beboots: (Canada "discovery" history)
 I like to think that I'm prepared for Canadian winters. I've lived here since I was three, born of a manly Canadian outdoorsman father who puts wild game on the dinner table. I never leave home without gloves in the winter, and I never foolishly wear stilettos or ridiculous shoes if it's cold and/or icy out, no matter how stylish I want to seem. Stylish goes out the window as soon as it hits below zero, right? (I know a friend who got frostbite and lost a toe because she wore stilettos to go to the bar in January and the busses abruptly stopped running. Just bring a big enough purse to hide your bulky boots in at your destination.) There's always an emergency blanket and shovel in the trunk of my car just in case I get stuck in a snowdrift somewhere. 

I am Canadian, hear me roar. 

Anyway, the weather's been so nice lately, right? It's actually been oscillating between about -10C and +5C every day for the past week. It's been surprisingly sunny as well, and there's been little wind to surprise you with the windchill. That sounds great!

...Until you remember that because of that big dump of snow we got in January, we have giant windrows (giant rows/drifts of snow created by snowplows, not a typo of "window") everywhere. That means that when the temperatures reach above zero, basic science tells us that some of that snow will melt. And refreeze at night. Then melt again. Repeat ad nauseam. The sidewalks go from being puddles or streams one day, and ice rinks the next.

And because of the windrows, the ice/water/whatever it decides to be on that particular day has nowhere to go. So it accumulates.

Now, after all that setup, I begin my story.

I spent much of my day doing homework, from about 9:30am until my sister came by to visit at 5:00pm or so. I was pretty productive! However, aside from opening the window every so often, I hadn't gotten any fresh air for the day. So after supper I decided to go for a walk. I would normally go for a jog, but that's just asking for trouble. I don't want to slip and break my writing arm or something, this close to the end of the scholarly season. 

Anyway, so I was navigating the ice and puddles just fine. I was on the home stretch. (I walk a sort of circle around my neighbourhood so I approach the house from the opposite direction that I started out on, which is how I got no warning.) I was walking down a hill, and I saw a lady and her small yippy dog, coming from the opposite direction. That's why, when I saw the giant LAKE of melted snow at the bottom, I presumed it to be passable. I mean, that lady and her tiny dog got across, so why can't I?

It was HUBRIS, plain and simple. I'm betting now that the lady just saw the giant pool of water and turned right back around... but didn't bother to warn me. :P Thanks, random lady. 

Anyway, I saw that the temporary lake was fairly deep, probably reaching halfway to my knees. But I saw a few footprints on the snowdrift on the side, so I figured it was pretty solid. I didn't want to go all the way back up the hill to pick a different path, so I continued on. 
 
BIG MISTAKE. The first ten steps or so were fine, fairly solid. I only sank about a handspan or two down into the snow. And then suddenly, I plunged downwards, up to my knees. My feet were soaked instantly: there was more water hidden beneath the snowdrifts. 
 
It was too late to turn around, though. Taking a desperate glance behind me, I decided to man up and keep going. Dry sidewalk was only about ten meters away. I plunged down through the snowdrift almost midway up my thighs a few times. I then veered slightly right, clinging to the chain link fence, but I couldn't get far just pulling myself along with my arms. I had long since reached the point of no return, though, so I had to keep going. 
 
In the end, I remembered something I'd learned in girl guides, about what you do if you should find yourself on thin ice: you spread your weight around. So what did I do? I got down and crawled. 
 
I literally crawled across this patch of snow and ice so I wouldn't get completely soaked. I was in no real danger (although I've since noticed some bleeding scratches on my shins from the snow when I was sinking deeply through half melted ice and got a bit of an abrasion when I came back up), and especially not from drowning or freezing or getting hypothermia so close to home, but... yeah. 
 
There was a guy walking his dog coming down the hill at me just as I got up. I warned him off. The sidewalk was impassable. He thanked me for telling him, and he went in the other direction. I can only hope that the prints in the snow from my flailing the last six or seven meters will warn other people off. 

I'm wearing pajama pants now, because damn it if the ice didn't melt off of my trousers and soak them as soon as I stepped inside the house. :P
 
Canadian winters still need to be taken seriously. Even if (and maybe especially if) it's above zero. 
 
beboots: (Civil war lithograph)
 Hey guys, today, I'm here to talk to you about poppies. Specifically, the red one that you wear on your lapel at around this time of year if you live in certain countries.

