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A Difficult Day

Ottawa, Parliament
Today has been a very difficult day. It was heart-wrenching to hear that a young man who lives nearby, Corporal Nathan Cirillo, was murdered while on respectful guard duty at the War Memorial in Ottawa. The War Memorial is a place where we honour and remember those who have fought to protect our freedoms and those of our allies. It was heart-wrenching to see our Parliament Buildings turned into a combat zone; a place that represents the very heart of our country, and one where we find peaceful solutions to our problems; where all are welcome. Today wasn't about the murderer. Today was about understanding that today does not change who we are or how we think. We may not wear our patriotism on our sleeves, but make no mistake - we are very proud of our country. Part of that pride means that while we call ourselves a peaceful nation, we will stand and fight any who try to take that away from us. It may seem an odd duality to some, but we take pride both in our peacekeeping history and in the efforts of our police services (RCMP, CSIS, military, police, etc.). Never has that been more apparent to me than today when calmness prevailed among our citizens even as our police services sprang immediately and impressively into action. As one of our leaders said tonight, today was not the day Canada lost its innocence; we have always known that we could be targeted by terrorists. We simply choose not to let that dictate the way we live our lives. We will be thankful not only for our fellow Canadians, but also to all those in the many countries who sent us their support today.

This and That

Snow leopard
I have friends and family who can't understand why I re-read some books, and I think I'm ready to give up trying to explain it to them. It's not complicated; I do it because, first, these are books that I really enjoyed and I get that same joy every time I read them and second, because I seem to find it hard to find really good books that are new to me. That said, I'm annoyed because the Michael Crummey book "Galore", which I had placed a hold request for at my library came in, but for some unknown reason the email went to my junk mail folder and I missed it (it's got a lot of holds on it because my city has chosen it as it's One Book: One City book for 2014). It's weird, because I get their notices about items about to become due. Go figure.

In other news, my daughter has been working this week at her new job with an archaeology company; unfortunately, it's not going so well. The work is extremely demanding physically, she gets no direction in how to do things (which result in it taking her a lot longer to do things than others), and the other employees are downright taciturn. She works 10 hours a day and comes home exhausted. The point of taking the job was because she thought it would look good on her resume, but I have serious doubts about that now, and the physical toll on her is high. I told her to quit if it's too much; no job is worth this.

My son recently told me he feels he'll be able to move out on his own soon, which I know he's wanted to do for awhile. Then he added the caveat "so long as Dad could help me out a bit - maybe $100 a month or so". Um, yeah, Dad will be officially retired next month, taking a serious drop in income (one that was not supposed to happen for another 5 years). I'm trying to find work, even though it'll be very hard on me physically, just to help out. My son seems to have a different definition for "being on my own" than I do.

And finally - we have a bee problem IN THE HOUSE. This is not good, especially because my daughter has a huge bee phobia. Hubby blocked up some small hole in the brick outside where he saw some bees going in, and now we think some got blocked in and are somehow finding their way into the basement. Now we have to try and figure out exactly where they're coming into the basement and hopefully block that up too.

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Fan Expo - Still Excited!

DW#11 with phone
Yesterday my daughter and I went to Fan Expo in Toronto. First the bad - Karen Gillan was a last minute drop out for Saturday (she was apparently tired), and Nathan Fillion was the ONLY celebrity doing autographs who refused to allow fans to take pictures of him while doing so (he actually had a flunky standing in front of him who would look for people aiming a camera in the star's direction and suddenly hold up a big placard preventing the person from getting a picture, although my daughter got one anyway).

