Wednesday, December 15, 2004

From the mouths of morons

So, I made this promise to myself to just delete stupid e-mails without reading the stupid things that assholes had written. But I had to keep this one because it just sums up soooo perfectly the attitude of the anti-same-sex marriage e-mails I've been getting (which are outnumbered, about 100 to 1 by pro-same-sex marriage letters - yay Canada!).

Anywhere, here it is, in all its goriness:

"Currently there is debate about changing the legal definition of marriage to include Same Sex couples. Attached is my letter to you which outlines my concerns about giving Same Sex civil unions the designation of marriage.
Thank you for taking into account the desire of heterosexual couples to have their marriage recognized as being distinctly different from the unions of homosexual couples [emphasis mine]."


So far all the "Holy Matrimony" this, and "traditions around the world" that and "won't somebody please think of the children!" whatnot, it boils down to a simple fact that these people missed that day in kindergarten where you learned how to share.

Actually, it's even worse than that - because it's not like marriage is a finite thing, like a bag of cookies. If you have to share your cookies, then there's less, maybe even none, for you. But there's no such limitation on marriage - it's not like a couple of lesbians are going to come to this guy's (yes, it's a man, not that it's relevant, but hey) house and force him to fork over his marriage so they can have it.

So basically, as I have ranted before these people just don't want to let anyone else in their club. The last little vestige they had of self-absorbed superiority they could feel was that while you couldn't keep the gays out of the workforce, or the military, or popular media (and so on) you could stop at least stop them at the door to holy matrimony.

And that's really what discrimation's all about isn't it? Excluding people? And whether it's at the high school lunch table or the altar, it's an ugly, ugly part of human nature, and one that I am so proud that my country is working to eradicate.

So here's my suggestion for these people who don't want their committed relationships and those of homosexuals to have the same name: call yours something else. Let the gays have their marriage and call yours a civil union. That's not discrimination, is it? Because they'll both be equal in the eyes of the law, right? Yours will just have a different name, to show how they're "distinctly different" from gay marriage. Heck, don't call it a civil union. Call it the "Sanctified Ceremonial Parade of Homophobes who Probably Sleep in Separate Beds " if you want. Just don't complain to me - you're the ones who suggested it. You're the ones who can't share.

Friday, December 10, 2004

I take it all back

Please please please send me thousands of e-mails supporting same sex marriage. The asshats are at it again, with their stupid stupid stupid letters of stupidity. God, these people are SO DUMB. Some write short notes that say "I think homosexuality is wrong". Fine. If you're going to be hateful and discriminatory, at least make it brief and to the point. Do not send paragraph after paragraph of "AND the LORD JESUS came to MY WIFE in a vision and she cried "OH LORD, cover me in your BLOODD and here is the message that my wife was told about THE DOWNFALL OF society and BLAH BLAH BLAH I live in A BARN with my GOATS and GODDAMN WOMAN MAKE ME A SANDWICH, can't you see I'm on the COMPUTERMAJIG!@#$!$!@$!@"

The people I hate the most - HATE - are the ones who say that this will lead to the downfall of society. That society is just fine the way it is and if you change anything - ANYTHING - it will just collapse. And there's always something, isn't there? Some tolerant, forward-looking, social shift that's ABOUT TO DESTROY US ALL AAAAIIIEEE!!! Like, a hundred-odd years ago it was freeing the slaves. If you free the slaves, society as we know it will crumble! And then it was women getting the vote - next thing you know society will crumble! And men might have to make their own sandwiches!

Civil rights, right to vote for First Nations, abortion, equal pay legislation - for almost every single law that tries to make people equal, there's a vocal group of cranky grouchfaces who are all "Whah? No owning blacks? People other than white men voting? Womenfolks having control over their own bodies and chequing accounts? Sunday Night KKK call-in with Joe-Bob going off the air? Why can't things just stay the way they are!"

I just can't express how frustrating it is when someone's whole line of "reasoning" in a debate is "Change is bad". Here's a fun first-year philosophy tip - these people use a line of arguing known as the "slippery slope" fallacy, wherein your premise is that A leads to B, B leads to C, C leads to martians marrying wildebeast, and in conclusion we're all going to burn in hell.

Okay, I'm just rambling now...this whole thing started because I got a letter from a "Conserned Citizen" who informed me that if same-sex marriage laws are passed I'm going to be forced to marry my Dad and a goat, or something.

Oh well, you're all invited to the wedding, regardless.

PS. Here's an essay that made me feel better. I think it expresses exactly how I feel about a bunch of loudmouth bullies co-opting Christ (a dude whom, though I don't personally ascribe to his religion, I find to be pretty freakin' righteous and awesome) and using his name to do pretty much the opposite of what he taught.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Uncheck the box

Dear Supporters of Same-Sex Marriage,

Let me start off by saying that I'm one of you! And I love that I live in a country where, when a MP tried to introduce a discriminatory bill, thousands of people rushed to this site to voice their opinion by sending an e-mail to Parliament. But please please please - uncheck the box.

What box? The box! The one right underneath your MPs name on the letter. See it? Good. Uncheck it. Why? I'll tell you.

Because in the past week and a half most MPs have received 4596 copies of this letter - I say this because that is the amount that have come to this office. FOUR THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED NINETY SIX. And as the person who has to go through each of this e-mails and figure out by postal code if they're from a constituent and then BALEET! the remainder (about 4580) I ask you this for the sake of my index finger. 'Cause there's only so much BALEETING! one finger can take.

And the worst part is - I don't even feel good when I BALEET! these ones. I'm like, aw, another one from BC, go my province go! Oh, and BALEETED!...So please, people...uncheck the box. Canada is a wonderful tolerant society and I love it, but the only MP who cares about my opinion is my MP. That's not cynical or crass - that's democracy at its finest! Or, at least, not at its worst.

Leaving the saga of princess whiny and her love-hate affair with postal codes, I have to say that this morning was a pleasant unsurprise. I mean, nobody really expected the Supreme Court to do any different, and it's only a matter of time now before the legislation is FINALLY passed and we as Canadians can stop bickering about which genitals can marry and whether they're really married or just forming a union or as they say in Quebec, just le shacking up, and move on to things like, say, tackling child poverty, AIDS, or global security. So all in all, it was nice to start the day with a little affirmation that Canada is a pretty awesome place to live.

Although, I do have to admit that my thought process went like this when I first heard the news: "YES! Oh god, I'm going to get sooooo many e-mails..."


Apropos of nothing - this will make you laugh.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The Great Uniter, after all.

Goddamm...I had written an awesome, several-paragraph long entry, and then the server failed. No, I didn't save it. Maybe I'll try to re-create it tonight. It was about the protests on the Hill. Also it had an awesome link to the last Bush protest I was at. Sorry, that's all you're getting for now...don't cry for too long.

Friday, November 26, 2004

So Very Spoiled

It's a pretty good thing I've had a couple of really shitty (read: average student) jobs before I started this one. Otherwise I would have a pretty warped idea of what a real job is like. We get pretty spoiled here ON THE HILL compared to THE REAL WORLD
A few examples:

Sending Mail:
Buy stamps, run to the closest post office, try to figure out complicated postal system VS
Put in appropriate size envelope - no postage necessary. Put in "Out" box by door. Magical mail fairies do the rest.

Ordering Supplies:
Get supervisor's approval. Fill out requisition forms in triplicate. Shop around for cheapest prices. Arrange pick-up or delivery VS Go to the "One Stop Shop" in the basement. Choose from catalogue. Free metallic gold pens for everyone!!!

Computer Maintenance:
None. Or else you have to arrange and budget for it VS Nice lady shows up with kit one day and says "May I clean your computer for you?"

Perks:
Boss buys you a drink at Christmas party VS Constant partying with various lobby groups that want to buy influence your boss, but he's not there so instead you get his share of free booze, food, gifts and entertainment.

I know it all sounds pretty good, but there is a downside - a lot of the people I work with are raging assholes.

A good example of this was the other night when I was attending a lobby group event and pretending to be important when really I just wanted my free stuff. This particular event was being hosted at the Capitol Music Hall by the CCMIC (Canadian Coalition for Music in Canada? I think). Our whole office went, and we were pretty stoked when we got there to find out that, in addition to the free booze, food and CDs, there would be live performances. My first twinge of excitement came when I saw Jully Black over by the shrimp cocktail - and was she ever working the "white jacket - silver bra" look. No seriously, she's hottt.

Turns out, she was hosting the event with Jim Cuddy (he of Blue Rodeo) and this guy...oh, whatshisname...you know...TOM COCHRANE. So yeah, it was pretty awesome, and Shaye was there, and Bruce Cockburn was there, and there were other awesome acts from Saskatchewan and Quebec and Nunavut and Keshia Chante (AIEEE!!! - is what I'd say if I was 14 and/or a boy) was there and they all rocked the stage.

So all of us from the office were up by the front, singing along and doing that kinda dancing thing people do at concerts or parties when they're feeling the music but not yet drunk enough to dance for real. But everyone else? OH.MY.GOD. People were standing around NETWORKING. Talking, trading cards, checking their freaking Blackberrys...it got to the point where TOM COCHRANE HAD TO ASK THEM TO LISTEN. I was, holy shit, we got free food, free drinks, a free CD, and now you have to be asked politely to listen to some of the best music in the world?

Like I said - a lot of the people I work with are raging assholes.

Despite this, Jully still got Tom to play "Life is a Highway" and it was just a big jam session with all the artists coming out and it was just so freakin' awesome that even the most pretentious snot heads from the second level turned off their cellphones and kinda danced.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Now that my mandatory two-week wait period is up:

I can finally pick up my handgun! Juuuuust kidding. Like I want to shoot myself in the foot. Or the face. Or anywhere at all, for that matter.

