Sunday, February 28, 2010

Done and done

The 2010 Winter Olympics is over now. Canada ended up with a record 26 medals altogether, including 14 Gold medals. What an amazing achievement for Canada!

Canada received its final medal today in the Men's Ice Hockey game: I think you all probably know that Canada won over the US in overtime. We didn't watch the game (I think I've mentioned before that we don't care for Olympic hockey) although we were thrilled that Canada beat the US in both Women's and Men's hockey. It isn't just about the medals... it's about beating the US. :)

The venue for the closing ceremonies was pretty well identical to that of the opening ceremonies; everyone in the stands wore white so that flags and information could be projected onto them.

The closing ceremonies opened with a mime sequence parodying the technical problems encountered in the opening ceremonies. The errant pillar was lit correctly this time. :)

I liked The Sichu presentation where Russia was showing off its winter wonderland, its icons, and superstars. They managed to show different eras and aspects of the Russian culture in different parts of the presentation. There were some parts that looked positively otherworldly, like the very beginning sequence and the guys in the Zorbs. They also showed figure skaters in Sochi on ice that is right at the edge of the water... it was a clear night there and the moon was shining onto the dark, dark water... it was so beautiful. Amazingly, they also had a conductor in Vancouver conducting an orchestra in Moscow - how awesome is that?

The middle part of the closing ceremonies was quite boring... I know that closing speeches by officials are a required element of the closing ceremonies but I wish there was a way to speed them up... or to give them in just one language. After the speeches, Neil Young sang.He's one of my least favourite singers ever and I would have been happier if someone else had been chosen to sing. His songs are great; he's a brilliant poet, but a good singer he is not.

The final act was worth watching. The closing ceremonies definitely ended on some funny notes :) I knew they were doing the "I am Canadian" thing, but I didn't expect much after the speeches and what. We laughed and laughed when it turned out to be William Shatner did the closing speech! He even called Canada "the final frontier" - how hilarious is that? His speech was followed by Catherine O'Hara doing a comedy sketch with slides and it was too funny!

I didn't think they could top that... but they did, with Michael J Fox. He got a partial standing ovation. Each of these performers thanked the visitors and athletes for coming to Canada and being here in their own funny way.

Michael Buble performed a fine rendition of The Maple Leaf Forever accompanied by a lovely spectacular with mounties, hockey players, maples leaves, canoes, and huuuge versions of mounties, hockey players, beavers, and flying moose. They left no Canadian stereotype out - the attendees were all given flashing moose antlers to wear, too - how Canadian, eh? It was funny and silly and light-hearted all at the same time.

After that huge performance, it was time to party! The floor turned into a huge dance area/mosh pit area so that people could really enjoy themselves during the live performances. Nickelback took the stage first, followed by Avril Lavigne, Alanis Morissette, Simple Plan (they're from Montreal? Who knew), Hedley, Marie-Mai, K-OS,  and finally Scrap Art Music. I loved the coloured beach balls gloating through the crowd at the end... they were so pretty.

For better or for worse, all of these performers all clearly sang and played their songs; there was no lip-synching here. Most acts performed quite well - even Avril did ok, and she used to be pretty bad during live performances. I loved how a variety of artists from different parts of the country (including French artists) and different music styles performed. There was a little of almost all kinds of music during this concert. It seemed like the crowd didn't really connect with all of the artists, though. During some performances, the crowd on the floor wasn't dancing or moving around even though the music was catchy.

So that's it... another Olympics is over. Congrats, Canada!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Gold-filled Day!

Canada won three Golds and one Bronze today!!!! Martin won Gold for Canada in curling against Norway's Ulsrud in a game filled with mistakes on both sides, Jasey Jan Anderson won Gold in Snowboard Parallel Giant Slalom, and Mathieu Giroux, Lucas Makowsky, and Denny Morrison won Gold in Men's Speedskating Team Pursuit.

Canada also won a Bronze in Four-man Bobsleigh; they were 1/100s slower than the Silver medallists - that's so close! At least they didn't wind up in fourth place like that.

I'm so proud of Canada's athletes! I know that I've only put the gold medal winners in my blog, but the Silver and Bronze medalists should be celebrated as well. Really, any athlete that made it to the Olympics and got a chance to compete should be proud of themselves.

So now Canada has a record 13 Gold Medals - over half of the record 25 medals we've won so far. We're guaranteed one more medal in the Gold-medal Men's Ice hockey game tomorrow against the US; at that point we'll have a record 26 total medals at the end of this Olympics. Canada now has won more medals than we've ever won at a Winter Olympics. What an amazing achievement!

Clearly the Own the Podium program really did make a difference in Canada's performance at this Olympics. Well done, Canada!

Friday, February 26, 2010

GOLD #10!

Canada has just won GOLD in the Men's 5000m short-track speedskating race!!!! Two of the relay team members had just raced and won medals in the individual 500m short-track speedskating, and they were still able to give enough to win the relay! This was definitely an amazing achievement by the team.

