You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2008.

Finally! I’ve now scanned and posted my two published articles. Here’s hoping that more will be added soon…

Check out the “sequel” to the Five Friends celebrity viral video about voting: http://www.youtube.com/5friendsvote

This one’s also jam packed with celebs and is directed by Stephen Spielburg himself. I love it! Hilarious, with some powerful points being made right under the surface (the close election in 2000, gay marriage, the economy, the war, etc).

Makes me want to move to the States just so I can vote. lol

There’s something so exciting about bringing a pile of books home from the library (or from a bookstore, for the less stingy). So full of promise. All that knowledge, adventure or fun just waiting for you to discover. I usually can’t decide which to crack open first. I just want to stay in one spot, curled up with a bottomless cup of tea or hot chocolate and read them the whole way through, one after the other, forsaking all other responsibilities and reality.

Unfortunately, I do have a life to live and a writing class to go to tonight, so that won’t be possible. This is what I’ve brought home today:

1. Organizing for Your Brain Type by Lanna Nakone. I’ve been reading up on organizing styles and methods in anticipation of starting my own personal organizing business and this one puts a different spin on it. The author draws on the science of brain function and her experience as a professional organizer to offer advice on organizing by breaking the reader down into one of four “style” groups that rely on a particular section of the brain: prioritizing (frontal left), innovating (frontal right), maintaining (posterior left) and harmonizing (posterior right).

2. Greener Pastures: How to Find a Job in Another Place by Andrea Kay. Joe and I are considering the possibility of relocating in the next 2-5 years and this book looks like a great way to get acquainted with how to search for work in another part of the country. Although it’s American in origin, I’m hoping most of the lessons will be universal. It also deals with the emotional and financial issues of finding and moving to a job in another place.

3. The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes – And Why by Amanda Ripley. The author is a journalist for Time magazine who, after covering a series of devastating disasters, set out to report on human response to history’s epic disasters, interview experts about the brain and its response to trauma and fear, and undergo realistic simulations to see how she herself would respond to a crisis. Call me crazy (or perhaps a pessimist lol), but if or when an Armageddon-like disaster (natural or man-made) happens in my lifetime, I want to be prepared!

Hmm…which to delve into first? My tea’s ready, so I have to choose quickly!

I was intrigued today by an item on the CBC radio news on my way to work (for more information,  http://www.cbc.ca/arts/books/story/2008/10/21/ot-scott-081021.html). An Ottawa-area poet won the Lampman-Scott Award, given annually by the Arc Poetry Magazine to a book of poetry by a resident of the National Capital Region, that includes a $1500 cash prize. Shane Rhodes then donated half of this money to the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health to draw attention to the fact that one of the namesakes of the award (Duncan Campbell Scott) was not only a famous Canadian poet from the late 1800s, but also the head of Indian Affairs from 1913-1932 and was responsible for some of the most damaging legislation affecting Canada’s Natives in our history. His policy of assimilation lead to the disastrous Residential School System, for which Harper recently apologized. Scott once famously said: “I want to get rid of the Indian problem.” Not a very nice man, to put it lightly.

This got me thinking: is it possible to truly separate art from the artist? How much influence should a person’s thoughts, words and actions have on how we interpret and appreciate the art they produce? Some might argue that unless it is directly represented in the piece, an artist’s personal life should not affect our judgement of the work they produce. But doesn’t knowing about someone’s background, about their thoughts and how they lived (or live, for those still alive), the choices they made…wouldn’t that all serve to help us better understand what they were trying to communicate through their artwork, even if it wasn’t directly addressed?

Imagine this: you are visiting an art gallery and are struck by an exquisite painting hanging on the wall. Its lines are clean, the image moving and the technique is flawless. This painting touches you deeply and you move across the room to inspect it more closely. You can picture it hanging over your living room couch or across from the kitchen table where you sip your morning coffee. Curious, you lean forward to read the information card on the wall and are horrified to learn that it was painted by Adolf Hitler.

