Monday, May 05, 2008

It started as a really long email to Jonathan that he told me he thinks I should post...

So I am a feminist. That’s right, I kind of believe in gender equality. I believe that our public policies should be sensitive to both the ways we discriminate by treating men and women differently (banning women from going topless but not men), as well as the ways we discriminate by treating men and women the same (banning both sexes from exposing their breasts in public, thereby discriminating against the gender that breastfeeds).

Recently, I have been thinking about a particular gender issue, that frankly I feel is not discussed, but which I think is extremely problematic. I’m not sure what to call it, but if I had to write a journal article about it, I might call it the essentialism of being a woman and the non-essentialism of being a man.

It starts with a simple question: why do female-centred movies suck?

They suck, they really do suck. I know not all women agree with me on this, but I am largely uninspired and under-whelmed by the ‘chick flick’. The less male actors in the film, the worse the chick flick gets. A frenzy of make-up and outfits, catfights and giggles and hope, hope, hope, that the man will love, love, love her. Lame, lame, lame.

So, why do female-centred movies suck? Even if they don’t suck (to the women who like them), at least then, why do women, like me, enjoy male-centred movies but men, like Jonathan, dislike female-centred movies? Why?

While you think about it, another question:

Why are women so staggeringly sidelined in movies?

If you are really honest with yourself, you will agree with me that in general, women are cast in films for only two reasons: 1) the movie needs some one-dimensional eye-candy OR 2) the plot involves the ‘female’ plotline of dating, pregnancy or princesses (because, you know, all issues involving real women can fall into the categories of courting, making babies, or beauty).

Men do not fit so easily into any box, of course. In movies, they are way funnier (imagine a plot in which two competing female skaters are paired together to win a figure skating championship ... and try not to imagine the women as essentially 'womanesque' and the movie not as a chick flick) and have much bigger problems than women (saving the world mostly, but also, running the country and making money).

Today, I have put my finger on an answer, or perhaps better phrased, a theory.

The Genderlessness of Men

I submit that in popular culture, men enjoy a sense of 'genderlessness' while women are defined by their femaleness only: that aspect of being a woman that is exclusive to women. Consider that movies with a mostly male cast are for the masses, male and female (Dodgeball, No Country for Old Men, The Usual Suspects, 40-Year Old Virgin) but movies with a mostly female cast are for women only. Name one female-cast movie that you've seen and that you’ve liked, as a man. I can list 10 movies (with all male casts) that I liked, as a woman.

So what gives?

The societal rule seems to be this: Where it can be either a man or woman, make it a man. Where a man won't do, only then, make it a woman. Only then.

As a result, our understanding of women (based on popular culture) has become overly feminized. The parts of us that we women hold common with men has been obscured because we are only portrayed in our role as deviating from men; we are only cast in a movie when a man won't do (i.e. the character is pregnant). As a result, it appears that women are breast feeders and pregnant mothers, sisters, girlfriends, and wives of other (more main) characters. It appears that women care only about their hair and nails, the attraction of males, being a bride, having children, being sexy. Since these are all roles that men can’t play, they are saved for women in movies. What is problematic is not that women play these roles but rather, that they ONLY play these roles. The aspects of being a woman that women could share with men (going away to college, working at the quickie-mart, busting out of jail) disappears, because men always play the uni-sex role, plus male-only roles as well. Hence, there is a much higher demand for male actors, and most movies feature male characters.

My argument is that this overly ‘feminizes’ women. As a result, men appear generic, associated with those human characteristics common to both men and women, plus male-exclusive characteristics, while women become a niche of only those human characteristics that men don't encompass. And, as a result, it's no surprise that women watch male-lead movies (as women can identify with the uni-sex qualities of the men playing those roles) but men don't watch female-lead movies (as women are never cast in uni-sex roles, so there is nothing for men to identify with).

I also don't think this is just a 'movie' thing. And it is not a small issue either. Viewing women as essentially female (lipstick, breasts, hips), and viewing men (or males) as essentially standard and normal is extremely problematic for women (without them even knowing it). An extreme of this is animated characters: a male skunk always looks like the animal it is based on but a female skunk has to be differentiated from the 'males' through long eye-lashes, red cheeks, a pink bow, sometimes, yes, even breasts and hips under a dress. Women are and have always been a 'deviation' from standard, from normal. A male washroom sign has a person on it. A female washroom sign has a person wearing a skirt on it. Deviation, again.

The implication is a distortion and exclusion of women (from popular culture) that women themselves are not even aware of. No one notices nor cares when all the South Park characters are male, when all, ALL animated movies feature non-human males in lead roles - the Lion King, the Jungle Book, Land Before Time, Finding Nemo, Toy Story...when all the characters on The Simpson's that don't require a particular gender are male, leaving all female characters to be 'sisters and wives of so-and-so...' save for a school teacher and a few female classmates. No one seems to care about women's lack of exposure in movies, and the particularly 'female' roles they play when they ARE in movies, even though women (in real life) participate in both female and unisex activities.

And it's hard to lament the lack of (good) movies with women in them, that men want to watch, because that reality has never existed. I really wonder what the world would be like, how people would view and feel about women, and how public policies would manifest differently, if women were not just this niche category of deviations (menstruation, child birth, sisters) from regular humans (men) that need to be accommodated but remain largely fringe in pop culture.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Hockey: The Erotic Game Part II


As promised you can find Don Cherry's golden nuggets of wisdom shared with us on April 14th here.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Hockey: The Erotic Game?

It's spring time and what does that mean.?

-Tulips are poking out of the ground?
-Overweight men who make way to much money are trying to hit and catch a silly white ball in a stadium?
-Bears are waking up, ready to munch on unsuspecting hikers?

Nope, it's Stanley Cup playoff time. And what a great time of year it is.

It of course means hockey every night until the beginning of June. It also means checking scores first thing at work the next morning, reading blogs about how your favourite team destroyed or was destroyed the night before and what changes are needed for the next game, it means predicting who will win the first round, second round, third round of the playoffs and who ultimately will win the cup. It also means throwing (insert $ amount here) out the window in a futile attempt to win your playoff hockey pool.

I however, *cough* *cough*,do not fret over such worldly affairs. Rather, I like to reflect more deeply about hockey. In doing so, I have come to one realization this year. Hockey is a sexy, erotic game. People always refer to Football (read Soccer) as "The Beautiful Game". I think we should begin referring to hockey as "The Erotic Game".

Seriously, think about it before you dismiss my idea as foolish bored bureaucratic speak. How would you describe hockey?

I would describe it as such:

"Young, strong, virile young men gliding around a cold slippery surface trying to slide a small, smooth, cold, black disc into a net with long, curved, hard sticks. As they try to do this they use their strength to dominate one another by hitting each other into the boards. To work out their frustrations they might also engage in pugilistic behaviour. Ironically enough this violent behaviour is complemented by hardy butt tapping and hugs and embraces during a game, at the end of a game or at the end of a playoff series."

Does that not sound erotic, it might even sound sado-masochistic.

If you're not convinced, all you have to do is listen to Don Cherry, a god among men when it comes to hockey commentators. Even he, admits that Hockey is an erotic sport.

This evening, on Coaches Corner he was discussing how Marc Savard, a forward for the Boston Bruins likes to talk to his stick when he sits on the bench. Cherry is convinced that Savard says "I love you" to his stick every time he talks to it. Cherry goes on to beseech his young listeners to do the same thing and also "love their sticks". He tells them to "love your sticks and stroke them" and then, as a closing comment, he says: "Go get your sticks out of your dad's trunk, take them into your bedroom tonight, and love them - they are expensive pieces of equipment".

His sidekick Ron MacLean goes on to say "I'm going to go to bed with my Sher-wood tonight".

Seriously, honest to God, I kid you not this is what was said on Coaches Corner tonight. As soon as someone posts it on youtube I will give you the link.

So do you agree? Hockey is indeed "The Erotic Game".

