Friday, August 31, 2007

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Blog Ate My Homework

Jenny sent me this link:
SEOUL (AFP) - More and more South Korean schoolchildren are searching the Internet to find someone to do their homework for a fee, a report said Monday.

A portal lists more than 500 websites devoted to homework with fees to pupils ranging from 8,000-10,000 won (eight dollars 50 cents to 11 dollars), The Korea Times said.

"I need to write three English diaries by the end of the week," a 12-year said in a message posted on one site. "I don't really want to write them. Who can write for me and how much do I have to pay?"

There are also websites offering already-completed homework, with individual material downloadable for 500 won, the paper said. Others offer children a chance to share projects.

Experts worry that such sites could send students the wrong message, that they can buy whatever they want, the paper said.

My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nice Pickles

My students kindly calculated my age in days for me. 10,722. Interesting.

The title is random. Does it help if I mention my 3rd graders are reading a story called "Postcards from Pluto"?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Thinkin' of Laura

Because I'm eating bonjuk.

More School Pics!

The playroom for the kindergarten and preschool kids. Wish I was activity teacher!

The computer room - computer class, AR tests, teacher prep, whatever!

The library full of leveled books. I will be doing some kiddie reading myself, considering the quality of the books.

Kindie kids all eating lunch with Janet off of their cute matching trays.

Bye-Bye Shesha!

So, Sheila is off for two months of vacation, thus I was off to Itaewon for dinner and drinks on a Tuesday.

The goodbye folks, one off to China, the other off to Canada and Ireland.

However, since she and Jane were doing last minute moving into their new Itae lair, it took awhile to get details of the plans out of them. And so I took a taxi there and back. Fiscally not the most responsible of decisions, except that the taxi driver on the way there was a star. My hood to Itae in only 16,000 W! And he fed me candies and rocked us out to Korean hip hop too.

Geckos staff getting comfy on the pavement outside of the bar.

Geckos on a Tuesday is remarkably busy. And remarkably cheap, in that the staff kindly fed us free shots. One of the staff was leaving for China, so it was quite the party. We ended up sitting on the ground outside Geckos, with everyone who works there, drinking beer and eating beef jerky. As you do.

Jane sitting on a random bag of Vanessa's stuff.

Then, I taxied up to Sheila and Jane's new pad (nice and big!) to get my old phone, taxied back to Itae, and then chilled with her at the bus stop until her bus arrived. At 4:15. Then my taxi driver got lost taking me home and god knows I wasn't any help with directions.

Me rocking the little paper cup of beer on the streets of Itaewon at 2am on a Tuesday!

Let's just say it's going to be a coffee fueled day. Get ready Starbucks, I'll see ya at lunch!


I've just finished reading all the blogs I usually read. It makes me happy. And I got a few chuckles out of it, too.

The Elevators

Such prosaic things, elevators. And yet, both in my apartment building and in my school, they provide such amusement. Do you think maybe someone once plunged to their death here or something? The signs are posted both inside and outside on the doors.

And obviously to go to this Hof you need to break out your military attire and Hitler moustache! The misuse of words here in Korea is sometimes amusing, sometimes disturbing.

Seoul is Snotty!

It's amazing how much cleaner the air in Koyang is. The longest I've spent in Seoul itself in a row is 48 hours. Within 24 I'm full of snot. 12 hours back in Koyang and I'm fine againg.

I didn't choose to live in Koyang for any of the reasons I am liking it, but I must say, it was certainly the right decision.

Read This

It's one of the most shocking things I've read in some time. Thanks to Kay for linking me to it.

Out of the Mouthes of Babes

Today I was doing a writing exercise with my grade 1 students. There were some sentences starters that they had to find creative endings for. One was "If my friend and I could do anything, we would _________." One girl wrote in "marry with girls." So perhaps views in Korea are changing? ;)

Last week, we were doing a free writing game in 5th grade. The teacher calls out words ever 5 minutes or so and the students have to incorporate each word into the story that they are writing. I ended up with stories about a unicorn who goes crazy drunk on champagne and starts a fight and ends up green-faced in the bathroom and one about a lion who invites a lioness out on dates and when he keeps getting rejected goes crazy and starts a fight with a bear and then ends up eating the narrator of the story.

