Friday 30 January 2004

friday fun

Well, I was going to do the list of "101 Things You Should Do Before 30" (which would have been stolen from Gary), but it's a bit long and I'm lazy.

Instead, here's the Friday Five:

You have just won one million dollars:

1. Who do you call first?

Paul, and it would probably sound like this: "OhmygawdIjustwonEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!Ohmygawdohmygawdohmygawd!!! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!"

2. What is the first thing you buy for yourself?

I would pay off all my debts. Boring, I know. Then I'd pay off our mortgage.

3. What is the first thing you buy for someone else?

I'd buy Paul a newwww caaaaar!* (*said in a "Price is Right" stylee)

4. Do you give any away? If yes, to whom?

I would give money to my Mom and Dad (in repayment for all the things they've bought me over the years), then I'd give money to anyone in Paul's family who needed it, and I would give a large sum to various charities. And I'd throw a really funky party and take my mates somewhere fabulous.

5. Do you invest any? If so, how?

Bwaaahahahahaha! Um...I'd give it to Paul to invest because I don't know nothing about savin' money.
b is for...

I've noticed that most of my blog entries lately have contained complaints of some sort. I think this is giving the impression that a) my life is miserable b) I only blog when I have something to moan about and c) I'm turning into a cranky old lady. Apart from that day I sat on our porch with my shotgun telling the neighbourhood kids to "get offa mah land!!", life has been pretty grand, actually. Let's reflect on the month that was, shall we?

We had sushi in Cambridge at Teri-Aki. It was lovely, but the wasabi was for toddlers and the elderly (it tasted a lot like green playdoh that may have come into contact with a chili pepper at some point). Jack and Heather introduced us to the Waterside pub, which was a fantastic place to have a drink (you know you're getting old when the definition of a good pub is somewhere you can have a conversation, serves good wine, and isn't very smoky). I got to feed and burp and cuddle Gary and Ruth's beautiful baby girl for an entire afternoon and evening, and as an added bonus, she didn't barf on me. We had a splendid meal at our favourite Chinese restaurant (the Hotpot on Chesterton Road in Cambridge) with a new mix of friends. We had a snow day - or more accurately, a snow afternoon. We went home about 2 hours early on Wednesday and Paul played with Jasper in the snow. We're off to see Jack and Heather's new kitchen tomorrow night for their "kitchen warming" party.

We've made important and exciting plans this month, and hey woooo I've lost 5 lbs. to boot! So there we go. Who says that no news is good news?

Thursday 29 January 2004

it's all a bit funny

You always hear the British complain that the Americans simply don't understand irony. My question is, does the average person even understand the definition of irony? (Alanis Morrisette ruined it for impressionable youths everywhere by claiming that a series of bummers was ironic.) Furthermore, is it accurate to define the majority British comedy and the British sense of humour as being ironic? I think it's more a matter of degrees of subtlety. For example, let's imagine that you have just insulted your close friend with a witty barb. If your close friend is British, he will react with a statement such as, "Hmmm. Yes. Quite." If your close friend is American, he will react with a statement such as, "Oh yeah right, like you're EINSTEIN!"

If the Americans don't do irony, the British don't do blatant sarcasm - or they don't react to it very well, in my experience. British humour is more subtle, if you discount things like Carry On films, Benny Hill, and Reeves and Mortimer, of course. I think there is a common ground, though - both sides find humour in the very silly. Most of Monty Python's humour was very silly, and some of the best sketches on Saturday Night Live (back in the old days when it was still funny - those of you under 30 may not remember that era) was soaked in silliness. There is an international appreciation of the comedy of the absurd, which is why something like Austin Powers makes people giggle on both sides of the pond (and may I just mention that he is portrayed by a Canadian? I thank you).

Americans will understand the humour of The Office - they created Larry Saunders, you know. Okay, so someone will need to explain why Slough is funny, but everyone can appreciate a stapler suspended in gelatin.
bring out the huskies

Blizzard of 2004 report, day 2:

Travel chaos! Icy roads! Snow! Frosty windscreens! It's full-fledged winter weather panic time! Now, don't get me wrong - I love this country. I chose to move here, I co-own a house here, and we will be bringing up our dogs and children here. But I feel compelled to say this: STOP PANICKING AND YES, YOU CAN DRIVE MORE THAN 5 MILES AN HOUR WHEN THERE'S NO SNOW AND/OR ICE ON THE ROAD. Our local school is closed today, it took us an hour to get home last night (it usually takes 10 minutes), and yet you can still see the grass below the thin blanket of snow that fell yesterday. I know that we don't get a huge variation in weather here, but a little snow shouldn't scare you, my English friends (I say "English" as opposed to "British" because I know that the Scottish are laughing at us Southern jessies).