Friday, April 11, 2008

Polley, Habs, Black Holes, and Rain

A couple minutes ago, Jonathan and I were spending a raining/hailing Friday afternoon reading newspaper articles online in our underground bachelor apartment. We haven't done that in a long time (Ottawa has had us crazy busy, plus rainy winter days don't really happen out here), and it was nice. We read about Sarah Polley's trek to Ottawa to plead with ministers and senators to vote down a new Conservative bill that would see power vested with the Heritage minister to deny tax credits to the producers of films deemed by the government as too racy. We read about Jim Flaherty's proposal for a new facility to serve the disabled community, a proposal which perfectly meets the very stringent requirements of a new ' $45 million dollar 'Enabling Accessibility fund' (one such requirement is having a five year lease already in place) announced 10 days ago by the government, which is accepting proposals for funding for just 30 days. Jim's proposed facility will be located in his riding, would feature his wife and his executive assistant on the board of directors, and has been in the works for some time now, with public blessings from the PM in 2007. Of course, the small window of opportunity to apply for the pot of money, and the fact that Jim's proposal meets the narrow requirements perfectly, are of course, unrelated.

What else? Right. An online comment from Michel Adams (Globe and Mail) on the leak of the 1991 videotape of derogatory comments about homosexuality from Tom Lukiwsky, was superb. Gist of his argument: There is a context to everything. Our society has come a long way. In 1987, nearly 70% of the members of the NDP thought that protecting the rights of gays in the Charter would lead to the spread of HIV. So let's be reasonable when we pass judgement on a 1991 video. Yes, Mr. Lukiwsky should be answerable and apologetic today for what he said back then. But let's leave it at that.

There was other stuff we read about, but I am now realizing that no-one is going to read this blog - this blog that has one of its more recent posting dating back two years - if I ramble on about politics. As I have learned from J-Pod, carnage is far more interesting.

So how is an update blog supposed to go? Jonathan and I are doing well. Work and school continue. The Habs are smoking Boston. Summer is on its way. Our return to Vancouver, imminent. Rants and bickerings continue, although not punctuated by postings for the masses. But who says we can't catch up? Bickerings in the last week included (allergy warning: while third person was not used in this post, this post may have come into contact with third person in its production):

Jonathan shouldn't run ahead to avoid getting splashed by a car passing through a puddle without politely notifying his wife who is left mid-sentence in a rant without anyone to listen to it.
Sima should stop leaving her socks balled up in the laundry bin because they don't get washed (or dried) properly that way and because it's not fun massaging the heels of dirty feet, however tired (and lovely) they may be.
Jonathan shouldn't leave his wife with two bags of dirty laundry to haul over to the K's while he only carries one from work, however out of shape she is and sedentary her graduate student lifestyle may be.
Sima should get up early more often and make coffee and breakfast for her husband, and walk him to work like other partners do, especially since he did that for her this morning on his day off of work for her early morning research interview.

Recollecting all of that, I am now spent. But I would just like to point out for those who might jump to conclusions that there was no plasma-screen trashing or cheap trophy throwing and Jonathan does not sleep on a bench at the end of the bed.

On the topic of ridiculousness, Emma has informed me that a group of scientists have (over many years) invested (many million dollars) into the creation of a machine that is supposed to discover the essence of matter (otherwise known as 'the god particle'), by mimicking the conditions of the universe less than a split second after the big bang. The plan is for it to be up and running this year, but a law suit may prevent the machine from operating. All because - get this: there is a risk (and what exactly that risk is, is the point of disagreement between those scientists suing and those scientists behind the project) that one of two things could happen.

1. A mini-black hole could be created, which could, could, slowly absorb the Earth (growing bigger with each absorbed particle).
2. A stranglet could be created, which would turn everything it comes into contact with into - get this - strange matter. If a stranglet came into contact with our planet, it would turn it into a lump of dead and useless matter.

Here are some reassurances, however. First, if a mini-black hole was created, it would likely (yes, LIKELY) evaporate due to Hawking Radiation (say the scientists behind the machine). Second, a stranglet is only an object hypothesized to exist by physicists. Since it may not actually exist, the risk of the Earth turning into strange matter may also not exist.

Sleep well Earthlings.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

We're baaaaaaaaaack.

I know, I know. We are not to be trusted. But with time, you'll see. It's different now. WE are different now.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Where We Are and Why We are Not Here: A Dramatic Confession from the Editors

We haven't stopped, don't worry. After all, neither of us has ever had a fan club, and if we give up on our blog now, we may never realize this important lifelong goal.

There are many reasons for our neglect of dear Shades of Greigh. Among these reasons, the following things come to mind:

#1. Summer BEACHES and fresh cut GRASS and pure and utter SUNSHINE plus CABINS and ISLANDS and their associated SLOTH and GLUTTONY. BBQ also comes to mind.

#2. Jonathan's up-in-the-morning-at-6-and-home-in-the-
evening-at-6 NEW JOB combined with his UNFINISHED MASTERS DEGREE that still demands a research proposal, thesis paper, and thesis paper defense, which he has been trying to prepare in those couple hours left over at the end of the work day also known as when those three back to back episodes of That-70s-Show are on. Ah competing priorities.

[Note to non-intellectuals: The 70s, under normal conditions, do not OWN PRIVATE PROPERTY nor any thing for that matter, neither clothes, nor furniture, nor shows. This applies as well to the 80s, the 90s, and even the 60s I believe (although this particular period predates me, so I've a little less certain on the last one). With that in mind, I ask you, what is with "the 70's were sweet-ass-rad times, eh?" and "you look totally hip-to-the-jive-in those 70's pants"? Drop the apostrophe, seriously people.]

#3. My preparation for COMPREHENSIVE EXAMS plus some other stuff (like courses and paid labour). I use the term "labour" quite loosely here since that my muscles are not entirely visible unless under microscope and since my weekdays are predominately spent in a total sedentary state. I don't even have to commute to work, or take a shower if I'm not privy to it. Work from home. Love it. More people should try it. It's almost like not working, especially if you ignore the 'not' part.

In conclusion, I think the combination of the gifts of glorious summer, my husband's (aka 'super-spouse') work/cook/clean/study routine, and my I'm-gonna-fail-and-get-kicked-outta-school-and-end-up-
becoming-a-gorilla-feeding-unicycle panic attacks (which occur bi-hourly), make the Jima household in general incapable of fully utilizing their electronic soapbox.

We are lovers in dangerous times: we have exams to pass and degrees to finish (before life does). We have a rapidly squandering summer of sunshine to enjoy and a sink full of dishes to clean. We have posts to write and books to read and emails to reply to, hometowns to visit, families to host, bills to pay, money to make, and heck, even gift registry items to purchase.

But this is all very temporary - the short run if you will - my friends. Soon we'll be boring again, like we normally are and at that point when there is absolutely nothing in our life that is exciting or riveting to share, we will post again, I promise. Because as classical economists say, in the long-run, prices adjust, unemployment disapear (ahem NAIRU aside, ahem), problems rectify, and Sima and Jonathan blog. I suppose as Keynes retorted, in the long-term, everyone is dead so who cares. Thanks a lot Keynes. Thanks for ruining my closing statement.

No one likes you anymore anyway.

Monday, June 12, 2006

V is for Victoria

It's been awhile since our last confession posting. We are sorry about that. Too much life got in the way. But, we come bearing pictures so we trust you will let this incident pass.

This week, Neil came to visit us in Vancouver. Actually he is still here. To entertain him better, we decided to go to Victoria for some weekend mischief. We had a centrally located hotel and spend 24 hours eating, sleeping, and shopping. It was fun. Highlights included:

1. Jon's attempt at panhandling
2. The 40 naked cyclists who interrupted our patio-beer conversation on culture, Canadian unity, and home-grown terrorism with something else to talk about
3. The sun
4. Beer

I suppose none of those things are native to Victoria, but we aren't much of the tourist-type anyway. Plus, whale-watching was expensive, and lying in the sun all day was far more tempting.

Here are some of our pics from the trip, which are self-explanatory, right? This weekend, we will be in Whistler, soaking it up in our private hot tub while watching some NHL! Whoo hoo!
All for now
Lazily yours,

Monday, May 29, 2006

Thirty-two inches

Whoa now guys. From the comments on our last post, I sense plenty of resentment for what Jonathan and I have come to regard as one of the greatest ice cream joints ev'a.


La Casa Gelato is very dear to our hearts and this negativity makes me sad, us sad.

I suppose I forgot to mention that 90% of their flavours aren't your garden variety (i.e. frozen peas and deli coleslaw) but rather, your sweet-mother-of-Paris variety (i.e. creme brulee and tarte au sucre). Does that change things? Good. Glad we settled that. Onto Amish's comment.