Actually, what I was waiting for was two weeks of cool-down time after the U.S. election. I'm not going to dwell on the fact that the results mean four more years of this (and also this, which is awesome but not quite enough to make a Bush mandate worthwhile) but I think I've calmed down enough to talk about reactions to this recent Bushwhack.

There seems to be lots of coverage of disenfranchised American liberals looking north for greener pastures. And on the one hand, I feel for them. I mean, Bush robbed Gore last time around, but this time he actually won based on a majority of Americans being - and I hate to generalize, but, c'mon - total bitchfaced asshats. And I know that if I suddenly found out that the majority of my country were basically angry conservatives, I'd sure as hell want out too. So I completely understand why some U.S. citizens are desperately looking for a way out. And, considering the gains that the Conservative Party made here last election, I'm definitely willing to greet my peace-lovin', tree-huggin', same-sex smoochin', civil rights respectin' compatriots from the south to help tip the balance back.

HOWEVER (and you know this must be important because it's all caps, and normally I hate all caps because IT'S LIKE BEING SHOUTED AT SERIOUSLY DID YOU FLUNK KINDERGARTEN WHEN THEY TEACH YOU WHEN TO USE THE BIG LETTER AND WHEN TO USE THE SMALL ONES???!!!) while the liberal Americans are certainly welcome here, they're really much more needed right where they are. Actually, not so much where they are (San Francisco, New York City) but more where they're not (Florida, Ohio, Texas). Instead of fleeing to Canada, we should be fleeing to them!

See, when roommie Mo and I went to see "Farenheit 9-11" and, we came out thinking "What can we do to stop Bush?" And what we came up with was liberal Canadians marrying Americans and taking Yankee citizenship to vote against the rapid conservatization of the U.S., which is a country that, while much lamer, is also much more influential than our own. To paraphrase the great philospher Denis Leary: "The rest of the world, they can have all the democracy they want...they can have a democracy cakewalk right through the middle of Tiananmen Square and it won't make a lick of fuckin' difference, because we got the bomb, OK? "

So - who wants to marry an Mississippian?

Friday, November 05, 2004

My country 'tis of thee

So, I was walking down Wellington Street the other day, and I looked down the road a bit to Langevin building - the Prime Minister's Office. A funny little thought struck me - what other country in the world has the office of the head of government plunked right on a busy street corner? Maybe, like, Fiji or something.

I mean, think of the White House, all fenced off and guarded by snipers and anti-aircraft missiles, and dogs, or bees, or dogs with bees in their mouths so that when they bark, they shoot bees. Meanwhile, our Prime Minister issues a press release about when he will be greeting trick or treaters at 24 Sussex. No, really. He did.

So how come we can do this? How can we be so sure that no one's going to park a car filled with explosives at Elgin and Wellington, or hide a gun under their Harry Potter cloak, or break-off from their public tour of Parliament and judo chop the PM as he walks down the hall?

I'm thinking because even if there's people out there who hate - HATE! - P.M. the PM, it's a "my taxes are too high" kind of hate. Which is markedly different from the "my son died in a war started under false pretences to guarantee the President's re-election" kind of hate. Or, as is the case in many countries "my life and the life of my loved ones are in constant threat of brutal murder at the hands of his death squad" kind of hate.

I mean, really? We have it pretty good here. I'm not saying we're a perfect country, 'cause we're not - c'mon, this is kind of a sham - but all in all we have very few legitimate complaints about our country. Like, yesterday I forgot to bring an umbrella and it started hailing as I walked home and then I walked too close to the curb and this bus drove by and splashed me twice as it drove through a big puddle...that was a bad day for me. I mean, I was soaked right up to my scarf! And people saw and SMIRKED! It was HORRIBLE!!!

ahem...Anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I appreciate a country where people can make a point without resorting to violence. Not that we're violence-free (although there's certainly less violence now ) - but at least our violence is creamy and delicious!

Friday, October 15, 2004

You know you've been working on the Hill too long when:

1) Plagiarism is not only accepted, it's expected. Got a speech to write? Use someone else's talking points! Press release? Take the PM's and put your name on it! Original thoughts or words? Takes too much time! Citations? We don't need to stinkin' citations!!

2) You start to talk in acronyms. "Well, the PMO wants the DOCs of the RMs to have the MLs done, or else his DPA might step in ASAP." God, people like that are so IRRITATING! I catch myself doing it and I just want to kick myself right in the teeth.

3) You have nightmares where the House unanimously appoints you as the Speaker, and it's like being a new substitute teacher in a class of 308 rowdy adolescents who are trying to make you cry and they're all talking at once and horsing around and when you yell at one of them it turns out it's Alexa McDonough and she fixes you with a death stare and you're all "Um, sorry" and then you're trying to address members by their riding and you're reading your little seating chart and it's all jumbled and you wind up saying stuff like "The Honourable Member from Oolong" and then Stephen Harper is all "Pick me! Pick me!" but you can't remember what part of Calgary he's from and no one will tell you...

4) When you get e-mails like
"Liberal Cabinet Ministers do need to note IT IS A TOO TYPICAL OTTAWA JUSTICE MINISTER HYPOCRISY FOR THEY IN OTTAWA GOT THEIR BUDGET SURPLUS WRONGFULLY BY SAVING MONEY ON PROSECUTING THE TOO MANY PEOPLE WHO STEAL EXPENSIVE RINGS, TAX EVADERS, DRUG USERS AND DRUG PUSHERS, DRUNK AND DRUG IMPAIRED DRIVERS, COURT LIARS, ALL OF THE BAD JUDGES, BAD POLICE, BAD CIVIL BAD PUBLIC SERVANTS, BAD CABINET MINISTERS AND ALL OF BAD PEOPLE WHO ABUSED, ABUSE THE TAX PAYERS MONEY.. ALL STILL UNACCEPTABLE."

5) When the most satisfying part of your day is getting e-mails like that and deleting them while shouting BALEETED! I'm getting good at reading just the subject line and maybe the opening sentence before:

"FW: Is Canada a Real Country? Canada, as a country, is finished !! When Quebec can speak for Canada and Quebec can do anything it wants because..." BALEETED!

"A WIDOW FROM IRAQ Dear sirr do not feel bad for this e-mail more so because I am offering an business proposition. My husband was killed in the US invasion but left me 20 million dollars for this I am writing you thru internet.." BALEETED!

"RE:: Undeniable Muslim immoral Politics in Canada" BALEETED!

"CONGRATULATIONS,YOU HAVE WON. " BALEETED!

"Call out Gouranga be happy!!!
Gouranga Gouranga Gouranga ....
That which brings the highest happiness!!" BA...nah...this one's a keeper.



Thursday, September 23, 2004

Raging Bullshit

So - I was going to post something about the stupid assholes who write toM.P.s about stupid horrible things. For about two weeks, my day was punctuated by angry e-mails/letters from people who are concerned that

a) Gay marriage is going to destroy families, society, the world and THE UNIVERSE AS WE KNOW IT AAAAIIIIEEEEE!!!!!

b) Women who get abortions are EVIL MURDEROUS SLUTS AIIIIEEEE!!!

c) People who want to start a new life in Canada are going to steal our jobs, our resources, our candy, AND OUR VERY SOULS AIIIIEEEEEEEE!!!!

And so on, and so forth. You can only imagine what it was like getting these - mostly in mass mailing which I should have just deleted but couldn't help but read much like when you drive past an accident on the highway and can't avert your eyes - day in and day out. I went from "Laura, chipper new employee" to "Laura, employee who wants to put people in a wood chipper". In particular was this dude - er, no, dickwad who sent two different e-mails that will be used in my defence at the murder trial.

His first e-mail was against gay marriage, because: (see if you can follow this logic)

-During the 20th century, various wars resulted in the drafting of working-age men into the military
-White-collar instutions - banks, etc. - stopped hiring men because they didn't want their workforce to be drafted
-These institutions only hire women - except for management [because we couldn't manage our way out of a wet paper bag, tee hee!] - since they are ineligible for the draft
-Therefore, only women can get decent white-collar employment, while men cannot
-However, women [are shallow and callous and] will only marry a man who can support them [because we couldn't support ourselves out of a wet paper bag, tee hee!]
-Since men can't find decent jobs due to discrimination by white-collar male managers who fear the drafting of their workforce, and women only marry men who get decent jobs, the legalization of gay marriage would mean that women would only marry each other.

Um, so at first I didn't really know what his point was. I mean, was he angry that there was all this hot lesbian sex going on and he was never going to be a part of it? Did he think that gay people were just materialistic - all, "I love you, Brian, but Cindy here has a Porsche"? Did he think the only thing men had going for them in the mating game was the size of their wallet (which in his case is probably true)? I mean - is he angry at homosexuals, corporations, women, the government, whom?

Well, he must have heard my ponderings, because he soon dispatched a second mass e-mail. And the answer is...EVERYBODY! This guy is angry at everybody. I mean, everybody. Yes, you too. He doesn't know you, but he hates you! Especially if you have a uterus, but also everybody in the whole world! He is the angriest dude ever. Knowing this, I had to check out the gory pile-up at http://www.hometown.aol.com/sbotchie/GBurgersArticles.htm - but really, I should have just kept driving. It was a mistake. He is an angry, hateful man whose writing ruined my week.

Why all the hate? Why all the anger from him and all the other people who are just incensed over these issues? Why are they spending their precious lives trying to protect "marriage" when god knows how many starving children (and I mean, God knows) are all "Um, how about protecting me?" Why is marriage/abortion/immigration/etc. consuming every moment of their lives? WHAT ARE THEY SO FUCKING ANGRY ABOUT?????!$#$@%!%

Ahem...anyway, I don't know the answer, but I have a theory. Canada is moving forward. We are moving toward an inclusive and diverse culture where differences are respected and celebrated. And these angry people? I'm guessing they're pretty much lame in every respect, and the only thing going for them was (in their own minds) that at least they had more rights than homosexuals/immigrants/women/etc. No matter how much of a failure they were, they always felt morally superior to minority groups. And now? Canada is trying to give the same rights and privileges to every Canadian. And that pisses certain people off. Stupid, insecure, hypocritical people are now panicking because we're leaving behind the days of discrimination and that was the only edge they had. Now it's slipping through their fingers and there's not a goddamn thing they can do about it.

