Saturday, February 28, 2004

EdTwins – Almost 4 Weeks

Allan holding the twins.
This expression on my brother's face just cracks me up. He won't be able to hold them this way for much longer -- soon they'll be squirming too much and they won't be sleeping at the same time. He'd better enjoy the peace while he can!

Twins, Week 4.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Sometimes It's Best Not to Look

There are times when it's best not to play the What If? game. I'll give you an example:

Sometimes, on a lark, I'll go to Ryanair or Easyjet's sites to see what fares are for flights I've already booked. I do this all the time, and it is a nasty habit I should just stop! I had a look at the Dinard-London segment on Ryanair, and it's now -- get this -- 1.99 EUR! It's not that bad, I mean, I paid 19.99 EUR base fare for that flight, but oh my, I could've had it for 1.99 EUR!!

You'd think I'd know better than to check my Easyjet flights, too, but curiosity got the better of me, and I just had a look... whew! The prices are currently the same as what I'd paid. It's all another form of gambling, and I'm a terrible gambler, I'll admit it. I suppose I am paying for peace of mind; booking ahead is a form of insurance because I don't have any flexibility with my Vancouver-London flights or with the wedding in the middle of the trip. I simply can't afford to gamble with not being able to get the flights that I want just to say I got the bargain of the century.

Catch-Up on This Week

I realize I slipped under the radar for most of this week. After being sick last week, I hit the ground running on Monday, pulling an all-nighter Sunday on a writing assignment. Also, sending out two office reports and getting some rather tragic news made for a rather hellish Monday. Pulled another all-nighter on Monday night to finish the assignment, and dragged my sorry carcass to the office on Tuesday afternoon in the co-op car I booked over the weekend: a lime green Volkswagen Beetle, my nth? co-op car.

The previous week I was in a Honda Civic hatchback, the week before that I was in a silver Mazda truck -- a beast of a vehicle, but all I could get at the last minute. So far, my favourite car is still the Toyota Prius hybrid, of which the co-op has only one, but I'm sure they'll look into getting more. The Volkswagen Beetle is a pretty zippy little car -- I did a lot of speeding in it over two days -- but I like the noiselessness and handling of the Prius in the city. That said, I love being able to drive a variety of vehicles. I don't know if I could just buy a car one day and stick with that after having this much variety.

Returned from two days in Sechelt, a bit more rested, on Wednesday night, but still with loads to do. But I needed a time-out from work, so I'd made arrangements with Claire and May to go out again on Thursday, before Claire leaves Vancouver next week and May moves to Switzerland at the end of March.

Last night I cooked up this rather complicated plan for a restaurant/photo op/night tour of Vancouver, as both Claire and I like taking pictures, but food turned into the priority for the evening as everyone was pretty hungry. I chose Guu, a Japanese tapas restaurant at the west end of Robson St., near Denman. I love Japanese tapas, and much prefer eating communally from small dishes rather than chowing down on a big main plate all to myself. We even ate outside, under the heat lamps, while tables of Japanese people sat inside and pointed to us as if to say, "Are you out of your minds?" It wasn't particularly cold, though, especially under the lamps, and when you eat you warm up, anyway.

From Guu we moseyed on over to Cardero's, a restaurant a few blocks away on a pier in tony Coal Harbour. The place was hopping (and loud), but we stayed until it closed. Obviously, Guu wasn't enough for us, because we ordered their pizza of the day, red wine, desserts, and coffee! Gluttony is great! Actually, the plan was for some drinks at Cardero's, then more drinks at the top of the Landmark Hotel in the revolving restaurant/lounge, but we didn't make that far. We got so caught up in the discussions we were having that we lost all track of time. I'm planning to meet Claire in Paris in May -- if she doesn't head to Mexico early -- and May, who will be in Switzerland, will probably be in hermit, work-mode, so getting her out to play in Spain or France will probably be impossible.

Coal Harbour


Family Pics

Maddy at Crescent Beach

Maddy, Granny, Michael

By the way, thanks to all those who asked about my mum and passed along kind words for her speedy recovery. This photo was taken weeks ago: as you can see, she's wheelchair bound but at least out of the hospital. Rehabiliation can be pretty slow, but she's a feisty woman and might surprise the physiotherapist by walking sooner rather than later. Right now it's all she can do to keep the kids from taking over her wheelchair.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

The EdTwins, Week 3

Twins, 3 Weeks
I've uploaded some photos of the twins, who have been moved from BC Women's Hospital in Vancouver to Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, which is a lot closer to where Allan and Cheryl live. They didn't have the space at Surrey Memorial Hospital, and they had to release some space at BC Women's to make room for babies with more acute needs.

