Friday, August 31, 2012

Sunny Side Up

“Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.”
- Redd Foxx -

This week’s sunny side up is a hilarious Heineken commercial.



Happy weekend!

Book It - The Kite Runner

This week’s featured book:

The Kite Runner
Author: Khaled Hosseini

Overview:

"I sat on a bench near a willow tree and watched a pair of kites soaring in the sky. I thought about something Rahim Khan said just before he hung up, almost as an afterthought, 'There is a way to be good again.'"

Amir and Hassan are childhood friends in the alleys and orchards of Kabul in the sunny days before the invasion of the Soviet army and Afghanistan's descent into fanaticism. Both motherless, they grow up as close as brothers, but their fates, they know, are to be different. Amir's father is a wealthy merchant; Hassan's father is his manservant. Amir belongs to the ruling caste of Pashtuns, Hassan to the despised Hazaras.

This fragile idyll is broken by the mounting ethnic, religious, and political tensions that begin to tear Afghanistan apart. An unspeakable assault on Hassan by a gang of local boys tears the friends apart; Amir has witnessed his friend's torment, but is too afraid to intercede. Plunged into self-loathing, Amir conspires to have Hassan and his father turned out of the household.

When the Soviets invade Afghanistan, Amir and his father flee to San Francisco, leaving Hassan and his father to a pitiless fate. Only years later will Amir have an opportunity to redeem himself by returning to Afghanistan to begin to repay the debt long owed to the man who should have been his brother.

Compelling, heartrending, and etched with details of a history never before told in fiction, ‘The Kite Runner’ is a story of the ways in which we're damned by our moral failures, and of the extravagant cost of redemption.


My Comments:

When you first begin this story, you’ll be surprised by its simplicity. But don’t be fooled; it will quickly pick up the pace and barrel forward. This treasure of a book is a heartbreaking story of two boyhood friends, and how their relationship evolves over the next 40 years. It is extremely difficult to put down this book about friendship, betrayal and redemption that begins just prior to the Russian invasion and moves forward to a war-torn, Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. Don’t miss this one! It is one of the best books I’ve ever had the good fortune to read.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Are You Smarter Than A Preschooler?

Here’s a puzzle that will determine whether or not you’re smarter than a preschooler.


Look at the picture again.


Is it going right? Or left?
.
.
.
.
.
Think carefully.
.
.
.
.
.
Think hard.
.
.
.
.
.
Take your time.
.
.
.
.
.
Just think.
.
.
.
.
.
Still don’t know? Not sure? Give up?

Okay.

Now, listen to this.

This picture was shown to preschool children in the United States, and when they were asked which way the bus was going, 90% of them responded that the school bus was going left.

When asked “why”, they said “Because you can’t see the door to get on the bus.”

How do you feel now?

I know. Me, too.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Downtown Kingston, Ontario Through My Camera Lens

At the gateway to the 1000 Islands and the UNESCO designated Rideau Canal, Kingston, Ontario is one of Canada’s most beautiful cities and I am proud to live here. Rich in history, culture, attractions, festivals, activities and acclaimed cuisine... what’s there not to love about it?

Today, I’m going to give you a glimpse of the downtown core through my camera lens. I will try to keep the editorial to a minimum. A picture is worth a thousand words, after all, so there’s no need for me to blab on and on. So, let’s move on.


In downtown Kingston, you’ll find...

...places to walk and shop and eat...






Homemade ice cream and frozen yogurt...



City Hall...



Interesting looking houses, buildings and historical sites...




Water, water everywhere...




Cool business names...



Water-loving birds...




Petty flowers...



The Kingston Public Market that operates right behind city hall every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from April through to November. This public market has been around since 1801.




And that, dear readers, is a quick glimpse into the downtwon core of my beautiful city. I hope you enjoyed the tour.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Today's Trivia - La Tomatina Festival: Food Fight!

Spain isn't short of festivals that border on crazy ‘unique’, and La Tomatina in Bunol, south of Barcelona is right up there with the best of them. Essentially a huge food fight where participants throw tomatoes at each other for fun, La Tomatina is held annually on the last Wednesday of august in the town of Buñol, which is located 30 kilometers inland from the Mediterranean Sea.

According to Wikipedia, the origin of this festival goes like this:

In 1945, during a parade of gigantes y cabezudos (roughly translates to “Giants and Big-Heads”), young men who wanted to participate in the event staged a brawl in the town's main square, the Plaza del Pueblo. Since there was a vegetable stand nearby, they picked up tomatoes and used them as weapons. The police had to intervene to break up the fight, and forced those responsible to pay the damages incurred.



