Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Royal Wedding

I did stay up all night and watched yesterday's royal wedding. I slept for part of the day and then I was so tired later that I didn't even get a chance to post about it. I'm not going to post pictures of anything because they're already everywhere and you'd have to be living under a rock to not have seen any of them. If you were living under a rock you wouldn't be reading this, would you? :)

The wedding was amazing. They'd decorated Westminster Abbey with flowers and 20-ft high trees, creating a simple, natural-looking aisle. It was beautiful. Almost all of the female guests wore dresses with matching coats in pale colours and hats to match. Some women, like Victoria Beckham, wore navy or other dark colours but for the most part the ladies were dressed for the spring.

The bride was, of course, gorgeous. Her dress evoked Grace Kelly's wedding dress with its form-fitting bodice, a-line skirt, and waist-length veil. The bodice and long-sleeves were made out of handmade lace over a strapless bodice, and a deep vee neckline was created by the lace. I especially liked the lace, which had rose, thistle, daffodil, and shamrock motifs throughout and was handmade by the Royal School of Needlework. I didn't even know there was such a place! The lace was also appliqued to the skirt, which was pleated and made to look as though it was an opening flower when she walked.

The head bridesmaid, Kate Middleton's sister Philippa, wore an ivory, form-fitting, bias dress with a cowl neckline over a deep vee in front and buttons running down the back. The lace from Kate's dress was also appliqued onto this dress. Both dresses were the same colour which was definitely an unusual choice; most brides don't want their bridesmaids upstaging them on their wedding day by wearing the same colour.

Although the dresses were simple and different in shape, they looked similar enough and evoked a similar "feel", because both came from Alexander McQueen. Philippa's dress was modified from an earlier dress in his collection and Kate's was designed by Sarah Burton, Alexander McQueen's creative director.

Interestingly, Kate did her own makeup for the wedding. She has a hairdresser, and she had her hair in a half-up, half-down style for the wedding, but her face looked much like it usually does. In this way, she seemed quite down-to-earth. The fact that her family rented out an entire hotel and spent a lot of money on the wedding isn't important, is it? :)

Both Kate and William looked relatively relaxed and comfortable throughout their public appearances. They had genuine smiles and both seemed happy to see people. Contrast this with Diana, who was uncomfortable and overwhelmed when she was married to Charles. Kate Middleton is definitely going to be a good thing for the Royal family.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The royal wedding and my mom

Tomorrow is the Royal Wedding and although I've managed to avoid all of the hype so far, I'm still going to watch it. I watched Charles and Diana's wedding and my mom also woke me for Princess Anne's wedding in 1973. I don't remember that latter wedding at all, really; I just remember my mom waking me up for it. I suspect that if I were to watch the wedding I'd remember pieces of it.

I've been thinking about my mom a lot lately. Partly because of Easter, partly because of the royal weddings (the memories of them are tied together with my mom), and partly because of the upcoming Mother's Day, and partly because I just miss her.

I admit it - I do miss her. In her suicide note to us, she said that her death wouldn't affect our daily lives and at first I thought that this was sort of true but it turns out that it's false. I miss her so much that I'm sad more often than I used to be. I miss talking about things like the election and the wedding with her and I miss that I can't share the house or the garden with her.

There's nothing that can be done about this except live with it and let time heal those wounds and make new memories without her.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Entertainment: Video Games Live

Tonight we went out to see Video Games Live, a live show created and produced by Tommy Tallarico (formerly of Electric Playground) that uses an orchestra and choir to re-create memorable video game trailers and songs from the movie or cut scenes in the game. I think he originally developed the idea because he himself is a video game music person and he wanted to show that video game music is more than just a bunch of bleeps and boops.

The show opened with a montage of music from old and original video games, including Pong, which I really enjoyed because the orchestra made the bloop and blop sounds. There was also a lot of music both from the introductory game music and music gameplay. It was quite interesting. Laura Intravia, a classically-trained vocalist came in and did some opera-type singing which was spectacular. She also sang a few other songs and did an interesting dueling skit with her flute and a flower that had its own "flute" that she composed and arranged . Apparently she also composes music for video games; she's very, very talented.

Also making an appearance was Martin Leung, whose claim to fame is that he played the Super Mario Bros music on the piano while blindfolded. I don't play the piano so I don't know how difficult it is to play while blindfolded but it must be possible. He repeated that performance during the show and also played a couple of other times. He seemed very talented and his fingers were very fast.

