Sunday, January 31, 2010

How high your highest of heights? How low are your lows?

Randomness from this weekend:

a) Went out with friends from work to celebrate the end of the first semester. It was fun, but not as fun as the very first time we smashed down the end of a semester. I guess that's life: you can't really replicate things no matter how hard you try.

b) Flava Flav ended up being at the place where we were. No joke. My friend's fbook status sums it up: "It's surprising that Flavour Flav doesn't realize his 15 minutes are up, especially considering he's always got a clock around his neck. I've never seen so many people head for the coatcheck."

c) Saturday was spa day with my friend Jane. It was super relaxing as usual. On my way home, I walked at a slow pace which is very much unlike me.

d) Saturday night rather sucked. After I got home, I had a yucky headache and I felt like shit. So, I had a hot bath and went to bed super-early and slept in late this morning.

e) I still didn't feel 100% on Sunday morning, so I ended up sticking around home and watching Glee DVDs. I really like Glee. I'm just starting to watch it. I wish I had an unmarried version of Mr. Schue at my school. (I'm not into home-wrecking... although does it count if the wife is horrible?) I think I could totally win him over with my nerdiness, musical coolness, and the fact that the kids like me. Anyway, I'm enjoying the show a lot, even though it would be nice to see the teachers mark once in awhile. Realism, please, ha-ha.

f) I am feeling better now. I should have done some housework/schoolwork, but I ended up watching the Grammies instead. I always chose to suffer through awards shows. I don't know why, but I do. Ah, this year it was worth it to see Lady Gaga's attire.

g) Tomorrow is the start of a new semester. New classes. New dynamics. I have to go to work tomorrow not knowing really what to expect. It'll be OK though. I've done this change over enough times in my day.

Hope every one has nice Mondays!

ps I got my Los Campesinos! tickets, and my buddy from Winnipeg is coming down for the show. I'm so excited!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Little things.

I like when I know that I'm appreciated. It's rare, but it happened today, and I really appreciated the appreciation.

I'm in a line of work where I work as hard as I can for the benefit of others, and even though I can feel the thankfulness, and I know it's there, it's rare that the thankfulness is spoken, or that I receive a tangible token of it. When it happens, it's really special, and keeps me going. Especially when the thank you comes from someone that a couple of months ago, I didn't think I'd be able to reach.

Also, it boggles my mind how I'm so awesome at some areas of my life, and so incredibly inept in others.

Also, why is there a word such as inept, but no such word as ept?

Also, having dinner with a bunch of teenagers is hilarious. I get to field questions like:

a) What is pilaf? (Umm, it has something to do with rice.)

b) What is sourdough bread? (It's a type of bread.) Ha-ha Miss. You're funny.

c) What is jambalaya? (It's spicy.)

d) Can I order a *insert name of alcoholic beverage here*? (Ha-ha. Now you're funny.)

e) Is so-and-so a good math teacher? (I don't know. I've never had her.) Ha-ha Miss. Good answer.

f) Really? You guys seriously throw stuff down the stairs to mark it? Really? So I could just write blah blah blah and it wouldn't matter? (Even if you say something really silly, there's a little bit of them that sort of believes you because you're a teacher.)

g) Why did you become a teacher? (Well, I always was one because I've been explaining things to people for as long as I can remember. In grade 8, the line-up at my desk was longer than the one at the teacher's desk.)

I saw a book at Indigo today called "Six-word autobiographies". I think mine would be "I have always been a teacher."

Bring on the new semester!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Shout into the wind: this'll never be the same.

Well, I got my birthday wish: Los Campesinos! is coming here in April, and I'm just waiting for the tickets to go on sale. Yay!

Also, I planned the Toronto part of my birthday today. I found a pub on a nice tree-lined street that would block off a big section for a lot of people. Should be fun.

It's weird figuring out who to invite though: friends change a lot over the course of time. I feel that I'm losing track of some of my university friends, and even former roommates. I feel really close to my work friends these days, although there is so much about me that they don't know. However, they see me pretty much every day, and understand my daily frustrations, and we have lots of fun together. Anyway, I decided just to invite everyone, and I bet I'll have some surprises show up. It'll be good.

It's also really weird that Becca T's not going to be at my party. I'm going to see her in less than two months, which is exciting, but I'm sad that she won't be there for my 30th birthday.

Also, I think a lot of friends probably think that I turned 30 last year, because Mathew and Becca T threw me a surprise party, and then I headed off to NYC. Oh shit, I just broke the mentioning my age moratorium. Oh well.

I'm taking off to St. Ratford for my actual birthday weekend, but I really wish that I was taking off somewhere else. But seriously, stfu self, you're taking off soon enough to France.

Anyway, I'm looking forward a lot to Friday for the big end of semester party with my work friends. I need a good night out. And, February tends to be a huge party month for me, and March is going to awesome, and so is April. It's just getting through the January blahs that's tough.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Romance is Boring.

