Monday, January 30, 2006
Working with Americans, PT 1
Well, I have day one of my new job under my belt and I am feeling good tonight. It was a pretty laid back day as I met my new boss at his hotel and we went over binder after binder of flow charts, statistics, lists and facts. I had forgotten how much there is to try and absorb in the earlier days of training. I have a really great boss and we get along quite well, which I'm sure we can all appreciate as a godsend. We share the same sarcastic sense of humour so zingers had been going back and forth all day. It's nice to work with someone who is corporate but not stuffy.

We have been enjoying sharing views of the world from each other's perspectives and observing the differences between his side of the border (American) and my side of the border (Canadian). Remarkably he has said nothing of my accent and though I have said nothing of his (he's from Michigan) I was acutely aware of the way he pronounces his "a". (I have tried hard to think of a way to type it out so that you would know what I mean but I can't think how. you'll just have to use your imagination) Aside from the "a" pronunciation being different I notice no other real accent. He has some terrible grammar, but far be it for me to correct my boss.

One thing I have noticed that Americans seem to fail to grasp is the proper use of the word "eh". You know, that stereotypical word Canadians are accused of using constantly. Let me once again explain how eh is used:

Eh turns a statement, comment or observation into a question, thereby engaging another person, perhaps for the purpose of getting his or her opinion, or sometimes in order to start a conversation. Example:

"Wow, the weather is unseasonably warm these days"
See? That's just an observation spoken outloud. Doesn't do much for sparking a conversation. But when you put eh at the end, NOW you have a question!

"Wow, the weather is unseasonably warm, eh??"
And now the door is wide open for another person to add his or her two cents:
"Yeah, I haven't seen a winter this warm since '98!"

Voila! you now have a conversation thanks to eh.

That being said (and having explained it like that) my boss still can't get the hang of when to use it. He is beginning to recognize after he uses it incorrectly that it wasn't timed right, but can't seem to see when he *should* use it. For instance, today he said "That's pretty impressive, isn't it eh?" to which he immediately asked how he was doing and if he used eh correctly (since he has been trying desperately to get it right). Before I could say no, he didn't, he caught himself and said "No wait... that was a double question, that wasn't right". hahaha.. he's learning!

Anyway, beyond a few peculiar pronunciations of towns (please tell me how he got "burry" out of "Barrie") there wasn't much to report on the differences between my American counterpart and myself.... yet! Next week I am off to Buffalo and Rochester, New York. After that... Tampa Florida! I think I will have plenty of stories to tell in the coming weeks..

Friday, January 27, 2006
Friday Fragments
- I used to use Yahoo music to stream music to my computer whilst I puttered around and I liked it well enough. It was like having the radio on, ya know? Now I have been using Pandora after some guy on the radio urged me to try it (and Mulder mentioned it to me once too). Pandora uses a much more sophisticated system than Yahoo music as they have started a "Music Genome Project". This allows them to take a song or group you have said you liked and break it down to it's essentials and offer suggestions as to what else you might like based on your taste.

Points go to Yahoo for: better control over the songs (I can say I dislike a song by a band without shunning the band entirely. Pandora gives a group 2 strikes and then it's off the playlist). Yahoo has a great rating system for rating how much you like a group instead of making it a black and white, like/hate scenario. Hey sometimes I like a group but really hate one or two of their songs! Really, so far as fine tuning what you listen to, Yahoo has Pandora beat, hands down. However, Pandora is still evolving and I think they will catch up in due time.

Points to Pandora: the sound quality is *worlds* better than Yahoo music. It's also much better at offering suggestions as to what else you might like and even offers an explanation as to why they chose it for you (ie: "Based on what you've told us so far, we're playing this track because it features synth rock arranging, electronica influences, a subtle use of vocal harmony, mild rhythmic syncopation, and repetitive melodic phrasing."). You can create up to 100 different radio stations; I have a station of 60's music, Hip-Hop, Old Skool, Piano, DJ beats, and my "everyday mix", for instance. So depending on your mood you can have a specific type of music playing. Go on, go give it a try!

- Have you ever been on the blog called PostSecret? "PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail-in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard." It is amazing and disturbing all at the same time. Some revealed secrets are funny, some are scary, and some are just so sad (this one was *brilliant* and really spoke to me). As the saying goes, we are only as sick as our secrets...

- If PostSecret strikes your fancy you may also want to check out FOUND Magazine: "We collect FOUND stuff: love letters, birthday cards, kids' homework, to-do lists, ticket stubs, poetry on napkins, telephone bills, doodles - anything that gives a glimpse into someone else's life. Anything goes...". It's very interesting what they find scribbled on paper and drifting through the streets...

- blah blah blah Syria and Iran are bedfellows now blah blah blah Hamas may be crazy but Fatah supporters are crazier blah blah blah Iran keeps saying very stupid things blah blah blah...

