Sunday, December 31, 2006

Have a SAFE New Year's Eve

Hello all!

I just want to wish you a safe new Year's Eve tonight. Four years ago I was almost hit by a drunk driver on New Year's Eve.

I was coming home from working at the convention centre at 3:30am. Me and a friend were on our way to a breakfast party with staff from our work. Just three blocks from my own house, I was driving down a main street. When a car, turning left to come onto the street on which I was driving (going in the opposite direction) turned onto the street. Problem was whoever was driving turned, not into their lane, but rather were driving in my lane, coming straight at me. I had about a second to think about what to do. Even though there were no other cars on the road at the time, my instinct was not to swerve into the on-coming traffic lane (the lane that bastard should have been in). Thankfully there was a right-hand turning lane into a townhouse complex that I quickly swerved into.

Dan and I were quite shaken up. I was only 18 and he was 17 at the time. By the time we thought about getting a license plate, he or she was already out of sight. Not knowing what to do at the time, we also realized too late that I should have called 911 to report the car. I just hope this car didn't hurt anyone else, but I guess I'll never know.

I don't mean to make this too dramatic, but I do want everyone to know that it can happen to you. I'm sure you're smart enough to make the decision not to drink and drive, but not everyone else is. If you're on the road tonight, be extra alert.

I hope to see you all in 2007.

Picture of the Year (IMO): US Soldier Only One Able To Comfort Iraqi Child

I was sent this as an email forward, so you may have seen it before but it is worth posting:

Caption reads:

"Comforting Embrace: Air Force Chief Master Sgt. John Gebhardt, of the 332nd Expeditionary Medical Group at Balad, Iraq, cradles a young girl as they both sleep in the hospital. The girl's entire family was executed by insurgents; the killers shot her in the head as well. The girl received treatment at the US military hospital in Balad, but cries and moans often. According to nurses at the facility, Gebhardt is the only one who can calm down the girl, so he has spent the last several nights holding her while they both sleep in a chair.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

G&M He Said, They Said Afghanistan

Yesterday I read the Christie Blatchford article "Did He Abandon His Troops?". Normally I like her writing, but I was disappointed with the story because I believe it was a private incident and very one-sided. The story was about a now ex-military NCO who on the September 3rd operation in Afghanistan allegedly abandoned his troops.

Today's G&M has the other guy's story, but it wasn't written by Blatchford .

I don't really believe the other guy's story either because he says, "He alleges that, when he ordered his section to retreat to their vehicle, this particular soldier didn't listen and blasted the marijuana fields with cover fire." If you did something wrong, normally there would be charges put against you.

If this is true, wouldn't the soldier have been charged with disobeying a lawful order. But none of them were charged with anything! Sounds like to me that this specific event/weekend was one of the most difficult operation the troops have faced in Afghanistan. We lost four soldiers and later also sadly faced another death in a friendly-fire mishap. But this story in question, has nothing to do with the loss of any troops.

I don't think we'll never get the full story, and I wonder, should we? IMHO I don't think this should have been picked up by the media in the first place. Perhaps it was a slow-news day and they wanted to sensationalize an AWOL story. But perhaps it's G&M with mud on their face because neither story seems completely credible.

There were quite a few mentions of equipment problems (radio not working, 25mm cannon wasn't working). Does the American military have the same problems that Canadian troops face in the field? My dad has been in the military for 32 years and has told me many stories on what downsizing, and budget cuts have done to the troops, esprit de corps, morale, good people getting out.

Notice that in Christie Blatchford's article it seems that everyone hates this guy. While when the ex-soldier tells his story, he doesn't bad mouth anyone. A lot went wrong that weekend, and it is pretty easy to find a scapegoat.

I'm disappointed with the Globe and Mail (not the first time), but specifically with Blatchford for writing the article in the first place! Problem is, her story got front page news, while the other side of the story gets buried because of course Saddam's hanging is more worthy of front page front page.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Graduate School Applications

I would just like to say a word about my experience with grad school applications. I'm not going to name names (especially if they somehow find this blog). But why is it a guessing game with some school's application package?

I'm filling out the generic online application form. Next I determine what I need to do for supplementry documents (letters of reference, letter of intent, writing sample etc...). This certain school indicates on the online application that there are no additional documents needed, while the program indicates there is a list of additional documents I need to send them. But on top of al this, this list is vague (no word/page limit)

Why are there different instructions. One page will say that my referees must return letters of reference to me, while another part of the website will say that letters of reference must go directly to the department. WHAT THE HELL? In addition, why are there three different deadlines for the same application? Of course I will complete my application by the first date, but for goodness sake, be clear!

Also, numerous spelling and grammatical errors on your website are unprofessional and disappointing. It makes me not want to go to this school to see how disorganized the process is. At the same time I really want to be in this city. Is it really worth it though?