Would your opinion of the painting change? I know mine would, almost involuntarily.

But should it?

Joe and I took in the new Oliver Stone flick “W.” last night and I kind of had mixed feelings about it.

Although it’s quite obvious where Stone’s political allegiances lie (along with most of Hollywood, I imagine), the film does at least attempt to show a human side to good ol’ George Bush Jr. Despite myself, I actually felt for the guy. Underneath it all, according to Stone, he’s just a man trying to earn the love and attention of a cold, hard-to-please dad. A man who feels he was “called by God” to become president and who is just trying to do what he thinks is right (and avenge his daddy’s honour at the same time).

The problem is that he ends up surrounded by a manipulative cast of characters who don’t have the same “noble” intentions. And poor Junior can’t seem to see through their slick machinations…or perhaps he’d rather watch baseball than think too hard about it. The main man behind the curtain is Vice President Dick Cheney (played by Richard Dreyfuss) and his speech while the team discusses invading Iraq is particularly chilling (SPOILER – there never was an exit strategy). And if there is a figure more tragic than W himself in this movie, it would be Secretary of State Colin Powell (Jeffrey Wright). General Powell sells his soul (and his chance at the presidency) when he gives into the bullying gang and pleads their faulty case to the U.N.

As the cringe-worthy story unfolded, I thought about how strange it was to be watching a biopic about a president who is still sitting in office. Other presidents have at least had the benefit of some distance and a few decades of retirement before their life story is made available for the masses (or, in the case of Primary Colours, a thinly veiled pseudonym). It seems a little preemptive, even in today’s era of the immediate, 24-hour news cycle.

In the end, the movie feels more like a smug inside joke. “Ha, ha, look at Cheney gloss over prisoner interrogation methods that would later come back to haunt them” or “isn’t that Rob Corddry from The Daily Show as Ari Fleischer?”

Yes, we know that electing (and then re-electing) Dubya was perhaps not the best choice that America could have made. And yes, we know that shaky (and perhaps shady) evidence was used to justify invading Iraq. And yes, we know that it’s now become a Vietnam-esque quagmire that is going to take years, if not decades, to clean up…

…but how much hindsight can we truly have when the story is still being written?

On October 5, Joe and I went out to Gatineau Park with our friends Timm and Jenn for a drive and a hike through the gorgeous leaves of fall. It was a perfect fall day – sunny with a crisp breeze.

 The fresh air was absolutely fantastic as we looked out on the view.

The hike was invigorating, with Joe charging ahead of the rest of us easily (I guess all that working out really does make a difference, eh?).

The environment gave me a chance to have some fun with my new camera.

I love the macro setting!

So I’ve been researching the local candidates and issues for my Carleton-Mississippi Mills riding and I’m coming up a little short. I think this election has made it glaringly obvious to me that I was not paying attention in school during our civics lessons. Or perhaps they never taught us any details about the three levels of government and how each impacts policy and which ones deal with which level of issues. Either way, I think I’ll make a little note to myself to learn more about our system of government before the next election (at this rate – within a year or two lol).

What I have found are some interesting articles from the Ottawa Citizen. They rounded up all the candidates for a little sit-down discussion with their editorial board (this includes Kate Heartfield, who probably wouldn’t remember me but back in the day was my T.A. for a Journalism class at Carleton – great to see her doing so well!). You can listen to the entire hour-long meeting here: http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/audio/080922_Carleton.mp3 After this meeting, the Citizen ran a few articles about the “shallow talent pool” in the federal party candidates in Eastern Ontario(http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/columnists/story.html?id=63381d4b-1e1d-48ec-a13e-77014018e5b1) and how Gordon O’Connor from the Conservatives has made several political missteps over the past few years, but is still the best candidate for the job(http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/editorials/story.html?id=10a8cc5e-1b8d-402a-8a06-5439e880a096). So we know where they stand. lol

As for me, I’m still unconvinced. In fact, I’m somewhat disheartened. What happens in an election if you don’t want to pick anyone?