- I will admit it, I like me some celebrity gossip. I was upset when Brad and Jen broke up and I was upset when the cause seemed to be Angelina (coz I love Angelina, but I can't abide by a home wrecker). Whatever. My point is, that I do like to hear news about the madness that Tom Cruise has been exhibiting, but I draw the line at annoying talk about Britney Spears. I really couldn't care how much she weighs now or what her hubby is up to. But if you like some gossip and cleverly written commentary on the matter this blog is for you. It's pretty funny stuff!

- My new job starts on Monday. Yay!!! My district manager is coming up from the States next week to train me during the week, and then Feb 13th I am heading down to Tampa (Florida) for a few days of training there. I might be going to New York somewhere in between, but I'm not sure yet (mostly because my boss isn't sure yet). Tampa offer a nice break from the chilly weather and gives me an opportunity to shop for some of my favourite things (and I am on a mission to find this).

- This is a great idea for amazing office hijinx (Sam, I think it's perfect for you in your final days on the job!): Office Poltergeist.

- Shabat Shalom! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 26, 2006
Just a moment ago I clicked on and splashed all over the front page is the headline: "Hamas claims election victory". I gasped and my hand immediately clamped over my mouth.
I. can't. believe it. And I thought the Canadian elections results were bad news! :-/

You folks DO understand that a terrorist organization just won the Palestinian elections, right? Terrorists will be running the Palestinian government.

Oh wait... wait.
That's really no different than before.

Ok, but seriously, let me spell this out. This means that a group that has openly laid claim on countless attacks (often suicide bombers) killing hundreds of Israelis, has just won the election. And that means that Israel will now have to negotiate with terrorists if they want peace. It looks a LOT like the terrorists have won and taken a big step towards proving that terrorism works, doesn't it?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Conserving Canada
I haven't been posting because it's taken me a couple of days to recover from the election results here in Canada. It was a dark dark day as we elected a Conservative government for the first time in 13 years. Why am I so glum about this? Well this is Canada and here we generally like our women to have rights, our gays to have rights and we aren't so keen to send our troops to war based on false information. Or at least, I believed that's how we thought. Yet we now have a government that has publicly opposed women's right to choose, gay's right to marry, and has said that if it had been in power at the start of the Iraq War it would have sent our (arguably pathetic) army to war. Oy, what's to become of us with these people in charge? Dare I say it? We could become more American (and as insulting as that may sound it's not meant to be so much as an acknowledgment that we differ when it comes to such issues, and that being the case, I was happy I was on the northern side of the border. now it looks like the border may be blurred).

However, the Liberal government was a disgrace and woefully corrupt. I can't say I'm going to miss them given how they stole money from all our pockets in order to line their own. I was *thrilled* when I heard Prime Minister Paul Martin announce that he would not lead the Liberal party in the next election. Thank God, I've had about enough of him.

Overall, I'm hoping the fact that the Conservative party is being kept on a short leash (by being a minority party and therefore needing the help of another party in order to get anything passed) may actually lead to some good changes here in Canada. Ya never know, this may be better for us than I thought.... so long as their medieval/outdated thinking doesn't take us backward instead of forward.

Whew, am I boring you with all this talk of Canadian politics, yet? I'm sure most of you couldn't give a rats ass and indeed a few may not even have heard we chose a new Prime Minister, but I thought I'd toss in my two cents worth and go political for a bit. It's so unlike me, isn't it? I can't wait to hear all the angry and Conservative comments I'm going to get.

In other news, I had lunch with my new boss yesterday which went really well and we seem to hit it off. We both have a sarcastic sense of humour so we get along fantastically. We also had our first conference call today and I only had to put up with 2 or 3 stereotypical Canadian jokes from my American counterparts in the company. For added fun it looks like I'll be spending a week in Buffalo/Rochester (New York), a week in Tampa and then at the end of February a week in San Antonio, Texas. Lemme tell ya, Texas is about the last state I ever imagined myself visiting so this should be entertaining.

The countdown is on to me officially starting my job on Monday. The boss will be coming up from the US and we will be doing training for a week up here. Yeeeha!!

Monday, January 23, 2006
"don't forget to boat!"
It's a spellbinding day here in Canada as we head to the polls and choose a new government. Can'tcha just FEEL the excitement in the air..... zzzzzzzzz.....

Have you noticed the barely existent fanfare that comes with it, compared to say, the American elections? We keep it short and sweet. It's announced, there's 56 days of mudslinging and debates (and that's considered a long campaign!) and then we all go to the polls to choose the lesser of the available evils. My, it's dizzying just talking about! ..zzzzzz...

However, for some reason, I *love* voting. I'm not sure if it's just an appreciation for the fact that I can or the hilarity that I'm actually allowed to vote (in my mind I'm still 17, evidently). I also really enjoy the process of it; when I walked in this morning the polls were quiet. Most people vote at night, I suppose. And the ladies there were extremely polite and helpful. It was all just so darned cordial.

When I got my ballot I headed to the little cardboard blind that gives you the illusion of privacy. There I stood and stared at the ballot for several moments. I even sang the Jeopardy song that plays while counting down when the contestants have a time limit to write down their final answers. You know the one... "Doo dee do do, Doo dee do. Doo dee do dee DO do do do do..". Anyway, I hummed that outloud. Then I cursed one of the politicians on the ballot outloud. Then I decided it was about time I stopped making myself look insane so I held my breath and made my X. The whole process took less than 5 minutes, I swear to god. It was amazing. If only I could have stretched the joy out longer!

