Sunday, May 31, 2009

running queries

when you get the shivers and goosebumps when you run, does that mean that you are overheating? what do you do to stop this or prevent it? this has been happening to me in my last few runs and it is rather worrisome because shivers and chicken skin don't seem to be a natural reaction to running in the sun and heat, so something must be up.

any tips how to make your hands stop swelling up while you run? mine have been doing this and then i try and put them over my head to get the blood to move back to my body (this seems sensible when i do it, but not so sensible when i write it out!) and out of my upper extremities, but it doesn't last.

Friday, May 29, 2009

yay for:

  • having a McNally's with mr McNally himself (ok, so i had a grasshopper and he had a McNally's) when i met the founders of the Big Rock Brewery at a function they hosted
  • the exchange rate of canadian to american dollars being nearly .90 in preparation for my upcoming trip to san francisco
  • the sun has decided to grace us with its presence three days in a row
  • a reunion of old friends that i had been actively avoiding since returning to my hometown that ended up being a blast and perhaps the beginning of a friendship regeneration (just in time for the friend edit!)
  • more nest shopping (but i had to forego camping to fit more nests in, sadly)
  • a new hair cut and colour that make me look sort of like meg ryan (but not really, just the hair bit). now i just need to learn how to do it so it doesn't look like a rat's nest or at least like a tamed rat's nest
  • dinner tonight at Farm, a restaurant i have been dying to try

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

a sad day in the golden state

i had really hoped that if, during my trip to san francisco next week, i met a lovely woman who i wanted to spend the rest of my life with, i could have a quickie marriage on the shores of the bay. but that dream was dashed when the california high court upheld the ban on same-sex marriage yesterday.

there are few issues that i see as black and white and this is one of them. i have yet to hear any argument that can even begin to convince me that two consenting adults who love one another do not have the right to marry based on their gender.

and like gloria says, anyone who believes that women's rights are not intimately linked to gay rights is sorely mistaken. any time our ability to procreate is linked to the rights we enjoy, we are taking a step back not only for gay men and women who wish to marry, but to women everywhere.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Stephanie Nolen's message

i found this article on one of my favourite online papers, the globe and mail, and not only is Stephanie Nolen one of my favourite canadians, her message in this speech to new grads resonated with me. perhaps because i never would have told you as a 23 year old graduating from u of c in 2003 that i would be working in the private sector. and although the path that got me here had its fair few of ups and downs, i really am grateful for where i am now.

and Nolen's message reminds me of two of my favourite phrases: education is something no one can take away from you & there is no downfall to learning.

now the question is, where will i be in another 6 years?!

You learn the most from the hardest things

Though students are graduating into tough times, a lot of the world has it tougher. As the Globe's Stephanie Nolen gets an honorary doctorate, she hopes grads find inspiration in that

May 22, 2009 03:18 PM EDT

National Newspaper Award and Amnesty International Award for Human Rights Reporting winner Stephanie Nolen is The Globe and Mail's current India, and formerly Africa, correspondent. The author of 28: Stories of AIDS in Africa and two other books, she holds an undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of King's College in Halifax and pursued a masters in development economics from the London School of Economics.

She just received an honorary Doctorate in Civil Laws from King's and this is part of her address to students:

You are graduating today into a world of great uncertainty — my generation, and the ones before mine, have done a spectacular job of really screwing things up. It's deeply unfair, that we are handing you this mess.

But if you will indulge me, I'd like to tell you a little story: On my first day of journalism school at King's, I went to a lecture in the old Haliburton Room, and Michael Cobden, who is here today, and was then the head of the journalism school, mentioned proudly how every single person in that year's graduating class had a job. You will all get jobs, he said with great confidence. And I thought, "Great. A job would be good. A career. A grown-up life."

Four years later, as I sat in this cathedral, I was graduating into the teeth of a bitter recession — and nobody, not one person, in my graduating class had managed to find a full-time job. (Stop me if you've heard this.)

I did the obvious thing: I went to graduate school, and took on $40,000 worth of additional debt. I went to the London School of Economics, and never regretted a penny of that debt, because I learned a million things, and because I met people and had adventures that continue to open doors for me today. But that was only good for a year of avoiding reality, and not long enough for the recession to end. After submitting my masters thesis, I came back to Canada, to find that now ONE person from my graduating class had a job: He was editing the monthly newsletter of the Atlantic Fish Canning Association. I'm not making this up.

