All Over The Place

Canada Day fireworks

Canada Day fireworks (Photo credit: powerflyd)

This is a perfect day to stay away from the retail world and a great day to have off.  It’s the start of the Canada Day long weekend when every serious camping Canadian goes camping in a truly serious way.  That means stocking up on supplies for every eventuality from tropical heat wave to freezing rain and don’t forget the bug spray and enough food to feed a small town for a month.  It’s Murphy’s law that you end up getting a large percentage of these things at the last minute (yesterday and today) and fighting all the other last-minute shoppers to do it.  The reason I know it’s started already is that I got a text from a co-worker from our optical center located in the middle of a madhouse zoo of a big box store.  She said last night was crazy, so today will be worse.

Family camping

Family camping (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It should be safe to go to work tomorrow once half the population has headed off all over the place in every conceivable direction to camp grounds and other nature infested areas.  My next door neighbors are in the process of leaving. This process has been going on all morning.  Three kids are sitting with solemn faces on the back bumper of an open and jam-packed hatch back watching dad wrestle with dirt bikes and a trailer.  They are learning some new words.  Mom is calmly jamming more coolers into the back seat.  Probably full of dad-calming beer.

When they finally pull out of here it will be safe (and quiet) enough for me to take my thousand pound book into the backyard and finish it this afternoon.

There I am on page 199, marking my progress in sparkles.

And here’s what it looks like to be on page 474, almost halfway there.

The book is REAMDE by Neal Stephenson, and it’s not just good, it’s amazing.

Quoting from the book description on Amazon…….high-intensity, high-stakes, action-packed adventure thriller in which a tech entrepreneur gets caught in the very real crossfire of his own online war game…….Richard Forthrast, the black sheep of an Iowa farming clan……created T’Rain, a multibillion-dollar, massively multiplayer online role-playing game with millions of fans around the world.

But T’Rain’s success has also made it a target. Hackers have struck gold by unleashing REAMDE, a virus that encrypts all of a player’s electronic files and holds them for ransom. They have also unwittingly triggered a deadly war beyond the boundaries of the game’s virtual universe—and Richard is at ground zero.

Racing around the globe from the Pacific Northwest to China to the wilds of northern Idaho and points in between, Reamde is a swift-paced thriller that traverses worlds virtual and real. Filled with unexpected twists and turns in which unforgettable villains and unlikely heroes face off in a battle for survival, it is a brilliant refraction of the twenty-first century, from the global war on terror to social media, computer hackers to mobsters, entrepreneurs to religious fundamentalists.

It’s definitely an entertaining page turner.  There are a couple of reviews that say it’s not as good as previous things he’s written, so if they’re even better, I guess I’ll be reading those next, but this time on my Kindle to give my arm muscles a break.  And this is a much nicer cover than the one I’ve got, in case things like covers make a big difference in whether or not you read a book. 

On a completely different note, and in keeping with my title, today I used a glue gun and DID NOT BURN MYSELF.  Believe me, this is incredible news if you know anything at all about my glue gun history. 

Okay, I’m off to tackle the last 600 pages, and this is the last you will hear about it.  I promise.  There could be more on glue guns though.  They have a nasty habit of popping up and wreaking havoc in an otherwise sane and sedentary life.  A life which involves less than zero amounts of camping if I have any say about it at all.

The To Don’t List by Our Lady of the Lists

At a List-aholics Anonymous meeting I would be crowned queen.  Week after week.  Hello, my name is Memorandum Millie and today I wrote sixty-three lists.  Nine of them went through the wash, twenty-three are scattered throughout the house, a couple of them are in random pockets, a few in my bag, the rest in the paper recycle and not one of them responsible for anything much having been accomplished.

Any dull moment at work seems like a great time to me for grabbing a scrap piece of paper and jotting down TO DO’s and brilliant thoughts and ideas and observations.  It appears I have a great many of these moments, because by the end of the day my lab coat pockets have bulked up considerably with notes.  On the one hand they make me feel productive and organized.  But deranged and disordered on the other when I try to decipher and make sense of them all later. Thus the paper recycle’s raison d’être in my listed life.

To save trees I have been trying to remember to use the cute little NOTES app on my phone.  There’s still a note there from the first of April which reads “Malbec Argentina“.  This is list code for:  buy some red wine, get a malbec, the ones from Argentina are good, I can’t for the life of me remember even one specific name but it doesn’t matter because those bored guys in the liquor store live for helping brain fuzzed people like me.  It’s their raison d’être.  Two little words can say so much. 

