Saturday, November 28, 2009

when fantasy and reality collide

my trips to windsor and toronto are all booked up.  already, my schedule is full.  a meeting with colleagues.  a 2 day forum on trafficking.  a christmas party.  a date.  a brunch.  a lot of talking, no doubt.  yay. 

yay in a way that i still cannot comprehend and now it seems weird to say too much because where i used to make jokes about things that i never thought would happen, they have all of a sudden become my personal life.  and the personal life of someone else, which was always my policy not to blog about.  read between the lines, if you like.

and i realised that i never did update you on the status of my trip this christmas.  i'm currently in the stages of preparing for a 12 day roadtrip around ireland with a girlfriend.  i am most looking forward to staying in a posh hotel for christmas eve, the christmas lunch, drinking guinness, and meeting irish people (including a former coworker who has invited us to stay with her in cork!).  the part that i am not so looking forward to is the dent this is going to be putting in my pocketbook.  and learning how to drive standard on the other side of the road!

Friday, November 27, 2009

flying colours

well, i passed my allergy test and i am officially allergy free.  so what causes my constant congestion and ickiness?  dust, dryness, the environment.  none of which i can get rid of.  the allergist suggested that i move to hawaii.  hmpf.  as positive as this is, i really did want an answer to my congestion, but i suppose not having a problem is good news.  and it means that sinus rinses are the way forward.

he also checked my lungs for asthma and i scored 100% on all three measures that they test for.  he said that that rarely happens, which is music to a type a personality's ears.  all that running, never smoking a cigarette in my life, and not being overweight are sure paying off!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

i list

shamelessly stolen from k.

I Am – blessed.  which is really not a word i used very often, but i was thinking the other day that i really am blessed.

I Want – to understand how to help others without being condescending or patronising.

I Have – rather big feet for my stature.

I Wish – i could do more.

I Hate – very few things.  and try not to use the word 'hate' in my daily life after i once said i 'hated' a song and my friend called me on it and said that was a lot of negative energy to put in the world.  i agreed.

I Fear – loosing control, having surgery, blood tests, and birds when they flap their wings when they are taking off.

I Hear – the din of my cubicle farm.

I Search – for comfortable socks and underwear.  and myself on google.

I Wonder – where i will be in 2 years', 5 years', and 10 years' time.

I Regret – nothing.  there is a lot i wish never happened, but i don't regret it.  if that makes sense.

I Love – my family.  they are the funniest people i know.

I Ache – when i eat chocolate or ice cream.

I Always – use q tips to clean my ears.

I Usually – do not get enough sleep.

I Am Not – sure what i want to be when i grow up.

I Dance – like a white girl.

I Sing – at home when i am alone and wonder if anyone can hear me.

I Never – wear mismatched socks.

I Rarely – just have one glass of red wine.

I Cry – when i am really happy.

I Am Not Always – punctual, even though i wish i was.

I Lose – my cool when i feel as though i am being manipulated or forced to do something against my will.

I’m Confused – about climate change.  and carbon capture.  and if we are really doomed no matter what we do or don't do.

I Need – to have my hair coloured.

I Should – eat more regular and balanced meals.

I Dreamin bollywood, sometimes.

I Hope – that my trip to toronto is lots of excitement and fun.

I Feel – a bit useless today.

I Appreciate – my family more now than ever before.

keeping it safe

i took an internet and social networking security workshop yesterday at my office and i learned a few things that i thought i would share in case they are useful to anyone else.
  • do not post status updates about your whereabouts, especially if you are going to be out of town.  in fact, the police will now ask you if you posted online if you would be away when they investigate break and enters.
  • never use third party application in facebook, they do not have to follow any rules set by facebook and can have harmful effects on your computer or system.
  • make sure you have anti-virus software installed AND that it is turned on.
  • banks have decreased their liability for covering fraudulent charges with the new chip and pin cards, so you should be exceptionally protective of your pin (unlike i was today during a visa purchase when i had to look up my pin and was obtuse about making obvious what i was doing).
  • have other manners of communicating with your contacts so that if you social networking site is hacked into and someone claims to be you, you can clarify it immediately before money is sent or your reputation is damaged.
  • set up a google alert for your name so you will be notified if anything new is posted on the internet about you.  this goes along with googling yourself to see what is out there (especially important to those of us dating or looking for a job, because you know they are doing it too!)
  • you do not own any of the material posted on facebook (and most other social networking sites), including wall posts, photos, and videos.
  • if you would like something removed from facebook or youtube because it has you in it, just email the company and they will likely have it removed rather than have to deal with lawsuits.
  • canada's privacy laws are making it difficult for facebook as they have to change some of their practices to be in compliance with our systems and laws.
some of it seems pretty simple, but a few of them i had never thought of before.  if you get the chance to take such a workshop, i do recommend it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

