Monday, 31 May 2010

Liveblog Lessons

One of the reasons I enjoy Kady O’Malley’s liveblogging [] is because I learn from it.

Beyond the fun filter through which she delivers the day-to-day events on the Hill, I get to see how it works on the Hill, kind of. I am a student, and though I’m from Ottawa and took class trips to see that Parliament buildings as well as the classic tests on basic Canadian parliamentary processes (a la “How Does A Bill Become A Law?”), I don’t really know how it works. O’Malley, through her observations, as well as her extensive knowledge of the basic and less-than-basic parliamentary processes, shows to any Canadian who wants, how things work, in a nuts and bolts way.

As an aspiring journalist, I also enjoy reading when her coverage interacts with journalists on the Hill, such as at press conferences, scrums, etc. Not only do I get to see which journalists I read ask what, but I also learn from following the kinds of questions asked, how interactions with MPs and ministers work, etc. It certainly doesn’t substitute hands-on (or on-Hill) experience, but I find it valuable nonetheless.

Quit Facebook Day

Today is Quit Facebook Day, a day to encourage people to join the two Torontonians who started it to sever all Facebook ties. I wonder if anyone I know will drop off the face of the ‘book. Facebook has been getting a lot of flak about privacy controls, especially here in Canada, so the movement is topical. Milan recently removed any info from Facebook that he thought could be easily collected by bots (interesting idea, read it here).

I have three thoughts about this. One, I like Facebook. I like how easy it is to share and connect and organise. These are things that enrich my life, and Facebook is my chosen tool. Could I do this other ways? Probably. But this is the way I use.

Two, I know very little about what my privacy settings are right now, which probably means they’re low. And I should look into that. I know Facebook and its creator are not my buddy*, and I can’t trust them to have my best interests at heart, because they don’t. Only I do, and I need to be in charge of that.

Three, Facebook isn’t going anywhere, at least not yet. The next thing will inevitably come along, but for now, it’s a tool that anyone who works in anything communications-related needs to learn and use, along with Twitter and oh yeah, email.

Besides, isn’t quitting Facebook the new, cool, hipster thing to do, with new sites like Diaspora** popping up?

*Yikes, the Facebook story movie Social Media doesn’t exactly look complimentary to Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, does it? Aaron Sorkin-written, which means I will have to see it.
** "the privacy aware, personally controlled, do-it-all distributed open source social network."

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Only Wednesday

Long weekends are supposed to make the following week feel shorter, right? My week didn't get that memo.

Tomorrow I'm going to my formal event! My hair is sorted. I'll try to get a picture.

Things I'm thinking about:

1. Pay Meeee $75 to scout Facebook for you The Ottawa Sun reported that the Canadian government has hired people to hang out on Facebook for them to reply to what they're saying*. Funny, any of those social media are still blocked in my government workplace. Bad idea? I think so.

2. Canada Excellence Research Chairs So I love invigorating the research community in Canada, and I think "innovative" is something we should go for... but NO women at all in the Canada Excellence Research Chair Program? That I'm a little less jazzed about. You can tell me the usual stuff about women not wanting to uproot themselves to move for a new job, or a lack of female talent to choose from, but I will still give you a displeased look and say something to the effect of "Academia is a boys' club that they used to make this program come together quickly". I think this will come up again.

3. I disagree with Stephen Harper - Reason of the Day Stephen Harper, I don't care if my right to my own body isn't threatened, I don't like you opening up the abortion issue at all, especially not in a way that will help you with direct mail fundraising campaigns and galvanizing people who wish you would take away my right. I wish more people were more pissed off about this. Thank you Bono, I know partisanship shouldn't get in the way of actually helping people, and that's not what I want either. I want my government to help the most women it can. Can't that be the point? (As usual, I disagree with Margaret Wente)

*In fact, a group called "The Social Media Group".

Momma Seal

So, this photographer goes to Antarctica to photograph this seal so big and scary that, quote "her head is twice the size of a grizzly bear's". He gets in the water with her, and she spends four days taking care of him. What a spectacular story, and his photos are amazing!

