Monday, December 7, 2009

"Montreal Massacre"

disclaimer: this is likely to be fairly random, poorly written, possibly even incoherent. This is 'stream of consciousness", triggered both by the anniversary, and by reading some others' responses to that anniversary.

Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the murder of 14 (and injury of 14 more) at École Polytechnique in Montreal. All 14 of the dead, and 10 of the wounded were women. Not an accidental statistic... Marc Lepine, the shooter, himself blamed "feminists" for all his troubles.

This disturbed man accomplished his goal... he got his revenge before turning the gun on himself (whether out of guilt, or fear of retribution or the judicial system we'll never know). But his actions that day, and the results, had another result he likely never expected and would not have wanted. The shock and outrage spurred a movement to draw attention to violence against women and make such actions less socially acceptable... in Canada, at least.

I say LESS socially acceptable, because sadly there are thousands of violent acts perpetrated against women on a daily basis purely because they are women and because someone feels that the only way they can feel better about themselves is to grind someone else down.

I was in highschool, at an all girls' school when the massacre took place. For obvious reasons, it was a 'hot topic' there, but in the midst of the Scarborough Rapist's reign of terror it was, to some extent, a background issue to a teen girl in Toronto/Scarborough. It was overwhelming to contemplate... so it simply wasn't.

Then I hit University... to study Engineering, originally. Suddenly, it took on a new significance. Women in Engineering were a minority. We were outnumbered. We were seen differently (well, we were seen differently by those outside the faculty, more than inside). We were 'sisters' of the victims. The reactions of men of a more misogynistic bent to women in a traditionally male field became more than just theoretical. It bound us together and made us stronger.

Memories of events like this gave me strength when I was stalked... strength to take action; to seek assistance instead of just accepting that "these things happen to girls".

Memories of events like this helped (eventually) give me strength to leave a relationship with a man who was systematically abusive... in his words and actions, in isolating me from friends and family, in routinely belittling and insulting me, in pursuing actions he knew damn well were unwelcome and unwanted.

Marc Lepine may have taken these lives, but his actions that day helped ensure that a generation of women (and men) would fight against the fear and, partly out of anger and outrage, become the very people he would have despised for their self-assurance and strength.

But Marc Lepine was not automatically and whole-heartedly some kind of demon. He was a man with problems. A man who had a warped view of the world and the cause of his personal problems. A man of questionable mental health with a mother who loved him, who loves him still, and who deals daily with the struggle of equating her son with the man who perpetrated this violence. A mother who had herself been victimized by a man she at some point trusted. He is someone to be pitied, not blindly condemned. But a man who created a situation that could not be ignored... that MUST not be ignored.

20 years have passed. There are annual memorial events. There have been some changes, but there's still room for improvement.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Goodbye Grimalkin (aka Grimm) 1996/6/6 - 2009/11/20

13 years is a long time to have a friend in your life. On November 20th, 2009, I said good-bye to a dear friend. Grimm came into my life as a kitten and quickly became a friend. He gave me 13 years (and a bit) of laughter, companionship, and friendship and I will miss him. He was a true friend to me through some dark times when friends were in short supply and desperately needed. He never judged me. He ran to meet me when I came home, and was always nearby if I was in distress.

This is one of those moments in life where head and heart just can't get on the same page. Head knows that the right decision was to bring him to the vet and have him put to sleep... he couldn't move much, he wouldn't eat, he was barely drinking. Heart feels like I let him down.... that he kept fighting, asking for deadline extensions, that he would still purr to cheer me up. Head won out. I'll miss his handsome face, his warm presence, his voice & vocabulary... I'll miss him.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Well THAT's Not Right

Yes... Not Right... capital N, capital R.

OK... in a couple of weeks I'm going on a trip.  Yes, it's paintball-related, go fig.  No, D is not coming with me (as he has a prior commitment), and I'm going with some of the guys from the team.  We'll be in 2 vehicles... in one will be 2 of the co-captains and their wives.  In the other will be me and 4 of the other guys from the team.  Interesting enough.  Throw in that it's a 17 hour drive (with no stops... so add some to that, since they'll have to make pit stops for us ladies ;) )... and that we're leaving at 1:00 p.m. in order to arrive at the event in the morning to spend the full day on-site.  Also add that the vehicle in which I'll be travelling is a mini-van (not the most comfortable for sleeping if you happen to get stuck in one of the centre-row seats).  And... just for laughs... add in that when I don't get enough sleep I'm a bag of toys (entertaining, but really not good for much)... and with little enough sleep (generally anything less than about 5 hours) my entire system organizes and stages a rebellion that starts with me being extremely cranky and goes downhill rapidly from there.