Anyway - I don't know if my theory is true, but it makes me feel better.

Also - I hope that I have succesfully enabled the "Comments" option, so I would really like to here thoughts on this subject. Or, y'know, on the subject of "Who kicks more ass - Kirk or Picard?"

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

And a small Australian shall lead them...

One of my favourite perks of the new job so far, aside from the solid gold office chair that says "Hey Taxpayers, Kiss my A**!", is receiving every single special-interest newsletter in the known galaxy. Accountants, firefighters, miners, accountants who like to fight fires in mines, etc. - everyone who's anyone has something out in circulation these days. Today, the protestant Christian Week and The Catholic Register tried to co-exist in the office mailbox. I browsed through both of them, as I am wont to do, both for my own enlightenment (like, who knew that "catechumenate" was a word?), and for an endless supply of giggles (c'mon..."catechumenate"??? Hee!) .

Anyway, to make a dumb story short, both papers ran a full-page add for The Passion of the Christ on their back page. Maybe Northern Ireland isn't a lost cause after all - thanks, Mel! Now if only you could deal with that pesky anti-semitism thing...

Monday, August 23, 2004

I'm an adult...soon?

Almost two years ago, a bunch of the ol' Stelly's crew of '99 met up, as we try to do, around Christmas to catch up and drink and be merry. We were discussing school and jobs and so forth, when we hit upon the topic of adulthood. When, exactly, did a young person cross that intangible line into the realm of the grown-up? After much deliberation, we decided unanimously upon the one defining characteristic of the adult:

Dental plan. Your mommy's or daddy's doesn't count.

So here I am, one week into my first job that isn't measured by the semester, and I discover while reviewing my pay and benefits package that I am an adult. Or, more specifically, I will be an adult in three (3) months, provided I am a long-term employee who for those three (3) moths of employment is paid for at least 12.5 hours of work, not including the blah blah blah sign on the dotted line etc, etc. I dunno, I guess I should be excited. Maybe I should throw a party or something, and we can do grown-up things like drink martinis and discuss paint schemes and all be home by 10pm. Actually, that sounds kind of fun...['aiiiieeeee!!!' - the 18 year old still left in Laura].

As for the job - well, props and a million thanks to Kaija, who will be earning awesome karma with finding gainful employment for this recent grad. Still, I plan on remaining the super-cool Laura Floyd you always knew. Er...make that the "kinda strange, but in a way that, while not totally cool, is at least partially entertaining (especially after many drinks)."

Monday, July 12, 2004

Putting the...y'know...back in 'Caucus'

Sooo...I'm packing my bags on July 7th (um, I mean, I was already packed! In advance! And I certainly didn't forget to bring my jacket!) when alert government employee Heather D. phones to tell me about the YOW evacuation. Of which I became a casualty. Um, not in the sense of dying or anything, in the sense of being bumped around to different planes. All in all, not too bad - they did manage to get me back to Victoria only two hours later than my original flight. However - they did inadvertently expose me to a close encounter of the Conservative kind...

So the seats at the gate for my flight to the T. are full. No biggie, I just grab one at the gate one over, Air Canada direct to Calgary. I'm sitting there, sort of reading, when this tool in a tight shiny black t-shirt and his bleached-blond companion have a seat next to me. I don't really pay much attention, mostly because I'm trying to remember the name of the MP across the floor...thank jebus for the House Page test - I spy with my little eye, someone named Art Hanger! And then - horrors, he starts walking towards me...I burrow deeper into my "Unfinished History of the World"...uh huh, fertile crescent, millet, irrigation, that's interesting...and suddenly the shiny t-shirt guy announces "Art Hanger!" and I turn in slow-mo to my left only to discover to my horror just who tight tight shiny black t-shirt guy is.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

As I sat there, they were joined by this guy. The conversation revolved mostly around how he had made his MP pin into a ring. A pretty, shiny, ring. Oooh, so shiny! Don't you think it's shiny, Rob? Oh yeah...it's simply precioussss.

Where's that air sickness bag when you need it?

Monday, July 05, 2004

Ramblin' (Wo)Man

Well, it's been a great few weeks in Ottawa...catching up with everyone, watching 200 channels of daytime TV, matching my bedskirt to my sheet set to my blinds, etc. As of July 7th, however, I will be back to my digs out West for four weeks - and big props to roomie Mo for pointing out correctly that the 7th is a Wednesday, and not a Thursday as I had originally thought. Interestingly enough, I had actually made plans for Wednesday night in both Ottawa and Victoria, but on second thought I think I'll just leave the space-time continuum as is.

My last major assignment in O-town is to finally get my freakin' film developed (ooh, "get a job" is totally jealous of "develop film" now!). I would also like to give big props, and by props I mean kicks to the nether regions to stores that REFUSE TO PUT THE PRICES OF THEIR FILM PHOTO FINISHING SERVICES ON-LINE. Which would be everybody but Japan Camera Rideau Centre, whose prices are so horrendous that...well, maybe with my one roll of film in 1hr plus CD for $26 dollars I also get to kick the manager in the nether regions. And a free doughnut. Anyway, I think I got the most angry because these places (Loblaws, Shoppers, Blacks, London Drugs) listed on-line digital services because OBVIOUSLY anyone who uses this "internet" thingy to find info MUST have a digital camera and THEREFORE taking five minutes to list the equivalent film prices is A BIG WASTE OF TIME.

By the way - Dan had his pictures downloaded to his computer and posted on his website within three days of our arrival in Ottawa.

NO, YOU'RE ANALOG!

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

What a Difference a Month Makes

Hey there homegirls and boys,

Yeah, so it's been approximately forever since I lasted posted...hope none of you were holding your breath...if so, I will certainly send flowers to your bereaved families.

Dan and I returned safe and sound from Europe on the 4th, and boy was it good to be in Canada again. Don't get me wrong, I had an amazing trip - but you do get homesick after five months! Well fine, maybe you don't, but I do, and this is MY freakin' blog! Anyhoo, by the end of it, I was getting pretty bent out of shape over little things...like the rose vendors (here's a rerun for those of you who were at the gradumacation pary):

The Unbearable Lightness of Being a Rose Vendor

Scene: Eiffel Tower at night
Characters: Laura, Dan, rose vendor

Dan: Hey, let's go up the eiffel tower!
Laura: Cool!
Rose Vendor: (offering rose) Only one euro!
Laura: No thanks.
Rose Vendor: (attempts to put rose in Laura's arms)
Laura: (shouting right in his face) NO!!!!
Rose Vendor: (runs away)
Dan: (covers face in embarassment) Um, I don't know this girl.

But enough about Europe...well, maybe until I get my pictures developed and I remember all the crap I saw...

Props to the proud and many who came out to gradumacation - good times had by all. I know I was supposed to post the results of "Put on fridge/make a funny hat" but after several gin and tonics, there was a surprise winner - "put on kitchen table". And so the saga ends...or does it?????

Since then, I've been slooooooowly unpacking...mostly because while I have no job, I do have digital cable - slogan: "All MacGyver, all the time". But hey, I'm still preparing for the future; just yesterday I started to get ready to begin looking for a job.

And without a segue, on to politics. Like many people, I find Stephen Harper personally frightening - you know, like a clown who on the surface is all "Ha ha I'm a clown!" but underneath is all "I wonder what eyeballs taste like?" Also, if the mofo wants to legislate my body - well, he's welcome to show up to rugby practice and discuss it with the team.

And now some fun links about him and the yellow-speedo wearing MP from Wacko, Rob Anders.

Later dudes!

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Talking to Americans

So we run into these two from California...we don't know their names, but Dan and I like to call them Biff and Suzie because, well, they looked like a Biff and a Suzie. First, they were really surprised that we would ever have heard of their hometown - a little place called "Sacramento". Marvel at this little snippet of conversation:

Suzie: What's that word they keep saying? 'Donkey'?
Laura: Do you mean "Danke"?
Suzie: Yeah, that. What's that mean?
Laura: Um...it means "Thank you".
Suzie: Oh, that's great! [practicing] Donkey. Donkey!!!

It gets worse...overheard at a train station:

Elderly Couple from the South: Excuse me - is there a McDonalds in this station?
Helpful Eurail Woman: Um...I don't think so. There's one about a 10-min walk away.
ECS: That far? There isn't one in here?
HEW: No - but there is a Burger King.
ECS: Ew...Burger King...

Aw...funny how travelling is supposed to open your mind, but I find that it just perpetuates the stereotypes I always had! Like how the French are rude, Germans are efficient, Italians can't make their goddamn trains run on time so you miss your connection even though you should have had 20 FUCKING MINUTES TO SPARE...etc, etc.

Although I gotta say that my presumptions about the Swiss being orderly and dependable were a little shaken up when we ran across four off-duty soldiers in the Brig train station, semi-automatics in one hand and beer can in the other...

And now for something completely different: Heart & Crown, Ottawa, June 8, 9pm. Be there or be the only kid on the block not to have a vote on the hot topic of "Laura's Degree: Put it on the fridge or make it into a funny hat?"

Monday, May 24, 2004

Squatting: It Does a Body Good

Howdy y'all,

So, it's been awhile...blame it on the expensive internet, the funky keyboards, and my ever-increasing alcoholism. Also, the net here at the easy internet cafe in Rome keeps shutting down, so I can't really organize my thoughts - so enjoy a series of unrelated rants, starting with:

Squatting

No, I don't mean the kind where you live in an abandoned building. I mean the kind when you get into a washroom and, for a variety of reasons, decide that you'd really rather not put your ass on THAT OMG WHAT IS THAT$"£$"(!!! I've been doing my fair share ever since January since the good people who run Vimy decided that toilet seats are for suckas! We don't need no stinking toilet seats! I tell ya, there's no incentive to squat quite like the cold mid-winter's kiss of porcelain on your delicate cheeks...

