Monday, March 30, 2009

clearing the funk

i ran 10km today. which is one of the longest runs i have had in a year. it was pretty wicked. and the thing that kept me going was my awesome new playlist entitled eight for twenty eight. the songs below all make an appearance.

when you are the bottom of a hill nearly 1km long and you hear the first notes of ladysmith black mombazo, somehow you know you can do it.

Take This Waltz - Adam Cohen
The River - Anathallo
Smiling Underneath - Ani DiFranco
Deadlines - Arkells
Sometimes - Ayo
Leopard-Skin-Pill-Box Hat - Beck
Float On - Ben Lee
Sex Without Love - Ben Lee
Hiding My Heart - Brandi Carlile
If I Fall Behind - Bruce Springsteen
MGM Grand - Caroline Herring
The Expert - The Champion and His Burning Flame
To Build a Home - The Cinematic Orchestra
Home In The Woods - Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons
World We Know - Crash Parallel
Stole - Dashboard Confessional
Willis Avenue Bridge - David Berkeley
Quiet Times - Dido
Running to Stand Still - Elbow
That Sinking Feeling - Emma-Lee
Love, Save the Empty - Erin McCarley
Gotta Figure This Out - Erin McCarley
Sunlight - Esperanza Spalding
Falling or Flying - Grace Potter and the Nocturals
How the Day Sounds - Greg Laswell
Fee Da Da Dee - The Guggenheim Grotto
Can't Help Falling in Love - Ingrid Michaelson
The Way I Am - Ingrid Michaelson
Parachutes - Jenn Grant
Cathedrals - Joan Osborne
Through & Through & Through - Joel Plaskett
Sun Comes Up - John Legend
Wildfires - Josh Ritter
One of Those Days - Joshua Radin
Asking for Flowers - Kathleen Edwards
Buffalo - Kathleen Edwards
Victoria - The Kooks
Straight to Hell - Lily Allen
Never Said - Liz Phair
Charlie Darwin - The Low Anthem
Daylight - Matt & Kim
Never Again - The Midway State
Where I Stood - Missy Higgins
Here it Goes Again (UK Surf) - Ok Go
The Great Escape - Patrick Watson
All the Things You Never Wanted - Peirson Ross
Never Bloom Again - The Perishers
With the Notes in My Ears - Peter Broderick
Bye Bye Bye - Plants and Animals
Drifting Further Away - Powderfinger
Duet - Rachael Yamagata
Winter Birds - Ray LaMontagne
Why Can't it be Christmas All Year - Rosie Thomas
Gravity - Sara Bareilles
Homeless - Sarah McLachlan & Ladysmith Black Mombazo
Before the Worst - The Script
These Quiet Times - Shady Bard
Treeology - Shady Bard
Mistaken Identity - Steve Reynolds
Being Here - The Stills
No Time To Sleep - Tina Dico
Imparable - Tommy Torres
Heroes - TV On the Radio
Heroes of the Sidewalk - Two Hours Traffic
Letting Go - Waiting for Iris
Room With The Sir John A. View - Weeping Tile

Brett Dennen's entire cd Hope for the Hopeless

i am always on the lookout for new music, so i hope this list inspires you. many of the songs will make you feel as though you want to slit your wrists, which is just how i like my music - sad, sad, sad.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

b m m t reviews

The Mother Tongue: The English Language and How it Got That Way - Bill Bryson - loved it, even if there were some dry bits in the middle (and there is no reason a sentence can't end with a preposition! who knew?)

Brick Lane - 7.5/10
Zack and Miri Make a Porno - 2 thumbs down
Vicky Christina Barcelona - what was all the fuss about? meh
Defiance - good entertainment and a true story

i have been listening to some very good new music lately, but i don't know who sings what, so let me sort that out and i will get back to you.

and i am right this moment watching the juno's. apart from chad kroeger making me break out into a rash, i am excited to get some new ideas to download. and sam roberts..... yum.

the most recent epidsode of grey's anatomy - ok, it is better than it has been, but still not up to its season 2 & 3 greatness, but the music was awesome

not your average product review

i have recently started using 2 new products that i feel i should share with you, my reading audience.