Right now I'm on my first listen of the new Los Campesinos! , Romance is Boring, that I've been waiting for forever. It's so good so far. Yay!

Really, all I want for my birthday is for LC to announce a North American tour with a stop in Toronto. That's all.

Fave song titles so far are:
a) We've Got Your Back (Documented Emotional Breakdown #2)
b) I Warned You: Do Not Make an Enemy of Me
c) I Just Sighed, I Just Sighed, Just So You Know
d) A Heat Rash in the Shape of the Show Me State; Or, Letters from Me to Charlotte
e) Coda: A Burn Scar in the Shape of the Sooner State

I love long titles. And I love the excitement of new music.

Bonus marks if you can correctly identify the Show Me State and/or the Sooner State.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I'm going through the motions.

Nothing happened this weekend that I feel like blogging about, but luckily, Claire posted a meme for me to steal. Yay!

1. High heels or boots?

I don’t get this question at all. What about high-heeled boots? What if I like flats or sneakers? I feel that the options in this question make no sense, so I’d skip it except for the fact that it’s a shoe question so I have to put my two cents in. Right now I have a pair of black wedge boots that I love, but when it gets too slippery, out come the salt-stained Uggs. Such comfort!

2. What time did you get up this morning?

I was up at 9 am. Which is early for me on a weekend.

3. Diamonds or pearls?

Give me the bling.

4. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?

I think the last movie I saw at the cinema was “Precious” which was a long time ago.

5. What is your favorite T.V. show?

Fave TV show ever is The Simpsons (seasons 2 – 8). Current fave is 30 Rock.

6. What do you usually have for breakfast?

Right now I eat peaches ‘n cream oatmeal with yogurt and a piece of fruit every morning.

7. What is your middle name?

Alexandra. It’s derived from my maternal grandfather’s name.

8. What food do you dislike?

Onions! I pick them out of everything.

9. What is your favorite CD at the moment?

Well, my favourite album (I don’t own the physical CD) right now is “Alter the Ending” by Dashboard Confessional. I didn’t listen to it very much when I first got it, but it’s been on heavy play all weekend. It’s so fun! Love it!

10. Favorite Clothing?

Hoodies. I love hoodies.

11. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go?

Hmmm, well, I’m pretty sure I’d love to return to France over and over. And I’m doing a good job of that considering I’m going back for March Break.

12. Are you an organized person?

Not really, but I make it look like I am. I’m deceptively organized, I guess.

13. Where would you like to retire?

Seriously, when I’m done with my Toronto life, I’d like to spend my twilight years in St. Ratford. I was born there, and it wouldn’t be too bad to complete the circle there. Note: I’ll probably reject this idea when I’m old.

14. What was your most recent memorable birthday?

My 29th bday was exceptional. I woke up at the Waldorf Astoria in NYC, had breakfast at Starbucks, walked through Central Park to the American Museum of History, had a hotdog and a pretzel in Central Park for lunch, did the Top of the Rock, had the best hot chocolate ever at Dean and Deluca’s, had a nap, then saw Will Ferrell as GWB on Broadway, and ended the day with an awesome dinner at some little place with delicious food and atmosphere in Greenwich Village. It was better than the bowling birthday I had in grade 5 by miles.

15. What are you going to do when you finish this?

Have dinner and clean up this disaster zone.

16. Furthest place you are sending this?

I have readers in the UK and Europe, but sometimes I get random readers from anywhere, so we shall see.

17. Person you expect to send it back first?

No one really. But I’m going to call out my pal s.g. to do it.

18. When is your BIRTHDAY?

February 15th. Scarily soon!

19. Are you a morning person or a night person?

Not a morning person at all. Night owl all the way.

20. Do you have any animals?

One Ms. Rilo Kitty.

21. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share?

They just released another block of tickets to the sold-out Great Lake Swimmers show at Trinity-St. Paul’s and I scored some. That band sounds best in a church, so I was sad when I didn’t get tickets the first time. That’s about it for the excitement though.

22. What did you want to be when you were little?

A journalist or a novelist.

23. What is your favorite flower?

I don’t really have a favourite flower.

24. What is a date on the calendar to which you are looking forward?

There are quite a few:
a) Jan 29th – end of semester party with friends from work
b) Jan 30th – spa day with a friend
c) Feb. 6th – Great Lake Swimmers show
d) Feb 13th – Wedding Shower for Teresa/My 30th bday party (St. Ratford Chapter)
e) Feb 15th – My actual 30th bday which will be spent at the spa with friends.
f) Feb 20th – My 30th bday party (Toronto Chapter)
g) Feb 26th – Jack’s Mannequin Show
h) March 12th – 21st – March Break in France with Becca T!!!

25. What was the last thing you ate?

Sushi.

26. Do you wish upon stars?

No. The only thing I wish upon is dandelion fluff.

27. If you were a crayon, what color would you be?

Purple.

28 . How is the weather right now?

Rainy and cold.

