Monthly Archives: December 2008

Rant — Clear Your Sidewalks

Ice Art -- only pretty on windows not sidewalks

Ice Art -- only pretty on windows not sidewalks


Last night I had to walk home from a friend’s place. It was late and cold, but my friend only lives seven blocks away and I’ve done this many times before. Usually it takes about 14 minutes, but it took double that time because only 50 percent of the people living in this neighborhood cleared the massive amounts of snow from their sidewalks. I know snow is a pain in the butt and something we are not used to and I realize my rubber boots aren’t the best for winter wandering, but couldn’t you please just make a small effort with your brooms or snow shovels or garden spades to clear a tiny track for those of us who can’t or won’t drive around in the snow?

It’s supposed to freeze on Friday with predicted temps dropping to minus 9, so a little salt might be a good idea. Stongs has bags of it, and it makes a huge difference for walkers. Consider shoveling a random act of kindness, besides you might lose some of those extra Christmas pounds…and you won’t hear anyone swearing at one in the morning as they crawl over the sheet ice outside of your house or skid down your stairs after a few glasses of wine.

Thanks in advance…
Julie

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Filed under Give Me a Break

Pulitzer Prize in Journalism to Include Online Publications

I was browsing through suite101.com’s Limelite Blog when I came across this exciting news: For the first time, online news providers are eligible to be considered for the coveted Pulitzer Journalistic Excellence Awards. Follow this link to find out how to enter, keeping in mind the deadline is February 9th, 09 for 2008 writing. For a long time, those of us who work in new media have understood that outstanding news reporting does happens online, and many people, myself included, prefer to get their news from the Internet, rather than from newspapers and magazines. It is a tribute and an honour to online writers that an organization as highly respected as the Pulitzer has recognized this.

Direct from their site:

Send all entries by February 1 to: Pulitzer Prize Office, 709 Journalism, 2950 Broadway, Mail Code 3865, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027. Good Luck!

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Filed under Events and Readings

Please Help Me to Buy a Laptop

Eee PC is not dead — the converter took the hit — huge relief. In spite of this great news, I still need to buy a laptop. My Toshiba, at the ripe old age of four is being retired. Hard to believe that when I bought it, it was the top of the line (11 heavy pounds) and I spent $2400 😦 Today the battery is dead, the power cord is shot and it sits on my table like a piece of antique art.

Buying a new computer is not an easy thing to do because there are so many of them out there. I prefer not to spend more than $1200 Canadian dollars, but would rather spend less. I use my laptop for email, working, researching, photos, music (torrents) and watching movies. No gaming. My question to all of you: I am thinking of the Dell XPS M13 30. If you know anything about this computer, good or bad, please post in comments. Alternately, if you can suggest a good notebook let me know.
Thanks in advance

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Icelandic Web Album Live at Last

Finally my web album from Iceland — including the inspiring and sometimes frightening, yet visually gobsmacking drive through the eastern fjords in the wintertime is up — I haven’t spent anytime identifying the different places, but some of the images are astounding and worth a look. At some point when the craziness that is Christmas dies down, I’ll do the edit.

Any for all of you off work sleep late, eat lots, ski and/or lie in the sun. Read, read and read some more. Merry Christmas.

More common to fly than to drive

More common to fly than to drive

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Loving Life in Reykjavik

It’s been quite a few days between blog posts; Eee PC is toast, and we had little or no internet access while on our road trip. We left East Iceland on Friday morning at first light: 10am with a mixture of sadness, after all I’d been there for three weeks, and anticipation at seeing Iceland in the winter in our four by four SUV, it was silver, and I can’t remember the exact make, but it rocked. Once I get home, I will post pictures of our drive, but for now I’ll be brief, because really, it is close to impossible to describe the wild desolation and grim beauty of this amazing and geologically radical country.

Nobody really warned us that the drive would be as challenging as it was. When we arrived in Reykjavik, we realized that most people and especially tourists might not attempt this in December. People looked shocked when we told them from whence we’d come…Often the narrow roads were covered in snow and ice and it was difficult to navigate our way around, over and sometimes through the mountain passes and along the coastline. Sometimes hours went by without seeing another car, and the small farms and villages we passed seemed devoid of any human life. There were a few tense moments when we thought we were lost, or might run out of gas, but these were quickly forgotten when we saw the hundreds of Icelandic horses, or the herd of wild reindeer or the apocalyptic lava fields or the turf houses or the jagged mountains rising out of the turquoise blue Atlantic Ocean.