Butt...a side benefit of this, along with living on the 3rd floor of a house, is that despite my daily regimen of TV and a wheel of brie for four months, I appear to be in the same shape as always! Which is to say, not very good...still, Dan and I consistently whoop the elderly and people with baby carriages on most hikes and climbs up hills...take that!

Team Discovery Channel!

So, Addie and Dan and I spent the better part of the day in the Deutsches museum, and discovered once and for all why Germans kick ass in a lot of things - sports, science, music, etc. : they make learning fun! There was this chemistry section, and it was all in German, but we still looked at every single freakin' exhibit, because they had these buttons you could push and you would create a chemical reaction!!!! Sooooo radical. And you can just imagine all this little German kids making (and smelling, through the handy whiff-o-matic window) ammonia for the first time, and being all, "One day, I will use my knowledge for the betterment of mankind!" Or possibly, "It smells like burning!" Cause it did.

When in Rome

Watch for pickpockets. That's what everybody says, including this guy who has been our guiding light throughout the trip. So we watched every single person who came within our personal space (approximate size - one city block) and I would shout at them angrily while Dan ran back to the hotel with our bags. Seriously though, I've been pretty paranoid...every old lady, small child and priest is a potential thief, right? But now I'm thinking that maybe I went overboard...I should go apologize to that old lady...maybe she really was just trying to get onto the metro car, not swipe my money belt...

Italy vs. Germany: The Deathmatch

Sorry, I lied - no death or anything...just wanted to keep your attention for another couple of minutes. Just wanted to make a quick observation on the differences between the two cultures (since I am, after a couple of weeks, an expert on such things). Germany? Is very orderly. For example - you know how, in Canada, if you want to be nice, you move over to the right side of an escalator to let other people pass? Well in Germany, this is not a courtesy - this is the way things are done. Standing on the left side is like going a measly 150km/h in the passing lane of the Autobahn - you just don't do it. Because it's not orderly! You must be orderly! And efficient! The whole world must be orderly and efficient, and we'll conquer you all if we must to make you orderly and efficient!!!!!

Ahem...got a little carried away there. Actually, I appreciated the order and efficiency of Munich, a big city that was pretty clean and friendly and - can you belive it - had a spotless metro.

So Italy? Was a bit...different. One quick and meaningless example: as Dan and I waited in line the other day to buy groceries (at the bizarrely named "Drugstore"), we noticed that people were just randomly piling their baskets up at the cash, not stacking them. A couple got knocked over, blocking the narrow aisle. Nobody picked them up. People kicked them, stepped over them, edged around them, but - nobody picked them up. Also, some of the subway cars are so graffitied that you can't even see out the windows.

Toto? I don't think we're in Germany anymore.

When in Rome (still)

Aw, but Rome is beautiful. Really, really beautiful. Amazing. It's really moving to walk down the street and come face to face with sights like the Trevi Fountain, the Vittorio Emmanuel monument, the Forum, etc. I think the highlight, though, was definitely our visit to the very first McDonald's in Italy, complete with flower baskets, Roman arches, terrace-style dining areas and a mini-waterfall against a mosaic background...

Kidding, kidding...well, sort of. Actually, what I find most striking is how advanced Rome was, and how far Western civilization fell during the middle ages. I mean, Rome had a 50,000 seat stadium with numbered entrances ("Damn, not LVIII again!"), shade and refreshments...and the middle ages had raw sewage in the streets.

Makes you think.

Makes you want another beer.

Cheers!

Sunday, May 16, 2004

The List, Part the Second

Ah, writing lists are hard...so much easier to just rant and throw in some cuss words...but here goes:

Number of haunted house rides gone on in Bruges: 1
Number of times Laura told the man in the scary mask who jumped out at her to "Fuck Off!":1
Number of times she told him to "Go Away!": 2
Number of small children on the same car who were less scared than her: 6
Number of years since 8th grade group project that made Laura want to visit Luxembourg: 9 (fuck! How old am I?)
Grade said project received: A
Percentage of grade that was likely due to the cheesecake that was served with project: 50, and why the hell not, it was damn good cheesecake...
Ratio of minutes spent in Luxembourg to sex shops seen: 5:1
Rank of Germany in terms of favourite countries visited: 1
Rank of "Schweineflesche" (literally "pig flesh", German for "pork") on list of German words that make Laura and Dan giggle: 2
Rank of "Gute Fahrt": 1
Mental age of Laura and Dan, in years: 10 (and dropping like a stone)
Time, in seconds, that it took for Laura to make the scrunchy "I'm going to cry" face after she dropped her cone of Riesling-flavoured gelato: 2
Days left: 19
Brain cells left: slightly less than that

Friday, May 14, 2004

The List

Part 1: Arras, France

Number of days Laura lived in Arras: 118
Number of days before first travel journal reference to impending insanity: 5
Amount of peanut butter, in grams, eaten on average each month by Laura: 800
Number of phone calls received by roommates in the middle of the night asking for Laura: 3
Fraction of these that were from her father: 2/3
At work - ratio of questions asked about where I´m from, what I´m doing here, etc. to questions actually relevant to my training: 20:1
Number of times people asked if the sheep ever explode: 17
Number of couples who had their small child carry an unexploded munition they found on the assumption that she would be less likely to be searched: 1
Number of times said couple should be punched in the face: many, many times

Part the Second: The Trip, Week One

In light of item number one above - rank of Arras in length of time spent locating hotel, one being the longest: 1
Number of times Laura yelled at obnoxious visitors at Vimy when she took Dan there, even though she no longer works there and was just another tourist: 1
Number of times a small child was bit on the face before his idiot parents clued in to the fact that swans are wild animals and pulled him away from the fence where they had placed him: 2
Number of Belgians watching this who looked as though they wanted to punch the parents in their faces many, many times: 5

More to come in a few days...I hope...keep cool, kids!

Monday, May 10, 2004

So Happy...

...to not be in nothern France anymore. Sooooo happy. You can't see me but I'm doing a little happy dance in The Coffee Link, Bruges, Belgium. But it's alright, because Belgians don't stare. Or yell at you when you try to eat lunch in their restaurant, which is what happened to Dan and I on Saturday. And old lady chased us out of her brasserie because we had the audacity to (gasp!) want to eat lunch there. I know! How rude! We were, like, going to exchange currency for the service she advertised on the exterior of her place of business - what were we thinking! It's like when I was at H&M in Paris and the girl at the change room counter bitched at me because I was - get this -waiting in line to try on clothes.

And also it rained so hard when we were trying to find our hotel that my capri pants were see-through - and everybody stared as though it was "Girls Gone Wild - Northern France Edition!"

So Bruges is my new favorite place. Today we got a 24-hour bike rental plus admission to 3 museums and people were really friendly and nobody stared or yelled even though we don't really know the road rules and generally just kinda biked wherever and tried not to get hit by cars or pigeons or whatever.

So, based on months of exhaustive study and meticulous scientific methodology:

Northern France < Everywhere else in the world with the possible exception of countries where there are really nasty wars or diseases or biting animals.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Things that go suck in the night

Oh man. What the hell's wrong with me? I had a whole day to myself in the beautiful, vibrant, culturally-rich city of Paris...and I wasted my time and on this. Anna, you may laugh loudest of all. Seriously, I like cheesy monster movies as much as the next person...actually, much more than the next person, but this was beyond redemption. And the ending was the cheesiest thing...in all of France! (rimshot!) But the worst part is, just as you leave the theatre to collect any scrap of taste you left outside, there's a dedication by the director in the credits that reads "To my Dad". So I was all, "Man, Steven Sommersguybob, you are really the worst writer/director ever and I bet you...oh...I mean...um, it was...good?"

Overall, Paris is pretty nice. It's good to be in a cosmopolitan city after spending four months in the armpit of France. But the dogshit...oh man...it's pretty incredible that I have yet to step in any...famous last words!

Anyway, I'm off tomorrow to pick up Dan at the airport - hope they let him through - try not to act suspicious or anything...next stop...Arras! Motto: "Come on, we're not really the armpit of France...more like the elbow...or maybe the appendix".

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Wanderlust

Hey gang,

Note the changes on the contact info (as in the lack of contact info) - the contract's done and I'm off wandering around. At first I was really sad to be leaving, but then I regained my sanity and ran straight to the train station! I won't bore you with all the gory details of my term - I'll save that for when I'm back!

Damn - I had lots of funny stories and stuff but this stupid keyboard is all weird and I can't handle it. The apostrophe is where the four is and I keep typing ù instead and there's a comma where the m should be - in fact, if I wasn't staring at the keyboard here's what this sentence would look like:

in fqct; if I zqsnùt stqring qt the keyboqrd hereùs zhqt this sentence zould look likeM

Discuss q,ongst yourselves.

Anyway, I'm in Paris for a couple of days with Anna B. Preliminary reports are: the city is beautiful, there's lots to see, but watch where you step...

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

The Last Temptation of Laura

I caved.

It had been going so well - almost four months, and no signs of weakness; just the odd craving that was easily ignored or satiated with a few beers.

And then I got lost coming back from Albert, a town which is of little interest to anyone, except that it's where we get gas for the BH vehicles. I'd never been there before, but one of the secretaries was driving home and told me to follow her there - a cinch, right? I got there, filled up, turned around and started retracing my path.

I don't know where it all went wrong - I'm thinking one of the roundabouts, dammit, all the exits looked the same! Whatever the cause, I soon found myself in unfamiliar territory. A moment of weakness - and that's when they struck. Searching around for a sign or landmark, I saw it off in the distance, shining like...well, golden arches: the Golden Arches.