Charles Hamelin (who won gold in the 500m) and Francois Hamelin are brothers and wanted to stand on the podium together; they achieved that goal tonight. They'll stand to receive Gold medals along with teammates Francois-Louis Tremblay (who won Bronze in the 500m) and Olivier Jean.

Go, Canada!

More Olympic fun

That was the craziest 500m short-track speed skating race ever!!!! Right before the finish line, Canadian Francois-Louis Tremblay and Korean Sung Si-Bak wiped out, so it looked like Charles Hamelin won with United States' Apolo Ohno coming in second. But then it turned out that Ohno was the one who somehow impeded Tremblay and caused him to wipe out, so Ohno was disqualified, Hamelin won Gold, and Tremblay won Bronze. Crazy!! That's what makes short-track speed skating so exciting :)

Apolo Ohno is one of the most famous short-track skaters because he's young, wins a lot, and controversy kind of follows him in his sport. The US and Korean short-track speed skaters tend to be a little more physical, bumping and pulling other competitors. Many skaters from these nations have been disqualified because they've impeded other skaters.

We also watched the much less exciting Women's Curling final; Canada ended up winning Silver after skip Cheryl Bernard missed two shots for the win. This was a disappointing game; this skip has played close games all through the Olympics because she's been able to pull off the winning shots in the last ends of the game. Until tonight, when she missed two relatively easy shots.

So Canada has, what, nine gold medals? NINE? How awesome is that!?! Canada had 20 medals altogether right now; we need only four more to get the number of medals we won at Turin - which is the most number of medals we've ever won at a Winter Olympics. Go Canada!!!!!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

More medals!

I heard that Canada won Gold in Women's Ice Hockey - good for them! Hockey is the one sport we're not watching but I'm happy that Canada won. Canada has EIGHT gold medals now; the most gold medals for us ever! Go Canada!!!

Canada will definitely win more medals in Men's and Women's Curling (either Silver or Gold in both) and possibly in Men's Hockey. I'm sure there are other sports where we can win medals as well before the closing ceremonies on Sunday.

We're watching the Women's Free Skating Program right now. We actually recorded it and are watching the recording so we don't have to watch the commercials or wait long for scores or anything; this is definitely the way to go as we're not having to watch as much stuff.

So far, the women aren't falling nearly as much as the other skaters have up until now. One thing I dislike about women's skating is that you can almost always tell when they're setting up for a jump. The better the skater, the less time they prepare for the jumps, but they all take some time.

It looks like they actually stop doing their choreography - by not even doing any interesting arm movements - to skate and concentrate solely on their jump. This completely breaks the rhythm of the choreography and makes it look like music just happens to be playing in the background while they're skating instead of them skating to the music.

I suspect they do this because they aren't generally as strong as the men and don't build up speed as quickly as the men do. Still, I wish the women would find a way to improve on their transitions into the jumps. it would make the figure skating that much more elegant and interesting to watch.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

More medals and today's appointment

Another gold medal!!!!!! Canada wins first and second in Women's Bobsleigh: Kaillie Humphries/Heather Moyse won gold and Helen Upperton/ Shelley-Ann Brown won silver. Whoo-hoo!!!! That was some amazing driving down the track these teams did - what an amazing finish!!! It's the first time Canadians have won gold in this sport, apparently, which makes this win that much more special.

I saw the dermatologist today. He said that the red blotchy patches on my leg are pools of blood, like varicose veins, kind of. A compression stocking would help to get rid of those. Weird that they only show up on the left side, but I'm sure they'll show up soon enough on the left. Sigh. My body is prematurely aging :(

As an aside, this elbow thing was also on the left side. I can't help but wonder if the missing lymph nodes have had something to do with the elbow and leg thing; that maybe the lymph circulation on my left side just isn't up to par, leading to odd problems. 

For example, the left elbow scar had always looked different from my other scars even before it went and change. Ian and I wonder if there had been particles in there or something (causing the difference in colour) that my body tried to reject but the lymph couldn't do what it was supposed to do to remove them, and that's why the change occurred. It's a theory.

The dermatologist looked at the thing on my elbow and had no idea what it could be. He offered to do a biopsy right then and there or to make another appointment to do one if I wanted to wait. I wanted it done right there since Ian was there with me and could drive me home. I'd specifically asked Ian to come with me because I'd hoped that they might do the biopsy and I didn't want to drive myself home afterwards. I've felt shaky after biopsies in the past and it's bad to drive when I'm feeling that way.

The biopsy was easy. They injected freezing into the elbow - it was the same stuff as they use at the dentist, and it hurts the same, too, but it works. Even better, I could see the skin when it was frozen (it's hard to see the frozen inside of my mouth). My elbow looked interesting for quite a while because outside the immediate area of the thing, there were these white lines of freezing. It was neat to see the path that the freezing took around my elbow.

Anyways, once I was good and frozen, the dermatologist took out a sample or two and put a single stitch in to close it. I need to have the stitch removed in about two weeks and then I see him in four weeks for the biopsy results. Stay tuned for results.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

And here's #6!