I don't expect to be spoon-fed (like we were when applying as undergraduates). At the same time, it's a little frustrating to be wasting time trying to search for what I need to complete the application instead of being able to work on the documents needed to complete the application.

As a result of this experience, I'm really hoping I be accepted to the other school's Public Administration program. Your loss!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

BOOK REVIEW: The Quarter Life Crisis.

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a book review, because I have been unable to read anything non-school related since the summer. I was able to read this book over the past few days in between the hussle and bussle of the holidays.

The Quarterlife Crisis about the period after university graduation where career, love, friends, family and identity go through a rapid change developing into adulthood. It uses interviews from more than one hundred twentysomethings to identify the phenomenon and how to survive it.

The book is a little dated as the authors state: “One reason today’s twentysomethings may feel so alone could be that it is so difficult to lump them together as a group. They do not have a strong, collectively shared historical moment that helped to define them and continues to shape their identity” (12). This is clearly different now after 9/11 but the book is still relevant to today’s twentysomethings.

A strong point of the book is the long quotations from the interviewees. Since a large section of an interview is used, the reader can see that the words are not taken out of context. In academic work this is discouraged, but in this book, it is refreshing to read the words of fellow twentysomethings who share their personal experiences.

A weakness of the book was lack of satisfaction I got from it. A part of me felt in denial saying, ‘that won’t be me’ or ‘I’m more prepared-ambitious-mature-intelligent than these people’. I guess I got annoyed with some of the twentysomethings interviewed who were having a difficult time adjusting to not being able to party all night or have afternoon naps.

This book does remind me of the Quarter-Life Crisis email that went around in first year. I definitely identified with it then, but I didn’t identify with the book so much.

I still would recommend this book to any twentysomething who is in University, recently graduate or been in the workforce for a few years. I would recommend reading it before the alleged crisis occurs.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

I've been tagged!

Three Things I Would Really Love to have for Christmas:

1. More TIME -- For friends, for family, for myself. Last week I just realized how much of a hermit I have become this semester. Although I pulled off great grades (I think) with bring on overload this term, I miss just hanging out with friends. I wish I had more time to read, pleasure reading!

2. A shiny diamond....doesn't necessarily have to be on my finger ;)

3. A little bit of extra money -- so I would be worried about making rent, books next term, groceries, grad school applications (freaking expensive!!!!)...perhaps one day I can afford a laptop, a car, or even an iPod....

Three Things I DON'T Want for Christmas:

1. Think About School -- I don't want to know about my grades until I get back to Peterborough. I worked really hard doing an overload of courses in my fourth year. So far I know I got (warning boasting:) the highest mark in the class on the final assignment of my qualitative sociology course. Unfortunately one portion of my final grade was a group assignment and presenation (I HATE group work. I just like things done, at my standard, which is pretty high). At the same time, I know I can't do all the work and let everyone get credit for it. Anyway, the group mark was one of the lowest marks, which wasn't that low, but it brought my mark down. I also don't want to think about the assignments I have due when I get back. Yes, I have a 3 hour seminar presentation and a large essay proposal when I get back, but I don't want to think about it. Also I don't know if I want to take macroeconomics in overload. I took Micro this term, which was ok, but I really don't know if I can overload on 2nd term of my fourth year. I remember overloading last year (6 courses instead of 5). I overloaded in first term, because that's how the courses were laid out. Second term I only had 4 courses and I was barely keeping afloat).

2. Family Fights -- Not that my family fights at the time (if at all). I just think that would ruin Christmas.

3. More Canadian Soldiers dying -- Thinking of our men and women overseas during this Christmas season. Although you are far from home, you're never far from my heart.

I tag:

The War Room
Joanne's Journey
Optimist Realist
My Left Wing Girlfriend

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Virgin Komono Dragon is Pregnant!

Yes, there will be a virgin birth around Christmas:

LONDON, England (Reuters) -- Flora, a pregnant Komodo dragon living in a British zoo, is expecting eight babies in what scientists said on Wednesday could be a Christmas virgin birth.
Flora has never mated, or even mixed, with a male dragon, and fertilized all the eggs herself, a process culminating in parthenogenesis, or virgin birth. Other lizards do this, but scientists only recently found that Komodo dragons do too.

"Nobody in their wildest dreams expected this. But you have a female dragon on her own. She produces a clutch of eggs and those eggs turn out to be fertile. It is nature finding a way," Kevin Buley of Chester Zoo in England said in an interview.

If I ruled the country for a day...or two

I would create a graduated licencing system for the use of alcohol. You take driver's Ed to learn to drive a car. I think you have to take a course to learn how to drink. Now it's not what you think.

