Friday, December 31, 2004

Go Canada!!

If you haven't already done so, please visit to donate to the relief efforts.

Canadians donate $20-million, mostly on-line, in record time
UPDATED AT 9:12 AM EST Friday, Dec 31, 2004

CALGARY -- Canadians have pointed and clicked their way to an unprecedented outpouring of donations this week, as the age of instant giving hits its stride and speeds the efforts of charities to get desperately needed supplies to victims of the tsunami disaster.

Individual Canadians have donated more than $20-million to five of the country's largest charities in just 3½ days. Nearly two-thirds of that amount had come instantly through the websites of the Canadian Red Cross, Care Canada, Oxfam Canada, Unicef Canada and World Vision Canada .

Technology author Rick Broadhead was one of the thousands donating through the website of the Red Cross, which raised $9-million on-line from a total of $14-million in individual contributions. It took only a few seconds to fill in his contact and credit-card information, he said. "It was just very slick."

The mood at the Red Cross and the other four charities is the same: astonishment at the record-shattering pace of fundraising and delight that such a large amount of money will be available so quickly. "It's amazing," Red Cross spokeswoman Jo Williams said.

This is much more than a numbers game, however. The huge amount of cash means charities will be able to move more aggressively to get crucial supplies such as oral rehydration salts to those who have survived the initial onslaught of the tsunamis but are at risk of perishing in their wake.

"There's no question. It saves lives," said David Agnew, president and chief executive officer of Unicef Canada.

World Vision Canada said the surprising surge in on-line donations will allow it to do more, and sooner. "Things that might have been on your wish list are now on your reality list," spokeswoman Judy Burrell said.

The pace of on-line donations was so fierce that it crashed Care Canada's website for about an hour yesterday, although the charity quickly beefed up its computing power and continued taking contributions. At World Vision Canada, employees were asked to avoid browsing their organization's website to prevent on-line donors from being shut out.

In just three days, Oxfam Canada has collected nearly as much for the tsunami relief effort as it did over a two-week period for a similar effort in Rwanda. Mark Fried said the $1.1-million that has come in, two-thirds of that through on-line donations, could eventually double, setting a record for the organization.

Mr. Agnew and officials at other charities say they aren't sure why Canadians have given so much, so quickly. Certainly, part of the answer is the scope of the disaster, with tens of thousands dead and a dozen countries devastated. Many Canadians have personal and family ties to those nations.

Intensive media coverage of the tsunamis' toll is a factor as well. Those shocking images came at a time when many Canadians were home for the holidays, and perhaps in a more generous mood, Mr. Agnew said.

Unicef and other charities clearly see the Internet as a major part of their massively successful effort. Media publicity of their websites has helped, but the larger reason may have to do with the comfort factor: Newfangled technology has become familiar and embedded in Canadians' lives.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

I was so saddened to read about Jerry Orbach's passing. He was a terrific actor and he'll be missed in a big, big way.

Jerry Orbach dies Star of "Law & Order" and Broadway died Wednesday of prostate cancer. He was 69.

December 30, 2004

Photo of Jerry Orbach
Jerry Orbach, the laconic, sharp-edged Det. Lennie Briscoe on NBC's "Law & Order," who came to symbolize New York City as much as any actor of his generation, died yesterday in Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan at age 69. The actor, who also made his mark on stage and screen, had been suffering from prostate cancer, for which he had been treated since his diagnosis last spring.

A spokeswoman for "Law & Order" said there were no other details about Orbach's illness, but his death clearly stunned colleagues. In early December, when his condition was first publicly revealed, Orbach's manager, Robert Malcolm, said that he was expected to recover. Orbach had been set to play Briscoe in a "Law & Order" spin-off, "Trial by Jury," which is expected to launch in March.A show representative told Bloomberg News that the show will continue with the addition of a new cast member.

"L&O" creator Dick Wolf said in a statement, "I'm immensely saddened by the passing of not only a friend and colleague, but a legendary figure of 20th century show business."

Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said in a statement, "Jerry Orbach was a personal friend to me and a friend to all New Yorkers."

Orbach, who joined "L&O" in its third season (1992-93), remained a constant and unifying presence for a decade. (At his request, he left this past season.)In a Newsday interview last year, he said "a lot" of his own life was reflected in Lennie: "My character's very human, fallible. ... But Lennie's tougher than I am, and he carries a gun. I'm not a recovering alcoholic, and both of my children are alive. Lennie's into fast food; I'm very aware of nutrition."

Orbach's "Law & Order" performance was so persuasive and indelible that it has tended to obscure his Broadway career, which included playing Billy Flynn opposite Chita Rivera and Gwen Verdon in the original production of "Chicago" in 1976, and 1969's "Promises, Promises," for which he won a Tony. Broadway dimmed its lights last night in his memory. Off-Broadway, Orbach was also the first of many El Gallos in "The Fantasticks," which closed in Jan. 2002 after a 42-year run at the Sullivan Street Playhouse in Greenwich Village.