Canada has won a sixth gold medal: Ashleigh McIvor won in today's Women's Ski Cross!!!!! This is fantastic! Not only is Canada winning medals, but they're GOLD!

Go, Canada!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ice Dance GOLD!

GOLD #5!!!!!! A beautiful, elegant, exquisite, magical Free Dance skate by Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir - after two other flawless skates in the Compulsory and Original Dance - has won them Canada's fifth gold medal! Not only have they won a gold medal, but they're the first North American team ever to do so in the Olympics. What an achievement!

This pair is so very talented; they make ice dancing look easy. Watching them this week has been a pleasure for both of us.

Go Canada!!!!

Figure skating costumes

After watching a whole bunch of figure skating this week, I've come to the conclusion that the Ice Dancing costumes are the most interesting ones I've seen. The crystal placement, fluttery parts, nude panels, and colour choices are all very complex. Don't get me wrong; all of the costumes in all figure skating disciplines have complex costumes, but the ones in ice dancing take that complexity to a whole new level.

I think the complexity of these costumes is partly because the costumes have to work for each person in the pair and they're trying to make their costumes really work with the music; more so, perhaps, than in other skating fields. They're actually dancing, after all, and they do get judged on interpretation of the music. I think the other reason the costumes are so intricate and complex is because they are similar to non-ice dance costumes; those costumes are also very well thought-out and complex.

Ice dancing costumes aren't without some controversy, of course. This year, all of the Original Dance music selections must be made from folk or country music. The folk music can be from any country or people, and the dance and costume, as well as the choreography, should interpret that dance. The top Russian pair chose to dance to Native Australian music, which some felt was in poor taste.

Their costumes were of nude fabric with white lines on the ribs, a loincloth, and fake green leaves. The two looked like they were trying to be naked with traditional markings. Many - including myself - felt that the costumes and choreography were in poor taste (he tugged on her hair like a caveman, for example), especially since the skaters had never met with any Native Australian people. They researched it on the internet... but I don't think that was quite enough.

If the pair had chosen a different costume or choreography, I wonder if people would have been less shocked and angry. Native Australian elders had apparently approached the pair and they'd agreed to completely change their costume but they didn't; they changed the white markings but that was all. Their actions come across as being insensitive and uncaring to another culture, which reflects badly on them. Maybe the pair felt that any publicity is good publicity?

Making a good costume is more than just knowing how and where to bedazzle a leotard.... the right choice enhances the choreography, while the wrong choice can turn a lot of the world against you.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A fourth Gold medal, and a comedy show

Canada has won a fourth Gold medal - Jon Montgomery won Gold in Men's Skeleton last night!!!!! It was so exciting - what an awesome performance!!! Skeleton is one of the most dangerous sports out there; the athletes hurtle face-first on a sled down the track, reaching speeds of 130 km/h.

I love speed and I love going super-fast.... I wish wish wish that I'd known about skeleton when I had a body that could handle it. I think there are tracks out there where a person could give it a try; if I didn't have back problems I'd love to try it.

We forgot that we had tickets to the Black Pack: The Sellout Tour comedy show tonight. Thankfully, our friend reminded us that we had tickets and we were able to get there in time. In the first part of the show, each of the four US African-American comedians did a standup routine with their own individual brand of comedy. A couple of the comedians used their comedy to challenge typical stereotypes and ideas people might have. It was sort of weird because here in Canada I didn't think the racial divide was that pronounced so hearing them challenge the stereotypes was no big deal to me. It's possible that their show would have more impact in the US because things are different there.

The best part of the show was the second half, in the "Ask a black man" section. The audience had previously been invited to write down questions they had about or for black men, and in this second half, all four comedians answered those questions. The funny part wasn't so much the responses they gave but the questions themselves - like, "what is the difference between an African swallow and a European swallow?" (which, as you might know, is a reference to a quote from Monty Python and the Holy Grail) and, "how would you guys treat a black guy with albinoism?" (to which the answer was, "how would you know he was black?").

We'll spend the rest of the evening watching more Olympic coverage. Happy days!

Friday, February 19, 2010

My latest fabric purchases

I went to get the package that was allegedly delivered to me the other day... it was, as I thought, the lace fabrics that I'd ordered. I found a site that had all their fabric, including beautiful high-end laces, 75% off. So I bought a few fabrics, including these absolutely stunning lace (they called it Chantilly lace, but I don't know if it is) and Venice lace fabrics:
The fabrics are much more gorgeous in real life than in the pictures. I also bought a matching lace to the first picture that's narrower but completely covered with the flowers. I see a top with the narrow lace and a skirt with the one above... wouldn't that be lovely? It's hard to see in the picture, but the flowers on that lace are embroidered and then appliqued onto the netting, after which the centers are re-embroidered. I didn't realize that when I bought it but I love it.... it's so gorgeous.

The second fabric is soooo delicate and beautiful. I guess you could call it a Guipere lace but it's much more delicate than the Guipere laces you see in the local fabric store. It's lightweight and gorgeous and has a high shine. I have absolutely no vision for this lace - and I have much less of it - but I'm sure it can be turned into something grand.