29. Last person you spoke to on the phone?

My mom.

30. Favorite soft drink?

These days it’s Coke Zero.

31. Favorite restaurant?

Hard to say, but my comfort restaurant is my fave neighbourhood sushi place.

32. Hair color?

A nice shade of brown. Let's call it espresso.

33. What was your favorite toy as a child?

My collection of She-Ra dolls including Crystal Castle.

34. Summer or winter?

Summer = no work. So summer.

35. Chocolate or vanilla?

Chocolate all the way.

36. Coffee or tea?

Coffee all the way.

37. Favorite food of all time?

Hmmm, well these days it's sushi, but all time I would say a very good mac 'n cheese. Best one in Toronto is at the Victory Cafe.

38. Do you want your friends to email you back?

Of course.

39. When was the last time you cried?

Hmmm, I think it was Tuesday night. I had been barraged by unsolicited advice that night at dinner and I was upset by it. I held it in until I got home from Tegan and Sara. People are well-meaning, but they often don't think about what they say and how it might make someone else feel.

40. What is under your bed?

Boxes, dust bunnies, suitcases, and cat hair.

41. What did you do last night?

Ran some errands, then watched SNL and fretted about where to have the TO Chapter of my bday.

42. What are you afraid of?

Fear itself. Okay, that was me being silly. I am afraid of losing my loved ones.

Hmmm, I see that 43 is too cool for us. Whatever 43.

44. Best quality you have?

I think I’m kind and funny.

45. How many years at your current job?

6 years and counting.

46. Favorite day of the week ?

Friday after 2:50 pm!

47. Positive or negative?

Positive, for the most part!

48. How many people will you send this to?

I'm bypassing that and putting it on my blog!

49. How many will respond?

No idea. Memes are down to mood, I always think!

50. Do you like finding out all this stuff about your friends?

Of course!

Note: For #s 47 – 49 I left Claire’s answers ‘cuz I agree.

Meme-away, friends, and have a great week!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

And we dance to yesterday, oh.

Right now, I'm chilling on my couch, watching MuchMusic and they are actually playing music videos. That's so 1995! I must admit that I'm digging some stuff. I like Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, and I do like Bad Romance by Lady Gaga. I'm going to come out on my blog and admit that Gaga's okay with me. I thought she was super-talented when she performed on SNL (as did a fellow music geek of mine) and I like her eccentricity when it comes to wardrobe. Anyone who wears a dress made of Kermit the Frogs, is OK with me. Also, I have some happy memories to go with that song too.

Ugh, now it's Owl City. I like owls, but not Owl City. I've never heard anything sound so much like something else. Sometimes I'll hear Owl City being played somewhere, and for a brief moment, I think it's the Postal Service, but it's just the watered-down version. Bah.

Anyway, I'll stop live-blogging MuchMusic. But seriously, nothing else was on, and I'm staying up to watch Conan. I want to catch his last few shows. Last night's show was hilarious.

I'm also really loving a new single, We Dance to Yesterday, by my dear Hawksley. It's so appropriate that I'm writing about it as I'm feeling nostalgic since I found music videos on TV. I love how Hawksley can take pretty much any style of music (rock, pop, country, gospel, cabaret, electronic) and make it his own.

The video below is a little bit cheesy, but I love the end when he plays the drums. He's such a talented multi-instrumentalist and songwriter. This song sounds a little 80s to me, and it makes me want to dance. My recommendation: press play, and go do other stuff on the internet while you listen, if you don't feel like watching.



This weekend's going to be pretty quiet I think, but next weekend, I'm going to have to get my proverbial dancing shoes on to celebrate the end of the first semester by partaking in a fabulous tradition. I'm excited!

Anyway, until then, I still have one more weekend, and it'll be fabulous if chilled.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

They yell right on.

Wow! What a great show! During the concert, I kept thinking "oh wow, this might just be my last concert of my twenties**." Well, it was good enough to cap off a decade of heavy concert attendance by me.

Anyway, as soon as Tegan and Sara walked out and played the lead track, Arrow, from their awesome new album, Sainthood, I was in the land of concert bliss. Which is my very favourite place to be.


Most Tegan and Sara songs are short, which means you get a lot of songs during a show. I'm pretty sure they played all of Sainthood, and a lot of songs from The Con and So Jealous. The standout tracks for me were Soil, Soil, The Con, Nineteen, Alligator (3 keyboards at once!), Someday, and the encore which included Call it Off, and Living Room.

And, as always, I experienced the phenomenon where I hear a song that I'm only meh about, and I love it live. That song was Knife Going In.

The stage banter was hilarious, the openers (An Horse) were fun, the venue was Massey Hall, and the lights were awesome. Also, the company rocked. I gave the tickets as a gift to one of my close teacher friends as Tegan and Sara are her favourites. It was awesome seeing them with her.

So now I've knocked another band off of my ever-shrinking list of bands to see, and my first show of 2010 was awesome. I know the trend will continue.