On the flip side, the snow looks beautiful and the sun is shining brightly in a clear blue sky today. The kids in our neighbourhood came streaming out of their houses and gathered in the little greenspace area to build snowmen and throw snowballs at each other. Jasper played in the snow for the first time, running around excitedly in circles and trying to catch snowballs Paul threw at him.

And maybe, if we're lucky, we'll get sent home early again today.

ADDENDUM: even the English find this weather situation amusing. Or maybe "amusing" isn't quite the word for it. A very funny summary of the week, though.

Wednesday 28 January 2004


Blizzard of 2004 report, day 1, part 2:

After joking with a workmate about how we never got the snow that was promised in all the weather reports, it started to snow.

Sorry 'bout that. *cough*
meteorological update

Blizzard of 2004 report, day 1:

Had one inch of snow last night (didn't Madonna say that once? Oh no sorry, she dated Vanilla Ice.) Felt quite chilly walking from the car to the Chinese restaurant. The driveway and pavement was a bit slippery. I had an extra cup of tea this morning. Emma and I discovered that we have the same shoe size.

More to come as the drama unfolds.

Tuesday 27 January 2004

i'm f***king talking to my f***ing dog

Paul said that I sound like Sharon Osbourne when I talk to our dog. Heaven help me, it's true. The last time I talked in that high-pitched "talking to toddlers and babies" voice, I realised that I do sound like Mrs. Ozzy when she talks to her ten thousand lap dogs (and children). I can't f***ing believe it.

*(Asterisks are used to protect the innocent and prevent my mother from thinking that I have a potty mouth.)
i am so dedicated to my profession

Reasons why I should go to the Australasian Online Documentation and Content Conference in Sydney (as stated to our director of software development):

  • If I learn more, I will be able to work smarter, not harder.

  • If I'm happy, the documentation will improve, thus improving the overall quality of our company's products.

  • I never get sent anywhere interesting.

No, they didn't work.

Monday 26 January 2004

oh for goodness sake

Come on, Britain! -6C does not an arctic blast make. I sense a snow day coming on...
how to lose 2 lbs. in 2 days

Yes, that's right - you can lose up to 2 pounds in 2 short days with my new diet plan. All you need to do is to obtain a hideous stomach bug from someone, and you're on your way to a new, slim you! Burn hundreds of calories running to and from the bathroom! Enjoy an indulgent diet of boiled rice, crispbread, clear broth, and dry toast! Make all your friends jealous with your amazing willpower as you decline meals containing solid food!

Am feeling better today, thanks.

Friday 23 January 2004

not even my hairdresser knows for sure

So I went to get my hair cut yesterday at my usual place but this time, I had to see a different hairdresser as my favourite stylist lady was off sick. Either the woman I got had only just become a hairdresser, say, 20 minutes before I walked in, or she was just not very good. Although she did manage to cut my hair reasonably well, it took much coaching from me ("Can you take a bit more off the bottom? Yes, I'm sure. No really, I'm sure. It'll grow back; it always does.") and her styling technique leaves a bit to be desired. Please don't dry my hair so that it's straighter than it already is and plaster it to my skull with various styling products so that my head look like a giant bowling ball, thanks. Now, call me naive but shouldn't most hairdressers know how to style hair for things like weddings and parties? I thought so, but when I asked if she had any suggestions for how I could wear my hair up for festive occasions (I usually just pull it back into a ponytail because I have no other ideas), she said "Ohhhh no, sorry. That's not really my specialty. You'll have to ask someone else."

*blink blink*

To sum it up, 5 minutes with a Flowbee might have been a better alternative.

Thursday 22 January 2004

food, glorious food

Anyone who knows me (or has been reading this blog for a few months) knows that I hate the diet mentality that has afflicted most of the western world at some point (myself included). When did we stop enjoying food? Why is deprivation and food group elimination a necessity to be "healthy"?