Apparently adding in the word crazy leads to some amusing stories.


The person who had my apartment before me can't ever have cleaned out the lint thingies in the washing machine. I have never seen so much lint. What a pain in the ass to clean it all out.

Blogger is in Korean

And that doesn't make me happy.

My First Field Trip

Miss J on the bus, surrounded by a sea of preschoolers.

Field trip started out with a bus ride with my homeroom class, the Tigers. It wasn't a long drive and at the end we drove past a bunch of airplanes and the kids got very excited. Our trip was to a university that has an Aerospace Museum.

Emily models the 3D glasses.

The first thing we did on arrival was see two 3D movies, in Korean. I put on some glasses myself, but it didn't really work for me. The pics looked a little more 3D, but didn't jump out like they should. The double vision, I guess?

The kids getting excited by the special effects.

Then we went to see another movie, this one narrated by two NASA astronauts, who had been dubbed over into Korean. Highly amusing to watch. The cool thing about my kindie kids (aside from the fact that they could use their English skills to wipe the floor with the 4th graders I taught last year) is that even when watching movies in Korean, the English only rule is so engrained that their comments on the movies were all in English. "Cool!" "Teacher, look at that!" It was cute.

Mr. Bishop and I rockin' the 3D glasses.

Then we walked through the museum part, at a fairly rapid pace, which was fine, since everything was in Korean. After a stop in the lobby for snack time, we went outside to take class pictures on the wing of a plane. Hopefully I'll get copies of the picture to post. Then, back to school and off we went for lunch - I had kimchi mandu and dukboki. Yum.

EZlocker is false advertising...

This past weekend, I almost lived in Geckos. I went down to Seoul on Friday night, pretty late. No real plans, just thought I'd do more on Saturday if I was already in the city, rather than still an hour subway away. I bumped into Benson, so I wandered into Geckos, where I met up with Peter, the Irishman on a bender. How he was even functional having just arrived from Ireland and a series of bad connections so that he had been travelling for about 48 hours straight, I don't know. However, I spent all Saturday afternoon and evening drinking with him too, so he certainly has impressive stamina.

Sunday I met up with Joel in Insadong for a late lunch. We went to Agio's, the restaurant that Kim introduced me to within the first couple of months of my first year in Korea. The cheesy baked pasta is still heavenly. We then wandered into a tea shop and spent hours chatting about everything and anything. Four months is a long time to catch up on.

Since we had both been staying at friends' places in Seoul, we both had bags. Being fairly low-maintenance, I just packed a couple of pairs of clean undies, a toothbrush, make-up, deodorant, and a second shirt into my purse. Joel had a couple of bags, which he had left in the EZlockers in the subway.

EZ my ass! Apparently it had taken ten people to help him get the bags in and it took three to help us get the bags out, after a phone conversation to the help desk! The lockers require you to input a cell phone number, get a password, pay with your T-Money card, and basically follow more steps than a brain surgeon does in a lobotomy.

And in spite of all that, Emart was still open when I got back to Koyang at 11pm, so I finally own some cleaning prodcuts. Woo!

Finally, A School With Resources

Dear Evil Ex-Boss,

Remember when you said that hagwons moving towards using computers and the internet wasn't a good teaching move? Well, you are an idiot.

At my new school, we have laptops and tv screens in the classroom. I can see them being very useful for science class, since if we can't do an experiment, I ought to be able to find videos or pictures of the concepts instead.

Then there is the daily homework. The kids take comprehension quizzes for all the subjects and I can look up each class and see where they are getting answers wrong. Basically, it allows me to see where individuals and classes are having problems understanding, and I can tailor each class to address weaknesses.

Then there is AR reading. The kids take a leveled book out of the library and read it. Then they go to the computer room and take an online quiz of 5-10 questions. If they get one wrong, the computer makes all the following questions easier. By the end of the test, the computer spits out a level range the child should be picking books from. Thus, we can monitor if the kids are reading at grade level and the kids can earn points through the tests to get prizes. Once a month the reading teacher takes the kids to the library to get them to check out books and maybe take a test if they are ready, but otherwise the kids just do it on their own time.