I have no idea what I'm going to do with these fabrics. I don't have a huge amount of use for white lace fabrics, so I think I might try and dye them black. Maybe. I do wonder how the Venice fabric would look if I hand-painted the flowers and leaves rather than just dyed it all one colour. I don't want to destroy the beauty of these fabrics, so there'll be some experimentation involved. 

I know that the flowers on that first lace and the Venice/Guipere lace will take a dye because they're rayon but I'm not sure about the netting on that first lace. The netting actually feels like a nylon mesh and it's got some stretch to it (almost like a power-mesh, but with less stretch), so it might not take a dye all that well. 

For now, I'm not going to do anything with these fabrics... I just want to look at how beautiful they are.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Gold-medal speedskating and bad figure skating

Canada has won another gold medal! Christine Nesbitt won the Women's 1000m speedskating race - whooo hooooo!!!! I wasn't watching when she won so I didn't scream and jump around when it happened, but I'm still feeling really good about this win. Hopefully Canada will continue to win gold medals during this Olympics.

I'm watching the Men's Free Skating program tonight and I'm quite surprised at the number of falls and mistakes. It also seems that the difficulty is a bit down because there are hardly any quad jumps or triple-triple combinations, at least so far. Of course just about everyone who's tried these jumps - as well as many of the single triples - has missed them. The competition isn't over as of this writing and it's possible that the later, better skaters will make these jumps.

Ian was just telling me that he heard someone say that the number of falls and bad jumps might be because everyone is skating for the gold medal. If you're trying for gold, you'll try to do that jump or trick you can only hit half the time instead of trying to skate the cleanest, most technically perfect program you can do.

If that's the case, I wish they'd stop it. Tone down the difficulty if they must so that they can showcase their strengths instead of trying and failing to do something they can't do well. Right now, this hardly looks like an Olympic event - as the commentator just said, this has been a very underwhelming event.

As someone mentioned, there's also the possibility that the ice or altitude has something to do with the falls. I know that ice-making for speedskating and curling is an art; it's possible that ice-making for figureskating is also an arcane art, and something isn't quite right with the ice. Or it's not quite right combined with the altitude or humidity or something.

No matter what the problem is, figure skating in this Olympics has been disappointing - dare I say, boring? - to watch. I hope they find the problem and can fix it before the women's and the ice dancing events happen.

One thing I do love is that it's possible to view the detailed score breakdown for each competitor over on the vancouver 2010 site. Not only does it show the score breakdown, but if you look at it before the competitor has skated, you can see which elements the competitor will perform and in what order. Each listing also lists the music, which is helpful for those of us that like something that we heard. And you can go back and review previous days' results. I love this - it makes me feel more connected to the skaters.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Something strange with my mail

I think I'm starting to really feel better now, finally! My voice is back to normal (people might even recognize me on the phone now).

There's something weird going on with my mail. I got a thing in the mail today saying that they'd tried to deliver a package yesterday at 2:15pm and that it would be at the post office today after 1pm. But... I was home, awake, and watching tv when the guy allegedly tried to deliver the package (and for a couple of hours on either side of that time). And if a delivery was attempted yesterday, why didn't I get the notification until today? It wasn't there yesterday; I checked mail several times after 3pm and there was nothing in the mailbox.

This isn't the first time that I've received a missed delivery notification; in fact, every time I've allegedly missed a delivery in the last few months, I've received the notification the day after the alleged attempt. But what's amazing - or weird - is that some of my packages actually do get delivered to me. I can't figure out why some get to me and some don't.

I have wondered if the postal guy isn't bothering to deliver some packages; that at the end of the day he leaves the package at the post office,  and fills out a "missed delivery" notice (making up the time he allegedly tried to deliver it), and drops the notice off it in my mailbox the next day. Or maybe there's a substitute that delivers (or does not deliver) my packages to me.

I guess I should contact the post office about this. I mean to do it the last time this happened but I didn't - maybe this time I'll start making inquiries.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

More Olympics

Did you see Maelle Ricker win Canada's second gold medal in Women's Snowboard Cross today? What a great day!!! We've gone from no gold medals at Canadian Olympics to two - and some sports have barely even started! If we're lucky, we'll get at least one more gold medal, so then we'll have won at least as many gold medals in Canada as we've hosted Olympics. It's practically the same thing, right? :)

Of course I've been watching figure skating as well as these other sports - I've loved figure skating ever since I was a very young girl. Tonight, I'm watching the Men's Short Program and I also watched most of the Pairs Short and Free Programs over the last two nights. Watching the Pairs Free program last night, I was very surprised to see how many people fell. I think there was only one program where one or another person didn't fall or mess something up. Was there something in the water that made them unsteady?