What could I do? I was powerless to resist. Hungry, tired, alone...the next thing I know, I'm at the counter all "Un Royal Cheese"...

Anyway, I was still lost, and drove around aimlessly, adopting the time-honoured strategy of "Maybe if I drive around a bit more, I'll see something I recognize!" Okay, stop laughing - it worked, dammit! After 20 minutes or so, there stood a ginormous sign with an arrow that read "Laura, go this way". Or maybe it said "Beaumont Hamel Newfoundland Park Turn Left". Whatever. The point is that I made my way home in all my clogged-artery gloriousness.

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT

I have not met any of the new guides yet, but I already have a favourite: the one who brought us a Globe and Mail. That's how I first heard about this. I think it's the best friggin' idea ever.

Friday, April 23, 2004

A couple of awesome things

Here and here

Ethics and etiquette

Alright, kids, time to flex that mental muscle. Here's an exercise in how you would deal with irritating or inappropriate behavior. Ready? Too bad, here we go!

Scenario A You're walking to the local neighborhood pub, and one of your travelling companions insists on describing to you, in detail, the battle of Waterloo, eg "It was really Napolean's battle to lose. Only two armies were really equipped to face him after his return from Alba; one was Wellington's British Army...although he had a lot of foreigners...Dutch...Belgian...Hanoverans..." 5 minutes later...Now Wellington had taken a strategic position, the low-lying hills made it difficult for the cavalry to advance...Napolean's first wave of attack was easily repulsed...15 minutes later As the infantry advanced, fifty across, they OWOWOWOW LAURA STOP POKING ME IN THE EYE WITH THIS SHARP STICK!!!!

Okay, maybe that last bit didn't happen, but it would have if we hadn't immediately arrived at the pub for a tall glass of sweet, sweet beer...But I ask - how do you tell someone that they're a boring lump and you're not interested? Or should you just suck it up? Or should you just poke them in the eye?

Scenario B You're at a proper military funeral for a WWI soldier whose remains were only discovered a few months ago. There is a gathered crowd of over a hundred people for the ceremony. Partway through the opening address, through the hushed crowd, comes the sound of some asshole jingling coins in his pocket. This continues through various readings, prayers and hymns. The priest then announces a moment of silence, during which nothing can be heard but the whistling of the wind, muted birdsongs and omigod that asshole is still jingling those fucking coins! Glancing around you, you eventually locate said asshole. Jingle jingle jingle jingle...You give him the stink eye, the evil eye and then the death stare, but nothing seems effective. Do you wait patiently for him to stop? Or do you stomp over, grab both his hands, and crush his fragile little bones while screaming "How you gonna jingle now, asshole? HUH? HOW YOU GONNA JINGLE NOW!!!

Discuss amongst yourselves.

On, and a propos of nothing - this rocks - big shout-out to Payton for sending it along.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

And you may find yourself...

In Englebamer, France
And you may find yourself,
Watching a camel chase a sheepdog,
And you may ask yourself,
Well - how did I get here?

Pardon me for ripping off these guys but it really was a once in a lifetime moment. I`m also trying to work in a stanza about chasing the loose sheep back into their pen around the monument, but I can`t thing of anything that rhymes with "electric fence"...

But such are my days of late. For a tour guide, I give surprisingly few tours, and must occupy my time in other ways...the flags are memorized, the pile of books to read is quickly diminishing, the cracks in the ceiling are all present and accounted for...and so on. I was, therefore, quite thrilled when the BH shepherd, Mr. Schiettequatte (I kid you not, really, that`s his name...no, really!) invited myself and Joce to go for a pony ride over at in his village, where, as luck should have it, the circus was in town. And his dog went over and harassed the camel...and there you have it! The most surreal moment of my life. And the most hilarious as well...I mean, come on! It was a camel! In northern France! Chasing a sheepdog around and around in circles...around and around...a camel...and a...sheep...dog...heh...okay, maybe you had to be there.

Ahem - anyway, work is quickly coming to end. Not a moment too soon, either, because there`s, like, people and stuff coming to the sites now. I know! Where do they think they are, a historical monument or something? Meh, I guess it doesn`t matter much, seeing as I`m outta here on the 3rd of May. I can`t wait to start travelling around Europe - there`s so much I want to see! Although I`m kinda peeved that I missed this important cultural event. Oh well, I guess you can`t do it all, right?

Letting the days go by
(All the sheep are kinda dense)
Letting the days go by
(Running through the electric fence)
Into the pen again
(Now that the camel`s gone)
Once in a lifetime
(Working at the monuments)

Friday, April 09, 2004

Hat Trick

I don't know if this has ever happened in the history of Vimy/BH guidedom, but for one brief shining period this week - we had all three vans in the shop. One of our greater accomplishments as a team.

Or somebody's trying to kill us.

Anyhoo, it starts with the Vimy van (affectionately known as 'Bijou') going in to get the handbrake fixed. And then - well, you are, of course, all familiar with the fun that is 'Charlotte' losing brake fluid pressure. Icing on the cake was when we were given 'Mitsou' and the battery conked out on the way to work when we stopped to recycle our many empty beer and wine bottl...er, I mean, when we stopped to save a busload of nuns...um, and a really cute puppy. We finally got both vans back the other day, but Bijou is back in the shop 'cause her fanbelt screeches like a banshee.

Which leads me to random rant about France #284: The One Where Laura Wonders Why French People (in particular, but not limited to, men) Think That Young Canadian Women Are Idiots. So, we stop at the recycle bin...er, I mean the nun-bus depot, and then we can't start the engine again. It revs but won't turn over, and makes that horrible sound of a dead/dying battery. Also the battery light is on. Also the van hasn't been used in the past two months and we only drove it a little ways, not enough to recharge the battery. So the three of us put one and one and one together and wind up with "dead battery".

But the security guard? Is all, are you sure? And we're all, yes, for the following reasons. And he's all, could it be something else? And we're all, maybe, but...no. And he's all, let me listent to it...hmm, sounds like the battery. I'll get maintenance and see what they think. And they he phones us later and is all, yup, it was the battery! Good guess girls! Here's a pretty ribbon for your hair! Or maybe not that last part. But still, it's one of those moments where I feel like shaking someone and shouting "I AM NOT AN IDIOT!@@#$#@!" Furthermore, it seems like, but (WARNING - HUGE GENERALIZATION TO FOLLOW) any moment of independence or decision-making or self-assertion are strange, even repulsive, to French men. But so far I have punched no one in the face, and have not even come close since last week's incident on It's a Small World After All...

Friday, April 02, 2004

Magic and Madness

Howdy do, folks. Been an exciting week for a change. On Tuesday we piled into one of the death vans (more on that soon) and drove to every WWI site between here and Ypres, Belgium. Well, maybe not every site...'cause there's, like, hundreds. But at least a good dozen or so. We wrapped up at the Menin Gate where my co-worker Ann and I laid a wreath to honour the Canadian missing - something I will never forget.

A few days later, Ann and I were off to the most magical place in Europe! Or maybe we went here . Either way. Having now been to (embarrassed cough) all three Disney theme parks, I can honestly say that this one measures up in rides and attractions, and definitely beats the other two in terms of angry yelling employees and strewn cigarette butts.

For those of you who've never experienced the North American Disney magic, I should explain that Disney employees are taught/brainwashed to act in character all the time - whether you are "Mickey Mouse" or "Picks-up-garbage-with-a-stick" guy. If you are a ride operator, then you also have a character; like pirate or wench at "Pirates of the Caribbean", etc.. So, normally the staff at a ride like, say, "The Haunted Mansion" all act like scary servants at a haunted mansion. In Florida, they interpret "scary" as "speak in a spooky voice and cackle". In France, they interpret "scary" as "yell at small children and clap your hands in frustration people who don't understand your short, guttural bursts of English". Lost in translation, indeed.

Anyway, the weather was beautiful and our average wait time for rides was 10 minutes, so can't really complain. Although I did almost punch a 17-year-old French guy in the face during "It's a Small World After All". But who isn't provoked to violence by that song?

Right, right, so moving on to item number last. Some of you former guides may be be sad (read: estatic) to hear that Charlotte, the grey van, is en panne (translation: the brakes failed as Alex and I were driving home). No worries, nothing too serious. It happened just as we got downtown: first the engine started making a noise like a jackhammer (we think it was a loose belt...thingy) and then stopped when whatever piece that was making that noise fell out. I'm all, "Dude, I have no idea what that was!", and Alex was all, "The brakes don't work!", and I'm all, "What???Omigod!" and then Alex is all "Just kidding!" and I'm all "Phew, you scared me!", and then Alex is all "Shit, they just stopped working!" and I'm all "$#%@@#$@%!!@@#". He managed to get us both to the nearest Shell station, and then all the way home after the manager of the Shell station told us we couldn't leave our van with no brakes there. Ah, France, where the customer is number two! Literally.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

The One Where Laura Discovers Titles

One more thing to crossed off the list...and I also found another way to procrastinate, care of Sombrero Jack :

Which Simpsons Character are YOU?

I was Duffman, in case you're wondering. Oh yeah!

In other news...okay, this really isn't news at all. See, we have these visitors books at the sites - you know, the kind where you write your name and where you're from and comments? Well, some people (don't want to single anyone out, but it starts with a "B" and ends with a "ritish schoolchildren") think that appropriate reactions to visiting a war memorial are (and I quote): "mouth-watering", "neat stuff", "top bannana's" [sic], and my personal favourite, "Bleeba Gleeba".

I dunno, I guess I was a kid once too, but I can't imagine doing something like that...although, from what I remember, I was a pretty big geek. It's hard to say, I've blocked many of those years from my mind (see post #1 for a pretty good explanation:).