So, Evil Ex-Boss, all I can say is thank fuck I am working for a school with resources and an actual dedication to the learning of the students. Sure, they are still a hagwon and a hagwon is a business. There are still plenty of silly or annoying things. But they aren't Heritage Institute of Deungcheon-dong, Kangseo-ku.

Consider that a blacklisting, by the way. Just in case anyone ever googles the school, let this be a warning - it sucks, don't work there, find a better job and don't spend a year dealing with Mr. Joo and his mindfucks.

I might be just a little bit bitter. But please note - I stuck it out and I never stopped being dedicated to my students. But Evil Ex-Boss should catch some sort of annoying (though not deadly) disease, if karma has any merit...

Guess Who I Miss?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Adventures of a Kindie Science Teacher

Me with my new short, Magic straighted hair. The students (and just about everyone else actually) think it makes me look younger. The common age guessed is 23. Weird, huh? I certainly feel my age. Well, sort of. I feel 23 on the weekends, perhaps!

Aren't they cute? Hyun Ji, Lauren and Alex.

Seraphina with one of the bean sprout experiments. Most just went moldy and had to be thrown away. Out of about 45, we had maybe 12 sprout. I can see that experiments are going to be interesting...

The Painted Bird

This novel by Jerzy Kosinski was written as fiction, though many feel that it is largely autobiographical. As such, it caused a lot of controversy in Eastern Europe, where people were insulted and enraged at the portrayal by the author of the peasant populations of various regions who saw themselves in the folklore and characters. The author and his mother were both threatened with death over the publication of the novel. Some people suggested the Americans had paid Kosinski to write the novel as a piece of propaganda.

The casual brutality in this novel, which is about a young boy who ends up left to fend for himself during the Second World War, is horrifying. The most horrifying thought of all is the idea that it was no doubt often even worse. The boy has dark hair and eyes. The villagers assume he is either a gypsy or a Jew and they fear not only the retribution of the Germans if he is found with them but also simply of him, of this different creature in their midst. The folklore has him painted as capable of giving the Evil Eye. The title comes from a rural practice of painting a bird brightly and then letting it free to fly with its flocks, who attack and kill the poor bird, who is perceived as an outsider, a threat. The young boy in the novel is that painted bird, attacked and nearly killed several times simply for not fitting in. When he finally is taken in by the Russian army and then an orphanage, the reader is left to watch the damage done by the cruel treatment he has endured. Even his reunion with his parents leaves him alone and haunted by his past.

“and only God, omnipotent indeed, knew they were mammals of a different breed.” Mayakovsky

“We’re living in the age of the noose. Fear will be on the rise.”

"Faceless Killers", Henning Mankell

In the last two weeks I’ve read two mystery novels, which isn’t something I do terribly often. I’m not a particular fan of the genre and got into it more as a locational thing – I started reading Ian Rankin novels because of the Edinburgh setting. “The Naming of the Dead” isn’t Rankin at his best (my favs are “The Falls” and “A Question of Blood”) but it is enjoyable. I like the way Rankin uses current events to direct his novels – this one about the G8 protests. I did love the character development of Siobhan and the relationship between the two of them. I’ll be sad when the series ends. How can John Rebus possible retire?

The other book I read, recommended perhaps by Sofiya or by a Swedish friend ages ago, is “Faceless Killers” by Henning Mankell. While not as immediately engrossing as a Rankin read, it reminded me a lot of Rankin’s Rebus series. It also unfolds in the midst of a topical discussion; this one about immigration and refugees. I thought it dealt with the issue sensitively and in a very European way. My North American mind has always struggled, even after almost 4 years in Scotland, with the European immigration issues. But perhaps this novel has helped me understand better – Wallander is trying to think of all the possible foreign targets that might exist in his area and it says “How many pizzerias were there in the Ystad area?” I can barely comprehend pizzerias as foreign food or the culture that thinks they are. A subtle but important reminder that understanding the current events of other cultures is hindered by our lack of ability to understand the mindset of the people involved.

Both of the authors evoke strongly a sense of place. Rankin’s Edinburgh was far removed from my own and yet I always recognized it when reading. Mankell certain evokes the flat, chill of a Swedish winter that I envision when thinking about Sweden (the closest I’ve ever gotten myself is Denmark.) The names of characters and places and even the pared down language (which I suspect comes from reading it in translation) lend a sense of place.