Yes Amish, we'll post pictures. Here are Jon's feet.

Oh, what's that? Did I miss the point of your comment? Say what? You want us to brag about our technological superiority by posting pictures of our brand new 32" LCD screen TV? Well, we are certainly not above doing that. And as I shared with Stephen early today, this is one thin, clean, urban, sexy, damn smug piece of gadgetry. Would fit in well at a yoga class, no? Not so flexible though. Thanks again Amish for haggling this sucker down for us, oh, some $400.

Oddly, our living room still feels ridiculously empty despite this totally uncalled for piece of consumption culture. But, this is not a decor challenge beyond Jonathan's own personal flair. As we sat on the couch yesterday evening, perplexed over the mass of space that our TV failed to fill, Jonathan proclaimed, "I got it honey. Let's get a big glass vase for the corner of the room." No kidding. That's Jon for you - continually confronting that big nasty persistent gender barrier in his own fashionable way. Who says men can't like vases and women can't press their husbands for fancy audio-visual equipment? Times have changed.

Actually they haven't. Women still get the short end of the stick from less than 4 months in office (ha!) to male designed and dominated organizations. Okay, the first one is a joke, but the second one certainly isn't. While I don't know how it feels, I know that trying to express oneself during question period in a room where verbal testosterone is the norm has not been a positive experience for most MLAs that are of the female variety. After all, women have never made up more than 20% of official parties.

I made that up but it might also be true.

Why am I writing all of this you wonder? You will have to bear with me this summer; I spend seven hours every day reading, writing and synthesizing material on Canadian Government and Federalism. All so I can "profess" my knowledge to tomorrow's teenangsters-turned-adults. So top of my mind is usually something related to class, race, gender, region and Canada's political structures.

Well, I have to go make the cheese sauce. Both my specialty and my duty for the evening. You can't eat broccoli without a little sharp - but light, 25% less fat - medium chedder now can you?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Our special weekend with Peej

Pretend I am Jon. He would have wanted it that way.

You see, Jonathan just got home from work. I just finished reading an excellent article by the late Trudeau on federalism written in 1965. I suppose that is neither here nor there. Context is important though. Back to my point. It's 5:00pm, and there are many tasks, mostly tedious and unadventurous, that need to be undertaken this evening. Jonathan is out of undershirts so the laundry is at the top of list, and since the laundry room closes at 9pm, it has to be done immediately. Also near the top is supper. Two grumbly tummies and tired minds make meatloaf-making a daunting task. But, since this is a secret recipe on the hubs side of the family, the duty falls on Jonathan.

So, what I am trying to say is with laundry to run and meatloaf to make, there is very little time this evening for Jonathanella to blog. And since my household duties are limited to fluffing pillows, making tea and looking pretty, I thought I would help Jon out and contribute a post on his behalf.

So onto it.

What a fun weekend we had. Those of you who keep us on bookmark will already know that PJ came to visit. We met up on Saturday night, had dinner under fireworks at a little Greek place by our house, and watched a terrible Will Farrell movie. PJ snored and Jon feel asleep. Yep. We sure lived it up.

On Sunday we had a big hearty breakfast which we washed down with some gelato and ice-cream at a mega-cafe in downtown Vancouver. With 218 flavours on site, we decided to make an afternoon out of this one. You see, it is only evitable for an ice-cream company to get bored of fruits and desserts for flavours and start branching into the edgier category ...

... of condiments and spices!

You have the basic delicious blends (cinnamon), the potentially tasty variety (ginger, lavender), and the decidedly terrible concoctions (curry power). Some experiences need not be had for certain outcomes to be established and I think this certainly applied here. But we had no where to be and curiousness killed us - er, at least a healthy number of our tastebuds.

So here are the ones we tried:

Garlic - This was PJ's pick. It was awful. Sweet, cold, yet garlicy. Someone's tongue rolled over and died on this one.

Balsamic vinegar - This was my pick. It was disgusting. Sourly wrong. Hard to swallow.

Wasabee - This was Jonathan's pick. Honestly, out of all the 'savoury' flavours, it was probably the most tolerable. A nice spicy kick if you are into that thing in your ice-cream.

Kim Chi - Again, PJ's pick. Honestly, PJ was really getting a masochistic kick out of these exotic flavours. I don't know why we decided to go along with this one. It was definitely the worst. It tasted like wet limp cabbage. It made my tongue depress back into my throat a bit.

Chocolate Chili - Staff pick. That was some craaaazy chocolate ice-cream. Holy cow it was spicy. My mouth was burning for at least ten minutes after the little spoonful I tried.

Chocolate Basil - My pick. This was really good. You could taste the basil quite distinctively. It was so good I had to share my tiny little spoonful with Jon and Peej. They concurred that it was most interesting, even delicious.

There were so many interesting flavours to try but it took awhile to get a server's attention so we could grab samples of them, so soon after we sampled the 'savories', we got to work picking out our actual ice-cream flavour. In the end, Jon went with peanut-butter fudge; PJ went with a double scoop of chocolate fudge and something I can't remember; and I went with chocolate fudge. Next time, we will try the "asparagus and wild cranberry" as well as the "pear and gorgonzola". Sounds like appetizers but they are actual ice-cream flavours.

After ice-cream, we hung out at Jericho beach. It had clouded over a bit but the sand was still warm and the view of English Bay is always pretty. When we got bored of lazing around (an hour later), we headed to Granville Island Brewery so the boys could sample some local beers. We made a pit stop in the market to grab some supper, which we ate as we boat-watched on the docks. By the way, a good name for a luxury boat that no one else can afford? Necessity.

Unfortunately PJ got sick shortly after ordering his beer sampler, so Jon graciously offered to drink half of PJ's set. This decent amount of booze left Jon as happy as he was tipsy on our saunter back to New West.

And finally, Monday was spent getting peed on by mother nature, and enjoying the aquatic life at Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park. After Art Lattes downtown, we (sadly) sent PJ on his way back to prairie-town.

So that's it. That's the update. Time to go make tea and fluff pillows.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Fun in the sun and a rant on the side

So tonight, Jonathan and I are having a PJ party.

Quite literally, actually.

Jon's little brother Pierre-Joel is making a pit-stop in New Westminster for the weekend, on his way home from a friend's wedding in Seattle.

He will be the very first overnight visitor in our new house and we are very excited. Here are some of the things we plan to cram into the next ... 24 awake hours that we have together:

- the Grouse Grind
- the Afghan Horsemen
- the Vancouver Aquarium
- Cafe Artigiano (for Art Lattes of course)
- Jericho Beach or the Spanish Banks
- Stanley Park
- Granville Island Brewery
- La Casa Gelato (think 508 flavours available 24-7-365)

Of course, many of these activities are highly weather contingent and all are zero-sum (i.e. if we do one, it's also at the expense of another) but I'm pretty confident that we'll make a decent dent into that list. Sadly, there are so many other things that didn't make the cut - like fish & chips in Steveston, a ferry ride to Vancouver Island, shopping in West Vancouver, dining in Kitsilano ...

PJ - you will just have to move here. That's really the only option.
In other news, my sister Nat is in Montreal visiting a friend and has promised to bring us back bagels from St Viateur, which is enough to make anyone droolably jealous. As you should be. Come visit in the next week and you can have a bite!

Other than that, not much going on here. We cleaned today, and went for an hour walk along the Fraser river yesterday evening. Our walk was followed by Brokeback Mountain, a movie I think even the staunchest supporter of the religious right could be moved by. At least ones that still retain some of their humanity.

Speaking of which, [FOREWARNING: I AM TOTALLY SWITCHING GEARS HERE INTO SOMETHING MORE DARK AND DANGEROUS] I came across this, this week and I gotta tell you, this book - "It's Perfectly Normal" - has stirred quite the controversy in the American Christian circles. As a side note, I would like to say that its interesting the way that socially right wing associations have appropriated "family" and "values" and "Christianity" all for themselves. How terribly greedy. Some of us non-ethnocentric, non-homophobic, non-sexist folk like families and values and jesus bobbleheads too. We just like them for entirely different reasons.

