help but stare at this person
, because her (I presume it was a woman though I couldn't really tell through the layers of clothing) upper body was twisted up in a completely contorted manner, and it was difficult to figure out what she was doing. After a few moments of impolite staring, I directed my attention to the right side of the street, where several people, who appeared to be returning to the office after a business lunch, stood waiting to cross.

Again, my eyes were drawn back to the lone individual on the left. By now, she had de-contorted her torso and was sitting upright in her chair. I can only imagine that the contortionist movement was an attempt to scratch a hard-to-reach area of her back that was made even less accessible by the back of the wheelchair. Anyway, I don't know that this person noticed as I observed her slowly wheeling her ride across the street, several quiet moments before the light actually turned green. I awkwardly stared as long as I could, but then my light did turn green and my focus redirected towards the road. Through my peripheral I could see that the business people had taken no notice of the one in the wheelchair, it seems they were lost in their own conversation on the opposite side of the road, still waiting to cross.

It was at that moment that this absolutely awful feeling crept into my heart and gripped at it violently. Was it pity? Compassion? Even on a good day I'm pretty self-centered, so I found myself ruling out those possibilities. As other psychoanalytical thoughts raced through my brain to make sense of my sudden emotional response, it dawned on me.

I felt terrible because, for a split second, metaphysical reality became physical reality, and in that brief moment I was seeing this person, this world, through Jesus' eyes, and experiencing Jesus' sadness. The awful ache in my heart was His ache - maybe not for that woman in the wheelchair, or for those who ignored her, but for the general hurting world that seems to be so wrapped up in itself that it no longer sees anyone else in it. I was getting a temporary glance at fallen humanity, and my heart was revealing the groaning of a world lost that has become lost and without hope.

This terrible feeling of grief mingled with sadness and sorrow only lasted briefly, and then it released its hold and began to fade away. My thoughts, however, did not disappear quite so quickly, and even now the image of that contorted body in the wheelchair is vivid in my mind's eye.

As we approach a cooler season, and the build-up towards the holiday season, I cannot help but think about those who will find themselves alone again this Dec. 25th, without family or friends or hope to sustain their lives. Once more the starkness of the contrast between the ones who have much and the ones who have nothing will become increasingly apparent; again we who are blessed with abundance will turn away awkwardly, not wishing to stare or not willing to acknowledge those less fortunate than we are on the other side of the road. Again we will find ourselves wrapped up in our own conversations about gifts and turkey dinners and reuniting with family and friends, oblivious to the ones around us who have nothing to be joyful for and nobody to be joyful with. Or will we?

I would like this year to be different for me. I hope you do, too.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Passion or Poison?

Hubbs and I got into a nice deep conversation last night about having passion for one's work; we were discussing a particularly vitriolic rant that some developer (who isn't important enough for me to link to, sorry) has posted on his blog. He apparently holds passionately strong opinions and convictions about his work, his industry, and 'inspiring" good quality developers, according to Hubbs. This, it is reasoned, is why he felt the need to post a scathing write-up about others in his industry who he feels to work for glory without substance.

I am not sure that his "passion" is what I perceive from reading his post, however. Don't get me wrong - the article is well-written, uses complex sentences, and contains enough multi-syllabic words to convince me that he is an educated person; I'm sure this was his intent, and in that he succeeds.

That said, the post is also incredibly damaging on many levels. There is an air of superior condescension to the tone of the writing; this person obviously feels that those whom he writes about (either generally or specifically, we cannot be sure) are inferior to him; his post thereby insults and alienates many in his field whom he purports to want to inspire or challenge into change. There is also a distinct anger that resonates through the text, that many would be able to detect "between-the-lines" without this person overtly saying, "I am very very angry! Grrrrrr!" Generally speaking, any argument made reactively in anger loses some measure of credibility and logic and reason, in my humble opinion. Finally, the comments field, which contains feedback from both anonymous and named contributors offering some valid counter-arguments, is rife with the blogger's childish retorts that amount to little more than "I know you are, but what am I?" comebacks and "your mama"-style personal attacks aimed predominantly at the anonymous posters but sometimes addressing the identified ones as well. To me, the inability to address the counter-points in a calm and rational fashion, coupled with the use of mud-slinging techniques that only distract from the issue at hand, further reduces the inspirational value of the post.

Passionate, eh? I say, poisonous. How does such an article inspire people to passionate professional development? I would argue that it cannot, because people do not respond well to hateful angry messages, even if at the heart of the message is the desire to light a fire under these folks' metaphoric bottoms. Add insult to injury by throwing in a few tactless personal comments, and the very populace one wishes to inspire will likely turn and walk away in disgust.

Rather, I propose that if one wants to make their passion contagious, that they approach things from a proactive stance; encourage those who are doing things well, and spotlight those who live the example of what is being preached. Be a builder of community, of good form and best practice, and be the first one to praise and to offer, "How can I help you do that even better?" Bring others up to standards of excellence instead of merely pointing out how far off the mark they are; positive change happens most effectively when servant leaders are willing to come alongside those who need some extra support, and show them how to be great. Real passion is borne out of action by those wishing to inspire; it is not created by reaction to those whom one feels to be inadequate.