Martine pointed out this fantastic article called "Why it's rude to diet in public". After having endured an evening of listening to someone drone on about their diet and why they couldn't eat anything in the restaurant, this article made me smile. This bit, in particular, should probably be glued to every woman's fridge door:

"...but in France, a woman's weight is less important to her overall aura of attractiveness than how she carries herself, dresses, and plays up her flirtatious features. 'Most women are concerned about their weight, but it doesn't affect how they feel about themselves,' Claire Weyl, an attorney, told me over a 1 1/2-hour lunch break. 'We eat with pleasure. We don't feel guilty about what we eat, and we don't feel guilty about our bodies.'"

How wonderful to eat without guilt and simply enjoy the pleasure of a good meal. Surely that must be the definition of "healthy eating".

Wednesday 21 January 2004

striking chords

This is heartbreaking, and I found myself nodding in total understanding at a lot of things in this entry.

"I think the scariest part about it is knowing that I love something so much that I cannot fathom the possibility of losing it. Sometimes I look at my husband and my dog and I'm almost overcome with the realization that, shit, I have taken an irreversible leap into real companionship and commitment, and that the joy of the love I feel for them is as meaningful as it is because the loss of it would break my body in two."

I honestly couldn't have put it better than this.
ah, technology

...and speaking of web cams, thank you to Wallace and Julie for their special web cam message:

Whee! It's global communication at its finest!
mind if i press my face up against your window? ta.

I like looking into other people's houses. Not in a creepy, stalking kind of way (everyone knows that the best stalking is done from lofts), but in a curious, non-psychopathic kind of way. For example, there's a house on my street that has been up for sale for quite a while now. Curiosity got the better of me and I looked it up on the property agent's web site. I notice that they've been inflicted with the same hideous fireplace that we had, and that they could use a visit from the House Doctor. Fascinating! I can't help but look in people's windows as you walk or drive past at night. You can see right in and take a look at their knicknacks. (That's not a euphemism, by the way.) I'm also hooked on several DIY/decorating shows on UK Style and the BBC. If they had a channel that showed nothing but the inside of people's houses, I'd watch it - mostly to make fun of other people's taste in decor, but also because I love to see how other people live.

Show me your before and after renovation pictures! Put up a web cam and take us on a tour of your house! Invite us over one evening! And don't call the police if you see me peering through your windows. I'm just curious.

Tuesday 20 January 2004

i'm just a girl who can't say no

Someone must have put too much money in the vending machine because it had a 15p credit displayed on it. This meant that a Chunky Kit Kat could be mine for a mere 20p. Surely this was a sign, and this was someone's way of telling me to put my 20p coin in and press E5. So I did. And it was good.
i think i just married my passport application

I took my passport application, photos, and ID to a notary public today. He looked over my paperwork and scrutinised my photo, and carefully filled out the information on my application. He had to witness my signature in the section regarding my identity, and took me a bit by surprise by saying "Repeat after me, please. I hereby certify that this is a true likeness of myself, Lisa MacDonald..." It was rather odd having to speak each line after him, and I half expected him to pronounce me and my application Paper and Wife afterwards.

Would our children look like those cut-out paper dolls?

Friday 16 January 2004

well, duh

Apparently scientists have just determined that it's not a good idea to put your infant in bed with you while you sleep. Now, I am not a parent so maybe I'm missing something here, but why would you want to put the baby in your bed in the first place? I'd be terrified of rolling over on top of him/her or inadvertently pushing him/her off the bed. Considering how often Paul and I have whacked each other in our sleep with our knees and elbows (and on one occasion, Paul's head), a baby would be far safer sleeping elsewhere. Someone explain, please.