What did I vote? Well, it was tough. The Conservatives scare the bejesus out of me for a whole boatload of reasons. The Liberals are corrupt, the Green Party is fairly unknown here and the New Democratic Party guy has this distracting mustache......

I'm not saying what I voted but I'll tell ya, I'll be holding my breath in the morning when I wake up and turn on the news to see who won. Please lord, don't make it Stephen Harper. And if you insist on making it Harper (why have you forsaken me, lord?!?) then please make it a minority government. Thx.

Friday, January 20, 2006
Snow Devil
Apparently all it takes is my bragging about a ton of snow for it to suddenly stop snowing and switch back to raining. All my beloved snow is gone. When I went up north to see my grandma yesterday it was a beautiful day and it looked like a winter wonderland; snow everywhere, especially on the trees. It was breathtaking.

However, since I am a ruiner of great snowy weather, it began raining up there too (which is *unheard of* this time of year). It's downright warm back here at home now and muddy and gross. I want my snow back.

The trip was brief but did a world of good for both my grandma and I. She was thrilled to see me (I surprised her) and immediately set about making me the most awesome dinner. We watched a bit of tv and talked about the good old times when she was a kid growing up along the river. It was a nice visit.

On my car ride home I finally got the call I have been waiting for...... ladies and gentlemen, I got the job offer. That's right, as of Jan 30th I will be gainfully employed by an American company looking for reps up here in Canada. I will be making a chunk more money than I was before (yay!!!) with great benefits and bonuses. I am really very excited. I have given my landlord my notice and my friend will be moving out of my apartment. My application was accepted at the apartment building I am hoping to get into, and hopefully something will be available for April 1st. Things, dare I say, seem to be falling into place.

I wanted to blog about a couple of other things.... the Canadian election... Iran... but I'm in too good a mood to ruin it with such topics. It'll wait until tomorrow.

Have a great weekend everyone, Shabat Shalom!

Thursday, January 19, 2006
yet another attack
A suicide bomber has blown himself up in Tel Aviv.

I don't know, anymore.... I just don't know what to say.
Details here.

I think I'm going to get in my car and drive 2 hours north to my sanctuary for the night; I'm heading up to see my grandma.
I'll be back tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Snow, Diana, Mahmoud and Colin
Today was a great day. Know why? Coz it snowed, I mean it *really* snowed. All blizzard-like. I was thinking to write an angry post about how it had been raining for days and days and how I wanted snow because this is Canada afterall, and I loves me some snow. I was even going to say that I was planning to vote in the election next week based on which party promised me snow if I called their head quarters and asked. How funny would that be if one of them actually tried to promise that?

Instead I decided to spread my good mood by writing to the makers of Diana Sauce and tell them just how much I love their honey garlic sauce. I mean I really truly love it, as my letter to them outlined. I made an awesome meatloaf (yes, MEATLOAF! why are you laughing??) the other day that was really truly the tastiest meal ever and it was in large part due to that sauce. I thought I'd share the love so they knew how I felt and hopefully it will encourage them to continue making it for years to come. They must never stop making the sauce. Never ever.

Anyway, I saw a copy of Macleans magazine (which is much like a Time magazine in it's format, and made in Canada) and right on the front page it had a picture of my favourite politician (that's right! The President of Iran!) and the quote with it says: "The Scariest Man on Earth. The Nuke-Happy, Jew Hating Lunatic President of Iran". HA! Hooboy, that made me laugh. I love it when journalists use the word lunatic. It's such a great word and so very appropriate in this case. And I love that the rest of the world finally sees the man for what he is, and I hope they realize his hate doesn't just stop with Jews. Beware all Western infidels, you'll be next! Just as soon as he gets Israel wiped off the map...

The article can be read here if you are interested; in the meantime here is a small snippet: "He believes that Israel is a "disgraceful stain" that must be "wiped off the map." He calls the Holocaust a "myth." And he claims that when he addresses world leaders, he is bathed in a divine aura that prevents those watching him from turning away, or even blinking. Meet Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's new president, and the leader of a country that is set to go nuclear." It's a great article so go check it out; Iran is everyone's problem, not just Israel's, folks. And unlike the Iraq mess, Iran is making no bones about it.... they intent to create weapons of mass destruction.

On a happier note let me leave you with a picture of my friend's new baby boy, Colin. This was taken just over 2 hours ago.... he is 2 days old. And he's about the cutest thing ever, even if he did cry pretty much the whole time I was holding him. Little Chinese babies are so cute!!!