Ooh, and in other "it's a small world after all" news, not only did I recently run into Courtney's thesis advisor from UVic, I also met Dave Wheaton's nephew. That would be, for all you Vic City kids, he of Dave Wheaton Pontiac Buick. He (the nephew, not Dave Wheaton) was pretty thrilled to have run into a fellow West Coaster.

And then I sang the jingle ("Dave Wheaton Pontiac Buick - We Really Care!") and he ran away.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Alright - just wanted to take this opportunity to point out that I have conquered the evil bulletpoints. Um, I just needed to use the links button provided by blogger (as pointed out by Dan, 'cause I never noticed it) instead of typing out the html code. Cross that one of the ol' "To Do" list.

Alright, now that I've filled my daily quota of productivity, it's time to procrastinate. Scoped out latest Strong Bad e-mail? Check. Revisited some fave satire? Check. Found evidence of dwindling creativity of Internet scams? Also check.

And now that I've updated the bloggedy-blog, I have run out of stuff to do online. Although I did find a good lead on a job .

Monday, March 22, 2004

Guuuuuuuuuuuuhn....

Sorry, just one of those days...you know, not bad, not good, just...a day.

I'm trying to think if anything really exciting or even remotely interesting has happened since my last post...I really don't think so. Wow, that's sad. Maybe I should just make something up...like...ummm...last night, I went...para...gliding...off the...Eiffel Tower! Yeah! It was super awesome!!!

Well, it is starting to be sunny and warm, which is kind of exciting...for me, anyway. And I am going to start looking for a job soon, which is kind of exciting, only by "exciting" I mean gut-wrenchingly depressing. And by "soon", I mean "not really all that soon at all", because I am a wimp. And also very, very lazy. Er, I mean I am a proactive, dynamic, outside-the-box thinker who is ambitious and professional. Or something.

I guess there's always this

Saturday, March 13, 2004

(hiccup)...oh, don't mind me, I just go back from (hiccup) Champagne. Famous for (hiccup) dinosaur fossils...

No, just kidding - famous for the bubbly! Went around to five different houses, sampled fancy stuff, learned all sorts of fun things - for example, did you know that a 1.5L bottle of champagne is called a 'Magnum'? Well, ya do now! A highlight of the trip was when we stopped in at a smaller champagne house and the tour guide really didn't want to give us a tour, so she bribed us with free champagne. Seriously, she was all "Really, the tour's kinda boring and it's all the same stuff you've already heard and...I'll give you free champagne!" Hmm, interesting strategy...maybe I should keep a bottle behind the counter when French school groups come in...

Also had a close encounter of the "Hey! What are you doing in France!" "What are YOU doing in France?" kind. Gave my first-ever real tour (in French, no less) to a school from Ottawa. In attendance were two fellows with whom I worked during my summer at the Gee-Gees camps. I felt bad, though, because I only remembered their camp names, so I was all "Hey, Hubba and Bubba!" But good times nonetheless...

And in other, shittier news...

I'm not sure what the coverage is like on the other side of the pond, but the attacks in Madrid are being examined from every angle, all the time...it's a pretty upsetting story. Coming a few weeks after that bomb was defused on the tracks in southern France...anyway, I can't even form a coherent sentence on the subject. It's just really, really terrible. I hope they showed scenes in the North American news about the demonstration in Madrid - about 2 MILLION people were there. A very powerful sight.

I can't really write anything funny after that, so...I leave you with your thoughts.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Happy International Women's Day to all the ladies and the gents who love 'em! By happy coincidence, I also received Ms. magazine's "Women of the Year" issue, courtesy of Payton. It's a pretty amazing read although, as is the case whenever I read about extraordinary women, I feel both deeply proud/hopeful and terribly insignificant...y'know, 'cause I didn't fight my way out of a war-torn country, earning a triple PhD in Law, International Development and epic love poems in Sanskrit. At least, not this year. Maybe soon!

I'm trying to think of funny stuff that has happened, but it's just been really quiet and I haven't travelled since Milan...hmmm, something funny, something funny...okay...A man walked into a bar - and it hurt! A HA HA HA HA Ha Ha ha ha...heh...ahem...Hmm, maybe not.

Ooh, how about this one - when M. F came in the other day, he helpfully informed us of facts that no Canadian could possibly know, such as the existence of provincial flags and mottos in Canada. Yes, I too was shocked to learn of this. Thanks again, Mr. F! Anyhoo, I was trying to relate this story to a fellow guide, but I was kinda tired and had just drank a fairly big glass of red-wine-from-a-box (courtesy of Avril Williams, a familiar figure to past guides) and had a bit of a Floydian slip when I got to the part where he starts going on about provincial sayings...well, colour me sheepish, but I accidentally said that Quebec's is "Je ne sais pas" (literally meaning "Laura is an idiot"), instead of "Je me souviens". Although - I kinda like my version:) I guess I'll leave that up to my Quebec friends for the final decision, though!

So, what's on the menu this week? Well, for starters, a packed day-trip to Juno beach and area. We had assigned reading for this trip, which was useful for learning such facts as during which war the D-Day landings took place (kidding! I already knew it was during the Crimean war...haha, little WWI tour guide humour for you...ha...heh...anyway). During the course of these readings, I also learned - as if I needed another reason to hate the American military-industrial-complex - that some of the US air support assigned to the Canadian and Polish troops kinda got a little confused (can ya guess where this is going?) and bombed them instead of the enemy. And then they bombed the Polish troops again in a latter assault. It makes me really afraid that the final scene in "Top Gun" when Maverick swoops in and saves the day, and Ice Man is all "You can be my wingman anytime!" and Maverick is all, "So that's what the kids are calling it these days!" is actually an alternate ending to the original one that had them taking their final class, "How to Bomb Canadian (and sometimes Polish or other allied) Troops".

Thanks for the e-mails (and wake-up calls) and everything else that helps me feel kinda sorta maybe not totally like a stranger in a strange land.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Pardonnez-moi for my long absence...a combination of travelling, technical difficulties, and Oscar night (to be explained). So, for those of you waiting with bated breath, here's some highlights (and lowlights) of the last seven days:

Tuesday

Highlight: Managed to make flight to Milan. Fairly impressive considering it took us two trains and a taxi to get there. Also perfected the dance of "Dammit, you stupid train, get to the freakin' station already!". It involves lots of stomping and jumping up and down.

Lowlight: NOTE TO FANS OF CLASSIC ROCK: THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION MAY BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR SANITY. There exists a techno version sung in falsetto of Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb. Urge to kill...rising...

Wednesday - Friday

Highlights: Walked around Milan, a beautiful, clean! city. Saw "The Last Supper", a medieval castle, the second largest gothic cathedral in the world (the largest is in Cologne, which, strangely enough, I have also seen, making me ponder why an atheist keeps randomly appearing in cities with dramatic tributes to Catholicism), and more shopping than you can shake a Visa Platinum Card at.

Lowlights: Was the only person in the entire city wearing a Columbia jacket and hiking boots. Kept waiting for the fashion police to deport me. Also, came to the painful realization that my tequila tolerance is not what it used to be.

Saturday & Sunday

Highlights: Have memorized 2/3 of the world's flags. I'll be at 100% if we don't get some freakin' visitours soon. Also, made banana bread with bananas found in the freezer. They had "Adeline" written on them. Thanks Addie!

Lowlights: Realized the flag thing makes me look - no, just makes me - a giant dork.

Monday

Highlights: Watching the Oscars! And for those of you thinking, "But the Oscars were on Sunday night!", I answer "Not in France, they weren't!". From 2:30am to 6:15, with a webcam at Payton's and a phone against the TV at Dan's, I watched my 10th consecutive Oscars. I also got my highest score ever (21/24 right) by simply putting LOTR for everything. Best Picture? LOTR. Best Sound Mixing? LOTR. Best Documentary Short? LOTR. You get the picture.

Lowlights: Alright, alright, I'm a giant dork!

Thursday, February 19, 2004

I FINALLY FOUND IT!

After weeks and weeks of fruitless searching, I uncovered today something so rare in France that I was almost certain it didn't exist. No, it wasn't a man in loose-fitting pants - they certainly don't exist. What I found was - a place that plays decent music.

And there's only two problems: 1) It was in Lille, a 40 minute train ride away; and 2) It was in the train station snack shop. Other than that, it is hands down the place to hear music. A steady stream of Motown serenaded me as I drank my $3.50 Earl Grey. And it was a much welcome respite from the streams of crap that pour out of most French radio stations.

'Cause, seriously? There is not one decent station here. Not one. And there's, like, 25 stations available in Arras. But they all suck. Not only because they mostly play craptacular music (more on that later) but also because they seem to think that "Songs in English" is a musical genre. You know, some people like pop, and some people like hip-hop, and some people like songs in English. So, by this logic, the same people who like, say, Led Zepellin or Supertramp will, of course, love the new hit song "Saturday Night" by the Crappy McCrapalots (or something like that). Sample lyrics:

Saturday's the only day I wake up thinking about
'Cause every other day is just another day, no doubt
And every time I think about you thoughts run through my mind
And everybody's working for the weekend


Like, WTF?@##$@ Was that written by a monkey equipped with a random-cliched-sentence-generator or what? Did no one involved with the production of that song realize that none of the lyrics mean anything? I mean, why don't I write a song called "Monday Morning" and sing about how every day that's not Monday is another day, and when I talk words come out of my mouth, and I wish it was Sunday, whoa-whoa?

And then there's the Fox 40 solos - I mean, you know how songs performed by actual musicians sometimes have a musical solo? You know, with an musical instrument of some sort? Well these guys? Have a whistle. Yes, like Mr. Westhaver in gym class. Or The Coach.

Thank Jebus for Kazaa and CD burners.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

So good, it hurts...

Last Thursday we picked up our third consecutive win at quiz night. We're on such a hot streak that our arch-nemesis - a pony-tailed, leather jacket-wearing, quiz-winning ladies man whom we've dubbed "Leatherman" - came over to shake our hands and congratulate us. That, or try to poison us through our skin, like in the season finale of 24 last year.