One of the best parts of figure skating, aside from the skating itself, is the costumes. This should be no surprise to some of you :) It's been a while since I really sat down and watched figure skating so I wasn't prepared for all of the sparkle, ombre, chiffon, fluttery parts, and asymmetry in both the Ladies' and Men's costumes. Seriously, the Men's costumes are brighter and sparklier than the Ladies' in some cases! When did this happen? And why didn't I think to buy stock in Swarovski?

During the Pairs Short Program the other night, one pair wore matching electric-blue jumpsuits with silver accents. The commentators really disliked these costumes, saying that they weren't suitable for the Olympics and that they belonged at a carnival. I loved the costumes and thought they were a refreshing change, especially for the female. I know that the skating skirt is designed to show the movement and whatnot but seeing a costume without it shifted the focus from how fast she was going to the way that her muscles moved.

Sadly, I don't think we're going to see more streamlined costumes for a while because most people are clearly not ready for them. However, since some of the more elaborate costumes are a bit distracting from the program itself, I expect sparkle will be used a bit more judiciously. Eventually. I think we'll see a lot more sparkle before this trend is over.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Still sick

I'm still feeling really sick. I think I'm actually a bit better than I was yesterday but I'm still feeling awful, with a  I've got a cough, stuffy head, and sore throat. I took a bunch of painkillers last night and slept almost all the way through the night (which might be why I feel a bit better). Even so, I've been sleeping in the other room because I toss and turn so much. I hope Ian doesn't get sick.

I'm supposed to go to the book club on Wednesday but I doubt I'll make it. I'd have to be feeling a whole lot better tomorrow. Some of those people are in treatment or are caring for someone who's in treatment and I don't want to make them sick.

Not that I'm actually that interested in going... I tried to read The Power of Now again and I'm still having trouble with it, especially with some statements like "the past and present are an illusion" and "if you're unhappy, you're not living in the Now". Huh? Apparently if you live in the Now you'll never, ever be unhappy and that just doesn't seem right to me. I know that "life" is not the same as "life situation"... but surely every single minute of someone's life is not positive.

Don't get me wrong: I like the idea of living in the moment and focusing only on what is instead of what was or what could be. I like the basic idea of the book. What I'm having trouble with is the way some of the ideas are justified, or the discussion around some of the ideas. I hope it gets better.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Canadian Gold!!!!!!

For the first time ever, Canada has won a gold medal on Canadian soil! Yipppeeee!!!!!!

Alexandre Bilodeau won the gold with a spectacular performance in the Men's Moguls. It was so exciting! I was watching the end of the race to see how Canada did because four Canadians had qualified to ski in the final. At the end, when it was clear that Canada won, I jumped around and screamed and tears came to my eyes... this is a real achievement for Canada.

Plus there's no small satisfaction knowing that he beat Dave Begg-Smith, who grew up in Canada and now lives in Australia, and who refuses to give interviews with any but Australian press and who seem to hate Canada.

Now I'm going to watch the Pairs Short Program Figure Skating. I'd been flipping between that and Men's Moguls until the best Canadians started their runs in the Men's Moguls. I love the grace and beauty of figure skating. And the costumes, of course. :)
Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day :)

Saturday, February 13, 2010


The Olympics have started!!

We mostly just watched the long- and short-track speed skating events today. Speed skating is very cool; the short-track speed skating looks a lot like velodrome cycling, with everyone bunched up and passing and falling and leaning over and stuff. There's so much excitement, just with the skating - and if you add in the drama surrounding Olivier Jean being knocked aside and then being allowed to race in the final, well, the excitement can be overwhelming.

This may be the laziest weekend ever for us because we're going to be glued to the Olympic coverage all weekend. I think we're basically just going to watch whatever the networks are airing (unless it's hockey). I don't know much about all of the sports but I always have my laptop here and I can look up things like rules or equipment or players or whatever.

2010 Winter Olympics have started!

The 2010 Winter Olympics began tonight with the Opening Ceremony. Marring these Games and this ceremony was the death of Nodar Kumaritashvili on the luge track this afternoon. He lost control and hit an unpadded support beam during a training run. Apparently this track was built to be the fastest of its kind and some are now saying that the track is much too fast. This track is currently closed and will be modified before it's used again. His death was remembered by a minute of silence during the ceremony.

I didn't know what to expect from this opening ceremony but I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was entertaining and quite watchable, for the most part. I loved that BC Place was "dressed" as a winter wonderland, which was definitely fitting for a Winter Olympics Ceremony. Almost all attendees wore white ponchos, the volunteers wore white, there was white "snow" on the ground, and everything that could look like ice did - including the stages, totem poles, and athlete country names. Even the flame thingies looked like ice - too bad they ran into technical problems.

Having everyone (or almost everyone) in the stands wear the white ponchos was a brilliant choice because it meant that pictures and lights could be projected onto the stands, making the whole place look that much grander. And did it look grand!

The interplay of these projections, people, and lights really made these ceremonies stand apart from others. The number and complexity of projected images were the best part of this ceremony, from a technical standpoint. of course I've always been more interested in the light show than the performance, but in this case the light show was the performance.