Born Jerome Bernard Orbach in the Bronx in 1935, his father was a former vaudeville performer, and his mother a radio singer. As a teen, his family moved to Illinois, where he picked up acting and made contacts (he briefly chauffeured Mae West). He later trained under Herbert Berghof and Lee Strasberg. He returned to New York in 1955 and starred on stage in "The Threepenny Opera," and landed his first screen role in "Cop Hater," based on an Ed McBain 87th Precinct novel, in 1958.However, it was "L&O," Broadway (and Off-Broadway), along with a handful of movies like Sidney Lumet's "Prince of the City" (1981), that firmly and irredeemably established Orbach in the psyche of many New Yorkers.

Several years ago the New York's Landmarks Conservancy named him one of their "Living Landmarks."

"He was as honest and straight ahead as the day is long and he was also no BS," said Bill Finkelstein, an executive producer of "NYPD Blue" who also worked as an "L&O" producer. "He took me into his dressing room when I first got there and basically said, here's who my character is, here's what I like and I don't like. You got it, kid? ... What he basically said is, I know your pals through 'NYPD Blue' and this isn't 'NYPD Blue.'"

Orbach married Marta Curro, an actress, in 1958, and they were divorced in 1975. He married Elaine Cancilla, a dancer, in 1979. Along with his wife, Orbach is survived by two sons from his first marriage, Anthony and Chris. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

This story was supplemented with an Associated Press report.
Copyright © 2004, Newsday, Inc.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

like normal, only better

I've said it before and it's very likely that I'll say it again: the best thing about getting really sick is that normal feels soooooo good.

For the past few days, both Mark and I have suffered with a weird bug. At first, it felt like a stiff back, then it moved to the front. It was like having a sick stomach but it only felt bad on the outside (ie you didn't lose your appetite or suffer any nausea). The pain was unreal though. It felt like someone had kicked you in your pink bits and in the kidneys and made you do 1000 situps at the same time. Lovely huh??

Thank goodness for heating pads and ibuprofen is all I have to say. Sadly, I think that Joe has come down with it now and it's hitting him even harder than it hit the two of us. Happy holidays huh?? Spreads joy and cheer and germs and bugs to everyone.

One thing that made me smile today: I haven't had to take any ibuprofen for the past 12 hours. Trust me, this is indeed a huge deal and definitely something worth at least grinning about!!

Monday, December 27, 2004

holiday wrap-up

The holidays aren't officially over yet, I know. New Years is just around the corner but honestly, in our house, we don't pay it much attention. Because I work at a university, to me, the new year always feels like it starts in September. Also, Mark always works on New Years so we haven't officially celebrated it in a few years now. The biggest chunk of the festivities for us though, is done with for another year. Part of me is always a little glad to be on the other side of it, if I'm honest.

Christmas day was really nice. We slept in a little bit, although it wasn't too late, Mark had to get the ham into the oven. I finished up the wrapping I needed to do and made up little bundles of baked goodies to take out to Mum's. I did up some for her and dad, a bunch for her neighbour (who is a lovely lady with two "very lovely girls") and some for my brother and his also lovely girlfriend (boy I like lovely a lot huh?).

We arrived at the old homestead mid-afternoon, just in time for dinner. My mum had done a turkey with turnip, brussel sprouts, carrots, potatoes, stuffing, two kinds of salad, veggies, pickles, cheese, home made rolls. You name it, it was on that table. Everything was delicious! For dessert, there were tonnes of different cookies and squares and cakes. Rebecca (my brother's girlfriend) had baked these amazing sugar-free pumpkin tarts. They just melted in my mouth. My mum had baked cookies galore, squares of all kinds, fruit cake, fudge. Holy smokes. I had contributed sugar cookies, Holiday M&M & Pecan cookies, Yum-Yum squares (like a butter tart), Fudgey Coconut squares, Chocolate Chippy squares and something new that I tried this year, Hershey hugs melted on pretzels, topped with a M&M. The last few days before Christmas I was feeling really lousy with a cold so I didn't do as much baking as I normally would but what I did do turned out pretty well.

Photo of Christmas goodies

After we finished filling our faces, we had a nice visit. Mark was working on my mum's computer (it seems that the network card is pooched so we'll be replacing that later this week). We had made Pat some DVD's for Christmas so we watched some of those while my dad and Joe watched Lawrence Welk Christmas shows on PBS. Of course, it wouldn't be Christmas without our annual Lotto ticket scratch. Each year, for the past several years, we have all exchanged packages of those holiday scratch tickets that the OLCG sells. It was a scratch-tastic good time. Mark and I won $14 and Joe won $9. I think that Pat and Rebecca took in almost $30 but I'm not sure what their final figure was.

Yesterday morning, we took a new network card out to mum's to see if that would help the problem. Her machine didn't like the card we brought but, while Mark had it offline, he cleaned up a bunch of spyware and some viral crap that she'd picked up somewhere. He also installed Norton 2005 for her.

In the afternoon, we took a drive down to my Aunt & Uncle's in Smiths Falls for their annual Boxing Day open house. Usually, Mark's working on Boxing day but because it fell on his regular day off, we were able to go. It was really nice to see my mum's family (this aunt is my mum's sister and her husband -- mum's brother, my godfather, was also there). We didn't stay too late because Mark had to work today but we were there long enough to have a nice visit with folks and have a bite to eat.