Now the good stuff. While we didn't have the money to buy autographs or photo ops, we did go to the Doctor Who panel where we got a terrific hour with Matt Smith (the 11th Doctor) and Arthur Darvil (who played Rory Williams, one of the Doctor's companions). The hour was hosted by the two men who do the Innerspace show on Space TV, and they spent their time running around the audience who got to ask questions of Matt and/or Arthur. The only other time I've seen Matt appearing as himself was on Craig Ferguson's talk show and I have to say he has become much more comfortable and at ease in public. The two men made the hour whiz by and I enjoyed every minute of it, many of those minutes spent laughing my head off. I found out things I didn't know, such as that the BBC didn't actually pick up season 5 of Doctor Who until AFTER Matt and Arthur had already filmed several episodes. Then Matt called the BBC "idiots" for even contemplating cancelling DW, which made me laugh. They talked about the pressure of doing such an iconic show, with Matt relating how, after it had been announced they he would be the new Doctor, he'd be out at a pub and strangers would come up to him and tell him "Don't ruin it!", "so yeah, no pressure at all" he added. They both came across as great guys, and I would highly recommend that if you ever get the chance to see them in a similar situation to do so. Oh, and when an audience member asked if they'd sing as part of their group "Karen and The Babes", they did so without hesitation and it was great. So I will definitely have great memories of my first Fan Expo.

As an added plus, while cruising along the autograph signing area, we saw not only Matt and Arthur but also Elijah Wood, Adam West and Burt Ward (the original TV Batman and Robin), Hulk Hogan, Nathan Fillion, a bunch of cast members from The Walking Dead, and many others.

Was there a down side? Well, having to line up for almost 2 hours for the Doctor Who panel left me pretty stiff and sore today, but it was definitely worth it!

The Storm Before the Calm

Snow leopard
Thursday everyone (hubby, son, MIL) leave for Scotland, so of course today hubby goes into his usual "omg, it's two days till we leave, I should be DOING something!" mode. He has no idea what he should be doing, just that he should be doing something. So I tell him what he needs to do and all is well. lol. Really, the only job he has to do with trips is to pack his camera bag. All things considered, it's actually quite calm here today. Tomorrow will be a bit crazy I'm sure, so I'll take the calm while I can get it. My MIL is one of those "cleanliness is next to godliness" types so of course I cleaned the house from top to bottom because she'll be coming here briefly before they all head off. Still, at least I'll have a nice clean house while everyone's away (and nobody to mess it up).

My daughter is now on the final edits for her thesis. Seventy-five pages just for the body of the thesis. I find that mind-boggling. She's going to send it to me tonight and I'm really looking forward to reading it. Her advisor (apparently they don't call them professors in Scotland; there, a professor is what we would refer to as a dean), spoke to her again today about the fact that she wants to get my daughter's thesis published in a professional journal, so that's pretty exciting. Of course my daughter is filled with self-doubt and second-guessing herself. For example "I found out one of my classmates has 20 more sources for their literature review than I do". Well, that would be because she isn't doing original research (the other student). "Oh, yeah, you're right" daughter admitted. It's actually a good thing there isn't a lot of time before she has to submit it to the publisher (Thursday).

On a completely different note, I mentioned in an earlier post that I've been reading Dean Koontz's "Frankenstein" series, but that I found something unspecific unsettling about them. Well, I figured out what the "unspecified" thing is. Basically it's a series of books about the original Doctor Frankenstein and his monster who have both survived into current times. The Doctor has now created a new race - basically grown them in a lab - which he considers to be superior in all ways to the "old race" (normal humans). I finally got it. The "new race" is actually supposed to represent those of us who have no faith - atheists. And of course the "new race" begins to break down to their base instincts of violent sex and killing because of course (sarcasm) anyone with no faith has no moral code. And the Doctor represents science - the new sciences particularly of cloning and genetic manipulation. So now I'm pissed at the whole series. In a very much "Fuck you, Mr. Koontz" kind of way. Why do some people think that either a) people who have faith depend on it to supply their moral code or b) people who don't have faith don't need it because they "don't need a god to tell them how to live their lives". Both assumptions are way off base. As is Mr. Koontz in theses books. I can't even call them a "cautionary tale"; I've read lots of sci-fi in that genre, and believe me, this doesn't fit. So, I will probably finish the book I'm on, but I have no desire to read more in the series. Especially since this isn't the first time I've been pissed at Koontz for throwing in faith-based elements that I find very off-base.

So now I'm going to have a glass of wine and sit back and enjoy the realization that in a few weeks I'll get to meet Doctor Who (#11), Amy and Rory. There is no bad there.

Make Up Your Mind Already!

