Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Athabasca Adventure

What a fantastic day! My sister and I drove out to Athabasca to visit my uncle, aunt and cousins, who were out at their cabin enjoying the last nice weekend of summer. Athabasca is a small town about 1.5 hours north of Edmonton. I used to teach out there, ages ago, and lived at my uncle's cabin at Baptiste Lake, which is not to far from town. It's beautiful out there:

(That's an awesome picture of Baptiste! And no, I didn't take any of these photos, click the links to go to the source.)

It seems we never get to hang out with family much, and I'm sure I hadn't seen these cousins in years, so it was really fun to catch up and chat. We were only supposed to stay for this:

and this:
but ended up also staying for this:


(Only idiots don't wear life jackets.) While we were out in the boat we saw about a dozen pelicans:

We then had to stay for dinner and celebrate for my aunt (and I guess me a little too) with:

Really, were were supposed to go home after that but ended up doing this:

Seriously, I'm sure the last time I went quading, I was like 10 years old and was with these same cousins on those same trikes (the quad was new) and we went out on the same trails. It was wicked good fun!! (Only idiots don't wear helmets.) We ended up going out for a couple hours (!) but saw some fantastic wildlife:
Those would be deer, grouse and moose for those unfamiliar with Ukrainian cuisine. Honestly, our families do things a bit differently. Ask me sometime what we used to find in the garage, freezer, or frying pan.

Anyways, it was a fabulous day. I really enjoyed seeing family, but also getting back to nature. I've been thinking about this for awhile, every since I got to contrast Las Vegas with the Grand Canyon. Floating down the Elbow was just a start. Hanging out at the Shamchuk Shanty was a nice continuation. But what's next? I'm thinking of joining the Edmonton Outdoor Club for a few hikes in the foreseeable future, and can't wait to float down the Pembina next summer (thanks for this idea but anyone who has actual details of how this is done, just let me know. 'Go to Entwistle' is a bit vague for me!)

Any other outdoorsy ideas are most welcome, as would be some excellent company for my next awesome adventures!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Go To The Corn Maze!!

I had so much fun last night I'm posting on the weekend, it was that good.

A friend from work and I went to the Edmonton Corn Maze! Basically a crazy farmer cuts a maze into his corn field and then charges people admission to get lost in it for a couple hours. This year's maze cover 15 acres and has 5km of trails and looks like this:

I went last year during the day and it was really fun. I took a friend who was over from England and since it was CISN radio's 2-for-1 day they put us on the air because her accent was cool. This is me looking lost and bewildered last year:

This year we also went on CISN day but added a whole new dimension! First, we went at dusk, definitely the best time to go. It's light enough that you get your bearings but then gets quite dark and makes it extra fun and challenging (next time I'd bring a flashlight though, some guy had a headlamp, I reckon that's the way to go but I don't have one). Then the dark ominous clouds rolled in, which were quite beautiful between the dark navy and the pink/purple colouring. Finally, the lightening started and the wind picked up. It was awesome!! The way the lightening flashes lit up the sky overhead briefly was just gorgeous. You could see the tops of the corn waving against the coloured background, seriously beautiful. We never did get rained on and couldn't hear the thunder as it was too far away, but the whole atmosphere was so awesome! We made it out before the kicked us out at closing time, and rewarded ourselves for an A-#1 effort with McFlurries.

I'd go again in a heartbeat. Apparently around Halloween time the spook it up quite a bit, which is a bit too Blair Witch for me, but they're open till November so that leaves lot's of time in between to get in another visit. If you do go, check out the website as there's coupons and other 2-for-1 deals. Plus they have a picnic area and farm animals and pedal carts and a bale mountain to climb on. This would be a seriously cool place to take a date (though maybe that only works on boring people like me?). There are a bunch of other corn mazes in around Edmonton (Leduc, Lacombe, Bon Accord) and others in Alberta and all over the world.

So find your nearest one today and get lost!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Rockstar?

I'm boring. No, seriously, I'm a dull and boring kinda person. I like to stay home and watch tv or waste time on my computer or play video games or read. I study a lot if I'm in school and work hard when I'm not. I don't like going to bars, movies or shopping. I do like being a boring person though, so I'm not complaining.
Can I tell you a secret though? I (like most people I reckon) sometimes dream about being on stage, in a band, like a rockstar or something. Seriously. I'd play bass or fiddle I guess and would get to travel around and make lot's of money and meet lot's of people and everyone would love me. It would be so exciting, playing shows every night, feeding off the energy of the crowd. I would be famous!
But then again, maybe fame isn't really for me. I heard Nickelback's song 'Rockstar' at work today (boring librarian, remember):
Yeah, I think I'm alright with being boring.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It's Not Just Us...