In “Faceless Killers”, Kurt Wallander wonders “why almost every policeman was divorced. Why their wives left them. Sometimes, when he read a crime novel, he discovered with a sigh that things were just as bad in fiction. Policemen were divorced. That’s all there was to it.” Rebus and Wallander are such similar detectives. The broken home lives, the distant daughters, the obsession with music, the poor diet and problems with weight. A notable difference is Rebus’s drinking. Wallander seldom drinks.

I’m not a Wallander fan yet (granted, I am only one book in). The spareness of the language doesn’t entirely appeal to me. The female characters are particularly poorly drawn. The love affair (of sorts) is particularly hard to understand as written. The only character other than Wallander who I found well drawn (Rydberg) doesn’t seem likely to make it into the second book. I have another book already, found it secondhand, and while I am curious to see where the author goes with the character, I hope things get a little more engaging soon.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Car Bombs

Liqour before beer, you're in the clear.
Beer before liquor, you'll only get sicker.
First off, one should never, ever try and keep pace with an Irishman on a bender. Secondly, one should never drink a beverage that the rhyme that has saved so many from a horrible next morning doesn't even apply to.

I should have guessed when Car Bombs turned out to involve shots of Baileys and something that go into a pint of Guiness that must be downed in one go that I was about to have a very interesting night.

Never, ever again will I drink a Car Bomb.

Thus, I didn't make it to the BBQ extravaganza. I hang my head in shame. ;)

My old hometown...

Grist Magazine has named UBC number seven in its global list of top 15 green colleges and universities list, ahead of Stanford and California State University. The magazine notes that UBC is Canada's first and only university to receive Campus Ecology Recognition from the U.S.-based National Wildlife Federation and it recognizes the university's sustainable development policy and Sustainability Office.

Grist is an online environmental magazine launched in 1999 with a monthly readership of 700,000. It has published Top 15 Green lists on a variety of topics including global cities, movies, politicians and musicians.

View the article here.

What holiday is your birthday on?

Go here and find out.

April 21st is Kindergarten Day. Quite apt, considering my new gig as a kindie science teacher.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Adventures in Itaewon

All the girls love blowjobs...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Contract

I love my contract. First off, I make some substantial cash compared to last year. Secondly, it’s funny. My salary is broken down into parts, with a base salary and then additions. I make more for my degree/experience, more for teaching kindergarten, and more as a Welfare Benefit.

Wondering what a Welfare Benefit might consist of? The contract states it’s “to assist with the Employee’s living expenses and his/her overall wellbeing.” Do you think that means they intend for me to spend that much every month just making myself happy? I don’t have any arguments with that, certainly!

The Toenail

Anyone who shares an addiction to Facebook with me might have noticed that I mentioned being happy about having all ten toenails again. In typical klutzy fashion, I opened my bedroom door (in the old place, I am lucky the new place has less doors I can injure myself on) and managed to rip off 90% of a toenail. However, I wasn’t wearing my glasses so when I looked down, I concluded that they were just badly stubbed. I wandered around the apartment and went to the bathroom to put on my makeup. By the time I looked down, there was quite a pool of blood. Sadly, it didn’t occur to me to take photos until just after I mopped up the worst of it, but you can see a pic of the cute bandaid that I used to deal with the situation until I had the chance to go and get a pedicure and a fake nail. It looks real enough with polish on, so I’m just going to have to be girlier than usual for a couple of months. Candace says it takes 6 months for a toenail to grow back… Crap!


The park and Koyang's Rodeo from my apartment building.

I don't live in Seoul itself, though I live on the Seoul Subway system. It’s between 20,000 W to 26,000 W to get home from Itaewon by cab – thus, if I take the subway there, I might actually save money on cabs compared to last year when I was too lazy to ever take the subway. It’s only an hourish long trip and only one transfer, so it actually ends up not being that much further away in real terms than anywhere else I’ve lived. To make the whole thing better, a friend has given me keys to her place in Haebonchon so that I can crash in her spare room on the weekends. It sort of adds a party atmosphere to going out, actually.