The following year the young people repeated the fight on the same Wednesday of August, only this time they brought their own tomatoes from home. They were again dispersed by the police. After repeating this in subsequent years, the party was established. In 1950, the town allowed the tomato hurling to take place, however the next year it was again stopped. A lot of young people were imprisoned but the Buñol residents forced the authorities to let them go. The festival gained popularity with more and participants getting involved every year. After subsequent years it was banned again with threats of serious penalties. In the year 1957, some young people planned to celebrate "the tomato's funeral", with singers, musicians, and comedies. The main attraction however, was the coffin with a big tomato inside being carried around by youth and a band playing the funeral marches. Considering this popularity of the festival and the alarming demand, 1957 saw the festival becoming official with certain rules and restrictions..


According to La Tomatina’s official web site, there are five simple rules that must be followed.

1. You must not bring bottles or other type of objects which could cause an accident.
2. You must not tear or throw t-shirts.
3. The tomatoes must be squashed before throwing them, to avoid hurting people.
4. You must be careful of any lorry (truck or van).
5. When you hear the second shot, you must stop throwing tomatoes.


And this is how the festival begins:

At around 11 a .m., the first event of the Tomatina begins. A ham is placed upon a cockaigne pole (a large, greased pole), and the tomato fight can begin only when someone is able to climb to the top and bring it down. People struggle against each other, climbing atop one another, in order to be the one to pull down the ham. With this victory, the tomato-throwing begins.

Many trucks haul the bounty of tomatoes into the center of the town, Plaza del Pueblo. The tomatoes come from Extremadura, where they are less expensive. The signal for the beginning of the fight is firing of the cannon, and the chaos begins. Once it begins, the battle is generally every man for himself. Somewhere between an hour and two hours, the fighting ends and the cannon is fired once more to signal the end. At this point no more tomatoes can be thrown. The cleaning process involves the use of fire trucks to spray down the streets, with water provided from a Roman aqueduct.


A little nutty, perhaps, and very messy, but it sounds like a lot of fun!

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Best Sighting Of This Summer

It’s been an amazing summer. I’ve toured many of the areas surrounding my beautiful city, taken thousands of photos with my beloved camera, and enjoyed a lot of time in the great outdoors --- my favourite place to be.

And last week, on Wednesday, I was fortunate enough to share a cappuccino and some delicious peach cobbler...

The peach cobbler was amazingly good until the wasps moved in!
...with one of my favourite bloggers!

Jane from Jane's Jewels in my beautiful city.
[*squeal with delight*]

Yesiree folks, that’s really Jane (on the right), author of the blog Jane’s Jewels. She came to visit her sister who lives in Kingston and we set up a date to get together while she was here. We met at Chez Piggy, a popular restaurant in the downtown area for coffee and dessert. I was really excited and nervous. But mostly excited.

She is exactly how I expected she would be: soft-spoken, gentle, warm and friendly. And she does not look her age. At all. She looks about 25 years younger! Seriously. I mean, look at her. She looks like a young adult. This is a woman who has a 25-year-old daughter, for heaven’s sake. Can you believe it?

Is she a vampire, perhaps? (Just kidding, Jane!)

I am thrilled to have been able to meet one of the friends in our blogging circle. Jane was the best sighting this summer in Kingston.

I hope that one day I’ll get to meet some of you, as well.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Beautiful Westport, Ontario

Instead of a garden tour today, let’s all hop on the ‘Plowing Through Life’ tour bus and head over to quaint Westport, a village north of my city in Eastern Ontario. I have visited this area twice this summer. The first time, friends took my daughter and I along with them on a day trip. And the second time, I drove up with my husband who wasn’t able to make it the first time because he was working. This worked out very well, because I quickly discovered that one trip is not enough. You’ll want to visit again and again.


The village of Westport was incorporated as an independent municipality in 1904, and is one of Ontario’s smallest ones. The first settlers to the Westport area arrived in the period between 1810 and 1820. Like much of the surrounding area, Westport received a large number of Irish immigrants in the 1840s through the 1860s, following the Great Famine.

Such a cool sign.
The downtown core has been preserved as it was in the 19th century, which makes this area a heritage destination.



One of the most attractive features is the charming specialty shops in which you’ll find unique and attractive items. Here’s a peak at some of the things you’ll see.




When my daughter and I went down with friends, we toured many of the stores. I was delighted by some of the things being sold.



This has to be the most interesting thing I saw.
On the visit with my husband, we spent a considerable amount of time at the Westport Harbour taking photos and enjoying the view.



Isn’t this area lovely? There’s no question that I’m always happiest by the water.



Both visits included a wonderful lunch on the patio of the restaurant in The Cove Country Inn, which overlooks the Westport Pond. The food is amazing, the atmosphere is relaxing and the view is spectacular.