The ride home was a little scary. It was snowing a bit and the wind was pretty wicked so visibility on the highway was pretty poor. By the time we got home, we were both pretty happy to be there. There is nothing like a day out on the road to make you appreciate the clutter and chaos of your very own house!!

One thing that made me smile today: On the way home from my aunt's, we stopped in Gananoque at the Casino. It was so cold when we walked across the parking lot that my eyes were watering (and the tears freezing on my cheeks). When we got to the door, all bundled up and frozen, I actually got carded. I had to laugh, when I told the guy, "um, well I'm a Centennial baby, do you still need to see some ID?" He didn't know what I was talking about and, fortunately, seemed embarrassed when I explained that 1967 was the Centennial year in Canada. Anyway, the visit was good for me. I won $14 big ones baby!

Friday, December 24, 2004

happy ho, ho, ho

It is snowing here. They told us that we'd have a green Christmas. Much like the rest of the year, it seems that the folks at Environment Canada got it wrong once again.

When Mark finished up work this afternoon, we had to do an errand on the other side of town. The stores were closed by then and I really expected it to be deadly quiet outside. The traffic was insane. Visibility was crap and the roads were slick. I couldn't believe that so many people were out running around in the stuff. I was really happy to get home tonight.

We are up kind of late right now because I was finishing up some baking. We got sucked in to watching "Bad Santa" on TV and couldn't stop. Most nights, we're in bed by 9:30 p.m. at the latest so this is very strange for us, being up until midnight.

Tomorrow, hopefully, we'll sleep in a bit. We are spending the afternoon at my mum's but don't have to be there until after 3 p.m. I still have a couple of things to wrap up and Mark's cooking a ham (to take to mum's) in the morning but other than that, it should be a relaxing, happy Christmas day.

Whatever it is that you celebrate, I wish you all a safe and happy holiday weekend!! Right now, I'm off to bed!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004


The window installation people are here. Right now, as I type this, the old windows have been removed and the new ones have been popped in. Here is what the new window in our front hallway looks like so far:

Photo of our new window in the hallway

Right now, they are working on the second biggest project we have for them, our patio door. It's a huge door and some of the wood around the existing frame has rotted so they are working on that right now. The new windows look terrific though, they are currently sitting on the floor in the dining room:

Photo of our new patio doors, awaiting installation

The temperature in the living room is a frosty 46 degrees but it's worth it. Everything is going really well so far. They should be finished with the inside work shortly and have most of the outside trim work done before they leave tonight. Yay!!

Monday, December 20, 2004

frozen and deflated

It was very very cold this morning. Right now, it's only very cold. The sun's out and that tends to make a difference. When we left the house this morning, it was minus 33 with the windchill. Of course, about a half a block from the house, we realize that one of our tires is flat. Not a nice way to start the week, is it?

Backing out of the driveway, I thought something was weird, the car wouldn't accelerate but I figured that it wasn't completely warm. When it still wouldn't go on the street, we both knew something wasn't right. Fortunately, we were right across the street from a church and I was able to get into the parking lot, and off the street. Mark got the donut out of the trunk and changed the tire while I sat in the car trying to get CAA on the phone. 17 minutes later, I was still on hold and he had it fixed so we turned around and headed back to the house. About half way home, we realized that the other front tire was flat. I was able to pull up in front of our neighbor's house and leave it there. I was almost frozen. Stupidly, I had just pulled on some wool socks and sandals so my toes were really cold. I will never, ever ever, take Mark to work again without proper shoes on.

I waited until after 8 to call CAA and didn't have much trouble getting through to them. I was told it would take 3 hours for a tow truck to get to us (we wanted to get towed to our local Speedy -- just around the corner). The truck arrived in 25 minutes! Talk about service huh?? We have to pick the car up in a little while. We needed to replace the two tires, to the tune of approx. $400. On the bright side, it could have been much worse. The tires were about at the end of their natural lives and the cold caused them to soften. This could have happened to us on the highway, if we had gone out of town on Saturday like we'd planned. I'm really relieved that it didn't happen that way.

One thing that made me smile today: The window installers were supposed to be here today, putting in our new, first story windows. Fortunately, they cancelled due to the cold. I just cannot imagine having the house wide open in this cold today. They'll be here tomorrow though and I can't wait. Drafty windows be gone!!

Sunday, December 19, 2004

fish and chips

Never underestimate the restorative powers of a plate of fish and chips. When Joe learned that we were not going to Toronto, he decided that he'd like to go out for fish and chips, "if I was feeling up to it." I pretty much dragged my butt around the house all day and, around 4 p.m., decided to have a shower. I felt a lot better after the shower so we went out. After our meal, which was delicious but a lot more grease than I needed to ingest, I felt much better. So much better that I decided to take advantage of it and go run a couple of errands.

The stores were actually pretty empty for the last Saturday evening before Christmas. I was pretty surprised. While we were looking for a couple of gifts, we found a copy of the new Bill Hicks Live DVD. Why is it that you can always find things for yourself when shopping but never for the people you're supposed to be shopping for?? Anyway, we picked it up and watched about 2/3 of it last night. I had only ever heard albums of Bill Hicks. Watching him live was an eye-opener. I realized how much of what he did was in his actions and in his face. I had heard some of the bits before but watching him perform them was like hearing them for the first time, all over again. It was sort of bizarre to hear him talking about the "war" (not really) in Iraq and Bush. What he was saying 12 or 13 years ago was accurate then and now. He really could have been talking about the current conflict and administration down in the states. Seeing how brilliant his live performance was makes it all the more heartbreaking that he died so young.