Anyways, if you go here, you'll see my point. And if you don't, my point is, many Christian organizations down south are appalled because the book and pushing to ban it's publication because 1) includes cartoon pictures of children and thus qualifies as "kiddie porn" - seriously, those are their exact words; 2) includes cartoon drawings of adults having... sex... which is entirely inappropriate in a book about sexuality; 3) doesn't denounce homosexuals as evil but instead emphasizes that homosexual feelings are normal and natural and not to be ashamed of; 4) discusses issues such as birth control, abortion, and masturbation, and has the audacity to encourage the latter (masturbation) as "normal and natural" and providing frank information about the former (birth control and abortion).

I would just like to say that when I have children, this is exactly the kind of book I want my eight-year old reading. It's about time the religious right faces the facts: all of us are - normally and naturally - sexual beings; our children are ready to know this at any age; given that more than half of our population bleeds profusely once a month, menstruation needs to stop being a woman's private, dirty, inappropriate matter. In fact, I submit that the whole of women's reproductive system - from nursing in public, to NOT covering up menstrual cramps as a stomach ache, needs to be normalized.

It's crazy that in an age which information is so important - for mothers to make the right decision regarding unexpected pregnancy, for young boys and girls to overcome the shame of masturbation, for daughters and sons to have self-respect and to be informed about the options and emotional and physical risks corresponding to a wide range of intimacies - it is being censored by politically powerful (the word "powerful" can not be overstated here) Conservative Christian organizations such as Focus on the Family and the American Family Association. In an area (sex) where information and the dispelling of myths is the most important tool for children and young adults to make healthy life choices, the religious right finds frank, unbiased, accurate, and value-free (leaving parents to instill whatever values they wish to regarding abstinence, abortion etc.) information to be the reason behind promiscuous behaviour. That is birth control causes abortions and morning after pills cause premarital sex. Heck, the Fraser Institute once wrote that welfare causes single mothers, because with state social support, single women have both an incentive to get pregnant and a disincentive to find a husband (or marry their abusive boyfriend, perhaps?).

Information and access to contraception for the religious right is the source of all promiscuous behaviour. Naked cartoons of children are child porn, and visual depictions of sexual intercourse to explain sex to children are, by their account, deplorable.

This is a real issue. The rights of heterosexuals, homosexuals, and especially women are currently being challenged all over the United States and to some degree in Canada too. With the demise of the welfare state (i.e. national programs that support families, predominantly mothers), with increasing political attacks on sexuality and women's reproductive rights south of us, and with the rise of extreme-right parties in the U.S. and Canada in recent times (Alliance, Reform, the governing Conservatives?), it astounds me that we aren't talking more not only about this attack on our sexuality, but as well the appropriation by the religious right, of what it means to the rest of us to "be Christian", to "have values" and to be "a family".

I am totally enraged but entirely psyched for our weekend of fun.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

New Job

I'm not sure why I am posting this. Honestly I don't think that any of the faithful readers of this by-weekly, or weekly (depending on the mood of the publishers) publication deserve a post. You see, your lack of comments act as a disincentive to any further posting. This leads me to posit the first rule of the blogosphere: The more comments an author receives, the higher his or her rate of publication.

Anyways, enough of that. As some of you might know, I spent a week in Cow-town taking a statistics course. I got to spend my entire time with a bunch of nerds who spent every single minute of the day either discussing the methodology itself, their research projects, and how said methodology will apply, or the merits of different statistical software packages. Luckily the entire thing, including flight and accommodation was paid for with your tax dollars through SSHRC.

Since then, I have been re-integrating myself into the life of a public servant. On Monday I started a new job as a researcher in the Refugee Protection Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. Although the first week was dreadfully boring (my supervisor as well as the person who will be training me where away) it has the potential of being very interesting as well as challenging. Plus, I have a sweet view of the Burrard Inlet and the North Shore mountains to boot.

Here is a bit of what I will be doing. The IRB has documentation centers across the country that lawyers, members (the term given to the quasi-judges at the IRB that decide whether an individual is actually a refugee), as well as refugee claimants use to research the living conditions (as pertaining to human rights, gender and religious and political freedoms to name a few ) in the different countries of the world. These individuals then use this information to assist in deciding whether a refugee claimant qualifies as a convention refugee as defined by Canadian and international law. My role as the researcher will be to keep the Vancouver documentation center up to snuff and open to the public. More interestingly though, I will also be called upon to produce research when the information that is already on file is not sufficient enough to decide a particularly complex or rare refugee claim.

I will be at the IRB for the next year or so as I am replacing two individuals who went on maternity leave. After that, I'm not quite sure what will happen, but hopefully it will involve more work in the refugee determination process at the IRB.

That is all.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Update on us

Today, I eat my words. Vancouver is not a lukewarm city - I am just an impatient and skeptical ex-Saskatchy turned pseudo-Ontarian, unable to the embrace this new and wonderful metropolitan area for what it is. And it is a wonderful place. I suppose I didn't give it enough of a chance to show me what it is made of. But I am now proud to acclaim that Vancouver is made of summer: glorious sunshine, afternoon naps, fresh cut grass, a view to children in the park, and a late setting sun on a bbq-sizzling balcony. Yesterday I wore a skirt and today we left the windows open and took refuge inside from the cooking sun. And so, I admit, I may have been completely wrong about this city. I will wait until August before casting harsh criticism.

In other news, this week marks a shift in the winds for Jonathan and I (by the way Neil - I have Jonathan's written and notarized consent to collectively speak for us. Not only does Jonathan condone my use of witty adjectives, he comes up with half of them himself. He also loves cooking five nights a week, doing all the laundry and massaging my feet while playing Eric Clapton). Spring semester is officially over and changes have already begun. We have a new house in a new city; Jonathan is done all his coursework; and I've sat my last class as a student. Over the summer Jon will be biking, writing his thesis, and (hopefully) snagging a part-time research position. Unfortunately, his summer employment with the government fell through last week because Mr.Harper announced last Tuesday a freeze on all non-committed public service funding. Jonathan wants to sue the PM's arse, so he will also be writing the LSAT in June so he can do so. Of course, that isn't the only reason: it is also so the two of us can continue to be poor (but highly educated) individuals for the next four years because it is that much fun. And finally, it is also because Jonathan aspires to one day stand off in court opposite his mother-in-law. He envisions making a grandiose closing statement about the children of our country, a speech that will undoubtedly serve as a precedent for cases to come.

As for me, I will be painting, researching, and writing. On the first note, our walls are awfully bare and with other peoples' art being too expensive, we decided I would make our own. If "orange stripe and red stripe on canvas" can sell for thousands and garner public awe in the most prestigious national art gallery, I'm sure a couple splashes of paint hung on our living room wall should suffice. On the other two notes, I am doing a reading course on Cnd Gov't to finish my last course requirement. And when I'm not learning about government, I am being a consultant to government on government. I know, sounds weird but true. I am also taking the test of all tests at the end of the semester: my Ph.D. comprehensive, exam #1. With 200 books and articles to read in preparation for it, I am sure I will have achieved a decent butt-grove in our arm chair by the end of the summer.

Other than that, we hope to be visited by friends and family over the next few months and have two more Joshis habituating the coast for school and work in September.

And finally, there may also be a lull in posting over the next two weeks. Jonathan is in Calgary for a five-day workshop and will be too busy playing with numbers with a bunch of like-minded nerds. I on the other hand will be in Nanaimo for the B.C. Political Science AGM with people mostly too busy being allergic to numbers.

How scholarly of us, I know.

So sorry if this post was boring for you but it had to be done: our lives are far too important to keep to ourselves. If you were seeking entertainment, you can always try your luck with a blogger on the right menu ...

Friday, April 21, 2006

Some Summer

This week, Jonathan and I realized something. We realized that this week signals something called "the rest of Canada pushes back". And are we feeling it, quite literally.

You see, when we moved out here to the winter tropics, nobody told me that Manitoba and Ontario eventually catch up, that while I'm still adorned in my raincoat and scarf, Winnipegers and Torontonians are frolicking around in the latest summer fashions.