Every part of the stage and all the seats received one or another part of an image throughout the ceremony. These images were very, very well done; everything from the water to the whales to the flowers on the grass to the leaves to the mountains was intricately worked. I was amazed to see so much detail in these images from every angle on the stage, and I was surprised to see that the projections didn't overpower the dancers or acrobats.

I loved that the first nations people were introduced first and were the ones to welcome the athletes, and I was pleased to see that the first cultural part of the ceremony  - the "Hymn of the North" - also centered on our first nations. This and the subsequent cultural parts showed some of the diversity and geography of Canada (two things that define us). Unfortunately, the cultural parts were a bit BC-centric (viewing Canada from a BC perspective) didn't show Ontario or the historic fur trade or anything not-fiddling related in Atlantic Canada. We do have snow and ice, lush groves, fiddlers, a seemingly-infinite prairie, and majestic snow-capped mountains, but there's more to Canada than just that.

On the downside, almost all of the singing and music did not meet the standard set by the rest of the ceremony's performances. The national anthem sounded sad and thin, as though the instruments were playing Musak, which is also how the music during the cultural parts sounded.

I would have been ok with the instrumental music sounding like music if the songs hadn't been so awful. "Bang your drum" song by Bryan Adams and Nelly Furtado was northing short of lame. That was the best one they could find? And look at Bryan Adams at the start of his song: the singing starts before he did. Was he lip-syncing? Sarah McLachlan's performance wasn't all that much better, either. And Measha Brueggergosman's performance of the Olympic Hymn was.... ok, I guess. I'm not an opera lover so the subtleties of her performance escaped me.

The musical performances I enjoyed were .k.d lang's rendition of "Hallelujah" and the song in French. It helps that Hallelujah this is one of my favourite songs - but even if it wasn't, she does a fantastic job singing. That woman has a fine, fine voice. I don't know what that French song was, but Garou - the fellow singing it - also has a fine voice and imbued the song with depth and emotion.

Now that the ceremonies are over, it's time for the Olympics. Bring on the competition!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Still sick, no Pamidronate

I'm still feeling sick and didn't go get my Pamidronate today. My oncologist had told me before that there's research out there showing that after a couple of years, Pamidronate can be given once every two months instead of every month. So missing today's Pamidronate is no big deal, treatment-wise.

I'd actually called them yesterday to tell them I was sick so I'm sure you can imagine how surprised I was when I got a call from the chemo suite (where I get my Pamidronate) asking where I was, and didn't I know that I had Pamidronate scheduled today? So I explained that I'd called in sick yesterday.

I was even more surprised when my nurse called to tell me that she'd received my message yesterday and had passed it on to the chemo suite, so there was clearly a miscommunication on their part and that they never should have called me today.

Yeah, she called me to blame the chemo suite for not getting the message. I don't know whether to laugh or be appalled.

Every time that I've called to make schedule changes, the message has somehow not gotten through to the right person. I've suspected for some time that the problem is my nurse but I haven't said anything to anyone at the center. However, the fact that my nurse called and told me she got my message (and that the communication problem wasn't her fault) leads me to suspect that others have had the same problem as me and have complained.

I can't imagine this strategy of throwing other departments under the bus will work all that well, but I guess it's better than what she'd been doing before. It must be, or she wouldn't be using this strategy, right? Right?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Definitely coming down with something

I'm definitely getting a cold or something. My voice is going, my head feels stuffy, and my chest is starting to feel tight.

I called the cancer center about tomorrow's Pamidronate appointment. When the person asked if I was calling to ask if I should go in or if I was calling to tell them I wasn't going to go in, I said that I was calling to tell them I wasn't going in. I just don't think I'll feel better tomorrow. And not only do I want to curl up and sleep almost all the time, I really don't want to infect people in the chemo suite with whatever I've got.

So I'll watch tv and surf the internet and sleep and drink lots of fluids and get better.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Doctor's appointment today

I think I'm coming down with a cold or something. My throat has been sore and waking me up at night and my sinuses - and now teeth - are starting to ache. Plus I'm getting tired and have that weird feeling around my eyes. I'm supposed to have my Pamidronate on Thursday but if I'm sick I won't go. I receive my Pamidronate in the chemo suite and it would be a very bad idea to go there with a cold. I'll make the final call on Thursday based on how I'm feeling that day.

I went to see my family doctor today. On the way back I bought myself a lovely new purse. I walked around with it over my arm for quite a while and didn't want to put it back down - a sure sign that I really wanted it.

Anyways, it turns out that I don't have hypothyroidism - yay! Even though it would have been a good explanation for having gained weight, I'm just as happy to not have to take medication for another medical condition.

My doctor gave me a new application for a handicapped sticker for the car. The last one didn't have his physician number on it so it was rejected. My hips and back don't always hurt but when they do, walking can be a nightmare. Being able to park in a handicapped spot on those days would make life a lot easier for me. I don't want to use up a spot when I'm feeling ok because there are so many others out there who need those spots more than me, most days.