my skin is dry. it is even dry when i am not residing in the notoriously dry climate of this city. my skin is also rather sensitive and many sunscreens burn when i put them on my face because of the perfume. i have found a good sunscreen, but this is not about that product. this is about glysomed, which is what i am now using to moisturise my face after washing it. it feels sort of like it has been made with some sort of rubber product, it is so thick. but it works! and once it seeps into my dry pores, it doesn't feel greasy. i only found this lotion (well, cream) by accident when my friend suggested i try it on our recent vacation and the only thing i knew about this stuff before that fateful moment was that it was advertised on jeopardy. now i am a proud convert.

again, with the dryness. my scalp is also equal to my face in its crispness. this winter was worse than it has ever been and after trying leave-in conditioner, frizz ease serum, and other products that claim to moisturise the scalp, my hairdresser recommended that i use nizoral. it doesn't smell like flowers, it is bright pink, and it is pricey. but it works! apparently it is the ketoconazole that kills the fungus that causes dandruff. and how is that for an opening line on a date? ew. but if you too suffer from a flaky scalp, this stuff is for you.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

things be good

so far, this week:

  • i am rather busy!
  • i got my first paid job to write something. i am a paid writer!
  • i've been given more responsibility at my day job, which means that the economic downturn can kiss my arse (until, of course, someone decides to come and take over my company and they get rid of all the consultants)
  • i received positive feedback on the meeting that i facilitated on tuesday for my Other Job and the hot cop was sitting right across from me, giving me a a pleasant view the entire hour and a half
  • when one date had to reschedule, i went on another of pints and dog walks with a different gentleman suitor, it was swell
  • another job posting for a short term consultancy in east timor was sent to me and i will apply, just in cases
  • my congested head is improving with each passing day
  • i learned that ojala in spanish is derived from insha'allah in arabic, which makes sense because you can't translate it into english. in arabic it means 'if god wills it' and it more or less is used in the same way in spanish
  • i booked a sisters' food and wine getaway in banff

Saturday, March 21, 2009

small victory

i had a last minute invitation to attend the metropolis conference held in calgary this weekend and after having some last minute (and gorgeous!) cards made up, i hiked over to the lovely hyatt hotel and participated in discussions on human trafficking in canada and internationally. and i learned a lot.

but more importantly, in a ballroom (that admittedly was not full), i got up and made a comment and asked 2 questions to one of the panelists after the formal presentations were completed. i was rather proud of myself because i often think i have something to say but just keep quiet out of shyness and anxiety, but this time i didn't and although i wasn't as articulate as i would have liked to have been, i did get my point across and made a plug for my own experience in the topic of the panel. i am not sure that my comment was well received because it was directed towards academics who spend their careers trying to uncover new information, but i thought it needed to be said, so i did.

and i did it in stilettos.

if you are wondering, my comment was: when dealing with human trafficking, academics, programmers, and donors alike continually make calls for more numbers, more statistics, and more evidence and yet there are some out there that seem to be disregarded constantly. and it will never be possible to properly quantify an illegal and covert activity where the victims rarely surface or identify themselves as such. and if you get caught up on the fact that we do not have numbers, we will all be paralysed from taking action.

i would like to relate this back to my goals (as i knock 'em down one after another). i think this is a small victory for goal 3 - reduce my level of anxiety.

Friday, March 20, 2009

better blog management

hello internet! i have some exciting news for you. i have gone through all my posts (ever!) and tagged them appropriately (because i was not kidding when i said i love organisational tools and was dumbfounded when i realised i had not used the tagging feature of blogger to its full potential). this is perhaps less exciting for you as i am sure you had no intention of searching through my ALL posts for the ones labelled sven or egyptology or kahawa, but it makes me feel better knowing that it can be done.

