Were You Read To As A Child?

Michael reading a couple of books to me

I was listening to a CBC Radio program today where people called in to discuss how they were introduced to books as children and which books got them hooked on reading. In the course of the discussion it struck me that parents reading to children seemed very much a Western, Developed World activity. The first time I’d ever seen this was in a Disney movie or on North American television, because it certainly didn’t happen at home.

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25 Things You Never Knew About Me


Beano was tagged by Krisanne in Facebook, but he couldn’t come up with 25 things that humans would find interesting. So here is my first meme of 2009. I think some people would know some of these things, but I don’t think any one person would know all of these things.

  1. I once had a job in Australia pretending to buy product from an Irish guy selling knock-off perfume on the street. There was a few of us switching various accessories like hats and sunglasses and playing along with the script. It was a real eye-opener watching consumers behave like sheep.
  2. Over the years I’ve spent New Year’s Eve in Scotland, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Cuba, Canada, and USA. Notable ones: Christchurch, New Zealand (I was hitch hiking with three Kiwi guys), and New Orleans, USA (it was hit by arsonists).
  3. My father’s real family name, the name on my birth certificate, the name I graduated with in high school, and the name on my current passport are all different from each other. I also have an official UK document in one of my expired passports with another name.
  4. I have a scar on my left leg from a near drowning in an oceanside cave in Australia. The tide was crashing in gigantic waves and washed out my exit from the cave; I was trapped inside until a couple from Brisbane came and rescued me.
  5. I’ve been spat on (and not by accident).
  6. I wouldn’t eat bananas growing up, but I’ve learned to like them as an adult, as long as they’re not fully ripe. They make a quick, nourishing meal when I’m on the run. But overripe bananas still make me gag.
  7. I was bitten by a small dog once, and have been a little apprehensive of dogs ever since.
  8. I would like to donate blood, but I’m disqualified due to previous residency in the UK.
  9. I never tried seafood until I was 18 years old for religious reasons, but didn’t actually enjoy it until I was 20 when a random stranger, who picked me up on his bicycle when I was walking home late one night in northern Australia, took me into his home and made me a seafood marinara. I was so hungry it tasted like the best meal of my life. I never saw him again.
  10. I’ve had food poisoning three times: street vendor hot sauce in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico, a green curry gone bad at office lunch on the Sunshine Coast (BC), and one other time… I can’t quite remember what I ate, I only recall that it was while I was an SFU student.
  11. I was first proposed to by an Englishman. He ended up marrying the first person he dated after we broke up, and later divorced her. Then he married a Filipina! (Another one, not me.)
  12. I wasn’t born in a hospital. My mother was without assistance at the time — not even a midwife was around when I decided I was ready to enter the world. You could say I was born impatient and stubborn.
  13. I was born in a Muslim region, but there are no Muslims in my family.
  14. The last smoking-enabled flight I was on was Balkan Airlines, 1995: Bangkok, Thailand to Sofia, Bulgaria, then London. I sat next to a German who offered me Camel cigarettes without filters, which he bought in Bangkok because they were cheap and unavailable in Germany (for good reason!). The Bangkok-Sofia flight was at least eight (rather turbulent) hours that I recall, and pretty gross since we were both smoking filterless Camels!
  15. I went camping by myself once, about 11 years ago. I borrowed a tent and a bear whistle (it was in BC bear country!).
  16. I have yet to take a photography class. (I’m not opposed to it, I just haven’t done it.)
  17. Since I hosted Ramon Stoppelenburg of LetMeStayForADay.com in Vancouver back in 2003, two Canadians and an American who met me in the East years later said they recognised me from his website.
  18. I’ve never bought a car, but I’ve owned three cars in my life, between the ages of 17 to the present.
  19. I still have my tonsils, wisdom teeth, appendix, and the other internal parts that I was born with.
  20. As a kid, I was so superstitious I was absolutely terrified at the prospect of turning 13.
  21. I was born with a head of stick-straight hair, which strangely began to turn naturally curly after I graduated from high school.
  22. My longest-surviving relationship was two years, and it wasn’t with anyone who I married.
  23. (Because I get asked this question, and related questions, often:) I am undecided about trying to have children.
  24. Three popular film titles I’ve never watched: Titanic, Fight Club, There’s Something About Mary.
  25. I was hired for a temp job once because of my handwriting.

I have a LOT of “I had to pee so badly once I…” stories, but they are far too embarrassing to have on the web. I don’t mind telling you in person if you ask.

I’m not going to tag anyone, but if you do this, please put a link to it in the comment or email it to me if you prefer not to share it with the internets.

Backup, Backup, Backup!

Save your life.

Sticker on the cable bag of my Maxtor external firewire drive, purchased over the weekend.

I’m currently on my third external firewire drive. The first two are 250GBs, this one is 500GBs. Someone suggested that I get a 1TB (terabyte) drive, but I’m willing to wait — prices will always decrease for storage while capacity increases.

I have several archiving methods which include making a backup of a memory card download direct to DVD even before I cull any dud photos or do any editing. That DVD of full unedited originals gets filed chronologically.

I shoot on average 1,000 photos or more per month, so I burn a backup of about a month’s worth of shooting and editing and file that, too. Additionally, I archive each quarter of a year’s worth of photo libraries (2008 Q1, Q2, etc.) over to an external drive, separate from any other archiving.