Now don't get me wrong. There were people in Vancouver wearing tank tops today. But those people are crazy. Or painfully optimistic. Painfully optimistic and stubborn. They are thinking, if the rest of Canada is done with hibernation then so are we. Two things wrong there. First off, Vancouverites don't hibernate. They soak. It's different. Second, I see the goosebumps on your arms and I know you are looking at me in my big winter coat thinking "Dammit, I wish I was wearing one of those instead of my favorite rock band t-shirt". You're not fooling yourself or anyone else. It's cold here. It hasn't hit 17 degrees yet, much less the temperatures I know have been gracing the rest of the country. Take this exact moment. Winnipeg: 17. Toronto: 19. Ottawa: 14 Vancouver: 11. Shall I add my friends that the sun is still shining in Vancouver right now, that it's only 6:45pm and that nearing-10-o-clock-in-the-evening Toronto and Ottawa are STILL boasting higher temperature? No I didn't. But I didn't need to. Even without that piece of information - that the time difference is actually working IN Vancouver's favour - it still sucks.

So yes, this week, Jonathan and I discovered that this is the time of year where everything else gets better everywhere else except here. This is the time of the year where Vancouver puts together everything it can muster and still fails to spit out a mere 20 degree day of sun shine. This is the beginning of when the city I live in fails to hit 30 degrees at any point during the next four months. And this is the when the rest of Canada pushes back. When the rest of Canada says darn you Vancouver and your hilly hills and your mountainous mountains (I am clever, aren't I?). Darn you and your "best city in the world" rating, your "work-play" condos, and your soya-bread crazy, yoga-at-lunch-enthused residents. Darn you and your miniature dogs, your ski-in-your-bathing-suit-in-April slopes, your above Celsius winters, your rivers, your coast, your Canucks and your Hollywood star sightings. We're taking summer for ourselves. Some of us have bugs, and those who don't have humidity, but at least the end of our winters aren't anti-climatic, the rest of Canada is saying. At least, when spring arrives we feel something different, something glorious, something warm. At least our seasons don't spill into each other like turkey dinner. At least we are not lukewarm all the time.

I think the rest of Canada is right. Vancouver weather kind of sucks. I mean, who likes lukewarm? It's so... boring. Lukewarm milk? Gross. Lukewarm shower? Disappointing. Lukewarm response? Discouraging. Weather is supposed to shake you up, make you feel alive, give you something to talk about. At the very least, it is supposed to change, and when it does for everyone else but not for you, it is hard not to feel a bit gipped, and jealous. Like when you were still in elementary school and your big sister was off to grade nine. "Why does SHE get a new backpack?". Or when you were still wearing diapers and it wasn't your birthday. "Why does HE get to blow out all the candles?". In this case, I ask, why does Winnipeg get to have all the hot weather?

Sigh. I am going to miss my swelteringly hot Ottawa summers and my Saskatoon bugs.

Monday, April 10, 2006


Some of the "forces that be" have suggested that the editors of this blog modify the spelling of its title so as to conform to the conventional spelling as promoted by the Queen, therefore avoiding affiliation with the neo-liberal empire south of the 49th parallel. Although the editors of this blog are all about sticking it to "the man" and cutting ties with George and his cabal in the south, the thought of affiliating themselves with the Queen and her imperialist ambitions is equally worrisome. As such, a decision has been made to explore an alternative third way free of the baggage of empire. This blog will therefore be known as Shades of Greigh: A Colourful Commentary.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Good times

As you have probably already noticed, things have changed a little around here. But do rest assured that they are entirely cosmetic. They are like mere footnotes to our grand story, a tale of which the literary devices, the obtuse ramblings, and the occasional post from the male variety of Jima, have endured untouched and unharmed. Think Goldfish Crackers post-trans fats. Same great taste, but without those bad-for-you lipids.

So by now, you have also likely gathered the reason for our little face lift. We moved from our now dearly departed rental 1-bedroom at Oak and 12th in Vancouver, to our spacious little (who says I can't juxtapose in a blog?) abode by the Fraser River in New Westminster. That's right. Two weeks ago, we rented out our Vancouver apartment, then had Isaac visit, who popped back in a week later to witness the chaos of our packing frenzy, before moving the afternoon and evening of March 31st. April 1st, we awoke sore and tired and painted the whole living room and dining room, and by this weekend, we were pretty much totally pooped and totally moved in.

So thanks to all of you who put your best blog title suggestions forward. However, it was an exceptionally tight competition this year, with more applications than usual. And so, for some of you (especially those whose lifelong dream was to win this contest), we regret to inform that Neil's took the cake. Note to Neil: if you can find the time between sobs over your 9th-place-Canucks, please send us your address as we've managed to get the shot you wanted. It was tough, but we've pulled through on your request.

But back to us.
Intersting stories to tell about our place.

1) There are two bedrooms, but they have an open doorway between.
2) The living room is [no longer] forest green and the bathroom has red walls with orange and green tiles.
3) All the doors are glass. Yes, even the bathroom. No, the doors are not opaque. Not frosted either.
4) We have no heat. That is correct - our suite has neither floor vents nor electric baseboards. No, it does not have radiant heating either. The previous owner thought the electric baseboards were ugly so she had them sent out with the trash and the three associated heat control panels boarded up.
5) When you enter our building, you have to go down one floor to get to our suite. We live on the fourth floor, with just one suite below us and one suite above us. There are 7 floors to our complex. Try figuring that one out.
6) It has a cool-ass courtyard, a wicked-ass view, and it's on a big-ass hill.

Okay, so I'm running out. I need to save some brain power for my two papers due next week. Plus, I was at a rock concert last night so you can imagine I lost a few brain cells there.

Speaking of the rock concert, Jonathan and I are totally not hip anymore. You see, the Weakerthans (our favorite band) played on the UBC campus football field yesterday afternoon. Tickets and beer were cheap, so 10,000 kids showed up. Some were half-drunk from the get-go, and I'd say a quarter had fake I.Ds. I think the only sobers were the die-hard Weakerthans/New Pornographers fans, who sang along to the lyrics with a bit of rhythm in their knees while the other 9,982 attendees did other stuff. Other stuff included vomiting, sloshing beer on friends too drunk to notice, making out, dancing/convulsing/stumbling to the beer tent in a ungracefully inebriated manner, being drunk, playing drunk, drinking drunk, and lastly (but perhaps most popularly) attempting to snag a lady/man-friend through any tactic deemed acceptable by the drunken mind (yes, very loose list of things).

Both Jon and I had our own moments of "why-am-I-here? Oh-right-I-love-the-Weakerthans
-THIS-much". My moment was when I had beer spilled on me.

Think that's nothing? Alright, let me elaborate. The beer was post-consumption.

That's right, I had beer vomit sprayed on my wool coat. Which I will now dryclean. Serves me right for not wearing a tube top like all the others.

Jon's moment? Or shall I say moments, seeing as he was offered cocaine twice. Once while scouting out a relatively clean outhouse, and again while conversing with one of his students.

All in all, we saw two guys get arrested, a bunch of men piss over a fence, a lot of beer, a few paramedics, 9,982 drunk people aaaaand, and a couple hours of the New Pornographers and the Weakerthans.

But it was a fun night. Certainly not a bad one for a young married couple who would have otherwise spent it watching last week's episode of The West Wing, eating a home-made casserole and strolling the local hardware store for home improvement ideas.

A few of our friends have asked about our new place, so we'll post a couple pictures here. We really need to put something up on those walls and do something about those glass doors and that empty, empty office. But all in good time I suppose. We do plan to enjoy this view for at least a few years.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

How about "The Tug-boat Times"?

Yup, as Gujustud has so ominously pointed out, and as some of you might already know, the days of Oak and 12th are coming to an end.

No no no, we're not "shuttin er down". That would be silly. We love you and we love our blog. We just don't love our rent.

Rather, we love the bank very very much and expect to be in eternal debt to it.

Hey - did you know that 35-year mortgages were just introduced in Canada? That's right, all because of the crazy Vancouver housing markets, you can now pay off the last installment of your mortgage with your pension.

So after three weeks, or so, of hunting, a few leaky condo scares, and astronomical prices, we put an offer on a place on the banks of the Fraser.

Jon's choosing his words carefully but I've never been one to do so, so here it goes. We bought a condo! It's special and great and totally perfect for us (i.e. huge office space for daydreaming and scholarly writing with a cute little courtyard to accompany that cup of coffee, and the "Howdee Judy, how was Al's golfing trip? Is little Jimmy still teething?" early morning neighbourly banter).

Maybe Sima's getting a bit ahead of herself. Although Al's trip was probably fascinating (he probably shot a 75) , we still need to sign the final papers and get the keys - which should be done in the next 10 days or so.

