Thursday, May 18, 2006

I must admit that the busy-nature of life has kept me more occupied than I anticipated when I started this blog. I'm surprised, probably as you are that it has been 6 weeks since my last post. A lot has happened in those six weeks: many surprises, many changes, adventures and new circumstances: but another post (coming likely on Monday, May 22) will dwell on those.
Also, if you are one of those who have sent e-mails in the last week: my apologies, I have been overloaded (again) with a multitude of things (including sickness) in the last week: I'm about a week behind on 2 of my accounts.

Hopefully I'll be able to give an overview of what I've been up to in the last 3.5 weeks and what I'll be doing in the next 3 weeks. When I have more time, I'll elaborate (and post pictures).

April 13 - April 26 (Kingston, ON)
One of my most intense exam periods in Kingston yet. Six exams on the the 13, 15, 19, 20, 22, 26. The exam period was not crazy for its short nature, but becuase there was not a single 'easy' exam or course (o.k. maybe one - the derivatives course was pretty good), studying this term was a complete morning, afternoon, evening, night affair with 4 hours of sleep for 2.5 weeks everynight. Why elaborate on explains why I have been sick over the last 4 days.

April 27 : Move from Kingston - Toronto, ON
PM: I have 'dinner' with my good friend Xiao who has returned from an internship in NYC. Quite the fascinating conversation both on life (social, 'the girls', religion) and also on architecture firms who are remarkably similar to management consulting firms. I have a particular interest (and for a few years wanted to be involved) in architecture and the discussion on the industry was fascinating.

April 28 : Toronto, ON
PM: I have a mini-reunion dinner (over some nice steak :) with a few friends from the Toronto District Youth Orchestra. All (except me) students at the University of Toronto, two are in engineering science (an ridiculously insane version of engineering with super-smart people), one is doing statistical mathematics (in his third year he is replacing his undergrad courses with graduate mathematics courses) and the fourth in computer science about to enter a 16-month internship in Toronto. The evening was interesting for the wide contrast in perspectives: the entire political spectrum was represented from I who have (recently) turned conservative to an ex-communist.

April 29 : A friend also studying at the castle stays overnight. We depart next morning

April 30: London, UK - Herstmonceux, UK
A better flight than I anticipated on Air Canada. I sleep for half of the flight and then strike up a conversation with the lady next to me when my rather unique food requirements are revealed. I also manage a few good photos. Arrival at London Heathrow was inspiration. For a deep appreciator of commercial aviation, the multitude and diversity of airlines represented in this incredibly busy terminal is an incredibly thrilling experience.

April 30 - Present: Herstmonceux, UK
The castle here at Herstmoncuex is truly a sight to be held. Although the photos make the actual building look taller than it truly is, the castle (and surrounding grounds) are truly massive in scale.

May 1-4: Herstmonceux, UK

I am truly amazed by the size of the castle, the gardens behind (Queen's keeps peacoks here!) and the size of the estate. There are observatories (five of them) which nightly open their roofs to study the planets.

May 5: London, UK (Note, Herstmonceux UK is about 1.5-2 hour by bus from Central London)
My first day trip to London. On this visit is a guided tour of the Palace of Westminster - a.k.a. the Parliament Buildings (I was only able to take pictures of the 'Sovereign's Entrance': due to security reasons (the police officer with the machine gun and their fingers continually on the trigger was convincing enough) I was not able to take photos of the 'Sovereign's Room,' the House of Lords or the House of Commons. The building is truly magnificent and the aura of history is omnipresent.

Also a wonderful surprise was the tour of the Tower of London and of the Crown Jewels. The concentration of gold, diamonds, crowns was very breathtaking. Once again, photography was not permitted and once again, the wealth of security people crawling all over was convincing enough to prevent me from sneaking photos. Here are a few of some of the less 'sensitive' areas.

May 6: London, UK
My sescond day trip to London. On the itinerary today is a visit to Sheakespeare's Globe to see a performance of Coriolanus, Buckingham Palace, White Hall, Downing Streret, a 'Blue Ribbon?' guided bus and walking tour of London, and the famous London Mile.

Two things of note
Coriolanus: the performance here was incredible and authentic. The actors were superb (including 'Jeffrey' the butler from Fresh Prince of Belair who played one of the central roles). It was truly breath-taking as the actors performed their roles on the stage, in the pit (which is where about 400 audience members stood) and the back of the globe. Much smaller in size (and almost unnoticed from the River Thames that it ajoins), the theatre is nevertheless an architectural feat. (the photo is of one of the performers. Becuase it was raining, everyone was decked out in rain mats at a convenient price of 2 pounds each)

Second Item of Note:
Scott Cooper and I had the interesting opportunity to meet up with Ethan Pancer and his gf Alice. Ethan's travels has taken him to more countries than I can remember but very recent trips include ones to Egypt, Hungary and Sweden. A Queen's Commerce student on exchange to Denmark, Ethan was on the start of a two week trip with his gf starting in London and hitting a number of countries including France, Belgium and Spain. We had quite the nice conversation at a pub on 'The Mile' but our conversation was cut short for the performance at Shakespeare's Globe.

Alas, this is just about the amount of time I have to describe in detail my activities here in Europe. By Monday I'll present the second and third weeks of my journey here and hopefully provide some deeper insights. However, as you can see, things are actually considerably busier than I anticipated they would be, so Monday may turn into Tuesday and etc...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Many of you know I've been trying to get back in touch with "me" time and what makes me happy. In relation to this, I am re-running an excerpt of a post from the early days on my blog, about pursuing who and what you were meant to be.