(I'm talking about the one with the really long needle that inevitably falls off so you are forced to buy another one, but hey, it's all to support the veterans! Also, tip: push the end of the needle through the edge of the flower, and it won't fall off. Genius!)

Anyway, I just wanted to put in my two cents in the whole "debate". There are some people out there who object to wearing red poppies. Now, I can understand if you are in, say, the Republic of Ireland, or are a very recent immigrant who feels absolutely no attachment to the sacrifices of Canadian (or British, or other British allies') soldiers especially from the First World War, but also other battles since. I am fine with that. 

But what really makes me angry is when people start using Remembrance Day as an anti-war day. Like, a forum for current politics. 

You know what? Remembrance Day ceremonies (if you actually go to them, and most of these objectors don't) don't glorify death, as many object. At least, none of the ones that I have ever been to have, and I have gone to a ceremony on November 11th ever since I was literally a babe in arms. They are respectful of death. Yes, they use the words "supreme sacrifice" far too often, and sometimes the presenter's take on history is a bit shaky ("When we fought the GERMANS" like they were solely at fault and fighting alone against the entire world in both world wars). Yes, they don't question the validity of the justification for going to war, but they respect the men who died for their country all the same. 

Although we do honour all veterans since the First World War, Canadians haven't exactly participated in a whole lot of controversial wars (unlike in the States with Vietnam and Iraq). You may not believe in the mission in Afghanistan (and, uh, before you rant about it, can you double-check your facts and make sure you're not angry about Iraq by mistake? PLZkthanks), but that's still no reason to disrespect all soldiers, point blank. Even if you are fervently anti-war, can you not at least summon up a modicum of decency to respect people like the Canadian soldiers who liberated Holland, which was being slowly starved (quite literally) by Axis forces during the Second World War? For (and this feels like a cheap shot, but it has to be said) the men who fought Hitler and his allies? If you are anti-war, I'm pretty sure you're probably anti-Hitler. I'm just saying. So have respect for the guys who helped take him down.

I should also take a moment to talk about my own background. Yes, I come from a military family. My father's a Canadian military engineer, now retired, who served in the Gulf War. My mother is British, and my grandmother still lives in England, and she lived through the Second World War (out near Manchester, I believe). My father's mother is a Dutch War bride, from the Holland that Canadian troops liberated from the Axis.

(I also had a Great-Uncle who lost a leg during the First World War when a grenade was thrown into his trench and he had the choice of doing nothing and letting everyone there get killed or stamping down upon it, absorbing the impact, and losing a leg/possibly dying.)

Perhaps these family facts make me biased. Perhaps they make me able to see through other people's bullshit.

Furthermore, if you're all about the justifications of war (like, "we shouldn't be honoring the guys who fought an unjust war!"), the First World War was fought on rather... strange justifications. Almost everyone acknowledges this. But that doesn't change the fact that thousands and thousands of our men died an ocean away from their homes, fighting for their King and country. Look, blame "the Man" all you want, but have a little respect for the people on the ground, guys. 

(I can understand if you're from Quebec and your great-grandfather was drafted against his will to fight for "England's War", though. The Quebecois at least objected, riotously, and pleaded their case at the time... which, incidentally, was one of the reasons that Prime Minister Borden justified giving women the vote in Canada in Federal elections - you could vote if you had a man in the war. So you could vote for his Conscription Bill, obviously, but it's because of the contingencies of war that women enjoy the political power they have today in our country.)

And as for those people selling white poppies "for peace"... I understand the sentiment. I really do. And I'm still torn about the idea of wearing both a red poppy for remembrance and a white poppy for peace. It's a neat idea. Except that most people DON'T wear both. They wear the white one. And it politicizes things. And remember: the purpose of selling those lovely red poppies (by donation) is to help veteran's services. (Another thing that pisses me off: people who rob the poppy sellers. I'm beginning to feel old when I feel the need to exclaim" Now what is this society coming to?") Where does the money paid for white poppies go? I've never seen it publicized (but I'm willing to be informed, if anybody reading knows). Making Remembrance Day into a debate about the merits of war vs peace is silly, and it's taking money away from the veterans by discouraging people to display the red poppy. 