give it to the universe

it turns out that i am going to do better than i thought with my eight for twenty eight goals that i set earlier this year.  the one that i wasn't going to do as well as i had hoped was # 7 - visit friends who live in other places.

but it turns out that i get to experience more success with this goal than i previously expected because when i go to the conference on human trafficking in windsor, ontario next week, i have to fly through toronto and it just makes sense to stick around after the conference and visit with three of my favourite people who happen to live there.  one is a friend from high school (although we weren't actually friends in high school), one is her lovely boyfriend, and the other is my former boss who has since become a sort of mentor.  it promises to be a fantastic visit, no matter what we do.

this does mean that i will have to miss out on some fun back here in calgary, but i think it will be worth it to spend some additional time in the t dot.  and i am giving this one to the universe and i am confident that there is a reason i am going, even if i won't find out until later.

and if a certain someone decides to reply to my email then there might also be a rendezvouz of sorts in the big city.  that would be grand, just grand.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

looking into the crystal ball

my girls and i had our monthly ladies' night last night and this time, to make it a little more interesting, we invited a psychic to join us and to do readings while we enjoyed our wine and tarts.  here is what she said:
  • i should be a teacher or be teaching people, that is what i am here to do
  • i will be moving to toronto in march or april and it will be for a job
  • i try to be a master of whatever i choose to do
  • i will likely go back to school to do a phd and this will be somewhere in eastern canada
  • i might not have children because my life will revolve around my career and my husband
  • my future is very positive
  • my life will have many recurring patterns, a number of endings and beginnings
  • my emotional health is good now and to keep it good, i should always exercise
  • whoever i am meant to marry is in toronto and i am supposed to meet him next fall and it might be someone from my past, someone i have met a few years ago
  • my brothers are going to be aok, even though one will experience various challenges, but he will just need us to let him know we care
and what do i think about all this stuff?  that much of what i heard made a lot of sense and makes me happy and excited about the future.  i think that i would like to have a family one day so i am doubtful that i would focus only on my career and not have children.  and i am not too sure what was going on with me marrying someone i already know because i really cannot think of someone i already know (unless of course we are talking about a certain someone that i met last week!) and the flip side of that is that i will meet someone next fall, but that just feels so far away!

going back to uni, getting a phd, and becoming a professor though?  absolutely!  i would love to and i think that being a form of a teacher or sharer of wisdom sounds like a good life plan for me.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

never forget

'never forget:
justice is what love looks like in public'
~ dr cornel west

i had the opportunity to see the film call + response last night and it is such a well crafted piece of advocacy on human trafficking as well as a few hours of solid entertainment.

if you love music, demand social justice, and want to support worthy causes, see this movie and then buy the soundtrack on itunes.

Friday, November 20, 2009

i think this deserves an 'omg'

i can't even begin to tell the internet how fantastic and amazing last night's event was.

and how even more fantastic and amazing the email i received this morning is!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

still asking for what i want

over a month ago, i found a conference in canada on human trafficking that i thought looked interesting and i brought it to the attention of my supervisors at my part-time position.  she said our organisation would not be represented, but i was free to go on my own accord.

this morning, i got an email from the organiser of the conference saying that i had been recommended by my supervisor to attend the conference as there had been additional funding received from the federal government to have more organisations represented and they could now pay for me to go.

i am excited to go to the conferece, excited to do some more of that networking thing, but not so excited to go to windsor, ontario!  i know a lot of people all over the country, but none that i can think of in windsor!  i don't even know where the city is or what it has (apart form some ancient auto factories, i would assume), but i feel pretty lucky to be going and see it as another great opportunity.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

god love him

all my pleas for the federal government to hire steve a stylist could not even have prevented this embarassing piece of canadian history:

Monday, November 16, 2009

oh snuffy!

my sister sent me this link that shows the 101 muppets of sesame street and it made me smile on a monday morning.

snuffleupagus was my favourite (but i thought it was spelled snuffalupugus), who was yours?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

a full two days

please forgive the cryptic list, but i had a fantastic weekend and included the following things, in no particular order and sometimes concurrently:
  • a date at the farmer's market
  • a drink with my parents and a catch up with their friends
  • an exboyfriend siting
  • a rip around town in a gorgeous bmw
  • late night bottle of wine with a newer friend who i know will be a long time friend
  • celebrating one of my oldest friend's birthday
  • running into an old high school friend and it wasn't even awkward
  • a massage that hurt it was so good
  • chilling out with my bros
  • brunch with 3 lovely ladies and delicious huevos rancheros made by hand from scratch
  • covert actions to determine the source of missed calls
  • a job application for a research position
  • helping someone tame their crazy
  • a gift of a small christmas tree and gorgeous roses
  • confirmation that i have a table for 10 to fill for stephen lewis and jian ghomeshi
  • text messages from former gentleman suitors

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

that's curious

not sure how that post got to sneak up the line to say that it was posted today, november 11th.  it wasn't.  it is old.  and was posted a few years back.  strange.

it’s been awhile...

(march 16, 2008)

i have been working in mombasa, which is not a bad place to work if you don’t mind the excruciating heat and humidity and love the beach. my hotel had cnn and al jazeera so i am well informed of the news. go tibetans. sleezy senators (or governors?). poor new yorkers. cold and snowy canadians.

i got some beach time in, achieved a touch of the sun burn, bought some more kanga, and drove around in tuk tuks. i also had to face a moral dilemma whereby the participants in my workshop were lying to me to get more money. now tell me something, in countries like the uk, canada, or the us (i ask you because i know people in all these countries visit me here regularly), do you provide money to those who attend your workshops/conferences/trainings to cover their transportation to and from the venue (if they live in the city or nearby areas) as well as a stipend to cover accommodation for those travelling from out of town?

if you found out that those coming from out of town were actually going back home to sleep and then returning in the morning, do you think they are still eligible for this accommodation stipend? my answer is no. my participants’ answers were yes.

when i outright asked them if they were staying in town that night, all but 2 said they were. i have good reason to believe none of them actually stayed and pocketed the money instead. even the priests and pastors were amongst the dishonest, nice. go jesus.

i made the executive decision not to give them money on the second day. it may cause some concern when i get back to work tomorrow because i did not stick to our budget and our donor may wonder why we planned so inaccurately (answer: the government told me to and i have to listen to them as per my organisation’s mandate and membership), but i frankly do not care.
sure, sure, more principled action, but it felt wrong to spend taxpayers’ money in such a way just because it is the ‘done thing.’

it probably did not help the liars that i was reading We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families by Philip Gourevitch. if you are at all interested in the rwandan genocide and even if you are not, i recommend you read this book. i recommend, in fact, that all grade 12 students read this book. it is so good. and instead of just telling you that it is just so good, i will tell you why.

often, the rwandan genocide is broken down simply into a ‘tribal conflict’ or ‘ethnic hatred’ and although these we certainly elements of the 1994 genocide, this book explains clearly and in non-academic language the how’s and what’s and even attempts to look into the why’s of the events leading up to the genocide and immediately following it. if you read it and look at the situation i was in above, you may understand why i was so adamant not to be a part of the ‘problem of aid.’ and yet, i know i have in so many ways.

this book has sat on my shelf since a nice (clean shaven!) gentleman remembered that i mentioned that i had wanted to read it for years and popped into a bookshop in downtown nairobi and surprised me with it. and it made sense to me to read it before i go to rwanda (on thursday, yay), but it was timely for many other reasons as it spells out exactly how humanitarian aid can (and does) make things worse. and how an african leader like Paul Kagame can be largely disregarded by the international community even though he was the one that brought peace to his country when no other country in the world, rich or poor, northern or southern, african or not, did anything significant to stop the systematic murders.