Yesterday, I spent about 25 minutes in the LCBO yesterday walking up and down the aisles trying to figure out what bottle of wine to purchase. I hate just sticking to one bottle/country/grape that I like. Problem is, I don't know the difference between anything. I know I like chardonnay and merlot....but I've had Shiraz and Sovignion blanc too and they're not bad.

I remember George and I had dinner at Red Lobster a few years ago and I asked the server for a wine recommendation with what I was having. It was a beautiful match. My palate remembers the wonderful experience. I wished I was able to do that.

I want to know more about wine. Sure, there are books, but this is actually something I rather not read it about. I want people to tell me about it.

I actually ended up just picked a bottle a random. It was a Chardonnay from France and it was actually rather good! But the Russian roulette I play it's no fun. I want to know the differences between the grapes, how to pair them with what I'm eating, etc...

For a Christmas present, I was thinking about asking George about this wine course going on at Fleming College in the new year. But it's over $200 each and being 4th year students, who plan to apply to grad school in January....In addition, it's 3 hours per week for almost four months! That's a long time! Then again, this as a gift would be more practical than diamond earrings, or frames to put on the wall...

5 shopping days left...

My name is Spitfire, and I...

a have a problem.

I am addicted to buying books.

I admit, it's become a problem. Yesterday was bad. I ordered three books online, then that night, I went to the mall to pick up a few items, and found myself in a bookstore, and bought three more.

Problem is, I don't want to stop, and I don't think I should. It's not a problem. I can control this. I will never let it come between me and my partner.

He has tried to curb this addiction. When we go into chapters, he takes away my wallet. Last week we went in, and I didn't buy one thing! And I didn't even want to! There was nothing that I wanted. Other times when I come over to the other end of Chapters with 8 books with me, I'm allowed to pick 2. Other times I have to make promises that I will read them by a certain date. These methods do work. But it my partner is not alone, it's dangerous.

I don't get a rush from this. I don't look forward to my next hit. No one will get hurt. It's just me and my books. There's nothing wrong with liking books....right?

Today's Lesson: Conservatism

A young woman was about to finish her first year of college. Like so many others her age, she considered herself to be a good NDP-er, and was very much in favor of the redistribution of wealth.

She was deeply ashamed that her father was a rather staunch Conservative, a feeling she openly expressed. Based on the lectures that she had participated in, and the occasional chat with a professor, she felt that her father had for years harbored an evil, selfish desire to keep what he thought should be his.

One day she was challenging her father on his opposition to higher taxes on the rich and the addition of more government welfare programs. The self-professed objectivity proclaimed by her professors had to be the truth and she indicated so to her father.

Read the Rest

Monday, December 11, 2006

Carleton & Abortion

I would just like to comment on the whole Carleton and Anti-Abortion group thing.

In case you haven't heard, this is what it's about:

Student groups at Ottawa's Carleton University that want to question abortion rights will not be able to receive money or recognition from the students council.

The Carleton University Students' Association (CUSA) voted in favour of a controversial change to its discrimination policy that requires that "no CUSA resources, space, recognition or funding" be allocated for anti-abortion activities or displays.

Right now I'm considering grad school. One of the most important things when considering going to post-secondary, whether at the undergraduate or the graduate level is can you fit in with the school.

I actually just bumped into some old friends yesterday and when I told them about my endeavors, my one friend, Jen cautioned when you write your statement of interest, have a look at the school's mission statement. She told me that one of her friends was not accepted because her values did not fit into the school. I'm not sure of the details, but what Carleton is doing does not make me think that my values will fit in. My values include considering everyone's opinions critically and not shutting a person or group out because of their opinions and having the opportunity to debate, consider and evaluate all sides of an issue. I've demonstrated this with my pro-stance on same-sex marriage.

But is the Master in Public Administration program at Carleton really the best in the country? I want to go there because I'm bilingual, and because I've always wanted to go back to Ottawa. But will I really want to go there because it's in the nation's capital with numerous opportunities to get my foot in with any organization.

I'm at Trent now and I hate it. Sure I love the small class sizes and getting to know my profs, but I hate the school. There is zero school spirit, the politics of student life is very one sided. If you don't believe in fair-trade, anti-globalization, same-sex marriage, anti-war, and global warming you are ostracized by professors, peers, and yes, student organizations.

Although for many of these issues like globalization, I truly don't know enough about them to take a stance. The problem I have, is that the arguments presented are always one-sided and no one is allowed to even offer an argument for the other side.

I remember I was in my social policy class and I was completely ostracized for questioning whether the government is at all responsible for raising our children.

If you know me, you know that I love getting involved in the school. I was valedictorian of my grade 8 graduation, I was involved in numerous extra-curricular groups in high school. When I started at Trent I kind of started getting involved, but I just found there were no groups that suited me.

There is no Outdoor Club (or it was killed because of lack of student involvement). There is no debate team (and I don't have the time to start one). There is no university-wide formal or even semi-formal. There is no football or hockey team. The closest thing to school spirit here is drinking cheap beer in a parking lot for what Trent people call, Head of the Trent (homecoming).

