"Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?"

   My textbooks and course materials arrived today, my excitement grows and grows. On January 1 I can begin submitting assignments and doing school proper.
  • HIST 215 Europe: Ancient to Early Modern
  • PHIL 252 Critical Thinking
  • CMNS 301 Communication Theory and Analysis
  • CMNS 302 Communication in History 
   Course materials include: How To Lie With Statistics, the 1938 broadcast of The War of the Worlds, readings on Charlemagne, and a documentary about Marshall McLuhan.

   I've hung a lamp above my desk. Space has been made for textbooks on my shelves. A chipped mug holds necessary writing utensils. Course pages are being bookmarked. I'm very much looking forward to being in school again.

   On December 23 I have my last shift at the Jubilee.



   Here is a helpful hint for any conversation you might have with me: if you even vaguely mention something I am interested in and am currently reading about, I will talk your ear off without really meaning to. It is sometimes hard for me to fathom that Antarctic explorers aren't absolutely riveting to everyone I know.What do you mean you don't want to hear about Douglas Mawson? He survived a trek of hundreds of miles in the Antarctic! Alone! With very little food! He cut a sledge in half with a pocket knife! He's a hero is what he is. Let me tell you all about him and some of his expeditions, with some back story on Shackleton thrown in. This may or may not take over an hour.

   Needless to say, while I was reading Alone On The Ice /David Roberts, many of my friends and several members of my family were regaled with tales of the far, far South. Are they still my friends? Only time will tell. The book is based largely on Douglas Mawson's diary, and is one of the best reads on Antarctic exploration and survival that I have yet read.

   One of the best things about books like these is they provide endless fodder for internet research and reading. For example, Frank Hurley (photographer and adventurer) was on the AAE and later on the Endurance expedition with Shakleton. He took some truly amazing photos of Antarctica, including the one at the top of this post, and went on to be a war photographer in WWI. Trust me when I say that it is well worth your time to spend an afternoon reading up on Hurley, not to mention the rest of the men who figure in the book.

   As soon as I finished this book I wanted to pick up another Antarctica-focused tome, but in an effort to spare my remaining friends some exasperation, I've postponed my plans to read up on Shackleton (again).



   Have you heard of Guy Delisle yet? He is a writer and cartoonist from Quebec who often lives and works in unstable countries and keeps a record of his time there in comic form. His latest book is about Jerusalem and I am half way through it and it just might be his best yet.

   Jerusalem : Chronicles From the Holy City is somewhat difficult to explain. Here's a book that gives space to playground visits with Deslisle's two children as well as a day-by-day account of the role of Doctors Without Borders in the 2008-2009 Gaza War, what it's like trying to access different religious sites in and around the city, and the traffic. It's a hefty 336 pages, and takes more time to read than your usual comic fare. There is a lot packed into Deslisle's drawing,  


   If ever you are desiring to get out of a reading slump, there's not much better for it than YA fiction. Don't concern yourself about it being for youth. You can read it. It's okay. I promise. If you just can't bring yourself to delve into the wonderful world of imagination that YA offers, then I suppose you can grab a quick murder mystery and call it a day.

   Even if you aren't in a reading slump, I highly recommend the occasional foray into the gems offered up by YA fiction. I found one such treasure in reading Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs and I've been all agog with love for spooky/creepy stories since. Well, that's not entirely true; I've always been smitten with spooky/creepy stories. Multiple times while trying to sell a friend on a book, I've used the phrase "it was so creepy, I loved it." (The Phantom of the Opera / Gaston Leroux being the most notable of these. If you haven't read this book, you are messing up big time on an ongoing basis. I have two copies, come borrow one immediately.)

   If you are even slightly interested in vintage photography, time travel, adventure, or remote islands in Wales, grab yourself a copy of Miss Peregrine's Home and get reading.


read all day

   What could be better than reading about reading? Let me tell you: reading about a woman who made it her goal to read one book every day for a year. Yes, you have done the math correctly, 365 books.And we're not talking picture books, although that would be a worthy endeavor in its own right. When I say books I mean 300-500 pages.