and remember when that country that is now known as the democratic republic of the congo (not to be confused with the republic of the congo right next door) used to be called zaire and be led by that crazy man who had the fantastically egocentric and self-declared name of Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga (translated according to Gourvetich’s book as ‘the all-powerful warrior, who by his endurance and will to win, goes from conquest to conquest, leaving fire in his wake’ and ‘the cock who leaves no hen alone’ – i kid you not. this man, in charge of a country full of riches and leading millions of people for decades.)? well, rwanda helped Laurent Kabila, the current president, to get rid of that megalomaniac through directly opposing international (read: western) opinion to not invade or support rebel troops, which it did and now that crazy man is outta there (and also dead), but no one talks about this. about how a small african state that was trying to overcome the imaginable, mass killings that are comparable only to the Holocaust in modern memory, helped get rid of a dictator who was stealing from everyone in his own country and was known as ‘the dinosaur’ he had been around so long.

(let me just say now that i am not so familiar on the drc nor on how Kabila has done since overtaking the crazy man and running things for himself. me thinks there are a lot of criticisms directed towards him because his country isn’t exactly peaceful nor moving up in the ranks of poor, despotic, african countries, but i leave that for another post and for more reading that i surely will do once i find an excuse to get myself to the drc...)

i could go on and on, but i really loved this book. and at times when i am not so sure that i love my job or the moral conflicts that come with it, it is the kind of book i need on my shelf.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

about time for a goal check in

1 - get enough sleep.  well, i have had some lie ins in my new nest and have loved every minute of them.  not sure that i have figured this out because i tend to get a lot of sleep on the weekends and not enough during the week, but at least i have come to understand the value of a good night's rest and what happens to me if i don't get this regularly.

2 - buy a home.  i love it.  love, love, love it.  my nest is so nesty.  and mine.  and sometimes dirty.  and sometimes spotless.  and often times the location of entertaining my friends (although i need to invite my fam over more often in the future, but that would entail securing a few more chairs!).  check!

3 - reduce my level of anxiety.  i still have bad days, but most of my days are good days and i can identify the anxiety before it hits me over the head and am slowly improving in my capacity to deal with it.  i have reduced my daily medication levels by one step and am just going to hang out here for awhile before making the next step.  but things in the anxiety department are good and i think i am getting better at acknowleding my anxiety, my triggers, and what to do to prevent it from blowing up.

4 - take better photos.  photography is technical stuff!  but i am nearly through the introductory course in photography at mount royal college (sorry, university).  i like it, i need more practice, but i think i am starting to understand equivalent exposures, f stops, and the diamond of taking good photos.  green idiot box, no more!

5 - become financially confident.  i wouldn't exactly say that i am confident, but i am doing ok.  with the current upheaval in my work and the recent home purchase, i am a little nervous, but confident that it will be ok.  i have yet to deal with my gst for the past year and am not great at keeping my books for my accountant, but we can file that under 29, can't we?

6 - be happy where i am.  this continues to go really, really well.  i never thought i woud be so content in calgary, but i am.  and am in no hurry to change that.  i did have a titch of concern that i was not utilising the summer months to their full capacity, but there were a number of other factors at work there and i will work on that one (see goal #8).

7 - visit friends who live in other places.  i have failed pretty miserably at this goal (and with only 2.5 months left of 28, there is little chance that things will turn around), but i am going to england in december for a very dear friend's wedding and am then carrying on to ireland where i will meet up with a friend from home to go on a great irish roadtrip, yippee!  beer, irishmen, and the isle of green, what more could a canadian girl ask for?!

