june 2006

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June 29, 2006

The hailstorm to end all hailstorms is going on right now.  It's neat.  They're pea-sized.  The lights are flickering, so I hope that maybe we'll get a power outage and I can go home :-)

 The hailstorm didn't pan out the way I had hoped, so it was more organizing the bibliography of the CCWHC researchers.  It makes me jealous, reading the paper titles - one of them was repairing a prolapsed rectum in a rhinoceros, which imnediately provokes the response, "How come I'm not fixing prolapsed rectums in rhinoceroses (rhinocerci?)!?!?!?"  

There's a lot of cool stuff out there.  I hope I get to do some of it someday. 

I'm off to Saskatoon, and then St. John's for a week so no new posts for a while. 

And the picture, if you're wondering - I call it, "Why You Should Never Spend More Than $6 on a Pair of Sandals."  That's Annie's artwork, some of her best.  My favourite part was how after I had thrown out the remainder of the sandal in the garbage, she fished it out one day when I was at work and finished deconstructing it. 

June 28, 2006

If I were the type to title my posts, this one would be titled, "Why People Hate Vegetarians."

I went to the doctor today to get my travel vaccinations.  I didn't need anything besides a tetanus booster and a typhus vaccine, which was nice.  The doctor, whose name was Dr. Weiner (for real) chatted with me and eventually it came up that I eat significantly less meat than the average carnivore.

"That's great that you're a vegetarian!" he enthused.  "I've been a vegetarian for 35 years!"

Rock on dude, I thought to myself.  Then I asked, "Does South America have any issues with parasites in the meat that I should be aware of?  Trichinella, cysticercosis?"

"But you're a vegetarian," he interjected.  "You don't eat meat, so you don't have to worry about it."

"But...you know...it's a cultural thing down there.  They're really into their meat.  I wouldn't want to offend the people I'm visiting by refusing to try their food."

"I have this friend who goes traveling down there," continued Dr. Weiner, oblivious to my question.  "Do you know what they eat down there?  It's disgusting.  They'll have a plate with some steak...and then a pork chop...and then blood sausage, whatever that is.  Can you believe it?"

"So do I have to worry about parasites?" I persisted.

"But you're a vegetarian - "

"But I might try -"

"Ooooooh.  So you're not a real vegetarian."   

"No, I'm not, this is actually just a pathetic facade I put on to try and make myself more appealing to the burgeoning hippie population in Saskatchewan who won't associate those who sully themselves with the blood of innocent animals.  And then when I go home at night and no-one's watching, I tear into a steak.  Raw."

Ok, so maybe I didn't  actually say that last part.

But this - this is a perfect example of why people hate vegetarians - because of the rigid, condescending and holier-than-thou purists out there.  They're the religious fundamentalists of the culinary world.  They scare off anyone who's ever looked at a soy product with curiousity. 

In my mind, your approach to food should be the same as your approach to spirituality - it's personal, it doesn't require justification to anyone, and it might differ from the existing dogma.  And while I've never really liked being called a vegetarian because I feel that there's a lot of stereotypes attached to that label, I've realized that I also don't like being called "not a real vegetarian." 

  I would love to see this guy interact with someone who eats meat on a regular basis.

Client: I eat meat.  I'm going to [country].  Is the meat safe?

Doctor: *does not respond verbally but punches client in the face*

I had a nice chat with my dad tonight and we discussed how some people use food as fuel, but I'm fueled by self-righteous anger :-)

June 27, 2006

I have a new hero.  Jon Swift - I salute you, sir.  I especially reccomend this takedown of Ann Coulter, and while Coulter is...what's the term?  low-hanging fruit?  (something like that) it's still pretty damn funny.   

Not actually the most embarassing moment of my life, but close:  I was heading out to take Annie out for a walk yesterday when there was some, uh, underwear bunching.  These things happen.  You all know what I'm talking about.  This was probably my last pair of nice underwear that Annie hasn't munched on yet - they're kind of lacey (the material is not immaterial, in this case...ooh, pun) and through some freak accident my bracelet (a skinny silver thing) got hooked through the material.  I didn't discover this until I was, of course, out the door and in view of the general public with my wrist firmly attached to my underwear.  Since this was all going on inside my pants, no-one could tell I was stuck - all everyone could see was a profoundly embarassed girl with her hand down the back of her pants.  And I couldn't break free!  It eventually involved getting the other hand back there to try and sort things out, while trying to control Annie by wrapping the leash around my elbow.  I wish I had a picture, but you'll just have to try and visualize a girl with both hands down the back of her pants being pulled sideways by a little black dog that wants to chase squirrels, all the while trying to look inconspicuous. 