On Rodeo, with special decorations for a Grand Open.

Koyang seems nice. I say seems because in the first ten days I spent back in Korea, I was in Itaewon for five. I haven’t exactly gotten around to exploring Koyang. I’ve located the Emart, so my fridge is now slightly fuller (though as per usual, I seem to not have anything that would actually go together to make a meal, so I might be surviving on peanut butter and bread.) I’ve been to a good Chinese place and the BBQ place that my coworkers frequent. The ajumma knows them all by name and already has mine down pat after my first visit there tonight. I think I am going to like it. After all, what’s better than BBQ and beer? The Rodeo has lots of cool looking stores, so one of these days I’ll have to do some exploring. Plus, girls wear really cool shirts in Koyang...

The waitress from the Chinese restaurant wearing a T-shirt that says Skinny Bitch.

The Fridge

The end of the year fridge: soju, wine, beer, two types of cheese, dill pickles, garlic.

I thought it would be amusing to contrast my fridge as I left Korea with my fridge upon arriving. As you can all see, I’m not much of a cook these days.

The beginning of the year fridge: triangle kimbap, tangerine slices, milk, water, chocolate milk, some peanut butter chocolates my grandma gave me for the plane, some orange juice and a coffee.

The mystery appliance

I think I should run a contest to determine which blog reader can figure out what exactly this is. I don’t have a toaster, but I do have this.

The Apartment

You're going to have to turn your head to a 90 degree angle for this photo, since I can't figure out how to use a Korean computer to flip the photo. Apparently I have also been classy enough to let you all have a peak at my unmentionables too. Check out the hot pink bra, I'm quite fond of it.

The apartment I got dropped off to on Thursday night was temporary. It was pretty damn big by Korean standards – a whole separate bedroom! However, my new place is nice. So much built in storage – shelves and cupboards and drawers. It’s fantastic. Slightly odder closet space though. My first apartment had a great view of Koyang’s Rodeo. Now I have a great view of the kitchen of an apartment in the next building over. However, unlike my last employer, my current ones believe that basic furnishings involve blinds.

Stove top and kimchi fridge.

I have a few other exciting features. First off, I have a kimchi fridge. Since I’m not that big a fan of kimchi, I won’t be using it. In fact, I suspect it’s going to take a lot of Fabreeze to get the smell of kimchi out of my apartment, after I made the mistake of opening it. And for a brief minute I had gotten all excited at the prospect of an oven.

Inside of the kimchi fridge. There are two compartments. Inside are numerous Tupperware containers that hold the kimchi. My coworkers apparently use theirs to hold water. I never intend to open mine again. The smell must be contained!

The bathroom not only has a slightly separate shower area, it also has an intercom that would allow me to answer the door while on the toilet! Like it already wasn’t cool enough to be able to speak to and see the people at your door on the videocam thingy.

Video thingy to answer my doorbell. If all things remain the same, I will only use it for the gas lady and the Mormons. Hopefully I can tell them apart!

Intercom in the bathroom, located right in front of my toilet, next to the toilet paper.

The absolute first thing I unpacked was my books. That sounds like the kind of thing I’d do, but to be completely truthful it was just that they were on top of my towel and I was desparate for a shower. I also have a rather amusing pic that involves my sink, but I think for my mother’s sake, I’ll leave it unposted. If Jen from Mokdong reads this, she might be able to guess…

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Now the promised details... Part 1, Getting to Korea

I left Canada on Wednesday at a stupid hour of the morning - so natch, I didn't bother to go to bed. I packed all night, last minute as always, but Emily woke up. Have you ever tried to pack with an inquisitive two year old in the room? Not easy! My bags turned out to be quite light (well, for me, anyway.)