Anyway, laughter and fish and chips are the best medicine. I'm still stuffed up and coughing my head off today but I'm not feeling anywhere near as crappy I did yesterday. Thank goodness for small favours huh??

Saturday, December 18, 2004

sickie sick, sick sick

I have a cold. It was bugging my ass all week. On Wednesday morning, I couldn't breathe so well. On Thursday afternoon, my elbows and knees started burning for no good reason. Yesterday I felt a bit better but was moving a little more slowly than I normally would be. Today, I'm definitely sick. I woke up with a pounding headache, totally stuffed up and generally looking like hammered shit. It's good that I at least look like I feel huh??

We were supposed to be going to Toronto today. Friends of mine have organized a big anniversary/reunion party tonight but there is no way that I can make it. I just cancelled our hotel reservation and sent my friend James an email to let him know. I'm really disappointed about this. I'd been looking forward to this for a few weeks. These are super fabulous people that I almost never get to see and I would have had a chance to see a whole bunch of them at the same time, in the same place.

In any event, I'm planning to crawl back into bed. I have to run Mark to work, and then stop off at the iga for a loaf of bread (there is no way I'm baking today!) and then, back to bed. What a fun way to start my two week vacation huh??

Friday, December 17, 2004

happy friday

Yesterday was sort of insane but we all survived. By 6 p.m. last night, the entire basement was packed up. It looks pretty funny right now actually. I came in early this morning to get a few things done before they disconnect our printers. Fortunately, a few weeks ago, those of use who didn't already have laptops were given them so we'll all be working together in a meeting room today. I'm just so relieved that everything is ready to go, you have no idea.

It wasn't until around 4 p.m. yesterday that I realized things were coming together and that we'd actually get out of the office at a decent time. Earlier in the day, I had visions of us being there until 10 p.m. or later. I have a feeling that I may actually (shock horror!) get some work done today. Not that the packing and moving stuff isn't work but it's not the regular kind of every day stuff that we're all responsible for.

One thing that made me smile today: It's almost too early to tell honestly. Right now, the one thing that is making me smile is the smell of my coffee!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

happy hump day

I'm definitely fighting some kind of loser cold or something. This morning when I woke up I could barely breath. It is actually sort of typical for me. Traditionally, I get a bad cold right before the holidays. It just adds to the holiday fun!!

Things at work today are kinda nutty right now. We're in the middle of packing up our entire office. At some point on Friday, the entire basement (where our unit's offices are located) will be completely empty. At the moment, I am having a really hard time picturing it. We have to literally empty every closet, cupboard, shelf. It's a huge job and, at the moment, I'm having a really difficult time picturing it. In the middle of all of this, we're trying to get some work done. It's not easy. When we get back from the break, in January, it'll all have been totally worth it as we're getting new paint, carpets and furniture. Right now though, it's all very stressful.

One thing that made me smile today: This morning, in the midst of all of the chaos, we had to go to a large group meeting with our Executive Director. When we got there, she had cookies and hot cider and a lovely little gift (a candle) for each of us. It was very sweet and thoughtful and a total surprise.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

great day

I've had such a terrific day so far. I say so far because I've only just gotten home from work and I know that the day is far from over.

We had an all-day professional development session, off-site today at work. Everyone in the organization (for the most part) attended. It was absolutely fabulous. I have to admit, I've had a lot on my plate just recently and we're all snowed under getting ready for the latest office moves. This was not an activity I was looking forward to, in fact, a little part of me was dreading it and was looking for ways to get out of it.

The day was broken up into a key-note address in the morning, a one hour training session by various groups of staff (from other areas which I don't know much about) followed by several different, 20 minute round-table sessions, also with co-workers. I'm always amazed at how much I can learn about other areas of the organization that I'm not directly involved in.

We shared our table at lunch with a very cool prof from the History Department so the conversation was lively, fun and really interesting. During the afternoon, I went to a 2 hour workshop with a conflict mediator. Again, it was a terrific session and I got a lot out of it. I took a tonne of notes too, so many that my fingers were sore from writing. I'm such a wuss about writing now. I almost never write anything by hand anymore. It's sort of funny how much computers have changed how we do even the little things.

One thing that made me smile today: So many things made me smile and laugh today that I couldn't possibly name just one. I love days like this!!

Monday, December 13, 2004

wet socks and a bad attitude

You can sort of tell what the tone of your day will be when, in the first 15 minutes of being out of bed, you spill a gigantic cup of water on the floor (while attempting to make the bed -- did I mention that it was 5 a.m.?) and proceed to walk right through it, with socks on. Yep, it wasn't going to be pretty.

All day, it felt as if everything that I touched fell colossally to shit. Of course, only about 1/2 of what I touched went to shit but, it still felt pretty bad. Work is totally chaotic right now. About 1/4 of our stuff is in boxes, about 1/2 of it is strewn all over the place, the remaining 1/4 is stuff we're actually working on. Everything has to be packed up by the time we leave the office on Thursday. I'm sure it's going to happen but getting there from here is going to be a challenge.