**I'm declaring a moratorium on the turning-thirty talk on this blog until it happens. It's not because I'm freaked out about it, but you all might get sick of it. Until then, there might be some birthday-planning talk, but I'm not going to gripe about the number. I've already booked a day at the spa and lunch with some friends for the day of. Now I just have to figure out a party or something.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Forget forgotten, I am moving past this.

Tomorrow night is this!



This is my most-listened-to Tegan and Sara song. It's so fun, and I think anyone can identify with being conned. But whatever, you cry, you move on, and you still have good karma. The conner, not so much.

Anyway, I'm so excited for the show. I've never seen them before. And, my pal in Winnipeg caught them last week, and told me that it was awesome. I like advanced reviews. Not that I doubted they'd be good, but I hope I get the Living Room/Call It Off encore that Winnipeg got.

So less than 24 hours 'til my first show of 2010 and I am pumped. :D

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I've got your words in me.

Today's been one of those days where I have a bunch of different posts zooming around in my head, but by the time I'm sitting at my computer with a chance to write, they've zoomed away.

I know I'm feeling a little bit emo today, even though I had a perfectly pleasant day. I tend to always feel emo on Sundays. Weekends go too fast.

Also, I'm ready for the semester changeover. It's time for something new.

There's something perhaps super impossible that I want in my life right now, and I wonder if I'm going to ignore a couple of possible options that could very well (or not) present themselves to me because I'm overly fixated on the impossible. Maybe it's just another case of me sabotaging myself because I'm afraid of change, who knows?

Sorry for the complete ambiguity of the above sentences. When I get emo, stuff like that comes out, but never very clear. It makes sense to me though, and non-specifics are so non-incriminating. (Note: I didn't commit a crime, ha-ha.)

Oh, my fave quote ever just popped up on gmail again. Gmail always knows when it's Monday.

Howard Nemerov - "A teacher is a person who never says anything once."

I hope that you have a very non-emo Monday. :D

Friday, January 15, 2010

I might write something that I want to say to you someday.

First off, I've now entered my last month of my twenties. It's exactly one month 'til I hit the big 3-0. I was feeling ready for it before, but now I'm not so sure. Anyone have a time-stopping device that I can borrow?

Tonight I feel like I'm showing my age. I came home from work exhausted from the week and passed out for a three hour nap where I had some messed up dreams. I feel better now, but there goes Friday night. Oh well, I gotta do some cleaning/laundry and take down the Christmas tree (pathetic that it's still up), although part of me wants to leave it up for my birthday, ha-ha. That's the lazy part of me, I think.

But, the rest of the weekend looks good. Gym of course. My goals around the gym are to go twice during the weekend, and twice during the week, and I'm on week three of that. Don't they say that after 21 days, things become a habit? That's what I'm hoping of my healthy-eating/excerise regime of 2010. I've made it 15 days, so 6 more and it'll be second nature, right? Right.

So after the gym tomorrow, I'm hanging out with my friend Fea, and then I think I have movie plans in the evening with Mathew and others. Gym on Sunday, and then drinks at a fave pub. (Those will cancel each other out, right?) Then Sunday night, I'll attack the ever-shrinking pile of marking, and go to bed early because someone needs to get to work early on Monday 'cuz she's vastly unprepared again.

I also need to finish "Too Much Happiness" 'cuz it's due back on Monday. I have two stories left. And, "The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat" is in, so I have that to start reading.

Last note of excitement - Becca T called me yesterday! It was a brief convo, but we spoke of meeting in Paris in March. So, in order for me to go to Paris and meet her, I'll inevitably have to turn the big 3-0. So maybe I'll let time keep ticking, face the inevitable, and rock France.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My every move is guided by the bidding of the singer.

Well, not much is going on these days. Isn't that always true of January? Work is really busy, and I'm keeping up with my new year's resolutions (yay!), so I guess I am busy, but nothing too exciting.

But wait, what am I saying? Life is exciting when you have a good book to read and a new album to hear. Oh, and it's one week 'til Tegan and Sara. And actually, work keeps me entertained, what with the persistence of the thorn in my side (which I've learned to just laugh about instead of getting upset), and the fact that my students provide with entertainment on a daily basis. So I take it back, there is a lot going on these days, it's just not movie-star excitement, but it will do.

Now, on to the book and the album.

I'm reading "Too Much Happiness" by Alice Munro. I can't believe this is the first Alice Munro book I've read. She's kind of my homegirl, in that she's from rural southwestern Ontario, and man, can she write. She won the Man Booker International prize last year.

I think I'd never read anything by her before because my dad is a big fan. My dad and I trade books a lot, but we sort of mistrust each other's taste in a way, so that might be one reason that I've never read Munro. Another reason is because she writes short stories, and I've never been a short story person, but that may be changing. Anyway, sigh, now I have own up to my dad that I should have taken his advice on Munro long ago. (And that rhymes!)