i've also added a new link to my dear friend's website. she is a children's author who will soon be published and i cannot wait to read her next story - the tale of noah and his ark from the perspective of a caterpillar. i wonder what eric carle would think of that?!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

things about which i am excited

  • i booked a flight to san francisco! i am going from june 2th - 7th and i am very much looking forward to it. i have never been to the city and with any luck, i will get to have a reunion with this lovely lady, which would sort of be achieving one of the goals i have this year (#7 - visit friends who live in other places). i plan on stopping by dynamo donuts, miette cakes, and at least a few organic/slow food restaurants.
  • more dates!
  • temperatures that allow me to wear my new spring coats, one green, one yellow
  • my hair growing out in a way that doesn't look like a mullet. but do i cut it or keep growing it?
  • copywriting jobs
  • an invitation to a conference on migration tomorrow where i will pass around my new, most loveable business cards that were specially designed por moi.
  • the arrival of my new shoes in the mail, tell me who does not love a pink ballet flat? (and they were only $19.99 when i purchased them, so it is a bit strange that they went up in price)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

now this is serious panic

enough of that serious stuff about foreign aid, cida critics, and preventing hiv transmission in africa.

and on to some much more dire news... the gap is reducing its price adjustment period from 14 to 7 days effective april 1st! this economic downturn is now starting to impede my shopping habit and that is no good, no good at all.

other bad news, i seem to have lost a pair of boots. i am sure they are somewhere in the disastrous mess that i am living in right now, but i really wanted to wear them today and they were no where to be found.

i am also a bit concerned about my swollen pointer finger on my right hand. it always feels like it has to crack and it usually does, but the stiffness and swollenness is alarming. has anyone heard of this before? does it mean i have arthritis and must have my finger amputated? or maybe just a little ice will help it? do i make an appointment with my doctor? with a chiropractor?

for the love of god!

what the hell is wrong with the catholic church?!

is this the pope's very first trip to africa?

jesus christ. literally.

Monday, March 16, 2009

neck hairs are up

i read the globe and mail online everyday that i am at work. sometimes, i read the comments section, but rarely do i feel compelled to add to the bickering and arguing that goes on in there. today was one of those rare days that i felt i had to say something. if there is anything that gets my back up, it is people writing off the un or any government as being wholly fantastic or awful.

if you are interested in what i had to say, take a look at the comments on this article.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

a saucy tune

my feet hit the ground at the very same time as the beat of Sex on Fire by Kings of Leon. the song has a beat of 6.3 minutes per kilometre and it felt great to listen to it around the 6th kilometre today.
Lay where you're laying
Don't make a sound
I know they're watching
They're watching
All the commotion
The killing of pain
Has people talking
Your sex is on fire
The dark of the alley
The break of the day
Head while I'm driving
I'm driving
Soft lips are open
Them knuckles are pale
Feels like you're dying
You're dying
Your sex is on fire
With what's just transpired
Hot as a fever
Rattling bones
I could just taste it
Taste it
But it's not forever
But it's just tonight
Oh we're still the greatest
The greatest
The greatest
Your sex is on fire
Your sex is on fire
With what's just transpired
And you
Your sex is on fire
With what's just transpired

Thursday, March 12, 2009

not bad, for a wednesday

yesterday, jana, ayer, hier:

  • i ran in -11 degrees and hated every minute of it. it does not compare to this miserable run, but i sure felt the same way afterwards.
  • i went on a date. i ate steak. i got a new mix cd. i had a glass of wine. it was really nice.
  • i could not find any reasonably priced flights to vegas, so my plans of visiting sin city were thwarted. which is sort of ok because i just wanted a cheap getaway anyways.
  • my little bro got knocked out in game 5 of a 5 game series.
  • i collected the clothes i no longer wear to give to a refugee family who has recently moved to canada. (if you have any you would like to donate, contact me and i will get you the information to do the same).
  • i continued to battle the congestion. which i am convinced is directly linked to dairy consumption. but i cannot imagine a life without mini eggs and cheese.
  • a man offered me his seat on the train and before i could say 'no thank you,' he was up and i was sitting and then i felt a bit awkward for the rest of the journey.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

today is a new day

  • the forecast high is -20 degrees. that is the high!
  • i had the interview for the job in kenya and it went really well. it is nice to be interviewed by your former boss who knows you, better than i had anticipated, in fact.
  • i set up dates with two gentleman callers.
  • i will be registering for a 3 day course to help me do my job. i love the idea of going to classes to learn new things on someone else's dime.
  • is a good day because i still have not taken off my winter boots and i like to judge the day on how long i can keep my cozy boots on before changing into work appropriate shoes.
  • i met a nice engineer who did not speak in engineerspeak and who was very helpful.
  • i am soliciting company for a potential vegas weekend minibreak in two weeks' time. any takers?!
  • i wish my sister was home. i am happy for her that she is on her honeymoon, and no doubt having a great time, but i miss talking to her everyday.
  • i could really use a glass of wine. and it is 3pm...
  • i am going to watch my bro play in a playoff game and i am already nervous.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