Hubbs has shared with me of some of his personal heroes, including one very notable and inspirational developer, JP Boodhoo; now this is a man who models with integrity what it means to work passionately and to inspire others to greatness. It is a model that I know Hubbs tries to emulate. Take a look at JP's blog; he isn't angry and
he doesn't put others down, but he does share ways to help people do things even better.

The great discussion Hubbs and I had is really not limited to the field of development. It's life, folks. In each of our industries, be it education or nursing or managing a store or delivering pizzas or enforcing the law, we make a choice each day and each moment to either inspire passion in those around us, or spew poison to weaken resolve and destroy morale.

What will you choose to do? Inspire, or insult? What will you choose to be? Passion, or poison.

You decide.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Taken for Granted

I am rising to the challenge issued by the Ontario Emperor to identify things that I take for granted. In listing just a meagre selection of the many overlooked blessings in my life, it is evident that for the most part, I am an ingrate.

* clean, running water in hot and cold temperatures
whenever I need it
* a collection of technology (digital camera, lap top, cell phone with camera, mp3 player, digital voice recorder, DVD/VCR/TV) that I can use to communicate (or be communicated with)
* the freedom to read my Bible and pray in my classroom with my students
* functional limbs and digits
* electricity, also available to me at all times
* waking up to, and going to bed with, Hubbs (we used to be separated by an ocean)
* having both parents and both parents-in-law still alive and well, and happily married to their spouses

* my hair
* fresh air and open spaces and the absence of noise
* my memory and the ability to retain and recall information and experiences from many years ago
* the wealth to eat more than one meal a day (in fact, I sometimes eat 6 meals per day)
* peace in my nation

Those are just a few that came to mind. As Remembrance Day / Veteran's Day rolls around, let us all not only remember the blessings in our lives, but may we also remember to thank God for the things that we can take for granted, that many paid a heavy price for.

Friday, November 09, 2007

New Car Ideas?

I realize that Hubbs and I have been tossing around the idea of buying a new car for well over a year now. We never really felt justified spending the money up to this point. However, now that our car is nearing the point where we no longer feel safe driving it on the open highway, we're seriously considering buying a new vehicle come the spring.

Why wait, right? Simple - it's about cost. The new 2008's have just come out, so interest rates on these are still at a premium. We're hoping that in the spring, the rates will begin to fall as the cars become less-new.

So now the question is, what car should we buy? I was forever coveting the Honda Civic, but now that I've laid eyes on the Accord's new and improved look, I am a bit torn. The preliminary reviews on the Accord are promising, too, and so my new object of vehicular lust is the 2008 Honda Accord EXL-V6, which has a 3.5L, V6 engine and full-leather interior with heated front seats.

What do you think? This new Accord is being compared with the Camry, the Altima, and some models of Acuras, even. It's a bit pricier than the Civic, but it also boasts a roomier interior (in case we need to fit it with car seats one day) and a more powerful ride. It's definitely on the luxurious end of the spectrum, costing nearly as much as a lower-end BMW 300-series sedan.

But I think I'm in love.

Big Baby


I'm usually pretty tough; I don't cringe when I give blood, I go to work when I don't feel well, and I walk in spite of kiwi-sized blisters on the bottoms of my feet.

However, today I found myself whining like a big baby.

Two evenings ago I noted a tell-tale scratchiness in my throat. In spite of my near-OD'ing on vitamin C for the past 48 hours, I was unable to avoid that dreaded annual fall cold. I woke up this morning to a hoarse voice, an achy body, and a mild upper-respiratory congestion.

Rather than be blessed with a day off to recover, however, I had to go to work (pro bono, no less!) because my students were performing in the Remembrance Day assembly at school. As the coordinating teacher of their dramatic efforts, my attendance was non-negotiable. On top of that, I had (stupidly) promised a colleague that I would sub for him (for money) in the afternoon, while he was away with our school sports team at a tournament.

Needless to say, my mood was less than spectacular when I arrived at school in the morning. Some whining and general noisiness from a few of my performing students didn't help. My spilling an entire mug of coffee on my shirt right before the assembly began didn't help. Having to sit through 40 minutes of sombre remembrance whilst reeking of coffee and contending with wet fabric on my skin didn't help.

By the end of the day, I was done. My throat hurt, my body hurt, my head hurt, and all I wanted was to eat a bowl of chicken congee and some of my dad's homemade Chinese comfort food. Rice would have been nice. Some herbal Chinese soup would have been nice too. Unfortunately, none of these were available to me, because the one place we know to have clean and "down home" Chinese cooking is closed for the month due to staff holidays. The rest of the places either didn't sell things like congee, or they didn't do deliveries. (Hubbs is sick, too, so it would be entirely unfair of me to send him on a pick-up mission).

I felt so sorry for myself, so lonesome for my parents' cooking, and so miserable that I whined. Loudly. Like a big ol' baby. It was not a pretty sight. Hardly my proudest moment.

Thankfully, I have a very patient and loving husband. Though he, too, was sick today, he was kind enough to make me a can of Campbell's chicken noodle, and tuck me into bed so that I could get some rest.

I still feel pretty awful physically, and the congestion hasn't subsided yet. However, I do feel a tad better, having caught a few z's and filled up my tummy.

