February 26, 2003

Tea and Company and no Sympathy



Here are a few of my favorite online haunts:
[This is the site I visit to fantasize about living in Toronto again, which is almost every single day during the winter]

Jonathan Cainer's Zodiac Forecasts
[This is where I visit in the morning, when I need a positive spin on things past, present and future.]

Living Local
[This is where I go to see what Canadians are up to, sometimes I even buy things from the businesses listed there.]

Environment Canada Weather
[This is the site I visit every morning, and before every road trip during the winter]

Our enjoyment of mild temperatures proved to be brief. When Attila jumped out of bed this morning, the outside thermometer read -24 degrees Centigrade. As I write, the sun is shining and the snow sparkles, the way it does on very cold days.

Although winter's grip has definitely tightened, the cabin fever has not yet returned. With any luck, the temperatures will rise before it sets in again.

Last week, our usually quiet routine was pleasantly interrupted by a surprise call. An old friend of Attila's reached out of the past from a telephone, and walked right into our living room. Andy is an interesting fellow, full of personality, with all the accompanying twists and turns. As he stayed the night, we had a wonderful chance to catch up with all his news, and enjoy his good company. Can it really have been more than five years, since we saw him last?

I am spending these sunny days at the pine table by the window; book propped up to a comfortable reading angle. As I have mentioned before the windows here are very high, standing on tiptoe is required to catch the view, or neighboring walls obscure it. This is true of all but one window in the house. That one window affords a view, and admits copious amounts of sunshine, weather permitting.

In front of this one window, we have placed our pine dining table. It is here I often sit to sip a cup of tea, and watch the neighborhood, or read a book. This is where I sit in the sunshine, and feel glad.

I am not surprised that some of the neighbors believe me to be watching everything that goes on in the neighborhood. This perception seems to provide some measure of comfort, as I am the Neighborhood Watch person for this section of our street.

However, as fascinating as they feel their lives are, what draws my attention is the sky, the trees, the weather, and the wind. Actually, that humans occupy the available landscape, somewhat detracts from its appeal. Since our neighbors are very nice people, I am able to overlook this.

Last night we made a trip to the local post office. The tax forms are now on their way to various departments of the government. Attila was hoping I would breath easier once they were safely on their way. I was hoping the same thing. However, as it turns out, I am now anxiously awaiting the results. Were the forms filled in correctly? Will the government decide that mistakes were made? In other words, is it really over for this year?

Perhaps the government will be happy with the submissions, and next years process can be executed with more confidence.

My advice is that if you can afford hundreds and hundreds of dollars for an accountant's fee, pay it. If accountants face the same quality of "customer service" from the government that I have experienced over the last weeks, then they have earned every penny you pay them.

I am beginning to use the 1901 Canadian Census in my genealogy research project. This database is available online, although it is not very accessible for those owning Macintosh computers. The Canadian government is putting this information online using a proprietary format (not JPEG, GIF, PNG, TIFF, etc.) that does not offer support for the Macintosh OS.

Although I have found a work-around to access this public data, it is slow, awkward, and feature-poor. I feel the Canadian government, at least as far as the 1901 Census is concerned, is making it hard for those of us who own Macintosh computers. Perhaps it is difficult for other groups as well, but I will let them speak for themselves. The whole situation reminds me of the "company store" phenomenon. I struggle along though; one must make the best of government "wisdom".

There is some sort of connection here, between the anxieties suffered in correctly filling in tax forms to exacting standards, and paying taxes, and the desire to have fair access to the services these taxes purport to provide.

I have complained, you know. What was the response to my complaint? That "most people" are using "the" other operating system, and that "they" [the government] cannot please everyone. I stated my disagreement; there are many graphic formats accessible to all operating systems. I am afraid my small voice fell on deaf ears, as I have detected no change in the delivery of this public information.

Top of Page

Worldly Distractions

Sunny Cluttered Tabletop
Have a cup of tea...

By the Easy Chair
A Widow for One Year
by John Irving

"Whereas she wished more of the population were better educated, she also believed that education was largely wasted on the majority of people she had met."
from A Widow for One Year
by John Irving
page 221

14:12 EST
Temp: -11`C
Humidity: 66%
Wind: SE 4 km/h
Barometric: 102.8 kPa

Sunrise 7:05 AM EST
Sunset 6:09 PM EST

Page by Page: A Woman's Journal
by Maggie Turner

Canadian Maggie Turner writes and publishes poetry, photography, and a personal journal online. Her work reflects the current way of life in Canada, embracing Canada's past, present, and future in a unique portrayal of everyday life. Maggie's voice is one of the many that actively depict the rich diversity of Canadian culture.

Photography: "a term which comes from the Greek words photos (light) and graphos (drawing). A photograph is made with a camera by exposing film to light in order to create a negative. The negative is then used in the darkroom to print a photograph (positive) onto light-sensitive paper.
Source: University of Arizona Glossary

Poetry: "a form of speech or writing that harmonizes the music of its language with its subject. To read a great poem is to bring out the perfect marriage of its sound and thought in a silent or voiced performance. At least from the time of Aristotle's Poetics, drama was conceived of as a species of poetry."
Source: Creative Studios

Journal: " "Though a journal may be many things - a treasury, a storehouse, a jewelry box, a laboratory, a drafting board, a collector's cabinet, a snapshot album, a history, a travelogue..., a letter to oneself - it has some definable characteristics. It is a record, an entry-book, kept regularly, though not necessarily daily.... Some (entries) will be nearly illegible, written in the dark in the middle of the night.... Not only is it a record for oneself, but of oneself. Every memorable journal, any successful journal, is honest. Nothing sham, phony, false...." (Dorothy Lambert from Ken Macrorie's book, Writing to be Read )
A journal is a way to keep track of your thoughts about what you read... as well as what you did on any given day."
Source: Journal Writing

A Blog is an online journal created by server side software, often hosted by a commercial interest.

"The term "weblog" was coined by Jorn Barger[4] on 17 December 1997. The short form, "blog," was coined by Peter Merholz, who jokingly broke the word weblog into the phrase we blog in the sidebar of his blog in April or May 1999.[5][6][7] Shortly thereafter, Evan Williams at Pyra Labs used "blog" as both a noun and verb ("to blog," meaning "to edit one's weblog or to post to one's weblog") and devised the term "blogger" in connection with Pyra Labs' Blogger product, leading to the popularization of the terms."

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