So I left. I made a totally ill-thought-out decision to move to the Middle East, to Jerusalem — to be a freelance journalist in the city which, I soon discovered, already had the world's largest full-time press corps. That, in hindsight, was dumb. And it was really hard. I was broke, I was totally out of my league, I was alone. I was also too proud to come home.

Because I was broke, I lived in a Palestinian village and shopped at a local market and took the local bus and soon I had learned pretty good Arabic. Well, of course, in a couple of years world events were going to dramatically improve the market for journalists who spoke Arabic.

Because I was way out of my league, I landed in Beirut on a holiday just as Israel invaded. I was dumb, but I was also fast on my feet, and two weeks later I was working on a cover story for Newsweek.

Eventually I was able to come back to Canada, and after paying a few newsroom dues, talk my way into a job as a war correspondent, and it all happened much faster than it probably would have, if at all, if I had simply landed the job I originally had hoped for right after graduating from King's. And along the way, I got to tell important stories: I covered the assassination of Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin; I covered the return of the PLO to the occupied Palestinian territories. And I got to race camels in the Egyptian Sinai and dance in a secret underground nightclub in Beirut with the drag queen son of the sheikh who founded Hezbollah.

The point of this story is that, sometimes, bad luck turns out not to be so bad.

That you learn the most from the hardest things.

That opportunities come in places where you're not looking.

And, as Amelia Earhart said (words I later took as my own motto when I was learning to fly), "Courage is the price that life demands for granting peace."

Something else happened to me along the way in those early years of working overseas: I think it began the first time I went to a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, and really spent some time there. I came away with a whole new understanding of my privilege, as a Canadian, and of the fact that really, I didn't know anything about anything in the world. I didn't know what life was really like for — as I would soon start to realize — the great bulk of people in the world.

And here's something I only started to figure out even later: that even if you spend the rest of your life right here, you are responsible for much of what happens elsewhere in the world.

For how those other people live.

Regardless of what you choose to do with your new degree, your new skills, you will be responsible.

If you have an iPod like mine, or a cellphone, or a Wii, you are connected to the 14-year-olds I have met who are enslaved by rebel groups in the Congo and who dig for coltan, the mineral that is the essential ingredient in our gadgets.

If you have a Gap T-shirt like I do, then you are connected to the Bangladeshi women who stitched it for five bucks a day, and who cannot develop their textile sector into better-paying jobs because of our trade restrictions.

If, like me, you are a Canadian citizen, you are connected to the children in Swaziland who cannot go to school today, who will never have the moment you are having today, because Canada, as a voting, policy-setting member of the World Bank, forces the Swazi government to charge school fees for their primary schools — even though ours are free.

And if, like me, you enjoy the occasional Starbucks latte, you are connected to the women in Ethiopia who earn 70 cents a day sorting their coffee beans. Ah-hah, you think. I always order the fair trade blend. Well, great. The women in the fair trade factory earn 96 cents a day. I know — I spent an afternoon on a Starbucks factory line in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a couple of years ago.

So I can tell you that those women are glad to have their jobs.

I'm not sure that's good enough.

You are connected to these people. And you decide how much responsibility you will take for that.

Monday, May 25, 2009

the friend edit

i am undergoing a slight, painless friend edit at the moment. i am not cutting anyone out or deleting any of my facebook or email contacts, but i am going to edit the amount of time that i spend with certain people. or at least limit the amount of my energy i give to those relationships.

recently i was told that i have positive energy and many of you are surely aware that i am not always a bundle of positive vibes, but lately i have been working really hard to rebuild my life, my spirit, and find my new wings.

for the most part i feel as though i have done a pretty damn good job of doing this, yet sometimes i speak to friends and feel a little drained afterwards or i feel as though they are not genuinely happy for me and what i have accomplished.

hence, the friend edit.

i don't think that any of the people involved in my friend edit are bad people, that they are inherently not good for me, nor that they mean to give me their negative energy, but alas, i walk away feeling slightly worse after talking to them.