I still crave my folks' food though. And I am desperately hoping that I will feel much better tomorrow, or else I have a feeling that the whining will only get louder and more pathetic.

(PS - Fortunately I didn't have to teach all afternoon in a wet shirt. The school was able to sell me a t-shirt from their overstock of school shirts, and so I managed to change out of my coffee-stained, wet top into a clean, dry shirt shortly after the assembly concluded.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Where To Put the Arms?


When Hubbs and I cuddle, one of us inevitably ends up with lost circulation in the arm. It's true: the two bottom arms have no other place to be when people cuddle face to face. It looks easy in the movies, sure, but when you look closely you realize that the actors are playing to the camera and in actuality, their positions are untenably awkward as well, especially if sustained for more than a minute at a time.

So is there a solution to the cuddle dilemma? I would like to think that there is, but so far we have not managed to figure it out. A hole in the mattress is no solution (sorry XKCD), especially since I think it would feel equally awkward to have that arm hanging down the hole. We're cool with all the other cuddling positions (spooning, one on their back and the other on their side) but this one perplexes me.

As a cuddling fan, I would appreciate suggestions and tips. :) Merci.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What I Wish....


I wish....

...that work weeks were only 3 days long, and weekends, 4 days long.

...that people got paid twice as much as they do now to make up for short weeks.

...that I could get back to my HK 2003 weight without any diet or exercise required.

...that LCD projectors would be built into computer towers rather than existing as a separate entity.

...that other vegetables could taste as good as french fries.

...that undesired body hair (e.g. legs) could be permanently removed with just one shave.

...that I had a new car and no payments waiting for me in my parking stall.

...that stiletto heels were comfortable enough to wear teaching all day.

...that marking would mark itself.

...that women could naturally conceive and birth babies after the age of 40 without complication.

...that I could be on a beach right now with a lavaflow drink in my hand.

...that it could be autumn for 6 months of the year and summer for the other 6. I don't need winter or spring.

...that Hong Kong was only a 4 hour flight away.

...that I had more time on my hands.

Don't you wish that too?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Whoa...300? And Welcome to the 21st Century, Mrs. L

So I noticed as I was logging in to write this post, that I have written 300 posts now. Really? 300? Wow, I must have a lot of unimportant things to say! ;)

Anyway, Hubbs and I like to think that we're on top
of the tech world; we know about new technology coming out, and we're familiar with the gadgetry that accompanies these advances. However, the constraints of the wallet (and perhaps our need) often prevent us from actually indulging ourselves in the purchase of said new technology and new gadgetry, until such point that they are, well, no longer new.

Cases in point: my new mouse. I have been using the same corded old optical mouse on my laptop since I bought the computer two years ago. The wired mouse was Hubbs' old mouse, so I have no idea how long we've had it. Well, it finally died yesterday, giving me the excuse I needed to go out and buy a "real" mouse, an optical cordless Microsoft notebook mouse (model #3000) that would be much more convenient for me to use on my little desk. Voila my purchase:

Hubbs, too, in spite of being the audiophile that he is, was quite content with his Sony mp3 player, a player that he has had for well over a year. It had enough memory to hold his collection of workout and walking songs, and it was a good little size. At the time of purchase, he saw little need or appeal in the seemingly-overhyped iPods that were on the market. He didn't feel he needed one until early this week, when his own mp3 suddenly decided to stop responding to button controls. Then, and only then, did he feel that an iPod nano would be a good fit for him and his green Macbook Pro. Well, little did we know (but you probably knew this) that the skinny tall nano has been discontinued, in favour of the "chubby" nano. The skinny nano has become virtually impossible to find in most electronic stores given this discontinuation and the subsequent sales that have been going on, and so we figured we were out of luck. It was a glaring example of our having technological awareness and simultaneously "missing the boat."

Fortunately, we did manage to locate one little skinny nano in the end,

...and it happened to be green, in keeping with Hubbs' favourite colour.

My point, I guess, is that we are perhaps too cheap to keep up with the advances in modern technology that seem to pop up every month. Or, perhaps, we are smarter than most - waiting until these new toys have been tested by the masses, and have established a positive reputation, and have gone on sale. Maybe we're just being responsible with our money, recognizing that a "need" and a "want" are not the same, and that owning a Roomba isn't exactly something that is high on our list of spending priorities.

Who's to say? But I know I am going to enjoy using my new little mouse, and Hubbs is going to continue to enjoy using his new iPod nano, for a good few years to come.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

PD Sucks for Perfectionists

I am a big fan of professional development, and the improvement of one's craft, whatever that might be. If you're not learning something new, you might as well be dead. That's my thought, anyway.

However, as a perfectionist, professional development (PD for short) is a double-edged sword. Of course it is great for picking up new strategies and skills and helping me as an educator to become a more effective one. However, it is also excruciating for me as a perfectionist to hear all the things that I can be improving on, because then it drives me into over-drive mode as I try to revamp everything I am doing to incorporate all of these strategies immediately. After all, if I'm not doing it the most effective way now, why would I not change it immediately in light of new information, to become more effective? PD also evokes all kinds of guilty feelings as I reflect on how I didn't do something perfectly in the days and weeks leading up to this new training session.