   After losing her sister to cancer, Nina Sankovitch found grieving difficult and was plagued by guilt and fear. She chose the best method she knew to remedy it, and delved deep into the printed page. Tolstoy and the Purple Chair traces her year from the day she spent reading Dracula to see if she could read a novel in a day, to the day she finished off her last day's book. Filled with observations about bereavement and family and books and life in general, this book is well worth your attention. (I will add a disclaimer about a chapter about how reading affects her romantic relationship with her husband)

   I'm not sure how it happened, but I've read more than usual about grief this year, from this book to A Grief Observed (if you haven't yet, I repeat, read it) to short stories about the subject and so on. Even though I haven't lost anyone close to me in a long time, it is comforting to see how the written word (whether writing it or reading it) can help connect us back to our lives and work through the process of recovering after a loved one dies or leaves or is simply no longer there. We are made to be creative, and working in that can bring us comfort and hope, whether that be through reading and writing or music or art.

   I am a big fan of Ted Talks, and I'll leave you with one of my favorites.


Charles Norris and Alexander Gettler in the Medical Examiner's Office

   Often, I have several books on the go at once. It's a disease, I'm sure. It simply can't be helped though, new books are always cropping up, begging to be read. "Begin! Begin! Begin!" they say, and who am I to refuse?

   I recently finished a pair of nonfiction books which complimented each other in odd ways that made them all the more interesting. The first is The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart, and it is a #1 bestseller in the botany category, if that's a recommendation to you. It's almost exactly what you'd expect from a book about plants and booze, with recipes and anecdotes from history and a really fascinating story of the use of potatoes in vodka. Near the end, the list style of the book can be a bit dry, but there is the occasional oasis of obscure plant history or science to keep you interested. For example, did you know that oranges need to get cold in order to ripen to a familiar orange glow, or they'll just stay greenish? Hence why Florida is more known for orange juice than actual orange exports: their oranges are just green enough to be off-putting. Entirely ripe! Just not orange.

   The real star of this past month, however, has been one I picked up as a break from lists of which berries are best suited to liqueurs. The Poisoner's Handbook by Deborah Blum has an eye-catching title and I jumped right in. What followed is one of the most fascinating books I've ever read; I've been gushing about it to everyone who will listen, and I'm here now to strongly recommend it to you.

   The subtitle is "murder and the birth of forensic medicine in Jazz Age New York" and if that doesn't sound like the best book ever then I don't know what to say to you. This book has it all. Prohibition, toxicology, politics, bootlegging, courtroom drama, inspiring historical figures, detective work, and on and on. Here you'll witness the birth of reliable toxicological evidence, all surrounded by the strange world of Prohibition in the US which lasted from 1920-1933. At the opening of the books the Coroner's Office is a mess of corruption and incompetence, but all that changes in 1918 with the appointment of Charles Norris as Chief Medical Examiner and his overhaul of the system. He hires the first forensic chemist in any US city, Alexander Gettler, and together they change New York.

   I will warn you that this book contains many forays into the often grisly world of autopsies and mincing of organs to extract poisons. If you can't handle reading about the methods for detecting cyanide in a weeks-dead body, then I feel sorry for you, son. I've got ninety-nine problems but that doesn't happen to be one of them.

   In other news: anyone who can recommend a good book on Prohibition or one about the history of absinthe will get a grateful handshake from me. 


battle burns

   I haven't been reading much these past couple weeks, but here is a quick recommendation for you.

   Do you like stories about pals? Do you like fighting evil? Do you like sick Battle Burns? Do you like working through differences as a team to achieve a goal? If you answered "yes" to any or all of these questions, then you will probably enjoy reading Adventure Time. Not to mention that it is written by the consistently hilarious and clever Ryan North (of Dinosaur Comics fame). Incidentally, Ryan North also recently published a book through Kickstarter called "To Be or Not To Be : That is the Adventure" which is, naturally, a choose-your-own-adventure version of Hamlet. He is also Canadian, so there's the added bonus of these books contributing to your "Canadian Authors I Have Read (And Enjoyed)" list.

   Do you want to read this  book? Do you live in close-ish proximity to me? I will lend it to you. This goes for most of the books I post about, actually.



   A sense of literary Canadian duty has descended on me over the last couple of years. So far it has resulted in some delightful times with The Vinyl Cafe, a surprising revelation that I actually like Anne of Green Gables, and a regrettable foray into the world of Atwood.