By the way, guys, the vast majority of these soldiers were not fighting because they WANTED TO. They weren't fighting because it was "fun", or because they liked being violent. They were fighting for the same thing as you: peace. And guess what? They succeeded. More or less. 

Veterans get enough flak as it is. They need all the support that they can get. And it's one day, guys. Seriously. Have respect for ONE DAY, hell, even the ONE MINUTE (or two) of Remembrance at 11:00 this Thursday. Just be quiet for those two minutes of silence, and have respect. Go back to campaigning for peace afterwards, after having respect for the men you died for YOUR cause.

Hell, even create an international day for peace! If there isn't one already. And sell your white poppies then. I'd buy one. Just don't do it by disrespecting your elders and countrymen.

I'm just going to end with a little poem that's always read on Remembrance Day ceremonies, and when read properly, I always get shivers. (Hint, don't pause at the end of the lines: pause at the end of the sentences. In fact, I'm going to shake things up and ignore the traditional stanza divisions, and write out the full sentences. Pause at the end of every line here.)

In Flanders' fields the poppies blow, between the crosses, row on row that mark our place.
And in the sky the larks, still bravely singing, fly, scarce heard amidst the guns below.

We are the dead. 
Short days ago we lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, loved, and were loved.
And now we lie in Flander's Fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe. 
To you from failing hands we throw the torch.
Be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die we shall not rest.
Though poppies grow,
In Flanders' field
s. 
-Lt. Col. John McCrae, 1915

(That turned out to be a really long and serious post after being prompted by a series of stories in the National Post over breakfast. Anyway, thoughts?)
beboots: (Default)
(I realize that most of the people who watch this journal will have no idea what I am saying, but sometimes I need to let things out in a language other than English. I don’t want to offend anybody.)

Il y a des temps dont j’ai de la difficulté à comprendre les personnes qui parlent mon lange natal. Je suis anglophone, mais parfois… :(

Peut-être c’est parce que je n’ai pas été confronté par beaucoup de francophones méchantes, probablement parce ce que je ne parle pas avec trop de francophones quotidiennement. Tandis que j’ai besoin de parler avec les anglophones chaque journée, il semble parfois que les anglophones sont beaucoup plus maladroites.

Ils ne pensent plus quand ils parlent ou écrivent, car ils n’ont pas besoin de la faire.

La majorité des personnes avec qui je parle sur l’internet sont des personnes qui parlent l’anglais. Je sais qu’il il y a beaucoup de personnes parmi eux qui ne sont PAS anglophone et je trouve que ces allophones (les personnes qui sont ni anglophone ni francophone) sont les plus gentilles personnes. Les finnoises, les argentines, et beaucoup d’autres… Ils utilisent la grammaire avec beaucoup plus d’attention que les anglophones, et ils choisissent leurs mots avec soin.

Mais les anglophones…? Ils pensent rapidement, et ils écrivent dans la même manière : sans penser.

Premièrement, je veux dire que je ne veux pas critiquer seulement les américains, car je suis certaine qu’il y a les canadiens tant que les britanniques qui comprissent cette groupe.

J’ai eu plusieurs incidents pendant cette dernière semaine ou j’ai sentis… le malaise. J’ai lu ce que cette personne (un anglophone) a décidé de typer et partager avec la monde, et je me poser la question : « pourquoi n’as-tu pas PENSÉ comment les autres personnes interprétera tes mots avant que tu as cliqué le bouton send? » Cette personne critiquait les choses qui sont très insignifiantes, mais dans une manière que j’ai interpréter comme brusque, impolie, et manquant de la respecte. J’ai pensé un mot anglais qui est très similaire au mot français pour un cerf femelle.

Sur l’internet, on a souvent seulement les mots écrites (et peut-être les émoticons) pour communiquer nos messages. On n’a pas l’opportunité d’utiliser ni nos voix, ni le langage de nos corps… Donc le « ton » du message peut être interpréter comme impoli BEAUCOUP plus facilement. Je ne peux pas vous juger sauf en utilisant vos mos écrits. La leçon que vous avez besoin de tirer de mes mots-ci? Relire ce que vous avez écrit. Je comprends que nous sommes tous anonymes ici sur l’internet, mais les personnes qui lisent vos mots ont des émotions aussi. Souvenez-vous de ce fait. Soyez respectueux, s’il vous plait.