I can't wait to get out of here, and one of the reasons I will not do my Master's at Trent is because I need a change of scenery.

Can I see myself at Carleton?

Why, so I can look forward to more one-sided debates like this one? So that I can be reminded that tolerance and diversity means "think like me". I'm just so sick and tired of the student or academia side of society telling me there is only one way to think about an issue.

Sadly, critical thinking in academia just means, 'let's just cut up the right-wing argument with emotionally-loaded language and faulty arguments'.

On the other hand, I'm not saying that the Right does any better.

Especially with this whole abortion thing. Threats of using arms and violence is actually a tactic that the Left use in globalization protests (read: riots). Can't people show that they are different sides of the debate and offer words?

What upsets me about the Carleton thing is not that an anti-abortion group is not getting money, it's that one side of a controversial subject is . There is no free flow of opinions or ideas. It's my way or the highway? Is that why we built democracy? rights of free-speech? Have we progressed at all?

Just look at the approved CUSA motion: "CUSA further affirms that actions such as campaigns, distributions, solicitations, lobbying efforts, displays, events, etc. that seek to limit or remove a woman's options in the event of pregnancy will not be supported."

The option of NOT having an abortion is NOT an option. Yup, this is tolerance, diversity and equality AT ITS BEST!

In all honesty, no student money should go towards either side.

As for graduate school and fitting in, will I fit in anywhere?

Think of the Children

Although the title of the post is often said in jest, I want you to seriously consider children at this time of year. I was moved by this article about Santa in the Globe and Mail. The next time you find yourself being overwhelmed with the hussle and bussle of the holidays, take a moment to consider how blessed you really are.

WINNIPEG — You'd expect Santa's workshop to be one of the happiest places on earth.

But among the thousands of letters asking Santa for favourite toys, some of the missives tucked away on the third floor of the Canada Post office in Winnipeg can break your heart.

Head elf Clare Mills, a letter carrier during the rest of the year, helps answer the 60,000 letters that are received each year.

He says many come with personal information, pictures carefully cut out of magazines, requests for baby sisters or wobbly drawings of reindeer.

“Dear Santa,” starts one letter Mr. Mills recently opened.

“Hi! I'm nine years old. I have two brothers. And my mom. My dad is far away. He's in heaven, he has been there since March last year . . . I have been taking care of my mom and I have been a good boy.

“We are going to leave you some goodies! How are your reindeer? How are you? Thanks, Santa.

“P.S. If I leave out a present for my daddy, will you take it to him in your sleigh? If you can't, that's O.K. I love you, Santa, and your reindeer!”

Another child wrote: “I want a family again. I want the family to be together, like with my dad and a new house.”

While Mr. Mills says there are two standard letters used to answer most children's requests, some he handles personally.

Like the letter written in a shaky handwriting that pleaded: “I would like a new friend.”

Mr. Mills says if the topic of the letter is too daunting, he can call on help from Canada Post's Employee Assistance Program. If the situation appears dire, an agency might be contacted to do an intervention.

There are even standardized letters for children reporting sexual or physical abuse, those who are severely ill, those who say they want to end their lives, and even for grandparents who are concerned because their grandchildren are divided between warring parents.

“At least they've got it out,” says Mr. Mills of the difficult letters. “Santa can't promise to fix anything but he can offer love and encouragement. Sometimes that's all a little heart needs.”

Friday, December 08, 2006

Doggygate Vs. Nazis

ok, I'm in the middle of a high stress time, and haven't had time to blog much, but this nazi comment has really gotten me irked. I haven't had a chance to put my feelings into words, but I found a fellow blogger that has said exactly how I feel on it:

So, let me just hit this point home: how is it that a comment intended as a joke gone horribly wrong that wasn't even heard by the Speaker, not recorded in the Hansard, and the best evidence of its occurrence is a tape recording on the Liberal Party website in which such a comment is barely audible is worthy of thousands of news articles and a two-week media circus, and the lambasting of the Conservatives as "misogynists", yet a statement that was recorded, heard, and in no way intended to be a joke is not seen as newsworthy by the media. It's truly an anomaly.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


I couldn't believe it when it came out of his mouth. What shocked me more was that no one else was outraged! They are all little sheep that can't think for themselves.

I'm talking about this one professor that rants and raves. Everyone thinks he's so wonderful, funny blah blah blah. Somehow we were talking about the KKK and this is what he said:

Antisemitism started in America, like other cultural things that spread, like a cancer.

Wow, what an ignorant statement. Although the earliest occurrence of antisemitism is disputed, it was long before Columbus even arrived on this land.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Returning to Blogging After Exams

Note: Will be returning to blogging after exams are over in December. Too much work, not enough time!