Friday, March 26, 2010

beavertails and Obama cookies

see above: check.
btw: delicious.

As a virgin tail consumer, I went with the classic Cinnamon-and-Sugar. It was big. It rotted my teeth. It was fantastic. Two minutes later, I also bought a dozen Obama cookies, the only souvenir anyone is getting. Then on to The EXchange for dinner. Honestly, what would I have done without Milton for company?

I'm kinda sad to be leaving tomorrow. This was nice - I mean, I still worked and the 12-hour convention days were a bit tiring, but coming back to a made-bed and getting to chill in said-bed with my netbook and Jamie Oliver in background. Yep, this has been more like a vacation than any of the trips I've taken in last few years. Something to be said about relaxing.

Another thing that has bothered me since yesterday: upon visiting Parliament, Milton and I discovered a grammar geek debate - lighted versus lit. At first, we both think there's a clear cut answer. I mean, who says "we'd like a well-lighted parking lot"? Of course, much discussion has ensued.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

capital idea

Alright, day three of OMECC and I'm kinda feeling it. The difference between this and just about any other conference is that we spend entire days in one location, in one seat. So, while the info is actually kind of interesting (I like money; this stuff speaks to me), the environment leaves much to be desired. Anyway, day three ended.

Newish friend Milton and I decided to take a walk about the city and do the tourist thing. Little did I know that he was actually a pseudo-expert so i got a personalised walkabout, which included the normal stuff (Parliament, National Library, yadda yadda) and the unexpected (Cat Sanctuary? More on this later...). Dinner #2 at Milestones and I'm beat. Milton ditches the social event (and essentially me) but since I had passed on the plenary the night before, I thought I'd put in my time.

The 24th floor of the Westin Ottawa has a pretty fantastic view of Ottawa. And me without a camera. I stood at the window contemplating whether I should run down and get my camera (thereby missing the sunset) or just watch it and seal it in my brain. While I'm mulling options, I get a polite "excuse me" and this guy who had more foresight than me indicates he wants a shot. I watch him struggle to get a shot that isn't blurry or full of glare. "Night shot, no flash" I say, as I dash away, deciding to get my camera after all. I think he said 'thank you'. Down and back again (with a slight detour in a locked stairwell) and I get my shot. Yes.

Back in my suite, hot showered and bathrobed. Blog time. It's neat to have time to do this!

I promised you a Cat Sanctuary story, poppets, so here it is. It's true, just northwest of the Parliament Building, there's a little cat haven, complete with cats (spayed/neutered, of course). Well, this is a cute-ass story so far. Anyway, Milton tries to get a picture of one of its feline residents (conveniently right in front), but no matter what he tries, the cat will have none of it and refuses to make eye contact with his camera. I don't even bother, far too amused by the squirrels making use of the facility. Milton pays the two dollars that contributes to the upkeep and mutters "alright, I've paid my dues, give me a picture, kitty." The cat? A twitch of the tail and it turns around, heading into its cat-bedroom. I laugh heartily. I couldn't have scripted that.

Tomorrow, we go in search of the Obama cookie.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

offline blogging

The first thing I notice about the Westin Ottawa: no Internet access. I know, right? Even the Radisson in Winnipeg had a business centre (which Westin has, but you have to pay for it... wtf). Heck, the VIA has free WiFi. I'm over it. I checked into my room, hoping for a King size bed, but get the double beds instead. A very luxurious room indeed. Possibly as big as my condo. No view of the Hill though, so bummer. I did what I always do in a hotel room: inventory. Four pillows? check. Glasses for storage? check. Bathrobe? a call to the concierge fixed that. Since I'm staying for four nights, I totally unpacked, aired out my clothes, used the wine glasses for my jewellery and a water glass for my makeup. So far: happy, save for the offline blogging.

Why am I in Ottawa, anyway? Conference, of course (when the heck else do I stay in nice hotels?). That was good too. I'm often asked my library workers feel the need for a Union anyway (I've asked that question myself). Today wasn't supposed to be about answering that question, but it became just that for me. We talked about the sexual assault that happened in Ottawa to a library worker forced to work alone at a rural library by management who refused to schedule a second person with her (staff shortages and budget cuts). She suffered a two-hour nightmare, rescued herself and then, as the officer is taking her report at a local hospital, he's stabbed (he, too, is working alone). Shudder. I know I kept thinking our management team would never allow that to happen... but with budget cuts, would they have much of a choice? Or how about the devaluing of the library profession by using volunteers, not just to do the "tedious" jobs, but also to do jobs in order to avoid hiring pages? And on the other end of the spectrum, having management do circ clerk jobs so avoid hiring those positions as well. Finally, the dreaded "San Jose Way" which blatantly states its main function: stretching existing staff. Huh. Who knew?