Sounds like fun, no? *laugh*

Ok... so in an effort to combat all of these entertaining prospects, I figure I'll do some investigation into energy drinks to find something that doesn't turn my stomach, doesn't turn my mouth inside out, doesn't trigger hives, and might keep me somewhat functional.

Attempt #1:  Red Bull.  Good Lord!  Blech.  Excuse me while I take a scrubbing brush to my tongue.  Yeah... not going to work.  Fails miserably on point #2, leading to a fail on point #1.  2 sips and that test was done.

Attempt #2:  Full Throttle Unleaded (sugar free) Citrus Flavoured.  Ok... I went "unleaded" because... well... I'm down 30 lbs, I know darn well my eating habits for the 5 days I'm gone will be hellish, why add to that with a crapload of sugar?  Hmm... yes... well, not a concern, as it turns out.  Popped it open, caught a whiff and said "uh-oh".  Took a tiny sip, and promptly handed the can to D.  Why?  Grapefruit triggers point #3... and this gem would definitely fail on that point.

Ok... moving right along...

Attempt #3:  Monster Khaos (the orange one).  Ok, very tasty orange flavour... passed on points 1, 2, and 3... but sadly led to significant stomach & abdominal pain.  So... no go there, either.

Hrm... this isn't looking good.  So when I was doing groceries a couple of days ago, I picked up a few more to try... all of them "Beaver Buzz" brand... one citrus (which again, will have to be tried when D's around just in case there's a grapefruit component), one black currant (yumm... I LURVE Black Currants... it better live up to it ;) )... and one "Premium Buzz Green Tea Energy".

Well... today I was feeling less than perky, so I figured I'd give one a shot. 

Attempt #4:  Reached for the Green Tea one... has Green Tea (good)... has Ginseng (good)... has the usual energy drink crap (less good, but that's expected).  *phist*  Ok... non-carbonated, that's good.  Tastes like various green tea iced teas I've had... also good.  Passed #'s 1, 2, 3... no pain... but sadly it seems to be failing miserably on point #4.  Which seems a little counter productive, and leads to the title of this entry.

Now... when I did the test with the Monster brand... I was tired when I finished it... I was downright sleepy shortly after (and I do mean shortly)... but it was also a long day of driving (ok, so I was the passenger, but still), and a lot of 'fresh air' and sun, so I didn't relate the two... now I'm beginning to think that I should have.

Back in 1st year, I used to hit the Engineering tuck shop before heading to my Algebra tutorial.  It was routine.  Routinely I'd grab a big cookie and a bottle of Jolt (all the sugar and twice the caffeine of regular colas).  Routinely I'd fall asleep in the tutorial.  Now, back then I had low blood-sugar and my doc told me that's why caffeine put me to sleep.

I no longer have low blood sugar... and regular tea/cola has no effect on me... but it seems that the combination of stimulants in Energy Drinks might well still be tripping the wrong switch in my brain *sigh*

3 more tries to see if that's actually what's going on here (2 more Buzz drinks, and a "5 hour energy")... just under 2 weeks to see if one of them will work for me.

So... anyone out there have similar issues?  Caffeine put you to sleep?  Gravol make you jittery? (yeah... I'm a freak on that score, too *laugh*) Got any other suggestions???

'k... think I'll go crash now... Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.....

Sunday, May 10, 2009

No Title Today

Ok... I had this big long post drafted up for Mother's Day, but I think it's a little too close to the bone to post.  Suffice it to say... don't forget to hug the "forgotten mothers" in your life today.  The ones who don't (for whatever reason) have kids to call/send flowers/give cards.

And instead of that big long post, I have to fill the space somehow... and since yesterday was the team's first "Big Game" of the 2009 paintball outdoor season, I'll prattle on about that for a while ;)

To start... yes, I know I'm a probationary member of the team.  Yes, I know that technically I've played paintball before.  However, I can say, having experienced yesterday... I had no idea what it was really like.  In a good way. *grin*

D and I got up in the early hours (yes, boys and girls, they make a 5:00 in the morning on weekends, too) and were on the road to procure food, gasoline, and money (not necessarily in that order) and hit the road for Flasc Paintball's field down the road from the Hamilton Airport.  There had been weather uncertainty and much sky-watching all week wondering if the weather would cooperate and stay dry for us.  Well.. there was some rain during the week... making the ground wet enough that I started to wonder as we pulled in to park if, perhaps, we need to investigate getting a 'paintball vehicle'.  Certainly, we were very glad that we'd brough my car and not D's.  And that was at the START of the day.