This is actually good news, because the babies have been growing and gaining more weight every day, and are a step closer to going home. Cheryl has been going in and trying to get them to breastfeed, but since the babies are premature, it hasn't been easy. Now both twins are out of isolation, and placed together. I can only imagine how stressful it must be for a baby to be squashed for months and months with her sibling in the womb, then suddenly whipped out and put into a plexiglass machine hooked up to tubes and monitors, then left all alone. It's no wonder their heartrates vary so much. I'm sure it must be comforting for the babies to be next to each other after 3 weeks apart.

Ofoto Photo Album - The EdTwins at 3 Weeks Old

Sunday, February 22, 2004

An Early Spring?

early spring!
Outside my office/bedroom window this morning, I noticed blossoms on the trees along Beach Avenue. It's still February... bring it on!

Melissa in her new dress.
On an unrelated note, the oldest of the five Ms returns tomorrow from her sibling-less sabbatical in Maine. Her grandmommy and the rest of the Maine family were diligent in sending us electronic updates. In this pic, Melissa models a dress she had the good fortune to acquire from Auntie Allison's co-worker, outgrown by her girls but in remarkably fine shape.

She looks very grown up, for 4.

Social Networking Services

Aptly said, by Melanie McBride, Canadian freelance writer.

c h a n d r a s u t r a: Explaining social networking services to your real friends

Saturday, February 21, 2004

I'm Not Paranoid Enough

Got this from Briana Doyle's blog. It's a 16-factor personality test, with 85 questions. I should take it again another day and see what my score is then.

For more personality tests, check out the Similar Minds website. A list of them here.

Cattell's 16 Factor Test Results
Warmth |||||||||||||||||||||||||||| 82%
Intellect ||||||||||||||||||||| 70%
Emotional Stability ||||||||||||||||||||| 66%
Aggressiveness |||||||||||||||||||||||| 78%
Liveliness |||||||||||||||||| 58%
Dutifulness |||||||||||||||||| 54%
Social Assertiveness |||||||||||||||||||||||||||| 90%
Artistic Interests |||||||||||||||||||||||||||| 82%
Paranoia ||||||||| 30%
Abstractness |||||||||||||||||||||||| 74%
Introversion ||||||||| 22%
Anxiety ||||||||||||||| 42%
Openmindedness |||||||||||||||||||||||||||| 90%
Independence |||||||||||||||||||||||| 74%
Perfectionism ||||||||||||||||||||| 70%
Tension |||||||||||||||||| 54%
Take Free 16pf based Personality Test

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Medicated, Zoned Out, and... Working!

I'm all of the above. In fact, I'm blogging to keep from keeling over on top of my keyboard. I'm in Sechelt for a couple of days, working on our big monthly report. Drove in this morning in a last-minute CAN co-op car, which I had to fetch all the way from near Hastings and Nanaimo in the middle of the night, because it's the only car that was available for two days. Thanking the powers-that-be for 24-hour pharmacies, I stopped by Shoppers Drug Mart on the way home to see if I could something extra potent for this cough that seems to be worsening.

Me [coughing up a lung in aisle 8], holding up a bottle of Benylin: "Is this the strongest stuff ya got?"
Pharmacist: "I've got something stronger... but it's got codeine in it."
Me, quite ignorant about medication in general, as am accustomed to having a tough immunity system: "What happens with codeine?"
Pharmacist: "It can make you drowsy and constipated."
Me, trying to weigh up the benefits of a decent night's sleep versus constipation:"How drowsy are we talking about?"
Pharmacist:"Depends on the person."
Me, quite unconvinced about my ability to beat drowsiness or constipation, holding up the Benylin bottle:"Is this my next strongest option...??"

The pharmacist nodded, so I bought that instead. I had visions of myself falling asleep at the wheel and driving off the road on the way to the ferry this morning, the ambulance report listing me as "patient in stable condition, very constipated."


It was no exaggeration what I said earlier about having a great immunity system. I've never had a headache. I got the flu maybe once every three years, and went for over a year at a time without so much as a sniffle, let alone a full-blown cold. In the last couple of years, since I've been attending uni, I've fallen prey to every virus that enters my airspace. Last November I had such a bad case of the flu I bought my first bottle of aspirin ever.