Work is starting to pick up, we're actually getting visitors and giving tours and kah-razy stuff like that... Otherwise, we mostly have to find ways to amuse ourselves at work. I started trying to memorize all the flags of the world from the big map we have at BH. My favorites so far are Lesotho and Seychelles. Least favorites are those with stripes in them. Be creative, people! Also, we sometimes amuse ourselves by reminiscing about ignorant and offensive things we've overheard from visitors...for example, did you know that because the Canadians joined the war so late, when the Americans did, we didn't really know how to wage war, and subsequently 10 Canadians were killed for every German? Which is a pretty neat trick, seeing as we mobilized about 600,000 soldiers and the Germans had 1.8 million deaths. Oh, and also that we joined the war right at the start with Great Britain. I don't know, I guess his pants were too tight.

Speaking of tight pants...ladies, you know how when you're going out and you want to avoid unseemly panty lines, you can always slip on a (in the immortal words of the poet Sisqo) "thong th-thong thong thong"? Well, in France, since the women aren't the only ones who wear tight pants, they are also not the only ones who...well, you get the unfortunate mental picture.

Friday, February 06, 2004

Alright - one more that will be crossed off the list of "Things Laura Can't Do": parallel park. So many years, so many tears, and all it took was a foreign country and a vehicle twice the size of the parking space. Watch out cars and trucks of all makes and sizes - I'm comin' for you mofos and I'm gonna parallel park you but good! Fo' shizzle.

In other news - French teenage boys, more so than other teenage boys, need a good ass-whuppin'. Seriously? I'm too old for this shit. First, myself and both a female and male guide were walkin' and we hear these guys heckling us from about 50m back or so...and then they started throwing snowballs (like, brainiacs, don't be starting snowball fights with CANADIANS, freakin' Einsteins) and then they start chasing us. So we ducked into this store, you know, just to avoid us kicking their asses - and we bump into them on the way out, and they're, like, 17 years old! And 4 feet tall! And they're all "Mais, on s'amusait, c'est tout" (translation: "Our mothers smoked cracked while pregnant"). And I'm like, dudes, someday, some Canadian girls are gonna pound you, but good. Fo' shizzle.

And then, last night, the same female guide and myself were walking home (after our second VICTORIOUS QUIZ NIGHT YAY! but more on that later) and this car followed us in reverse for about four blocks, with the driver trying to chat us up. We just ignored him and his buddy, of course, but then they pulled in front of us when we were trying to cross a street, and then a block later he jumped out of his car. Before you guys get too scared for our personal safety, he too was 17/4 - that is, 17 and 4 feet tall. And my coworker happens to be a kickboxing instructer and I happen to be addicted to rage-ahol...er, I mean, I play rugby. But still, it's a weird feeling, especially when he started calling us all sorts of names after Ann told him, in both official language, goodnight and go fuck yourself. Ah, the joys of bilingualism. Fo' shizzle.

So - quiz night. Anyone who's worked at BH or Vimy will be familiar with this, but there's an Irish pub called "The Ould Shebeen" run by John, the ever-charming Irishman who loves Canadians because we drink lots. Every Thursday night he holds a 30-question quiz, and I believe (although I could be mistaken) that the guide teams usually do anywhere from alright to ass-kicked. However, last week we tied for first, but because it was late and he didn't want to do a tie-breaking round, John awarded us the victory. And then this week, we returned to crush the other teams into oblivion. For real this time - although technically we are, with two victories, on a winning streak...so think of me this coming Thursday where we will either be showered with praise or booed until John's throat is sore. Fo' shizzle.


Sunday, February 01, 2004

The following post contains scenes that may nauseate some viewers. Viewer discretion is advised. Names and places have been changed to protect the identities of the victims.

So, there's this girl. Let's call her...uh, L. Floyd. No, no, that's too obvious. How about...Laura F. And last night, in the town of Arr...er...Arra...gorn...nia...ville, she partook of the fine Scottish delicacy that is...HAGGIS. (Duh duh duuuuh!!) Not once - but three times.

You see, I...um, I mean she was at a Robbie Burns night, ya wee sleekit tim'rous creature! There was drinking and dancing and dining, at which point she ate not only her own serving, but also that of her non-red-meat/intestine-eating roommate, and then asked the servers for another helping.

But she wouldn't touch the peas.

Okay, okay, you guys have probably figured it out...that woman was me! (gasp!). Yeah, I know, haggis just sounds so gross...but it was delicious! And you pour a wee dram of whiskey over it and mmmm! But the peas...um...words cannot describe their disgustingness [sic] [also, sick]. My afore-mentioned non-red-meat-eating roommate and I had a deal where we'd swap portions of meat and veggies - but when the roast pork came out with the side of peas, we both cracked up because...well, because it was like the chef thought "Hmmm...how can I take a vegetable and make it as meaty as possible? Why, I'll cover it with lardons (fatty chunks of bacon) and smother it with beef gravy!" But it still wasn't meaty enough for me to actually eat them...ew, peas.

To change the topic completely - have you ever tried explaining Groundhog Day to someone who's never heard of it? Try it, and finally understand why Europeans look down on North American culture.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

The theme of today's post is: spot the three surprising pieces of information! And here we go...

So, it's been awhile since my last post - really, the story behind that is a tragic epic...or an epic tragedy, whichever. We've been having constant problems with our computer/internet provider. I, as the most technically proficient of the group, have spent anywhere between six and 10 hours a week pulling out my hair and muttering profanities...er, I mean, fixing said problems. Which I think I've done...knock on wood. But still, it's meant that access to the Net has been a rare commodity in Guideland. So, apologies for delays in e-mails and such.

In the continuing narrative of driving in France, I have so far piloted the ginormous (giant and enormous) guide van three times. French drivers are even more frightening, and the road signs even more bewildering, when you're behind the wheel. However, aside from forgetting that an even more ginormous tractor-trailer had right of way coming from the right, it all went relatively well.

I had intended to post something last Saturday, when I was walking around sans jacket, about the gorgeous whether here, but it's a good thing I didn't. Otherwise I'd be all "Yum yum, these words are delicious! A little chewy though." Reason being, we're currently under 6 inches of snow. Apparently it hasn't snowed like this in over a decade. Strangely enough, the Canadians are now the fastest drivers on the road, with few French daring to go over 30km/h where they once went more than 100km/h.

For those of you playing along, the three surprising pieces of information are:

1) That out of six educated 20-somethings, I am the most technically proficient.
2) That I lived to tell about my driving experiences.
3) That the French can actually drive slowly under certain rare circumstances.


Tuesday, January 27, 2004

OOOPS! Okay, if any of you are planning on sending me peanut butter by mail (or a letter or something:)) please note that I have corrected the postal code that I originally put. Props to my homie Addie for noticing this.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Ooops - apology for any confusion caused by the appearance of random links to google news on this blog. I
was trying to figure out how to create a link within the text of my blog (and if anyone knows how to get rid of that stupid bullet point, I'd love to hear from them), and I didn't realize it was posting my various attempts. I hope this answers all your questions, o many readers of this blog.

Le Crazy Driving

Two weeks now in France, and I am soaking up the culture like a sponge. SpongeFloyd TightPants. There's some really cool elements to French culture (mostly revolving around the food here, which will likely contribute to the TightPants...), but some that I distinctly dislike. For example? Driving. In France. Is crazy. I don't know how to describe it.

Yes I do. Okay, again, let me preface the little rant by some measure of understanding - the towns here and hundreds of years old, and the streets were created by and for horse-drawn carriages, so they don't exactly lend themselves to being car-friendly. And it's not like there's no jerks driving around in Canada. But let me relate this little factoid to you - the French have crossing guards at crosswalks leading to schools, not merely for added safety, but also because, without them, no one would ever stop. Poor little Francine or Jacques would just stand on the other side of the road all day until their parents came to pick them up. I seriously had to make the "Stop" motion with my hand the other day while trying to cross a crosswalk. Same goes with changing lanes - no one will let you in. Fortunately we drive these big-ass vans and the French drive tin cans on wheels so when it's my turn to drive I'm gonna be like "Yo, I'm comin' over, and there ain't a god-damn thing you can do about it!" Or maybe something with better grammar. But more likely worse, with extra cursing.

Oh, and also there's the rule where drivers coming from little side streets on your right have the right of way, but that's a whole 'nother reason for insanity.

Anyway...I'm just enjoying a super-relaxing day off. Last Saturday, Jocelyne (the head guide) and I went to see a rugby game, which would have been awesome had it not been for the asshole sitting two rows behind us who thought he was the Jon Stewart of obnoxious French rugby fans and shouted comments heard all throughout the field that were so "clever" and "witty" that I wanted to "punch" "his face in". The worst is that every once in a while he would say something that was kinda funny, and people would laugh, and this encouraged him to repeat the same comment over and over and over because jokes always get funnier if the fifth and sixth time, doncha know? But it's kind of reassuring that this rare breed of sub-human is not limited to North America.

Well, I'm all snarked out (well, no, I'm not, but that's probably enough for one day). So I leave with the thought that I'm enjoying myself a lot over here, but definitely appreciating the people and culture of home.

And for those who haven't looked up the link yet:
  • Shut it up. Shut it up you.
  • Two weeks now in France,

    Two weeks now in France, and I am soaking up the culture like a sponge. SpongeFloyd TightPants. There's some really cool elements to French culture (mostly revolving around the food here, which will likely contribute to the TightPants...), but some that I distinctly dislike. For example? Driving. In France. Is crazy. I don't know how to describe it.