In addition to composing music for video games and being a television personality, Tommy Tallarico plays the electric guitar. He played on five different guitars during the show. Most of them were sort of standard but one was a "steampunk guitar" which had a rifle barrel and sight above the frets. I don't know if the rifle actually worked but it was interesting, too.

No video game show would be complete without people playing video games. Two volunteers came up and played Frogger during the show and both received a prize of some sort. The doors also opened an hour and a half early so that people could play video games before the show, and the highest-scoring Guitar Hero player got to perform Jump by Van Halen on Guitar Hero on-stage. If he got a score of 240 000 or more while playing the Hard version, he got a prize. He chose to play the song on Expert and he hit every single note, which apparently hasn't happened on the tour ever. It was amazing to watch this guy play the song perfectly - and of course he scored over 240 000 points and won the prize.

There were a few other funny things during the show, like the worst vocal actors and the worst titles ever. The whole show was quite entertaining even if you don't know all of the video games (I definitely don't) and even if you don't like Tommy Tallarico (which I don't - I used to find him annoying on the show). I'd recommend the show if you're at all interested in video game music.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Happy visiting day

I had a wonderful day visiting with a friend of mine. She moved out of the area to go to school and although we've tried to get together, our schedules just didn't connect. Today she came here and we spent the bulk of the day together.

After showing her around the house and yard and chatting in our living room, we went out for lunch. We'd wanted to go to The Raintree Cafe but they were full so we went to Rude Native instead. It used to be an ok restaurant but their lunch menu is not what they were. I had the burger, which was supposed to come with brie, bacon, mushrooms, and an aioli. I don't like mushrooms so I ordered the burger without any and for some reason, without checking with me, the chef put a lot of lightly sauteed onions on the burger.

I took one bite, and then another, and then I scraped all of the onions off. I tried to eat the burger after that but the almost-raw onion flavour had got into the brie and it tasted really awful. Had the onions been caramelized I think it would have worked but the slimy, almost-raw onions with the brie were disgusting.

Fortunately, a manager was coming over to check on our experience just as I was scraping off the onions so my displeasure wasn't unnoticed. She was very apologetic and gave me half-off my meal. She also talked to the chef and found out that he had made the decision to put onions on the burger on his own; I hope that he won't do that again. Sauteed mushrooms cannot be replaced by lightly sauteed onions.

Since I didn't finish my meal I wasn't anywhere near full, so my friend and I decided to have some dessert. We went to Symposium, our usual dessert place, and had some very yummy desserts. Unfortunately, there was only one wait-person on duty while we were there and it was busy. The table of three hot girls managed to be seated, served, and gone between the time we got our dessert and left. Sadly, we didn't receive any attention from the waiter in that time because the other tables (especially the three hot girls) demanded his attention.

At least the company made up for the rather disappointing dining experiences. My friend and I talked and talked and talked and talked and I know that I had a great time and was so happy to see her and spend time with her. If I hadn't needed a rest before metalsmithing, I'd have loved it if she stayed longer but I was quite tired. I hope that we'll be able to get together again this summer.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Garden work continues... and another friend gone

Gardening is hard work - my legs and butt are definitely feeling yesterday's work and I'm moving really slowly today. Once I get going, I'm ok, but getting going takes a while.

We did more work in the garden today clearing out last year's dead growth. We have hostas practically everywhere, it seems, and they're starting to come up now. The ones who got the old stuff cleared away should be much happier now. There's so much more to do! There aren't that many annual plants out there but we need to clear away all of those, too, to make room for whatever we'll put in their places/

We also went down to a nearby nursery and garden center and picked up some herbs and a quite a few pepper plants to try to grow ourselves. We don't know how successful we'll be but we wanted to try. We think the peppers will grow happily in the greenhouse and that the herbs will be happy up there until it's warm enough to put them by the patio door, where they'll get full sun.