For the past week and a half I've been unable to shake what seems to be a chest cold. I should've just gone to the doctor and obtained antibiotics, but on Sunday I thought it was pretty much over. Then a couple of days later, I started coughing so hard I thought I'd give myself an aneurysm. It was brutal. I finished off a bottle of herbal cough syrup I got in Ireland last spring (the last time I was coughing this much), two boxes of Ricola cough drops, two packets of other cough drops, and even -- *gag* -- a bottle and a half of Buckleys. (A true Canadian poison.) This morning, when I was driving the onramp to the ferry, I coughed so hard I threw up on myself... errrrr, lovely.... Thankfully, I hadn't eaten breakfast. Then the same thing happened in the parking lot after I got to the office.

Finally, Melanie could stand it no longer, and sent me off to the clinic here in Sechelt. She told the nurse it was an emergency so I could get in, so when I got there, the nurse looked at me skeptically, especially when she saw my Vancouver address. "Emergency?"-- she said dubiously. I nodded, saying I couldn't even eat anything. I'd been coughing so much that by the time the doctor showed up in his office, I'm sure he'd already written the prescription for me in his head.

"The lady in my office fears I have whooping cough," I said to the doc. He shook his head, saying whooping cough has a very specific sound, and I just had a viral infection. Great. Just. I told him about the pharmacist offering me codeine, and he said, "This stuff doesn't have codeine, but it's codeine-related."


Anyway, I took the prescription and took off to have it filled, desperate to get rid of this death-cough. When I picked it up, I was a bit shocked at the cost:

$37.82 for a 100ml bottle.
Hmmm... I thought, this stuff better be strong.

Holy smokes! When I got back to the office, I took a swig, and within minutes my speech began to feel laboured. The pharmacist had told me to cut the dosage in half and take it twice as often, because she said I'd find it strong. I felt so bizarre, like I'd gone drinking the night before and was completely dehydrated and still a bit drunk.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

The Corporation

Everyone should see this documentary. You may not agree with its premise, its execution, the opinions expressed, or the people chosen to speak in it, but you have to admit that it does make you think twice about what you see in the media and what you purchase as a consumer of goods and services. As consumers, we can't absolve ourselves of all responsibility for what's happening around us -- to the planet, in the Third World, or in our own communities. We can blame government for poor leadership or lack of regulation enforcement, companies for their bottom-line thinking, or each other for looking the other way and letting things get out of hand. But, ultimately, every time we buy something and don't read the label -- for warnings or ingredients or for where it is made -- we are contributing to a collective ignorance about what it takes to get a product out in the market, from its raw materials to its packaged end. Consumer un/consciousness is a powerful thing.

I saw The Corporation last night and am still thinking about it. For me, that's the mark of a good film.

The Movie Review Query Engine has a listing of reviews for this (and any other) film.

Monday, February 16, 2004

There's Lost, Then There's LOST

What?? How can a person be lost for 400kms, PLUS attempt to cross an international border when obviously destination is in the same country?? (Hand grenade notwithstanding.)

Lost American with grenade closes border crossing | CP

The Cheating Culture

I read this post by David Callahan, who wrote a book called The Cheating Culture, and has a Weblog to discuss (and, of course, promote) it.

There are dozens of comments on it thus far. Some of them refer to a paler shade of cheating -- that is, cheating is OK since it's prevalent in that environment, where it is acceptable and everyone is an aware participant. An equivalent of the "little white lie", if you will... everyone does it.

From what I've glanced at, Callahan seems to be talking particularly about cheating on tests, not spouses, although it will probably be discussed in the book (if I were inclined to buy it)...

There are all kinds of situations in which people are regularly caught in some form of cheating:

* road tests (people sitting in for others)
* drug-enhanced sport
* university exams
* driving as a single occupant in the HOV lane
* sneaking into the cinema
* copying software
* queue-jumping
* job applications
* ticket scalping
... et cetera ...

Some situations seem more benign than others -- how upset are people going to be when you sneak your own food into a cinema (unless it's really pungent or offensive)? Probably not a bit. But if you were waiting in the passport office with a roomful of others in a 3-hour queue, and your friend the passport officer waves you over, imagine the lynch-mob mentality that could ensue...

My question is, when you engage in cheating-type activity -- and we all do (I've committed the above two offenses, I'll say that) -- then how do you rationalize it to yourself? Maybe another way of putting it is, how do you judge it OK/not OK to cheat? Or, do you say it's never OK?

I'll go first.

1) Guilt factor: how many people can this affect? I'd rather cheat a big, faceless corporation than people I know. (I'll put a rebuttal to myself: cheating costs are passed to the consumer.)

Your turn. (I'll understand if you prefer to be anonymous, but if you say you've never cheated, we all know you're telling porkies.)