Well... they did manage to take all of our money Jon...By the way, imaginary Al hit a 84. Is that bad or good, I'm not sure how golf works anyway...

Are we really still talking about Al? I hope our neighbours are more interesting than that. Here's the important thing: we are leaving the bright lights of Vancouver for the tug-boats of New West.

Oooh, you make it sound like a real adventure. One that actually only lasts a 15 minute Skytrain ride. We won't be too far away from the urban hippies, right Jonathan?

So given this change - we, the permanent editors of Oak and 12th have a challenge for you. We need to be "re-branded".

Aka, we're a company that accidentally defrauded our clients and are looking for a new handle to hide under. Hopefully no-one will retrace us back to Enron/Arthur Anderson/Martha Stewart/WorldCom.

Come on...what are you waiting for, start thinking.

Winner gets a framed photograph of their favorite inter-racial married couple.

[Editor's note: Jonathan only went along with this totally cheezy dialogue-style post because Sima pouted. So please don't get on Jonathan's case for being "this lame". It was all me, er, Sima.]

Saturday, February 25, 2006


[I wrote this last week, but I was hesitating to post it...I'll let Jonathan deal with the aftermath :) ]

I'm taking a break from watching back-to-back-to-back (repeat that a couple times) episodes of Lost, to write this post while Jonathan puts together some buffalo chicken strips in the kitchen. CBC Radio is uncharacteristically obnoxious tonight. Think amateur rendition of a barn-yard hoe down...

Anyways, this is my preferred outlet tonight. Neil - your comment to our last post was interesting and the article you linked to a bit scary even. Without getting into a debate between evolution/creationism, I gotta say, I just don't understand why there's a debate to begin with. After all, since when are the two theories mutually exclusive any way? Since when does evolution threaten the existence of a god? I'd like to know why the theory that "god" created "man" instantaneously rather than through some complex evolutionary process adheres any closer to the Christian faith or why the latter threatens it?

That is, of course if you set aside biblical-literalists. Frankly, I think its impressive that anyone can take so seriously word-for-word an inherently contradictory text that lacks the voices of key groups, oh say half the population also known as women for example. George Bush has a degree from Yale, so maybe he's seeing something that my Carleton crafted mind can't.

But here's what I think: I think it's one thing to have faith in the idea that there is purpose and meaning to our lives beyond that which science can resolve for us. This even strikes me as a natural and intuitive tendency for humans. However it is an entirely other thing to ignore the social context of a "religious message" and the voices that have passed it on.

So, risking offense to those who read this (mostly because I don't know anyone who actually adheres to the following even though I know alas that they are out there), I am inclined to discount the intelligence and the credibility of any individual who wholeheartedly and unquestioningly embraces a religious dogma and denies that it in any way is motivated by a personal agenda on the part of its believers, past or present. I don't think "faith" should mean blindly following a doctrine. If so, maybe faith isn't a desirable quality given that quite a handful of the world's most "faithful" have committed quite a handful of the world's most intolerable crimes against humanity. And while this may seem offensive and an attack on the religious, what's more offensive is religious doctrine used to promote intolerance, ethnic cleansing, racial prejudice, the oppression of women/homosexuals/[insert your favorite minority group here - Republicans do not count].

This has got me to thinking why religious people differentiate themselves by their gods (Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Jews, etc.) when in fact fundamentalist Christians have a lot more in common with fundamentalist Muslims than their fellow (but open and tolerant) Jesus-lovers. After all, take me - as a "Christian", I have waaaaaaaaay waaaaaay (one more time here) waaaaaaaaaaay more in common with a non-religious homeless woman that collects tin cans for recycling, than a Jesus-loves-everyone-except-for-people-I-don't-like-such-as
and-without-an-accent Christian man from Alberta, who by the way thinks rape-is-wrong-but-abortion-is-the-devil-and-no-you-can't

Which gets me thinking, if that's the case - if I really don't "fit" with other people who happen to ascribe to the same omnipotent figure, maybe it's best I identify as a "tolerant person of spiritual beliefs", and scrap the whole my god/your god system of identification and let the crazy fundamentalists on all sides have the fancy religious titles (after all, in the eyes of the public they've appropriated them anyways).

Just a thought.

You know, I was going to rant about something else this post - but I think I'll leave that for another day. I have managed to get completely off track by writing a post on religion. Thanks Neil.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Evening folks. I know this seems a bit abnormal - another post just after I earlier confessed that my bloggage (see Nov 14, 2005) has been having a dismal effect on my end-of-day mood. Quite frankly, ranting about "real issues" (or fake ones, which is equally relevant) gets me in a bit of a verbal fit, which I often take out on my poor husband. I partially blame CBC Radio 2 for this. If only Anna Maria Tremonte would stop discussing issues like Dafur, Uganda's civil war, abortion banning in the U.S., Rwanda, Congo, and Deep Integration, I wouldn't have as much to be enraged over. Without all those things to rant about, I can imagine how our dinner table conversation would transpire:

Jonathan: The salad is delicious, dear.
Sima: I'm glad you like it honey.
Jonathan: Is the chicken too spicy for you, sweetie?
Sima: Not at all darling, it's wonderful.
Jonathan: Perfect. I was worried it would be too hot for you.
Sima: Nope, not at all, love.
Jonathan: You look nice this evening.
Sima: So do you.
Jonathan: Another glass of water, hon?
Sima: Yes please, dear.

Doesn't that make you want to gag yourself? In retrospect, I think we'll keep listening to the CBC, evening if it means lively, political dinner debates.

But I digress from the entire purpose of this blog. Since I am trying to refrain from getting too chatty, I'll let Julien, my brother-in-law, a very special person might I add, take it away. But first, you should visit his self-acclaimed fan siteto get the bigger picture. Then come back here. And don't bring any small children with you. Unfortunately, Jule-dogg has quite a diverse and colourful vocabulary...

This is from HIS blog (gizooled, of course), dated Feb 5, 2006.
"Yesterday I was at tha mall, n I happened ta be in tha music store (instruments, not CDs). There was this group of kids, tweens, hang'n out around tha piano cuz its a G thang. Now these kids were cool, coz tizzle were saggin' out at tha mizzay on a Saturday nizzight where the sun be shinin and I be rhymin'. Anyway, they wizzle mess'n around, play'n "Heart n Soul", messin' on tha piano, basically think'n they were tha coolest thing since sliced bread. The homey runn'n tha place pipes up, n this is how tha conversizzles went:

Guy: Hizzy could you guys kizzle it down pleaze?
Tweens: Why? We're jizzy frontin'.
Guy: You're bang'n on $30,000 worth of lumba
Tweens: You should have some respect. She's an off tha hook piano motherfucka (not pianist, mind you). She's gonna be famous some day fo shizzle.
Guy: That's great. Just keep it down.
Tweens: You bitch git her autograph while you stiznill can.
Guy: Oh I already have it.

And so on.

Needless ta say, those kids had no respect. Here's a list of adjectives tizzy describe them wizzle fo' real: inconsidizzles mean, disrespizzle loud, n sassy. Boy do I hizzle sass . Bounce wit me. I was `bout ready ta go backhand a few of them, jizzust coz tha clerk couldn't do it (hav'n a job ta keep n all that) upside yo head. I left tha store ho-slappin' angry n sorry fo` tha salespeople who have ta deal wit kids like thizzat . Snoop dogg is in this bitch."


What's going on?!!
Call me the biggest TV junkie who doesn't actually own a TV, but where are all the episodes this week? The O.C., The Office? The Mercer Report? Where are you guys? You too, One Tree Hill.

I am not impressed - Here I am, with a week off from class and copious amounts of readings and papers to accomplish, and my one outlet from academic stupor just decided it was going to - oh I don't know - collectively take a week long hiatus. Well let me tell you, it's only spring break if you're a pimply teenager or a poor college student. So what then, are Rick Mercer, Mischa Barton, and Steve Carell doing gallivanting off-camera instead of on the silver (computer) screen? This is very sad stuff in my world.