My daughter on the right pretending the camera is not aimed at her.


I could sit here for hours with my thoughts and a good book in hand.

This is such a beautiful spot to relax in.
And during both visits, we couldn’t head back home before treating ourselves to ice cream.

We didn't get our ice cream from here, but I love the sign.
There are only 645 permanent residents in the village, but thousands of visitors and cottagers drop in each year. I can certainly understand the appeal now that I’ve been there. Westport is a truly lovely place.

I hope you enjoyed this week's tour. Have a beautiful Sunday, everyone.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Tune Time - If

This old tune by American singer-songwriter David Gates is still a favourite as a first-dance song at weddings. Originally popularized by Gates’s group Bread, the song charted at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 when released as a single in 1971. The song also spent three weeks at number one on the Easy Listening chart.


Saturday Silliness

Let’s take some time to laugh out loud...


Assigning Employees to Departments

Take the prospective employees you are trying to place and put them in a room with only a table and two chairs. Leave them alone for two hours, without any instruction. At the end of that time, go back and see what they are doing.

- If they have taken the table apart, put them in Engineering.

- If they are counting the butts in the ashtray, assign them to Finance.

- If they are waving their arms and talking out loud, send them to Consulting or Sales.

- If they are talking to the chairs, Personnel is a good spot for them.

- If they are jittery and crazed from 2 hours without an internet connection, Computer Information Systems is their home.

- If the room has a sweaty odour, put them in Help Desk.

- If they mention what a good price we got for the table and chairs, send them to Purchasing.

- If they mention that hardwood furniture DOES NOT come from rainforests, Public Relations would suit them well.

- If they are sleeping, they are Management material.

- If they are writing up the experience, send them to the Technical Documents team.

- If they don't even look up when you enter the room, assign them to Security.

- If they try to tell you it's not as bad as it looks, send them to Marketing.


Job Security Quiz

1. The boss appears at your cubicle and finds you playing DOOM at your desk, you...

A. Swear to take the game off your hard drive forever, but first make a copy for his kid.
B. Inform him that you're planting a virus in the program so that everyone who plays it on company time will get reported to Human Resources.
C. Tell him that whatever he wants will have to wait until you've finished the level.

2. When your boss throws a party and invites everyone in the office except you, what do you do?

A. Stay home and watch 'I Love Lucy' reruns.
B. Show up at the party anyway, with a really expensive bottle of wine and a briefcase full of small, unmarked bills.
C. Go over to your boss’s house after everyone has left and throw rocks at the windows, shouting obscenities.

3. Your boss criticizes your work unjustly; what do you do?

A. Listen politely, and then apologize.
B. Blame someone else.
C. Climb on top of your desk, and hold up a piece of paper on which you've written the word "union."

4. When the CEO parks his car in your spot, you...

A. Wash and wax it, then leave your business card under the windshield wiper.
B. Key it ... then tell the CEO's secretary you saw your boss near it, loitering suspiciously.
C. Key it ... then proudly tell the CEO's secretary that you did it.

5. Your boss asks you to play Kooky the Clown for his kid's fifth birthday party, what do you do?

A. Offer to pay for the costume rental and cake, too.
B. Agree to do it, and then blackmail a co-worker into doing it while pretending to be you.
C. Agree to do it, then show up as yourself and tell the children that Kooky is dead.

Mostly A's: You have nothing to worry about. They'll never fire you because you're a doormat.

Mostly B's: You're not just going to keep your job, with your complete disregard for other people’s feelings; you'll positively shoot up the ladder of success. Congratulations! You're a real jerk.

Mostly C's: You are a career kamikaze. The boss would have fired you long ago, but he's terrified of what you might do.


Saturday Silliness

Let’s take some time to laugh out loud...


Assigning Employees to Departments

Take the prospective employees you are trying to place and put them in a room with only a table and two chairs. Leave them alone for two hours, without any instruction. At the end of that time, go back and see what they are doing.

- If they have taken the table apart, put them in Engineering.

- If they are counting the butts in the ashtray, assign them to Finance.

- If they are waving their arms and talking out loud, send them to Consulting or Sales.

- If they are talking to the chairs, Personnel is a good spot for them.

- If they are jittery and crazed from 2 hours without an internet connection, Computer Information Systems is their home.

- If the room has a sweaty odour, put them in Help Desk.

- If they mention what a good price we got for the table and chairs, send them to Purchasing.

- If they mention that hardwood furniture DOES NOT come from rainforests, Public Relations would suit them well.

- If they are sleeping, they are Management material.

- If they are writing up the experience, send them to the Technical Documents team.

- If they don't even look up when you enter the room, assign them to Security.