Also, I have to sheepishly admit that my friend Joanna (who just had a baby girl last week! congrats!) lent me an Alice Munro book that I never read and that must be kicking around at the 'rents house.

Now onto the new album. A couple of weeks ago, I came across a new song called "Lewis Takes Action" by Owen Pallett, who used to go by the moniker Final Fantasy and is from Toronto. I loved it, and learned that his new album, Heartland, would come out today. I'm on my first listen, and I think "Lewis Takes Action" is still the standout track for me, but it's one of those albums I'll have to listen to repeatedly to figure out. But so far, I definitely like it.

And, if you'd like to be amazed, watch the video below of Owen Pallet performing "Lewis Takes Action" with an orchestra in Vienna. (I hate when videos don't fit properly on one's blog, but I love this performance so much that I'll leave it.)



I once saw Owen Pallet play violin with Great Lake Swimmers at a church in March of 2007. It was such an amazing show. I was very impressed with his mad violin skills. That concert is one of the great musical moments that I'll always remember. And I have a lot of those moments.

Yeah, so an impressive body of musical moments in one's life is another reason to be excited. Yay! Pfft to not much going on!

p.s. And there's a new Hey Rosetta! EP. Win!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

But what did you expect?

Well, this weekend has been pretty boring. I have a TONNE of homework to do (marking, writing exams, lesson planning) so I've been staying home hoping that will mean that I'll get it done, but I've been doing every other chore (laundry, dishes, cleaning, grocery shopping, reading, patting Rilo, watching Intervention online, going to the gym) expect the schoolwork. That will be the remainder of today. Really, I should not have turned down the invites that I had this weekend since I could have gone out and still been exactly where I am right now. The only thing I haven't done is take down my Christmas tree.

Anyway, since I have nothing interesting to say, I'm just going to post a youtube video of one of my favourite songs of the moment: "The Sea is a Good Place to Think of the Future" by Los Campesinos! Oh, and I've noticed that I spell their name wrong all of the time. How embarrassing.



My favourite part of the song is at 1:50, when they sing "But what did you expect?" I always put this song on first when I go to the gym, and one day, just one day, I'll forget where I am and scream it out loud. That will be perhaps more embarrassing than constantly misspelling a fave band's name on one's blog.

I also like the line "you could never kiss a Tory boy without wanting to cut off your tongue again."

Oh, and if you'd like to legally download this awesome song, courtesy of the band's website, go here. Their new album comes out February 6th, and I'm oh-so-excited. I've heard three songs and they are all fabulous.

Okay, enough of rambling. I should go eat, and then work. Hmmm, maybe Starbucks before work? That sounds fair. Anyway, I hope that you are having a more fun weekend. :D

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

A post where I look back at my former scholastic pursuits.

I had a rather crappy day at work yesterday. Well, it wasn't crappy all together, let's just say I have a major thorn in my side that was really prickly yesterday. The nice thing about my job is that I can spend seventy-five minutes with the thorn poking into me, but that's followed by my grade nines who have turned into a lovely bunch of people. They are very sweet, and were a great remedy for the thorn.

After school, I had booked myself a hair appointment that I almost didn't make because of the thorn. However, I made it, and on the way back, I passed by good old U of T. As I was walking by the south end of the campus, I thought about how I worked my ass off for five years at that school for what? To deal with thorns? However, then I thought about my grade nines, and all of the other things that I love about my job, and I realized they all outweighed the thorn and made my job more than worthwhile.

I wrote the post below eons ago during a sleepless night in my old bedroom at the 'rents in St. Ratford. I came across it as I was doing some hard drive organization this past break, and thought that I'll post it one day. Walking by U of T made me think of it, and how I really miss being a student. Those were fun days. So I'll post it now.

***

Every few trips to Stratford, I’ll drag out the folders of university essays/tests/et cetra that are stored in folders in a Rubbermaid container.

Looking through these papers are a really nice reminder that even though I often feel that spending more than 6 years of my life teaching high school may being diminishing them, I used to possess some mighty fine book smarts. The hours that I’ve spent looking at many atrocious assignments have not been good for my brain.

Apparently my writing was once “beautiful” and “interesting”, although I think that applies more to essays of a scientific nature, and not pat-myself-on-the-back blog posts such as this one. (Although, if you can’t pat yourself on the back on your own blog, where can you?)

My academic background is a four year degree in biology at the University of Toronto. I didn’t have the need to focus my studies in one specific area; I took courses that interested me, or that were taught by profs that I liked, or got positive reviews in the Anti-Calendar. Hence, I took courses in botany, zoology, evolution, animal behaviour, and anthropology. Not to mention the standard physics, chemistry, calculus, and statistics courses that are the required torture of any science student. Although being slightly masochistic and nerdy, I liked those courses. Since U of T wanted us to be well-rounded or something like that, I also took a Greek/Roman mythology course to fulfill my humanities requirement. And, in fourth year when I clued in that I could sneak in a bird course or two (not an actual ornithology course, that sadly didn’t fit my schedule), so I took a course in the World of Popular Music.