   Yes, yes, I know, I know, I know, "regrettable"?!?!?!?!?!?!??! BUT IT'S ATWOOD. I gave her a fair chance, I read Handmaid's Tale, I was thoroughly unimpressed. I admit I was predisposed to be underwhelmed. From a reading of Handmaid's Tale, I do not understand the Atwood mania that holds onto our country. However, after reading Anne of Green Gables and changing my tune from "ugh so much Anne" to "Anne is the best", I've been thinking that I ought to give Atwood another go. I don't know which of her books to read though. I feel a bit guilty over not liking Margaret Atwood.

   Anne of Green Gables really was surprisingly enjoyable. I was expecting something a bit trite and almost insipid, and instead got some top-notch character development, a good exploration of friendship, and genuinely funny/sad/clever stories. I've got to Anne of Windy Poplars now, and I'm just as enthralled as I was with the first book. I might work up the will to watch the mini-series again, even though I'm certain it doesn't come near to being as lovely as the books (but I will not go so far as to watch The Continuing Story. No sir.).

   There isn't much to say about Stuart McLean and The Vinyl Cafe other than "listen to the radio show/podcast, read the books, be delighted". Stuart McLean is an excellent story-teller, and the stories are gentle and clever.

   Honestly though, what Atwood should I attempt? I don't know very much about her.

house of cards

   What can I say about this book beyond that it is profound and beautiful and heart-breaking and redemptive? I recommend that you read it immediately.


so it goes

   "Listen: Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time."

   A particular friend of mine is always game to discuss books with me. We were recently saying to each other that it is easier to understand how people think and where they are coming from when you've consumed the media they consider influential in their lives. What I mean is this: if you haven't read the books that have helped to shape my thinking and my views and/or that I have found to have lasting impact, then it will be more difficult for you to understand my processes than if you had read them. One of the books on her list is Slaughterhouse-Five. I'd been meaning to read it for some time and she often recommended it to me, so I finally ordered it.

   Slaughterhouse-Five is a strange little book. It is darkly funny and very poignant. It forces the reader to think about war and its effects from a new angle and doesn't mind being bizarre. I am not sure yet if it will make my List of Influential Books, but I intend to read it again.

   The story centers around Billy Pilgrim, a prisoner of war in Dresden at the time of the fire-bombing near the end of WWII (Wikipedia). Billy experiences his captivity differently from every other prisoner, as he is constantly finding himself at different points in time. He "is spastic in time, has no control over where he is going next, and the trips aren't necessarily fun." We follow Billy from Dresden to the States to the planet Tralfamadore to an airplane crash to his old age to his boyhood and everywhere in between. The jumps in setting make the story all the more effective, and the alternate title -- The Children's Crusade -- all the more meaningful. This is an important book.

Dresden post-bombing



    One day, I would like to be well-read. I'm not sure what that exactly looks like, but I'd like to get there. Is there a certain number of books to get through before one can be considered well-read? Or do I have to read only classics? What is a classic, anyways? Please tell me that being well-read has nothing to do with Oprah's book club, because if it does I'm giving up right now. So far my strategy has been "read, extensively".

   The problem is that I am usually at a loss as to what to read next. This has led to a large collection of Agatha Christie to fall back on. Don't get me wrong, I love Agatha and I love mysteries; I just know that there is a huge variety of books and genres out there that I could be reading instead of one murder mystery after another.

   It doesn't only happen with murder mysteries; I often find myself in the rut of familiarity. I want to read non-fiction, which turns into just reading Malcolm Gladwell. I want to a quick read, suddenly it's three months later and all I've read is comics. Same goes for science fiction, or young adult books, or my teenage Lord of the Rings phase. There comes a point every time when I am afraid I've forgotten how to read anything else. Am I going to read only Shakespeare for the rest of my life, or can I learn how to read lighthearted autobiographies? Series, thankfully, alleviate some of the feeling of missing out. Seven Harry Potter books means that I don't have to think about what I'm going to read next six times and I don't have to worry that I'm confining myself too much.  What a relief. 

   Fortunately, I have many book-loving friends who are always ready with suggestions. Many of my conversations eventually end up at what people have been reading lately, and I love to hear about it. If a friend gushes about a book I can be quickly convinced to read it, especially if I've just finished something.