Domestic Cats & Wild Horses

Michael over Burrard St.
I'd decided it was time to take the whole crew out of the apartment. After a full morning of Thomas the Tank Engine, both on DVD and video, Maddy was so restless she became a whirling dervish and whirled right through my apartment with reckless abandon, leaving nothing standing in her wake. The only way to save the place from total destruction by a 2-year old was to vacate. Immediately. My rug already had pizza sauce ground into it, and she'd produced the foulest-smelling diaper EVER. The contents were beyond anything I was prepared to deal with today, so I left the job to Allan, who was folding laundry. I mean, I've been changing the Ms diapers since Melissa was born in 1999, but the stuff that Maddy generates defies all verbal description of grossness. I can't imagine the potty-training without noseplugs. What is this kid eating that the others are not??

Michael meets Tako.
Anyway... we went to Eliza's place so they could meet her parents and her two cats, Ebi & Tako. The last time the Ms were at Eliza's place was pre-Maddy/Whirling Dervish. Melissa was two, Michael was one, and Eliza had not yet acquired either cat. Her parents have met Maddy and Melissa before, last summer in Richmond, but not Michael. Maddy had fallen asleep in the three blocks we'd driven to get to Eliza's, and Allan was ready for a nap, so we left those two to snooze in the van.

Michael discussing something very important with Tako.
Michael burst in the front door, but as soon as he saw everybody, he sort of crouched and went quiet, like he had to go to the bathroom! I thought, No, not that! But, I asked him if he wanted to see the cats, so he became very animated -- which made the cats take off like lightning to hide, of course. Far out of reach of little boy fingers. Michael then found a Swiss cowbell, which he found pretty fascinating. I tried to explain to him what the bell was for, but what really fascinated him was the object in his right hand: the laser pen. The cats like to play with the light, but even with Michael waving it vigorously, they would not be coaxed out.

Where do wild horses fit into all this? -- you may be asking...

May and Claire
Well, this afternoon, my friend May rang up and asked if I wanted to come to a wild horse benefit at the Arts Club Lounge, on Granville Island. A local musician she'd done a documentary/trailer for last year, Laura Doyle, was performing to raise money for the protection of wild horses in the BC Interior. How could I say no?? I couldn't, so I procrastinated again on my second paper for Advanced Writing and went to check it out in the evening.

Click here for more information about the loss of wildlife in the BC Interior on the website of Friends of Nemaiah Valley, a non-profit society promoting the protection of the environment of the Nemaiah Valley and area in the spirit of the Aboriginal Wilderness Preserve.

May's friend Claire, from France, was waiting for us, and we ended up chatting through almost the entire documentary on wild horses. I was feeling a tad guilty about not paying attention, but the place was packed and our vantage point was extreme stage left, so it was difficult to see what was going on. But, we did pay the cover charge and participated in the 50/50 draw, which was won by a grizzled ol' cowboy who delivered a rousing talk and poem later on in the show. Laura Doyle performed, followed by other musicians, and we ended up closing the place -- not bad for a Sunday night!

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Pretty in Pink? --or-- Pepto Bismol Nightmare?

Am I correct in presuming there aren't any genes that determine proclivity towards pink?

But there should be. I got to thinking about this after my post two days ago about Barbie and Ken.

4 years old, and already sullen in pink
This is me on my 4th birthday. I was forced to wear, against my will, a pink and white outfit. I also had it in my head that I was clutching a birthday present which contained yet another ghastly pink outfit. Note the expression of joy on my face.

Melissa loves pink!
This is Melissa, also at age 4, the firstborn of my brother (the eldest of five, and she won't turn five until July!). This was taken last year, the week before her 4th birthday. She ADORES pink. She has pink sandals to match her pink skirt/shorts, her pink t-shirt with flashy fuschia pink sequins on it, and pink hair accessories. She wants Barbie and her pink outfits. Can this child actually be related to ME????

Friday, February 13, 2004

TV Sucks

I joined the TV Sucks community on orkut. Surprise, surprise. My latest post (I can't link to it):

SUBJECT: the inevitable cable company phone call
2/13/2004 6:27 PM

This is verbatim:

Cable phone rep: "I see you don't have cable. We have this great package..."
Me: "No thanks, my TV doesn't work, I can only use it to play videos now."
Cable phone rep: [sympathetically, like I'd said I had a death in my family] "I'm so sorry to hear that."
Me: "Yeah well, no big deal, it's been like that for years..."
Cable phone rep: [hushed tone] "Well, when do you think it would be a good time... you know, to call back?" [as if I needed to get past my period of mourning and move on to another TV]

Seriously, sometimes the attitude is that life with no TV renders one socially handicapped in some way. Thankfully the people at my office don't fixate on TV for water cooler talk -- if they did I'd quit.