Anyway, I love to flip through my old university work that I no longer understand. It’s mind-boggling to consider the following:

- I wrote a 17 page paper on “Genetic and Environmental Influences on Population Trends of Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes”

- That in a mammalogy lab exam, I was to identify that specimen A belonged to the family Vombatidae, specimen B was from Phalangeridae, and specimen C was from Macropodidae.

- I wrote a 14 page paper on taxol biosynthesis. This is actually quite interesting in theory, since taxol is a compound derived from the bark of the Pacific yew tree that has anti-cancer properties. However, less interesting is that: “the first, very slow, committed step of taxol biosynthesis is the cyclization of geranylgeranyl diphosphate to taxa-4(5), 11(12)-diene”. More interesting is that I used to understand what that meant.

- I wrote 11 pages on fungi as parasites. My fungi professor totally dug it, because it was about his favourite topic: fungi, of course.

- I wrote a 12 page paper called “Linking the physiology and evolution of senescence: the disposable soma theory” where I took the bold stance that the disposable soma theory is the most compelling theory of the evolution of aging. Whoa.

- On a macroevolution exam, I correctly was able to use additive binary matrices (huh?) and all kinds of pretty-looking tree diagrams to correctly identify that the general pattern of an area cladogram is vicariance. Yeah, I don’t understand what any of that means either.

- I was able to use a goodness of fit test to assess if data follows a Poisson distribution. I’m pretty sure that has nothing to do with fish…


I am glad that I had the brains to save all of this stuff that proves that I did, at one point in my life at least, have some brains. I’m pretty sure if I was able to put my mind to writing 14 pages on taxol biosynthesis in the past, I surely can put my mind to anything. It’s just a matter of believing in myself.

Monday, January 04, 2010

More New Year's Resolutions...

I decided that my resolutions for 2010 were:

1) Eat healthy.
2) Exercise more and find new things to do so that I don't get bored.
3) Keep my apartment neat and organized.

So far so good. Yes, I know it's only January 4th. However, the first day back after holidays did not cause me to succumb to a craving for cake, so that's not too shabby.

Also, I added another resolution as I was rambling on in an earlier post.

4) Make a list of things in Toronto to do that I've never done before and do them. (E.g. finally see a movie at one of the retro cinemas down the street from my apartment.) I'm going to make the list when the weather's a little nicer though.

However, today, I realized that I wanted to add three more resolutions/goals.

5) Get to work earlier. I had to do this today because I was vastly unprepared. The day went so much more smoothly and I was relaxed. In the past year and a half, I keep getting to work later and later and I hate coming in all flustered. Seriously, 15 mins less in bed = smoother commute = what seems like 30 mins more to get ready for the day.

6) Take a daily multivitamin. Miss Ash inspired this 'cuz it was one of her goals. I used to be in the habit of doing this, but I fell out of it. Why are good habits so much easier to break than bad habits? Anyway, tomorrow I'm going to get a shiny new bottle of vitamins.

7) Use the library more. Toronto seriously has an awesome public library system, and I need need need to take advantage of it more often. After reading the an interview with the author "Still Alice", I wanted to read a book called "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" by Oliver Sacks. I went to Indigo to pick it up, and they apparently had two copies, but they couldn't find them. Today, I went to find it at the library. It was apparently in, but not in its place. (This book seems to be very sneaky.) Anyhow, no worries: there are like 40 other copies elsewhere in the system, so I put it on hold and I'll have it in a couple of days.

And as a bonus, I came across a book that I've been resisting purchasing on the "Best Bets" table: "Half Broke Horses" by Jeannette Walls. I've really wanted to read it, but it's only in hardcover, and the last thing I need to do is spend more money on books and accumulate more books. Yay!

I like the number 7, and I think that that 7 is a perfect number of resolutions to have. Actually, I believe that my eccentric high school math teacher, who liked to add random, often religious, facts to his lessons, told us that 7 is the number of perfection. So seven *is* a perfect number of resolutions to have, assuming I remember correctly, which I usually do. A quick google search just confirmed that 7 is the number of spiritual perfection, and hence an ideal number of resolutions to have.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Guest Post: We all live downtown, we all die downtown, step over ourselves.

Hi, my name is Wes, you may remember me from such blogs as Smashingly and (untitled). I'm here today to tell you about my top albums of 2009. Christielli has been nice enough to let me publish my list for the past couple of years, and I thank her so much for it. I would like to start off by having a moment of silence for my computer. The computer I used to do all my blogging for over three years, the computer I poured myself all over, finally crunched its last byte yesterday.

Thank you so much unnamed computer.

****Silence****

Ok, that's enough, on with the list!