   A few weeks ago, I had a very simple and fairly unoriginal idea. Why not start a book club? Not a we-meet-once-a-week-and-read-"The Ya-Ya Sisterhood" type of book club, but more of an ongoing literary conversation. I want to hear about what you've been reading. Have you learned anything from it? Do you think you'll read more from that author? What made you want to read it? What else are you planning on reading? How have the things you've read shaped your thinking?

   All this to say that I'm probably going to mostly post about books, and I'd like to hear from you as well. Give me some books to read.

   Just, please, I don't want to read Faulkner ever again.   



    In an effort to keep better track of what media I ingest, I started keeping a yearly list of all the movies I watch and books I read. My resolution at New Years was simple: read more books than last year, and watch fewer movies. After giving it more thought I added another component to my goal: non-fiction. Last year I read a depressingly small amount, and only three of the books weren't fiction. Clearly, this problem had to be resolved.
   And so: non-fiction of 2013, so far:
  1. The Kitchen Counter Cooking School / Kathleen Flinn - about teaching "real" women how to work wonders in the kitchen.
  2. French Milk / Lucy Knisley - a charming comic-format travelogue of a trip to Paris.
  3. Under the Banner of Heaven / John Krakauer - unsettling account of radical Mormonism. Honestly difficult to read, prepare to feel physically ill if you pick it up.
  4. The Tipping Point / Malcolm Gladwell (abridged) - I was unaware this was abridged when I started it, and was rather disappointed to find out. Read Gladwell if you get the chance.
  5. Bossypants / Tina Fey - best takeaways: "yes, and" and "I don't care if you like it". Well worth your time.
  6. Blink / Malcolm Gladwell - seriously, go find one of Gladwell's books and read it. This one is about "thinking without thinking": first impressions, snap judgements, assumptions, etc.
  7. This Book is Overdue! / Marilyn Johnson - what could go wrong with a book about librarians!? SO MUCH. An interesting chapter about the tension between American libraries and the FBI, overshadowed by a hugely long and boring section about Second Life. It's possible that I was biased by just finishing Blink, Gladwell is a very hard act to follow.
  8. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? / Mindy Kaling - in the same vein as Bossypants. Delightful.
  9. Nurtureshock / Pr Bronson, Ashley Merryman - turns out the "new science of children" is absolutely fascinating.
  10. Enough Room For Joy : Jean Vanier's L'Arche / Bill Clarke - one of the most encouraging books I have ever read.
   (The vast improvement in non-fiction reading is largely due to discovering the audiobooks in the CPL ebook catalouge. Downloading audiobooks directly onto my phone? Yes please. If you have some sort of smart phone or tablet or ebook reader, I highly recommend getting on that train. Free audiobooks and ebooks! At the touch of a button! What's not to love?)

    While I am doing rather well on the literary front, there are still some bad habits I need to mend. NB exhibit A:

    This little pile is some of the books I have started reading this year and never finished. Not pictured are How Did You Get This Number / Sloane Crosley, Jeeves in the Offing / P.G. Wodehouse, Les Miserables / Victor Hugo, and others. It's a bit shameful. I have more than ten books on the go, some of which I haven't cracked for months. I'm working my way through this pile, but sometimes the prospect of a fresh new story is all too attractive. Perhaps I ought to start a book club.



   I have to admit a couple things before I even start this post. The first is that I, like everyone else, am prone to confirmation bias. The second is that I haven't read the entirety of this study about neural responses to images of people in bikinis for myself.

   Since watching Jessica Rey's video about bathing suits, I have been doing a lot of reading and thinking about modesty. First, let's clear two things up:

   1) Rey's video is, at it's heart, an advertisement. Very well thought out and presented, but an advertisement nonetheless. Jessica Rey wants you to buy her swimsuits. Which is okay! It's a very good ad.
   2)  I do not like it at all.

   That second point may come as a surprise. What is there not to like about "revealing my dignity"? While I certainly believe it is important to present myself in a modest and decent manner, I do not think the best way to go about encouraging women to do so is by victim-blaming and fear-mongering.

