The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip

Thursday, April 17, 2014

In case you haven’t noticed, my current literary crush is George Saunders. Another excellent novella that I highly recommend is The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip. Illustrated by Lane Smith, it’s a short work of fiction that tells the tale of three families who live in the town of Frip. Gappers make their livelihood difficult. Conflict happens.

I can’t really go into it too much since it’ll ruin the book. Again, it’s short and perfect for children who enjoy a tale of people acting selfishly and then learning a lesson. Throw in a lesson about pride and forgiveness and you have a winning story.

Yes, this will be on the bookshelves of my future nieces and nephews. 

The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil


Thanks to the brutal creativity killer that is academia, I haven’t had a chance to read for pleasure in over 4 months! That’s a record, I’m not proud to admit. However, the spell was broken when I got hold of George Saunders’s novella published in 2005, The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil.

It’s a work of fiction set taking place in a land run by robots of different shapes and sizes. Border disputes arise and then anarchy as you read how Phil rises to power and madness takes over.

Yes, it can read like a children’s book. It is also incredibly well written. Maybe I read this at the right time, but I kept thinking about Crimea and Russia or about the Kurds in Syria and Iraq. Saunders skillfully writes a simple tale that explains very complex issues. Maybe some will see this as “dumbing down”, but when some things are so universal, why can’t you explain it in a way that is understood by all?

This is such a wonderful book. I can’t wait until my friend’s kids are old enough to read this.

Starting a Day Over

Thursday, April 3, 2014

It's always so wonderful when you come across a message you really need, which is what happened to me today. Browsing through blogs, a friend posted this and I am grateful for the reminder. After a few days of drama at work, I really felt a lot more tired and less energetic than usual. I wanted the week to be over so I could just curl up in bed and do nothing. As cliche as it is, happiness is a choice and I had forgotten.

I still have a lot of work to do, but I love my work. And it's this passion that I need to focus on. It's not fair to my students if I let others get me down. I work for my students; no one else. Days are good or bad based on how we choose to feel about it. I let drama that happened on Tuesday carry over to Wednesday and today. I am not letting this in tonight or tomorrow. This is enough bad energy.

Plans for April 2014

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The class I taught at night has ended, with all the final grades submitted. The M.A course I'm taking will be over in 2 weeks! My plans for April are simple:

This was harder to do when I was balancing three jobs and a M.A course. To help me get back onto the exercise habit, I signed up for a lunchtime yoga/pilates class just minutes from work. I also signed up for a swimming class now that the weather is nice enough for me to walk to my closest pool from home.

Binge Read
On my night stand, I have:
 - The Orenda by Joseph Boyden
 - Manuscripts Found in Accra by Paulo Coeloh
 - Why Smart People Hurt by Eric Maisel

On my kobo, I downloaded:
 - The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan
 - The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
 - The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

Who knows, I may actually get through all of this. I also have The Brothers Karamazov, but I kinda want to spend my summer with Dostoyevsky, so I'm saving this.

Shameless TV Shows
Much like my reading list, I need to catch up on light hearted entertainment. I have yet to finish:
- Grey's Anatomy (I'm only watching for Sandra Oh)
- How I Met Your Mother
- The Big Bang Theory
- Girls
- House of Cards season 1 & 2
- Game of Thrones (when it starts again)

I'm so excited for April! I've had enough work for the past 3 months, and now I really just want to relax a bit before I dive into more work. We'll see how things go. :)

Braces Blow by Blow: Opps! Fixing an (almost) debonded wire

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Yikes! Missed a post last week, so there will be two posts this week to keep up. No worries, I have lots to post about, I just need some time.

I had my first mishap since my high speed braces came off in January 2013. A few weeks ago, at a friend's dinner party, where I was happily munching away at the delicious meal, I felt something odd. It was a prick on my tongue from my upper wire. I thought that maybe a piece of food got stuck and I just ignored it. Back at home, after brushing and flossing, the "hole" felt like a piece of wire. It was so obvious that there was a gap where there wasn't one before.

When my high speed braces came off, a lingual wire was placed both on my upper and lower teeth. This is invisible to most people unless you tell them to look specifically for it. Glue is attacked to each tooth. It really doesn't feel like anything and 99.9% of the time I forget about it. That is until a piece of it breaks off. Then it feel like there's barb wire in your mouth (okay, I'm exaggerating here). It doesn't hurt, but a bit like a scab on your knee, you're going to poke at it despite knowing not to.

Work kept me busy and then I went to Ecuador. So I went an entire 3 weeks before I got myself back in the ortho chair. They took one look and said that it wasn't entirely debonded. Only a piece was broken off and they just needed to sand it down and reapply glue on top. The entire process took 15 minutes and I was in no pain. Yah!

The warranty period is one year. I missed it by a month and a half! Luckily, my orthodontist was nice and didn't charge me. She did say that when this happens in the future, one "bubble" repair would cost $50 a tooth. It would be much more expensive if there were more than one and if the entire wire needed replacing.

When I asked her what I could do to prevent this from happening again, she said that this was normal wear and tear and that there is no avoiding it. $50 is a drop in the bucket compared to the $4000+ it took to get this done in the first place. But money is still money. The next time this does happen, I'm going to book an appointment right away and make sure that the little piece doesn't become a big piece.