On a positive note, today I got my hair cut. Which has me averaging a top-chop once every eight months. I swear my split ends resembled a pile of dust bunnies as they lay decapitated on the hair studio floor. And I know that when Jonathan reads this part, he's going to pause, laugh, shake his head and say "You're crazy Sima; I can't believe you write stuff like that". But continuing on the positive note, my hair feels soft, light and pretty and my shoulders and neck very relaxed from the free massage that came with the cut); my hair cut turned out to be half price (thanks Nat!); aaaand, Jonathan and I discovered a little hole in the wall lunch place in Yaletown (so hence, not so holeish) where we spent the sunny afternoon devouring delicious sandwiches and wraps. Our massive salads were not bad either with their tasty dressings - Jonathan had a vanilla-bean vinaigrette, and I opted for the cinnamon variety. We definitely fork shared, it was that good.

So that's it. Disappointed? You should take that up with my hubby. Jonathan thinks I should go on a diet - cut back he means - on my weekly postings. It's not good for me, he says, to have such high blood pressure after writing them. So I'll work on writing nice, instead of negative things, in less words and without all the post-blog rage.

Chipper as ever,

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Go here to understand one of the reasons Honda won truck of the year in 2005, and why Americans should just give up already and stop building vehicles and stick to what they are good at, like, i dunno, Spam, Kraft Dinner, and over priced Pinot Noir.

I don't know how many times Isaac and I had the conversation about the absolute worthlessness of vehicles made by the big three in Detroit, Michigan. Despite these words of wisdom exchanged amongst teenagers, it seems like he had to learn the hard way. Go buy a Kia buddy - at least it will get you around the block!

All kidding aside, Isaac - I hope you get "Darlene" or whatever you call her, fixed up. I don't want her breaking down on me when you go out east for a week.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The usual suspects

Today was interesting.

Our routine began as it always does - sunny, like the past six days, I roll over and announce that I'm sleepy and Jon plays his role by responding with an encouraging yet half-asleep "come on, you can do it. get up!". So I ease out of bed just as Jonathan greedily snatches up the sleeping territory that I have relinquished, sprawling from bed side to bed side for three more seconds of sleep. As I grab the shower curtain for a steamy, groggy shower, Jonathan grabs the milk jug to douse his bowl of granola in skim-milk goodness. Ten minutes later, I'm soppy-haired and robed and preparing our mutual morning pick-me-up by turning on the stove top espresso maker. Jonathan darts to the bathroom to discover whatever hot water remains of my wash-rinse-repeat-condition-wait-rinse-repeat-lather-rinse-exfoliate -rinse-repeat morning ritual. Thankfully we live in a building that is equipped with a rather large hot water tank so Jonathan is spared. We regroup fifteen minutes latter - dressed and all doled up - over our creamy espressos, and listen to CBC radio until it's time to catch our bus to campus.

Somewhere between then and now, the rest of the day comes together. Today Jonathan-the-thrasher played squash with a school buddy after marking student papers on campus while I attended class, and finished some RA work. Shortly before returning to the city in the evening, we stopped off at Superstore to pick up my President's Choice Granola, and the ingredients for our evening quiche.

And that, my friends brings me to today's rant.

As soon as Jonathan and I breached the sliding doors to the grocery emporium, it struck me that no one was standing there waiting to exert their authority by confiscating our backs' possessions. That is, Superstore has a policy that forbids customers from bringing bags into their establishment. Last time that Jonathan and I had an empty pantry, we were stopped by the Superstore Gestapo and told that we weren't allowed to take our bookbags in with us. This prompted me to ponder "why"? which I asked quite vocally. I was relishing the thought that in a second's moment, the grocery clerk would have to tell me to my face that she was afraid that I would steal something. I wanted that moment, but alas it never came, and the response I got I believe is even more telling, which was, to prolong the suspense no longer than this which is already long enough by any standard, including Hollywood's: "because it says so". "Because it says so" was coupled with a gesture towards a sign with a smiley faced stick man wearing a backpack that had a blood-red X crossed through it.

Ah, I see. The reason I'm not allowed a backpack was because there is a sign that says so. It truly shocked me that this women's thought process to my question of "why" was that the legitimacy of her vocal policy can be entirely contingent on there simply being a sign or commend from above stipulating so, not a rational explanation for it, the latter of which I was asking for. Interestingly enough, what the sign didn't say was that mothers with diaperbags and strollers, or a family of four with bookbags were exempt from the policy because well, those kind of people don't steal (and also wouldn't stand to be treated as potential thieves).

Poorish students, like Jonathan and I however... well we're to be suspected and to stand for it. And suspected we were. But stand for it, we didn't, at least not before having a bit of fun. Last time, when Jonathan insisted on bringing his plastic bag of textbooks with him into the store, the clerk allowed him to, but not before taping the handles of his bag shut. To demonstrate the humorousness of Superstore's pathetic anti-theft technique, Jonathan then pointed out to the clerk that he could still fit a couple cans of apple juice down the small opening remaining in the bag that the masking tape hadn't sufficiently covered and advised the clerk to cover the hole in light of this. At that, the clerk promptly proceeded to secure another wad of masking tape over the gap. We were chuckling the whole time and she just didn't get it. This woman takes her job seriously.

Honestly, if Jonathan and I were really going to steal a family pack of bone-in chicken thighs, you'd think a bit of masking tape wouldn't stop us. And if we weren't going to steal, you'd think a bag-taping, knapsack-confiscating policy would piss us off to the extent that we'd rather not shop there.

Fortunately for Superstore, I love PC Granola, so I'll put up with a little store frisking to get my morning nutrients.

And unfortunately for the bottom rung of society, financial profiling doesn't stop at Superstore. As Jonathan and I were waiting for our train on the platform following our grocery extravaganza this evening, the ticket-checking Translink rent-a-cop showed up. Because the Skytrain operates on a proof of payment system, the Skytrain attendant is supposed to stroll the platform and verify that its occupants have either a transit pass, bus transfer, or train ticket. However, tonight's events unfolded rather differently than expected. There were about 15 of us on the platform, but the attendant was only interested in checking the ticket of one man, a blatantly homeless man with dirty ripped sweats, unwashed hair, mismatched clothing, a broken backpack, and a plastic bag overflowing with street paraphernalia (blankets, an old hat, recycling containers to be returned for a penny's profit).

The Skytrain attendant demanded to see his proof of payment, which drove the irritated, half-incoherent and softly swearing homeless man to frantically throw his bags to the floor and desperately fish in his pocket for odd change. Upon finding some, he disappeared from the platform in order to purchase a ticket from the lower level before the attendant could write him a fine. All this while the Skytrain attendant remained on the platform yelling "that's a $170 fine, you know". The homeless man didn't come back for a few minutes. His tattered bags were strewn on the platform. The Skytrain attendant just stood there smirking. He was entirely unconcerned with Jonathan and I and he never asked to see our tickets, or the tickets of the 13 other people standing there. After all, we weren't homeless so we had obviously paid our fare. Eventually, the homeless man returned with a ticket, swearing that the machine had ripped him off. The train came, and we all got on.

If I had had the guts, I would have challenged the attendant right then by asking "What about us? Are you going to ask for our tickets or do you only check people who look poor or homeless?". I didn't, which is probably a wise thing. The homeless man looked unstable, and my piping up might have caused a stir amongst others. After all, the passengers around me looked none too sympathetic for the homeless man, and were bound to side with the rent-a-cop anyway. Nobody likes having homeless people around and I'm sure all the other passengers would have rather that the homeless man get fined and prevented from getting on the train, so that they wouldn't have to smell him on their Skytrain journey ride home.

On a less depressing note, Valentine's Day was fun. Jonathan and I made dinner together - for dessert, I made artery-clogging profiteroles, and Jonathan concocted the most amazing mango and goat's cheese appetizer (seen below), with Jambon au madere for our main course. All was accompanied with good wine (fruit juice for me), romantic music, and expensive Swiss chocolate. Simply delectable!

In (random) closing, allow me to quote from Jonathan's desk calendar:

"I think if you know what you believe, it makes it a lot easier to answer questions. I can't answer your question." (In response to a question about whether he wished he could take back any of his answers in the first debate, Oct 4, 2000) - George W. Bush


Monday, February 13, 2006

Night Shooting

Saturday night, after some whole wheat pizza and a rowdy game of settlers, Amish and I, with Sima and Nat in tow went night shooting around Vancouver. It was cold (not as cold as Ottawa), but the results made the trip worthwhile. Having not done any photography in a while, it was nice to "get out there again". I brought our little Canon A520 Digicam, as well as my old school film based Pentax. Thankfully Amish had an awesome tripod, so it was possible to do some nice long exposure shots of Vancouver.