I'm a busy busy girl still ... please forgive my lame blog habits. But hey, recycling is good for everyone, right? ;)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A painted garden spider was building a web between the dogwood and the hedge outside of my front window yesterday evening. The Hub and the boy were cutting the grass, so I had the time to sit for a while and watch her work.

I love spiders. I know this is an oddity among women, but I really do. Not only do they eat bugs that I’m less fond of (like mosquitoes and flies), but they are nature’s graceful epitome of the trade master and artisan. Delicate. Precise. Patient.

All the things I’m not.

I was reminded of a class I took in college as I watched her weave. It was a strange class of which I don’t remember the title, about becoming aware of our connection with Mother Earth and all her beings and elements. It was taught by an aging hippie with pewter colored hair that had not been cut (or shaven) for a long time. She wore cotton tee shirts and peasant skirts, and always jingled faintly when she moved, the way Hindu women do.

Part of the course involved picking a creature or element that would be our “life form” for the duration of the course. Something we would connect with, commune with and essentially become, symbolically and transcendentally. As our exercises evolved, so would our connection with their roles and purposes on the planet.

I chose the spider. The spider is a creature that I have always been fascinated by and respectful of, and this exercise in observances taught me much about why – and what I desire in myself metaphorically - perhaps the root of my admiration of them.

These memories of lofty standards pined for came back to me as I watched the garden spider work. She busied herself intently with her project, weaving skillfully. A perfect web. Beautiful. Delicate. Strong. Practical and functional. Graceful slender legs moving, maneuvering, measuring effortlessly. I thought upon the lessons of how success is rewarded for immaculate craftsmanship, lack of discouragement, and a bottomless well of perseverance and patience.

Perhaps my flippant attitude towards the notion of pursuing my crafts more seriously relates directly to that. The skills and traits of the spider within are not what they used to be. I don’t take myself and my so-called talents seriously anymore. But perhaps it’s not a matter of taking, but of simply being. Being what you were designed to be – doing what you were designed to do. The spider doesn’t worry about failure, only in creating what she must to live the life she was meant to live.

Deaths In Iraq War


US 2,245
UK 100*
Italy 27
Ukraine 18
Poland 17
Bulgaria 13
Spain 11
Slovakia 3
El Salvador 2
Estonia 2
Netherlands 2
Thailand 2
Denmark 2
Hungary 1
Kazakhstan 1
Australia 1
Latvia 1


Iraqi military, security and police deaths since official end of the war in June 2003 4,059
Iraqi civilians since end of war: 28,287 - 31,891


Contractors (various nationalities): 353
Journalists: 79 dead (2 missing)

Sources: Iraq body count, The Brookings Institute,, Reporters Without Borders, Project on Defense Alternatives

*The 100th dead British soldier in Iraq "sparked protests once again over this most bitterly divisive of conflicts, with fresh demands for British troops to be pulled out of Iraq. A cross-party group of MPs [Members of Parliament] renewed their calls for an inquiry into Tony Blair's conduct in taking Britain into the war."

Read more in the Independent, and check the Guardian for a list of the names of all the fallen British soldiers, because those cold numbers above represent people with families, with friends, and with names. On tombstones.
There's a yellow balloon lolling on the ground next to my bed that has been distracting me for quite a while now. It's growing smaller and smaller as the air rushes out of a knot which has being doing a pretty decent job over the past two days.

I like the balloon. One of my friends had painstakingly written all six of our names on it and I like reading the names. They are such nice names. Isn't it lovely how nice people always have nice names? They are brilliant people and I don't know why the balloon doesn't understand that. Doesn't it realize it's shrinking? And taking my friends away with it?

I've tried to stop it, but I can't seem to. Aren't I worthless? I can't even stop a little yellow balloon from dying.
Don't die, old thing. I'd hate it if you did. Don't you know how much you're worth? Don't die, old thing. Not today, at least. Maybe tomorrow- if you have to. I'll be stronger then. I'll take it better. Tomorrow, perhaps. But not today. Stay on, old thing. You might just like it here.
here's the plan: we trash the environment through fossil fuel emissions and deregulating refineries, global warming causes temperatures to rise (at least initially), and increasing home heating costs are irrelevant because you don't need the heater anymore.

we render the medicaire and medicaid programs ineffective, the ill and infirm all die off, premiums go back down. ingenius.

we demonstrate the ineffectiveness of big government by inflating it ourselves, then cry "look! government doesn't work! we must privatize! down with regulation and oversight!"
Listen to Spare Change

Thursday, December 01, 2005

New fire equipment blogs see on-equipment fenton fire equipment fenton fire
Classic cuts are making a huge comeback. The good thing about classically designed rings is that you can still wear them tastefully in the next three decades. They make great heirloom pieces as well. Most women are now leaning towards getting a classic-cut diamond solitaire, or if that's too much, at least a diamond accented ring. Despite the colored stone trend, diamonds still appear to be a girl's best friend-at least for the engagement anyway. Round and emerald-cut diamonds are still the top sellers, followed closely by the classic oval cut. The pave setting, where the band is studded seamlessly with diamonds, is also an elegant way to set diamonds. This setting is also poised to be a big trend in the coming year. top jewelry sites