Archive for June, 2012

I love my country. I am blessed to have been born here and lived my life here.

On Sunday, July 1, we celebrate Canada Day, the anniversary of Canada’s birth in 1867

(Really Canadian) things I love about Canada
(in utterly random order, and all having equal value!)

1 OHIP (publicly funded health care in Ontario)
2 Roots clothing
3 The Sea to Sky Highway in BC
4 Via Rail’s ‘Canadian’ (from Toronto to Vancouver)
5 butter tarts
6 Nanaimo bars
7 Algonquin Park
8 Peggy’s Cove
9 “rocks and trees and lakes”
10 Ontario in all its beauty
11 Toronto, Vancouver, Banff, Lake Louise, Halifax
12  The Thousand Islands (of Lake Ontario)
13  Lake Ontario itself
14  Georgian Bay and its 30,000 islands
15 Muskoka
16 Via Rail to Ottawa
17  Via Rail to NYC
18  Canada Day
19  Victoria Day and its fireworks
20  The Canadian flag
21 The railroads’ grand hotels: The Royal York, The Empress, The Lord Nelson
22 Long Beach and Tofino, BC

23 Loonies and toonies
24 Canada geese, loons, and blue jays

What’s on your list?

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Author: Garth Stein

What a wonderful book! I couldn’t put it down, and raced through it. I am going to read it again very soon. This is the story of a dog’s life, as told by the dog. OMG, this dog was so real that I started talking to my dog, Spike, as though he were the English-speaking dog of the book. You have to read this book. Take it at face value, as the dog’s story, or take it as an allegory. Or maybe it is both. All I know is that I had a huge lump in my throat at the end of the book.  10/10 on my personal scale.
I loved this book so much.

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Author: Hilary Mantel

This book is riding high on the best-seller lists right now. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it because I loved the first book so much. Once again, Mantel takes us back to Tudor times. The first book in the series, Wolf Hall, ended with the deposition of Katharine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s first wife. We all know that Henry cast off Katharine in order to get Anne Boleyn into his bed. Anne held out against Henry’s desire until he married her, and she became Queen Anne. Wolf Hall was a great read and deservedly won the Man Booker Prize in the year that it was published.
In Bring Up the Bodies, Mantel again uses Thomas Cromwell’s voice to tell the story. He has become Henry’s “fixer,” to use today’s terminology. In fact, in BUTB, Cromwell has become Henry’s Master Secretary. After three years  of marriage with Anne, Henry decides his fancy has turned to Jane Seymour, and he needs Cromwell to smooth the way to get rid of Queen Anne. Lies are told, and situations grossly misrepresented – or maybe not. Maybe they are true. No matter. The king will get his way. It’s still a great story, even all these centuries later, and Mantel is a gifted story-teller. I loved this book, with its wonderful writing that brings the Tudor court to life. Can’t wait til Mantel publishes the planned third book in this series.

Aside: The cover art had some sort of copyright protection attached to it (I think) and just would not transfer here. I was sorry I couldn’t include the cover art with my review. This was the first time ever in my reviews that I could isolate the cover art, but could not complete its transfer into my blog. (However, you can see the book’s cover on Amazon.com)


Addendum, October 16, 2012: Tonight, Hilary Mantel has been awarded the Man Booker Prize for 2012 for Bring Up the Bodies, her second Tudor novel, and her second Man Booker Prize. Kudos and thanks to this fantastic author who has brought to life the lives of those in the Tudor Court.

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I’ve been hearing “Carly Rae Jepsen” and wondered why her name rang a bell. The answer came via Google. She was a top contender on Canadian Idol. Mystery solved. Now she has a new song which is doing really well. If you haven’t heard it yet, you will soon, as it is shaping up to be THE song of this summer. Before I found the YouTube video of Carly Rae herself singing her song, I had seen the hilarious takeoff of it by Jimmy Fallon and The Roots (he’s got the best band on TV) and they are using toy instruments for the percussion. Just a lot of fun to watch! Have I ever mentioned to you how much I love Jimmy Fallon? He’s the funniest guy on ‘late night,’ hands down. JMHO, of course. Carly Rae is with Jimmy Fallon in this video.

You can Google the name of her song, Call Me Maybe, and watch and listen to see if it DOES become this summer’s anthem. It’s hummable, has a great beat, and a good video. You can also Google Carly Rae’s name and get her video of her song.

PS: New book review coming soon. I have finished reading the new Hilary Mantel book.

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Good news at last!

I have been complaining for not weeks, but months, about the second-hand cigarette smoke I have been plagues with, seeping into my rooms from the apt. across the hall.I have had many conversations with management, and made many written complaints. Recently I have complained more than once a day. I have known for a week or two that the resident there is leaving. The date of her departure has changed three times, and as of this morning was still set for June 26. This afternoon I received the news from the management that the smoker’s children have removed her today. What a blessing for me, because she had stepped up her smoking ferociously in the last week or two. I reasoned that she had probably decided that since she was leaving anyway, she might as well smoke wherever she wanted, since what more could the management do to her? I interrupt myself to point out that she has already been charged a fine of $500 on two separate occasions. But these fines did not deter her from smoking in her rooms.So this afternoon I am a very happy camper. The smoker has left, and I have clean air to breathe. Hallelujah!

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So I am watching the transit of Venus on my computer. The website is http://www.slooh.com, and 2 astronomy experts are chatting live online, and the main screen is devoted to the guest, while the interviewer gets a small window. In the large window the guest is clearly in his living room and behind him his dog is doing what dogs do:  jumping on furniture, looking out window, etc. The whole scene is surreal, as my main screen is/was taken up with the graphic of the transit of Venus (the event is now at 1:14;42 as I type this.) Meanwhile, this advanced discussion on the subject of Venus and habitable planets (which Venus is NOT) is going on in the live picture and accompanying live sound. I am learning a little astronomy just by listening to these guys.
They are mentioning that there will not be another transit of Venus in our lifetime, but they keep referring to other major astronomy events coming up this year.
This event on TV is another example of what I have for many years referred to as “the magic of computers.” Wow, this window into the world of the astronomers would have been unimaginable a few years ago.
It’s like eavesdropping on the local science experts, and they are so good. Nothing that they say is too technical to understand, and their excitement and happiness at witnessing this event is palpable. I feel lucky to be watching them. They have partners all over the world joining in this telecast. Sometimes it is just a great time to be alive, have a computer, and have a clue on where to find stuff online!
Thanks to SLOOH Conversations for putting all this stuff online so that we can all enjoy the experts’ conversations! Now there are 3 of them chatting in front of their computers and letting the rest of us in on the scientific gabfest. They are apologizing that some live feeds they had planned to have, are not coming off because of the heavy traffic!
As I typed this the feed of the transit has changed and is now coming from  Oahu, Hawaii. The transit of Venus ‘event’ in itself  is 7 hours long!  This is really fascinating stuff, and these astronomy  experts are ripping off statistics:  the size of the earth, size of the sun, size of Venus, etc. Just amazing to listen to these guys talking. I am learning something new every minute.
I did put in a link to the Transit of Venus in progress  ( live on your computer) but by the time I had this written up, the location of the live feed of the celestial event had changed location yet a again, so clearly it would be pointless to put it in here. In another few minutes the live feed will come from another location – at the moment the feed is still coming from the Pacific Ocean but moving west. I can’t stop watching this stuff!

If you want to check it out, go to sloogh.com

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