To read more about my High Speed Braces adventure, click here.

Reading is Dangerous

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I'm back from Ecuador and will post a million travel-related posts soon. One of the highlights from my trips was a discovery of an international printed copy from one of my favourite authors. This is really bad because all I want to do now is to read it from cover to cover. I want to ignore my unread emails, not grade any upcoming assignments, nor start writing my own assignments. EEKS!

2014 has been a busy one and reading has gone onto the back burner. I'm hoping that April will allow me to come up for some fresh air and let me start reading again.

Helpful Things You Forget to Do Before You Travel

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Keeping my Chinese New Years Resolution, I'm cramming in a blog post before I leave for Ecuador tomorrow. With less than 24 hours left in the country, I have to run a bunch of errands (grade and submit assignments), make arrangements with friends and family, and pack my bags. With so much of the important stuff left to do, there can be a whole bunch of little things that gets forgotten. With proper planning in my day, I'm making time to:

1. Clean the house
Just do it. This will be one less thing to think about when you're back. 

2. Fresh sheets on the bed
The second best part of coming home is sleeping in your own bed. The BEST part is sleeping in your own bed with fresh sheets!

3. Paint your nails
Nothing to do with vanity, but everything to do with practicality. Nails are short and painted over with a glittery polish. Do this and your nails will not break on the road. You will not have to buy nail clippers or files. You will not get stopped at security for carrying a weapon on your carry on luggage. 


4. Check power outlets at your destination
Why bother bringing everything if the power outlet is different. Either leave electronics at home, bring extra batteries or buy the adaptor, if available at home where it'll be cheaper than at the hotel/airport.

5. Print/Write everything 
Those 30+ seem to get it, but for my generation: never assume an Internet connection will be available. Itinerary, reservation codes, flight numbers, hotel address...everything should be on paper and right next to your passport. 

Staying Organized, the old fashioned way

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My smartphone completely change my life. I've written about this before, but it really has. If anything, it made being a workaholic that much easier. While some may see this as a negative, it has also allowed me to stay entertained for hours as I wait in airports or offices. 

However, when it comes to writing down appointments and meetings, nothing beats the good old fashioned pen and paper. I was happily using Jorte for a year when I was just teaching. It was bright, and cleanly laid out. There were cute icons for staff meetings, report card deadlines, trips ...etc. When I switched jobs and my schedule started to fill up with different activities, I found that it was no longer keeping pace. 

My Moleskin has now joined my Smartphone in my purse and on my nightstand. It's simple and immediate. And as much as I love my other apps, there are some things that technology simply can't replace. 

Olympics Sochi 2014

Sunday, February 23, 2014

There was something about feeling extra Canadian when you wake up to listen to the Olympic men's hockey finals. At 7am,. On a Sunday. On the CBC. 

Travelogue: Packing Pile

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Two weeks until I'm in Ecuador! I am so insanely happy to be on the road again. Staying landlocked for the past two years (shit happened, I survived) sucked, but now I can fly again.

While I'm trying to get as much stuff done at work, I also started my packing pile. Doing this before every trip ensure that you have a decent idea of what you have and what you still need to buy. This isn't the time to edit (another post on that later), this is just a dump of things I would very likely need on my trip.

Currently in the pile:

1. Clothes
Since I'll be going from mountainous regions of 9,000 feet to the capricious rainforest, I basically have to pack for four seasons. Pictured are vests, fleece and thin layering tops.

2. Socks
Sounds silly, but really... I don't want to waste time looking for socks when I'm travelling. This is my indulgence when travelling. Everything I wear will likely be from a thrift store or more than 5 years old, but when I wear new socks, I feel like a queen. Every traveller have their "thing", this is mine.

3. Medication
I love food, especially street food. My stomach doesn't always agree with my culinary tastes, so I go prepared. Imagine trying to explain diarrhoea in a foreign language to a pharmacist.  Some of my essential meds include:
- Immodium
- Advil
- Gravol
- Reactine

4. Hygiene Products
Even when I went to Europe, not knowing the hostel washroom situation, I like to bring baby wipes and antibacterial gel. Even if you're stuck at an airport for a missed connection, having something to wipe your face is really nice.

5. Flip Flops (not pictured)
ALWAYS bring flip flops, no matter where you go! Even in 5 star hotels, bring flip flops!

Now that my inventory is in front of me, some gaping holes became obvious.

Need to buy before I leave:

1. Clothes
Canada has me well prepared for snow and sun, not so much for rain. Since I don't live in Vancouver, I don't usually see a lot of rain. Spring is the short season, so I don't have a lot of rain gear. I didn't realise that I didn't have a decent water proof rain jacket until I started my packing pile.

Side note: I looked up the difference between waterproof and water resistant. Now I'm ready to shop!

2. Ziploc Bags
I have lots of cosmetic bags collected from bonus shopping events, but they aren't see through. And I refuse to spend money on clear packing organizers. Ziplocs are the way to go for shorter trips.

3. Spanish-English Phrase Book
I made it through Germany and eastern Europe without a phrase book, but I doubt that it can be repeated here. Thankfully there are plenty of used book stores closeby.