sometimes friendships need to evolve and grow and that is my intention now - to create a little space for those friendships to expand and mature while concentrating on my most positive relationships and continue to rebuild the spirit.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Friday, May 22, 2009

put the phone down... or not

this is a find shamelessly stolen, but absolutely hilarious. some (well, most) of the entries are pretty vulgar and inappropriate. and they make me laugh from the inside. i think these are hilarious. and maybe because i have a habit of picking up my phone after a few drinks...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

sass-travaganza: a photo essay in reverse

here are some of my favourite photos from the sass-travaganza. for some reason, i cannot reverse the order in which they appear, so just start from the bottom if you really want to get the chronological sense of the trip.
my favourite parts of the trip included:

- the retarded goat (ok, let it be known that the word 'retarded' is totally not a part of the vocabulary of either me or my sister, but there was this stupid goat that wouldn't get out of the road when we were driving up to the trailhead and it was sort of funny to use a totally politically incorrect word. and then continue to use it for the rest of the day, knowing it was so, so wrong)

- the label maker! who knew such an organisational tool could be so much fun?! oh wait, me.

- figuring out that ha ling must be the chinese translation of 'chinaman' since chinaman's peak was renamed ha ling peak (again, with the politically incorrectness)
- the no-name brand camelback, otherwise known as the teat (i know, we are such classy ladies)

- the best snow angel my sis had ever seen!

- my wipe outs and my sister killing herself laughing rather than asking if i was ok

- the best cheese burger and salad EVER

- my sister's costume change and the photos i have of her ironing her dress in her panty (which i kindly did not post!)

- the inappropriate conversations overheard by the other hikes (whoops!)
- admiring the majestic peaks in all their glory

- the best brunch buffet EVER, oh sweet jesus, that food was good eating. and that coffee. oh my, that coffee

things i have learned recently

  • nest shopping is FUN (although i suspect it will get stressful when decisions must be made)
  • when i don't run, i really miss it (and it's only been 5 days)
  • dairy queen blizzards continue to rot my insides (that was just a confirmation)
  • eharmonising is FUN
  • if you back into a parking stall at the calgary transit stations, the park plus ticketing system can't get you
  • my sister gave me a day at the spa for my birthday and i had forgotten until i tidied my room and found the card, she's the best!
  • all my years of defending canada as not being as cold as people assume it is was all for naught as it is bloody cold and i am sick of having to brings scarves with me to cut the chill
  • i didn't love the book Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones, i felt it was rather sad and i am not sure if that was my own mood reflecting on the story or the story reflecting on my mood
  • opi's nail envy really works. pricey, but effective at strengthening your nails and preventing them from cracking or breaking

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

my time on the rock, booked

i've printed my ticket to go to alcatraz, i have narrowed potential spas down to 3, and i have booked my hotel (recommended in my guidebook, unbeknownst to me before i made the reservation). i am excited to go to san francisco! i just need someone to drive me to the airport and i will be fully sorted.

this is good because in a moment of overwhelmption earlier today, i decided to count down the number of days until i leave and it is only 14 days. that would not be such a big deal if i weren't going to thailand 2 weeks after returning and spending 3 of those interim days at a work function in lake louise!

but it is all good and i am really looking forward to the next month (and entirely missing the calgary stampede this year)!

Monday, May 18, 2009

the casualties of war

i woke up this morning to the news that the sri lankan civil war is over. just like that, over.

you don't hear news like this very often. a conflict that simply ends when the leaders of one side are killed. i am not saying that the effects of the decades old civil war are over, but that the hostile combat will end without anyone to lead the rebel tamil tigers.

this is all the more interesting when considering that outside of sri lanka, the most money was raised for the tamil tigers by the diaspora community here in canada before our government banned them as a terrorist group a few years ago, making it illegal for tamil canadians to support them financially. additionally, the tamil communities in ottawa and toronto recently staged protests that shut down main vehicular arteries as a response to the human rights abuses against the tamil people in sri lanka.

and this is where my education comes to my mind. had the canadian government or any other foreign power decided to take action against the sri lankan government due to its alleged (and surely accurate) mistreatment of civilians who were in the line of fire and had to flee their homes, the sri lankan government would not have been free to corner and capture (or kill, as it were) the leaders of the rebel movement, effectively ending the war.

and this is where my favourite professor mark duffield would say that when aid groups interfere in warzones and concern themselves with the conduct of war, they can effectively prolong conflict.

i am all too familiar with the immense challenges of establishing, building, and maintaining peace after an armed conflict, but none of this can be done until two sides of a war stop shooting at each other and that had not happened in so many years in sri lanka so i am hopeful that this will be the beginning of the country's arrival at peace and reconciliation between two ethnic groups and two religions that share the island country.