While I did all of this stuff this afternoon, I was (and still am) feeling sad. A friend that I met last year died this past weekend. I didn't even know that she was doing badly, and I feel terrible about that. She lived in British Columbia and she was a professor (in communications, I think) at a university there. She was so bubbly and happy and so strong and I admired her. When I read that she had died, I felt like I'd been hit in the stomach. I hope she was pain-free at the end and that her passing was peaceful. I'll miss her terribly.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter, everyone! I hope the Easter Bunny left you lots of yummy chocolates and eggs. The Easter Bunny found us even though we were in Mississauga - that Easter Bunny is pretty smart :)

We had a delicious eggs benedict and asparagus breakfast this morning. I've definitely eaten a lot of food this weekend so I'm fat and happy. I had a wonderful weekend at Ian's parent's house relaxing (and eating) and catching up. We don't get to visit as often as we used to and I miss seeing them. Plus when we're there we get to pick their very knowledgeable brains to get advice on our garden - especially with what needs to be done now, as well as flower choices - and getting more birds into our yard.

When we got home it was so nice out that we went out into the garden and started clearing out last year's growth. Many of our backyard plants are perennials and are starting to come up but we need to clear out last year's plants. We have several sweet pea plants along one of our gates as well as some other kind of vine and those are clear now.

We also cut down the tall grasses that are in one corner of the yard so that there's light and room for the new growth. I like those grasses, even when they're dead, because they give us privacy. Without those grasses there, our next-door neighbours and people in the park on the other side of our yard can see right into our side yard. I hope these grasses grow quickly.

If it's nice tomorrow we'll try and get more of the yard done. If it isn't nice (or when we get tired of doing yardwork), we'll do a bit of shopping. We'd like to find some pots and flowers for the front porch and some patio furniture for the backyard but that stuff doesn't just fall from the sky. I can also see myself spending some time outside taking care of our garden so I hope I end up liking this kind of work because we have a big backyard and garden.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter weekend

This Easter weekend has been fabulous so far. We ate yummy hot cross buns yesterday (and still have some for today). Later on I went out for a friend's birthday dinner at the 360 restaurant at the CN Tower. It's a rotating restaurant that gives you a complete view of the city and lake every 72 minutes. The food was plentiful and delicious, as was the company.

The tables were a little crowded together but we had a booth so we were comfortable and didn't feel squished. I think they get a lot of tourists there and people celebrating special occasions because there was a lot of Happy Birthday songs and a lot of pictures. Our waiter even came by and asked if we had a camera with which he could take our picture for us.

I hadn't seen my friend in quite a while and I've missed her so it was great to catch up with her. I also got to see her sister for the first time in ages and catch up with her as well as to meet a new friend. I hope to come back to the city to see them again this summer and I hope if they're driving by me that they'll stop by.

Of course if it's Easter weekend, it must be time to file our taxes. We managed to get both of them done in about an hour and a half and we ended up with a small net positive balance. I'm getting a refund for the first time in a few years while Ian gets to pay.

Now that our tax chores are done, we can kick back and relax for the rest of the weekend. And eat. Easter is great for eating lots of yummy food.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easter's on its way

Easter is practically here! Maybe the Easter bunny will pay us a visit, bringing us yummy treats.

Normally I just enjoy Easter but this year is different, I guess because my mom isn't here. For some reason, I've been thinking a lot of my mom today. I've been remembering those Easters that my mom would write poems that were clues to the location of the treats. Between these and other memories I've been feeling melancholy and sad most of the day.

Adding to my sadness, my maternal grandmother died on Good Friday - it was a different date than this year, of course, but it was still the same holiday. Most years this doesn't bother me too much, because it was so long ago, but it seems that my mom's death has brought my grandmother's (and my dad's) to my mind.

I'm still looking forward to the Easter celebrations this weekend but if I wouldn't be surprised if I feel this way for most of the weekend.. or for other upcoming holidays. This grief thing catches me by surprise each time although it makes sense that it shows up when it does. Major holidays, when people are spending time with their families, will of course remind me of my family - and that it's missing my mom.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Couponing to the extreme

I've been watching that new show Extreme Couponing on TLC and it's interesting. It's amazing to see people pay less than $10 for $500 or $600 - or more! - worth of groceries. Some grocery tills can't even handle the number of items that these people are buying. Getting those savings doesn't seem to be quite as simple as just giving coupons; you have to collect them, organize them, and cross-reference them against store sales. Apparently there are websites that can help do that as well.

I don't think these kinds of savings are possible here in Canada because we don't have the same double and triple coupon deals that they have in the US. Our rules seem to be a bit stricter here, too - in the US (in some places) it's somehow possible to use a coupon worth more than the value of the item and to get the difference as an overage to be applied to other items. These items aren't just free: the purchasers are getting paid for them, and these overages are used to "pay" for other items.

