Friday, November 30, 2007

Slater Avenue, Update

Back in May, this great "222" sign on Slater avenue caught my attention. Well, about a week ago (or maybe two?) I noticed a change.
I guess someone else thought the 222 would be a creative motif around which to build a club.

on the cold front, I'm still sniffling coughing and wheezing. For all of you in the same boat, remember these Buckley's-like remedies?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

'Tis the Season...

To be congested (fa la la lala lala lala - Sing it!) My little angela has a viscious head cold and has managed to share the love with all in the family (parents, grandparents, baby brother, and your's truly - Auntie Noha). This morning I woke up unable to breathe. I'll spare you the details, but winter has definitely arrived. It's 20 below zero (celsius) with the windchill factor in Ottawa today. Winter has MOST definitely arrived.

On the bright side, Les Boys won 4-3 in Shootouts against those poor Toronto Maple Leafs last night, despite being horribly outshot and deserving to lose. I'm starting to really like our rookie goalie (46 shots, and no panicking). but the team needs to play better 5 on 5. Wow, I sound like such an arm chair coach

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cree Indian Prophecy

Beautiful and all too true. Thought I'd share:

Only after the last tree has been cut down
Only after the last river has been poisoned
Only after the last fish has been caught
Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Homeless

Working downtown has its major ups, but also some downs. I love the easy access into the city centre on dedicated bus routes. I love that if I have to run errands after work, I'm at least already halfway to where I need to get. I love the busy-ness of downtown, how alive it is, and just the variety of people I end up seeing (writers are people-watchers, and my commuting time, combined with my coffee time and my errand time, is my people-watching time and gives me a lot of my inspiration).

The down of downtown is the poverty you sometimes witness. I get off the bus two and a half blocks from work, and depending on which stop I get off at, I am almost guaranteed to see 4 different homeless people every day, sitting on the different corners. Some of them are very cheerful and thoroughly courteous, smiling good morning, never asking for money, commenting that it's cold or warm, snowy or windy or rainy today, or telling me that they like my Habs' scarf.

One of my colleagues knows most of them by name, and knows their stories. If you've been working in my building long enough, you almost definitely know the man outside the Holt Renfrew with the big, brown dog, the long hair and the beard. He's cheerful, always. He has a mental illness that isn't obvious right away, and one of the breakfast places downstairs gives him free coffee whenever he goes into the building.

On Thursday, I decided to treat myself to a soy latte, and on my way into the Second Cup, I saw a homeless woman I had never seen before. She was sitting a few feet from the door of the store, hand out, staring off and looking sad. She was young, maybe 35 years old. I went in, and 5 minutes later, with my $4 coffee in hand, when I came out, she wasn't sitting anymore. She was standing in the same spot. Sobbing. Just completely caught up in her grief about something, and it was so incredibly sad. I can't begin to imagine what happened in those 5 minutes, and the scariest thing is that probably, nothing happened. Her life was already bad enough before I went into the store, and just as bad as I came out. But imagine yourself sobbing alone in the middle of the street, with commuters averting their eyes and passing you every which way. It was enough for me to nearly start crying myself, but not enough for me to ask her what was wrong. I was afraid, and somewhat shaken, so I took my coffee and continued to my building.

I didn't see her this morning.

I read in the paper this week that the homeless rate in Ottawa is rising quickly. I can't imagine what drives someone to such a terrible state, to the point where they lose everything and are alone with no one to look after them, invisible in plain sight of everyone who passes them in the busiest part of a city. I try to remember to thank God everyday that I don't know the pain of having nothing and no one, but my family, my shelter, my peace of mind and faith are all things I take for granted until I see (really see, not just absently notice) people like this woman I saw on Thursday.

I won't even try to analyze the reasons for it, or point fingers, or take political sides on the homeless issue, but I do believe that in general, our society would go a long way with more compassion. There is a teaching of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, that says: "Even your smile to your brother or sister is charity". This is a charity we can all give to afford.

Friday, November 23, 2007

As promised

An update (with some pics!) on Samwise the bloated and the rest of the LOTR fish gang.
From my sister's email today: his bloatation is doing much better today after a strict diet of only peas.
I have to say, after looking at the three little fellas, Samwise it the cutest :D
(my apologies for the blurriness of Sam's pictures; because of his bloat, he's floatin' around and doesn't stay still long enough for the pic to come out clearly)


Frodo and Gollum

Samwise the Bloated

The three stooges

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Changing it up a bit

Okay people, I think the minimal look needs a little break. To be honest, I've thought so for a while now, but I've also been WAY too lazy to do my own layout design / minor programming to make the page look the way I wanted it too (which was I'm-not-actually-sure-how, but-just-different-from-how-it-looked), and I wasn't particularly digging any of blogger's offered templates.
Well, I went back and looked, and I've decided to go with one of the standard ones (still too lazy to do my own, but also because I actually like it.) It's called "Harbor", and I'm kinda digging the whole waterfront thing. Also, M should consider this an olive branch extended on a little "question of contention" we have, because, really, doesn't harbor naturally make you think of that most famous harbour in Halifax?? (you know what I mean, M).

Anyway, hope you all like the new look... We'll see how long it lasts before I go nuts and return to something either way too plain or way too busy again.