Friday, May 15, 2009


aquarius horoscope for may 15th, 2009:

Maybe not everything has gone your way of late
but life moves in cycles and it won't be long before
you are on the upside of the curve again.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


earlier this week i met with a colleague's 22 year old daughter who is struggling to figure out what to be and do when she grows up. he thought it would be good for her and i to chat about life, growing up, and educational opportunities (he also threw in that maybe i could mention how many degrees i have). we met, we had a great chat, we'll probably do it again.

then today i took a summer student out for coffee and answered her questions about our company, our department, my background, and what i wanted to be when i was a student. i gave her some work, encouraged her to me ask me about anything (which she later did - asking me how to post something out of our office, which i had no answer for!), and reassured her that she'd have a good experience in her position.

i recall many times when people took me under their wing in previous jobs and when i moved to other countries, when i showed up without a clue and a thousand questions. i know i never would have figured things out as i did without other people's help and i am now enjoying being in a position when i can share what i know with young women who are beginning their careers. i surely don't have all the answers, and never will, but i like the role of mentor and cannot imagine how i would've made it this far without them myself.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

i dream in bollywood

last night i had a feature length (or what felt like feature length) bollywood production in my dream. it all started when a boy and girl had a love match and knew their parents would object. in my subconscious version of traditional indian culture boys get the tips of their third finger chopped off, so this is what happened. it was quite awful at first, but then it healed rather quickly, cutting down on the gruesome factor (and keeping the ratings under 14a).

but then, as a symbol of her solidarity in love with the boy, the girl chopped off her entire hand (which may or may not have grown back in the magic of dreamland, i cannot recall exactly) and then a full cast dance ensued, complete with indian hand movements and colourful saris!

i kid you not.

other elements of my bollywood dream included me and my family at a beach that was raided by members of the boy's family, a mass hysteria and panic of the guests who were at the beach as the boy's mafia-like family took their revenge, and my grandma being stuck under sand during the entire scene. while at this beach, i wanted so badly to get a tan in the hot sun, but couldn't get out of my parka and uggs (which came in handy when the sand turned to snow and the masacred body parts died the snow red - i think i was thinking of the cinematic effect when my brain made the change from beach to tundra when blood was spilled).

there was another dance scene and then the credits rolled (but in my dream, there were no credits, just an alarm clock).

i couldn't even make that up if i tried! i wish other people could see what happens in my dreams so they would understand why i sometimes wake up tired or so that i could share the absurdity with others.

Monday, May 11, 2009

if i ruled the world

i have had three 'run in's' lately in my jobs. and the phrase 'run in' is probably too harsh because there have been no disagreements or arguments, just situations where i want to shake sense into people so that they would do things my way thereby reducing challenges in the future.

situation 1 - there is a very eager woman who wishes to volunteer her time and energies into doing some work for a cause. we've discussed it and i know she fears that i am moving too slowly, but at the same time, my experience and my relations with law enforcement and knowledge of ethical principles of service provision makes me confident that she needs to slow down before doing unintentional damage. i have tried to explain this to her, but she just seems hellbent on moving forward.

situation 2 - i am involved in a philanthropic endeavour with my full time position and i have a colleague who i am working with on it who doesn't seem impressed that i am overcoming the initial challenges to open lines of communication and get things done. there is a chance that she feels it is her project, but i've been the one actually making things happen.

situation 3 - i am in the middle of a political fight at work. i am supposed to liaise between groups and to ensure processes are followed and implemented so that we don't open ourselves up to being sued or anyone taking legal action against us. but try convincing the people who are in the field that! cripes.

i know that i can be stubborn as all get out and that i like things to be done my way, but what happens when you genuinely believe that your way is the right way? on some things, i can take a step back and just allow the pieces to fall in time (as in situation 3), but sometimes i just wish people would listen to me so that they will stop creating more work for me!

blah. and sorry about the cryptic nature of this rather hum drum post, but even writing about work seems a bit sketchy so i am trying to keep it vague, making rather irritating reading, i am sure.

in other more positive thoughts, i am going to san francisco in 21 days!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

how to write about africa

although i am quite possible guilty of a few of the methods of writing about africa Wainaina refers to, this made me smile. i love satire.