It's also possible to combine discounts in the US, and I don't know if that's possible here in Canada. For example: if a regularly-priced item is $5.49 goes on sale 2 for 1 and you have coupons for $3 off the item (and these coupons can be applied to each item in the pair), then for every two of these items you buy, you have an overage of $0.51 that can be applied to your purchase of meat or bananas. It's like cash. The trick is that you have to buy a lot of those pairs to get a lot of those overages to pay for non-coupon items.

If you have to purchase a lot of those items, then you end up stockpiling them. Having a stockpile isn't all bad - stockpiling items like toilet paper, laundry detergent, ziploc bags, and other non-food, non-expiring items makes sense. Having a three-, six-, or twelve-month food stockpile isn't bad, either, because then you're more prepared for economic changes. For some people, there's a sense of security in having a full pantry or cupboard. Or stockpile.

Some people take stockpiling and the thrill of couponing a bit too far and they start buying and stockpiling things they don't need. Like the woman who bought 62 things of yellow mustard when her husband doesn't like mustard. Or the guy who bought 1000 tubes of toothpaste. Or the woman who collected diapers for when she has a baby. Or the woman who bought cat food but she doesn't have a cat. Or anyone who buys more perishable goods (including cereal) than they can eat before those goods expire or go stale.

Another problem is that when you use coupons, you can buy only the things for which you have a coupon. If you're loyal only to a few brands, you might not get the same kinds of savings that a person who will use any brand will see. As well, most coupons are for processed foods, not fresh products. If someone only ever uses coupons they might not be eating a healthy diet.

I like the idea of extreme couponing but it's definitely not for everyone in every location. There's a thrill to getting that much stuff for free, especially in our consumer culture. Of course the people featured on the tv are more likely to appear a bit nuttier than the rest of us, but I do see the benefits in this sport. So what if their kids have stockpiled goods in their closet and under the bed? The beds themselves are clear. And no one will starve of be dirty.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Making another pair of earrings

I'm getting much better at soldering things. It's still sort of a miracle every time it works but I'm getting better. I had lots of practice today while making my bezel rings.

We were given 8mm cabochons in a choice of rose quartz, carnelian, or onyx. I love onyx with sterling silver so I chose two matching cabs (even though they're all supposed to be the same size, they're real stone so there will be subtle differences between them) for earrings. I like doing earrings because I can imagine wearing them. I don't really think of making brooches or pendants or rings or cuffs. Besides, making earrings gives me the chance to make two things - and that's extra practice.

So once I measured the circumference of the cabs (8.2mm, actually), I cut out my strips of metal that would become the bezel, annealed them so that they're soft enough to form, bent them into shape, and set them up to solder them into rings. One soldered perfectly. The other one melted.

I cut out another strip, annealed it, bent it into shape, and soldered it. Then I hammered it into a proper ring shape, saw it was a little bit too small, hammered it with a different hammer to make it larger, and it was too big.

I cut the ring open along the solder line, cut a couple of millimeters off the band, annealed it, bent it into shape, soldered it, and hammered it. It was a little bit too small (where have I seen this before?), so I took a different hammer to make it larger, and it was again too big. Again.

I cut the ring open along the new solder line, cut one millimeter off the band, bent it into shape, soldered it, and hammered it. This time when it was a little bit too small I didn't take a different hammer to it but continued to use the same hammer and it came out the right size. Finally!

My instructor says that I must have a really strong arm for that hammer, so I'll have to be careful with that in the future. The soldering practice was useful but I wish I'd been able to spend the time designing the earrings. I talked with the instructor and we've come up with something but I wasn't able to execute it tonight. Next time I'll solder the bezel rings to small pieces of silver sheet and then cut out an additional piece out of thicker silver sheet (with a pierced shape in the middle) and solder the rings so that the stone is sitting in the middle of the pierced area. Sounds like fun, huh?

I hope that the my next projects don't take quite as long to make. Actually, I hope I don't make quite so many mistakes even though I learn more from them than getting things right the first time. I don't think that I'm especially slow because I was focusing on making the bezel while others were making the rest of the piece today. I'm really looking forward to seeing all of our finished pieces next week.

Monday, April 18, 2011

New metalsmithing class starts tomorrow

My next metalsmithing class starts tomorrow. We're going to be learning all sorts of interesting new techniques including bezel-setting stones and soldered chains as well as some casting. Learning how to make soldered chains was why I started taking these classes in the first place.