Those were secondary reasons for seeing him today. The main reason I went is that I wanted him to see some strange spots on my left shin and left elbow that I wanted him to see.

The one on my leg appeared about three months ago as a purplish spot below my left knee. At first I thought it was varicose veins (I didn't have my glasses on), but it wasn't - it's a bunch of small raised bumps that can be felt under the skin. The spots have faded since then but the area has also spread out, and a new spot area has appeared below the knee on the front.

The one on my elbow was a 30-year-old scar that dramatically changed in both colour and texture about three weeks ago. It was a normal scar (for me) one day and then overnight it went bumpy and bright red and felt kind of hot. The changed area has started to spread beyond the original scar's borders and is changing every day. Honestly, I've been a little worried out about this spot because it appeared so suddenly and has been changing so quickly.

My family doctor doesn't think these spots are cancer - either skin mets (breast cancer can spread to the skin, but usually stays on the trunk, and besides, my tumour markers are still in normal range) or skin cancer - but he's sending me to a dermatologist ASAP anyway to get these spots checked out. For all I know, they're some kind of allergic reaction or something so I'm not freaking out about them. I am concerned, yes, but not freaking out.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Post-apocalyptic tv experiment

Have any of you watched The Colony? It's a reality series about volunteers trying to survive in a warehouse in a post-apocalyptic environment. There are ten volunteers of different backgrounds: three different kinds of engineers, a personal trainer, a handyman, and some other people. We've been watching it and I'm finding myself liking it more every week.

There are a variety of experts who weigh in on different issues that come up during this experiment. Even though there are cameras and whatnot, the participants seem to be taking the experiment quite seriously - as if they really believe they're living in a post-apocalyptic world.

The fact that the participants really believe that they're in a post-apocalyptic world makes this series quite interesting. There are personality conflicts, priority conflicts, and "attacks" from outside that they need to defend against.

It's clear that several of these people are feeling like they don't have something to contribute to the efforts because they're picking a lot of fights and working on what seems to be trivial projects. I'd like to think that if I was there I could calm people down, but I know that I can lose my temper just as easily as those people.

I'm a huge fan of post-apocalyptic fiction and cinema and this show makes the challenges people face in that situation more real. This in turn will make me be better prepared for the zombie apocaplyse, whenever it comes.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Superbowl Sunday

We went to a friend's house to watch the Superbowl. The New Orleans Saints surprised me by winning 31-17 over the Indianapolis Colts. This was the first year the Saints have ever played at the Superbowl and they were down by 10 in the first quarter. Statistically, very few teams down by 10 in the first quarter go on to win. And how many teams win the first year they play? Not many.

I often wish that I could watch the US commercials instead of the Canadian ones because they're so much more innovative and interesting. This year I think I'm happier not having seen some of the ads this year, however. For the first time, CBS allowed pro-life ads for a Focus on the Family, a rightwing Christian pro-life group. CNN and NBC both rightly refused to play the ads. The fact that the ads featured the mother of a quarterback doesn't mean that they should have played during the Superbowl, does it?

I know that the ad never mentioned abortion, but it does imply that giving birth is always best. Aside from the fact that this is wrong - there are times when the fetus isn't viable or when giving birth will harm or kill the mother - this isn't an open attitude. Someone who watched and believed the ad is more likely to feel shame if they needed an abortion than if they hadn't seen the ad or had seen a more balanced perspective.

At the same time that this was going on, CBS also refused to air the ad for ManCrunch, a gay dating site - apparently because "gay" violates their standards. The ad featured over-the-top implied kissing. If sexuality was the problem in the ad, CBS could have asked that the ad be re-worked. Instead, they rejected it outright.

And the Friends of the Family leader is strongly anti-gay? Whose pocket are you in, CBS? Who owns you?

You're showing your right-wing colours, CBS. Shame on you.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Big steps

Ian and I took a big step today - we set up a joint bank account for our household expenses.

This is a huge change for us because up until now we've always kept our money separate; each of us pays a bunch of household bills from our own accounts. But since we're going to be buying a house together, we decided that it would be best if all the household bills came out of just one account. It'll be easier to keep track of what we're actually spending as well.

Of course we're each keeping our own separate accounts with our own separate investments and stuff. I've opened up accounts at Ian's bank to make transferring money into the joint account easier. And to get away from my current bank, which has annoyed me very much. I'd actually left this bank ages ago because they annoyed me then, but they bought out the bank I'd taken my accounts to. I'm feeling no small amount of satisfaction in leaving my bank again :)

Over the next week I'll go ahead and change all of my deposits and withdrawls. The bank could do it for me but I'd have to get all my account information together anyways, so I'll just do it myself.

It feels weird to be doing this, in a way, because it's like we're mixing a part of our money together. We're common-law anyways but having some of our money together makes the infrastructure of the relationship feel that much stronger, as though there's more binding us together, if that makes sense. It's sort of scary to me because I've never been this committed to someone before. It's going to take a while for me to get used to this, I think.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Movie night

We went to a friend's place to watch Surrogates tonight. It was ok but not as good as I'd hoped it would be.