international women's day

today is international women's day and to celebrate, i went shopping. well, not exactly (but sort of: purple shoes - check, dress - check, 2 button down shirts - check, skinny black belt - check, fishnet tights - check, 2 pairs of work pants - check, scarf - check, green spring coat - check, bronze woven belt - check), i went to a function at the calgary public library last night with one of the greatest women i know.

we listened to senator pamela wallin and afghani journalist khorsied samad speak on the status of women in afghanistan and canada's involvement in the military and humanitarian efforts in the country. the event was hosted by the calgary based foundation canadian women for women in afghanistan and i was completely and utterly impressed by the speakers themselves and the work that this local ngo does.

the price of our tickets went towards a specific initiative to build libraries in afghanistan and 100% of all the money raised by the organisation goes straight towards the development projects. their focuses are on teacher training and building libraries, did you know that the annual salary of a teacher in afghanistan is $750? i am sure that many of us could afford that if we saved just $14.40/week for 1 year or even $7.20/week for 2 years.

one of the interesting aspects of the speeches included a discussion on the resurgence of the use of the burka for safety and security and that is was originally a fashion trend introduced to afghanistan by the indians (now pakistanis) as clothing worn by the aristocracy and it was only when the taliban used it to force women out of public society that it became a tool of oppression.

pamela wallin brought up many good points about military funding and if the canadian military had more money to spend, it could pave roads or use helicopters to travel in insecure areas to prevent improvised explosive devices from continuing to take canadian soldiers' lives. she also hit the nail on the head, as far as i am concerned, by calling canadians on their anti-americanism, which has come into vogue in the last decade and is completely against all that canadians claim to be - tolerant, accepting, and diverse.

after our educational saturday night, we went to divino and enjoyed a cheese plate of 5 of the most amazing cheeses i have ever had (seriously) followed by a crume brulee that ties the one that i had in paris for sweet, sweet decadence. i am not ashamed to say that it was so good it almost made me cry.
and at the end of an evening celebrating women and our achievements and challenges throughout the world, a nice gentleman offered to carry me through a snow storm to my car. and i didn't take him up on the offer! he was cute and charming and i am still kicking myself that i did not say yes and allow him to throw me over his shoulder and save my tootsies and their hot pink flats from the cold and wet.

as gloria says, the fact that i had a choice to be carried to my car, or not, is proof that women in this country have come a long way.

happy international women's day!

Friday, March 06, 2009

could i give up my shopping habit?

just when i thought my life was going to settle down and i was going to stay in one place for awhile, my former boss has asked if i want to be interviewed for a position in my old office (that same one that was mentioned in the book What is the What that i recently read that put thoughts in mind...) in kenya. the job would be better than the one i had when i was based in nairobi previously and one that i would enjoy, but am i ready to give up the luxuries of developed world living?

like having friends you've known for decades a phone call away, having a ladies' night once monthly with these women, eating dinner with my family regularly, having lattes with my sister, making oil and gas money, watching my brother's hockey games, catching matinees with my other brother, breakfasts with visitors from out of town, changing seasons, central heating, bad television at my fingertips, dependable public transit, my little dieter, my running routes free of rabid dogs and speeding trucks, and, i shamelessly admit, shopping?

yet, one of the biggest reasons i came home was a person who shall not be named and now that that is no longer an issue, i am just not sure what to do with myself. i had always planned on a career in international development and my favourite experiences and stories that i have come from the time i spent pursuing that.

the universe will just have to tell me what to do in this case. but until it is clear, i will keep my options open.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

extra, extra! read all about it

some interesting stuff in the news today:

after sudanese president omar al bashir was indictied on war crimes charges by the international criminal court, he expelled aid agencies from darfur, including staunchly apolitical organisations like medecins sans frontieres. it is incredibly troublesome as these organisations not only provide some of the only sources of aid in a country that tightly controls the un's access to populations it has systemically starved, killed, and forced from their homes, but they also act as the world's eyes and ears to a genocide.