Monday, January 16, 2006
Today's post: Yay for me! Boo for Iran! and What are those crazy Israelis doing!?
So I am in a pretty good mood these days. On the weekend I had a big heart-to-heart with my friend with whom I was planning on becoming roommates in the near future. We have decided not to become roommates afterall because his financial situation at the moment is quite unstable and I need someone who has more secure and steady work (his is quite sporadic). This actually comes as a great relief to me as the original reason for finding a roommate was because I myself needed some financial relief, but now that I have a new job in the offing my financial situation is likely to improve drastically; that being the case I'd rather live alone because I really like having a place to myself. After a talk with my friend (including plenty of irate words from my end over a parking ticket he got with my car that he didn't bother to mention or pay for) we have decided to nix the plans; he will be moving back in with his brother and I will remain, for now, with my parents.

I have been looking at a few new apartments and have found some that I really like, so hopefully it won't be longer than a few months at home with my parents. My parents have actually been encouraging me to stay with them as long as possible so as to save myself money, but I miss my own space. Plus, if an apartment opens up in the building I really like, I'll have to take it or lose it. This building is pretty popular so I can't risk losing out on an opportunity to get in. *sigh* It feels good having options.

With regards to the new job I finally called the recruiting officer to ask what was going on. She seemed kinda surprised that the interviewers hadn't called me, but said that an offer was forthcoming, that they just had to work out the details. I guess they (the American company) need to figure out how to pay Canadians and how to put together an enticing package/offer that doesn't include health benefits since ours is covered by the government. I hope this means greater benefits in the areas that aren't covered, like dental and optometrist stuff. That would be a sweet deal. Either way I just want to hurry up and sign this deal so I can get on with the business of getting my life sorted out. At this point I remain cautiously optimistic that the pieces are finally falling into place. Yay!

In other news......

- WHAT?? A Muslim Cleric made anti-Israel remarks?? I can't imagine!! "Jews know how to control people. This is how they know how to control our leaders." Yes, yes, we rule the world and that's why we are fighting tooth and nail for the one little piece of desert in the Middle East that doesn't have oil. *snore*

- Ah yes, my favourite leader, the President of Iran, is back to his ole tricks again! I just have to laugh at his crazy remarks. To recap, he likes to deny that the Holocaust ever happened, he thinks that Israel should be wiped off the map (or at the very least, moved to Europe, Alaska or Canada) and now he thinks that the Holocaust should be opened up for debate so that it can be decided for once and for all if it really happened. Funny how the only people who think that it didn't happen are the Arabs and white supremists. And I am sure the fact that this ridiculous conference will be hosted in Iran will ensure that it will be a fair and balanced discussion.

- Possibly the most ridiculous report yet on the Israeli Prime Minister's health/condition: "Sharon's aides said the prime minister had opened his eyes, according to some Israeli Web sites, but the statement from Hadassah Hospital denied his eyes had fully opened. The medical significance of the eyelid movement was unknown, the statement said." So... we're not sure if he opened his eyes or not, and if he did we can't even be sure what that would mean. Got it.

The only report to rival that one in terms of ridiculousness would be this one: "People who were present said Sharon first became teary-eyed, and then opened his eyes. However, the prime minister’s eyes shut once again just as doctors were racing to his room." Oh.....oh!!....OH!!!! So close, damnit!! I wonder how many times the fmaily has called the doctors in only to have him snap his eyes shut again. And I wonder how many times the doctors will fall for it before they start accusing them of crying wolf. Stay Tuned!

- "Tel Aviv synagogue manager nearly stabbed after commenting on smell of visitor's socks". Um. WHAT? And it really begs the question... just how smelly were those socks, anyway??

- Speaking of crazy Israelis, what the hell is going on in Hebron?? Israelis rioting and destroying Palestinian property??? Ugh. This sort of behaviour just embarrasses me. I really like to think that Israelis are above this kind of behaviour and I abhor giving the Palestinians any more excuses/ammunition to use against Israel. Come on guys, let's not sink to their level. We're better than that and it just looks bad when Israelis are reduced to such tactics. I understand frustration and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness make you want to do rash things, but this is SO not the way to go about change. Now Hebron has been declared a closed military zone. Nice job.

- "Thirty Canadian Christian Israel supporters leave Toronto behind, move to community near West Bank. "These people left a paradise in Toronto in order to live with us, and it is really heartwarming," said Yonah Ephraim, secretary of Moshav Magen Shaul where the Canadians live." Y'know, I'm just not sure what to make of this to be perfectly honest. I'm always happy when there is support for Israel, especially if it's not from Jews; it's a welcome surprise. And to hear that they are from my town is also nice. But how are they immigrating to a country that requires you to be Jewish in order to become a citizen (and not just a permanent resident?). Odd. This opens it up to all kinds of debates (including demographic balance and so on) but I'm just happy that someone outside of the Jewish religion is showing such strong support of Israel. It's not exactly a popular team to be cheering for.

Ok, that's it for me. Before I go I want to wish my friend Annie and her husband Frank a big Mazal Tov on their new baby boy, born today at 5am. What a great birthday present for Annie's birthday tomorrow! Welcome to the world, Colin Nicholas!

Friday, January 13, 2006
The Promised Post
- I like Friday the 13ths because they have always been lucky for me, probably because I was born on a Friday the 13th.