Yeah, yeah, sure, sure, I know it's a process and nobody is perfect the first time round, and the important thing is to take what you've learned and try to incorporate it slowly to make positive changes to enhance current effectiveness in the classroom. I know the platitudes. However, the crazed perfectionist in me has a very hard time with the idea of slow incorporation and gradual improvement, because if you already have a new set of "tools" to work with, why would you introduce them slowly when you know full well that the end result would be better served by using the whole set right away?!

This may be why I am losing my hair. I am a stress bucket of obsessive-compulsive perfectionism.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


The rumours are true. I derive some sick form of pleasure from the act of ironing, when I have time to do it leisurely. I don't know when this fancy for pressing began, but in recent years I have noticed myself ironing whilst watching TV, or ironing while chatting with Hubbs, and it has been quite cathartic and relaxing to me.

If I had to venture a non-professional theory on this, I would have to say that I probably like ironing because I like making things look better. There is something immensely satisfying about watching a nasty wrinkle disappear under a hot, steamy iron, transforming a withered looking shirt into an impressive, sharp-looking article of clothing. The whoosh of the iron as its steamy vapours shoot out in attack on wrinkles is very gratifying to see.

Perhaps this is also the reason why I secretly enjoy vacuuming and cleaning, as well. Running a powerful vac over a carpet and hearing the clackety-clack of debris being suctioned out of my flooring feels really good. So does spraying some cleaning agent and water over a filthy dirty area and watching the grime disappear under a paper towel or sponge.

Now before you start thinking I should consider a career in maid service, I have to qualify my sick fascinations. I only like ironing when I have time, and it's not something I am being forced to do because Hubbs needs a shirt to wear and all of his dress shirts are wrinkled. Likewise, I don't appreciate vacuuming if I have other, more important things to do (like prepping for my classes), and I abhor cleaning if it is done under the pressure of having guests come over.

But, time factors aside, all of these mundane chores (especially the ironing) give me a little thrill when done for pleasure. I'm sure a psychotherapist would have some fun trying to psychoanalyze what this is all about, but until I get a good analysis of my condition, I will continue on enjoying the chores that usually drive people crazy.

I'm actually excited about the 3 shirts awaiting my ironing today. :) I think I may be sick in the head.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Good to the Core

And good for the core! I saw a colleague of mine perched on this lovely little seat the other day, and I realized that I just had to have one for myself:

Yes, it is what it appears to be: an exercise ball chair. I got mine on sale for about $40, and so far, it has been a pretty decent investment. It's not altogether uncomfortable (my back is pretty strong, and my abs hidden beneath my tummy are also relatively strong), and it forces me to sit upright and to not cross my legs all the time in my computer chair.

Some very preliminary reviews of the product online (I didn't do a very thorough or responsible research job prior to this purchase - it was a buying decision made by gut instinct) seem to suggest that it is good for relieving lower back pain (which I have) and for improving posture and building core strength (which I need). It's also funky looking.

The ball chair also supports up to 300 pounds of weight, and even though I don't weigh nearly that much, it's good to know that this product is able to support me very well, and is also something that someone much heavier than I could use without fear. That said, I'm not too sure I want anyone over 250 to sit on my chair...just in case.

If you're in the market for a new office chair, why not give this one a try? It's definitely less expensive than many of the "ergonomically correct" chairs out there, and it is probably going to be better for you in the end! :)

"Hi, I'm a Christ-Follower"

Thanks to my colleague Bri-D, I located these thought-provoking parodies of the all-too-famous Mac vs. PC commercials. Done with exactly the same concept, they explore what it means to be a "Christian" versus a "Christ-follower" in today's world. I find the parodies to be excellent illustrations of what I am discovering myself: that the face of the Church, the worldwide body of believers who have been called out by God by grace to be His ambassadors, is changing. My experience has been that many people who are living out Jesus's commission today are no longer conforming to the legalistic standards that have become a part of the traditional churches of years past.

Anyway, there are 6 of these parodies on YouTube, and if you want to see them, just click on the image above, and you'll find them all linked up on the nice YouTube page. :)

Hi, I'm Mrs. Loquacious, and I'm a Christ-Follower.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Frequent Flyer

I have always envied those whose jobs offered them the luxury of travel. As a teacher, my job has no such perks....most of the time. Fortunately for me, however, this year I will have the chance to travel 2 provinces over, to attend (pro bono as part of my membership) a Christian teachers' convention. The convention is usually locally held due to the majority of the membership being from this area of the world, but every 10 years it travels eastwardly because there is a small number of schools belonging to the association located there.

I, it so happens, lucked out this year. I'm so excited...even if it *is* Winnipeg! :)

However, I'm even *more* excited about returning to the Promised Land, the land of milk and honey, the Paradise of Canada, VANCOUVER, in two months' time. It, too, is somewhat work related - Hubbs is attending DevTeach West there, and I am flying out to join him in the schmoozefest / networking that will take place in the evening hours following the conference.