i have a good friend working in darfur, and for some reason her organisation was not kicked out of the country (war child canada) and i am curious to hear how she has fared these past few days and what the prospects for her youth projects continuing.

story at the globe and mail.

i always knew that diet coke would give you cancer! if it is not the aspartame (which i am seriously convinced, with no scientific evidence to back me up) is giving us cancer (for the record, i am also convinced that splenda, margarine, cosmetics, chemical based cleaning products, and hydrogenated anything are also to blame), now it is the cans that diet coke comes in! and baby bottles, water bottles, soup cans, energy drink cans...

that dastardly bisphenol a is showing up again, this time in cans. apparently, the cans are coated so that the metal doesn't come into direct contact with the liquid inside. i've said it here before, it concerns the crap out of me that this estrogen-mimicing compound is finding its way into our bodies and doing god know's what in there. causing cancer, i am sure.

i have never really liked pop so i am home free on that front, but i do like soup and some vegetables that come out of cans, which i am now going to think twice before eating. and again, those with lower incomes, poorer diets, and lower education are probably ingesting the most bisphenol a of us all.

story at cbc.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

call me a commie homo-loving son of a gun


i am sure that enough people have said it, but let me repeat the praise for the brilliant acting of sean penn and the story of harvey milk. i had never realised why gay parades were so flamboyant, why gay groups have marched rather than just rallied, or the thinking behind forcing people out of the closet. more than anything, however, i am truly amazed that just 30 years ago there was public support for removing gay teachers from their teaching positions for, well, being gay.

this movie is just so good. and i think that those who don't identify as commie homo-loving sons of guns should get themselves to the theatre to see this movie just as much as the rest of us.

it makes my heart hurt a little bit when i think that in the last us federal election, proposition 8 was passed, restricting the right of marriage to only heterosexual couples and demonstrating that harvey milk's fight is far from over. and i hope that in 30 year's time, someone makes a film about the 2008 proposition 8 vote and that our grandchildren are appalled by the outcome and that speaking out against the rights of all citizens was acceptable in their grandparents' lives.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

more must reads

perhaps i should really just start a book review blog, but until that happens you (my ten or so readers) will have to endure my book reviews and recommendations here.

the first book that i insist you must all run out and purchase (or borrow from la biblioteca) is People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks (she of Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden Lives of Muslim Women fame, a great piece of non fiction, if you're in the mood).

People of the Book is fantastic. a brief synoposis: an ancient jewish haggadah is found in sarajevo after the balkan war and the story returns to tell parts of the holy book's history based on the bits of gunk that are found within its pages by a book conservator. i love a historical novel and i now love books that teach you about the conservation of books.

above all, i was mesmerised by Brooks' ability to tell a story with such detail, historical facts, and unique voices. i spent two days on the beach buried in the words depicting vienna, spain, venice, sarajevo, and sydney. and when i came to the end of the book i wished there was more, highlighting the fact that we can never know all the details of history, but that our imaginations can continue to fill in the gaps.

the second book i am recommending is What is the What by Dave Eggers. it is the autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng, a sudanese man who survived civil war, the long walk of the lost boys, refugee camps in ethiopia and kenya, and resettlement to the us.

my old office is mentioned at the end of the book and it was neat to read about the 'transit centre,' the place where refugees stay before their resettlement abroad and where i used to visit beneficiaries of my project. but more than anything, the story told by Eggers manages to capture Deng's experience of growing up without an immediate family, in fear of lion attacks, coping with hunger, avoiding recruitment into a civil war from which he fled, adolescence in dusty camps, and an insider look at the experience of an unaccompanied minor who goes through the unhcr system and finds himself trying to make a new life in a new world.

the best part of the book is that Eggers captures a voice that is not apologetic nor pathetic while allowing you the opportunity to understand what Deng's experience must have been like. it is not right nor wrong, it just is.

the book had me thinking long after i finished it and i am curious to know more about where Deng is now and how his foundation is faring in their work building schools in southern Sudan. not only a great book, but a great opportunity to learn more about a crisis of monumental scale that exists in our lifetimes.