Thursday 15 January 2004

i didn't want to go anywhere right now, anyway

My passport expires in May, so I thought I'd better get around to renewing it. After pouring through the Canadian Passport Office site and the Canadian High Commission site, and then after speaking to a lovely Quebecoise woman at the Canadian High Commission in London (I loved hearing that accent again) and a not so lovely woman at the Home Office in Croydon, I discovered that it's all going to be a bit of a pain. I need a guarantor to sign the back of my photo to attest to the fact that it is indeed me. Easy peasy if I was living in Canada, but I need to find a guarantor in the UK. This is made more difficult by the very, very short list of guarantors for Canadians living abroad. It's much shorter than the usual list and wouldn't you know it, I don't actually know any mayors, judges, or police officers. So, I have to get a notary public to witness my signature and look at my ID. Fine. I can do that. Then there's the issue with my work permit. I've got a special stamp on my passport which obviously won't be present in the new one. What do I do? After being on hold for an eternity, I find out that all I need to do is make sure I've got my old passport as well as the new one when I travel and re-enter the UK.

Right, so that's £60 for the notary public to scribble on my photo, £4 for the passport photos (love those photo booths at Tesco!), and £44 for the passport. That's £108 (or roughly $245 Canadian) for my passport. On the plus side, at least I get to update the photo. The last one made me look like Uncle Fester because I was fat, pasty, and had my hair pulled back. On the down side, I can't go anywhere until I get all this sorted, send the paperwork in, and the new passport arrives.

Which is a real drag when you've been planning holidays in your head for the past couple of weeks. *sigh*
i enjoy being a girl

In honour of my fabulous pregnant friends, I am spending this week feeling incredibly hungry, nauseous, too fat to get out of bed, irritable, backachey, spotty, and lightheaded.

GIRL POWER! Feh. Bring me chocolate.

Wednesday 14 January 2004


Since I am never one to turn down the chance to a) talk about myself and b) copy what others are doing, here's my contribution to Ed's 12 Monkeys Non-Meme. Here's how you play: write a list of all the jobs you've held and post them to your site. Now how easy is that? Very.

Jobs held (not including babysitting or working at a summer camp) since 1985:

  • Various restaurant jobs: From fast food joints to tea rooms (run by the maddest Scottish woman on the planet who used to shout out "MOOF!" whenever she wanted you to get out of the way, and used to call us "smucken fart alecks"), I served unhealthy food to the public. No, you can't sue me for being fat - now shoo.

  • Telesales: I was one of those horrible telesales people for the Globe and Mail newspaper. I did it for one evening and promptly quit.

  • Various gas station/petrol station jobs: Esso, Shell, and Sunoco to be precise. I absolutely loved working in gas stations because I could just sit in my kiosk and chat with friends, eating chips and chocolate bars. Grand. The graveyard shift was such a blast.

  • Various video shop jobs: One in Toronto and one in Montreal. At the Montreal one, I got held up at gunpoint one week after the massacre at the Ecole Polytechnique. I wasn't hurt, but I did lose faith in humanity that day.

  • My one any only job as a waitress: I am the world's worst waitress because I have a bad combination of being clumsy and having a crap short term memory. I worked for one school year at the Kosher restaurant at York University. I spilled a plate of hot fries on a blind man. I dropped an entire tray of ketchup bottles, making the restaurant look like a scene from The Godfather. Oddly, I got good tips.

  • Various bookstore jobs: Although I worked for some genuine nutcases, I loved working with books. I still have a book fetish and was gutted when I had to sell most of my books before I moved here. Gutted.

  • Volunteer/I Get No Cash for This But I Love It work: I've been a dance teacher (assistant to my dance teacher, actually), editor and graphic designer (for two literary journals), and book review writer (for a Japanese Canadian monthly newsletter).

  • Receptionist: Being the only person in the office who knew how to work a computer, I was a receptionist/IT support specialist who trained everyone how to use Microsoft Office. I also pasted together fabric samples (it was in the garment district) and I think my voice is still on some people's voicemail boxes. This was 7 years ago.

  • Technical writer: My career and what I've been doing for the past 6 years. I like it. I think I'll stay.

maybe we'll all get sent home

Ah, remember last year's big "snow storm"? It may be upon us again:

It's actually staying on the ground and if it gets up to 2 inches, they'll shut the country down. Hurrah!*

*(I can hear you Montrealers laughing from here.)

Tuesday 13 January 2004

how much is that doggy on your desktop?