During our road trip, the exchange rate swung crazily, so that by the time we reached civilization there was great confusion over the strength of the Canadian dollar against the Kroner. On Thursday it was I dollar equaled 181 ISK — not bad. After so long away from stores, we indulged ourselves in the shops of Reykjavik and the outlying areas, discovering too late that the Kroner had left the dollar in its dust — ($1.00 = 91 ISK – ouch), and everything we’d purchased as well as our hotel room and meals had effectively doubled in price.

Reykjavik is very Euro — most of the people are friendly and there is an amazing coffee culture here which I wish Vancouver could emulate. People hang in coffee houses writing, reading and talking in comfy chairs and couches and if you are likely to hear three or four different languages being spoken all at the same time.

There is a baby born every hour in Iceland, so the streets are full of mums pushing prams — there is no stigma around being a single mother and the social programs make ours look non-existent, so parents are not stressed over money, school, medical care…It’s oddly white middle class and that is probably what is missing here — multiculturalism, but this is a good life and an enviable one. Music is valued and most bars have DJs or live musicians and cover charges are rare — there are no problems with crime, except there was a carjacking last year, which blew everyone away, because that kind of thing just does not happen here.

BTW — nice hotel here in Reykjavik on the main street close to all the bars, shops and eating places — I’d provide the link, but I don’t know the keyboard shortcuts on this borrowed Mac, but it is called Hotel Fron. Costs about 9,000 ISK a night which used to be really cheap, but isn’t anymore.

Gotta Go. Blue Lagoon in the morning and then back here on Thursday for our final night in the Land of Fire and Ice. 😦

I will go into much detail on the road trip once I get home.

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Last Day at Gunnar Gunnersson´s Mansion

Red-roofed Barn

Red-roofed Barn

Roadtrip

Roadtrip

Looking out to the Horses

Looking out to the Horses

I woke up today feeling sad, because this afternoon we pick up our rental jeep, and on Friday morning at 10am (daylightf), we leave for our southern roadtrip.

It is snowing lightly here today and very cold and I have a few reservations about driving in the snow — not being a road trip kind of girl, but we have a good car and Joy is quite confident we will not slide off the road and disappear forever into a snow drift. (I´ve packed a tea-light and a candle to keep us warm, and chocolate so we don´t starve, just in case we run into problems).

Our first stop will be a little town called Hofn were we will stay on a farm that doubles as a writer´s retreat. Hofna is on the sea. The next day, we will meander through the snow storms to the geysers, where we will overnight and the next day on to Reykyavik and shopping, blue lagoon, music. We are going the bar owned by Blur´s Damon Albarn (Kaffibarinn), and will have the whole week to explore the city.

Kaffibarinn was the bar featured in the most horrible film, 101 Reykjavik, so we have already had a preview of the inside.

It took a long time for me to get used to the isolation here, and there were many sleepless nights lying awake with only BBC as company, but eventually I did get used to it. I will miss waking up to look out the window at the horses, and the long hours where I could sit by the window and write without any interuptions. I will miss the moonscape that is East Iceland, but I have to admit, one can only spend so much time living in a climate that feels like the inside of a fridge. It will be great to get back to my rainforest…and I am flying back Air Canada, not Delta, so I should make all of my connections.

We hope to find some good resturants, but we do have a list of things we will not be eating:

    Baby puffin
    Purtified Shark
    Whales
    Seals
    Sheep heads, stomachs, feet, or anything that say, “baaa…” I´ve kind of bonded with these creatures over the last three weeks.

This had been a wonderful opportunity and the images of East Iceland will stay with me forever.

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We Can Only Fit Into The Snuggie!

A Natural Plant Similar to Algae Found in the OceanVictoria Spice lost 14 stone in five weeks — all because of algae wraps — a pungent thick brownish paste…which when wrapped around one´s body sucks out all of the fat and water…
Joy and I have been eating chocolate for a full week and we have one day at the Blue Lagoon which is only one or two wraps — depending on our cash flow. If we could just lose one whole dress size, we might be able to shop for something other than The Snuggie.

Since our movie tastes differ somewhat, we have compromised. Every night we watch one love story, compliments of Joy — tonight´s pick: Before Sunset with Ethan Hawke and Julia Delpy, which even I, fan of all things dark loved, and one grim movie, compliments of me — tonight´s choice Kold Slod — also a bit of a love story, and Joy only hid under her snuggie twice.

KlausterKaffi in our House Where we Feast

KlausterKaffi in our House Where we Feast

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