The team recently did a very large gear order in the hopes of getting us all kitted out with the uniform before taking to the fields as a 'unit'.  Some hiccups to that plan, but it worked well enough that we looked like a team when we all rolled onto the field to start the fight.  But first, we had to figure out how to change into it.  Thank goodness for friends with heavily tinted mini-vans *laugh*.  Side-effects was kind enough to oblige when I asked if I could borrow his van... with D standing guard because 6 feet of me wouldn't quite fit in the van with all the gear and stuff that was still there *laugh*.  So we geared up, checked in, grabbed our bags and paint and headed into the 'dead box' to get sorted out.  There were a few mud puddles, and generically damp ground, but it wasn't too bad.  There were some skids lying around, and tarps to cover gear, so we took full advantage while we chronied and got some pre-game instructions.

And then the heavens opened.  A good half-hour of solid, steady rain.  A note for future reference... rain inside the mask before you put it on... Bad Thing.  This leads to fogging... and difficulty spotting targets between the rain speckles.  Mosquitos inside the lens?  Also not good.

D and the rest of the probationary members (except me) were instructed to stage a mass charge as soon as the game began... and they did, taking the opposing forces completely by surprise, flanking them, and taking control of their base within the first 5 minutes of play.  I was assigned to body-guard our general. I'm cool with that.  I probably took far fewer hits than I would have otherwise... and it meant less stress on my less-than-fully-functional knees *laugh*  I got to try out the APEX that came with the marker set-up we bought from another team-mate for me, finally (it's a but much for indoor, really)... I had a blast.  Our general didn't get shot-out until after I was gone, and I lasted a good long while before that happened, thankfully.  I was so proud of myself... I made people duck!

I know... that sounds pretty lame.  But bear in mind, when playing indoors (until yesterday my only experience), I was a bit of a 'paint magnet'... I rarely lasted longer than about 30 seconds and posed little or no threat to anyone on the field.  So seeing people duck away from my firing line... it felt damn good.

So, yeah... playing outside is a COMPLETELY different experience... but I'm still hooked ;)  It's gonna be an awesome season!!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

generic update type post

Ok... so it's been a while since I've written, so this will be "generic update post number 3,458,264"

First... the celebration.  There is officially 10% less of me than there was back in January.  So what?  So, this is a big deal.  Ok, so we're at the 25 lbs down, a zillion and twelve left to go point, but it's a start... and a much better start than I expected.  Why?  Because I have a thyroid disorder that has pretty much kept me from losing weight every other time I've tried... this is a very nice change.  So here's hoping it keeps going!!  I want to have to buy a new team uniform next year!

which brings us to point #2.  Paintball.  Yup... still spending time with that.  The guys were nice enough to let me join the team as a probationary member... I'm having a ball!  Ok, so I haven't actually been PLAYING much (for various reasons... like injury, or the need to NOT have bruises for Easter *laugh*), but I've been spending time with the team... getting to know the personalities... helping out with stuff... playing counsellor occasionally (as I always seem to do ;)  )... and most recently ordering a metric shit-load of gear, picking games to attend as a team-member, and caving to D's desire for me to get "a change of scenery" by heading off down to Oklahoma (where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain) for the biggest paintball shindig in the known world... D-Day.  Well, ok... I haven't actually GONE to D-Day yet, that's in June.  Should be... interesting.  D can't go, so I'll be piling into a van with 3 guys from the team (2 others and their better halves will be driving down seperately) for a few days of absolute mayhem in tornado country.

And then there's the update on my cousin.  He got married, and pictures from his wedding prompted my last mention of him.  He looked so old and in so much pain.  He and his new bride went off on their honeymoon cruise, but he had to be removed from the ship and taken to hospital when they docked in the Canary Islands.  He was in bad enough shape that my uncle had to fly out from Ireland.  I'm worried about my uncle... it's been the two of them against the world for so long... they're best friends.  I'm not sure how well he'll hold together when my cousin inevitably surrenders *sigh*.  Anyway, I found out last night that my cousin improved enough to return to Ireland.  And that's as much info as I have at this point.  So, in those moments when I'm not avoiding thinking of him, I'm choosing to take that as a good sign.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Twists and Turns

It's funny the way things play out sometimes.

Through the recoil from a fairly heinous personal attack, I've met some great people. While some people have left my life, others have entered. While I may be losing one, I may be growing closer to others. And in the dark days lately and to come when I've been feeling so alone, I need to focus on that.