A prof in school once suggested the reason we write things down is so we won’t have to remember them.  Of course we all madly scribbled that statement down in our notes although his point was that we should stop writing for a minute and really listen instead.  There might have been a time in my life when that worked, but it doesn’t anymore.  It’s not that I can’t listen – I can certainly absorb a lot of information with empathy and interest.  It’s the retaining part that gives me grief.  (Yes, I know you talked to me about all this yesterday, but what the hell were you going on about again??)

Anything work related for me requires copious notes;  on files, on orders, in trays, tacked to the calendar and the walls.  I’d like to say the reason for this is because I’m there only two week-days and thus don’t always know what’s going on like the rest of them do, but the sad fact is I just don’t care to have all that information rolling around in my head.  I write it down so I don’t have to remember it.

This morning I’m making a To Don’t list just for the fun of taking my list fetish in a completely different direction.  It’s not meant to be preachy, it’s directed at myself.  If it helps someone else that’s just a plus.  This one I’m writing down here so it won’t get lost, and because I never want to forget any of it.

1.  Don’t go beyond passive and become a doormat.  Nobody needs to be that nice.

2.  Don’t get your knickers in a knot about shit that doesn’t matter.

3.  Don’t fear sadness and tears but don’t wallow in them either.

4.  Don’t hate.  Don’t spread hate.  Don’t condone it.

5.  Don’t think so hard.  Don’t worry so much.

6.  Don’t forget to say I love you. Don’t forget to mean it.

7.  Don’t do it if it feels wrong.

8.  Don’t make mindless assumptions.  Don’t stop listening.  Don’t stop learning.

9.  Don’t complain.  Really, I mean it.  Stop it now.  No one wants to listen to you whine.

10. Don’t ever put your life on hold.  It’s short.  It won’t last.  Don’t stop living it.

Wordy Wednesday

For anyone who cares, and also anyone who doesn’t with no idea what I’m talking about, I’m up to page 199 in my daunting 1000 plus page brick of a book.  I wish I could say I can’t put it down, but it’s all too easy to do that with a little help from gravity and hands that have fallen asleep. 

Last night the sky went ominously dark and the temperature dropped and the thunder rolled and the rain came down.  And that’s the end of that story, because in spite of how threatening the weather appeared to be, it seemed to suddenly lose interest in being nasty and wandered off somewhere else.  I might have stayed awake longer if it had been more entertaining.  Instead I slept for ten hours straight.  There’s something about the rain that induces this kind of tranquility and calm.

A Wednesday!

A Wednesday! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This morning I woke up in the middle of some inscrutably foggy dream feeling lazy, lethargic, just this side of comatose.  Brought the paper in, didn’t feel like looking beyond the front page, made coffee, tuned in listlessly to Facebook.  Damned exciting day so far.   Checked out my astrological forecasts – note the plural there, because I’d hate to put all my trust in just one opinion.  And this way I get to choose the one I like the best.  Or in this case, dislike the most.

Your confidence gets a very nice boost right now, and this enables you to feel like you can do just about anything — which you can. Enjoy your extra social zip and go out and have a great time at whatever you choose to do.

You have a strong and compelling presence today, especially if you are doing any kind of political or public speaking. People are interested in learning what you have to say. But in personal relationships, your passions come across a little too strongly.

You will have a powerful idea that dramatically improves your social and career prospects. You will find a way to bring two groups together in a way that heals an old rift and makes new progress possible. Other people will notice, and you will benefit from the attention.

Who the hell are they talking about?  Obviously the storm went high and rearranged the heavens last night.  I’d go so far as to say it scrambled them.  That is not me.  Social zip, compelling presence, powerful ideas – get out of here.  Even if I finish this whole pot of coffee there’s not a chance.

Right now I’m just trying to drum up the ambition to shower and get dressed and ready for work.  Maybe there will be more lightning today and I’ll get struck by it and thus jump started on the development of my strong and compelling presence where people pay rapt attention to what I have to say.  HAHA!  I must still be dreaming.

Vacation Stop Ends But I’m Still On Vacation

The newspaper is being delivered to my door again.  I put the longest vacation stop on it that they’d allow (even though I’m not on a REAL vacation, just an extended pretend one living alone with nobody to care about but myself), and already it’s back, and already today I’ve spent too much time flipping through it.  Practicing my sneery face of disdain because there’s never anything worth reading in there.

Except for these two things.  Yes, TWO!  I couldn’t believe it either.

Calgary’s Twitter sensation Kelly Oxford woos Hollywood

It’s not the actual article I read because I get the Edmonton Journal which reprinted theirs from the Los Angeles Times.  I think the Calgary Herald,  being closest to home should be the best source for this feel-good story.  Anyway, the facts appear to be the same.  So all of you young moms out there writing about your life experiences, take heart!  You have a huge audience that genuinely wants to hear what you have to say.  Even if it ultimately ends up being only your grown up kids who read it, searching your blog trying to pinpoint when exactly it was that you lost your sanity.