A friend of mine had given me some coral beads that she wanted re-made into something other than coral strung on a thread. I had drawn up a few designs but I found myself frustrated because I couldn't execute those designs. The friend assured me that there was no rush in getting the finished product to her so I put the project aside. I still want to complete it and I hope that once I learn the techniques I'll be able to finish this project.

In addition to that project, I was actually finding that I was bored with just putting beads on a wire. don't get me wrong - I loved the earrings that I was making because they were lovely, but I wanted to do something else. I know that there are all sorts of wire wrapping that I could do but that isn't really what I want to do. I do want to experiment with knitting and crocheting with wire and beads but that's different from wrapping wire.

I'm also excited to be learning about bezel setting because it's a nice way to show off stones. In this type of setting, the stone sits in a band of metal and the metal edge is actually bent or folded over the stone just a bit. This setting shows off the stone better than a prong setting and the stone is quite stable in this setting. Of course it isn't necessary to use a precious or semi-precious stone in this setting - almost any bead or object could be used. These settings are usually used on rings and watches but I've seen them in pendants as well.

We'll be learning other techniques as well, of course. Can you tell that I'm really looking forward to this next course? I can hardly wait to get this class started.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A federal election rant

Have I mentioned how much I hate the political ads the parties are showing on tv? No? Well, then.

Before the election was even called there were ads from the Conservative party against Michael Ignatieff, leader of the Liberal party. Now the NDP are showing the same types of ads.

There are actual issues facing this country. Like ethics (or the lack thereof shown by various members of the conservative party). Or the economy, which has been affected by the global economic recession. Or our foreign policy, like our policy regarding Libya or Afghanistan. Or the environment.

But instead of talking about and focusing on these and other issues, the members of the political parties are conducting silly smear campaigns against each other. This is ridiculous. Very few people really wanted to have another election so soon after the last one and it seems that the parties feel the same way, but does that mean that they have to make a mockery of the process?

So much money is being spent on this election and on these silly ads and it's all such a waste.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Lego isn't just for kids anymore

This weekend is all rainy and cold - a far cry from the balmy temperatures we had last week. Last weekend we were outside walking, barbequing, and enjoying the summery temperatures. The cold and damp make me want to just curl up in front of a fire with the laptop or a book (or a kindle) or something. Instead of just sitting around, however, we put together a lego model of a backhoe loader.

Normally we wouldn't build ourselves a Lego model (our last collaborations were some 3-D Star Wars models and that was some time ago), but over at Ian's work they're doing a kind of robotics competition involving Lego. It's basically a simulated First Lego League competition, I think. Ian's meeting with his team tomorrow to work on their project and he'd wanted to get a sense of how the pieces went together and stuff.

When I was little (oh so long ago), the lego I played with came in blocks that fit into each other. Sometimes there were thin blocks, sometimes whole flat blocks, sometimes arch blocks, but they were all blocks. Lego is way more complicated now. There are pins and axles and gears and a whole host of things that a person could use to build a mechanical thing. It's amazing what can be built with Lego nowadays. I'm looking forward to seeing what Ian's team comes up with as their project.

My last post wasn't copied and pasted over to the other blog, which I hope is a good sign. The other posts on that site weren't deleted, however, so I guess I'll have to take some extra steps to finish it off. Since it's supposed to be rainy again tomorrow, I know that I'll want to just sit in front of the fire with the laptop so I'll spend some time figuring out what I need to do then.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bereavement group is finished

My last bereavement group session was this week. Apparently we'll meet again in a couple of months just to check in and see whether any of the techniques we learned were actually helpful.

I hadn't really wanted to go to this last session. The groups leader had told us that we were going to be talking about spirituality and I know that at least one person in the group was very strongly religious. She was the one who brought a cake to celebrate her son's birthday the week before; he'd killed himself a few months ago and his birthday was the next day. Anyways, she had been very worried that this same son wouldn't go to Heaven because he'd died by suicide and she'd been praying and praying and praying that he would be allowed to go to Heaven.

I don't believe in Heaven. Or Hell. Or God, even, and I'm definitely not at all religious. I was worried about going to the group because my beliefs don't fit with the beliefs of most of the people there and I was uncomfortable expressing my beliefs or lack thereof. I'd been uncomfortable with the cake the week before and my objection to it wasn't well-received, either.

As it turned out, I didn't have anything to worry about. Isn't that always the case?