June 25, 2006

Happy birthday Mom!

 So it's actually been a pretty good weekend.  I'm going to recap out of order because the fringe is what's' freshest in my mind right now.

The Ottawa Fringe Fest has been on for the last 10 days for so.  It's really small - only about 8 venues or so, and really crappy beer tents with almost no-one hanging out - nothing like Winnipeg or Montreal or even Saskatoon.  Some good shows, though, I only made it to 4 but they were all excellent.  I also did some volunteering, for my first time ever, which ended up being really fun.  I sold tickets at one of the venues, and it was really nice to sit outside and chat with all the people going to the show and some of the performers that stopped by.  One guy, Pat, whose show was play next door, hung around quite a bit.  He seemed friendly and earnest and laughed at my jokes (even the exceptionally offensive ones).  

I went back to the Fringe tonight to check out Pat's show.  I ran into two girls, one of whom lives with a girl I work with (how convulted is that?) and dragged them along with me.  The show, "The Star Chamber," was awesome.  It was about Hoyle's steady state theory and it was all nerdy science jokes and puns and geeky references - totally up my alley.  The girls and the Star Chamber crew and I went out after and I think I managed to thoroughly disgust everyone by telling them stories about rectal palpations misadventures.  The best line of the night was Neil (one of the actors) who said, "People only take showers so that they can tell other people that they've showered." 

I'm all happy.  Can you tell?  This is the first time since I moved out there that I've hung out with people who get my jokes and aren't offended by my occasionally unconventional sense of humor.  This is, I think, the first time I've felt effortlessly happy since moving to this city.  It's nice.  It reminds me of being home.  

 Another thing that was funny was Pat.  You had a little crush on me, didn't you, Pat?  That's ok.  Towards the end of the night he said, "So you have a boyfriend, hey?"  I answered to the affirmative and he immediately responded, "So do you think I could take him?"  Trying to imagine Gavin fighting someone is like trying to imagine Bush at a pride rally, so all I could do was laugh.  Pat also said, "You're one of the coolest girls I've met in a while, " and though I realize how incredibly, deeply and profoundly narcissistic it is to actually relay, verbatim, compliments that have been bestowed upon me, this was the first person I've met this summer who has liked me for being who I am and not for the polite, friendly and conventionally interesting facade I feel I'm forced to put on for everyone else.  

That was the longest sentence in the world.

So - Pat, Neil, Andrew and brilliant skinny playwright whose name now eludes me - thanks. 

Annie has to pee so I'll relay our dragon-boating adventures later. 

June 23, 2006

The Government of Canada has officially apologized for the head tax levied on Chinese immigrants at the end of the 1800's, and the National Post is not happy about it.

The argument that "other groups have been discriminated against so we shouldn't apologize to the Chinese" seems a bit weak, although I freely admit that I come at this from a biased perspective.  If each of us use that argument (ie I hurt John and didn't apologize so it would be inappropriate for me to apologize for hurting you) then no-one would ever have to be sorry about anything.  I especially dislike the snarky, "We are so very, very, very sorry" headline, although I suppose that I'm never above sarcasm when I'm spouting off about issues I believe in (but at least I can admit my own hypocrisy!) 

The editorial does make the valid point that apologies such as these are easy to make because they occur decades or centuries after the offending incidents and are thus free of any personal culpabilities.  That's true.  Stephen Harper doesn't really have anything to lose (except apparently the esteem of the National Post) by apologizing.  The editorial also argues that it is unfair to use the public purse to make symbolic payouts as compensation.  I don't think I'm on board with that one - as Maisonneuve (required daily reading for all pretentious left-wing university students) points out, "...the $20,000 given to head-tax survivors and widows is merely a drop in the bucket. Over $23 million was collected in discriminatory head taxation, which would be the equivalent to $1.2 billion in today’s currency. "

I think what really enrages me is the closing paragraph - "At least the Chinese who paid the bigoted tax in order to come to Canada have something to show for it. They were able to buy a better life. You wouldn't think that is something anyone would require compensation for."  Apparently, the fact that some Chinese immigrants persevered and survived despite government-sanctioned racism and discrimination means that it obviously wasn't that bad.  I'm not trying to Godwin myself here, but the fact that some concentration camp victims survived and managed to eke out better lives for themselves and their children doesn't mean that Auschwitz wasn't a really bad idea that warranted an "We're sorry" from Germany. 