   Victim-blaming and fear-mongering! No need to be so harsh, right? Let's look at some of the arguments against bikinis presented in the video (nb: there are many more points made in the video, I've chosen to only focus on two):

   1) Your bikini was invented in France and the designer had to hire a stripper to model it, and there was a time that women were kicked off of beaches for wearing bikinis
   3)Your bikini makes men view you as nothing more than an object

    Argument one isn't relevant to my decisions about swimwear, and I could make a list of body parts that have been considered scandalous in the past to back that up but I think I can just say "ankles" and get over it. There was a time that only "loose women" showed off their tantalizing ankles, and just look outside today! Ankles everywhere! What I mean to say is: our ideas of decency don't need to be shaped by what women wore, were made to wear, or were not to wear in the past. (Pants. Bobbed hair. Bare shoulders. Makeup.) Following from there we have a half-hidden second point. This factoid gets tossed into the talk without a seeming purpose: once upon a time, women's bathing suits were measured and if they were too small: no more beach. I think I can safely guarantee that if someone in Victorian times trotted onto the beach in a modest-by-modern-standards swimsuit the reception wouldn't exactly be warm. So am I going to take these things into consideration next time I buy a swimsuit? Definitely not.

   The second argument is demeaning to both men and women; it says that a bikini reduces men to their capricious biology and women to their shameful bodies. As I said: I haven't read the entire study that Jessica refers to in the video, but I can state from reading several commentaries and summaries of it that the only men who did not view women as people but as objects were men who already exhibited high hostile sexism (If you score high on hostile sexism on this test, congratulations, you are more likely to view women as objects). So when I'm told that men think I am a hammer when I wear a bikini, I am not getting the whole picture.

   It's an insidious attitude and one that has no benefit for women or men. Telling women "if you don't cover up men will objectify you" takes the fault from the perpetrator and puts it on the victim. Telling men "you will not be able to see a woman as a person unless she is wearing modest clothes" takes his ability to take his thoughts captive and says "nope, you're an animal".

   Here is where victim-blaming and fear-mongering come in. This is what I have heard many speakers say to me: "if/when you dress immodestly, you are asking to be objectified, discrimiated against, and harassed" and "if/when you dress immodestly, you turn men into lust-filled beasts with no control over themselves". What does that say about men? And what does that say about women? Or victims of harassment or assault? Or our responsibility for our own actions? Or about our free will?

   Do I think that the choices I make, whether they be about clothing or anything else, affect others? Yes. Do I think that each person should still be held responsible for their actions and reactions? Absolutely. Like my mother says: you choose your attitude.

   Our attitudes and biases do not come from outer stimuli, but from what we have learned and accepted and injected into our hearts and minds. People are not born misogynist objectifiers, just like they aren't born racist; they learn these things over time from peers, parents, teachers, the media, and on and on. The primary problem is not that somewhere a woman is wearing a bikini (or a one-piece, or a tankini, or a t-shirt and shorts, or any other combination of clothing), the problem is that somewhere a boy is being taught that women are somehow "less" than he is, that they are objects to be used.



I have a new favorite word.

It happens every so often; I hear someone use a word I haven't thought about before, or haven't made use of, or just haven't heard at all. Last summer it was "skookum" (slang: excellent, spot on), once it was "bizarre", I picked up "reckon" and "heaps" in New Zealand -- as a side note, I am very interested in the idea of words as souvenirs. This time it is a bit of business-speak which I had previously ranked among the likes of "synergy" and other buzzwords.


It was used in a blog and suddenly a previously inaccessible word was part of my everyday vocabulary. I love this word. I throw it around all the time. I used it at least twice today. I'm planning a camp at Crowsnest Lake Bible Camp and I want the campers to be given "some super actionable things" to take home with them. I have been thinking about my future and am setting out some "actionable steps" towards my goals. Convoluted plans are "not very actionable", which is akin to saying "that's a nice idea but it will never happen".

Lately I've been working on being less of a talker and more of a doer. Too much of the time I allow fear or perceived difficulty keep me back from things; I can talk about them, but doing them is another matter altogether. However, the tables are beginning to turn, and words like "actionable" are part of the process. How could I not do something when it is described as actionable?

All actionable means is "capable of being acted on", but it has proved to be useful and helpful. It reminds me to break things down into manageable steps. I'll give you some examples.

