Campaigns are a slog, but also fun

Note: This is a political post. I have tried to make this post as non-partisan as possible. Full disclosure: I volunteer with the Liberal Party of Canada.

Are you sick of this federal election yet?

It’s finally here: Election Day! The campaign was officially 78 days. To put it in perspective: I was wearing t-shirts and sandals in the sun when this started, and I wore a winter coat today.

This election felt more important than past ones to me. Maybe because I’m older, I pay more taxes, and I decided to make Canada my home for the long-term. But I think it’s more than that.

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The Power of Dance

I’m not a dancer. I don’t have rhythm, I feel awkward, and it’s challenging for me. However, I decided to take this challenge head on and learn a new dance: Flamenco. I not only learned steps, routines and different styles of flamenco, but I also learned a lot about myself in the process.
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The 2% movement

Do you consider yourself extremely rich or wealthy? How about just rich?

I bet you answered it the same way I did last week: no, not really. Or, at least not yet!

However, did you know you are probably in the top 1-2% of the richest people to ever walk on this earth. Think about that – the top 2% to have ever lived.

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Lovin’ my new mug

My New Coffee Mug
My New Coffee Mug

I lost my steel coffee mug a few weeks ago. Although this seems like a small, trivial item, it was a part of my daily routine that became severely disrupted. I usually make coffee at home to take with me on my walk or bus ride to work. Since my mug disappeared though, I have been making do with chugging hot coffee at home before I leave (ah! burnt tongue!) or using an alternative mug that never quite matched up to my lost one (nasty coffee taste in the plastic mug!)

So I started looking for a replacement, and realized that I had pretty specific criteria:

  • steel inside
  • an inside layer that does not absorb flavours
  • a sturdy seal to close it (I do not need scalding coffee spilling on me on the bus)
  • enough protection to keep coffee warm for a 30 minute walk in the winter
  • cost under $20
I looked at Canadian Tire and MEC online. It took me 20 minutes to find housewares in Canadian Tire, and then they had completely useless mugs! The reviews at MEC turned me off as people mentioned that the lid does not close properly; however on the plus side, I’m glad that MEC does not censor their reviews! I also looked in coffee shops like Starbucks, Artigiano and Wicked Cafe – all of which were much too expensive.

Finally I searched for ‘good travel mugs’ online, and found a review from The Star who reviewed Tim Hortons, Starbucks and Second Cup mugs. See, newspapers are still handy in this day and age!

Anyway, after reading the review I decided to check out Second Cup. This trip turned out to be the lucky one – I got a mug which keeps coffee hot, tasty, and sealed in. Ah, the joys of the small things in life!

Why do we struggle to read some books?

Recently I tried to read The Road by Cormac McCarthy… and it was my second attempt. I started it with a determination to actually finish it this time, but I just couldn’t do it. I really really wanted to see what all the fuss is about as so many people really seem to like it – everyone from Oprah to the Pulitzer Prize and in between.

But me…I just couldn’t do it. I got to about page 10 and could not for the life of me concentrate on the book. My mind wanders as I read the paragraphs, I have this buring desire to skip ahead and see if the entire book is like this, and just all in all AVOID the current page in front of me. I have been thinking about whether it was a result of being tired before I go to bed (which is usually the time I read fiction), or if it was the writing style, the pace, or what.

It was probably a combination of a few things that prevented me from finishing the book, but one thing I have to comment on is the writing style of dialogue. Lately, I have noticed that authors omit quotes around dialogue, or just have no dialogue in the story. I grew up writing, and still write, with character dialogue in single (‘ ‘) or double (” “) quotes. I’m not sure which is actually right, I guess there are many ways to do it depending if you want to be ‘modern’ (single quotes) or post-modern (no quotes). It definitely does seem to be the trend to disregard quotes though, and let the reader assume the dialogue through the tone or slang. Quote-free dialogue was also a part of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which I really liked, but still took a few pages to get used to.

Anyway, I know it’s not only the quotes that bothered me about The Road – part of it is that you have to be ready to read certain books, and not force it! One day I’ll try it again, it’ll be third time lucky I think…

Baking soda is magic!

I love baking soda – besides using it for baking my favourite banana bread, it is the best cleaner! In the past few weeks I have used it for a variety of cleaning purposes, and it’s my new miracle cleaner I think. Here’s some examples of what worked for me:

  • Use a paste of baking soda and vinegar on the ‘ring around the collar’ on shirts, then put the shirt in the washing machine.
  • Sprinkle baking powder on a dirty stainless steel sink, let it sit for a minute, then rub it with a wet cloth. Rinse away the baking soda, and just like that all your sink stains are gone.
  • If you have coffee/tea stains in your mug, mix baking soda and hot water in the mug and let it sit over night. Then clean it with a sponge and soap.
  • I burned milk in a pot the other day, and there was some really stuck-on, nasty burnt crud at the bottom of my steel pot. I tried soap and scrubbing it, but it wasn’t working. Then I soaked a baking soda & hot water paste over the burnt stuff, let it sit, then tried soap & water again. Worked like a charm!

I love using baking soda for cleaning things…I don’t need to breathe in chemicals, and I don’t need to use as much elbow grease. It’s absolutely magic!