Actually, this exchange took place a couple of years ago, and I've since then fixed the TV myself so it picks up the channels the tenants in my building get free from the satellite dish in the parking lot. So I do watch the occasional show, but for at least two years all I had was snow... but by then I'd bought a computer, and I didn't miss the TV one bit.


I've gone and done it now... I got an invitation the other day from Ramon Stoppelenburg to join orkut, and found another online distraction. If you haven't heard of it (I first read about it on Darren Barefoot's site), I've pasted this from their FAQ section: is a new social networking service named for the Google engineer who developed it, Orkut Buyukkokten. (Orkut is easier to spell and pronounce than Buyukkokten.) This was created as an independent project and is not part of the Google product portfolio.

In less than 12 hours, I've joined no less than 11 communities (the numbers on the right represent how many members there are in that community at this moment):

Travel Hints and Tips (479)
Travel (125)
Vancouver (210)
Simon Fraser University (55)
Canon Digital Cameras (279)
Scotland (35)
Canadians (258)
Scrabble (276)
Bloggers (1532)
Bargain Travel (45)
Canada (284)
Blogger (59)

It occurred to me as I was thinking of who to invite to join orkut, that most of my friends are not online junkies like me... some of them don't have computers, and many who do have them are not surfers, just e-mail readers and reference users -- movie listings and some news. So, I don't know if they would even be at all interested in orkut. Most of them hardly e-mail. Believe it or not, I have to *write letters* to some of these people if I want to reach them! Fancy that!! We're a funny bunch, those of us Gen-X folk who actually didn't grow up with a computer (I'm still on my FIRST computer, and it's four years old), those who remember the pre-solar calculator days (remember when you actually had to go out and BUY them, they didn't come free with a magazine subscription??), and were in school when Donkey Kong and Ms. Pac-Man were all the rage...

Anyway, before I slip into a death-grip vortex of nostalgia, if any of you plan on joining orkut, just do a search on my name and it should come up... we'll see how many degrees of separation exist between us!

Barbie & Ken Split After 43 Years

Is it a sign of the times that this longtime couple are going their separate ways? If these two can't stay together, who can?

I actually loathe Barbie. How she's managed to last this long is a mystery to me. When I was a kid, I didn't play with dolls, but I totally avoided Barbie. I just wanted her stuff -- not the ugly pink Barbiemobile, but the house, furniture, clothes, shoes, everything else but that and the doll itself. It was unfortunate that everything she owned happened to be *pink*, the only colour I dislike categorically. The main reason I disliked Barbie is that I didn't want to be her. I suppose this was a minority opinion as prepubescent girlie opinions go, but that was mine. Even that young, I thought Barbie's look was garish. Horrible makeup. Straw yellow hair. An inch away from white trash, really, and in her pink-and-white gingham summer beachy outfits she could pass for the dumb blonde in The Beverly Hillbillies. Even now I absolutely refuse to buy any Barbie merchandise for my nieces. When I found out my 10-year old niece, Loraine, wanted a Barbie for her birthday I said "forget it!" I know Melissa would love to get a Barbie, and no doubt Maddy would probably like one, too, but I refuse to give in to the ubiquitous mass marketing of this pink bubblehead clotheshorse. It gets harder all the time -- there are whole aisles devoted to Barbie stuff in the usual places, like Wal-Mart (I shuddered when I walked in there for the first time last year and realized how much of a foothold she's got), FAO Schwarz (how any employee can handle the canned FAO Schwarz music on constant rotation all day long without killing someone is a wonder), and of course Toys R Us. You can't walk through Toys R Us without encountering Barbie's plastic grin every 20 paces.

So, when I read this article about Barbie and Ken splitting up (Muckdog beat me to it), my cynical side was bursting to get out and say something. After all, Barbie and Ken are supposed to be the embodiment of perfection, right down to their pearly whites. Apparently, the Mattel spokesperson says they're "spending quality time -- apart" and will "remain friends", while -- of course -- announcing the arrival of Cali Barbie and her new admirer, Blaine the Australian boogie boarder.

Ha! It's about time. You could tell Ken was a closet homosexual who secretly cross-dressed in Barbie's pink outfits when she was out shopping, and is now relieved he can move in with his gay lover, Tad, and plan their spring wedding in Massachusetts.

Brother For Sale

What's in the water in Washington State???

Mistake advert offers brother for sale

In today's marketplace, I suppose people will believe all kinds of advertising.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Update to the Dalai Lama's Visit to Vancouver

Upcoming Dalai Lama visit to B.C. a huge hit | CBC

The Dalai Lama is coming to Vancouver on April 18, and apparently UBC's War Memorial Gym, which seats 4,000 people, is too small, so they've moved him to the Pacific Coliseum, which seats 12,000 people. The Pacific Coliseum, as a venue, has such crappy sound... I don't like going to concerts there for that reason. It's where the Canucks played before they built GM Place, and it's fine for monster truck rallies or wrestling, but for a speaking engagement?? I hope it all works out for the organizers.