Keep Calm
My husband is driving me nuts. Over and over and over we discuss the trip to Scotland. I thought it was all planned and booked over a week ago. Now I find out he's been booking hotels all over the place because he "might" decide to go there. So, they leave in 8 days and he is STILL undecided about where to stay and how many nights. This is not rocket science! This is also why I ALWAYS do the planning and booking for our trips. I think he felt he should get involved this time because I'm not actually going. Honestly, it would've been less frustrating if he'd just butted out. The worst part? What he's wound up with is what I recommended in the first place. Then our son got involved. At that point I left the table - too many cooks. Tonight, I'm going to bed REALLY early. Just to remove myself from the whole discussion I'm taking a sleeping pill, and nobody better talk to me before tomorrow morning (and none too early tomorrow morning either).

Sigh. To be honest, the more involved I get and the closer the departure day gets, the more I realize how disappointed I am that I'm not going. I'm okay with my decision - I would never forgive myself if I went and something happened to our 20 year old cat, but, I'm only human, so yes, I'm disappointed. I've been rewatching the Harry Potter movies and things keep jumping out at me such as "Oh, that's Hagrid's hut; they filmed that near Glencoe in Scotland, where my family is going", or "Oh look, there's a Highland cow, which I'm sure my family will see lots of over there (for some reason I love those cows)". Or "Oh, there's the bridge over the Glenfinnian Viaduct that they'll probably see". Perhaps not the best movie choices at the moment.

Oh well, I have to go give the senior kitty her pills, make sure all cats are in and have food down, then I'm doing what I said - going to bed early! Perchance to sleep.

Book Post

Snow leopard
It's been a long time since I've done a book post (okay, a long time since I've done much posting of any kind). Recently, I've read four books:

1. Dark Witch, by Nora Roberts. I really found the "voice" of the main character, Iona Sheehan, annoying for the first part of the book. I actually stopped reading it, but eventually went back. I can't recommend this book because of that; Iona's voice often reads like someone's writing her who has no experience in writing, and with Nora Roberts, this obviously isn't true. I expected better from her. I will say that if you can get past the first few chapters, it gets better - but not great. At this point, I feel no urgency to continue to read the trilogy, and that's really not something an author wants.

2. Frankenstein series by Dean Koontz. I read the first book in this trilogy (Prodigal Son) several years ago, and while I don't remember it very well, it was good enough to make me want to read the second book (City of Night). I enjoyed the 2nd book, although I did find it disturbing in some of its imagery. I am reading the 3rd book now, and while I thought it was a trilogy, I see on Amazon that there is a Book 5 in the series, so obviously it goes on. I'm not a big fan of series that go for more than 3 books, but that's a personal issue. I tend to want to read a whole series at once, then I get fed up after 3 or 4 books. I would recommend the first two books in this series. Book 3 I will discuss when I'm finished.

3. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Note: I have not seen the movie. I liked this book. Having been on both sides of the cancer equation (lived through my mother having and dying of cancer when I was in my late teens/early twenties, and had cancer myself later on), I had no qualms about reading this - in fact, I was drawn to it. I liked that the main characters aren't built up to be some kind of heroes, although I have to say I did see the "big surprise" coming. I found the characters were very realistic - refreshingly so. Is it a tearjerker? Well, it made me cry, but not for the reasons your might expect. Still, I'm glad I read it and I would recommend it.

4. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. After fruitlessly looking in Chapters for this book (fruitless because I thought it had the word "Austen" in the title - shame on me, wrong Jane!), I finally found it online. I have always loved the book Jane Eyre (and the movie versions), so I was intrigued by the concept. Basically, detectives investigate crimes involving books - changing things in books, etc. There is also a machine which allows people to actually enter a book and interact with the characters - even to kidnap those characters, or change things. I liked the idea of the book; I have never read something similar, and I always like new ideas (or at least, ideas that are new to me). The only thing I found off-putting about the book was the romance between the main female character and her former beau. It seemed like something that was thrown in as an afterthought. I can picture the author thinking "Oh, people who liked Jane Eyre/Charlotte Bronte are predominantly female, so I should add some romance". Grr. Note to authors: women DON'T need a book to have a romantic element in order to enjoy it. Will I read more in the series? Undecided at the moment. Do I recommend it? Yes, because it has some original ideas. Just ignore the romance element.