Surrogates is a concept movie: people live through a robot, or surrogate, that's hooked up to their brains. So the people lie in a chair connected to this surrogate that goes out and lives their lives for them. It's an extension of game avatars, really, except that people represent themselves via these robots instead of avatars on a screen.

Of course all is not well in surrogate-land; not everyone wants to live through a surrogate because they feel that they aren't really living that way. Plus someone has gone out and made a weapon that kills not only the surrogate but the person behind it. The rest of the movie deals mostly with who made that technology, what they're going to do with it, and how to stop them.

On paper, this sounds like an interesting movie, doesn't it? Sadly, it's not nearly as interesting as I thought it would be. This is partly because some things don't make all that much sense. For example, all of the surrogates look pretty normal, even at a club that people go to. Why are there no people with horns or tails or other crazy looks? Why are people driving cars from today, fourteen years from now? Why are people driving cars at all?

Setting aside those aspects, the characters in the story are one-dimensional; they lack depth and their motives are quite transparent. This isn't just a problem with the characters, actually. The whole story is lacking depth and interest. It's as though the producers didn't flesh out the story enough, as though they thought about the first consequences of living through surrogates but they didn't push the story further to make it interesting.

This isn't a movie worth going out of your way to see, but if it happens to be on tv or something it wouldn't be a complete waste of watching time.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Book club experiences

I think I mentioned before that my Meditation group is now studying The Power of Now.

I was reading the book this week when it went skidding across the floor. I threw the book because I was annoyed by some of the text that didn't make sense and that seemed a bit arrogant.

I think I can get through this book but I'm approaching the rest of it with some trepidation. If I weren't in this book club, I'm pretty sure that I'd just stop reading this book. The concept of living in the moment isn't new - it's really just another name for mindfulness or flow. The difference is that this book describes some possible benefits from living in the moment

I brought all this up in the book club today because I figure I can't be the only person who gets annoyed with the book or who feels this way. We talked about it and at one point I said that when I was reading something or trying to learn something, I need it to be logically consistent. One person said, "but this book isn't about logic."

Ummm. Yeah.

Something can be logically consistent without having a stitch of logic in it, which I guess is something that is not clear to everyone.

I'm committed to working through this book... for now. I can't promise that it won't annoy me, though, or that I won't be annoyed by the people in the study group. There's still a possibility that I'll get something out of the concepts in the book, and that's what I'm trying to keep in mind.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Mystery solved!

So this mystery package turned out to be a version of Monopoly to celebrate my company's 25th anniversary. Yep, they Fedex'ed hundreds (thousands?) of these board games to their employees.

I admit that I was hoping for a better present than this - like, say, fabric or vintage patterns from a mystery donor :) Ian's thinking of taking it in to work and letting them play with (laugh at) it.

In other news, I got a message from Blogger telling me that they will no longer be supporting publishing via FTP as of March 26, 2010. That's what I currently do to publish this blog so I guess I'll have to migrate it somewhere else. Blogger says that they'll be providing tools to do the migration and take care of redirecting links and whatnot. Hopefully I won't lose all 1149 posts; I think the worst-case scenario is that I'll end up having to start fresh and link to this one for the history.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Fashion reality TV

I'm so excited - Project Runway 7 is starting up in Canada this coming weekend!!! The last season was such a huge disappointment but I'm hearing that this latest season is going to be much better.

They're back in New York this season, which means that their regular judges will be there all the time instead of appearing sporadically in LA. I know that Lifetime wanted to change Project Runway once they got the franchise from Bravo, but moving it to LA was the wrong change. Hopefully the show will stay in NYC from now on.

You might be happy to read that even if Project Runway turns out to be a dud from now on, there's a replacement in the wings. After losing Project Runway, Bravo went ahead and created a new show called Launch My Line that's been airing in the US and started airing in Canada on TVTropolis about a month ago.

Like Project Runway, Launch My Line is a fashion competittion reality series. Each contestant (called a "designer") is successful in a non-fashion field and wants to be a fashion designer. Each one is paired with an actual fashion designer (called an "expert") who will help them construct their clothes and give them advice or whatever.

One key feature about Launch My Line is that each contestant is actually making a runway collection one garment at a time. So each week they're adding a piece to their collection that not only is a part of their vision, but that also meets that week's challenge. As we get further along, each contestant's garments are considered both as part of the challenge and as part of their collection.

Since they're creating for a whole collection, the designers had to buy half of their fabric at the beginning of the series. They also have a different model every week, which makes sense because when you show a collection, you have different models show the clothes. It would be a really long show otherwise, yes? :)

Of course there's drama what with the wacky contestants (like the one who is really designing for herself) and the wacky experts (like the camera hogging drama queen), and the relationship between the two. Oh, and Dean and Dan from DSquared2 are the hosts. They're such cuties.

So if you're a Project Runway fan, I hope you're watching the show (or will be, when it starts this week). And if you do love fashion and competition, check out Launch My Line. It's well worth the hour each week. :)