A Merciless Guide to Writing

This is too good not to pass on… Kem has recently defended her dissertation in English at the University of Toronto and after years of marking undergraduate essays, she was moved to write a blog about some of the main problems she encountered along the way.* The blog is entitled “Kem’s Utterly Merciless Guide to Essay Writing” and the caption goes:

I am so bloody tired of marking essays composed by students who do not know what the hell they are doing that I have been moved to create this guide for them. It is not a nice, kind guide in which I gently usher the reader through the essay-writing process. This guide, my friends, is going to hurt. 

 Start from the table of contents and read on… It’s very cleverly done and many rules of grammar are explained in very clear terms. Hell, there’s even an index! Now I have to figure out a way of making my students read it from beginning to end… *Hmm, now I’m stumped. Is Kem a he or a she?  


Atonement & the Oscars

Last night we watched Atonement. I haven’t read the book but I really loved the movie. It’s sad, unfair, beautifully made, all the stuff of a great movie.

I know Hollywood’s Academy Awards (aka Oscars) is an over-hyped, self-centered event, but I’ve been a faithful watcher ever since I was a kid. Growing up in Brazil, my older brother and I used to watch the movies – or as many of thema s we could – beforehand, make our own lists, and make huge batches of popcorn while we sat in front of the TV for 3-4 hours to watch the show. We kept track of awards, made predictions, got upset when our favourites didn’t win…It’s one of those moments in the year when I miss my brother the most.

This years big nominees are: There Will Be Blood (8 nominations), No Country for Old Men (8), Atonement (7), Michael Clayton (7), Ratatouille (5), The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (4), Juno (4).I’ve watched Ratatouille and Atonement and would really like to watch some of the others before the awards ceremony.

The only catch this year is that I don’t have a TV! I guess I’ll have to invite myself to a friend’s place that night… Or watch it at Massey…

New toy

It hasn’t been long since I bought my DSLR last summer, but today I went out and bought myself a new camera, a Canon Powershot A650 IS

New camera 

I love my Nikon but the truth is, I really needed a camera I could carry around with me at all times. I often see amazing scenes on my way to school or quick snapshots for the blog. Carrying around my DSLR on top of all the books I lug around all day is not my idea of fun. In addition, I also needed a camera for taking pictures of documents and articles at the library or archives. In order to do that with my Nikon, I’d have needed a new lens that would be fast enough to handle the low light indoors and have macro capabilities. Such a lens would have cost a lot more than a fully-featured point-and-shoot camera such as the A650 IS.I can’t wait to take it out for a stroll and as soon as I do, I’ll show you the results!

Back from Montreal yet again

Just back from a few days in Montreal. We had a dentist appointment on Monday so we took the opportunity to visit some friends and run some errands like getting new lenses for my glasses – a year reading microfilmed manuscripts at the archives left its mark. We also got some perfect Montreal winter weather while we were there: -20 and the brightest sun on one day and lots of snow the next day. Walking around Pointe-Claire Village under the snow was magical. Too bad I forgot my camera…