And I am absolutely not not not attempting to make the claim that the life of Chinese migrants was anywhere nearly as horrible as life in Nazi concentration camps.  I'm just trying to highlight the fact that just because Chinese immigrants have become successful in Canada doesn't mean that what was done to them before is pardonable.

End rant.

June 21, 2006

So they can't find any H5 over at the NCFAD.  This is good news (well, not for me, because I wanted to get out of the office), but it's good news for PEI poultry.  You can see all of PEIs ducks, geese and chickens  breathing a collective sigh of relief that they're not going to be culled now.  And the turkeys too.

Dragonboating again yesterday.  Did you know it's possible to pull every muscle in your back?  It totally is. 

June 20, 2006

Holy Jesus is it cold in my office.  I'm wearing long pants and a sweater which I'm vigorously rubbing to try and dispel my goosebumps. 

H5 avian flu in PEI.  Woo!  Sequencing should be finished in the next day or so, and it's probably not going to turn out to be high path, which is disappointing to all of us who want to get out of the office and go hang out with some chickens.  And where would be more beautiful to hang out with some very sick birdies with a potentially zoonotic disease than PEI?

Annie's only ever puked once, which was on Andrew's leather chair.   I don't think either of us (and by 'us' I mean me and the dog) have any regrets about that particular incident.  Unfortunately, Annie vomited on my roommates bed last night, which I definitely feel bad about.  It was gross.  It looked like hair wrapped in a plastic tarp.  I don't know where she found tarp to eat.  Or why she ate it. 

June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

Dear God is it hot.  Unbelievably hot.  I'm-constantly-dripping-sweat-and-nothing-can-abate-the-flow hot.  And there's nothing resembling air circulation, let alone air conditioning, in our apartment.

Let's allow ourselves to be diverted briefly and examine that term, "air conditioning."  In exactly what way is the air being conditioned?  When I condition my hair, it (theoretically) becomes smooth and silky, when we talk about 'conditioning' ourselves, it usually implies getting our fat asses into shape.  In no way does the term imply "expending enourmous amounts of energy to lower the ambient temperature of a room."

Anyhow.

It's hot.

The Fringe Fest has started and I've seen two shows so far.  The first was on Friday, and was a fairly good play called, "The Power of Ignorance."  It's co-written by TJ Dawe, who I love, and who is the crown prince of the Fringe circuit.  He's not on this year, though, which sucks.  The guy who did the play was quite good and it was cool because it was easy to tell what elements of the script were Dawe's.  I saw a flamenco show today that was fantastic.  The guitar player...there are no adjectives.  The dancer was stunning, too - I don't know what woman wouldn't want to put on a red dress, snap some castanets and dance so it sounds like thunder.   

I learned how to catch fireflies last night.  They're bigger and brighter than I had imagined.  They look like they have LEDs strapped to their butts.  

I just came back from taking Miss Annabelle out for a walk.  It's Italian week, so the whole neighborhood is shut down and celebrating all that is Italian, which seems mainly to be devastatingly beautiful woman in short skirts and shoes I can never afford, and slightly greasy-looking old men with substantial pot-bellies.  Three of these pot-bellied men descended on me as I navigated my way down Preston.  I was a bit nervous, and pulled Annie in closer to me (because, you know, she looks so intimidating) but it turns out that they just wanted to fawn over Annie.  She is amazingly cute, you know.  One of them asked me, "So is your dog a man magnet the way my dog's a chick magnet?"  The obvious reply was, "Well, you're all pushing 50, balding and paunchy, so it's not working as well as I hoped," but as much as I enjoy generating these devastatingly acerbic comments in my head, I can never quite bring myself to say them, which is probably just as well.

My goals for the remainder of the night are to sweat until I pass out from exhaustion or dehydration, whichever comes first.

June 12, 2006

You know how some people can flip their pens effortlessly, so they spin a full 360 degrees on a knuckle before returning to the proper writing position?  I want to be able to do that.  After having a couple pens fly off erratically and dangerously to unknown locations, it's occuring to me that the office maybe isn't the place to practice. 

June 10, 2006

Alright, so not to get too deep or thinky or anything, but I think that one of the really important things in life is to reclaim the songs that you love but bring back bad memories or remind you of people that have hurt you.  For an example, below is a list (a selection, and by no means comprehensive) of music that I usually avoid:

  • anything by U2
  • 'Round Midnight' - Miles Davis 
  • the first song (I don't know the title) of a cd Graeme made me 
  • The Constantines
  • Death Cab for Cutie (ok, in this case I never liked them much in the first place)
  • Broken Social Scene
  • Captain Tractor
  • DJ Shadow
  • Ryan Adams

and tonight, a really beautiful Tegan and Sara song called 'My Number.'  I've always appreciated how music is so powerful in summoning memories, but I want to be able to listen to the song without being assaulted by memories of guilt or shame or anger.  So it's my song again.  No-one else's.  