The reason why I am so excited is that we will be staying at the Sheraton Wall Centre, which so happens to be the hotel at which Hubbs proposed to me three Novembers ago! Oh, the memories. I keep wondering if there will be rose petals on the bed this time 'round ;)

Though I work in a profession that doesn't permit me much travel, I have been fortunate enough to find ways to visit other cities anyway. Though I realize my two trips are hardly noteworthy (like a trip to Barbados or Italy might be), even these two occasions to wrack up some flyer miles are highlights to my simple mind and simple (or simplifying) life. I can hardly wait!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

O'Really, O'Reilly? - My New Toy

I am teaching a speech & debate class as part of my new job. This resulted in my need (yes, NEED) of a good voice recorder. One where I could burn files into CD format for replay to my students, or to store student work to keep for posterity (or until CDs go out of style).

I ran my potential purchase idea past Hubbs, and it turns out that *he* was also considering a digital voice recorder for podcast/Hot Developer Corner events. Even more coincidentally, we were both looking at the same Olympus Digitial WS-200S model. I wanted it because it was digital and on sale, and Hubbs wanted that one because O'Reilly blogger Giles Turnbull wrote up a very flattering review of it.

Of course, things never turn out as you would initi
ally think. The WS200S model was nowhere to be found in my city, despite it being promoted in a flyer for a local store that would indicate they had stock. As well, turns out Turnbull's review was 2 years old, and we know how quickly technology changes in 2 years.

I did find the updated cousin to the WS200s - the WS320M - and it was relatively affordable. So I bought it.

My new toy looks like this:

It has 1GB of internal flash memory, a plug-in USB port, WMA file formatting, and it can play mp3 files. I don't need all the fancy bells and whistles of this toy, but I do like that it is super light, super small, and easy to use. Mind you, I have yet to upload anything for burning onto CD, but I anticipate it won't be hard (and I can always consult with my techie Hubbs for advice).

So, thanks to the O'Reilly guys, I have a new toy that was approved for purchase (with full blessings) from Hubbs. I can't wait to test it out in my debate class! :)

Being Married...Happily So


Why do people say that the first year(s) of marriage are the most difficult? Is it the common experience of most newlyweds that their first years of marital bliss aren't quite so blissful? It stands to reason that merging two lives into one household (presuming no pre-existing cohabitation occurred) might require some compromise and adjustment, but is it really that hard?

Perhaps the statement is a bit of a misnomer, and misleading; perhaps one should instead be saying that each successive year of marriage is better than the last. And perhaps the statement should be qualified to only apply to those who make the effort to invest in, and build on, their marriage.

Hubbs and I are entering into year 3, having celebrated o
ur 2nd anniversary back in July. I can't say that our first year was super difficult, though of course there were moments of negotiation that had to take place as we learned to live with each other as man and wife. Since our first year, which was awesome, our marriage has only gotten better with time. That doesn't mean that our first year was fraught with insane levels of difficulty and challenge; it only means that something amazing has become ever more so over the years

To me, a marriage is what two people make of it. If their goals are aligned and they both wish for their marriage to remain intimate and affectionate like it was during their honeymoon, then they will take the steps necessary to ensure that this occurs. The so-called "honeymoon period" only ends when one or both parties decide to end it and to live differently than they did during the honeymoon phase of their relationship.

I've seen couples married from 5 to over 50 years remain on honeymooning terms with their spouses. The lovey-dovey affection hasn't appeared to fade in spite of age, time, children, or grandchildren. I've also seen people married for less than 5 years, who live as though they are merely roommates sharing a home and a bed, and who do not appear to nourish and cherish their couplehood as they would have done when they first got married. In the end, I suppose it is about choice, and how these spouses have decided to cultivate (or fail to cultivate) their marriages.

As for me and my Hubbs, we belong to the former category. Hubbs asked me a long time ago, "Why does the honeymoon period have to end?" It doesn't. We are committed to making ours last as long as we last in this life, and so we can quite confidently say that every subsequent year of our marriage will only be better than the last. :)

My mentor teacher laughs at me all the time when I tell her about Hubbs and I going on dates, or taking getaway trips, or generally being romantic. She teases that we're still on our honeymoon, because we're still newlyweds. I daresay that, after 2 years of marriage, we're technically not newlyweds anymore. That said, we'll always be like newlyweds, because in our minds, our honeymoon isn't ever going to end.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Put On My Dancing Shoes

I have a thing for shoes. Most women do, and I am among that majority. I especially have a thing for attractive looking, comfortable, affordable shoes. Sometimes my feet get all swollen from standing (the typical teaching day in my life) so I need professional-looking, attractive shoes that will accommodate my expanding feet and also not give me blisters.

Imagine my delight, then, to find the Naturalizer Aprika shoe. It's a last-season shoe, so it is on sale now and of course they only have the big and small sizes left in stock (which works for me, because I need to buy it a size larger to accommodate my foot swell anyway).

It's an all-leather shoe, with a soft and bendy rubber sole. It has an elastic stitching on the top of the shoe, so it fits well and stretches when necessary. It is ligthweight, high-heeled, and better still it feels amazingly soft on my feet; these shoes are the closest I've come to buying official dancing shoes (the kind that ballroom dancers and the people on "Dancing with the Stars" would wear) without dropping $200.