J’apprécie le criticisme constructif. Je veux améliorer mon écriture, et moi-même; je sais que j’ai aussi dit les choses avant penser. Mais on peut faire les suggestions sans devenir impolis.

S’il vous plait : respectez les autres. Pensez avant que vous typez.

Je suis fière d’être canadienne, et je suis fière de mon bilinguisme : mon écriture et ma diction en anglais et en français. Je choisis mes mots avec soins, car je ne veux pas que les personnes sentissent mal à l’aise.

Je suis aussi fière de mon habilité d’être discrète avec mes émotions négatives, de choisir mes mots avec soins (consciente de leur réception), et d’être une force positive dans le monde.

C’est une indication de mes buts ainsi-décris que j’ai écris cette note en français et non pas anglais; même après que cette personne m’a blessé, je ne veux pas la blesser de retours. Je la respecte encore, mais si cette personne sans nom continue à faire ces commentaires sans tact, je ne sais pas si je continuerai à la respecter. Je sais que cette personne lit mon blog, donc j’ai écrit ce message dans une langue que je ne pense pas qu’elle comprenne.

Peut-être je manque de courage.

(Et si cette personne me critique parce que je n’ai pas mis cette note au-dessous d’un LJ cut, je pense que je pleurai.)

An English translation may follow.
beboots: (confusion)
("What would you say if I shaved my mustache?")
Quote = the first line of Emmanuel Carrère's trippy novel, "La Moustache". Essentially, it is about an unnamed man who has a wonderful mustache, and who, one day, decides to shave it off, just for a lark. But nobody notices. Not even his wife. At first, he thinks that it's a joke, but then when he confronts his wife about it, she's all like "You never had a mustache!" Then, he has existential problems. It gets worse, because all of his co-workers, even people his wife doesn't know and couldn't have told about the joke say that he's never had a mustache. A few days later, at a restaurant, the man must show his photo ID, and his wife sees and is all like "You know it's illegal to deface your ID." and scraches off the "marker" that was his mustache. He's disturbed, and when he gets home that evening, searches for the photographs from his vacation in Java, feeling the need to save further irrefutable proof that he once had a mustache, but can't find them. Then his wife's all like "We've never been to Java" and the ex-mustache man is all like D: . Pretty much he starts going insane, and thinks that his wife's out to get him, or maybe that she's insane, not him, or both, and ends up running away to Hong Kong after she claims that his father has been dead for a year when he knew that they were supposed to have supper like, that week. It ends with him killing himself with his razor.

Um. Yeah. That's what I read over reading week. I promise you that I absolutely positively did NOT make that story up. Someone actually writes stuff like this. ;)


Fleur De Lis In A Blue Sky by ~Beboots on deviantART

Anyway, other than that, my Reading Week went well! :D I went to Quebec City and Montreal with my friend Maialen. It was awesome. :) We arrived in Quebec City the last day of the Winter Festival, so we witnessed the closing ceremonies. There were also uber-awesome ice sculptures scattered all across the city, so you could be walking along, thinking on how beautiful and quaint the street is, then turn a corner and see two giant ice fish kissing each other. I am not making this up.

Oh, and if you're staying in Quebec City, don't go to La Belle Planète backpackers hostel. It is... a little bit scary. Mostly because of Skee-pee - the scary dog belonging to the hostel owner. The place is really just a renovated appartment... which kind of looks like it's under renovations, even when it isn't. Skee-pee also goes nutso if you try to pet it, frequently jumps on the bed - even, or maybe even especially, if there's someone sleeping there. It also bites. Just so you know.