Music Therapy

I'm still feeling crappy today, this chest cold has been driving me crazy. How much phlegm can a person produce?? Disgusting. Grrrr, I'm not a very good sick person.

So last night when I got home from Sechelt, I thought I'd try and distract myself from the tedium of nose-blowing and coughing. I took advantage of the offer from Telus for $10 worth of music off their new *legal* music download site called PureTracks. The music collection is surprisingly varied in genres I wasn't expecting, like oldies -- the Andrews' Sisters! -- but it looks overblown when you see how many of the albums are just variations of others (see: Billie Holliday). Nonetheless, free is free, so I chose $10 worth of music and downloaded it hiccup-free.

One drawback is that the files are in Windows Media Player format, and when I tried to convert them to mp3, my conversion app complained that there is embedded anti-copy protection in the file so it couldn't convert. So I had to use Windows Media Player to copy it to CD, then download this (freeware) tool called Audiograbber to create mp3s. So far it does the job, although it makes both an mp3 and a WAV file in the process, so you'd better have lots of disk space or delete the WAV files.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

In Defense of Rap

Darren Barefoot wrote A Rant on Rap, which I felt compelled to defend against Bob's full paragraph of reasons for not liking rap. I'm not trying to talk Bob or Darren into liking rap, but I'm defending it from a linguistic point of view. This is one of my biggest pet peeves -- people calling Black English inferior.

Mine is the third post down:

I don't think Bob's heard any GOOD rap, he's just concentrating on the *bling bling* stuff that gets the most attention. I don't believe it deserves its reputation for dumbing down language any more than pop music (noticed any of Britney Spears' lyrics? most of it consists of "oh baby baby baby" and "yeah"). In fact, most of the bad rap that rap gets is related to social prejudices, not linguistics at all. Rappers have a linguistic virtuosity that few people can master -- do you think you could rhyme off the top of your head? I'd embarrass myself if I tried. Characteristics of Black English that people say bastardizes English is actually closer to Shakespearean times where they used, for example, double negatives for emphasis. Black English carries far more meaning in its inflections and usage of the verb "to be" than English does, so to say that it's inferior as a language has only basis in preference rather than linguistics.

One of the best current rap artists out there is a socially conscious Canadian: K-OS. I think he's from Ottawa. His "Exit" album is brilliant, not just for the lyrics, but there are actual melodies in his music -- fancy that. His style is not angry, and his album isn't R-rated. I wish he'd get more exposure.

It's true much of rap is what represents the category -- machismo, booty calls, whatever, but every musical category popularizes whoever sells the most, not necessarily who is the best (Yanni? Celine Dion? Shania Twain?). Rap is cashing in on its covert prestige -- money from suburban tweens who are attracted to the gangster lifestyle. It was only a generation ago that segregation was abolished in the south, so it's a bit of a comeuppance, isn't it?

Anyway, I'm off on a tangent, I'm here to defend rap music -- by the way, I'm not black.

Posted by: gail at February 11, 2004 03:06 AM

The New Office

I'm in Sechelt again for two days. Can't wait 'til we move to Gibsons near the ferry terminal so I can shorten the commuting time by nearly an hour. I saw the new building for the first time last week, so I thought I'd include some photos:

look at that driveway!
Get a load of that steep driveway! I don't think I've ever seen a driveway quite like that before -- I couldn't even get it in one picture. You'd need a winch to get down there. And heaven help you if your brakes fail! Apparently they can't build a driveway up to the house because the area in front is septic, so you have to go up the hill (mountain is more like it) to an upper road and then creep down the very long driveway.

office from driveway
Kevin's house is the main building to the right, and the office is the building on the left, above the garage. The two buildings are joined by the porch, and Allison's office is above that. The main selling point of this property is the stunning and completely unobstructed view of Howe Sound/Jervis Inlet. If you peer closely, you can see the BC Ferry in the right photo. Which means if the ferry's late, we know about it right away and have time to run down and get it. Whereas here in Sechelt, we have that bloody Sunshine Coast dual-carriage highway to contend with, senior citizens who barely drive the speed limit, and not knowing if we can make the ferry or not. Aside from the collision with the deer in November 1999 (it ran directly into the side of my car!!), I've never had an accident on that road, which is amazing since when it's pitch dark and stormy you might as well be driving blind.