8 - make the best dating decisions for me (the goal formally known as sort out my relationship).  i'm still dating.  blah.  i have had a great time, but i am getting a little exasperated with the whole process and after a few hopeful episodes, i am still as single as ever.  i suppose as the goal is to make good decisions, i have done that.  but in doing that, the results have not exactly borne the fruits that i had hoped they would by now.  another blah.  but i will just keep soldiering on (but with fewer soldiers and more civilians).

things could get interesting around here

the past few weeks, i have been rather bored at my job.  it could be because at the end of the day i don't have much energy left and it feels as though i spend so many hours there each week, but haven't been feeling inspired by what i do, by what those around me do, or by what i see in my future at this company.  it doesn't help that there is a lot of talk of restructuring and business decisions that make all of our jobs tenuous at the moment.

normally, this would be inciting the typical anxious response from deep within me, but i am not that worried.  maybe i should be.  or maybe i am beginning to put more faith in the universe and the adage that you get back from the universe what you give to it. 

and proof of this is the fact that i have been shortlisted for an international, short-term consultancy, for which i will interview tomorrow morning (whilst remembering, of course).  it seems like it would be a great opportunity for me to utilise my expertise and demonstrate my ability to coordinate a rapid assessment from start to finish.  although i am concerned that my availability might stand in the way from being offered this job, somehow i think the universe will do what is best.

i wouldn't mind you sending me your positive job interview thoughts about 8am my time tomorrow though!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

do you...?

do you want to learn more about human trafficking?

do you need something to do on the evening of november 20th that is free?

do you want to support a local film festival that features films with meaning?

come out to the marda loop justice film festival on november 20th at 7:00pm when they will be screening the film call + response, which promises to be entertaining and informative.

ask for what you want

if you are my friend on the facebook (and if you aren't, feel free to add me, i like friends!) you would notice that my status right now is Lara thinks you need to ask for what you want.  and because you are my privileged blog readers, you get the whole story.

you might recall that i was hopeful that i would get to go to an event where stephen lewis is the keynote speaker.  i was even willing be the bathroom attendant to listen to him and for the chance to meet jian ghomeshi, of cbc fame.  well, last week i sent a little email to my company's community investment manager and asked if we would be sponsoring a table and if we were, was it at all possible that i could have one of those seats?

lo and behold, she wrote me back and said that no, they hadn't sponsored a table, but if i could find 10 people to fill the seats, they would buy the tickets.  i wrote her back in my most eloquent email speak without being pretentious and said i was confident i could find 10 people to fill those seats and she immediately replied saying she would purchase the table and forward me all 10 of the tickets as soon as they arrived!  this not only saves me from having to pay $200 for my own seat, but it gives me the opportunity to invite 9 people to fill the $2000 table!

now you will be able to find me learning and laughing and networking at the aspen full circle event!

additionally, this morning i called visa to inquire about the $100+ interest charge on my bill and when they looked into it the simple response, 'you moron, you paid your bill late last month and therefore we charged you interest and that is why that charge is on your account!'  but they said it a little more nicely than that.  so i asked if they could reverse the charges.  and they said yes.  just like that.

a few weeks ago i took a two day training course on conducting social impact assessments.  it cost a lot of dollars as well.  i found the course, thought it was interesting, found a policy at my company that said we commit to doing these things, then sent an email to my boss that explained the training, why i thought it would be beneficial for me to take it, then asked if the company could pay.

my boss talked to some corporate bigwigs on my behalf and a few days later, provided me with a budget line to charge the course to and a few weeks later, i found myself learning all about how you can do research into the socioeconomic impacts of a industrial development or an international development project as well as meeting people in the industry and being asked to join a board of a local ngo.

i am hoping that this strategy continues to work because this morning i made a phone call to confirm that i do indeed have a dinner date tonight.  i left the breeziest message (which is not normally my strong suit, so this is quite something) and asked this fellow to call me back to let me know if we were still on for dinner.  because i want to know.  and i want to go out for dinner.  and i want to wear my new dress!

Monday, November 02, 2009

live vicariously through me, please

where to go?  where to go?

i am heading to england on december 19th for a friend's wedding that will take place on december 23rd and i am most excited for the whole event and to be back in the uk.  but i want to take a trip somewhere after the wedding, somewhere that is relatively easy to get to from england so i can hop on a cheap flight.  but there seem to be so many options!  and the weather is not particularly grand anywhere at that time of year so i am having trouble deciding where i want to go.

have you travelled in europe, north africa, or the middle east in december?  where would you recommend going at this time of the year?  any places that you would go to in a heart beat, regardless of the time of year, if given the opportunity?

help me find a place to travel!!