Luckily, things have been much more settled since I got home. I'm relieved about that because I just didn't need to come home to any drama, not tonight. Hopefully the worst part of the week is behind me and it's all good from here on out.

One thing that made me smile today: Dinner. It was yummy. I really enjoyed it. Mark is an amazing chef and although he didn't particularly think he did a good job on dinner, I loved it. We had whole wheat pasta with a tomato/turkey sauce. It had lots of peppers and garlic in it and we had enough left over to thrown in the freezer for a lunch later in the week.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

not so lazy

I fully intended to sleep in again today. It was so nice yesterday, why not attempt a repeat performance?? Why not indeed. I was up at 6 a.m. By 7 a.m., I was putting my second load of laundry into the machine. By 8 a.m., I was into my 2nd cup of coffee and my third load of laundry. With everyone asleep I got a lot done. I'm not complaining but getting stuff done in silence isn't nearly as decadent as sleeping in. It's almost responsible. Yuck! I even managed to get my CSS homework done. What a good girl huh??

Oh, I also fully intended to not leave the house. Bah!! Go to the mall, go to several...get stuff done. Fight the crowds, trudge through slush. Fun huh?? Jealous yet?? It wasn't so bad though, we did get a lot done. This afternoon we even managed to be lazy for a couple of hours and watch some tv. I guess it wasn't a totally responsible day after all.

One thing that made me smile today: For a fleeting second, seeing the bottom of my laundry hamper. Simple things amuse simple minds huh??

Saturday, December 11, 2004


I feel absolutely dopey right now. It's a very nice kind of dopey though, I like it a lot. I had such a good sleep last night. We totally slept in too, not something I do very often any more. It felt terrific. I haven't even gotten out of my jammmies yet. I guess I will soon though, we're supposed to be going out to do some errands.

The Glads didn't make it into town last night. It wasn't because of the weather though, Jim was sick. Hopefully he's feeling better today because they have a show in Ottawa tonight. It would be fun to go up for that but the weather is still pretty crummy here. We haven't heard too many cars going up and down the street so I'm not sure what shape the roads are in right now. Anyway, if you have lots of sunny, warm, healing vibes to spare, please send them Jim's way. Being sick is no fun!!

One thing that made me smile today: Looking out into my backyard this morning. After the freezing rain last night, it snowed. The snow is stuck to everything and it looks amazing. Really fake and gorgeous. I don't like to shovel snow but it sure is pretty to look at!!

Friday, December 10, 2004

finally friday

Why do the busiest weeks sometimes feel like the longest ones? This week should not have felt long at all, what with having Monday off and me going to a party yesterday afternoon. I'm guessing it's the change in the weather. The sudden appearance of winter can make the days feel very very long.

The Glads are supposed to be playing here tonight. Well, not at my house actually but here in town. It's one of my brother's bands and they rock!! I'm not sure if we'll be seeing them or not though. The forecast is very very bad right now, both here and in Ottawa. If they do make it in, they might not make it home tomorrow (not if the forecast is accurate anyway). Fingers crossed kids, that they get here safe and sound.

One thing that made me smile today: Getting to and from work safely today. The roads were slick and icy and seeing our driveway tonight made me smile like you wouldn't believe!!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

another party

Today was our annual office holiday whoop-dee-doo. Fortunately, they scaled it back this year and it was a very pleasant experience. We're a pretty big group now (about 110 people) so having a cocktail party/reception type of thing made visiting and moving around the room a lot easier than our traditional luncheon. Also, they held it on campus which it made it a lot easier for me to get there and back. I know, I'm a big baby sometimes but I really hate having to go off campus in the middle of a busy day. I must say, it was very very nice of our VP to pay for it all and I'm pretty sure that a good time was had by all.

One thing that made me smile today: The entertainment for the above mentioned party was Canadian Idol finalist, Elena Juatco. She sang three songs to us and that made me smile... I mean, I thought that she was very generous with her time and it was nice that she could do it and all but the reasons I was smiling are possibily not the ones you might think.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

back to the grind

Work was really really (really) busy today and I'm a little brain-dead at the moment. Here are a couple of those lovely meme things to keep you occupied though:

Monday Madness - December 6

1. What's your favorite TV show and why?

I guess it's Coronation Street. I enjoy watching the characters and plots evolve. I love the way the show is written and I've been watching it since 1987.

2. What's your sign?


3. Why is common sense so uncommon?

I have no idea. My dad was big on common sense and he hammered it into our heads. I guess not everyone else in the world was as lucky as we were!

4. What are 5 great things about your life partner?

He has a fabulous sense of humour, he's really intelligent, he always puts me first, no matter what, he's a fucking fabulous chef, he can make me feel better, no matter how crappy I feel.

5. Why do you blog? Are you a writer at heart? Is it a passion? Or because it's en vogue?

I used to read and write a lot. As life got busier, the reading and writing fell to the side. A couple of years ago I realized how much I missed it and I started this blog, with hopes that it would get me writing again. It has forced me to write on a regular basis but I'm not sure that anything I write these days is particularly interesting. I do it anyway though. I figure if I keep at it, eventually something good will pop out of my head!