I only keep three months (one quarter) of photos on my G4 PowerBook at any one time because it travels quite a bit and it only has an 80GB hard drive. All my email is stored on other servers (.Mac, gmail, the office, etc.), and my documents, calendars, address book, and bookmarks are synched with iDisk to Apple’s servers. I can retrieve them using any browser and can access most things from my iPod Touch.

Basically, if my PowerBook G4 ever fails, the only things I lose are the applications, which are no big deal. The only area I haven’t covered is if my house collapses or explodes because I need to move either the DVDs or an external drive with full backup off-site.

Are you a big archivist? Or are you willing to take a technological gamble? It’s time for a poll!

The Non-Stop Weekend, And A Meme

umbrella drink

Umbrella Drink (not mine)
Swan & Firkin Pub
Bloor West, Toronto

Whoa! The past two weekends and the weekdays in-between have been the busiest I can remember since I moved here. I didn’t even get a chance to write about the previous weekend, and now another weekend has passed and it’s Monday?? How can this be?

Well, first things first: I’ve said before that I’m not much of a meme-r, but I promised Anf I would do his meme back on April 25. Yikes, that’s a week and a half ago.

Here goes:

Things I’m Passionate About

  • being a responsible pet owner
  • being the person that my husband married (and not losing sight of her)
  • travelling in a way that respects the culture I’m exploring
  • becoming a better photographer
  • aviation and the thrill of flying
  • increasing funding for cancer research and reducing the stigma of lung cancer

Things I’d Like To Do Before I Die

  • solo in an airplane
  • scuba dive
  • paraglide
  • take a niece or nephew on a trip with me
  • reach every continent (I have a couple left: South America and Antarctica, but I barely touched Africa)

Things I Say Often

I make a conscious effort not to overuse phrases. If I do, feel free to call me on it and tell me what those are!

I’m also in a very small minority of Generation X native English speakers who do not say ‘cool’, ‘dude’, ‘awesome’, ‘chick’, or if someone is ‘hot’.

Books I’ve Read Recently (in the last year and half, anyway)

  • Timbit Nation: a hitchhiker’s guide to Canada
  • Lonely Planet: Cuba
  • Lonely Planet: Iceland
  • Morocco: a quick guide to customs and etiquette
  • Fodor’s Morocco
  • The Kindness of Strangers

Songs I Could Listen To Over and Over

  • “My One And Only” – Oscar Peterson
  • “(Night Time Is) The Right Time” – Ray Charles
  • “The Messenger” – The Tea Party
  • “Guaglione” – Perez Prado Orchestra
  • “I’ll Be Your River” – Cyndia Lauper
  • “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” – Jeff Healey

Traits I’m attracted To In My Friends

  • adventuresome
  • fun and funny
  • trustworthy and reliable
  • understanding

In a related post, check out this list I did back in February 2005. I was disappointed to see I have only covered ONE of the places on my “Nine Places To Visit” list since then: Cuba. That’s it?!? It’s settled, I’m doing a road trip to Quebec City before the end of the year. It’s the only place on that list I can drive to; the others average around a thousand dollars or more for the plane ticket!

Your Age By Dining Math

What??? How does this work? It’s correct! Try it and see if it works for you. I’ll put in a little poll at the end after publishing so you can answer in one click.


It takes less than a minute. Work this out as you read. Be sure you don’t read the bottom until you’ve worked it out! This is not one of those waste of time things, it’s fun.

1. First of all, pick the number of times a week that you would like to go out to eat. (More than once but less than 10)
2. Multiply this number by 2 (just to be bold)
3. Add 5
4. Multiply it by 50
5. If you have already had your birthday this year add 1758… if you haven’t, add 1757.
6. Now subtract the four digit year that you were born.

You should have a three digit number. The first digit of this was your original number. (i.e., How many times you want to go out to restaurants in a week.)

The next two numbers are YOUR AGE!


Anyone have a guess at how this works?

Website Design Poll

As I have recently been designing websites, I have a question that’s been bugging me for years. Now, when it comes to design there is very little that doesn’t come down to the personal preference of a reader/user, but over time these preferences become stronger or weaker as websites mature and change with their intended audiences. For me, the more websites I look at, the more I want to tweak mine to make it better!

This preference also has a lot to do with screen width, and my market research experience tells me that using Twiigs’ simple polling feature won’t give me a chance to cross-tabulate the answers with the size of your screens… hmmm… I’ll have to rework the question a little bit, then.

The list looks rather long, but decide your type of screen first (wide screen – greater than 1024×768, narrow screen – less than 1024×768, or if your preference is for either size), and now there are only four three* possible answers. And no, there isn’t a “no preference” option. This poll is for the opinionated folk :)

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Indulge My Curiosity While I Do Laundry

I’m done with winter. Why? Only in this current wild and woolly Toronto Winter of 07/08 would doing laundry require crampons to prevent a treacherous fall while stepping outside carrying a laundry bag before going down to the basement to use the washing machine. Even the raccoons are smart enough to stay away from the side of the house, which is a veritable skating rink. Either that or the ‘coons are sharpening their skates.

I’ve got one more load to go, and I have this question for you about Facebook, whether you’re on it or not. (I’m not. Well, sort of — I entered my name last year and immediately tried to delete it but Facebook won’t allow account deletions. A Facelessbook? A FacelessNonBook?)

  1. If you’re on Facebook, what’s the draw for you?
  2. or

  3. If you aren’t on Facebook, what’s the drawback (or deterrent) for you?

Just wondering while wiling away the spin cycle. Arliin and I had several discussions about this over a game of baseball and, later, beer.