10) "21st Century Breakdown" by Green Day. I start off the list with probably the biggest disappointment of the year. After the wildly successful American Idiot, it was going to be hard for Green Day to top that album in critical acclaim and fan devotion. The fact that they were still releasing singles and winning awards for that album more then two years after its release really says it all. 21st Century Breakdown is merely just a rehashing of the most mediocre elements of American Idiot, with only a few highlights here and there, which is how it just barely made my list. BTW, my disappointment in this album has prevented me from purchasing the new Weezer album this year, in fear that I will suffer the same disappointment and begin to resent them, as I have with Green Day.

9) "Middle Cyclone" by Neko Case. I hate to say this album was a disappointment, but it kind of was. After the much loved "Fox Confessor Brings The Flood", I had high hopes for the new album. Its certainly not a terrible album, and doesn't fall as short as 21st Century Breakdown did for me, but it lacks the heart that Fox Confessor had. For whatever reason, I just couldn't get into this album, it just never sat right with me. It felt like she is trying to change her sound, but only went half way, and I feel like I am being pulled in two different directions, if that makes any sense. I got to see Neko in concert this year as well, it was a good show. As good as a show could be in a non-air-conditioned theatre in the middle of a heat wave could be.

8) "Masters of the Burial" by Amy Millan. Another year and no new Stars album, very disappointing. I guess Masters of the Burial is supposed to tide me over. The songs on this album are much more mature than the songs on Amy's other solo album, Honey From The Tombs, and rightfully so. All those songs were written many years ago, and recently recorded, whereas the songs on Masters are new and fresh. Amy's voice is as soulful as usual, and some unique sounds are utilized, for instance, the unconventional percussion sounds on Day To Day. Its a solid album, but I'm holding out for more Stars.

7) "The BQE" by Sufjan Stevens. Ok, so only Sufjan would drive along a congested, headache creating highway that winds through the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens for eight months, and then make an album and a movie dedicated to that experience. It kind of makes you question his sanity, but then you listen to the album and you immediately realize that this is not the case. What results out of this experience is a beautiful album that only Sufjan could create. It begins with a muddled mess of noise and dissidence, and ends with the sweet, and subtle caress of a single piano. In between, you get, well, everything in between, including one song that seems to be the collision of every techno/electronic song you have ever heard before. However, each song is undoubtedly Sufjan . The only thing better then listening to this album, is watching the images along with the music, which creates a most joyous ride.

6) "Years (By one thousand fingertips)" by Attack In Black. Christielli introduced me to this great band during her brief visit to Vancity a few years ago. We both enjoyed the rocking nature of Marriages, their debut album. Well, Attack In Black have released a different kind of album this time. Instead of a rocking 12 track album, they have released a stripped-down, acoustic inspired 16 track album. Its a complete change of pace from their first album, but its a change that I have enjoyed. Gone are the upbeat riffs and tempos, and what is left is authentic and pure. From a production stand point, its an incredibly interesting album, as many unusual techniques and sonic capabilities are used. But just from a listeners stand point, its a great album that will probably never reach its full potential.

5) "Its Blitz!" by Yeah Yeah Yeahs. So I have been a huge fan of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs ever since Show Your Bones came out. It was one of my favorite albums of that year. But their mainstream success was lacking with that album, not enough hits I guess. I thought it was brilliant. Now enter Its Blitz!, which is an obvious attempt at more mainstream attention. Out are the roaring guitars and smashing drums. In are the electronic synthesizers and 80s inspired percussion sounds. Gone are the dynamics and creative structures. Enter the tightly controlled sonic spectrum, and probably the trendiest sound of the year. Now, don't get me wrong, I still enjoy this album a lot, otherwise it wouldn't be so high on my list. But I just can't help but notice the contrast between this album and their previous. Maybe they were feeling the pressure to hit it big in the mainstream like Canadian acts such as Feist and Metric, or maybe this was purely how they wanted to present themselves, but I just can't help but feel like this album was created with a calculator.

4) "Fantasies" by Metric. Ok, I heart Emily Haines. In my eyes, she can do no wrong. She could create an album using only the sounds found on an Atari video game system, and I would still buy it, and love it to death. The same goes for Fantasies, I love it more then anything she has done before. Like the previous album discussed, Fantasies seems the most "pop-y" and mainstream of all the Metric albums. It is an obvious attempt for radio play, but I'm fine with that when its done this well. I don't get the feeling that they have changed their sound all that much to adjust to the mainstream, it feels more like the mainstream has finally caught up to Metric. All of the creative attempts are still there, they are just more tightly controlled and channeled. Its an album with no filler that hits you smack between the eyes, but then gently cradles you into musical bliss.

3) "Swoon" by Silversun Pickups. Welcome to Smashing Pumpkins v5.0. I'm kidding, they don't sound that much like the Pumpkins, I just like perpetuating the stereotype. After the huge success of their debut full length album Carnavas, the Silversun Pickups had a lot to live up to. Ok, I just checked, Carnavas only made it to number 5 on my Best Albums of 2006, but that was because it was behind four brilliant albums that year. So even though I like Swoon a little less, it made it to number three, I guess this year wasn't as good for music for me. ANYWAYS, let me cut off that Chuck Klosterman side-track before it gets too far. Silversun Pickups have definitely matured since Carnavas and have become much more clever, not so literal. Instead of going straight for the heart of the matter, they curve, twist, and sneak up behind the matter at hand. Now if only The O.C. was still on the air so I could see the entire album utilized during intense moments between emotionally driven teenager-ish kids on my tv screen.