We stayed in Montreal-Alexendrie hostel, which was AWESOME, in Montreal. It's really close to both the Metro station and the bus station, so if you want to bus in from Quebec City like us, or bus to the airport, it works out really well. Plus, compared to La Belle Planète, it was so much nicer and more professional and more awesome all around. :)

The Festival of Lights began while we were there - can you say ice slides, camp fires with marshmallows, tire à érable, Quebecois bands and fireworks? :D

For the uninitiated, tire à érable = a delicious French Canadian treat involving dripping really hot maple syrup onto crushed ice, and rolling it as it cools into taffy onto a popscicle stick. OMNOMNOM, delicious and patriotic... <3

I think that I shall write more about my trip, later on, when I'm not procrastinating and avoiding doing my homework... ;)
beboots: (Default)
Yes, I have arrived home safely! (It just occurred to me that I haven't updated my "blog" since I got back, so to stave off rumours of my untimely demise...) I am happy to be home... but I think that I'm going through reverse culture shock. Why do I think this? What evidence have I?

1) I get dressed for breakfast. In my own house. You don't wear pyjamas to breakfast down with the guardiennes of your dorm in Lille. It's like a restaurant, so you dress like it. But in the privacy of my own home, I could probably eat naked, should I so choose (and if, well, my mum and my brother weren't home... But the point is... D: )

2) Everyone looks sloppy to my eye. Heck, look sloppy to my eye, because my French clothing only just came out of the laundry.

3) I miss Kir. It was delicious. (Kir = champagne and fruit juice, drunk as an apparatif before a meal. French waiters look at you funny if you don't order a drink such as this at the right time. I enjoyed acting French, okay?) Apparently, it doesn't exist here in Canada. ;_; 

I do so enjoy ordering things in English, though, and being understood. :3

I should tell you guys about the gongshow that was my trip home. First of all, apparently calling a taxi two hours ahead isn't early enough in Paris: to get to the airport, it's apparently best to book it a day ahead of time. TAKE HEED, PEOPLE! I essentially had to pay for the guy's trip to my hostel as well as the time that I actually spent in the car. It was the most expensive taxi ride in my life: €60. That's like $90, for a half hour trip. D: Still, it was actually a really nice ride. The man was very nice and polite, and spoke very clear French to me. Also, the car smelt very fresh (I almost wrote "smelt very French" right there. D: ), was very new and clean, and there was soothing music playing in the background. So it was okay. 

I did start feeling homesick for the first time on this trip, though, ironically on the last day. It was probably because I had to wait for my taxi for 45 minutes after breakfast, fretting without anything to do. I nearly cried. ;_; 

But don't worry, I didn't break into tears, mostly because my taxi arrived earlier than he said he would. So it was all good. 

I arrived early enough for my first flight, which was through Lufthansa, the German airline. Seriously guys, if you have to fly anywhere and Lufthansa is an option, take it. They are awesome. No joke. They're very efficient, feed you lots of good food, and always seem to speak perfect English (as well as perfect German, I assume, but as I don't speak German, I can't really judge their linguistic quality).

I had to fly backwards, from Paris to Franfurt. It was like an hour and a half long flight. Once we arrived in Frankfurt, I stepped off the plane, onto the tarmac, and onto a waiting bus, which took us all to the terminal. You walk right into the door, immediately see the "departure" sign with your flight on it, and are directed by very clear signs to the proper gate... where another bus is waiting to take you to your new plane. It was on the ground for like half an hour, tops. They were very, very efficient. :3

My second flight was all the way from Frankfurt, Germany, to Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It was a very long flight (with Air Canada), which was tolerable for two reasons: 

1) It was a new plane, and so it had those mini TVs in the front of your seats. I watched several movies. :3 It was awesome. Also, you could track the flight on a little map of the world. :3

2) My seating partner, the lovely fourteen-year-old Juliana from Austria! She spoke German and surprisingly good English, for all that she only started learning like three years ago. We got to talk a lot, switched iPods for a bit, shared snacks, etc. It was awesome. :3

Then, it began raining just as we landed in Calgary (what a welcome, Canada!). And there was thunder, and, more importantly, lightning. There was so much electrical activity, in fact, that the ground crew couldn't legally go outside of the building because of worker's compensatin... which meant that we sat on the tarmac for over half an hour, waiting for the storm to blow over... after a nine-hour flight. Not fun. D:

But eventually, the rain let up, so we were allowed to get off the plane... thank goodness. Anyway, after I helped Juliana get through customs (and their immigration forms... D: ) and find our luggage, I said goodbye to her (she was meeting relatives in Calgary) and went to switch planes. I arrived at the right gate five minutes before we were to begin boarding... and waited. And waited. And then there was an announcement that said, essentially, that the fuel truck and hit the plane, and now something was dented, slightly. So even though it was probably perfectly safe, we had to switch planes... and therefore gates. So we ran all the way across the terminal to get to our new plane... and we had to wait another forty-five minutes for them to ready the plane so we could get on then take off. 