If not for events of last fall, I might not have been looking for a way to spend the time when I was no longer out with certain people. I might not have wormed my way into the paintball world. Some of the people I've met through that are some of the best people I've ever met. Awesome people with awesome attitudes... lots of laughs, lots of solidarity.

I fear I may be losing someone who was once close. He's not much older than me, but I've seen recent pictures and the pain his eyes show has aged him unbelievably. I wish money wasn't such an issue in our lives right now... I might be able to visit him before he's gone. I wish distance hadn't stolen so many years of having him in my life... and likewise health issues. There are memories I'll treasure... taking him to do 'touristy' things the last time I saw him... hearing stories of his travels... childhood visits at my maternal grandmother's home... my favourite and closest cousin growing up.

Funny how people drift in and out... sometimes staying for years, sometimes only briefly (but profoundly) touching our lives, sometimes making return appearances, sometimes hovering around the edges of our existence, waiting to be invited in, or to invite us out, sometimes teaching us valuable lessons (about self-worth, about the value of other perspectives, about character judgement and trust...), sometimes just providing a distraction and a re-direct only realized much further down the road.

The key is to cherish the moments for however long they last, and appreciate the lessons.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A new addiction is born...

So... 6 months ago if you'd asked me if I wanted anything to do with anything even remotely connected to paintball I'd have laughed like a mad woman and promptly said "no. nuh-uh. no how. no way."

But... you'll remember back at the end of the year I blogged that I was not only associating with paintballers, but was going to take the field.

Well... not only have I taken the field a few times, and collected some hits that D tells me are "among the worst there are" and lived to tell the tale ;) ... but I think I have developed a new addiction.

Ok... so I suck at the game... there's always a chance I might improve *laugh* I have a blast when I'm at the field, even though I can't play worth crap.

And... in the space of less than a week not one, but two markers have come into my possession... both as awesome deals. For those of you familiar with the terminology, or bored to tears and looking for something to google, I'll tell you a bit about them :)

First, on Thursday (a day late, thank you UPS) arrived a BT-4 Banshee (woodgrain edition). It's pretty. Solid stock in woodgrain... AK-47 style barrel & barrel shroud with woodgrain fore-grip... it's in good shape, and rare (and discontinued), so it qualifies as a collector's item, too ;) Also came with an Empire re-loader II... an e-assisted loading system that 'hears' a ball being fired, and feeds the next one into the chamber (as opposed to a gravity feed hopper... where you can end up with two balls trying to get down the feedneck at the same time, essentially jamming it and meaning that you're not actually firing anything)

And last night I took delivery of another new toy :) One of D's teammates was selling a marker to raise funds to buy a new toy of his own... and I'm glad we could help him out. He gave me an awesome deal and I can't wait to use it... a 5-month-old BT-4 Delta... polished internals (an efficiency improvement)... plus 12" lapco apex-ready barrel & Apex tip. Not as fancy schmancy as D's Delta with its upgrades, but a pretty fancy barrel & tip that does neat tricks *laugh* Can't wait to try 'er out!

So... never say never, I guess.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I could have done without that...

Yesterday was definitely an "I could have done without that" kind of day.

I could have done without getting up at 5 a.m.... but I had to shower and figured out what I'm allowed to eat for breakfast in time to be out the door before 7 for the drive to Brantford

I could have done without it being so damn cold. I've really had enough of this winter thing... I mean, the snow can be pretty to look at in a general way, but enough is enough! ;)

I could have done without getting shot in the crotch at the paintball Young Gunz event. I think D might be starting to worry about my luck *laugh* Just one more reason to be happy I'm not a guy, I guess ;)

I could have done without the first accident we saw on the way home... traffic was backed up on the 403... looks like someone failed to consider the weight and required stopping distance of the vehicle(s) behind them when the made the decision to brake or bail. Probably about 7 cars involved.

I REALLY could have done without the second accident. the 403 was actually closed in Ancaster 'cuz of it. Took us close to an hour to go one exit, and then there was no avoiding seeing the aftermath when we were trying to exit... bits of car everywhere (and I mean bits and everywhere)... and there, in the middle of the highway... the proof that it was a fatal crash. Wrapped in white, laid on a black bag, strapped to a gurney... and just left there. Hardly respectful treatment of the dead. Why not move them to whatever vehicle the gurney came out of?