- "The Pope used an audience of local politicians on Thursday to reiterate the Roman Catholic Church's objections to both abortion and gay marriage." This is why I don't like the Pope very much. His stance on gays has to change. Remember when we thought blacks, Jews and women shouldn't be allowed to vote? Remember how 'the powers that be' thought it was out of the question and ridiculous? See how that's a right not a privilege? Gay people have just as much right to get married as anyone else, and I hope one day we look back on this issue with the same disbelief as we do when we recall women's fight to be allowed to vote. Come to think of it the Conservatives have the same stance on the gay and abortion issues, and that would be just a couple of the reasons why they will never get my vote.

- So how amused was I to find this next article *right* underneath that last one about the Pope: "Sony Music has announced the launch of a record label focusing on gay, lesbian and transgendered artists. The label, known as Music With a Twist, will feature established gay and lesbian artists from all musical genres who already have mass appeal, and will also nurture new and emerging talent. Plans also include the release of compilation albums of hit songs adopted by gay, lesbian and transgendered audiences." Yeeha! Cher, Kelly Clarkson and Liza Minelli sales are gonna go through the roof! Take that, you mean Pope!

- new blogs I'll be adding to my blogroll: The Shane Life, dreams and false alarms, Samantha Burns, and Tzfat/Safed.

- OK, raise your hand if you are just a little bit tired of the reports about Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and what he is doing now (ie: "today he moved a finger" or "he shifted his right leg" kind of reports). Yes, I feel bad that the man is in the hospital and I mean no disrespect here... but how about reporting when there's actually *something* to report?

- job news.... oh right, there isn't any yet. I didn't get the call. No I am not worried, more like irritated coz now I gotta wonder about it all weekend and I can't move forward with any financial planning. I ran out of money long ago so I need an answer soon.

- If you watch the tv show "Lost" feel free to hop on over to Occasional Bitch's post about the recent episode. Beware there are spoilers.. kinda... so if you haven't watched it yet don't go (though I suspect it will just cause confusion, not so much spoil it. lol).

- I will have to get back to my theory on why I'll be murdered one day because I don't feel like typing it out now.

- I have found my dream restaurant and it's name is Cereality. If I had the money I would totally buy a franchise.

- I'm in a totally foul mood right now. In the last 24 hours I have found a bounced cheque from last September that my friend (who is living in my apartment) gave my mother to put into my account to cover the bills for the apartment while I was in Israel. And I just got a parking ticket in the mail from when he borrowed my car last month. He neglected to mention to me that he got a ticket under my name, let alone pay it. This does *not* bode well for us becoming roommates as was the original plan and what he's hoping will happen March 1st. We are going to have a big talk this weekend (aka: a "come to Jesus" meeting) and it's not going to be good for him. His financial situation is putting up some red flags for me and I am seriously reconsidering this plan.

- if any other blogger received a peculiar email from the guy who runs the website AgoraVox, please let me know. I am curious to see how many people he contacted about writing for the english version that is coming out soon and who else's blog he took parts of to publish on his site. I'm not sure what the deal is with this so I would like to know anyone else's take on it.

- I am *very* disappointed by the low number of people that De-Lurked the other day on De-Lurking Day. Shame on you, I know you're still hiding. Now come out and say hi.

- in response to ChicagoG's question, no a third date with Lawyer Guy has not been established yet, though we did talk on the phone yesterday.

- hey, did you vote for me recently? You can vote every 3 days y'know! so go on, hug a Jew today! click here.

- Shabbat Shalom, all!

in tonight's post (coz I don't have time at the moment)
- why I like Friday the 13ths
- The Pope and his gay hatin' stance
- new blogs being added to the blogroll
- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his "progress" report
- job news about me
- discussion of the latest episode of Lost
- why I think I'll be murdered one day

and so much more! stay tuned for tonight's post!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006
feeling 10 feet tall and bullet proof
At the risk of completely jinxing it, let me just say that the job interview I had this morning went fantastically. Better than I could have imagined and they all but offered me the job right there. I should be getting the final yes or no call sometime in the next 36 hours. Keep that mojo coming, kids..... coz if I get this I will be earning well above what I was earning before which would nicely help me pay off my debt from my jaunt to Israel. WOOOOO HOOO!!!

More details once the job offer is tabled.... I don't wanna get too cocky just yet.

Monday, January 09, 2006
voting and de-cloaking
Do you love me? Prove it.... vote for me by clicking here and choosing my blog's name from Group A. Actually wait, go vote for in the barren season. She's pregnant and you should always be nice to pregnant ladies, right? And she could use a few votes, so show her some lovin'.
Looking for more Jewish goodness? Check out edition #52 of "Haveil Havalim". A good place to start if you've never sampled Jewish blogs before.

Also, as Janet has pointed out, today is the day for lurkers to come out from the dark and say hi. You know who you are.... you come on my blog but never ever say anything. I know you're there! So today is the day you finally say hi. It's easy, watch: "Hi my name is Hiding McGee and I like to read your blog each and every day! Keep up the good work!". If you're feeling really outgoing today you may even add something interesting like: "I first started reading your blog after Googling "who's the funniest girl in Toronto?" and have been hooked ever since!". You might also include some information about yourself: "I am from New Mexico but after reading about your love of snow I think I am ready to move up to Canada!"