Anyway, with my day starting at 5am, I was ready to crash at 5pm, so I did. A long hot shower with the nicest hotel-class toiletries I can remember using. A fluffy towelling robe. A sumptuous bed. I was done. The phone rang at 7pm asking if I'd like to have dinner. It was hard to leave the bed, but my grumbling tummy reminded me that a day's worth of meals is more than Ritz crackers and flavoured water. Salmon and yam fries attended to that oversight. Now, back in aforementioned sumptuous bed with my netbook and blogging during Lost commercials, I'm thinking this could be the nicest non-vacation trip I've had in quite some time.

Today, I had to cave and pay the $14 for 24 hours of Internet access. Not because of my blatant FB addiction, but because there were things I simply had to communicate with my Chief Steward before the big meeting tomorrow. So i logged on and quoted my room number and all was good. I came upstairs to my room and I learn a really irritating fact: you have to pay EXTRA for room access (indeed, the lobby, the conference rooms and one's hotel room are all on separate networks, requiring one to log on - and pay - three different times. W. T. F. The next time a non-resident complains about paying a loonie for 24 hour access at any of our eighteen locations, it will be even harder to not roll my eyes.

I conveyed my annoyance about this fact to the concierge and, lo, excellent customer service shines through. In other words: free Internet access for a year at any Westin hotel. Awesome. Consider me connected.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Now Playing: Alice in Wonderland

I don't care what anyone says, I liked it! I heard a lot of rumours that Alice in Wonderland was panned when it came out. Being cut off from TV and newspapers, I didn't really know the details (or veracity) of this statement. Turns out, some people agree with me: the movie was frabjous! But all this is retrospect. I went into the movie with nothing but my fierce love for Tim Burton's Gothic style and all-things-Depp.

As I said, I loved it. Everything from making this Alice's second visit, many years later (indeed, she is not the same Alice at all; this Alice is not quite so small). There's a lovely frame (her impending nuptials) from which the clock-bearing rabbit pulls her forcefully. And when we get to Wonderland, we realise it too has changed, becoming Underland. A tyrannical Red Queen, an idealistic White Queen and an entire cast of characters gone madder than usual. There's lots of liberties taken with the story, but with any classic reimagining, I find that by not treating the story with reverence, we get so much more out of it.

And, as always, it's Burton's details that really sell the whole thing. The Red Army is made up of bullyish playing cards while the White Army is made up of chess pieces... when they finally face each other across a checker-board-battlefield, you know who will win, don't you? The fact that no one questions a slip of a girl being the White Queen's champion? - love it. Mia really wore that suit well. A wonderfully slimy Crispin Glover plays the Knave of Hearts so convincingly, that I actually wondered how the movie kept its PG rating (btw, the answer is with clever directing). Did anyone else notice that his eye patch changes colours, depending on whether he's in audience with Big Red or not? Isn't that a wonderful piece of foreshadowing?

The only thing I had some small issue with was the pacing of the dialogue. Some of it just went by too quickly to be understood - which is really unfortunate, because i think I missed some witticisms or fancy in there. And, while I liked that the Hatter's crisp English accent morphs into a Scots brogue when he's, er, agitated, I think I lost all that dialogue too. I'm usually pretty good with accents in general, and I found it disconcerting that I kept missing whole lines of dialogue.

Oh, and the 3D - I don't think it was worth the extra $3 really. I mean, it's not like it's Avatar and needs some sort of technical wizardry to keep it from being just another Sci-Fi/Fantasy flick. Alice is a genuinely good movie. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, March 07, 2010


Well, this is a new experience: sitting at a Denny's, with my netbook, doing my taxes.