6. How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

How much is the woodchuck going to be paid to chuck the wood?

7. Fiction or nonfiction?

A little of both. I like a mix.

8. If you were an animal, which animal would you like to be, and why?

A dolphin. Dolphins are smart and get to swim around all day. I like swimming and I like seafood so I could totally handle being a dolphin.

TV Tuesday - Week 34 - What'd you watch?

1. What's your favorite thing you've watched in the past week?

Sunday night's Arrested Development episode. That show makes me laugh like nobody's business.

2. Have you found anything new you liked/disliked?


3. For those who had access to them, did you see any really cool parades on TV?

We watched the Hollywood Santa Claus Parade on Sunday night. KTLA was broadcasting it. It was a terrific parade. Much better than the Macy's parade (the coverage was pathetic).

One thing that made me smile today: Not falling on the ice. We had freezing rain off and on almost all day today. The world is like a giant skating rink outside and I managed to not fall on my bum at all today.

Monday, December 06, 2004

long weekend: day 4 of 4

It is really really cold here today. Bitter actually. The wind felt like it could rip your face off, you know that feeling?

The snow we received on Friday is gone though, it rained last night. I don't miss it. I mean, it's pretty when it's on the ground but it was a little too early in the season to be seeing that much of it on the ground. Sadly, it looks like it's starting again. I can only hope that it doesn't accumulate. I really don't feel like shovelling.

If I sound grumpy, I shouldn't. I've a great weekend so far. I got a lot of running around done, things that I've been meaning to get to for ages. We picked up a new phone for Mark today too. His old one was on it's last legs. He got a LG phone as a hardware upgrade through Bell. It didn't cost us anything (or rather it won't -- we get back what we spent on it as a credit on the bill) and it's very cool. It sounds fabulous, like a land line. It's amazing how much the technology has changed since we first bought our cell phones 3 years ago.

One thing that made me smile today: I got my hair cut and it feels great. I had let it go way too long between cuts and the weight of my hair was starting to give me headaches. I should do it more often but I don't. Anyway, being light-headed never felt so good!!

Sunday, December 05, 2004

long weekend: day 3 of 4

I could easily get used to having a four day weekend. Seriously. Today was pretty lazy. Beyond baking a loaf of bread and doing some laundry, I did very very little all day long. I'd be lying if I said that I didn't enjoy it, big time.

Hope you had a lazy Sunday too!!

One thing that made me smile today: Sleeping in past 8 a.m. It's not something I do very often but I totally enjoyed it!!

Saturday, December 04, 2004

long weekend: day 2 of 4

Today didn't feel much like a day off. Mark worked this morning and I ran errands. When I finished running my errands, he called me because he had finished for the day. I picked him up and we ran more errands. It was crazy busy but it was okay. We got a lot of stuff done (which is good). Tonight we're going to pop some corn and watch Monster on the movie channel. Hopefully I'll not fall asleep half-way through!!

One thing that made me smile today: Everywhere we had to go today, we managed to get parking that was ridiculously close to the door. Shocked the hell out of me and actually made me smile!

Friday, December 03, 2004

long weekend: day 1 of 4

Mark and I have decided to not do a crap load of holiday shopping this year. First of all, we can't afford it. Second of all, does anyone really need all the crappy crap that we give them for Christmas?? Scaling it back makes sense and my family seems to be in agreement with us.

Having said that, I spent the best part of today with my mum. Shopping. Yep. Today we woke up to our first major snow fall of the season. I'm happy to say that I'm not afraid of the snow anymore (I used to be a VERY nervous winter driver) so it didn't really intimidate me. Mostly, we were shopping for stuff to bake with. I had decided to give away baking to some folks we would normally buy something for (it's usually appreciated whenever I have done it in the past). We must have been at Costco for 2 hours and we got some great deals on our baking supplies. The nice thing about going with mum is that we split some things (like nuts and the like). She and I also got purchased some small gifts. Between Costco, Zellers and Shoppers (if I watch the flyers closely), I'm not finding that my sprawl-mart boycott is causing me any problems as far as shopping goes. A new, bigger sprawl-mart is scheduled to open here, early in the new year. It's my plan to never set foot in the place. They are just far beyond evil, it's disgusting. I literally cannot shop there anymore.

So, now I have most of what I need to get my baking done. I'm probably not going to start it for a week or more though. I like to do a marathon baking session right before Christmas and get it all done at once.

One thing that made me smile today: I found out that our new windows will be installed before Christmas. We ordered new windows for the first floor of our house and they are actually on their way to Kingston as I type this. We should have them installed the week before Christmas (around the 20th I think). Yay!!

Thursday, December 02, 2004

on course

For the past 10 or so weeks, I've been taking a web creation course through work. It's 2 hours a week for 16 weeks and it's been really good so far. This is not an advanced course, in fact, some of the folks who are taking it with me have never seen html in their lives. I knew that the start of it would be slow, mostly review but I'm actually learning stuff along the way. I'm not surprised by this. Everything I knew about web creation was stuff I figured out myself. Now that we're past the basics it's getting really interesting. I'm actually learning why some of the stuff I do, works.