See? Easy as pie, folks. Now stop lurking and come on out and say hi! Today is De-Lurking Day!

Sunday, January 08, 2006
bits and bites
-> the world is still holding its collective breath over Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his brush with death. Will he make it? Won't he? Sadly, it doesn't matter because his political career is over either way. And leave it to the president of Iran to pray for Sharon's death. Ptooh! Typical.

What did surprise me (though I'm not sure why) were the Israelis (read: those expelled from Gaza) who were also waiting for his death. Shame on you. At least some settlers aren't so bitter. Oh and DON'T even get me started on the Christian quack Pat Robertson and his comments on the matter.

Me? I'm more afraid of the guy who's in charge now that Sharon is out of the picture. Look at that monkey!!

-> I'm sure most people outside of Canada don't know this, but we have a big election coming up. Like other governments all over the world, ours has been plagued by scandals and now it's time to decide what is going to be done about it. I have no idea who I am going to vote for and in fact this topic caused a crazy, fiery debate with my friends at a potluck dinner recently (which secretly made me happy because I didn't know my friends had it in them, that they cared, or that they were that well informed. I was proud and happy that our generation is involved).

So let's see.. there are three major parties in Canada (and lots of little ones). The Conservatives and Liberals and then the NDP (New Democratic Party). Hmmmm... let me see. Vote for the Conservatives..... (pro Iraq War, anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage) or the Liberals (scandalous money grubbing rat bastards). Yeah, no thanks. NDP? I dunno.... they haven't really impressed me. But they aren't the Liberals or Conservatives, which is good. How about the Marijuana Party? (oh god, only in Canada!!)

Part of the debate among my friends was "wasted votes". One couple (whose very marriage is on the line with every election) was divided on this issue; the husband (Conservative) was upset that his wife would vote for an independent party (the Green Party) because they have absolutely no chance of winning anyway (quite true). Therefore her vote would be wasted because it wouldn't make a difference. He (and many people) feel that you should vote for one of the two parties to help bring in a majority government. So, even if you don't like the Liberals (for example) you would vote for them because you dislike the Conservatives even more and you don't want to see them win the election. Get it?

Anyway, I don't want to vote to spite another party. I never have and I won't start now. If change is going to come it will come slowly and if you want to see a new government, a new option, you have to start voting accordingly. Don't like the big 3? Then vote for another party. Each vote translates into money ($1.25?) towards the party. The more votes the more money they get for the next election. It's slow, but what big change isn't?

If you are reading this and you are Canadian please be sure to vote on January 23rd and do it from the heart.

-> it has finally stopped raining and has been snowing. Colour me happy.

-> um. what the hell is this?? Some people are just weird I guess.

-> so I saw a headline on that read: "Study: Free booze benefits homeless alcoholics" which of course caught my interest. When I clicked on it to read it I had to laugh when I saw it was a dumb idea cooked up in Toronto.

-> ... which reminds me. Today I went and put flowers and a stone I picked up in Israel on the grave of my friend Shane who died in 2001; he would have been 31 today. Instead he died at the hands of a 19 year old girl who decided to drink and drive. Shane was mere months away from celebrating 10 years of sobriety at the age of 26. His tribute can be found here on the website for Mothers Against Drunk Driving. He was a good man, a good Jew and a good friend. Don't drink and drive, people. It's as simple as that.

-> the date last night went surprisingly well. Lawyer Guy (as we shall now call him) and I went to the market and picked up fresh salmon, went back to his place and made sushi (well, he did) and then watched The 40 Year Old Virgin. No, nothing happened so get that out of your head. He was a total gentleman and didn't lay a paw (or lips) on me. Hard to believe, I know. Will there be a third date? I think so... but the jury is still out on whether or not there is a spark.

-> I have been prepping for my interview on Wednesday like I have never prepared for an interview before in my life. I have filled out forms and applications with the greatest of care and I have been reviewing tough interview questions. I have been reading up on the company and its products. I want, I NEED, this job. I'll do my best not to drop to my knees and beg for it. Keep that mojo coming, kids!!

Oh, and ya know how you can tell it's an American company I am applying with? Two things: I was asked to fill out a waiver for a drug screening test. I was also asked to fill out a "voluntary applicant data record". The form reads: " 'our company' in an effort to comply with Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action Laws and regulations, asks that you voluntarily complete this Affirmative Action Data sheet". Didja see that? Voluntarily asks us to complete it. Riiiiiight. Voluntarily. If you want the job that is. Just try using those forms in Canada, you'd never get away with it without someone raising a ruckus.

-> just for the hell of it I have included a gratuitous picture of my cat Isaac playing in tissue paper. go ahead, click the thumbnail for a larger dose. :-)

Saturday, January 07, 2006
to date or not to date, that is the question..
Alright, I am about to head out on a second date with this guy I saw last week. Would it be pessimistic of me to say I don't get the feeling this is going to work? Part of me is saying.. "he's a lawyer, make it work!!" and part of me is saying "he's a lawyer, it'll never work".
Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion...