While at OLA last week, I had the opportunity to hear Christopher Hume speak on the impact that libraries have on neighbourhood-building. He said something that really resonated with me: [paraphrased] "people who live in 650-square-foot condos don't really have enough living space and as a result their neighbourhoods become extensions of their homes. Restaurants are their dining tables, movieplexes are their home theatres and libraries are their living rooms." I couldn't help but think just how true was. Working as I do most Sundays at a suburban Central Library that has had eleven high-rise condominiums go up within walking distance in the last five years, I see first-hand just how much a library-space is needed. Sure, we have books and DVDs and now console games; more importantly we have 40+ computers, scads of study tables, 16 individual study rooms and an entire study floor. People wait (I wish I could say patiently) for us to raise the gates so they can stake out their territory. Within minutes of being open, all five floors are occupied. Why would anyone want to be in a place with the potential of boisterous children and no personal space so they can study? Well, clearly, their homes can provide no better.

Which brings me to Denny's. Jadek does my taxes - he has the most useful job ever - and we really don't have a place to do them. I mean, Chez Moi doesn't even have a dining table, let alone a comfortable place for two people to sit and do paperwork together. Also: cooked food. My list of must-haves for my next place grows: a guest room, at least four closets and, now, a dining space. Or maybe not. I kind of like being able to justify going out for milkshakes.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bible by Jonathan Goldstein

So, I was trying to read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo all of last month (recommended AND chosen for Book Club) and I didn't get past page 68 or so. I kept waiting for the eponymous character (who, let's face it, has a description that I want applied to myself) but she was a total no-show. So I exercised my third inalienable right and moved on.

I attended Super Conference last week and the closing speaker was none other than Mr. Jonathan Goldstein. I totally had not connected two and two on this… I had read Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bible, chapter by chapter, at my local conglomerate and liked it so much, I bought it. Why didn't I pay better attention? I could have gotten it signed! Dammit. Anyway - I thought I'd reread it and as a testament to just how much I liked it, it only took me two days to finish.

This kind of book is written just for me: rewriting bible stories with tongue planted firmly in cheek? check! Irreverent humour? check! Poignant moments made more so because of their startling inclusion? check! I loved it. And, as I said about Death, if you're uptight about God and stuff, you may want to skip it. But I think you'd be missing out.

with glowing hearts

I know I've been reticent of late... this time, I will blame the Olympics. If I wasn't huddled in my parents' family room, I was hunched over my laptop (may he rest in peace). I watched Virtue and Moir win gold on a particularly choppy connection, which served to showcase just how in sync they really were. When the scores were announced, I jumped up and did a complete two-fist pump into the air...only a few seconds later, I wondered what this may have looked like to anyone who may have glanced up into my window. And I concluded that I really didn't care. I watched our bobsledding girls go one and two while sitting on LH's red couch, with a confused Lucy by my side.

And that Game... you know, that last Game... that I watched on break with complete strangers in the library atrium and then on desk (with no volume), listened to the self-admitted biased game calling on the Fan 590 and finally, nails literally being bitten down to quick, with the 'rentals. With only 24 seconds to go, my stomach bottomed out. It was during the intermission that we separated the patriotic from the fairweather friends. My mom said not to worry, that we had it; my dad said that if a team can give up a two-goal lead without an answer, he wasn't so sure that team could handle OT. I said that this is how epics are written: you can't just win the Game, you have to win in sudden death overtime; that Sid the Kid hadn't had his moment yet; that I just knew we couldn't lose. Not with 33 million people wanting it to happen.

This was my generation's '72, our Miracle Game. This is the kind of story we'll tell future hockey kids. I haven't been that excited since.. well, I can't remember. And to watch the entire country erupt - from coast to coast to coast - well, that was just spectacular. For just under 70 minutes, we put aside our reserved, quiet patriotism and just went balls-out red-and-white. It was a beautiful thing.

The next day, I knew I had something to talk about with everyone - the staff, the courier, the mat-guy, every single customer, the cashier at Metro, the security guard... I loved it. I even bought the little Maple Leaf donuts, though I kinda hate donuts (that's right, not every Canadian likes fried dough). It was beautiful to see us all united in this. From veteran hockey-watchers, to first-timers swept up in the fever. As I sat in the atrium, I overheard a conversation between two high-school-aged boys (clearly new-ish immigrants) discussing what this "hockey" was all about - they thought it would last about an hour and a half. I turned around and gave them the scoop: it was a period, not a quarter; it would probably last closer to three hours; yes, they were allowed to hit each other (that was called a check) as long as it was clean. When I left, they had clearly abandoned all pretense of working on whatever project they had spread on the table in front of them. Two more voices added to the throngs of cheers.

Thanks Canada - what a ride!