Time Waster

I loved the totally rad Google salute to Pac-Man’s 30th on Friday. I indulged in a couple minutes of playing Google Pac-Man, and it looks like I wasn’t the only one! Apparently, people playing Google Pac-Man added up to 550 years of time wasted. It was a slow Friday – that’s my excuse. Also, you can still play Google Pac-Man here if (like me) you miss it a lot.*

*I can't beat normal Pac-Man. Not even close.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010


Over the past couple of years, my hair has been everything from cute pixie cut (so low-maintenance!) to choppy bob to its current style… medium-length. I’ve been growing it out for a while, and it’s nice for it to be so long, but I’ve just barely managed to figure out how to shampoo it effectively (a skill you can lose over years of short hair, apparently) and now I am facing a major challenge. A formal event.

I am not a “hair-doer”. Clean is the way I wear it day-to-day and day-to-night. If I feel so inclined, I use a banana clip to put it up. The end.

I need an easy, formal style for this event on Thursday. What will I do…

May 2-4

What is better than a long weekend? Seriously? What could be better than a whole day of time to program yourself, do the things you need to do (groceries, yard chores, Driver Ed) and spend some time on real relaxation. I spent my relaxation time watching a whole lot of Sex and the City, seeing people I like, and sleeping. Mmm.

I checked out the new Museum of Nature on Saturday, as promised, during the free day. Milan and I went, and we took it all in. I don’t think we missed a single exhibit. We did, however, skip the historical/ghost tours since the line went forever, as Trevor at Apartment 613 put in his liveblog.

Since most of my excitement was related to my childhood love of the place, the visit was bittersweet. I miss the dark, winding dinosaur exhibit, a model they’ve abandoned in favour of the generic museum “big room, in and out same door” model. Although, I concede there were many cool things (the blue whale skeleton is exactly as neat as you'd think it would be) and I did love the “lantern”, the glass tower on the front. The view there is beautiful. I could have stayed there all evening, watching the sun set.


I also spent a great deal of the weekend going for 24 hours at time “offline”; not checking Facebook, Google reader, Twitter… As a journalism student, I use all sorts of different "social media". I've never thought about the stress keeping up with those things puts on me. It felt like a break to just tell myself the emails can wait. Is this unhealthy? And am I the only person who feels this way? I certainly have what I call the “know-know-know” drive, the need to keep up-to-date with as many things as possible at once – it’s one of the reasons I like journalism. Should I work on "unplugging" more?

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Rain Soaked

I love those quick, hard storms that roll through in the late afternoon! I love going out to stand in them. When I was younger, my friends and I would put on bathing suits and run around. I guess I never shook the habit, because when I heard the rain start this afternoon, I ran outside and stood on my steps, getting completely soaked. It was fun to watch the sky lighten and the rain taper off. It smells so good, and the rain water tastes so good!

Thursday, 20 May 2010

I am woefully behind the times

I knew that a bank was firebombed in Ottawa. I just didn't realize it was MY bank, my branch.

There are some CRAZY people in the world.


I am so looking forward to the reopening of the Museum of Nature! It was one of my favourite places to as a kid. The T-Rex would literally reduce me to tears (his HEAD was over WHERE YOU WALKED. I squeeze my eyes shut and clung to my mom as I shuffled under). I saw lots of Paperbag Theatre shows. I am famous in family lore for striding across the main lobby to the netherparts of the moose mosaic and said loudly: "Look! He has a real penis and everything!"

I will be going on Saturday to the free admission Museum At Night. Ghost tours, wine bars and Nature exhibits! What more could a girl want on a Saturday night?


In blog news, Stella got her house - and promptly ripped up the floors, the first night. That girl gets shit done. I look forward to reading more about her renovations over at her reno blog.

Exhaustion Day

Today is what happens when you start the week with an exhausting funeral.

I woke up this morning, rolled out of bed, and started my morning routine. I was standing in the mirror in the bathroom, putting on makeup, when I realized I was so exhausted, I was about to fall over. So, I went back to bed. And slept. All. Day.

Now I am groggy.