The other article in the “Arts and Life” section (stuck in amongst the Disasters and Death and Sports pages letting us know that there are idiots out there still playing hockey even though it’s nearly July)  was a picture of the reunited Beach Boys to feature their album “That’s Why God Made the Radio”.  They will be performing at the Calgary Saddledome on July 11th.  Why is Calgary having all the fun?

Those guys are OLD (-er than me, even.)  This is their first new material in 20 years.

They are still very sharp dressers.

Reliving the glory days. Good for them.

Read Me

Even though the title of this book has the letters M and E in white, I still initially read it as READ ME.  Great subliminal message.  Not the most artistic cover I’ve ever seen, though.  How strange to use a font size that makes it necessary to hyphenate the author’s last name twice.

I’ve placed the book here beside an elephant for perspective.  It’s 1042 pages of thick and heavy.  And this is the paperback.  The hard cover edition would likely require double bagging.  In four days I’ve managed to make it all the way to page 26.  If this alarming rate continues, I’ll get to the last chapter sometime in December, hopefully before the world as we know it ends on the 22nd.  Maybe I should read the last couple of pages now so I’m not left hanging.

The story is interesting and the writing is good – there’s no problem there.  It’s just that when I curl up somewhere to read a book I like to do it to relax, not to weight lift.  The Kindle is much kinder to my wrists and shoulders.  And it has a little percentage graph to show me where I am, rather than freaking me out with an actual page count.

I am reassured by a little blurb on the back where the Washington Post tells me it is perhaps the fastest 1,000 page read I’ll ever encounter.  No point in advising them of my progress – they did pop the word PERHAPS in there.

But I do love a challenge.  So I’m going to step up the pace.  Broken wrists shall not deter me.  Thank you Neal Ste-phen-son.  This better be good.

Musical Interlude

You do something to me.

Something that simply mystifies me.

Tell me, why should it be

You have the power to hypnotize me.

Let me live ‘neath your spell.

Do do that voodoo that you do so well.

For you do something to me

That nobody else could do.

(Cole Porter)

It’s a harmless little bit of poetry, until it’s paired with this music and this voice.  And then it’s something else entirely.

Mini Movie Marathon

Two days off = five movies.  Is that better or worse than an entire trilogy in less than a week?  As in, more or less productive?  Or not productive at all?

Maybe I’m stock piling ideas for my book that I keep thinking I should write but at this rate won’t start until I’m 90.  I did get other things done.  I DO know how to work the pause button.

It all started with The Importance of Being Earnest.  I guess the rest of the cast was good, but it’s hard for me to take my eyes off Colin Firth.  And that’s why I saw him trying really hard to keep a straight face in some of the more ridiculous scenes.  Reese Witherspoon can do a British accent.  Although since I’m not British I could be completely wrong about that, but it sounded fine to me.

Then good old Netflix suggested I might like Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky.  This was a little more intense.  The revolutionary dissonances of Igor’s work versus Coco’s radical ideas in women’s fashion.  So of course they hit it off, but the relationship was doomed.

 Wings of the Dove was also about a doomed relationship, and it’s all Helena Bonham Carter’s character’s fault.  She wanted it all, and in movies that usually means you end up disappointed.

So – from London to Paris to Venice to Tuscany and Shadows In the Sun.  And another kind of love story altogether.  This movie was more about the love of writing and the fear that can paralyze a writer when he thinks he might have nothing left to say.

Well they should all just sit down and watch more movies.  Tons of ideas there.

Giancarlo Giannini as Father Moretti was delightful. So was Joshua Jackson, but only when he forgot to slick back his hair with grease.  Yuck.  And the beautiful scenery will make you want to book a flight to Italy and never come home.  Unless of course you live there already, in which case, gawd I envy you.

As good as all of these were, The Young Victoria turned out to be the best of all of them.  You’d think by the time I got around to this one I’d be all sapped out, but nope.  Emily Blunt is a perfect young Victoria and Rupert Friend is an excellent Prince Albert.  I think there were sparks.

If I’d seen movies like this in school I might have had a better appreciation for politics and history.  Well, that’s debatable.  I might have wanted to meet Rupert Friend.

The next thing I’m going to tackle is a thousand page novel.  Going to sleep and to work can be such annoying interruptions.