The week's been really busy for me. It flew by at a crazy rate and I was seriously considering not taking tomorrow and Monday off (I have them booked -- trying to use up unused vacation days). Fortunately, I got a lot of stuff done today and I think I'm going to take them. It's not like I can carry them over to the new year anyway.

One thing that made me smile today: Not having a party to go to. Doesn't that sound terrible?? Reading it, it looks bad to me. This week has been kind of weird though. At work, our director retired this week so there have been receptions big and small held in her honour. It's been nice for her and folks are sad to see her go but honestly, it's been difficult to be away from my desk for them. Hopefully things will get "back to normal" (whatever that means) soonish.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

sad but not completely unexpected

We laughed our asses off at his "how to roll a joint" segment on Monday Report last month (I still have the mpeg around here somewhere). Rest in peace Pierre.

Beloved author Pierre Berton dies at age 84 at Toronto hospital
Tue Nov 30,10:41 PM ET

TORONTO (CP) - Author and broadcaster Pierre Berton, "a great Canadian voice" whose numerous books on history and culture contributed to the nation's collective identity, has died at age 84.

Berton died Tuesday afternoon at Sunnybrook hospital.

"I think he was like the godfather of Canadian history," said his longtime friend, agent and manager Elsa Franklin. "People respect the fact that he fought for the country, in a sense, to make people aware of it. And he loved the country."

Franklin said Berton had an enlarged heart, congestive heart failure and diabetes, "so these things take their toll."

"He did what he could and he was still writing, but the last two weeks he just went downhill. And the heart just wasn't pumping."

Berton was in York Central Hospital until recently, where his wife Janet was also hospitalized for a broken hip. He was moved to Sunnybrook hospital Monday and died of heart failure Tuesday, surrounded by many family members - including his wife in a wheelchair, Franklin said.

While he was at York Central he said at one point "Well, I'll get my typewriter and I'll write some poetry," Franklin reported.

In a statement, Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson, who was also a CBC colleague years ago, called Berton "the most remarkable writer of Canadian historical events in the last 50 years."

"So much of our nationhood and our collective identity as Canadians were created by him. His extraordinary origins in the Yukon, his adventurous life as a newspaper man and his ability to bring to life all of the events which shaped us as a country can be seen through his works: The National Dream, The Last Spike, Vimy and The Arctic Grail put into words what we are, for all time."

Prime Minister Paul Martin extended his sympathy to the family and said "his passing silences a great Canadian voice, but his work will live on to enrich the lives of Canadians for generations to come."

"His ability to chronicle the life and times of our great nation was without peer," Martin said in a statement. "His love of Canada, its people and its history, and his personal attachment to the North (were) vividly expressed in his numerous books and writings as a journalist."

Berton had a long and varied career, publishing 50 books, working as a newspaper columnist, Maclean's magazine editor and as a broadcast personality. In every role, his trademark humour and eccentric take on the world was evident - as was his trademark bow tie, bushy white sideburns and dramatic cloaks.

"His contribution was bloody enormous. He was the giant of the Canadian writing scene," said author Farley Mowat.

He said one of his fondest memories of Berton was of a frigid winter evening in the late 1950s, when Mowat was having "a very difficult time of it" and sat despondent in his Jeep outside Berton's home.

Mowat says Berton brought him inside and stayed up until dawn listening to his "sad stories." He believes he would have frozen to death had Berton not intervened.

"He was imitated by many. I don't think anybody surpassed him in doing what he did so well, which was to be a journalist with passion and integrity."

Betty Kennedy, his fellow panellist on the CBC show Front Page Challenge, said she and so many other people will miss Berton terribly.

"He had a great loyalty to friends, to causes, to things that had happened in his past," she told CBC. "I can remember at one point when he was at the height of his fame and he was dashing off to attend a Boy Scout jamboree. And I said 'A Boy Scout jamboree?' and he said 'yes, without the Boy Scouts I can tell you that I would have been a juvenile delinquent."'

George Anthony, who also worked with Berton on Front Page Challenge, said he was unique - one of a kind.

"I will remember Pierre Berton as great fun, a brilliant mind who didn't take himself seriously, and an incredible communicator. He was just a wonderful writer and totally accessible to every walk of life."

Author Alice Munro, at her B.C. home, called Berton "such an important writer in the days when there weren't any."

"He was also an enormously generous man."

She said he was very businesslike when he used to come to her family's bookstore to sign books, "but he was very unsparing of himself."

"He understood the book business very well - not just his own books, but other people's books. He wanted the whole business in Canada to prosper."

Writer Alistair MacLeod said Berton "made the history of Canada come alive."

"He emphasized the importance of our history as distinct from American history or British history or French history. ... And without having written down that record of life within this country, we would all be poorer," MacLeod said from Windsor, Ont.

MacLeod said Berton was instrumental in encouraging Canadian writing in all its forms.

"He made it possible for a lot of younger writers to believe that you could write in this country and that you could be successful at it, and that the voices from this country have something to say."

Not only was Berton compassionate and a prolific writer, but he also had a good sense of fun.