Every time I hear that another Canadian company has been bought out by the Americans I get really mad. Must be my blind patriotism and national loyalty.
Well, it's not just us anymore. Blame the poor economy if you want, but the Americans are being bought out too!
That makes me feel better.
(Image stolen from here.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Climate Change Copyright Crap

Here is an interesting summary about the Canadian government's SNAFU regarding a climate change report.
National Post article here: "Upset about the Conservative government's decision not to post on the Internet a major report warning about the health effects of climate change in Canada, bloggers have taken upon themselves to make it widely available."
Seems the powers that be might be pulling an American move by downplaying something 'bad' to the public.
Not cool.
(I did have a really cool photo, but the server was down and it wouldn't upload.)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Floating Down the Elbow

I went to Calgary this weekend, mostly because I was invited down by an old friend who I hadn't seen in ages, but also to celebrate my car's first birthday with it's first highway roadtrip. My friend enticed me with a 'raft trip down the river'. Curious. I figured it wasn't whitewater rafting, as there's none of that in Calgary and it would've entailed a bit more preparation. Instead we drove to a park on the edge of the Elbow River not too far from downtown Calgary, pumped up a couple Walmart dingies, tied them together, and headed downstream toward my friend's apartment building. It was so much fun! We floated down, chatted a bit, relaxed a bit more, ate yummy snacks, looked longingly at the riverside mansions, made fun of the other floating groups of people and somewhat successfully paddled away from the edge, rocks and other floaters (until I broke a paddle, which turned the somewhat successful effort into a not-so-successful effort). It was so relaxing, and beautiful. I wish there was a place to do this in Edmonton. I'd be out every weekend. (Image, and a great description of what goes on on the Elbow from here.)

Friday, August 22, 2008

What Happened To Freedom of Speech?

This article makes me mad: 'A library employee in this Lake Michigan resort community has been fired for writing a book that describes a range of unpleasant patrons, from the merely unpleasant to online sex fiends, in a town she calls "Denialville." Using the pen name Ann Miketa, Sally Stern-Hamilton wrote "Library Diaries," which she describes as a fictional account based on her on-the-job experiences.' She was fired! For writing a fictional book! I can guarantee you those crazy library patrons are found in all libraries, all around the world (sometimes there is truth in stereotypes, no kidding, I've seen them). She brings up a good point: 'Stern-Hamilton said what happened to her goes against the spirit a library is supposed to represent. "The absolute irony is that the public library is a pillar of free speech, and leads me to wonder why the administration is so upset. It's fiction," she said.' Stupid.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Law School For Dummies

As I was driving from my day-job to my evening-job today, I suddenly realized I hadn't learned anything all day and wouldn't be able to post on my blog (which would've been a shame as I've been pretty good at posting regularly). Well it was the evening-job to the rescue! I have the most interesting conversations with the librarian at the Law Library. We once got into a two week long debate about the insurance cap on soft tissue injuries, and today she taught me all about how to get into law school. I noticed the articling students (who's offices are in the library) were away for awhile and I innocently asked if they had gone on vacation (ha! I don't think articling students get vacations). Nope, apparently they were at their 'CPLED' course. Huh? Ok, so to get into law school you need an undergraduate degree (or be a genius) and then you can take the LSAT test and the apply to law schools. So if you get in, you get your law degree or masters or whatever, and that takes 3 years. Then you spend a year as an articling student, and if you pass all that you can be admitted into the bar. Voila, you are a lawyer! But (yes there is always a but) those three years at university don't actually teach you 'how-to' bec a lawyer, only the theory of law and about law in general. I suppose it's like my four years at university didn't teach me 'how-to' teach, only the theory and other crap about teaching. This strikes me as kinda stupid, I think schools should teach practical knowledge so once you graduate you can actually work at the job you graduated for, but hey, what do I know, I'm already on my second career. As an articling student though, as well as being the law firm's bitch, you have to take CPLED course, which actually does teach you the practical side of practicing law. So now it all makes sense, and it also explains why the library staff know more about law than the law students who come in or call all the time!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Please...