    Yes I do. Okay, again, let me preface the little rant by some measure of understanding - the towns here and hundreds of years old, and the streets were created by and for horse-drawn carriages, so they don't exactly lend themselves to being car-friendly. And it's not like there's no jerks driving around in Canada. But let me relate this little factoid to you - the French have crossing guards at crosswalks leading to schools, not merely for added safety, but also because, without them, no one would ever stop. Poor little Francine or Jacques would just stand on the other side of the road all day until their parents came to pick them up. I seriously had to make the "Stop" motion with my hand the other day while trying to cross a crosswalk. Same goes with changing lanes - no one will let you in. Fortunately we drive these big-ass vans and the French drive tin cans on wheels so when it's my turn to drive I'm gonna be like "Yo, I'm comin' over, and there ain't a god-damn thing you can do about it!" Or maybe something with better grammar. But more likely worse, with extra cursing.


    Oh, and also there's the rule where drivers coming from little side streets on your right have the right of way, but that's a whole 'nother reason for insanity.


    Anyway...I'm just enjoying a super-relaxing day off. Last Saturday, Jocelyne (the head guide) and I went to see a rugby game, which would have been awesome had it not been for the asshole sitting two rows behind us who thought he was the Jon Stewart of obnoxious French rugby fans and shouted comments heard all throughout the field that were so "clever" and "witty" that I wanted to "punch" "his face in". The worst is that every once in a while he would say something that was kinda funny, and people would laugh, and this encouraged him to repeat the same comment over and over and over because jokes always get funnier if the fifth and sixth time, doncha know? But it's kind of reassuring that this rare breed of sub-human is not limited to North America.


    Well, I'm all snarked out (well, no, I'm not, but that's probably enough for one day). So I leave with the thought that I'm enjoying myself a lot over here, but definitely appreciating the people and culture of home.


    And for those who haven't looked up the link yet:

  • Shut it up. Shut it up you.

  • Friday, January 16, 2004

    Hmm...random thought for the day...you know the Black Eyed Peas song "Shut Up"? Of course you do. Well, it plays 50 times an hour here (as I imagine it does in Canada?), and I'm not a huge fan, but there's one part that cracks me up...you know how the background voices go, at one point "Shut it up" instead of just "Shut up?". Well, it reminds me of my second favorite Strong Bad e-mail (my favorite is under the link "The reason the web was invented") called "Crazy Cartoon". Anyway, check it out...it certainly makes me enjoy the song that much more!

    In other music news: the French love Sean Paul. A lot.

    Well, the nice house is slowly becoming less nice, and then nice again, and then sorta nice...It's a nice-looking place, but there's some problems (although nothing compared to the old mould-infested, run-down, sewage-smelling old guide house, I hear). The shower was clogged for almost 24 hours, there's only two elements out of six that work on the stove, the pots and pans date back to the Carter administration, the dryer sounds like a space launch at Cape Canaveral, the front door sometimes locks us INSIDE the house...but I digress. Ah, France, the land of whine and cheese.

    So, big props to my homies (fo' shizzle) who sent me their addresses. Snail mail is on the way. I didn't bring my address book with me, so anyone whose addresses I previously had (before this trip, I mean) I no longer have. See, I'm smart like that...

    Wednesday, January 14, 2004

    Alright...so I've been doing a little bit of thinking since my last post (just a little bit, you know, keeps the brain from getting rusty), and I think I should append a couple of thoughts to my little rant from a few days ago. Not that I don't still find Mr. F____still annoying and creepy ('cause I do, especially now that I've been subjected to him a second time), but I do need to say something in general the general defence of the French, especially around here.

    It's frustrating because of all the visitors, the French seem to show the least interest and respect: there's the joggers who get changed in the parking lot, the hunters who jump the fences and leave shotgun shells behind, the couples who meet just by the woods and scatter porno everywhere, to name the worst offenders. And I'm all, "How can they do that here, at a memorial site?" But really - all of France, and especially this part where the Western Front ran, is like one giant memorial.

    Going to work, we pass up to a dozen military cemetaries in a 20-minute drive. In addition to these, there are dozens of monuments representing almost every allied country. And then, there are further reminders throughout the year, as "souvenirs" of the war surface in the surrounding fields - some dangerous, like unexploded artillery shells, others horrifying, like human bones.

    Anyway - I guess reading my 31-section binder of WW1 facts has just gone to my head, but it makes me a lot more sympathetic to conduct of the French in regards to the site. Also, these are by far the minority - really, it's kind of amazing the sort of regard that many (especially the older generations) have for the Canadians who left their homeland to defend France.

    Mr. F_____ however, seems to have the highest guard for the young women who leave their country to interpret these sites for visitors.

    Anyway, I should probably get back to work. I'm actually at Beaumont-Hamel right now. We've had a grand total of (drumroll please!): zero visitors. I actually fell asleep at the desk while reading about the advance of the 88th brigade of the 29th division as part of the battle of the Somme, which Haig agreed to since Joffre was being bled dry by the Germans at Verdun and whozzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz......

    Sunday, January 11, 2004

    Dear Mr. Fournier,

    Hi. It's me, Laura from BC, Vimy guide. In light of our conversation today, I would like to make the following points:

    1) I lied. We did not have a conversation. Here's a tip: if the amount of time spent speaking by each party is approximately equal, then it is a conversation. If one party speaks 10 times as much as the other, it is a lecture. If one party speaks 100 times more than the other, it is reason for manslaughter.

    2) Speaking reallyreallyreally fast does not make anyone understand your northern French dialect any better, especially anglophones from BC.

    3) If the person you are speaking to is merely smiling and nodding, then they are not interested. If they are glancing away, playing with hair or clothing, or fidgeting, they are very very bored. If they are gritting their teeth, kicking the table aggressively and glaring at you, they are mentally picturing you being dragged away by wild horses.

    4) Tour guides are there to give tours, not to entertain 60 year old men. Or 67, or 58, or 72, or however old you happen to be.

    Sincerely,

    Laura Floyd on behalf of all tour guides everywhere

    Ah, life is sweet in the service industry..."Hee hee, I don't really have a job to do or responsibilities or anything...don't ask me, I'm just a girl!"

    By sweet I mean bitter. And by "life in the service industry" I mean me!

    Friday, January 09, 2004

    By the time you read this, I will have turned 23...huh. How'd that happen? I've been in Arras for two days now, and I worked (or should I say "worked"?) (yes I should) both days. I also woke up at 3am both days and couldn't fall back asleep. So that makes 14 hours sleep in 72 hours - pardon me if I'm a little more random and rambling than normal. Which is pretty damn random and rambling to begin with.

    My first day on the job, I was surprised to find the parking lot full - I had been told that there are hardly any visitors this time of year! However, it turns out that the memorial is quite popular with joggers. Yes, French men in spandex...I leave you to your own mental picture of this.

    On a more serious note: the site itself is beyond description. The surrounding land is nothing but shell holes and craters; there is no flat areas at all, except for right around the monument. Also, all of the grass is roped off, since it has been estimated that each square yard contains at least one unexploded shell - two people were actually killed back in 1999 when one of these exploded, but I believe they were munitions workers there to disarm shells, not visitors. The itself monument towers over everything - it's built on the highest point of the ridge (Hill 145). You can see pictures of it by clicking on the link to my job and looking up the memorials.

    Anyway - I've met all my housemates now. There's 6 of us living in a 5 bedroom house: 4 girls and 2 guys. During the spring and summer there's ten people; I can't imagine it! Six seems like a pretty good number, and we all seem to get along pretty well (so far).

    Things that are good about France: Cheese, Wine, Baked Goods - cheap and awesome.
    Things that are less good: Driving, tight tight pants on men.

    Thanks to those who sent me your addresses - your snail mail will be crawling towards you shortly!

    Tuesday, January 06, 2004

    Gaaahhh...so I'm doing the final packing for my trip now. Everything into one large duffel bag and my back-pack. Yup, it's all going to fit. Of course it will. No problem. All my stuff for five months is going to fit in this bag RIGHT NOW DAMMIT JUST FIT YOU STUPID THINGS I HATE YOU ARRRRGGGGHHHHHH!!!!

    And so on. Actually, I'm not at the "putting stuff in a bag stage" yet, I'm still at the "putting stuff in piles and simultaneously laughing and crying at all the stuff I thought I could bring" stage. Well, really, I'm at the "too overwhelmed from laughing and crying at the piles that I needed to procrastinate, hey! I 'll write in my blog" stage.

    SEX!!!: Now that I have your attention, don't forget to e-mail me your mailing addresses! I'll have mine posted shortly if you want to send me stuff (like Kraft Dinner, y'know, they don't sell it in France). I will definitely be sending and responding to e-mails as well.

    So, in review: Packing is hard. Laura is procrastinating. Send me your mailing addresses. E-mail is good. The End.

    Saturday, January 03, 2004

    So...ummm...hi. Nice to see you. Glad you could make it. If you're reading this, then you probably know the deal already - I'm working from January to April as a tour guide at two different war memorials (Vimy Ridge and Beaumont Hamel) in northern France. But I'm not there yet, I'm still in the preparing (and stressing stages). So, nothing too exciting this week, although I did a a fabulous New Year's Eve and a really great haircut!

    I only mention the haircut because of my tragic history with hair - the Notorious Mullet Years (1986-89), the Untimely Perm Incident of Grade Six, the Infamous Pixie Cut of Grade 7 - which has led me to adopt the "long enough to be in a ponytail" style for pretty much the last 8 years. But now it's kinda of layered and stuff...I hope I don't have any problems at customs (but madame, in zees photo you clearly 'ave a...'ow you say...mullet?).

    So, other than New Year's and a haircut, I've pretty much been running around like a chicken with my head cut off (that is to say, around in cirlces before falling down). Packing, unpacking, repacking, etc. You know, making endless photocopies of my passport, my travel insurance, my flight info, my butt...important stuff that I don't want to lose! I'm getting kind of stressed out that I'm going to forget something, but it's not like I'm moving to Antarctica or the Himalayas...if I do forget something, I can just buy it in France! Except for peanut butter, apparently.