Two actionable steps towards getting my Masters of Library and Information Sciences:
  • Contact people in admissions and financial advising at Athabasca University
  • Apply for a degree-completion program

Two actionable steps towards being healthier:
  • Don't buy junk food in the evening
  • Have breakfast

Two actionable steps towards not being a hermit:
  • Talk to someone today I didn't talk to yesterday
  •  Keep track of mail and reply to it

Two actionable steps to developing my writing:
  • Journal at least three pages every day, about anything
  • Keep up a semi-regular blog

See? So simple! Actionable takes a goal from being lofty and unattainable to being the destination on a straightforward path, and I've got a map.

Another side note: if you'd like a copy of the little haiku zine I wrote about last post, you can have one. I still have heaps of copies.



A couple of years ago I wrote a small collection of haiku which were not very good. At the time I was very proud of them, and I hurried to form them into a little zine and post them on Etsy, ready to stun the world.

Actually, that is a bit of a lie. I did not think they were stunning in the least. They were somewhat embarrassing but I was determined to turn something I had written into something I could distribute, whether or not I thought it would be acceptable to others. It was an exercise in overcoming fear.

At the time I was consistently updating my blog with everything from haiku about movies I had watched to monthly goals to long posts about how to be a good theater patron. Oddly, it seemed like a very large leap from blog posts to a tangible zine. Both are a form of self-publishing, but it was somehow safer to shoot something off on my blog than to type out and photocopy a single-page accordion-fold zine.

In the end I only sent out one zine, and that to a friend.

Recently I have been reading several books about writing. All are adamant about their One Weird Tip for improving your writing: write. Write and write and keep on writing. Write about anything and everything. Write everyday. Write observations, write stories, write a journal, write letters. Just write. Write so much that you forget not to write.

In light of all this encouragement to just write, I've become less embarrassed by my little book of haiku. Who cares if is wasn't profound? At least I was writing.



Yesterday there was a leak in the library ceiling.

As I was not in working and the leak was next to my desk, it went unnoticed until it started dripping down on our collection of Bibles. Kathy heard it and went to investigate, finding several of our Bibles wet already. Thanks goodness for the Librarian's innate alertness to extraneous noise.

In our collection we have a seventeen volume, large format, braille Bible. It is quite beautiful. Since each of the books in quite large, it only fits on the top shelf of the unit containing the Bibles.

Do you see where this is going?

Three of the seventeen volumes were wet, along with two or three other Bibles of a less unique nature. They were still damp when I arrived at the library this morning, and I can't help being concerned about them. For one thing, it seems fairly obvious that an alphabet that relies on embossing is more susceptible to water damage than other books. For another, braille requires a thickness of paper that doesn't dry out quickly as opposed to the hair-thin paper used in a conventional Bible. It absorbs more water and remains wet longer which leads to a bibliophiles worst nightmare: mold.

While I might be exaggerating somewhat in regards to the "worst nightmare" status of mold, it is still no laughing matter. Books hold moisture very well, are made of natural materials, and are often left undisturbed on the shelf for an extended period of time. This makes them a prime target for mold, and it travels. A whole stack can be at risk if one book starts growing.

Next to my desk are two shelf units, one holds our Bibles, and the other holds a large collection of hymnals and other music books. Many of these would be easy to replace. Some: not so much. I have three Welsh Bibles from the 1800s, I have a Bible in a Scandinavian dialect that Google and Wikipedia were unsure about, I have a gorgeous Icelandic Bible from the early 1900s, I have some very old,. very fragile hymnals, I have a tiny leather bound Bible that fits in the palm of my hand. Needless to say, losing any of these to mold or water would be awful.

Here's the thing about water damage: it seeps in slowly and is sometimes hard to detect. How long had the pipes in my ceiling been leaking before it saturated the panel above the bookshelf? How long was that absorbing water before it started dripping? How long was it dripping before Kathy heard it and found the leak? How long were the books soaking up water? How long will it take them to dry out? There wasn't a cascade of falling water, there wasn't even a huge amount of damage done. The sneakiness of it is the worst.

Here's where we turn books and water and mold into a metaphor.

How often does one little thing slide, one small habit get started, or one tiny incident get overlooked that can build and grow and become ingrained and "suddenly" become a huge issue? Maybe communication between friends or family is suffering, maybe someone's health is quickly degrading, maybe a company's practices have become increasingly worrying, maybe there are car troubles, or a churning rumor mill, or deep-set prejudices, or plumbing that leaks. When and where did the trouble even get its start?