I am so very pleased with my purchase, even though I never go dancing anymore (is it an age thing? Maybe it's my 9:00 pm bedtime). It's good to know that if I ever decided to hit the dance floor, I won't be killing my feet to do so.

Now if only I could learn how to walk gracefully in heels, we'd be good to go. ;)

Friday, August 31, 2007

Don't You....Forget About Me! Don't Don't Don't Don't...


I do appreciate your patience as my blog goes through periods of silence and non-posting for a little while. It has been a busy season, one involving a new job, sleep deprivation, neglected chores, and lots of prep work.

I haven't forgotten about you; don't you forget about me either! :) I will, as time permits, swing in to wax eloquent on my thoughts and observations about my profession, my "kids," and life in general. However, the next two-three weeks will be mighty insane, and my first priority is Hubbs, and then my job.


It's interesting to note that I have almost always been in school. After my initial K-12 education, I spent another 8 years in post-secondary, interspersed with a few years of actual teaching in the classroom. Out of the 3 decades of my life thus far, 2.5 decades have been spent in school in some way.

Astounding, isn't it? I anticipate several more years (until the babies come) in the classroom, and many more years following my baby-hiatus. There must be something that just draws me into academia; like a drug, the intoxicating sights and sounds of people learning and growing and developing must give me a buzz.

I love school. I even love school supplies (so much so that I spend entirely too much money on it). I'm so glad I have been blessed with the opportunity to always be involved in school in some form or another. I couldn't imagine my life any other way.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Down about Discounts

To prepare for the garage sale we had over the weekend, I had to price everything that I wanted to sell. These included several sets of stoneware dishes (nothing fancy), many mismatched pieces of cutlery, a few cutting boards, an iron, a coffee maker, some vases, a GameCube console, mugs, some swag office bags, and knives.

For some reason, I had a hard time pricing my wares. I was entirely content to give everything away for free to some worthy charity, but when it came to my having to sell these things, I found myself wanting to mark up the prices to what I felt the items were worth... to me. In the case of the bags, many of them I wanted to mark up to $5 because they were brand new. It was hard for me to list things for $0.25 or even $3. Whoever heard of a $3 coffee maker?! An operable one, no less.

As people trickled in that morning, I was initially very very excited to see some of my stuff getting purchased for their marked prices, even if these were lower than my natural instinct would have priced them at. I was even willing to give an additional discount or two on items when people bought in large quantities. It never ceased to amaze me what people chose to buy; who would want a silly stuffed cushion, or wrought-iron pillar candle holders with wax stuck to the base of it? It was an interesting real-world example of the old adage, "one man's trash is another man's treasure." It also annoyed me to witness people attempting to haggle on an already-marked-down item; this wasn't the Ladies Market in Hong Kong, this was our garage sale!

Then the real sting of the sale hit. When the rain poured down and the clock struck 4:00, my savvy sis and bro-in-law knew that we had limited chances to rid ourselves of what remained in the garage. Their solution? Make them a deal. They marked a bunch of stuff down (my coffee maker ended up going for a measly $1), shoved all the $0.25 items onto the "free" table, and sold items in "sets" for lump sums.

It pained me to witness my valuable goods, all in working order and good condition, going for next to nothing. It would have been easier to give them away, I think, than watch them get so devalued at an end-of-day super sale.

And yet, as the sale wrapped up, I was informed that my stuff had brought in an extra $57. Not bad, considering how cheap we unloaded everything for. The remaining few items (there really weren't many) were loaded into the van and carted to Goodwill.

I learned a few lessons during this, my first, garage sale. I learned that a) the value of an item to me is not always the value of the item to someone else, b) people will always want to bargain down the price so it isn't wrong to price things according to how I value them, since that will always give me more room to haggle, and c) don't throw anything out that can be sold; one would be surprised at the sort of things that people are willing to buy!

I am now excited about our next garage sale (presumably to be held next summer). From here on, I am going to kick my packratitis into high gear and store up everything that we no longer need, for the future sale. Maybe, given my newfound insight into how to be a good seller, I'll be able to make $75 next year. Certainly, I know my prices are going to be a bit higher ;)

**** Incidentally, we found and adopted an abandoned filing cabinet this morning. Guess someone else's trash became my treasure =)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Never an Easy Road...

3 comments wealth. So many people, in desperate bids to get financially independent, or filthy stinkin' rich, fall prey to scams and pyramid schemes. So what, really, is at the heart of these gimmicks that would cause otherwise-rational and intelligent people to become suckered in?

I believe it is false hope; it is selling the dream, and the "promise of the good life," as Dateline's expose on one pyramid scheme puts it. It is the desire for something better in life, that you have to do "virtually nothing" to get. The idea is that if you invest "a little" now, you will reap bountiful returns in the future without having to work so hard. The only caveat is this: you will have to work very very hard right now, and/or invest hard-earned money up front.

So why do people leap at these "opportunities?" Personally, I think it is rooted in the deep-set dissatisfaction that some people have with their lives. Some hate their jobs, others hate their social status, and all of them want more free time in their day to spend with loved ones, and more money in their pockets to spend. These scams play on that dissatisfaction and on human nature's greedy desire to get something for virtually nothing. They then create false expectations that those who get involved will one day get their dreams realized. These normally-intelligent, rational people then willfully suspend their critical thinking skills and, in blind faith, follow after the gurus espousing these claims, investing both time and money in an organization where only the rich guys behind the business will actually get rich.