We even have a clocktower, but Kevin says the clock face is two grand! That doesn't include any of the moving parts, and installation -- ?? So I don't know if we're going to get that. It does add character to the house, though.

Monday, February 09, 2004


Had a fleeting consideration last weekend to get a cat. I confessed this over fondue at Eliza's place last week.

But I talked myself out of it:

* COSTS: food, litter box and related items, carrier, etc.
* SPACE: where will the litter box go??
* CARE: who will take care of the cat while I'm away? Eliza's volunteered, but she already has two cats...

That's the other point. Both Eliza and Kristin say I must get two cats, so they can play with each other. Two! Actually, what put me off the most was the potential veterinary bills. After Ebi was diagnosed with chylothorax, I would say I wouldn't be able to afford keeping a cat with similar medical problems alive.

Tako's a cute critter.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Roo and Attie Gail at Large

Attie Gail forgot her camera on Saturday. Phooey, no photos of the birthday gate-crashing (more on this in a mo'). Allan went to pick up Cheryl from BC Women's Hospital, so Michael was foisted on my dad on Saturday and I took Maddy (Allan's nickname for her is Roo). He dropped her off rather early for a weekend morning, but I think it felt earlier as I wasn't feeling 100% -- extremely fatigued, and the beginnings of a sore throat. Not a good sign.

After chasing Maddy around for a while in my apartment -- which isn't really child-proofed, you see -- I gave her fringe a bit of a trim, then decided we needed to get out in the sunshine. We headed out for Granville Island, where there's the Kids Market and a playground. I was also looking for a stroller, so I thought I'd try and kill two birds with one stone.

I didn't find a stroller, although Maddy and I did spot everything else in the kids market -- doll strollers, games, trains, costumes, kites, merry-go-rounds, and two floors of play area. We paid a few dollars to get into the Toddler Adventure Zone, which is similar to what you find at a McDonald's playplace, but much cleaner and with more things such as stuffed animals and a train set. Apparently, we'd gatecrashed a child's birthday party, and I overheard the mother say "I have never seen this child before in my life," but I didn't care -- we'd paid our money and I wasn't about to leave! I ordered food, and it was even delivered to us! I made a mental note to go there more often... maybe next time we'll even get a party favour.

From there, we headed over to Toys R Us to buy the stroller, since I knew Maddy was not going to last much longer without a nap, and she's too heavy to be carrying around everywhere. I managed to get us over to Broadway just as she was snoozing against my shoulder, and I spotted -- of all things -- a Jeep Wrangler Sport stroller on sale...??? That's what I thought: Since when did Jeep start making strollers??? Bizarre. Well, this one was much too good of a deal to pass up, and it had front suspension, which sounds over-the-top for a stroller, but it does make a big difference not only for the kid but for the person pushing. The sales clerk assembled it on the spot for us, and away we went.

After another food/bathroom stop, I was feeling intrepid enough to stroll all the way home, so we headed north on Granville after going west along Broadway. It didn't feel like we'd gone that far, so instead of going home across the Burrard Street Bridge, we went up west along 4th Avenue to see what there was in the way of double strollers and baby stuff on consignment. Looks like I haven't been on 4th much lately, cos there is shop after shop of consignment places along there now. I didn't find anything I liked, but for a final stop we went into Crocodile, a high-end baby equipment shop. That's where I spotted the Bugaboo strollers -- my friend Jennifer is the dealer for Canada. When I visited them last spring in Utrecht, Jen showed me her Bugaboo stroller and told me she just had a meeting with the company to be a prospective dealer, and they'd be moving back to Canada if all went well. Bugaboo is the Mercedes of strollers, but it's high-quality. If you buy all the accessories, it's in the neighbourhood of $2,000 (Canadian). I asked the guy at Crocodile if they made double-strollers, but they don't. So, I had a look at the high-end double-stroller that they did stock, and it was -- gulp -- nearly $800. Mountain Buggy, it was called.

Listen, if you're going to have kids, you'd better have some money stashed away for all this equipment!

Saturday, February 07, 2004

I Meet the EdTwins

Megan's incubator and monitor
Now that I have the go-ahead from the hospital, I arranged with my Aunt Susan to go with me to BC Women's Hospital to visit Cheryl and the bubs.

We arrived during a shift change, so we waited a little while before nabbing a wheelchair for Cheryl to head down to the Baby Ward. They told us two visitors were allowed per baby, so they were OK with the 3 of us going in together. We washed up at this giant sink trough they have along one wall, and passed by the NICU room for the highest level of intensive care babies, where Megan and Maribeth started out. They were moved to the room they're in now, which has fewer monitors. As you can see, though, the incubators take steady readings of a multitude of measurements, from heart rates to... well, whatever else they keep track of. I had no idea what the numbers on the LED panels meant, but I wasn't about to bug the nurse to give me a crash course on the machines. She was pretty busy doing her calculations, and we were trying to stay out of her way.