The following are from the Canon - with no PS modification.

This one was shot at ISO 100 for 13secs at f8.

This one was shot at ISO 100, 15 secs, f8.

This one was shot at ISO 100, 10secs, f8

I'm curious to see how the film pictures turned out as I am not sure if I had colour or B&W in the camera. Also a few technical difficulties arose....the vagaries of film I guess.

Check out to see what can be done with a sweet DSLR in the same shooting conditions.

That is all.

Friday, February 10, 2006

I don't kill plants

Greetings friends and family in frostier locales,

My oh my does it "kick" to be a Vancourite these days. Since the crack of dawn on Wednesday, squinty-eyed residents of the Left Coast have lowered their umbrellas, and raised their chins to the sky. And upon doing so, radiant glorious warmth kissed their faces, like a mother's everything-will-be-okay hug on one of those tough-fourth-grade days. Behold, the snowcapped mountains have reappeared from their hibernation behind the fog and the bustling city has acquired a little hop-skip in its step. With green grass, blooming flowers, full trees, and coffee-goers sipping tall non-fat no whip half-sweet sugar-free lattes on sunny street patios, this place, my friends, is THE place to be. Word has it that Saturday won't be bucking the trend either, meaning tomorrow it will also be 19 degrees warmer here than it is in Ottawa, like it was today. And that, I suppose is where my bragging rites end.

By the way this (as well as the new intersection pic on our site) was the view from our apartment window yesterday afternoon.

Alright, onto other business. The agenda, if you will. My life (which I fear will soon span a quarter century) is peppered, likely as yours is, with embarrassing moments, less-than-flattering experiences, and down-right unappealing aspects of my character. I admit this openly and freely, but on pondering the stories that have been told about me over my life, I feel now, in my most wisest year yet, that a disturbing number of these stories have been largely fabricated and as such do not match with my recollection of my past. I would like to set one of them straight here. Others I will leave for my wiser years to contest - this includes Coady's claim that I "touch oil to see if the stove pan is ready", and Neil's claim that I "once got my toe stuck in a laundry basket for fun" and Nat's claim that I "developed a permanent and unsightly non-stop runny nose for the greater portion of the 1980s". While I do not recall any of these events, today I aim to debunk this one: I am a plant killer. Long ago, a good friend leveled this accusation at me, pointing at my brown, droopy, wilting botanical pets as if that was supposed to serve as suffice evidence of my debauchery of care-giving.

Now, we can debate the details of the case - namely my defense that 1) my roommates killed them, not I; 2) that scholarly stress temporarily put me in a state of mental instability and that I can not therefore be held responsible for my (in)actions and that 3) contrary to popular (read: media-induced) belief, planticide was the real cause of death, not any particular deed on my part. One could also site the flourishing succulents which were under my care (ok, Emma's care, but nonetheless, my emotional care) at Springland Drive as further testament to my non-plant killing capability. But as we all know (as I combine two cliches in one sentence) talk is cheap and a picture is worth a thousand words. So behold, the plants of Oak and 12th.

So as not to be entirely bias, the fern was given to me three days ago by Nat; the bamboo are immortal; and plant #3 just recently made a come-back from a near-death experience (living on the edge). What a thrill-seeker. But even in light of those facts, plant #4 has thrived under my care. He reports that our apartment is a "a lovely, caring, and intellectually stimulating environment which has greatly improved my quality of life." On another occasion, the plant remarked "...quite frankly, the TLC at Oak and 12th is top notch."

I will leave the final judgment to the jury.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

How to spend a sunny February Tuesday

How do you do such a thing might you ask? Well, you go skiing. And that's exactly what I did.

I have slid down many a slope in my time - from lowly bumps in PEI, to the mighty Alps of France and Switzerland. I have gone skiing in places where it takes 15 minutes to experience all the runs on a mountain and locations where it could take upwards of a week to do so. Needless to say, I've seen my fair share. But I must say, skiing on the North Shore mountains provided me with one of the most spectacular views yet. The mix of urban and remote/wild landscapes, ocean and mountain views, was spectacular. I don't think I have seen anything like it before.

See for yourself..........The pictures are not amazing...But nevertheless

Oh yeah - the skiing.
It was awesome. No line-ups, extremely peaceful, some good pitches, tons of snow, and amazing weather. It was so warm that it felt like spring skiing. The snow softened up nicely and there was no ice to be found. Definitely a nice change from the ice that plagues Eastern Canada.

Here are some more pics.....

That is all.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Hypocrisy and Aristocracy (all in one post)

Gosh I'm Tired. Thursdays. Funny how my opinion of them has dramatically changed over a one-week period. Today was exhausting. I woke up, rather early (which, for a student is 8:00am), to do some research for the professor I work for. That lasted three hours until my class at 1:30pm. At 5:45pm, Jonathan safely (and kindly) escorted me from the 99 B-Line to our little apartment. It was a brisk 6 minute walk, and with Jonathan's arm linked in mine, I was sparred the nervous glances I would have otherwise given to strangers (a women was killed in what police suspect was a "stranger attack" on our street, a couple blocks down, three nights ago. Police have told women in the area to "be careful"). Excellent.

I think I'll take the rainy-day-strategy, and just stay inside instead but thanks for the heads-up on that. Let me know when you've caught the bad guys...

Anyways, for some reason, today was overly exhausting. Luckily, Jonathan's chicken was already marinating when we arrived back at the house (poor guy - cooked dinner on his birthday!!!!). I made a "healthy" dessert, which I suppose in retrospect isn't so healthy when you pig out on it (just like it isn't environmentally friendly, when you boost the economic efficiency of your firm while simulaneously increasing output!). I digress. It did however turn out to be a lovely evening. Jonathan was showered with birthday calls; my little sister aced her 12th grade final exams; the chicken turned out extra tender; and in 2 hrs, The Office, episode 15, will officially be on our computer. For the love of torrents, I hope I'm still up.

In other news, Jonathan and I went to see our first condo as a potential-home-buying-newly-married-couple. It was exciting, and oh, was it too small. Gorgeous, but alas, missing a dining room. We could go back to eating on the floor and sleeping on a pull-out couch like we did for a month after we had moved to Ottawa, but it's only romantic once. After that, it's just plain pathetic.

Speaking of which (er, both rather: pathatic AND romantic), we also got around to putting together our wedding photo album. There were 2000 to sift through so suffice to say we made a bit of a mess. But it was fun although I kind of took over (and Jon kind of didn't mind!).

Professional/designer albums aren't cheap, and in keeping with the entire wedding theme, we decided to do it ourselves and adhere to our student-spirited budget. We bought a sleek, but simple scrap book ($79) from Paperhaus, a stylish, - get this - office supply company. Honestly, this company makes binders and CD cases you'd drool over (especially you, Lily). I know, I know, what you are thinking. To transform notebooks and briefcases into haute couture is well - weird. a bit excessive - but what a feat at that!

In fact (cough - rant coming - cough), almost every little inch of Vancouver (uh... aside from that population of 20,000 that we call the homeless people when we are not ignoring them) is a piece of untapped lifestyle fashionability and exuberance. Vancouver, where each square foot of granite/concrete/ceramic living goes for $1000 and where for every Volkswagen Rabbit, there's a Bentley Continental GT. And, let's not forget that Vancouver is where Lululemon first made its name (and now sells butt-cupping apparel with "Kitsilano" - Vancouver's yuppyiest neighbourhood in town's name on it). Now, for all my finger pointing, I will be the first to admit that I've tapped this market. Jonathan too. We love shopping for new cookbooks at Caban, scoping out designer furniture at EQ3 and checking out the new floorplans at Raffels on Robson. But hey, at least we recognize our hypocrisy.

Like this. Yesterday I gave two dollars to a homeless man selling a newspaper that looked quite similar to that brochure project we were assigned back in grade five. He told me that the community centre helped them to put together the newspaper, and for the two dollars he made per copy, they would give him fifty cents and that this was a program to keep him off the street. Well, I bought the newspaper and I even read it, and man, am I a horrible person, because my first thought, as I perused it on the bus-ride home, was "Gosh, this is terrible writing. How unprofessional and improperly cited! Is that a comma-splice I see...?".

With that terrible thought, I bid you good night.