I could have done without the last minute notice that I was driving Dad somewhere in the exact opposite direction of where I had planned on going... but I did it. Just meant that dinner was delayed a half hour *shrug*

And I could have done without a 3rd night running of strange dreams... although it's probably an improvement over the week preceding them where I know I slept, but sure didn't feel like it. *shrug*

So... today will be a day with no "I could have done without that" moments! I have decided. It will be so! I got all those moments for the week out of way at once! Of course, the fact that my plans for the day include surfing, playing with the cats, and not leaving the house at all, that shouldn't be hard *laugh*

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

This'll be a long one.....

I'd like to thank the folks who responded to my last post... thank you for your kind words, and I will do my best to work on my self-esteem and tunnel vision ;)

Now... on to updates!

Still no job. That one I mentioned to some of you that I was kind of excited about has been staffed. No interview. *shrug* Severance is running out next week, so that's a bit stressful. But, I've applied for a job with the company D works for. Not my dream job by any stretch of the imagination, but the pay would be better than EI, and the benefits package is decent... and I have an 'in' since D is held in pretty high regard... so here's hoping.

I'm taking the plunge... no, not that plunge (took that one already ;) )... I'm signing onto the WeightWatchers bandwagon. I'm tired of being a whale. I just hope it works. It'll be a long road... so any spare will-power you've got lying around, I'll happily give a new home to! *laugh*

Paintball. Ah yes... paintball. D and I played again last Friday night. I suck at this game *laugh* But I'm having a blast with it, and with the guys on D's team. I think D is starting to have a few concerns about my luck, though... so far I've collected:
- 1 knuckle shot (apparently one of the really bad ones... this was my first hit)
- 1 hip shot
- 1 straight-on shot in the butt... after I was already out, and thanks to one of the people on my own darn team!
- 1 shot to the upper arm (which left a nice 2" diameter bruise... pretty colours)... that one hit right where a few muscle groups come together, so it hurt like a mo-fo... the paint went through 2 layers of clothing, too... not so good.
- 1 bounce shot to the collar bone. I'm told bounces hurt more... which makes sense when you consider the physics of it. THAT one REALLY hurt
- 2 shots at close range to the back... again after I was already out... and from someone on my own team. I'm guessing it was from the captain for the game... who falls firmly in the "lead from behind" camp. He actually bitched at myself and another newbie "you have to move up, you can't just stay back here"... said from BEHIND us. Asshat. We understand the theory, but come on... NEWBIES! And girls, to boot.

I've been told that I need some armor of some kind for the torso... 'cuz as a girl I oddly enough have girl parts *laugh* D's team-mates take good care of me :)

So the team has a sponsorship from the company that makes the markers they prefer and the company that distributes them. One of the guys with the distribution company posted on the forums last week that he had a research assignment for which he'd "pay" with one of his personal paintball markers. I, being one of the few folks on the board with no equipment, jumped at the chance... spent a few days (because I got the assignment Thursday afternoon and had to have it to him before Monday morning... and we played Friday night) digging through websites getting the info... and now have a marker and reloader on their way to me :) A barely used BT-4 Banshee with Reloader II hopper... one trip out and only about 500 balls through it. Should arrive next Wednesday :) And one of the guys on the team is giving me a pod belt. So I've got the basic gear (or will by the end of next week)... marker, mask, means of carrying additional paint. Now if only I could actually PLAY *laugh*

Not much else going on, really... which is probably good, because this entry is long enough already! Thanks for hanging in, if you made it this far :)

Monday, January 12, 2009

A challenge to my readers... all 3 of you *laugh*

ok, ok... there might be more than 3 of you.

Anyway, chatting with a few people over the past few days, and it being the New Year and a season for improvement and change, I thought I'd challenge the folks who read here.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to leave me a comment telling me how you feel about me. Good, bad, indifferent. BUT... there's a catch... any criticism must be constructive and couched in diplomatic terms. None of these lazy-ass insults... you've got to phrase it in a way that I won't automatically tune out.

What do I hope to achieve here? Well, a few things. I hope to learn what I'm doing right and not-so-right in my life/relationships/writing/whatever. I hope to learn what people really think about me. And I hope to challenge the people who give a rats ass to find diplomatic ways to express the less savoury thoughts they have to share.

For example:
"You're depressing to be around and thrive on misery"... not constructive, not diplomatic, and really not worth my time to consider.
"You've got a wicked sense of humour and should try to show it to more people more often"... highlights the positive, but encourages personal development.

Of course, I'll welcome purely positive responses, too *laugh*

Reply with your blogger profile... or reply anonymously if you feel more comfortable...

The challenge has been issued... who will rise to the occasion?