As recently as October, he appeared on the CBC satire show, Rick Mercer's Monday Report, offering tips on how to roll a marijuana joint, recommending his book The National Dream as an excellent "rolling surface" and warning about the perils of a loose joint. He said a less-than-firmly rolled spliff could leave unsightly toke burns on one's bow tie.

Berton also told the Toronto Star that he had been a recreational marijuana-user since the 1960s, saying he'd reached a stage in his life where he didn't "give a damn" what he said or what people thought.

Mercer recalled asking Berton to appear on his show after hearing rumours that the elderly Canadian icon liked to smoke pot.

"I just called him, and asked him if he would come on the show and teach Canada how to roll a joint. He immediately said 'Yes, come up to the house. I'd be happy to do so,"' Mercer said.

Mercer spent the day with Berton at his home in Kleinburg, Ont. The comedian called the time spent with Berton one of the highlights of his life.

Mark Starowicz, the CBC producer who created the epic documentary Canada: A People's History, as well as The Greatest Canadian series that ended Monday, said Berton was "the greatest nationalist of our generation."

"We are all the children of Pierre Berton," he said in an interview.

Starowicz, whose parents displayed Berton's complete works on the mantel over their fireplace, says Berton added life to a past many Canadians had previously dismissed as dusty and dull.

"He took history out of the hands of the academics and breathed life into it and gave it to the people."

Canada's National History Society established the Pierre Berton Award in 1994 for distinguished achievement in popularizing Canadian history.

"As one of the original board members tells me, it was probably the shortest and least debated discussion in the entire history of the society," said the current president and CEO Deborah Morrison.

"Literally within 1½ minutes, they had set up this award program, determined its cash value and the first recipient was Pierre Berton."

Morrison said he also agreed to be the group's patron, and "ever since then he's been very much devoted and actively involved in helping to grow this award."

The 10th award was handed out last Thursday to Jack Granatstein, and it was the first time Berton missed an award ceremony.

"Jack Granatstein said in his remarks that our Canadian history was too valuable and too storied to leave to Pierre Berton alone," Morrison said from Winnipeg.

"Here we are, a week later, facing the challenge of making sure that in a Canadian world of history without Pierre Berton that all of the writers that he helped nurture are going to make sure that those stories continue to grow."

One of Berton's final public appearances was in October, when he attended the opening of a new $12.6 million resource library named in his honour in Vaughan, Ont.

Franklin said funeral arrangements are not confirmed but she expects there will be a private wake at the family home in Kleinburg, Ont., followed by a "big public wake."

Berton "lived a long and happy life and he died peacefully with his wife and family at his side," said his son Paul Berton, editor-in-chief of the London Free Press.

"He made a difference and I think he knew he made a difference."

Comments on the death Tuesday of author Pierre Berton:

"His love of Canada, its people and its history, and his personal attachment to the North (were) vividly expressed in his numerous books and writings as a journalist. His passing silences a great Canadian voice, but his work will live on to enrich the lives of Canadians for generations to come." - Prime Minister Paul Martin.

"Pierre Berton was the most remarkable writer of Canadian historical events in the last 50 years. So much of our nationhood and our collective identity as Canadians were created by him." - Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson.

"(He was) such an important writer in the days when there weren't any. He was also an enormously generous man." - Author Alice Munro.

"He emphasized the importance of our history as distinct from American history or British history or French history. ... And without having written down that record of life within this country, we would all be poorer." - Writer Alistair MacLeod.

"I just called him and asked him if he would come on the show and teach Canada how to roll a joint. He immediately said 'Yes, come up to the house. I'd be happy to do so.' " - Rick Mercer, recalling his invitation to Berton to appear on CBC-TV's Monday Report in October.

"He was imitated by many. I don't think anybody surpassed him in doing what he did so well, which was to be a journalist with passion and integrity." - Author Farley Mowat.

"He made a difference, and I think he knew he made a difference." - Berton's son Paul Berton, editor-in-chief of the London Free Press.

"He was the greatest nationalist of our generation. We are all the children of Pierre Berton." - CBC producer Mark Starowicz, who created the documentary Canada: A People's History.

"He was such a nice guy, a good sense of humour, proud, and he hated what he called anti-Canadianism, people who put Canadians down and people who weren't proud of their country, and I loved him for that." - Author and Canadian nationalist Mel Hurtig, speaking to CBC.

"He was certainly one of the most prodigious workers. I know that June (Callwood) made some reference to him not being able to not write, and I think that's quite true. He had a good sense of humour too, and he didn't even mind if the joke was on himself." - Betty Kennedy, former panellist with Berton on CBC-TV's quiz show Front Page Challenge, told CBC.

"No matter how much or how little education you've had, you can get hooked on a Pierre Berton book by page 3 and not have to worry that you won't be able to finish it. I think he was unique. He was one of a kind." - George Anthony, who worked with Berton on Front Page Challenge.

"As one of the original board members tells me, it was probably the shortest and least debated discussion in the entire history of the society. Literally within 1½ minutes, they had set up this award program, determined its cash value and the first recipient was Pierre Berton." - Deborah Morrison, president and CEO of Canada's National History Society, of the group's decision to established the Pierre Berton Award in 1994 for distinguished achievement in popularizing Canadian history.