It's no secret (well maybe it is) that I've been having a crappy summer, for a variety of reasons. Maybe it's because I don't play nice (or bother to play at all) with others. Maybe it's because I'm a miserable, sarcastic cynic with a big mouth. Maybe it's because, well good grief I know all my faults so I ain't listing them here (read between the lines people!). That's been the problem. I know that, just like everyone else (yes you too) I'm a flawed human being. And believe me, I've been trying my hardest to be on my best behaviour and to change 'things'. Really, I'm trying. So stop telling me I'm a terrible person with a terrible outlook on life. That's not the way to go about it with me. I don't need to be told what I already know. I don't need your sanctimoneous, pretentious, condescending rubbish (big words, I don't even really know what they mean but they sound nice).
I just need a hug.
Problem is I'm not a 'huggy' person. In fact when I lived in England I had a reputation for being ''unhuggable'. It's a lie people, a lie!!! I love hugs! I don't know how to and can't remember the last time someone hugged me (or vice versa) but I really do love hugs! I even thought about asking for one at folk fest from one of those Free Hugs people (but only ever saw the tshirts on 17 year old boys, and yeah, that would've been wierd, and maybe even illegal). There's actually a bit of competition between these Free Hugs people (who's website sucks but they had that cutesy video so we'll give them a break) and these Free Hugs people (who's website is better, and y'all know everything/one is judged on how good their website is, maybe they need a cutesy video with cutesy music too).
Anyways, enough with the personal stuff. Here is your mission (should you choose to accept it): save someone's sanity - hug someone today, tell them you love and care about them. Pretty easy, eh, and it's free!! No sanctimoneous preaching, just sharing the love. Go on, I dare you...
(Wow, that's a lot of brackets in one post!)

Friday, August 15, 2008

4 Day Week?

So apparently some schools/colleges/universities are experimenting with a 4 day work week. Why? Not for the pleasure of the students or the dismay of parents (who need to find extra childcare),no, they're trying to save energy and gas costs! It makes sense really. A day off for school buses and lights and computers etc. Hmm, but doesn't that mean they have to shorten the holidays? And wouldn't that mean being open for the same amount of days over the year anyways, even if days were longer to begin with? It's a good idea regardless. I'd love to only work 4 days a week (if just for the opportunity to sleep in for an extra day!). It's Friday, so technically in that other world I'd have the day off... Check out this link for some recent articles on this topic.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Facespace vs. Mybook

Well, it's finally happened:
In my opinion, it's about time. I can't stand myspace, too many ads and strange, pretentious backgrounds with weird floating text (although the music player is wicked!). I used to be Facebook's biggest fan, and completely agreed with it's merits, as blogged about by my friend Jo a couple months ago. It was great when I lived in England for keeping up with close friends in Canada. It was great when all those long lost high school friends came out of the woodwork. It was great for organizing events and posting pictures and generally wasting time on during school/work.
Now I'm not so sure. In fact, I've been thinking about deleting ('deactivating') my account for a few weeks now. Too much drama. Too much 'Ha! In your face! I'm better than you and you suck!' going on. Not enough actually talking to real people face to face. Not enough actually sharing real life stuff on a level somewhere above superficial, with people who actually care.
I really like RickMcKee's comment on cbcnews.ca:
"Never before in the history of civilization has so much information been shared between individuals and never before has there been so little actual communication. The art of conversation, the essential skill of listening have both given way to non-stop narcissistic chatter. Surely the genius of the technology creating the cyber-world is in service of more than a glorified "party line"."
My aunt and uncle used to have a cabin at Bonnie lake and they had this neighbour who used to just sit and listen to the party-line all day. Sure, she knew what was going on with everyone, but everyone inturn thought she was a nosey bitch.
So, do I delete Facebook? Or not?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Sound of Silence

I found a radio at work yesterday.
Now, I love working in libraries, I really do. I'm quite happy (for the moment) with my newly chosen (second) career. The problem is I seem to get jobs in dead, one person libraries. I work alone. Patrons rarely come in. I don't get to talk to anyone all day. It's too quiet. It's lonely.
I figured I would've liked the lonely silence, but I don't. I hate it. I need to talk to people. I need to see people. I need to interact with people. This whole situation is quite ironic considering I spent my last year in London quite happily living as a hermit!
Over the past two days I've come to the conclusion that I'm actual more productive when I work with the radio on. Usually I spend all day wondering what the world is doing, wanting to talk to someone, and I tended to check facebook or my RSS feeds a couple times an hour. I needed to know there was a world of people out there. Now, with the radio on, it's like someone is talking to me, keeping me company. It's been keeping me off the internet anyways. When I lived in Athabasca out at my uncle's cabin (population: 1) I used to keep the tv on all the time, just for the company (and not for the programming since it would only pick up CBC). Same thing, different media.
I wonder if my boss will accept this as an excuse to let me keep the radio on when he comes back from holidays next week?? Perhaps I wont tell him I've been listening to the rock radio station in the Catholic college library?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

In The End?