Wednesday, January 04, 2006
good fences make good neighbours
There is a 5 article series appearing in a local paper here (Globe and Mail) about the security fence being built in Israel. Part of me felt compelled to read it, part of me said not to bother because it would only make me mad. I read the first part with the idea in mind that I should always listen to the other side so I can at least see what their argument is.

It had the usual marks of a biased report about the fence; calling it a wall instead of a fence, only giving the Palestinian side without ever interviewing families devastated by bombings (perpetrated by terrorists who crossed where there was no fence), calling bombers and terrorists "activists" or "militants", and showing misleading photographs.

At first I was mad because I am sick and tired of those tactics. The news always shows the security fence as this large foreboding concrete wall. The fact of the matter is 97% of the FENCE is just that... a wire/chain link fence. Only 3% is that big ugly concrete barrier. They also neglect to mention that those sections are tall and concrete because those are the spots where snipers like to sit and shoot at Israelis, so it has to be higher and solid. But they never mention that in these articles, do they? I'm also sick of these reports and movies that only show the devastation felt by the Palestinians whose lives are ruined by this "wall" being built. How about talking to all the friends and families devastated by the bombings? Where's their side of the story? Are people completely forgetting WHY this fence is being built in the first place? Are people forgetting that fences can be taken down (how about that Berlin Wall??) when peace is reached but lives cannot be brought back? And why do we continue to call these terrorists by more gentle terms, like militant and activist, when no where else in the world would they be called anything but terrorists? (DO check out the sad yet rather amusing "CNN-BBC-S.F.Chronicle-Washington Post Handbook: How to Be an Activist")

These things anger me, but I also start to wonder about my own bias. I readily admit I have my own bias towards Israel, but that is why I read these articles... to try and understand the other side. I have to wonder how much my bias blinds me to the sometimes questionable actions of the Israeli government. I want to believe that the security fence isn't effort to unilaterally decide on borders and that it isn't a land grab but I think it would be naive to think it doesn't have something to do with it. And I am not completely unsympathetic to the everyday Palestinians whose lives are being ruined by the actions of radical groups claiming to be acting on their behalf. But I just want so badly to believe that Israel is always in the right, even though I know deep down inside that can't always be the case.

Either way, articles like this don't help the Israeli cause at all, and indeed do more damage to people's already weak understanding of the conflict. Unfortunately, it makes for good reading to have an "in-depth" piece about a big bully/oppressor and the underdog trying to fight back under "impossible odds". Everyone likes to see the little guy win, right? And so these articles will always be published. It's frustrating, but it's reality. Israel has always failed to use the media properly, despite Palestinian claims to the contrary.

Anyway, if you are interested in reading the article you can go here and judge for yourself. Keep an open mind and take everything with a grain of salt.

In similar news, Israel is holding its breath as Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's life hangs in the balance during surgery. He had a stroke recently and was undergoing angioplasy to fix his heart. However, news out of Israel is now saying that he suffered a major stroke while on the operating table and things aren't looking good. I worry about what kind of news I will wake up to tomorrow but I can do nothing but wait and see; such is life when you follow news in a country that is 7 hours ahead of you due to time zones. I'm sure Palestinians are ready to hand out candy in celebration if things don't go well...

Before I go I am going to relent and give in to being tagged with a meme, by IfYouWillIt. Normally I don't do this sort of thing but I happen to like this blogger a lot and hopefully it will lighten the mood of this post, so here goes:

Four jobs I've had in my life: I've had the trifecta of jobs; toy store, record store and pet store. I've also been a warehouse supervisor and used to unload 18 wheelers with a forklift.

Four movies I could watch over and over: Matrix (just the first), Alien & Aliens, Star Wars (original trilogy) and Galaxy Quest.

Four places I've lived: Hamilton, London, Huntsville and Richmond Hill (all in Ontario)

Four TV Shows I love to watch: Battlestar Galactica, Prison Break, Commander In Chief, Survivor, and Lost. (oh wait... that's five. oops)

Four places I've been on vacation: Florida, Israel, England and coast to coast in Canada.

Four websites I visit daily: CNN, Ynet, Jerusalem Post, Google News

Four of my favorite foods: cereal, sushi, steak, popcorn

Four places you'd rather be: Israel, Australia, Turks and Caicos, Ireland

Four books I'll read over and over again: hm... I'm not one for reading books more than once.. Celestine Prophecy (read that twice), Dr. Phil's 'Self Matters' (I've read it halfway through a number of times. one day I'll finish it, I swear!), the Big Book and all of the Osho books I own.

Now it's time to tag some other suckers, coz misery loves company! I tag Sam, ocB, Andrea, Celti and Mulder. Bwah ha ha!!

Monday, January 02, 2006
di = w
Ok, so some of you may recall that I received a Star Wars video game as a gift this fine holiday season. You may or may not know that I am reather obsessive about the game and like to play it for hours on end. Such is the way I am with a good game.