I recently discovered that the Calgary Public Library includes audiobooks in their electronic collection, and that I can download and listen to these on my phone (technology!). My most recent "read" is The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell. A fascinating read at any time, it seemed especially so today. Positing that large and widespread changes in behavior, whether it be crime rates or shoe sales or the results of Paul Revere's Midnight Ride, are very often the results of tiny incidents/qualities/actions, Gladwell makes a convincing argument for the power of tiny tweaks. Small things result in wide ripples.

A slow leak from a plastic joint in a pipe above a bookshelf is a small thing with large consequences, as are hasty words said in anger, or minor dishonesty in a company, or even things like giving up a gym pass or allowing sloth to creep into your morning or picking up a nigh-on harmless habit. One day you realize that instead of just patching a little leak, you have to empty a book shelf and sort through which books are wet and which are dry and make sure the wet ones aren't put back on the shelf until every trace of water is gone. Let it go a little further and instead of just patching a leak and drying things out, you have a stack of books full of mold and made unsalvageable.

So what's the solution? If we had caught the leak earlier I wouldn't be faced with three damaged volumes in my braille set. Better yet, if the pipe had been done with soldered copper instead of chancy plastic in the first place, the likelihood of leaks would have been far lower.

It is important to be aware of the eventual ramifications of our actions. This is especially true when it comes to how we speak to and about each other. James compares the tongue to the rudder of a ship, the bit in a horse's bridle, or to the spark that starts a forest fire. If I listed all the Proverbs that talk about the importance of guarding and monitoring our speech, we would be here all day. Jesus said that "out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks". As we know a tree by its fruit, so we know a person by what they say and do. A leak of negative words can start out small but can result in a significant amount of clean up, and affects not only the people around us, but ourselves as well.



I have a great love for cities, especially cities with a waterfront. My sister and I spent this past weekend visiting our brother and sister-in-law in Vancouver, and its appeal grows and grows.

Whenever I spend time in other cities I think of my relationship with my hometown. Considering that I've lived in Calgary since I was born, I really don't know it all that well. I sometimes get lost downtown, there are whole neighbourhoods I've never set foot in, there are galleries and cafes and parks I haven't visited, there are nooks and crannies I've never bothered with.

What would happen if I spent more time and effort getting to know Calgary? Would I be more content living here? I have often stated my dislike for Calgary, but if I was intentional about giving it a fighting chance, maybe things would turn out differently.

We are all aware that relationships take work. It is easy to love Vancouver when you are a few minutes walk from Granville Island, Stanley Park, and the areas around Robson Street. It is easy to see the good side of Edmonton when the friend you're visiting has a penchant for finding perfect little cafes. It is easy to love Fernie when it is surrounded by mountains and filled with good friends. Somehow it is more difficult to love Calgary. Perhaps it is a case of familiarity breeding contempt, but I can't help but think it stems partly from a lack of exploration.

I visit other cities and all I do is explore. I walk and walk and walk and find the gems the city has to offer. Maybe it is time to start fresh with Calgary.




About a year ago I stopped blogging. I had just returned to Calgary from a few months in New Zealand and Australia, and when I tried to get back on the blogging train it felt awkward and forced. Once upon a time I was an avid blogger with several posts a week and suddenly it was difficult to write two sentences about anything at all, not even about what amounted to the four most adventurous months I have ever had. It was difficult to explain the beauty of the South Island, or the glory of reuniting with friends in Tasmania after two months spent in a new city, or the feeling of homeiness I had in Melbourne, or the calm of the parks in Auckland. My writing was stunted and the idea of a sort of public journal lost appeal by the minute.

However, the last few weeks I've been mulling over the idea of blogging again. But what to blog about? I am not currently living a very exciting life, I'm afraid, and there isn't very much of note to write about. What if readers get bored? What if they dislike my writing style? Or my pictures? What if I seem narcissistic? What if I talk about issues I am fairly ignorant of? What if my life seems trite?

After considering these things and more, I've decided that it really doesn't matter. Maybe this blog won't be riveting or life-changing, but it doesn't need to be. I have always enjoyed writing, and how else to improve at a thing besides doing it? The same goes for photography, in which I am altogether mediocre. As for my worries of my days being too rote and boring, won't documenting my time encourage me to live a little more fully? I think it might.