I have so many things to do this weekend, that I wonder how long my weekend will really feel! Well, over-packing my time is classic me.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Professional Crush: Kady O’Malley

I got some good news the other day while chatting with an old friend.

“I’ve been getting more into following politics,” she told me, “ever since CBC got Kady O’Malley [].”

Putting aside for now that I can’t believe I didn’t realize Kady O’Malley hadn’t disappeared from the blogging world when she left Macleans and her Inside the Queensway blog that I read religiously, I was very glad to hear this, on two accounts. First of all, I like her. She is smart and snarky and I enjoy that. I list her among my inspirations*, blogger -wise. Also, how cool would it be to have her job? Seriously.

Also, I think it’s a good idea for those who are in the news business to get all over this hip-happenin, new-fangled technologies (kids these days). Kady O’Malley does well with Twitter, blogging, and liveblogging. I was surprised to find no one liveblogging or livetweeting at Ottawa City Hall, since I remember it being all the rage for Larry O’Brian’s court case. Of course, most of those lacked the certain snarky* je ne said quoiof Ms. O’Malley.

Good work CBC; I’m excited to have Kady O’Malley back in my RSS reader. I’m a little embarrassed I didn’t notice her over at CBC, but I’m not a huge fan of CBC online, so not altogether surprising. Now if she had a radio show… Wait. Does she have a radio show I don’t know about?**

*I realize I have used snarky twice now, but it’s just such a good word. Also, I checked in the thesaurus: no synonyms. Probably because Snarky made fun of all the other words like it until they ran away or transferred to other meanings.

**A: Google says… no.

Crying hangover (and hangover hangover)

You know that feeling in your eyes and the front of your cranium you get the morning after a lot of crying? You feel tired and heavy and sluggish? My eyes are all over that this morning. I’m even a bit hungover! Not something you’d expect after a memorial service, but somehow, I’m not surprised.

Last night was Michael’s memorial service, and it was beautiful. His favourite music was played, memories were shared, and everyone hummed and sang one of his favourite songs. Some of Michael’s friends got to say a few words, which made everyone cry, and laugh. The laughing was good.

His family really wanted a focus on Michael’s friends, as his dad said in his eulogy, because for a 19 year old, often you’re closer to your friends than your family. And did we ever turn out in force; all sorts of people reconnecting for the first time in a while. It would have been better if the reunion had a happier reason, but no one else could have brought us back together like that.

Throughout the service, I was very focused on Michael's dad. He tried very hard to stay upbeat, to celebrate Michael’s life, nodding his head along to the music and positively grinning as he encouraged Michael’s close friends, shooting them thumbs up after they spoke. He showed how much he appreciated it. It really got to me when I saw him jamming along to the end of a song, pulling on his blazer to stand for the eulogy. To say goodbye. I couldn’t even imagine the incredible pain he was in, but he smiled as he prepared himself. It was incredible. It was what Michael would have wanted. After he finished, he gave over to the sobs, but we all had our moments, and I think Michael would have understood that too.

The best part was the reception after the service. Almost all the friends and family gathered at their house, sharing food and drink and celebrating his life. There were lovely moments, of quiet music being played, and an army of candles planted in the back garden.

I got home at midnight, hours later than expected, but feeling full. Full of joy and sadness, love and companionship. I still can’t believe this really happened, that he’s really gone. I think that part will take a bit more time.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Mother's Day Coffeecake