My List of All Things ICK

Irrational fears are nothing new.  Everybody has something that pushes an anxiety button causing mild dismay or distress.  Never mind the major phobias, like fear of heights, being closed in, flying, water, spiders, snakes, or being afraid of the dark.  The people who fear these things don’t really believe deep down they’re being all that irrational.  It’s healthy to have a fear of wild animals, for instance.  And therefore camping and hiking and wilderness areas in general.  Really, it’s freaking dangerous out there, what are you DOING?

But I’m not talking about the big things.  It’s the mini phobias that give you the willies or the heebie-jeebies  but don’t seem to have the same effect on everyone else.  And you can’t quite put your finger on any rational reason for that shiver of dread.  It’s those little things that make you cry ICK as you slowly back away, or (worst case scenario) run from the room screaming like a girl.

So here’s my personal list of all things ICK.  In random order of ickyness.

1.  Moths attracted to my reading light and threatening to land anywhere near my head.  Get away from me, or prepare to die.

2.  Rodents (except for squirrels because they should never have been classified as such.  Who did that?)  (Despite the fact that they’re cute, even squirrels better not touch me with those icky little black feet.)

3. Those gross globby white mucous-y  blobby things on cracked raw eggs  Get them OFF.  Gah.

4.  Gummies.  Especially worms.  And I don’t care if they’re shaped like cute little teddy bears or covered in sugar.  That does not disguise their squishy ick factor in the slightest.

5.  June bugs.  Other beetles.  Crawly things that crunch if you step on them.

6.  Dirty fingernails.  Ewww.  What the hell is under there and is it growing? Like mould?

7.  Too ripe bananas.  Black ones push me over the edge.

8.  Globs of toothpaste and spit left in the sink.  Gag.

9.  Slime.  Or anything that resembles slime.  Or feels like slime.  Or might one day turn into some form of slime.

10.  Anything (ANYTHING) that smells weird or dreadful or peculiar or off.  Especially if it turns up in my fridge.

Okay.  On the neurotic ick scale from one to ten, I’d rate myself a three.  Four tops.  Come on.  There are things on that list that are too cringe-worthy for a revulsion to them to ever be considered abnormal.

F is for Fifty Shades of F***ery

There have been so many horrible reviews written about the Fifty Shades Trilogy by E. L. James that my mind was made up to not bother reading any of it.  But Book One got downloaded to our shared Kindle (by either one or the other of my daughters, doesn’t matter who)  (and if I did it myself, I don’t remember!) and so there it was, and I thought, what the hell, and started reading.  Finished it and downloaded the second one.  Finished that and downloaded part three.  Seriously, it’s like some kind of strange addiction to the weirdest fairy tale ever written.  Somebody called it “literary crack”.  It’s a modern-day fairy tale fantasy for a day dreaming adolescent, unbelievable in so many ways, and yet I found myself reading away, wanting to believe the unbelievable.  Because it’s just so f***ing unbelieveable I can’t believe it.

Quick character synopsis – Ana Steele, a socially awkward 22-year-old virgin (rolling your eyes already?) who has no idea she’s brilliant, gorgeous and desirable,  meets Christian Grey, a drop dead handsome 27-year-old billionaire control freak who flies a helicopter, owns a jet, lives in a penthouse, employs full-time security staff, has darkly erotic tastes, plays the piano, suffers flashbacks and nightmares from early childhood trauma, was seduced as a teenager by a family friend old enough to be his mother, is heavily into sexual role-playing, has self-loathing issues and been in therapy all his life, and is using his vast wealth to combat world hunger.  Yes. Really.

Even Quicker plot synopsis – They can’t keep their hands off each other or be physically separated without feeling suicidal.  There is a lot of angst.  They work it out.

There is really not much of a plot, very little character development, repetition that will drive you mad, a bit of melodrama here and there, but never any doubt whatsoever that it will all end blissfully and happily like every good romance does.  Oh yeah, and physical intimacy and gratification on every other page. Sometimes every page for pages and pages and pages.  If there were a sexual olympics, Christian and Ana would definitely be contenders.

Who can say why this trilogy is a runaway best seller?  It’s not literary genius by any stretch of the imagination.  There are many more talented writers out there.  I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it.  But I did read the entire thing.  Just like I read the entire Hunger Games Trilogy.  As for Twilight and Sleeping Beauty – couldn’t make it past book one in either case.

Anyway, now I guess I have a better idea what all the fuss is about.  Much ado about nothing much.  So of course perfectly suited to being turned into a full length movie or two!  My head hurts just thinking about it.  Read it for fun or diversion or to be a critic or to become a six star fan.  Or not at all.  More power to Ms. E.L. James who is laughing all the way to the bank in spite of what we think.  And threatening to write MORE!  I am SO biting my lip (and rolling my eyes) in breathless anticipation.