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Doctor Who

DW#11 with phone
First, my daughter convinced me I NEEDED (her words) to go to FanExpo in Toronto this year. So, I agreed. Mainly because Matt Smith was going to be there. Today I got urgent messages from my daughter. "Read your email. NOW!" "I'm calling you on Skype NOW!". Turns out Matt's bringing a few friends along; he, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill (#11, Amy and Rory) are all going to be doing a panel. We have our tickets. Woo hoo!!! I was excited that Matt Smith was coming; this is an unexpected bonus. The only unfortunate thing is that the DW people are going to be there on Saturday, which is the day I'll be going, but the Star Trek people (William Shatner, Sir Patrick Stewart) will be there on Sunday. My daughter's thinking about going both days (she is a recent ST:TNG convert), but there's no way I could walk/stand for a second day in a row. William Shatner comes pretty much every year, and much as I would love to meet him, I'll have to pass this year (maybe next year though). Also appearing on Saturday will be Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Castle), and T.J. Thyne from Bones among others, so it should be pretty exciting. Now, if they could just get Alex Kingston (River Snow).

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One-Armed Bandit

Snow leopard
Today was a cleaning day. Between my abdominal surgery and my broken wrist, not a lot of cleaning got done around here these past couple of weeks (God forbid anyone else should offer to pitch in). So today I did the entire second floor; 2 full bathrooms, 4 bedrooms and a hallway. The only thing I skipped was washing the floor of one bathroom. Keep in mind I'm doing all this without the use of my dominant hand. Not bad, I'd say.

I also took Kapsersky off my laptop. It was creating a memory leak and slowing my whole computer down enormously. I don't blame Kapersky, I blame Microsoft. They KNOW Windows 8.1 has problems with memory leaks. So . . . fix it. Don't tell me to remove this and that; give me a fully functional Windows program.

And - last night was the first time I saw Anthony Head appearing as himself. I didn't see him in person - I saw him on an old episode of Craig Ferguson 's late night talk show. I'm always leery of seeing an actor appearing as himself. Years ago when I was a teenager I saw a heartthrob on Johnny Carson; I was so excited he was going to be on, and then he revealed himself to be a total jerk. Couldn't enjoy any of his work after that. But, Tony was great. And Tony + Craig was fantastic. I didn't know Craig Ferguson was in the same Rocky Horror production that Tony starred in. Tony just seemed to be having so much FUN, that you couldn't help but smile and laugh along with him. So, now I can relax. No jerks here. Quite the opposite.

Target

Snow leopard
I was just reading an article about whether or not Target should remain in Canada. Personally, unless they undergo some dramatic changes for the better, I would vote "not". Last year when they opened, I went to several. We were promised stores that, while prices would be higher than at Wal-Mart, quality would be a lot better. What we got were higher prices with inferior quality. Honestly, the quality of the clothing was crap. And in the winter not a single warm garment in the women's deparment. Hello?! This is Canada, the Great White North. It gets COLD here in the winter. So why would I shop at Target when I can go across the street and get better quality and better prices at Wal-Mart. Add to that the fact that Target is filled with a lot of empty shelves, something I never see in other department stores here. Why is Target the only one with a problem in this area? A problem they don't have in their American stores. If Target doesn't smarten up the decision as to whether or not to stay will be made for them - by the consumers.

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A is for Apple

Keep Calm
You know how little things can really bug you? Well, here's my complaint; why do I increasingly often see people using "a" instead of "an" and vice-versa? I remember a few years ago seeing Justin Bieber on a talk show, and the host asking him what he had thought of Lady Gaga's outfit, and he replied, "She was a egg". No, she was AN egg. There's probably an exact rule but I was taught that if a word begins with a vowel sound (owl, homage), it is preceded by "an", while if the words starts with a consonant sound (one, honey), it is preceded by "a". It's a little thing, I know, but it drives me nuts when I see it. Giles would definitely not approve.

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