Hmm, here's an article to make you think:
The article makes some good points. It bothers me NOW that I leave an online trace, nevermind what happens when I'm gone. That said, I'm not sure my family needs to read my emails! The tips they give are good though: HOW TO SAFEGUARD YOUR ONLINE ID Worried about your online legacy? Take these steps to regain control: 1. Read the user agreement before signing up for a new service. Make sure you understand what information they collect, how long it stays around, and what happens to the account after you die. 2. Increase the privacy settings on Facebook and MySpace accounts, so only your friends can view the page. 3. Think twice before posting incriminating photos that could come back to haunt you. Think of Joshua Lipton, sentenced to two years in prison because photos showed him dressed as a prisoner for Halloween, two weeks after he was charged in a drunk-driving accident that seriously injured a woman. 4. Keep a list of your user names and passwords in a secure location, such as a safe, in case something happens to you. Sources: Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Michael Geist, Kenneth K. Dort

Monday, August 11, 2008

How To Get To the Front Of The Line At The MediCentre...

...don't wash off the blood, guts or grime.
- wisdom from my father.

Folk Fest 2008: Fantastic!

Oh wow. What can I say. I spent the last four days at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, and as usual it was amazing! This year was my seventh in a row, and it just keeps getting better and better. Even when I'm freezing cold or scorching hot or tired or grumpy or dirty or hungry, even then it's always the best four days of the year.



First and foremost it's about the music. Don't even get me started. If you want your ear talked off, ask me about the music at folk fest.

This year's top 5 for me were:

1. Michael Franti - dancing on the hill rocks!
2. Yves Lambert and Le Bebert Orchestra - I always love the Quebecois bands!
3. Luke Doucet - 'Long Haul Driver' was in my head all weekend.
4. The Sadies - oh man, they can play guitar.
5. Bellowhead/Dervish - the 'across the pond'ers didn't disappoint.

Anyways, I didn't mean to post about the music. Ask me about that later.

Something that really struck me about folk fest this year was how much I really noticed and appreciated the familiarity. I don't mean the site or the whole organization: after seven years of course I know my way around and feel comfortable with everything. (The EFMF is probably the best folk festival in Canada, maybe the world, not just because of the music but also because of the organization, volunteer crew and general laid back feeling.) Mostly it was the familiar faces: Judy and the Greeting Gang from the North Gate line up (even Martin the mega-phone man), Weird Hat Guy and Purple Hair Lady from the corral, Lily the Crazy Goth Girl (who was in the journal, that's how we know her name), Tom the Dancing Boy (who's name I got from sneaking a peak at his volunteer tag), Granola Baby Momma, Stage 5 Set Up Man and Crew, and so on. I guess I never think about them during the year, and just expect them to be there during folk fest. It's just comforting. I look forward to seeing them all next year too.

There were a few new things this year. They added a couple more shade tents by stage 5 (so necessary in the +30 heat) but got rid of the stage 5 Green Onion Cake vendor (boo!!). And I've never seen such a long sink/water line (could it have been the +30 temperature?)! The weather in itself was new. It is usually always cold and rainy with a smattering of scorching hot. This year it was scorching hot the whole time. Too hot. Hence the brief thunder and lightning that rolled through Saturday night, but thankfully left before Michael Franti (evidence of the power of prayer!) I did learn a couple things also. I found a wicked shade spot at stage 2 and will never wear my good khakis to folk fest again.
It was great. Fabulous. Awesome. Wonderful. 360 more days...

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Rockin' the Hill!

The Edmonton Folk Music Festival is awesome, amazing, fabulous - the best four days of the year!!! And that's where I'll be until Monday...

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Best Game In the World (besides curling...)

I'm back from vacation! (In England I would've said 'back from holiday' but apparently in Canada it's 'back from vacation' because holidays are days like Christmas and Easter. File that under things you didn't know about your own country until you left for four years and then returned. And yes you can kinda sorta go home again. Anyways...). My trip was nice, thanks for asking, and can be read about and seen on my travel blog.
Perhaps my favourite part of my US Road Trip, perhaps my favourite part of any road trip (yes I am a person of small pleasures, it really doesn't take much to make me smile if you try) is playing the License Plate Game! Rules are simple: find a license plate from as many states/provinces/random others as you can. In my world there are no points to the game, only copious amounts of fun and excitement. No kidding!
All you need is a checklist of the states/provinces. I meant to print out this one with pictures of all the plates but forgot so had to get my friend to recite them in alphabetical order (which took forever as we had to keep starting at the beginning. You can hear the 50 Nifty song here, I've only memorized up to 'I'). The pictures wouldn't have helped anyways because the Americans seem to produce multiple pretty plates with different pictures for each state anyways (maybe that was just Washington and Oregon?). There's a magnetic game, but only with the states, and gosh if I could find one with the states and provinces I'd get my credit card out for sure.
This year was the best year yet! We checked off 37 US states, 4 Canadian provinces, Mexico, 1 US Army and 1 US Air Force. Not bad for a 9 day trip through only 4 states (Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and Arizona) which wasn't actually a road trip, but a trip with plenty of car time! Check out these license plates of the world too.
So, if you need some road trip company, let me know. I'll just sit and giggle in the back with my License Plate Game checklist!