- If they try to tell you it's not as bad as it looks, send them to Marketing.


Job Security Quiz

1. The boss appears at your cubicle and finds you playing DOOM at your desk, you...

A. Swear to take the game off your hard drive forever, but first make a copy for his kid.
B. Inform him that you're planting a virus in the program so that everyone who plays it on company time will get reported to Human Resources.
C. Tell him that whatever he wants will have to wait until you've finished the level.

2. When your boss throws a party and invites everyone in the office except you, what do you do?

A. Stay home and watch 'I Love Lucy' reruns.
B. Show up at the party anyway, with a really expensive bottle of wine and a briefcase full of small, unmarked bills.
C. Go over to your boss’s house after everyone has left and throw rocks at the windows, shouting obscenities.

3. Your boss criticizes your work unjustly; what do you do?

A. Listen politely, and then apologize.
B. Blame someone else.
C. Climb on top of your desk, and hold up a piece of paper on which you've written the word "union."

4. When the CEO parks his car in your spot, you...

A. Wash and wax it, then leave your business card under the windshield wiper.
B. Key it ... then tell the CEO's secretary you saw your boss near it, loitering suspiciously.
C. Key it ... then proudly tell the CEO's secretary that you did it.

5. Your boss asks you to play Kooky the Clown for his kid's fifth birthday party, what do you do?

A. Offer to pay for the costume rental and cake, too.
B. Agree to do it, and then blackmail a co-worker into doing it while pretending to be you.
C. Agree to do it, then show up as yourself and tell the children that Kooky is dead.

Mostly A's: You have nothing to worry about. They'll never fire you because you're a doormat.

Mostly B's: You're not just going to keep your job, with your complete disregard for other people’s feelings; you'll positively shoot up the ladder of success. Congratulations! You're a real jerk.

Mostly C's: You are a career kamikaze. The boss would have fired you long ago, but he's terrified of what you might do.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Sunny Side Up

“Society is like a stew. If you don't stir it up every
once in a while then a layer of scum floats to the top."
- Edward Abbey -

I love Aesop’s fables; a collection of stories credited to Aesop, a slave and story-teller believed to have lived in ancient Greece between 620 and 560 BCE. The fables remain a popular choice for moral education of children.

This week’s sunny side up features one of my favourite stories...

The Fox and the Crow

A crow having stolen a bit of meat perched in a tree and held it in her beak. A Fox, seeing this, longed to possess the meat himself, and by a wily stratagem succeeded.

“How handsome is the Crow”, he exclaimed, “in the beauty of her shape and in the fairness of her complexion! Oh, if her voice were only equal to her beauty, she would deservedly be considered the Queen of Birds!”


This he said deceitfully; but the Crow, anxious to refute the reflection cast upon her voice, set up a loud caw and dropped the flesh. The Fox quickly picked it up, and thus addressed the Crow: “My good Crow, your voice is right enough, but your wit is wanting.”

Moral of the story: Don’t trust flatterers! (And don’t talk with your mouth full...)

Enjoy the weekend!

Book It - The Swallows Of Kabul

This week’s featured book:

The swallows of Kabul
Author: Yasmina Khadra

Overview:

Set in Kabul under the rule of the Taliban, this extraordinary novel takes readers into the lives of two couples: Mohsen, who comes from a family of wealthy shopkeepers whom the Taliban has destroyed; Zunaira, his wife, exceedingly beautiful, who was once a brilliant teacher and is now no longer allowed to leave her home without an escort or covering her face. Intersecting their world is Atiq, a prison keeper, a man who has sincerely adopted the Taliban ideology and struggles to keep his faith, and his wife, Musarrat, who once rescued Atiq and is now dying of sickness and despair.

Desperate, exhausted Mohsen wanders through Kabul when he is surrounded by a crowd about to stone an adulterous woman. Numbed by the hysterical atmosphere and drawn into their rage, he too throws stones at the face of the condemned woman buried up to her waist. With this gesture the lives of all four protagonists move toward their destinies.

The Swallows of Kabul is a dazzling novel written with compassion and exquisite detail by one of the most lucid writers about the mentality of Islamic fundamentalists and the complexities of the Muslim world. Yasmina Khadra brings readers into the hot, dusty streets of Kabul and offers them an unflinching but compassionate insight into a society that violence and hypocrisy have brought to the edge of despair.


My Comments:

The overview above is a pretty clear indication of what you can expect in this book. I’m not sure what else to add except that this book provides insight into how the fragile human psyche copes when hope is replaced by despair. The world in this story is alien to you and me, and it’s difficult to imagine living that way. A very enjoyable story for those in the mood for something a little more serious and intense.