The airport was insane. Clearing US customs in Pearson took me about 2 hours. I just made my flight to Chicago. I am very much not a fan of O'Hare and I sincerely hope to never, ever fly through the States en route ever again. Too much fuss and waiting in lines. In O'Hare my damn bra kept setting off the metal detector. The plane ride to Seoul was fantastic though. Korean Air had the TVs in the back of the seats in economy class, so I watched four movies. The first was In the Land of Women. It was fine, though a tad on the boring side and I admit I dozed off a bit. Then I watched 300 which I thought was absolute crap. Not only did I doze off, but I was glad I did! I thought it would be more like Troy or Gladiator (and in spite of the historical inaccuracies and my nerdy knowledge of the ancient world, I usually like those sorts of movies) but it wasn't. I thought it was sort of cartoon-like and I just couldn't get into it at all. Then I watched Bridge to Terabithia - I cried. It was a really good adaptation I thought and I loved the way they showed the fantasy parts. Next up was Waitress which was fantastic too. I loved Keri Russell and I liked the plot a lot. You should definitely see this one. I finished off the movie watching extravaganza by watching maybe half of I Think I Love My Wife. Didn't like it (or his wife, much) and it was no sad thing that I didn't have time to finish watching it.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Back in Kimchi Land

Dodgy adventures in Itaewon already. More details to follow. Must prep!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Could this be any more last minute?

I went into the consulate this morning to see if I was going to have my visa issued in time for tomorrow's planned flight. It hadn't even been started! At 3:50, with 40 minutes of working time left, it hadn't been started. I was issued it ten minutes after the consulate technically closed!

Though, in some ways this is good. It was a stressful day, as at the back of my mind I was worried that I would have to do some last minute flight changing while I read an entire book in the Indigo at the Eaton's Centre (more about the book later). However, it gives me about as much time to pack as I really need (just under 12 hours between heading back to Bolton and needing to leave for the airport). And it means that I am taking my morning flight.

And that means no last minute goodbyes with the girls. Dogs and children are the hardest people to say goodbye to - though with my mom threatening the waterworks at the airport every time, she isn't easy either. However, parents, friends, siblings - they can all be talked to on the phone and on messanger and by email. It might not be quite the same, but it is good enough. But dogs and children just can't be kept in touch with in any adequate way when you are overseas.

It was saying goodbye to Lucky that almost had me crying when I went away to university. My first time to Korea Lucky had just been put down and it was Sarah who nearly had me in tears - as I left Andrew and Kari were reading her a bedtime story. I think after 3 months with the girls and spending so much time with them, having to say goodbye would have been really difficult. Instead, they all just got a kiss goodnight while I am still distracted by the need to pack.

Though Emily just woke up crying, and I must admit that while I loved the break from packing to cuddle in the rocking chair, it did tug at my heartstrings more than a little.

Caribana Crazy!

With all the obnoxiousness of the visa delays, there was one big plus - not only was I around for Caribana (thus, I've done the two big parades in Toronto this summer, Pride and Caribana) but being around for Caribana meant I got to spend the weekend with Peter, a very cute Haitian/Montrealer.

It was all very last minute, as I only found out there was no way I could fly out on the weekend as of Tuesday. Then there was lots of fussing about how I would get to and from the city with most of my family up north at the cottage. In the end, Peter and his friend Edwin picked Daniel and I up on his way to Toronto from Montreal. And for anyone who knows their small town Ontario geography, that means he came an hour out of his way to pick me up. And yes, you read that earlier sentence correctly - in the most basic of terms, I kinda brought my little brother along on a date.

Peter went to a concert Friday night. At midnight to 1 a.m. he was chatting with me online from Montreal. At 6 a.m. he arrived. I was a bit panicked, as I though I had until 7 to shower and pack, so all the men had to stand around and wait for me, while I gave women a bad name by taking forever to get ready. After much musing about what to wear, I put on my shortest skirt, lowest-cut tank top, and a very, very bad pair of shoes. The idea was to minimize tan lines, since I knew with hours out in the sun I was going to turn a pinkish to reddish colour. Oh the joys of fair skin. I was the only one who had to constantly reapply sunscreen all day - not the only one who had to, I guess, but the only one who did. Daniel is bright red as a result. Lobster would be a perfectly descriptive nickname for him right now.

So, hitting a Timmie's on our way, we drove to Toronto and found some dorm rooms to stay in. They had shared bathrooms, but for the price we couldn't complain. We had breakfast and then walked down Yonge Street to Lakeshore. We walked quite a bit before the guys saw fit to tell me the action was over at Exhibition Place, which is when I put us all on the streetcar.