One thing that did end up bothering me was that the group leader talked about how we in Ontario get Christmas off from work to celebrate Jesus Christ's birth and Easter off to honour his death. Well... yes, I guess that's sort of true. But not everyone who gets those days off believes in Jesus or cares about his birth or death. Why should everyone be forced into not working just because at one time a majority believed in those events? Is it fair that people who don't believe should be forced to take those days off instead of days that are important to them in their religion (if they have one)?

The group leader did say that this model was a good way to mourn someone: celebrate their birthday and honour their death. And that's true, but I wish that she'd used another example as well for those people that aren't believers. Especially when all this was brought up after I'd said that I didn't believe in all of this. I kind of felt railroaded a bit - just like I had the week before with the cake.

I don't know if I'm withdrawing from people and so I don't feel like I fit in or if I really don't fit in. Either way, I'm happy that these sessions are at an end for now.

BTW, if you're interested, I believe that all living beings are connected by the energy within them and that when any one of them die, the energy just goes back to the universe. We create our own Heaven or Hell in our lives and when we die, we're dead and gone.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Oncologist and CT scan results

My posts are still up on the thief's site so I'll have to take the next step. Sigh. I hadn't wanted to do that because it's energy on my part that I don't want to spend. But since my posts are mine and copyrighted to me I have to protect them. Maybe I'll get lucky and this particular post won't be copied and pasted. Yeah, and pigs fly, right?

I'd like to get in touch with the person who first contacted me and who's also been affected by this thief so that we can possibly coordinate our efforts. I tried to contact him by email on his site but I didn't get an answer so maybe I'll leave a comment on his blog.

I saw my oncologist yesterday and everything is still stable. Yippee! The CT scan showed that my mediastinal nodes have all returned to normal size. They're the lymph nodes that were enlarged last year that turned out to be enlarged due to sarcoidosis and not cancer. The fact that all those nodes are back to normal size is a great thing and hopefully it means that the sarcoidosis is stable just like the cancer.

The CT scan showed no other areas of interest. Yay! My tumour marker was 38 which is well within my normal range. My oncologist and I decided that because my metastatic cancer is still so minimal (involving just the one bone), I can see her every three months instead of every two. I'll also have my annual bone scan in August.

I talked to my oncologist about the pain I'm having in my right side below/behind/under my right ribcage. I don't know exactly where the pain is but it's inside my right ribcage, sort of. She figures the pain is bowel-related since my liver is clear. I was thinking that the pain might be due to my gallbladder because my sister had hers out some years ago, but my pain doesn't fit with the symptoms or the symptoms my sister had.

I suppose I should see a doctor about that pain since looking back at my old blog entries, it seems that I've had the pain for a year or so now. Having had life-long constipation and constipation due to my pain medication I wouldn't be surprised if there's something wrong there. I'm not going to worry about it much right now.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Thief is stealing my posts

This blog is being copied and pasted word-for-word somewhere else without linking back here or crediting me in any way. I'm pissed off about this - my blog isn't all that much, really, but it's mine and everything in it belongs to me. I also feel kind of violated. I know that everything on the internet is open to anyone, but at least when it's on my blog I have a sense of who's reading it. My blog does reveal information about my life and it bothers me that someone would steal my posts, making my life their own.

The guy who's doing this is also doing the same thing to many other bloggers. This thief runs a number of websites across quite a few domains and it appears that almost all of them are automated spiders that just grab and paste other people's posts. I found an account where someone did contact this guy and apparently the guy said that he was messing around with auto blogs and deleted the person's posts. He didn't delete anyone else's posts, however, so it's hard to believe that he's just playing around.

Stealing people's words is straight-up theft. Just because something is published on the internet doesn't mean that the material is available for every scumbag to copy and post as though the scumbag wrote it. This is so not cool.

I found some information on the internet on how to deal with this situation. I have found the thief's name and contact information as well as alternate contact information. Hopefully he'll stop taking my posts and will remove all of my posts from his site when he receives my email. I've contacted some of the other bloggers whose posts he's stealing and I hope that they contact him as well. I wish I could make him stop stealing everyone else's words because I feel so strongly about this issue.

Ironically, this post will almost certainly be stolen as well.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Just For Laughs Roadshow

I went with a friend to see the Just For Laughs roadshow tonight. These shows have four acts: an opener/emcee plus three other comics. Of the four I usually like two of them and dislike the other two because their jokes don't speak to me. Tonight, I laughed and laughed at all four of the comics. My belly is sore from all that laughing!