Recently, we were approached about a financial opportunity that would create for us passive income (up to $30,000/month, plus year-end bonuses!). We only had to sign up to become IBO's (independent business owners), buy Costco-esque quantities of household products and wares from "ourselves" (supplied by Amway affiliates), and get others we know to join our "team." We declined this "amazing opportunity."

So what made us refuse, when so many quite eagerly leap at such offers? Heck, we
'd love more income, and we certainly would not balk at having more free time.

The answer is this: we are satisfied with our lives. Hubbs and I don't hate our jobs; we could honestly work in our respective professions until retirement and still be passionately happy with what we do. We make decent coin doing it, too.

We also like our friends; we don't believe in "friendly solicitation" for the purposes of "building our business" and generating income off the backs of those we care about. We value others for who they are as people, not as potential moneymakers for us. As a result, anything remotely pyramidal holds no appeal to us.

We are also critical (and cynical) thinkers; we research everything, and we consider multiple
perspectives on the same thing before forming our own opinions. The schemes we have been approached with (two big ones to date) have always advised us against looking them up online, with the rationalization that there are people who are paid to slander these "opportunities" who will post anything on the Web just to ruin the companies involved. To us, that is a red flag in and of itself. Any self-imposed ignorance to the "other side" and alternate opinions and perspectives suggests that there is something to hide, and also that the people involved in these operations are too biased to fairly speak to the reputability of their schemes.

Finally, we have lived long enough to know that there is no easy way to "think and grow rich" a la "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" (books oft quoted by these pyramidal schemes). There is only hard work, wise investing, and informed spending. No money tree is suddenly going to sprout in our backyard, and no $30K/month will be coming our way from simply buying toilet paper from ourselves and signing up (and potentially alienating) all of our friends into this false hope scheme.

To all of you out there who have whole-heartedly bought into these schemes, good luck. You will need it.

To those of you whose eyes are opened to these scams for what they are, keep thinking and keep asking questions and never lose your ability to be a critical consumer. This ability to use your brain will ultimately protect you, and your hard-earned savings, from monetary poachers like those involved in these scams.

Incidentally, if you are currently involved in a pyramid or MLM scheme, and you know me personally, please do not approach Hubbs or I with your "amazing opportunities." We will most certainly decline.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Jason Bourne's Ultimatum - A Review


I remember when the first two Bourne movies came out. I remember watching them, and enjoying them. However, I remembered not what they were about. ;)

When I was asked to see the movie with Hubbs, then, I wasn't sure what to expect. I knew the movie would be good, and I would like it, but I had zero recollection of what the trilogy was about. Thankfully, Hubbs had never watched the Bourne movies before, so we needed to watch them for his benefit anyway. Turns out, it was for my benefit too.

Re-watching the first two Bourne flicks helped me remember what the premise of the story was, and the ending of the second film definitely helped me to figure out the context of the opening scenes of the third movie, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

This third (and final) flick in the trilogy follows Bourne (picking up from the end of the second movie) as he returns to American soil to find out what had happened to him. In the process, there are lots of car chases and shoot-outs and casualties, a direct consequence of certain members of the CIA not wanting deep dark ugly secrets to be revealed. The ending is a little surprising, and the story is completed in a way that allows most of the questions raised in the first two movies, to be answered.

I really enjoyed that the movie was suspenseful, exciting, action-packed, and also quite tightly written. There were no obvious gaping plot holes, and the actors were all very convincing in their roles. My only beef with the movie is that it was obviously shot quite some time after the second film, since both Matt Damon and Joan Allen looked a significant bit older than what they should have looked like if the time lapse had been only a few weeks. That took me out of the story a little bit; I kept looking at them and thinking, "Wow! They look so old now!"

That said, I highly recommend watching this movie, especially after you've re-watched Bourne Supremacy. The writers obviously planned ahead and wrote a storyline that is intricately woven, and well thought-out. I usually find that third movies aren't that great, but this last episode of the trilogy is probably almost as good (if not equally so) as the first movie. Go watch it with an expectation to be thrilled (and nauseated from the camera work) and entertained: you won't be disappointed.

I Feel Like Templeton - Packratitis Part Deux

I'm sure you remember him - he was the pack rat in Charlotte's Web with the greedy disposition. Well, I have been reminded of my own greed recently, the result of cleaning out my storage room (and now my home) in search of things to sell off at our multi-family garage sale this weekend.

Who knew I could have accumulated so much stuff, and stuff I don't even need?!? In my cleaning endeavors I discovered a brand new set of knives I forgot existed, and I learned that I have about 7 coffee mugs too many. I also realized that our gorgeous set of cutlery (a wedding gift from off our registry) was starting to collect dust because I had been greedily holding on to my old cutlery, refusing to be rid of it since it was still functional (at what point do forks and spoons become non-functional? Quarter to never.). Add to that an old iron (still functional) and an old coffee maker (also in good working order), plus several plastic cutting boards and nearly a dozen plastic meal containers. What was I storing these things up for? A war?!?