2) "One Fast Move or I'm Gone" by Jay Farrar and Benjamin Gibbard. Like Emily Haines, I heart Benjamin Gibbard. And like The BQE, this is a soundtrack to a movie, making it two soundtracks on my list this year. That's a new record! What can I say about Ben Gibbard that I haven't already said? Well nothing really, other then he never ceases to amaze me. This time he creates an album with Jay Farrar that is nothing short of brilliant. Its soft, inspiring, and most of all, beautiful. Its showcases yet another side of Ben Gibbard that had yet to be revealed, but it was one that we all kind of knew was there. Jay Farrar provides a nice contrast to Ben's voice, giving the album a real full sound. The album is full of great "twankiness" and signature Gibbard phrasing. If he really wanted to, Ben Gibbard could make the dictionary sound musical and melodic with his phrasing.

1) "Vancouver" by Matthew Good. So there was really no competition here for my top spot, Mr. Good had it the moment Vancouver slipped into my CD player. And I'm not biased because I live in Vancouver, because I'm not really from here, so I don't have any sort of connection to here like Matt Good does. But I won't lie, its pretty cool to have an awesome CD named after the city I currently reside in. So how good is "Vancouver"? I'm still not sure where it falls in the spectrum of Matt Good solo albums yet because only time will tell me where it needs to be, but for the time being, Vancouver definitely has some attributes that his other albums lack. Most of which being focus and coherency. His three previous solo albums were all a little bit of a mess, a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and this was not more evident then in his last album, "Hospital Music". That albums featured everything from long, epic type of songs, to short little sound bites, and everything in between. But Vancouver is focused behind its title, its the most evolved album that he has recorded so far. Taking bits and pieces from previous work, he seems to be on a new plane, a new plateau, a new level. Everything that he has ever known was channeled and focused into ten complete songs behind one theme, one idea, one message. And for the first time, I truly think we finally see what Matt Good is capable of.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

You sure can start.

Happy new year!

With this post, I can now say I've blogged in two different decades. I love that it looks like last decade has finally gotten a name: the noughties. I like it. Wow, I can't wait 'til I can have a noughties party, although, seriously, what would that even entail? Oh well, I still haven't had the nineties party that I've dreamed about for a long time, so I should really cross that bridge first. Perhaps I could have a nineties-inspired birthday party this year? Hmmmm, maybe. That's *if* I have a party. I might just go away for the weekend instead. Too many decisions. I might just need an extension on my birthday this year.

Wow, that was a whole lotta stream-of-consciousness blather, but I'll keep it.

So far this year has been pretty quiet. But that's OK with me. I've done some reading, some catching up with friends, and a bit of dreading the inevitable (going back to school).

Rilo's new year's resolution seems to be to keep an eye on me. So far, she's watched me cook some veggie chili, knit a mitten, then read a book,blow-dry my hair, and now she's watching me blog. I bet she wishes she had a more exciting human. Her particularly watchful behaviour might be that she's just weirded out that the apartment is clean.

Onto another topic: there's a street near my house that I love. Pretty much everything I need is on this street: a Shopper's, my grocery store, a decent pub, my fave gelato place in the world, the place I go for manicures and pedicures (like I did today), a good used bookstore, a couple of sushi restaurants, a really nice Second Cup (although I wish it was a Starbucks), Rilo's vet, and my gym. However, I love the street because the rest of it looks like it's straight out of the sixties. There are a lot of small neighbourhood shops, and unique places that look like they are out of the sixties like two old cinemas, and vaccuum repair shops and box stores and things like that.

Anyway, as I was walking down this street in the cold, I was thinking about how there are lots of little places that I'm always saying "I need to go here" but I never do. I've never seen a movie at either of those cinemas, and I really should. So, one of my goals for 2010 will be to walk around my neighbourhood and make a list of things I'd like to do. And I'll extend that to the rest of the city too. However, I'll wait for warmer weather.

Well, that's my post. Can you tell that I'm writing this as a way to procrastinate going back out into that weather? I need to go to the gym. Whenever I don't want to go to the gym for whatever reason (the cold, laziness, etc.) my friend-the-gym-teacher's voice rings in my head saying "You'll never regret going to the gym, but you will always regret NOT going to the gym." The funny thing is that I've told my mother about this saying, and now my mother thinks that my friend is my personal trainer. The other day when I was complaining that I was sore, she said "You should tell your friend about that. She'll have good advice."

Okay, I will stop this post-of-procrastination, and head off, since I don't want to regret not going to the gym.