How to Write about Africa

by Binyavanga Wainaina

Always use the word ' Africa ' or 'Darkness' or 'Safari' in your title. Subtitles may include the words 'Zanzibar', 'Masai', 'Zulu', 'Zambezi', 'Congo', 'Nile', 'Big', 'Sky', 'Shadow', 'Drum', 'Sun' or 'Bygone'. Also useful are words such as 'Guerrillas', 'Timeless', 'Primordial' and 'Tribal'. Note that 'People' means Africans who are not black, while 'The People' means black Africans.

Never have a picture of a well-adjusted African on the cover of your book, or in it, unless that African has won the Nobel Prize. An AK-47, prominent ribs, naked breasts: use these. If you must include an African, make sure you get one in Masai or Zulu or Dogon dress.

In your text, treat Africa as if it were one country. It is hot and dusty with rolling grasslands and huge herds of animals and tall, thin people who are starving. Or it is hot and steamy with very short people who eat primates. Don't get bogged down with precise descriptions. Africa is big: fifty-four countries, 900 million people who are too busy starving and dying and warring and emigrating to read your book. The continent is full of deserts, jungles, highlands, savannahs and many other things, but your reader doesn't care about all that, so keep your descriptions romantic and evocative and unparticular.

Make sure you show how Africans have music and rhythm deep in their souls, and eat things no other humans eat. Do not mention rice and beef and wheat; monkey-brain is an African's cuisine of choice, along with goat, snake, worms and grubs and all manner of game meat. Make sure you show that you are able to eat such food without flinching, and describe how you learn to enjoy it—because you care.

Taboo subjects: ordinary domestic scenes, love between Africans (unless a death is involved), references to African writers or intellectuals, mention of school-going children who are not suffering from yaws or Ebola fever or female genital mutilation.

Throughout the book, adopt a sotto voice, in conspiracy with the reader, and a sad I-expected-so-much tone. Establish early on that your liberalism is impeccable, and mention near the beginning how much you love Africa , how you fell in love with the place and can't live without her. Africa is the only continent you can love—take advantage of this. If you are a man, thrust yourself into her warm virgin forests. If you are a woman, treat Africa as a man who wears a bush jacket and disappears off into the sunset. Africa is to be pitied, worshipped or dominated. Whichever angle you take, be sure to leave the strong impression that without your intervention and your important book, Africa is doomed.

Your African characters may include naked warriors, loyal servants, diviners and seers, ancient wise men living in hermitic splendour. Or corrupt politicians, inept polygamous travel-guides, and prostitutes you have slept with. The Loyal Servant always behaves like a seven-year-old and needs a firm hand; he is scared of snakes, good with children, and always involving you in his complex domestic dramas. The Ancient Wise Man always comes from a noble tribe (not the money-grubbing tribes like the Gikuyu, the Igbo or the Shona). He has rheumy eyes and is close to the Earth. The Modern African is a fat man who steals and works in the visa office, refusing to give work permits to qualified Westerners who really care about Africa. He is an enemy of development, always using his government job to make it difficult for pragmatic and good-hearted expats to set up NGOs or Legal Conservation Areas. Or he is an Oxford-educated intellectual turned serial-killing politician in a Savile Row suit. He is a cannibal who likes Cristal champagne, and his mother is a rich witch-doctor who really runs the country.

Among your characters you must always include The Starving African, who wanders the refugee camp nearly naked, and waits for the benevolence of the West. Her children have flies on their eyelids and pot bellies, and her breasts are flat and empty. She must look utterly helpless. She can have no past, no history; such diversions ruin the dramatic moment. Moans are good. She must never say anything about herself in the dialogue except to speak of her (unspeakable) suffering. Also be sure to include a warm and motherly woman who has a rolling laugh and who is concerned for your well-being. Just call her Mama. Her children are all delinquent. These characters should buzz around your main hero, making him look good. Your hero can teach them, bathe them, feed them; he carries lots of babies and has seen Death. Your hero is you (if reportage), or a beautiful, tragic international celebrity/aristocrat who now cares for animals (if fiction).

Bad Western characters may include children of Tory cabinet ministers, Afrikaners, employees of the World Bank. When talking about exploitation by foreigners mention the Chinese and Indian traders. Blame the West for Africa 's situation. But do not be too specific.

Broad brushstrokes throughout are good. Avoid having the African characters laugh, or struggle to educate their kids, or just make do in mundane circumstances. Have them illuminate something about Europe or America in Africa. African characters should be colourful, exotic, larger than life—but empty inside, with no dialogue, no conflicts or resolutions in their stories, no depth or quirks to confuse the cause.