Caribana is a slightly odd parade. I don't mean the dancers and floats and costumes and music. It's odd because they put up some major over the head barriers along the route (for a comparison, the ones at Pride were only waist high) but there are numerous spots along the way that you can get onto the route and join in the parade. That isn't just common, it's pretty much expected. We spent the first three hours or so in the staging area, which no one trying to keep us out at all. So what's up with the barriers then?

After about five hours of sun and dancing, we were all tired and hungry. Dan and I had managed 3 hours of sleep but Edwin and Peter hadn't slept at all. We had dinner and after a rather longer-than-anticipated walk, went back to nap before going out. Le5, Thomas and Jodie came down for some hanging out with Daniel and then we met up with more Montreal people to hit the clubs. Bit of walking up and down indecisively - the only place I would have been able to recommend had a crazily long line up - we managed to find a cheap place with decent music. I ended the evening with a lollipop, which is never a bad thing.

The next morning everyone slept in. When we asked the hotel receptionist where to go grab breakfast he suggested the food courts in one of the many surrounding hospitals, which is how I ended up at Timmie's in Sick Kids on the long weekend. A bit bizarre. Then we drove down to Harbourfront to hop on the ferry to Toronto Island. With some quality juice (I've never tasted this specific mixture of fruits before! What's in this juice? Just juice???) and some snacks, we hit the beach and basically lazed around in the sun. The girls from Montreal and another couple of Montreal folks joined us - aside from little bro, I was the only non-French speaker and was impressed that while I can't speak French anymore, my comprehension is fine. Though if they actually spoke Quebecois-French, I would have been screwed.

Dan and I came home exhausted. We had some corn on the cob for dinner - very Canadian - and then I ended up falling asleep with the lights and computer on. Someone must have turned them off for me, as I was in darkness the next day at noon. That's got to be one of the better things about sleeping in a basement, that and the fact that it is pretty cool down here on even the hottest days. I spent Monday puttering around doing a bit of packing (though mostly just making a huge mess) and recovering from Caribana - all that dancing and sun led to some sore feet and slightly stiff legs.

Basically, Caribana kicks ass and people from Montreal are a lot of fun. Especially the tall, dark and handsome ones.

Friday, August 03, 2007

My horse is goooooone...

My dog is siiiiiiick...
My gui-tar I must pick...*

I must, must, must stop downloading in such an indiscriminate manner. Otherwise I will end up listening to country music which I don't really know how I got in the first place before deleting 99% of it.

I think I might have accidentally acquired a twang.

*My father's lyrics


I just watched an Israeli film which I quite liked.

I thought one of the most interesting threads of the movie was the religious one - Michale is criticized by some of the orthodox for not covering her head, but the rabbi is understanding. Also, in a speech thanking people for helping to found a new yeshiva, only the rabbi thanks or mentions the women. Another notable scene has one of the men talking about how empty the synagogues have become while the women stand outside, listening.

The subtitles are completely bizarre. They are obviously meant to serve as closed captioning as well, as occassionally they mention laughing or sirens. Weirdly, none of the prayers are translated at all. Neither are any song lyrics in a scene with a woman singing at the kindergarden. I wonder how the subtitling was thought through and why some things were so notably excluded.

--Now that I've had a night to sleep on it, I've been pondering the signifance of the title. Stones. There are a lot of actual stones - left on the gravestone, thrown at the kindergarden teacher, the stone plaque remembering Michale's mother on the new yeshiva. But it also seems to be more than that - a people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones kind of situation. The yeshiva guy keeps lecturing Michala on her morals and respect for not covering her head, but he's lying to the government to get more money. They talk about the youth in the neighbourhood stealing while committing fraud in the name of religion. Michala herself feels morally concerned by the fraud her father is involved with, but she's having an affair.

Bridge to Teribithia

I first read this book for school, I think in grade 6. I remember really liking it and so with the movie coming out, I thought I'd have a refresher read.

I also had two hours to fill in a mall and no desire to shop. I read the whole thing sitting in a window area at Indigo.

All I can say is that I still really like it and the ending broke my heart. If I hadn't been reading in public, there would have been tears.

Why did I stop reading children's literature all these years? It's so good!

I Am A Simpson!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

This is an Episode!