Each performer had a different style. The opener/emcee was Canadian Tim Nutt (unbelievably, the JFL site has his name spelled incorrectly - hmph!!) and he was very, very funny. He has a down-to-earth style of telling stories (which happen to be funny - my favourite type of joke) which really appeals to me. It's clear that he's just a regular guy; he didn't dress up in a suit or anything but just wore jeans and a sweatshirt. I really liked his act and would love to see him do an entire show himself. He was just that funny.

The second comedian, Orny Adams, had a very energetic, dramatic, fast-talking style. I didn't like it at first but I warmed up to it at the end because some of his stories were funny. While I liked all four performers, this one was my least favourite just because it took me so long to warm up to him.

Ryan Hamilton, the third comedian, was hilarious. His style was understated and a bit deprecating. He mostly talked about his romantic life - which normally I don't like, but his delivery made it funny - and what it would be like to have a kid's views and reactions as an adult. He was able to convey his humour not just through his voice but the way he positioned himself. He was very gifted at standing in just the right way so that he didn't even really need to speak; the audience could see the funny just in the turn of his head and position of his hands and feet. If I could see him perform an entire show by himself, I'd definitely be there.

Last up was Ralph Harris who is apparently sort of famous. I didn't love his humour as much as Ryan Hamilton's, maybe because the last guy had been so funny. Most of his humour focused on his relationship with his girlfriend and how he ended up somewhat emasculated as a result. Again, this isn't my favourite humour genre because I don't find that much of it is all that true or realistic but this guy was able to convey how it was true for him, which made it sort of funny. I didn't laugh as hard at his stories as I had earlier but I still laughed.

This show definitely made up for the last one and both my friend and I had a great time. I wish Ian had been able to come with me tonight because this was one of the funniest shows I've seen in the comedy series. It was the last night of curling, though, and he didn't want to miss that. I hope next year's comedy shows are this funny.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Trying to understand why I'm so cranky

I seem to be very cranky today. In my Bereavement Group, someone brought a cake to celebrate the birthday of the loved one who had died by suicide and for some reason this just annoyed me. I understand why this person wanted to celebrate the birthday but I just don't get doing this at the group - I know we're close but I didn't think that we were that close. It felt like an imposition to me.

I was also mad that the mom brought her month-old baby when the baby had a cold. I don't like being around sick people, even if they're only a month old. I didn't touch the baby, of course, and I tried to stay away from the mom, too. The baby was also noisy because she couldn't breathe.

I'm fairly sure that I'm over-reacting to both situations. I'm cranky. Yesterday my sisters and I found out that our mom's big debt - the student loan she'd never acknowledged or paid - has been written off and the case closed. This debt had been hanging over us and we were relieved that it's gone. But instead of feeling super-happy about the fact that the debt is gone, I've been grumpy and tense.

I used to argue about that loan with her because she just refused to pay it. She couldn't afford the full payments, and I get that, but she decided that she would stop acknowledging the debt and so she'd never have to pay. To me, that kind of thinking and behaviour was and is unethical and dishonest.

I guess I'm pissed off that she got away with not paying the debt. She got away with something I think is dishonest and that really bothers me. In some ways I feel bad because with the debt discharged, I'll receive a small pension inheritance - which means that I'm benefiting from this situation. While I'm not going to give up my small inheritance since the debt was legally discharged, I wish we'd never been put into this position in the first place.

The fact that this debt has been dealt with also means that we're one stop closer from finishing up with my mom's estate. Each time we get something done my mom's death seems more real. And in a strange way, for me it seems that the things we're doing to close up the estate somehow keeps my mom close and alive to me. Which means that as each step in closing the estate is completed, I'm feeling like my mom is being taken away. It's almost like she's dying a little bit at a time with each step.

There's nothing at all rational or logical about these ideas and feelings, I know. I don't even know if what I'm saying makes any sense to anyone but me. The trouble with feelings is that they have a mind of their own and I can't just tell them to be "normal" or to do what I want them to do. Still, having written all this out I have a better understanding of why I'm as cranky as I am, and that's a start. I think there's more to all of this - why am I associating not closing the estate with hanging on to my mom? - and I'll have to sit with those feelings for a while to figure it out.