Describe, in detail, naked breasts (young, old, conservative, recently raped, big, small) or mutilated genitals, or enhanced genitals. Or any kind of genitals. And dead bodies. Or, better, naked dead bodies. And especially rotting naked dead bodies. Remember, any work you submit in which people look filthy and miserable will be referred to as the 'real Africa ', and you want that on your dust jacket. Do not feel queasy about this: you are trying to help them to get aid from the West. The biggest taboo in writing about Africa is to describe or show dead or suffering white people.

Animals, on the other hand, must be treated as well rounded, complex characters. They speak (or grunt while tossing their manes proudly) and have names, ambitions and desires. They also have family values: see how lions teach their children? Elephants are caring, and are good feminists or dignified patriarchs. So are gorillas. Never, ever say anything negative about an elephant or a gorilla. Elephants may attack people's property, destroy their crops, and even kill them. Always take the side of the elephant. Big cats have public-school accents. Hyenas are fair game and have vaguely Middle Eastern accents. Any short Africans who live in the jungle or desert may be portrayed with good humour (unless they are in conflict with an elephant or chimpanzee or gorilla, in which case they are pure evil).

After celebrity activists and aid workers, conservationists are Africa 's most important people. Do not offend them. You need them to invite you to their 30,000-acre game ranch or 'conservation area', and this is the only way you will get to interview the celebrity activist. Often a book cover with a heroic-looking conservationist on it works magic for sales. Anybody white, tanned and wearing khaki who once had a pet antelope or a farm is a conservationist, one who is preserving Africa 's rich heritage. When interviewing him or her, do not ask how much funding they have; do not ask how much money they make off their game. Never ask how much they pay their employees.

Readers will be put off if you don't mention the light in Africa. And sunsets, the African sunset is a must. It is always big and red. There is always a big sky. Wide empty spaces and game are critical—Africa is the Land of Wide Empty Spaces. When writing about the plight of flora and fauna, make sure you mention that Africa is overpopulated. When your main character is in a desert or jungle living with indigenous peoples (anybody short) it is okay to mention that Africa has been severely depopulated by Aids and War (use caps).

You'll also need a nightclub called Tropicana, where mercenaries, evil nouveau riche Africans and prostitutes and guerrillas and expats hang out.

Always end your book with Nelson Mandela saying something about rainbows or renaissances. Because you care.

just needed a reminder 95 days in

1 - get enough sleep. i had let this one slip, proving that it will be a lifetime's challenge to continually get enough sleep. but last night, i took a nytol and went to bed at 10 (after watching american idol, but of course) and woke up feeling rather refreshed and perky this morning. what a difference a good night's sleep makes.

2 - buy a home. we have progress! well, a phone call with one mortgage broker, a meeting over coffee with another, and the necessary documents collected. not to mention a few perusals on the mls website. but i would gladly subcontract the entire mortgage broker/realtor/nest selection process to someone, i really do not enjoy it.

3 - reduce my level of anxiety. still going strong on winning this battle. not that i do not get anxious any longer, but that i am better able to recognise anxiety and do something to prevent or alleviate its symptoms. like running.

4 - take better photos. i don't think i have make one lick of progress on this goal as yet. but i am hoping my upcoming trip to san francisco will remedy this. bring on the photogenic city!

5 - become financially confident. i am feeling pretty confident about this, which i suppose is the entire objective of this goal. not that i think this feeling will last all year, but i am feel as though i am in a position to travel, to buy a new nest, and call my own shots. pretty sweet deal, if you ask me.

6 - be happy where i am. this one comes and goes as my mood changes and my mind daydreams. however, i have really come to terms with where i am and how i got here, even if it wasn't the way i would have ever planned. i like where i am, i like what lies ahead, and that seems like a way to obtain happiness.

7 - visit friends who live in other places. i am crapping out on this one. i had hopes of visiting with more people. but at least i had two out of town visitors recently. and i am going to thailand with a friend, who i think will be a good travelling chum. and that is something, right?

8 - make the best dating decisions for me. (the goal formally known as sort out my relationship). i am learning how to date again, with all its excitements, disappointments, and challenges and i don't suppose this is going to stop anytime soon so for the remainder of my 28th year, i would like to improve my dating decisions and ensure that they are the best ones for me. i think that i have done this so far, but will just need to keep this in mind moving forward.