Boy, don't I sound all perky and empowered tonight?  I should probably light a candle to represent the feminine goddess burning inside me or write a free-verse poem or something.  

You may cluck at my cynicism, but somewhere out there Ross is laughing with me.

I moved some of Mat's stuff today.  Mat is one of Gavin's good friends who goes to school out here in Ottawa, but rather rudely decided to spend the summer in Saskatoon EVEN THOUGH HE KNEW I'D BE HERE.  If that's not rude I don't know what is.  So I moved what he described as "just a box and a bag" from his friend's house to his new digs.  It was, however, not "just a box."

Mat's a bright guy and reads a lot of books, and as someone else who also reads a lot of books, I can certainly appreciate that.  However, when I move, I have the common sense to realize that packing all of my books into one giant box is impractical, as it soon assumes the weight and dimensions of one of the bricks used to build the Pyramids.  Mat, if you're reading this - you're dead to me.  You hear me?  Dead. To. Me. 


June 9, 2006

So it's been a while since the last post (sorry) and I promise this one will be less opinionated.

Potluck last Friday night at Ariel's.  I met two law students and a girl who works for Export Development Canada, which was pretty cool to learn about.  I don't know anything about money except that I never have as much as I'd like, but it was fascinating to listen to her talk about how they finance foreign countries to buy Canadian products.  One of the law students there is in UVic law, so we reminisced over the baby bunnies that I miss and the temperate climate and the beach...I'm going to try and not make myself homesick here.  The other law student is in Harvard law, which was also very cool because she's definitely not what I was expecting a Harvard law student to be like - she was more fun and unpretentious than I expected. 

Saturday we drove out to Montreal for the day.  Aside from the terror that Quebec drivers instill in me and the nasty weather (non-stop rain) it was a fun trip.  There wasn't much to it besides wandering around and admiring clothes and shoes we can't afford and are completely impractical for vet school, but it's neat to people watch.  The difference in how the average Saskatoon citizen and the average Montreal citizen dresses is staggering.  Even if I did have the money to afford the $200 pants and $300 shoes (and the $350 umbrella I found in one store) I don't think I could bring myself to do it. 

And...Sunday I went for a hike in Gatineau with a girl from work.  It was fantastic weather and a beautiful hike.  It was so idyllic it seemed staged - there were butterflies floating around me, for chrissake.  Annie had a lot of fun.   She did very well considering she did the entire hike on three legs.

Other news - I joined a dragon boat team!  Did I already mention that?  It's a lot of fun, and while I'm not very good yet,  I'm not nearly as awful as Captain Splashy behind me who SPLASHES ME ALL THE TIME FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WE'RE SUPPOSED TO BE PADDLING NOT HAVING A WATERFIGHT.  I'm soaked by the time I get out of the boat, as is everyone else in a 5 foot radius of this menace.  He also a) hits me with his paddle and b) shoved his bike seat into my butt yesterday at practice, so I may somehow accidentally knock him into the water at some point.  I was fairly sure my right arm was going to pop out of its socket by the end of practice yesterday, so it's turning out to be good exercise. 

I'm writing a book.  A small book.  A small, boring book.  It's sort of for work.  Sort of, in that my boss didn't specifically say, "Don't do this."  But he didn't really endorse it.  I'm trying to come up with a reference for diagnosing foreign animal diseases for private practitioners.  Foreign animal diseases (for those of you not familiar with the term) are, well, foreign.  They mainly hang out in other countries, which is where we want them to stay, because they tend to be nasty and devastating to both the animals they infect and the economy.  When they do come to Canada, it means trade barriers fly up faster than you can say Aujeszky's disease (which I still can't say.  It's a really strange looking word).  So it's a good idea to know what these diseases are, because when they do rear their ugly heads, its best to catch it as soon as possible.  

However...they hardly ever show up, so we don't expect them to show up, and when they do show up we sometimes miss it and think it's something else.  Is this making sense?  So I'm trying to write a little book explaining what some of these diseases are and what they look like and what you should do if you think you have a case.  It's a grind, and I hope that we're never in a situation where we need to worry about having a foreign animal disease, but you never know.