I tell you, sitting with one's feelings and accepting them for what they are is hard. It's worthwhile, because I can start to respond to things in my environment rather than react to them, but it is not an easy process. I just hope that by looking at why I'm feeling cranky, I'll be less cranky in the days to come.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Academy of Country Music Awards 2011 Red Carpet

Another red carpet post! The 46th Academy of Country Music Awards were held in Las Vegas yesterday and there were quite a few people on the red carpet. Most of them were country singers - which makes sense since this was a country award show - but a few were from movies or television.

Once again, I really enjoy looking at these red carpet fashions because they're being worn by women with more normal, less skinny, bodies. Women also wore a wide variety of outfits on this red carpet, from short, casual dresses to long, floaty, formal dresses.

As usual, I'm only looking at women's outfits. See these fashions for yourself after the jump....

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Movie: All About Eve

Ian's travelling tomorrow morning for a couple of days and had to go into work to get ready. While he was gone I ended up watching All About Eve, a classic Bette Davis movie.

Davis plays Margo Channing, an aging theatre star, and Anne Baxter plays Eve Harrington. At first she seems to be a sweet, shy young lady who admires Margo Channing. She admires her so much, in fact, that she waits outside the theatre to watch Margo enter and leave the theatre and then watches the play every night. She tells a sob story of how she was poor and left by her husband and found a kind of redemption in watching Margo.

Margo may seem to be jaded but her heart softens for this girl and she hires her as a kind of secretary. Slowly but surely, Eve manages to replace Margo and to find her own fame. While Eve has a sweet face and apparently humble disposition, she's revealed to be a manipulative monster who will stop at nothing to get what she wants.

One thing I love about the story is that although there are men present, the story is really about how the women interact with each other. There are quite a few contrasts shown and played off of each other throughout the move: goodness and evil, deliberate and accidental bad behaviour, youth and age, and superficial meanness and meanness to the bone.

Not everything about this movie is great, of course. There are a few parts of the story  that aren't quite believable. For example, why would Margo just bring this woman off the street into her own home? Even so, it's easy to overlook these details because the story is so well told by all of the actors and the dialog is superb.  This movie is a joy to watch.

And of course the clothes are amazing to look at even though the film is in black and white. People dressed differently back then (at least in movies) and I love seeing how and when these clothes were worn. There's even a joke about a girdle being too tight :)

All About Eve is definitely a movie worth watching. Make time for this one.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

A big walk

We were lucky to have really gorgeous weather today. It was warm, sunny, and just a bit windy. The forecast called for possible rain in the afternoon (which we didn't get) so we went out for a walk in the early afternoon.

I haven't walked like that since the epic walks of last summer and it felt good to go out and walk for a while. We ended up walking over on the main trail by the river (which is very hilly in places). We'd hoped to see some interesting birds but there wasn't any wildlife out there today.

It's going to be a very pretty walk once things start to grow. There are a lot of trails off of the main trail going into wooded areas and along the river that we'd also like to explore. We'll definitely spend some time exploring all of these trails over the summer. I'll also be able to go for my epic walks in the summer along these trails. The fact that these trails are a bit hilly will make the walks a bit more interesting.

We were both tired after the big walk and needed naps when we got home. When you don't do much physical activity, an almost two-hour walk is a lot of work and very tiring. No matter how fun the walk was, of course we'll be tired afterward.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Dinner with friends

To celebrate a friend's birthday we went out with a group of friends for Indian food at Masala Bay. Ian ordered for everyone because he remembers the dishes that we all like and he's better at figuring out how much food should be ordered. Who knew that he was so capable? You'd almost think he was an adult or something.

The food was as good as I remember and the group of us ate almost all of it. We ordered one dish per person which usually ends up to be a bit too much food but we had some big eaters with us. I ate way more than I should have and I left feeling very full.

I love spending time with these friends and it's been a very long time since we went out for dinner with them. We used to go out for dinner after curling every Friday night but none of curl on that night now. We go to their place for movies once in a while and I like that but I do miss hanging out and talking with them over dinner.

The rest of the group went out for drinks afterwards but that's not our style so we came home. Back in the day I loved to go out to pubs and bars but that's not so much my idea of fun now. I think I'm getting old (or my hearing is, anyways) because I have trouble hearing one conversation when there are a lot of people talking and making noise. After I while I end up feeling like I'm overwhelmed by the noise and I feel physically uncomfortable.

I had a great time at dinner and I'm happy we went out.