Monday, May 04, 2009

great article by Fukuyama

if you are interested in politics, foreign aid, and african development, you might find this article interesting. it is written by Francis Fukuyama, an academic that i read during my masters degree, and it compares the philosophies of Wangari Maathai and Dambisa Moyo, two female african leaders in the discussion on foreign aid and its utility and effectiveness.

as you can see below, i just finished Maathai's autobiography and have ordered Moyo's book called Dead Aid from amazon so this was quite a timely piece for me. maybe you might just feel the same.

lots of learning from a nobel laureate

another good book about africa, development, and the fight for better governance and democracy is Wangari Maathai's book Unbowed. she is the woman who won the 2004 nobel peace prize for her work promoting environmental conservation while simultaneously fighting for women's rights, good governance, and human rights, demonstrating that they are not mutually exclusive nor attainable in isolation.

i liked reading the story of where Maathai came from, how she became a professor, and how she found herself in the middle of a civil rights movement. i had always wondered why she had won the nobel peace prize, but after reading about her struggles and what she had to get through just to plant trees with her organisation the Green Belt Movement, i am utterly impressed that she continued to fight corrupt officials, the undemocratic system in kenya, and cultural moors that said she should not be a divorced, single mother working in academia.

as i read about the corruption rampant within ngos and the government of kenya, i totally related to this frustration and as Maathai fought to overcome the barriers to sustainable economic and social development in kenya, i felt vindicated that i had struggled with similar challenges, but saddened that there are not more Maathais who can withstand such pressures and bullying to create lasting organisations and programmes that are homegrown, grassroots, and owned by the people at whom development is always targeted.

i now know why there is a sign at freedom corner in uhuru park and why there are green belt signs in the green spaces between the roads throughout nairobi. i understand what happened to the parcelling out of land after colonialism and after moi finally stepped down from power. the book was published after the post-election violence of 2007-2008, but it does shed a lot of light on the history of the violence that erupted after the most recent irregular election. i now know a lot more about the place i called home for 2 years and i think that even people who've never visited kenya would also enjoy learning a thing or two about Maathai and her life.

Friday, May 01, 2009

a busy week behind and ahead

here are some things i have to say:
  • have you seen the movie The Boy in the Striped Pajamas? it is really good. i watched it with my bro and we agreed that it should be shown in high schools when they study the second world war and the holocaust. this movie is great and shows a side of the war that we haven't seen much of - a german soldier's family that lives near a concentration camp and from the perspective of a 10 year old boy.
  • i bought my guidebook for san francisco and have started to read it. i cannot wait to get there! and the fact that i am going alone isn't so daunting when i think of all the places i'd like to see, the walking i would like to do, and the photos i would like to take (although anyone wishing to join me is more than welcome!)
  • both my presentations went really well this week and i think i have a host of new friends resulting from them, which is great. i have 2 coffee dates with potential new friends coming up and another presentation at a high school next week.
  • i slept for 15 hours yesterday and it was all because i had what i think is called a migraine. i have never had something like this before, but i am convinced the universe was trying to tell me something in making me stay in bed for so long. it was weird.
  • i have 2 dates next week! and 2 more in the pipeline. it must be spring.
  • i seem to have hurt my shoulder, the one that is lacking in the cartiledge department. blech. it feels like i should put it in a sling.
  • my sis and i went for an 8km run last night and it was awesome. only 6km more and i can convince her to run around the glenmore reservoir with me (but no wrong turns this time!). my new shoes felt like pillows with great grips on them, which i am sure helped me up those hills.
  • i am ready for the sass-travaganza in banff this weekend!


as i might not have time to post between now and the aftermath of the sass-travaganza that is the sisters' trip to banff for a hike in canmore, a stay at the fairmont banff springs, and the rocky mountain food and wine festival, i wanted to say that i am excited and it is going to be great!

i have never stayed at the banff springs hotel before and although i am anticipating our room will be approximately the size of a closet and/or a small pantry, i am looking forward to my first stay in the historical landmark in the town of banff.

the springs' sunday brunch has also been recommended to me, so we might have to check that out as long as we are not a) too hung over to appreciate the goodness that is a fairmont buffet or b) still too full from all the delights of the previous night's festival of wine and food.

i am hoping to get some snaps of the sass-travaganza so stay tuned!