Allan with Megan, showing thumb for scale

Cheryl holding Maribeth

(L) Here's a photo of Megan that Allan took earlier on Friday. He put his hand there so you can see how tiny she is.
(R) Allan also took a photo of Cheryl with Maribeth.

They had Maribeth's incubator covered up, so I took some photos of Megan to start. I was surprised at her size, since the photos don't really give a good indication of true size and thus make her appear larger than she really is. She was lying on her tummy with her bum up in the air, asleep, under the bili lights. (I had to look up what bili lights are for.) Considering she was the larger twin, I was trying to imagine how tiny Maribeth must be. Megan was small, but she was filled out. When I saw Maribeth, the nurse was just changing her and getting her dressed in baby clothes, so at least I saw her moving around and active. She was considerably smaller, and she didn't have that "filled out" look. She has some major eating and growing to do!

Melissa on skates.
Meanwhile, in Maine, Melissa has grown two whole inches since she went there in November. Cheryl tells me she's pretty spoiled, being able to eat pretty much whatever she wants, when she wants. She doesn't have a younger brother and sister to steal her food, or fob off her food to when she isn't happy with what's on the menu. She has three aunts and two grandparents at her beck and call. No wonder she's grown so much!

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

The Edwin Twins Debut


Megan Joy
born 3:00pm, Feb 2
4 lbs, 3 ozs

Megan Posted by Hello

Maribeth Joelle
born 3:10pm, Feb 2
2 lbs, 12 ozs

Maribeth Posted by Hello

After a bit of a scare on Sunday, and early testing on Monday, the twins were surgically removed in the afternoon and everybody is doing fine. I will take the liberty of copying and pasting bits and pieces from their Maine grandparents' website (Cheryl's dad is an ER doctor):

[As you can see, Megan is much bigger than Maribeth.] Both are on IVs as the doctors are not sure that they are "old enough" to take a bottle yet. Maribeth is on CPAP to support her breathing while Megan is breathing on her own... Allan got to hold both of them and to cut Megan's cord. He saw the placenta--it looks to him like Maribeth only had about 25% of the placenta. Her cord was much, much thinner than the other one (pinky thickness as compared with thumb thickness.)

The NICU staff told Cheryl and Allan that "They are cute as buttons and they are doing very well!"

This is the first set of twins recorded for our side of the family. Mind you, documentation in the Philippines has really only been since WWII, and I'd say even that's sketchy. I know for a fact that relatives who have immigrated made up their own birthdays (not just my father!). I would say the Philippines remains, at least in rural areas, primarily an oral society.

On Cheryl's side of the family, there was a set of twins but quite distantly related.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Emergency C-Section: Twins Today!!

While I was on my way to the optometrist's, my brother called to say they've admitted Cheryl for an emergency caesarian. I headed straight for the hospital after my appointment in North Van, sat in the waiting room for an hour, and finally got too antsy and made the nurses get Allan out of the OR. Out he came, scrubs and all, but we only had a couple of minutes to sort out:

* the stuff in the van
* where the van was parked
* pick up Michael and Maddy from daycare in Langley
* arrangements to pick Dad up from the airport late tonight

... now I'm packing up a bag cos I probably have to stay overnight in Surrey, to drop the kids off at daycare in the morning before coming back to Vancouver... ??? Dunno how this is all going to work out, but as long as the twins are alright...

*more news later*

Sunday, February 01, 2004

The Midnight Disease

Came across this from reading a post on Roland Tanglao's blog about neurologist Alice Flaherty's book titled The Midnight Disease. It discusses hypergraphia -- the burning need to write -- and writer's block. Interestingly, she says in her press release interview with her publisher:

"As for examples of writer's block, the strange thing is how paradoxically eloquent many writers are in describing their block. Because a block is often very genre-specific, as anyone knows who has felt blocked on a big paper and has procrastinated by writing long e-mails. Coleridge is a perfect example of that — he used to churn out metaphysical treatises when what he really wanted to do was write poetry. The recent movie Adaptation demonstrates a trick many writers use in that situation, which is to escape your block by writing about it. Both Coleridge and Wordsworth did that."

I *wish* I suffered from hypergraphia, and not from writer's block. It took me f**ing forever to get that first assignment done!! I pulled 3 nearly-all-nighters just to get it completed, when it really should've taken just one.