In going through our multitude of boxes and suitcases, I also found many "treasures" in the form of gifts from former students, stuffed animals I forgot I owned, way too many books I no longer read (or knew I had), and several sets of dishes that I had packed away, intending to give away, but never got around to doing. My thorough cleaning also yielded an abundance of cardboard boxes (ones that formerly housed Hubbs' Transformer guys, or small kitchen appliances, or laptop computers) and many unsellable items, like expired vitamins and protein powder and old Easter candies (from at least a year ago).

Highly embarrassed, I find myself wondering how I could have accumulated such an abundance of junk, especially when I returned to Canada no more than 3 years ago, with only 4 suitcases' worth of stuff. I have also been regularly purging our home of unused clothing items and (so I thought) other broken and/or unwanted items, like old humidifiers and vacuum cleaners and blenders. How did all these other things escape notice?

I need to lead a simpler life, I've concluded. Actually, both Hubbs and I have realized this. We have excesses that we do not really need or want, and these things clutter up our homes and our lives. We need to get rid of the things that weigh us down, that have little or no value to us, and that do not enrich us as people.

This garage sale is a first step, but I think the process of simplification, of undoing the greed, will be a far longer journey. It will require Hubbs and I to re-evaluate what is important to us, and what is disposable. It will force us to scrutinize our spending habits and our lifestyle, and to eliminate things that are a waste of our space and time and money. It will require sacrifice - the giving up of our "wants" and our frivolous desires borne out of human nature's inclination to possess.

Most importantly, it will require that we change our thinking. We need to stop equating needs with wants, stop comparing our "stash" with those of others, and stop believing that happiness and self-worth are derived from what one has, rather than who one is.

It's going to be a hard journey, and a long one at that, but let's see if we can't succeed in making our lives a little less cluttered and greed-ridden and materialistic, shall we?

Friday, August 10, 2007

My Yummy Sandwich


My meals are pretty predictable. I tend to eat what I like, and if I like something I will eat it exclusively for a while, until I am sick of it or something new and yummy comes along to take its place.

My new breakfast obsession has been the toasted tomato bocconcini sandwich. I am having a half-sandwich for breakfast every morning. I know, it's vegetarian, and it sounds flavourless and untasty, but trust me when I say it is delicious! The texture of moist sliced tomato, crispy toasted whole-grain bread, and soft creamy young mozza together is a perfect combination, and it is healthy, too!

Just like it sounds, the ingredients are toasted multigrain/whole-grain bread, sliced bocconcini, and sliced tomato, with a dash of salt and pepper to taste. Add fresh basil and a drizzle of olive oil if you must, but I don't bother with that. Layer the ingredients between the bread, and enjoy! Easy peasy.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Not Feeling It

At this present moment, I am unemployed. The unfortunate nature of the profession dictates that most new (or temporary contract) teachers get hired and assigned last, sometimes even into the school year (like mid-September, or mid-October). I currently have the unenviable position of being a "new" teacher, in spite of my previous years of experience in the classroom overseas.

Bottom line is, I have no job, and no particular indication as to when I might actually secure a job in my field. I think I should be worried, or anxious, or something. I get a lot of reassuring comments from people around me who presume that I am sick with anxiety over my unemployed status, and they offer up comforting words like, "You're a good teacher, I know you will get something good.
Don't worry, you'll find something soon."

The problem is, I'm not worried at all. AT ALL. Should I be?

guess I don't operate on the same levels of anxiety and concern that most people in the world do. Part of this comes from the fact that I am not a starving, debt-ridden person; my Hubbs works hard to make sure that he can support both of us on his income. The other, greater part comes from my faith. I guess I am not fearful because I believe whole-heartedly that I was called into the teaching profession (think Jonah, after the big fish event). If this is what I am supposed to do, and a divine Creator has called me to the task, I have no doubt that He will provide the opportunity for me to do what I am intended to do. So why should I be afraid? Why should I be concerned?

Sure, there are the normal stresses that cross my mind: "What if I don't have enough time to plan my units and lessons and set up my room before the first day of class? What if I have to establish routines with my students two months into the school year? Will that be too late?" However, even these thoughts do not raise my blood pressure or speed up my pulse, because that same faith tells me that I will not be doing anything by my own strength and wisdom alone, but the One who has put me in a place to teach will equip me with whatever I need to do the best job that I can.

Some lyrics from an older praise-and-worship song that has been running in my head have been the following:

Fear not, for I am with you
Fear not, for I am with you
Fear not, for I am with you

Says the Lord.

I have redeemed you, I have called you by name
Child, you are Mine.

When you walk through the waters, I will be there.

And through the flame,

You'll not be drowned,

You'll not be burned,

For I am with you.

So I'm not feeling it - the fear, the worry. But I will keep you posted for when the good news comes, which it surely will. :)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

So Right.

I am referring to Apple's new aluminum iMac desktop. Sure, I don't NEED a new comp; my little Toshiba laptop is running fine. That said, how much sexier would my desk look (and my whole place, for that matter) if I owned this:

Seriously, this thing oozes sexy and sleek and modern and chic. And we all know that these days, Macs are a bazillion times cooler than the rest of the lot.

I think my next purchase will be an iMac, and it will be soon. ;)