I remember visiting old classrooms in the past and feeling a little like Alice after she ate the cake marked “Eat Me” – ridiculously overgrown in a space that, as a child, seemed so big. Those tiny little chairs! Those wee adorable desks! The water fountain that I had to stand on my toes to reach and now only comes up to my knees!

I had the reverse experience last Tuesday when I started an Introduction to Freelancing class through the Ottawa-Carleton School Board. Walking into Brookfield High School, I was struck by how vast everything was and how small I felt. I swear those ceilings are higher than your average school. Walking along the endless hallway looking for the right room, I started to get a little nervous. I hadn’t felt that “new kid” feeling in a very long time.

The class itself was very good – a teacher who’s very congenial and obviously well-versed in the world of freelancing (it’s always nice to meet people who are actually making a living doing something I’d like to do). And the group of students is small but enthusiastic; people looking to expand their horizons and develop their creativity and talents just like I am.

Of course, with school comes homework. And I was never very good at doing homework. As I scrambled to finish up our small writing assignment before cooking dinner tonight, I realized that I’m going to have to put in a lot more effort over the next few weeks if I want to make this worthwhile. This course is supposed to be the jump start I’m looking for in my freelancing career, but it will only become so if I do the work! After all, life is not like high school – you can’t get very far by cramming at the last minute.

There is a fantastic little Chinese restaurant in Kanata called the Maple Court Dining Lounge. It was the only Chinese take-out I ever had growing up and my husband’s family went there often as well. Inside, there is a nightscape picture of Hong Kong along one wall and Joe can point out the apartment building he lived in for a while when he was a child.

My brother and his girlfriend were in there a few days ago enjoying the lunch buffet. When they asked for the bill, the confused waiter told them it had already been taken care of. He gestured to an empty table where a kind looking couple had sat during their meal.

“They paid for you,” the waiter explained, “did you not know them?”

In fact, they didn’t. My brother remembers that the woman at the table had looked over at them and smiled widely, giggling to herself as she and the man she was with – presumably her husband – collected their things to leave, but he’d brushed it off. Now, it makes perfect sense.

Thank you to the mysterious people who took care of a young couple’s meal. It was a small gesture, but one that brought our family great joy. It’s such a treat when, after being chipped away by all the slights and cruelties in the world, your faith in the generosity of the human spirit can be restored, even just a little.

I’ve never been more interested in politics than I am at the moment. Maybe it’s just a sign of growing up and gaining a sense of civic responsibility…I’m not sure. All I know is that tonight, I’ll be flipping back and forth between the Vice-Presidential debate in the States and our very own leaders’ debate here in Canada with great interest.

 

I even had a dream last night that I was in some kind of getaway car – a convertible – and Stephen Harper was driving. I’m not sure what that says about him (or me, for that matter lol), but for what it’s worth he had some mad skills.

 

My knowledge at the moment is more “big picture”. I’m still at a loss for where to go for more information on our local candidates (I live in the Carleton-Mississippi Mills riding). I’ve found all the candidates’ websites, but there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to compare them on the issues. Anyone have any ideas? Frankly, I’m not even sure what the major issues are for my riding…I’ll work on that.

 

For those of you who like a dash of celebrities with their politics, check out the PSA from Leonardo DiCaprio and a few of his friends encouraging people to vote through reverse psychology: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vtHwWReGU0&eurl=http://think.mtv.com/044FDFFFF00A143B3001700993A6A/ 

 

It’s actually pretty entertaining (Warning: there is some explicit language for those with sensitive ears).

Why I’m here

My name is Sonya. I live with my husband and our cat in the suburbs of Ottawa. I started this journal to document my thoughts and experiences and share them with friends, family and anyone else who happens to pass this way. My hope is that it will help to keep me focused on the simple things I value most in life and, above all, keep me writing.

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