This weekend was Mother's Day, since my mom was away on Mother's Day. We did it up just like normal Mother's Day: picked up the requested items to make for dinner, invited close family friends to join us for the dinner, created a list of the chores we were do for my mom on Sunday, assembled gifts. This year we surprised her with a big ticket item she never would have bought for herself, but really wanted - a netbook! She was shocked and very excited. I also picked up an new iPhone case, since hers is falling apart, and stuck on a new screen protector, which she loved.
I started off the surprises early in the morning by making this cake that I found on Jennifer's vegan cooking blog, It Ain't Meat, Babe. It has cranberries in it, and we have a large surplus of cranberries in our fridge, so I dove right in.
I didn't make it vegan; I used cow's milk and milk yogurt instead of soy options. It wasn't until I was making it the morning of that I realized the yogurt in our fridge I thought was plain was vanilla! So instead of adding vanilla bean scrapings, as Jennifer's recipe called for, I used vanilla yogurt, and it turned out really well.
Just as I pulled the cake out of the oven, my mom came downstairs for the first time that morning, with a smile on her face. "I was in a deep sleep, in a dream, when I suddenly smelled this delicious baking - and it woke me up!" She's usually the one baking, and always the one baking early in the morning, so I think she enjoyed being spoiled. Even though I was worried about the vanilla yogurt substitution, everyone loved the cake. We wolfed down almost the whole thing immediately. I decided to make another one to use up more cranberries (seriously, we have loads) as a treat for the family to have in the mornings. Turns out our old beast of an oven got upset and burned it. It still tastes good, just a little crispy on the topping!
I will definitely be making this again - I think I'll try other ingredients, like blueberries when they're in season.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010


Yesterday, I found out that a friend from high school passed away this weekend. I'm not sure I even want to use that euphemism. It sounds so stiff, reserved for someone old and tired, in a whole life lived kind of way. Michael was full of energy and positive energy, quick with smiles and laughs and kind works. He was also full of life, life left to be lived.

He will be missed by everyone who knew him.

Goodbye, Michael. You lifted me up when I was down more than once, and I remember that. I don't know if you realized while you were doing it, but you did touch me.

My thoughts are also with Stella, who also found out a friend from high school passed away yesterday.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

My New Job Doesn't Suck!

Whew, it’s been a busy week already!

This week has been my first at my summer job. Mostly I’ve been filling out security forms and reading piles of things to try to understand where I work, exactly. One of the branches of the agency I work at has the same name as the agency itself. This causes confusion, for obvious reasons.

Things will slow down slightly around here after our “team-building day” on Thursday (all preparations for said day are TOP SECRET. I cannot confirm or deny if I spent half an hour today attaching foam stars to lanyards. Some people take this verrrry seriously). Hopefully at that point my boss and coworker will have time to go over my work plan and, you know, give me projects to do. The snippets of conversation I’ve had with them so far sound promising. I think I will get a fair bit of autonomy (as much as you can get working for a government agency), and I’ll be doing some fun story writing for the website.

A sort of side-project I have going on is working with my mom to teach her to blog and use Twitter. I’m not kidding. She works in communications at a doctors’ organisation, and runs a website and public forums, etc, and so she got her website a Twitter account. Which she doesn’t ever use. One day I suggested to her a couple ideas I had for her Twitter, and the next thing I know, I’m writing blog and Twitter strategies and sitting at a public forum, livetweeting about menopause. I don’t know if I’m going to get paid for this, but even if I don’t, it’s good experience, I guess. One of these nights I’m going to teach my mom to actually use Twitter. She has an iPhone, I feel like she should have just figured it out on her own by now…

At least so far this week I don’t hate my new job, Davis is home from Halifax and I’m seeing her tonight (we’re going to a bar! For drinks! And to watch improv! God, I love being 19) I have two other nights this week with firm plans to catch up with friends, and I remembered my work pass 2/2 days. Am I talented or what.

Also, send some positive thoughts Stella’s way as she tries to recover her voice for her show tonight. Good luck, Stella!

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Picnic Season

(pictures from Nina Barry

It seems as though many blogger people had picnics on the brain today. I know that the rainy, cold weather made me want out even more. All I wanted was some sunshine, a bike ride, and now, maybe a picnic to go along with it! I know that if Phil here here visiting, I'd take him down to the park for a picnic, with some sandwiches, a thermos of tea... and maybe a flask of something stronger.

I almost-but-not-quite woke up on time to hit up the Jane's Walk for my neighbourhood and ended up stuck inside all day, once the rain and clouds moved in. I did go out to meet a couple friends for a beer briefly, and got free beer in the process. To the friendly man in the overalls who bought me a drink: thanks! I'm sorry we didn't get to chat for longer.

I hope you're all enjoying your weekends, grey or not!