MacBook Air

MacBook Air With much fanfare, Apple released this week MacBook Air, probably the world’s thinnest laptop. I was converted into the Mac world when I bought my 12″ Powerbook G4 about three and a half years ago. I wasn’t entirely convinced that it was the best choice but the price was good (I had a student discount) and it was the only laptop at that price range at that time that came with wireless internet. Since I still had a Windows desktop as my main computer, I convinced myself that even if it wasn’t that great, I was only going to use it for typing notes at school and accessing the internet anyway. And I still had my Windows machine for everything else.To cut a long story short, the Windows machine got used less and less until I finally got rid of it altogether.  When the time came for Alan to replace his desktop for a laptop when we went to Spain, he bought a 15″ Powerbook. On our way back, we needed a desktop for some more powerful image processing. A 24″ iMac it was. We don’t even follow what’s going on in the Windows world anymore. We’re Mac addicts now and I can’t see myself not having a Mac as my main computer. When Apple introduced its new line of computers with an Intel chip we got pretty excited. The Powerbooks were replaced by a new line of fast MacBook Pros. Unfortunately that new line didn’t have a 12″ laptop. It might sound small, but a 12″ laptop is ideal for lugging around and taking notes at the library. Having the height and width (not the depth, of course) of a regular sheet of paper, it fits anywhere. I’ve even carried it in a purse.So I’ve been waiting for a 12″ MacBook Pro. I’ve heard lots of rumours that Apple was working on an ultra-light laptop. My hopes soared. And the rumours came true this week.  But I’m not happy.Sure, the new MacBook Air has some nifty features like being able to pinch, swipe or rotate an image using the trackpad. Or the backlit keyboard that I so wished to have on my laptop. But it also had to sacrifice in other areas, like no CD/DVD (you need an external one) and only one USB port. And it’s 13.3″…Maybe I was expecting something  light but still fully-featured.  It just didn’t make me jump and want to rush to the store. Luckily, Apple laptops have long lives. My PB was 3 years old when I finally had to replace its battery. I’ve added a bit more memory and replaced the hard drive for something bigger last month and now it feels brand new! I won’t be needing a new one for a while… 

Muere lentamente

This was posted by Danilo in his blog and it’s so brilliant, I couldn’t help posting here…

Muere lentamente
quien no viaja,
quien no lee,
quien no oye música,
quien no encuentra gracia en sí mismo.

Muere lentamente
quien destruye su amor propio,
quien no se deja ayudar.

Muere lentamente
quien se transforma en esclavo del hábito
repitiendo todos los días los mismos trayectos,
quien no cambia de marca,
no se atreve a cambiar el color de su vestimenta
o bien no conversa con quien no conoce.

Muere lentamente
quien evita una pasión y su remolino de emociones,
justamente estas que regresan el brillo
a los ojos y restauran los corazones destrozados.

Muere lentamente
quien no gira el volante cuando esta infeliz
con su trabajo, o su amor,
quien no arriesga lo cierto ni lo incierto para ir detrás de un sueño
quien no se permite, ni siquiera una vez en su vida,
huir de los consejos sensatos…

¡Vive hoy!
¡Arriesga hoy!
¡Hazlo hoy!
¡No te dejes morir lentamente!
¡No te impidas ser feliz!

Pablo Neruda

Which European city?

You Belong in Milan
Stylish and sophisticated, you want to enjoy a truly European life – away from tourists!Milan fits you perfectly. Great shopping, high quality food, lots of culture… with very little hype.

Hmmm, not quite the result I wanted…

I redid the test and got this:

You Belong in London

You belong in London, but you belong in many cities… Hong Kong, San Francisco, Sidney. You fit in almost anywhere.

And London is diverse and international enough to satisfy many of your tastes. From curry to Shakespeare, London (almost) has it all!

Go figure… But I think it got one thing right – maybe I just fit anywhere ;)

Sunday night dinner

SalmonWho said you need to spend a fortune at a fancy restaurant to enjoy a gourmet meal? Who said you need to be a master chef? Tonight I made Salmon on Fennel Salad with Citrus Dressing from the LCBO magazine.  Alan doesn’t care much about fish in general but he loves Salmon and I’m crazy about any fish, so I couldn’t let this simple and healthy recipe go untried. The result was even better than we imagined and had the two of us moaning through dinner. We had it with a glass of cava and followed it up with a nice capuccino and some baileys. As Alan said at the end of the meal, “a meal fit for the gods.” Which is Alan-speak for “the best meal ever!”. So here’s the recipe from the LCBO magazine: Continue reading “Sunday night dinner”

Toro i Senyera

The irony of this image won’t be lost on my Catalan friends:


That’s a wine produced in Catalunya, the ribbon is the Catalan flag and it’s holding… could it be?… yes, a bull, the symbol of Spain. Enough to drive any Catalan nationalist nuts and to make Catalans in general shake their heads… But that’s how Torres wines are sold in Canada…