Recently (and stay with me here if you aren't a Star Wars fan) I got stuck on a level of the game that required me (the bad guy) to kill a whole lotta Jedis (the good guys). And after wasting more time than I care to admit to, I found that I was just wholly incapable of getting past this level. A gun is really no match for a lightsaber, let alone so many lightsabers. Frustration finally drove me to do what any good gamer would do.. I went searching online. I needed a tip, a strategy.. hell, I wasn't above a cheat if it helped me end my frustration! Just help me kill these pesky Jedis!!!

And so I went to Google and I typed in: "star wars battlefront 2 pc kill jedis". And then Google, wondering if I had mistyped my search offered it's usual helpful suggestion of an alternate spelling. Right underneath my search it read: "Did you mean: star wars battlefront 2 pc kill jews". My jaw DROPPED. No, I most certainly did NOT mean 'kill jews'!!!

Go ahead and click the thumbnail for a bigger view of the screenshot. I can't make this stuff up!

Sunday, January 01, 2006
hello 2006!
Well, I hope everyone has recovered from their nights of celebration. It's days like this that make me glad I don't drink, lemme tell ya. I didn't get as much sleep as I would have liked last night since I too was out late, so I've been more or less useless all day, lounging around and trying to catch up on sleep (rather unsuccessfully). I like to ease my way into a new year, ya know? *wink*

As I laid in bed begging for sleep I realized I don't have any new year's resolutions. I've never really been one for resolutions anyway, as I feel they set a person up for guilt and failure, but I wondered if I should. I mean, I just went on a big journey in my life and I think I should take some time to reflect upon that, look at what I learned about myself and life, and apply it somehow. I'm not too sure how, but it sounds good, no?

There are things I would like to start incorporating in my life, and have wanted to for some time. I think a lot of the reason why I haven't before is because I have been unclear as to what I wanted to do and how. I hear goals are good, so I think I need to draw up a plan. I was doing pretty well with the meditation thing in my life before I went on my trip, so I want to return to that. I have already contacted my friend/meditation group and will be going back to meditating with them. That's a good start. I'd also like to get back into yoga... something easy to do at home and therefore easy to keep up with. I think dreams of going to a gym and building a sculpted body are often so daunting for people that they either never start at all or quit when the goal seems too far away. I wanna make my changes manageable. Meditation alone and with a group is easy, I can do that at least a couple of times a week, and I have done so pretty consistently for a year now. Yoga I also did regularly though I can't recall why I stopped; I think it's because I started going to the gym. Amazingly, I was a regular gym goer for almost a year before I went on my trip so I look forward to getting back into it (words I thought I'd never hear myself say). So my track record for maintaining the path to a goal has been surprisingly good. Lots of people start the new year by saying they'll go to the gym and then stop by March, so I am hoping that having beat the odds once before I can do it again.

So let's see. That means I wanna get back to the gym, get back into my meditation, and when I can't get to the gym (or on my down days) do some yoga. Pretty lofty goals, but I think life might interfere. I guess muchof this depends on whether or not I get this new job next week, and if I do it might make it better because I will be working from home. Or will it make worse because I'll be on the road a lot? I can't tell.

One last goal... I need to get back into eating properly. Again, in the last year I have made some changes, slowly, and have seen good results. Whole wheat bread, soy milk, bran.. you have to make small changes where you can and work up to bigger changes. But I need to educate myself about nutrition if I want to take that process farther, so I think that will be my next project. Hm, I think I need to start making a list or something.

Anyway, like I said, I don't want to overwhelm myself with impossible goals, and I don't think any of you should either. If going to the gym seems impossible, just go for a walk after dinner every night. Baby steps. Don't make radical changes all at once, it's too hard to adapt and maintain. You didn't develop these habits overnight, so you can't change them over night either. Set yourself up for success, not failure.

Before I go I'd like to point out that my favourite new politician, Mahmoud Ahmadineja, the president of Iran, is kicking the year off right. You may recall that he had said a couple of months ago that Israel should be wiped off the map. Then he said that the Holocaust never happened and that 6 million Jews and other "undesirables" didn't die. He also suggested that Israel be moved to Alaska or Canada. Well this winning thinking has lead to yet another bizarre remark: he has now suggested that "Europe wanted to continue the genocide by establishing Israel, a Jewish state in the midst of Muslim countries". You know, the genocide that supposedly didn't happen. Make up your mind, man! Was there, or was there not, a Holocaust??

While deep down inside this kind of insanity does frighten me with it's outrageous level of irrationality, I also find it extremely amusing and entertaining. That's why I am loving the whole Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes (TomKat) Thing. It's a descent into madness that I can't help but be entertained by. Unfortunately, when it's a world leader, the consequences can be far more reaching. This man is opening his mouth and uttering insanity and millions of Jew haters around the world are listening, and though many are afraid to voice it, they see the world in the same sick way that he does. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what scares me.

So. For the new year I, like thousands of beauty pageant contestants before me, hope for world peace. It's time we start be good to each other....
I hope everyone has wonderful, prosperous, joy filled and loving year. And a peaceful one (dare to dream!).