Do you ever read someone's blog and find they've written something that crystalizes your own life for you? Something that really, really speaks to you? It happens to me fairly often. Leading up to and during the big breakup, I started to get into reading other people's blogs. Frog and Sofiya's entries about their own breakups helped me think about my own in a new way. Anais's entries about friendship and processing and new beginnings helped me in thinking through parts of my own life. Kay's blog continuously challenges me to rethink a subject that I have lived with for a long time but sometimes am not quite sure of.

And yet again, someone else's post has made sense of my life.

Here's what Anais said:Thomas Moore wrote that a musical form he finds useful in therapy is the episode. "In a piece of music, minor passages sometimes link major themes to each other. They pass quickly and rarely take on a major significance. The word literally means side road, as it contains the interesting Greek word for road, hodos. I often think of certain life themes, though weighty and bothersome when they appear, as mere episodes, not likely to last long and become significant in themselves, but contributing in a small way to grander issues and developments. I can weather a tough time if I perceive that what is disturbing me at the moment is a musical episode and not a lengthy development."

Lack of Foresight

This is a fascinating clip. People are asked what the penalty would be if abortion was illegal.

Ahhhhh, isn't Korea fun?

I might be leaving Saturday. Or next Wednesday. But I won't know until the last minute, I suspect.

So, I might be at Caribana this weekend, or I might be on a plane to Asia.

Who knows?

Isn't life exciting?!?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Oh, and...

Before I go off and read what everyone else has been posting and saying about Buffy (leaving me very antsy to finally catch up to everyone so I could participate already!), my own little Buffy Oscar-style list:

Scariest Episode - Hush
Most Annoying Episode - The one with the dream of the First Slayer
Most Crushable Character - very torn between Angel and Tara
Most Annoying Character - Xander (though Giles was annoying me for a good two seasons straight)
Funniest Episode - tie between the musical episode and the one with teenaged Giles
Favourite villian - Evil Angel or the Evil Genius Trio (before Warren went completely crazy) or Vampire Willow
Favourite Storyline - Had to be Angel/Buffy. Though the development of Willow and Tara's relationship runs a very close second.
Favourite Season - 4

Apocalypse Averted

Three weeks, seven seasons. What am I gonna do with my evenings now?

That last disk was pretty damn awesome. To start with, woo! with the crushes. I finally understand all the crushing on Spike. Kennedy has a very hot tongue ring. Principal Wood manages to survive (thought there was that moment where I did think my crush had doomed him).

I had thought the series might end with Buffy's death. Some sort of sacrifice to save the world thing. Granted, it had been done already, but I assumed somehow that she wouldn't make it. I like the multi-slayer concept better.

My first ever Buffy post asked if it was a feminist show. Now that I've seen them all, I think the answer is yes and no.

It's an amazing show. Women kicking some ass and saving the world. Facing the dark without fear. Leading the way. There were some amazing episodes that I really thought brought up issues in a very feminist way. The one that still sticks in my mind dealt with partner violence. And the entire plot line with Tara coming out was great, as was the football player who did. The Halloween-costume episode was a highlight as well.

Where I think the show was lacking was in the depiction of sex. First there was the use of the term slut, by both male and female characters. It became less frequent after the characters left high school, but didn't disappear. That seems to mirror real life - the power of the word slut definitely decreases once you mature past the age of 18 or 19. But the show never deals with the double standard that the word represents. Its use is never challenged on the show. Sure, the characters do grow. But as viewers we are never challenged by the show to think about what it means to call a girl a slut. It demeans and insults and shames and controls women. The characters on Buffy do this many times and no one ever has an "Ah-ha!" moment when they realise that it isn't acceptable. When you add that to the many other unhealthy attitudes towards sexuality that the show brings up - sex makes your boyfriend lose his soul, or brings to life deadly poltergeists - and the very feeble comments on the two attempted rapes on the show, I find myself unable to fully get behind the idea of Buffy as a feminist show. It's a feminist show that didn't go quite far enough.

But perhaps it sends a very important feminist message - many strides have been made, but the battles have not all been won just yet. Keep on fighting.

Only One Disc To Go

What was with everyone going all Judas-like on Buffy?