Inspired by Ed's post, here's my desktop at work:

No, he's not going grey; it's just the sunlight. What's on your desktop?
other people's lives

It's a strange thing, this blogging business. What compels people to read other people's blogs? Why are we interested in the (usually quite normal) lives of complete strangers? Is it part of being in the age of "reality television" and we've become a society of voyeurs? Have we been bombarded with so much of the sensational that we now find the mundane more intriguing? We know what the beautiful people are up to thanks to the paparazzi and we've seen enough of the fantasy lives of the airbrushed/cosmetically enhanced on our screens. Do we now crave the knowledge of what regular people do in their day-to-day lives? Maybe it's just the electronic equivalent to having a natter with Mrs. Jones over the back fence, who tells you all about family and friends you've never met, never will meet, but you're intrigued by her stories nonetheless.

I'm surprised that people who don't know me continue to read my blog. I understand that most visitors stumble across this site either by accident or curiosity (e.g. seeing my site link on someone else's site), but it amazes me when people keep coming back. I don't think I write about anything particularly interesting or intellectually stimulating, and this blog certainly won't win any awards. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. I love how people interact with each other and myself via the comments and I've come across some fantastic blogs along the way. It's just all a bit odd.

Thursday 8 January 2004

and another thing...

Shame on you, Kellogg's. Your ridiculous "drop a jeans size in two weeks" advertising campaign is incredibly unhealthy. Telling people that they can lose weight by eating cereal two meals out of three per day is irresponsible. Yes, it will probably cause weight loss but it won't be permanent and it's just a stupid idea. Eating gravel twice a day will have similar results.

Please people, enough with the quick fixes. Eat less, move more, and you'll lose weight. Eat cereal twice a day, and you'll be malnourished and irritable.

...I've updated the About Me page. It's all about me me me me!
a boot to the head

There are some days when I would really like to hop on a plane to Fort Lauderdale, find our head office, and give a few select people a prolonged spinning wedgie.

This, my friends, is one of those days.

Wednesday 7 January 2004

tell us where to go

It's that time of year - it's grey, drizzly, and I'm at home with a miserable cold feeling sorry for myself. It's time to plan this year's vacation.

I'm leaning towards Italy (not literally...although if Italy is located towards the back of our sofa, then I am) because it has so much of what we love: good food, good wine, beautiful scenery, and interesting things to see and do. We are not big on those baking yourself under the sun until you're an unhealthy shade of beef jerky type holidays, nor do we want to go anywhere near the English holiday hotspots (Ibizia, Corfu, Tenerife, etc.). We don't have unlimited funds or unlimited time off, so places like New Zealand and Japan are probably not feasible (although I would love to visit both countries one day). So, here's your chance to tell us where to go - any great holiday suggestions are most appreciated. Destinations such as Butlins, Centre Parks, or Blackpool will not be considered, unfortunately (but we thank you anyway).

Tuesday 6 January 2004

bringing down the baubles

So what happens if you don't remove your Christmas decorations by tonight (the twelfth night)? Do all your presents turn to bags of boiled cabbage? Do elves phone you at all hours of the night and taunt you until you take your tree down? I'm not taking any chances; we're taking the tree and lights down tonight. Just wondering, is all.

Monday 5 January 2004

it's a living

On Boxing Day, Paul's 7 year old niece Grace asked what I do for a living. I told her that I'm a writer. Seeing the wide-eyed look of absolute glee in her face, I quickly added "But I don't write books. I write instructions for computer software". Looking slightly disappointed she paused and said, "Oh. Well, if you did write books, I'd buy all of them."

And one day, I might just write one for her.

We (and the rest of the free world) went to Ikea on Friday, and this is part of what we bought:

How grown up; we own a sideboard! We have things on display! Paul assembled this thing on the weekend, using those fabulous Ikea instructions that only make sense to the person who wrote them, his mother, and a guy in Slovakia who, after an alien abduction, developed a sixth sense for pictograms that science simply cannot explain. To be fair, Ikea have improved their assembly instructions slightly. They used to show a picture of all the parts included in the pack with a giant arrow pointing to a picture of the finished product, and somehow we were supposed to figure out where each part goes. No wonder most of the furniture I owned throughout the 90s stood at an odd angle. At least now the instructions are made up of several pictures and arrows, that shows you how to assemble the product step-by-step.

We also bought a large L-shaped desk and flooring for the study, which can only mean one thing - we're doing more DIY again. Stay tuned for pictures, tales about crippled hands, and more fun with Ikea instructions.