And you know, because of the relative short length of the flight between Edmonton and Calgary ( it's less than an hour - we essentially take off, then land), and because of all the delays, we actually departed Calgary after we were supposed to have arrived at our final destination. D: Ridiculous! It would have actually been faster for mum to have picked me up from Calgary. The next time dad books my flights (or maybe I'll book them, next time?), I will refuse to do such a short leg. No way. D:

Ironically? I had actually flown over Edmonton on my way from Frankfurt to Calgary. D: Must... take up... parachuting...
beboots: (Bad Day)
As some of you now know, my laptop got a virus. ;_; Essentially, I had to revert my computer to its factory settings (I was directed to do this by the helpful Acer tech support guy - thank you, man!). That means that everything on my C drive is now gone - My Pictures, My Documents, my favourites, anything else I had laying about... everything. I made a backup in January (for some reason, I thought I did one in March, but I think that I was deluding myself because I can't find it anywhere), so I have some CDs, and a few bits and bobs... and strangely enough, last week, on a whim, I put all of my photographs onto the D drive of my laptop (I think my reasoning was that it was taking up too much room on the C drive - ironic, now!), so happily enough I still have all of my photos. :) Also, Rise of the Jinchuuriki is okay! I sent it to myself through e-mail on Tuesday, so I only lost two day's worth of writing (perhaps a paragraph or two, and some editing), nothing I can't live without. I think I would have cried if that fic was deleted. 
Unfortunately, I did lose several other fics, all in-progress: the layout for Rise of the Jinchuuriki (only a page or two long, but I'll have to reconstruct it and that will take several hours), an unnamed series of Hikaru no Go drabbles, the plan for a crossover between Harry Potter and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell,  a page of witty dialogue for a Death Note fic, and six pages of a crossover I've dubbed "Sasori at Hogwarts", among a few others that I can't remember. 
I read over them many times as I worked on them, so I actually rewrote some of them, to the best that I can remember... which isn't good. They were like the epitome of wit the first time around! ;_; 
Anyway, the point of this post (aside from wallowing in self pity) is twofold:
ONE: as a warning to all of you readers out there! If there's anything that you would cry if you lost saved onto your computer, back it up. NOW. I love you guys, and I don't want you to go through the same thing as me.
Two: I shall now follow my own advice and post the fic ideas that I've rewritten. They're fragmentary, un-beta'ed, kind of crappy, and subject to change. But they're my own form of backup. I'll never lose them completely again! Here they are, in all of their glory....

(Remember, these are VERY fragmentary, and aren't to be taken as any indication of my writing ability, or lack thereof. D: )

Random dialogue for an unnamed Death Note fic, a meeting between Yagami Raito and a grown up Kagami Taro (that kid from the pilot chapter, available in volume 13 of the manga - it's awesome, read it!)

This was supposed to be a series of drabbles involving a hospitalized Sai (one who has come back to life after being a ghost, but being interned in the psych ward), and, later on, Shindou Hikaru, who is also hospitalized (but due to a car accident or something). 

Read more... )
I swore to myself that I'd entice more people to read Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell with this fic. Again, it's only in it's point-form idea style, but... I"m proud of it. 
(Why isn't the LJ cut working...?! D: I shall edit later! Give me a moment!)

Here's the remnants of the apple of my eye, my idea for a Naruto X Harry Potter crossover. I think it kind of explains itself... it's very chaotic, though, kind of beginning as a summary of events I want to include, but seguing into actual dialogue and narrative later on, then switching back to planning style... yeah, it's messed up, but there you are... 
(Gah! Why isn't this one working either?! D: Okay, fine, I'll post them down there....)

If anybody has any comments/ideas/suggestions for these fics, please include them! :DD
(On a more bizzare note, I've never yet had the opportunity to use my "I'm having a bad day" avatar yet. Is it sad that I'm kind of happy to finally have the opportunity to use it? So there's that, at least.)

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