Poetry of Social Awareness

One of the things I love so much about good songs and poems is that they say important things in a powerful, creative way, and rarely come off as a) boring or b) preachy as the same thing said in plain language. I've already posted the lyrics on here for "Waiting on the World to Change" by John Mayer, which I think speaks to the apathy of a lot "young" people these days and why they feel there's no point in trying to make things better.
I write some of my own poetry and music, but I've never had a good knack for writing good "social/political commentary" songs, so when I find one I love, I like to share it. Here's a song that says a lot of things, speaking generally about hypocrisy and obsession with money, weapons, and power. Like I said, expanding it all out in plain language will likely be a) boring, and b) preachy, so enjoy the song instead. It's by Jack Johnson. A lot of his other stuff is great too, discusses nature, the importance of focussing on non-material aspects of our life, etc, but this song, Symbol in my Driveway, is the one that packs the most punch to me...
Here's a YouTube link to it... Never mind the "eSocialist" picture; I couldn't find his original vid.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Random Acts of Fishy-ness

So I haven't written in about a week, right? and I said I wouldn't do that again, right? Well... sorry? It's just that most of what's going on in my life right now is not blog-writin' material - not that it's bad, no! it's plenty good, it's just that my life right now pretty much involves a lot of wedding planning, and I'm greatly enjoying it, but it's not the kind of stuff I want to post...
From my sister in Montreal though, comes this rather hilarious situation:
A few weeks ago, my sister's sister-in-law (I never know if I'm supposed to call her my sister-in-law, or how exactly to describe our relationship) got my sister and brother-in-law some goldfish as a gift. My sis and brother-in-law (bil for short) named them Frodo, Sam, and Gollum (If you haven't seen Lord of the Rings, this reference is completely lost on you. If you have, each fish sort of resembles his namesake: Frodo is small, Gollum is a bit on the freaky side with massive eyes on the side of his head, and Sam is pear-shaped and large).
So it's all good in the fish world. after all, what are you gonna do with gold fish? Put them in their tank, feed them, and look at them, right? Well, last week, while my sister is away, Sam develops some "bloating" and starts floating to the top of the tank after dinner... My bil calls my sis and tells her he's floating, so she assumes he's dead, and my bil says: no, he's swimming, just on his back or side, but then he just 'rests' or floats every so often...
so my sis suggests calling the pet store, which my bil does, and they tell him the problem is bloating... Guess what you do for a gold fish with bloating? You feed it defrosted crushed frozen peas. Isn't that silly? So now, every night after dinner, Sam needs to eat peas. and then he floats and bloats (my sister says he's so bloated she's even made up a special word for this: "bloatation") and by morning he's fine again... My sister's actually convinced he just eats too much: one time, my bil had to hold him back with the net to let the other fish get a chance to eat when he put the food in...
Anyway, I promise that eventually there will be pics of these little guys, who've turned out to be more work than first suspected, but for now my sis says that the pic would just convince any of you that they're keeping a dead fish in the tank. I think maybe Sam just likes to back float, which is an unfortunate position to like for a fish because it's so synonymous with death for them?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Howdy-Ho Good Neighbours!

Did you ever used to watch Home Improvement, that incredibly corny family sitcom with Tim Allen pretending to be a Tool Man on a local cable show called "Tool Time"? Do you remember his neighbour in the show, Wilson? If you never saw the show, it ran for about 10 years (I think) and one of the insanely silly jokes / running themes of it was that the audience NEVER saw Wilson's whole face at once. He was always standing on the other side of the fence, so only the top half of his face was showing, or holding something that was covering the top half of his face, so only the bottom half was showing... In the very last episode, you FINALLY got to see all of Wilson's face in one shot. It was really quite a clever, if ridiculous, little joke.
I got to thinking of Wilson yesterday when I saw my uncle and said to him "Howdy Ho Good Neighbour!" which was something Wilson would always say to Tim over the side of the fence in the backyard... My uncle and his wonderful family have just moved in really close by to us, along with having my sister and her family next door... we're considering just changing the street names to our family names at the rate we're taking over the neighbourhood. It's funny, cuz when I tell people how close we all live to each other, they seem shocked. Like you would never CHOOSE to live this close to your family. but that's exactly what we did; we chose to live nearby... and now when I want to go for a walk, I can go with my parents, my uncle, aunt or cousin, my sister, my little angel and angela tagging along (in strollers or on foot, depending on whether we're planning a power-walk or a dawdle...) or if we just want to pop by and see each other for five minutes, or borrow a cup of sugar like the old cliche, we do it... If I don't see my sister, niece or nephew (read: angel or angela) for more than two days, I basically go into some form of mild withdrawal. three days and we're talking more serious withdrawal. 4, you don't even wanna ask. I love having my family near by, and I'm incredibly grateful for it. Case in point, we all had dinner together tonight, with little notice that this was what we would do. Exhibit two: this morning, my uncle and I happened to ride the bus into downtown together without even meaning it. It just makes for a lot more bonding time when everyone's nearby. So, welcome to the neighbourhood!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Very Very Sad

I read this article today about a sixth grade boy in a Montreal area school who died a few hours after getting into a fight with someone at recess. If you read the article, it doesn't seem like an incredibly violent fight. There's no mention of blood. Neither of the kids in the fight have a history of violence, but the boy who died did have a cardiac condition.
My condolences and prayers go out to the boy's family, and to the little girl who is probably feeling incredibly guilty and quite traumatized right now. I can't think of an 11 year old who hasn't gotten into a shoving match during recess at least once. I hope she's able to get over it.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

An Extra Hour

Thanks to Daylight Savings Time (DST for short in the IT world), we all get an extra hour this weekend. I remember that in university, I was always so thrilled with the extra hour in the fall right around midterms, and always so devastated with the loss of an hour in the spring right around finals. Now, it just means one more hour to sleep, and I'm quite happy to have it...

Hope the cold weather isn't getting to everyone too much...