Getting better before it gets worse

18 05 2011

After a two-year hiatus I am back reading the Southern Vampire Mysteries aka Sookie Stackhouse novels that True Blood is based on. This time however, I’m reading them as e-books.

I wanted to test out reading off of my iPhone and boy was I disappointed to find the Sookie Stackhouse books aren’t available through Apple’s iBook app. (If I’m wrong – please correct me but I searched the iBook library high and low).

Last week I downloaded the Kobo iPhone app. After a rough start with the first book not downloading right away as it should, I was able to begin reading Dead and Gone, the ninth book in the series.

I thought reading off my iPhone would be hard – I figured the small text and small screen would not make it enjoyable.

Turns out it was hard to read…but not for the reason I thought.

While I had a niggling feeling for a while that I needed to get my eyes checked, reading off my iPhone made me realize there is something seriously wonky with my eyesight.

Glasses on: words on iPhone screen swim and eyes hurt from effort.

Glasses off: words no longer do synchronized dance routine and eyes can read just fine.

Quick visit to the optometrist revealed my eye sight has improved since the last time I had my eyes checked (two years ago à la Sookie reading).


As in my  eyes don’t need such strong lenses to see the world.

That’s why reading off my iPhone was so hard. Ha!

The bad news?

My optometrist told me that sometimes – as people age – their eye sight improves, but it’s an indicator they will eventually need bifocals.

So my eye sight is getting better before it gets worse. Where’s the justice?

p.s.: @hotelqueen told me on Twitter that her eye sight improved after each pregnancy and that I should just have another baby. 😉

The Painted Boy is a jump-right-in read

22 02 2011

I’m reading The Painted Boy by Charles de Lint. It’s a jump-right-in read and I’m loving it. I plan to zip back into that book as soon as I’m done with this post.

I found it a couple of weeks ago while trolling National Post book reviews. The cover art caught my eye but so did de Lint’s name. I used to read his stuff all the time – my Ottawa Library card was never so busy as when I was reading his books one right after the other. I even have a signed copy of The Onion Girl.

For some reason though I slipped away from his work. Can’t tell you why. I just did.The Painted Boy by Charles de Lint

Without giving too much away, The Painted Boy follows Jay Li – a young boy part human, part dragon – as he goes on a journey of self-discovery. A quest really, where he meets all kinds of beings – some  human and some not – and of course, where he must face untold dangers as he learns who he really is and what he is truly capable of.

I’m so glad to have rediscovered de Lint’s work through this book. I’ve been on a vampire-werewolf train of late and it’s getting tiring.

I needed something like The Painted Boy to satisfy my addiction to the otherworldly without boring me to death with the push-pull of “boy meets girl but he’s undead or hairy but either way really wants to eat her – how will they ever make it work?”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge Twilight saga fan. I eagerly anticipate the cinematic release of Breaking Dawn Part I. I also like Bitten and Shiver but I just can’t be in that kind of storyline all the time.

The Painted Boy is written for a younger audience than some of de Lint’s other work but don’t let that deter you. While the quest storyline is nothing new, de Lint offers a unique spin by introducing his readers to characters you won’t meet elsewhere, and who are interesting to learn about – whether they hold mystical powers or not.

[not so] Wonder Woman pilot underway

8 02 2011

Word on the street is that NBC has ordered a pilot for a new TV series based on DC Comic’s awesomely super superhero, Wonder Woman.

Apparently, writer and producer David E. Kelley of Ally McBeal fame had shopped it around to various networks last month and was turned down by each one of them. Then NBC changed its mind.

The pilot is described as:

a reinvention of the iconic D.C. comic in which Wonder Woman — aka Diana Prince — is a vigilante crime fighter in L.A. but also a successful corporate executive and a modern woman trying to balance all of the elements of her extraordinary life.

The thing is…The Daily Beast got a hold of a copy of the script and it seems Kelley’s version of Wonder Woman makes her out to be a bit of a wimp, crying at the drop of hat and forlorn without a man in her life. It’s not really how I picture Wonder Woman – how about you? Read the rest of this entry »

Tatted up

17 11 2010

Have you been inked? Indelibly marked? Tatted up?

Perhaps you have one. Perhaps more. Made visible to others or kept discreet. Marking a fond memory, a loss; a person or favourite pet. Or done in deference to cultural or religious beliefs.

I find tattoos a beautiful form of self-expression. Some are a more beautiful form than others but it’s all about personal taste.

Ever wonder who gets tattoos?

I did some Googling and, according to a study* conducted by Harris Interactive in 2008, an estimated 14% of all adults in the United States (US)  have a tattoo, just slightly down from 2003, when 16% had a tattoo.

I wish I could find some more recent data, not to mention Canadian data, but no such luck.

Of the US population with tattoos, the breakdown by age group is as follows:

  • 9% of 18–24 year-olds
  • 32% of 25-29 year-olds
  • 25% of 30-39 year-olds
  • 12% of 40-49 year-olds
  • 8% of 50-64 year-olds

Oh, and men are slightly more likely to have a tattoo than women (15% versus 13%).

The study also indicates that just under half of adults without a tattoo find those of us who are inked less attractive. But who cares?

It’s an addictive art form

I have a few tattoos. One on my right foot, another centred just above my shoulder blades and then a larger piece running up the right side of my back. This larger piece also covers a smaller tattoo on my lower back.


Lady Battikah photo by Frank Kovalchek and used under Creative Commons License

Photo of Lady Battikah by Frank Kovalchek


I got that one covered because, while that was my first tattoo, it didn’t hold a lot of meaning for me. I literally picked the design off the wall in the shop.

All my other tattoos mark a milestone, a special memory. If I’m going to wear a design permanently, it should hold some meaning.

Sure it hurts, especially depending on where you have your tattoo placed, but the result is so worth it. A custom piece of art designed for you by an artist. Art you get to carry with you everywhere you go.

I’m not done with the art form, but it gets expensive. I waited two years before getting the back piece, partly to be sure of the design I wanted but also to save the money for it.


Here’s a weird fact reported in August of this year on the New York Times’ Freakonomics blog:

David B. Wiseman, a psychologist, showed 128 undergraduate students photographs of tattooed and non-tattooed female models, described as “college instructors.” He found that college students prefer tattoos: “Analyses indicated that the presence of tattoos was associated with some positive changes in ratings: students’ motivation, being imaginative about assignments, and how likely students were to recommend her as an instructor.”

Interesting, right?

Many employers still look at anyone with tattoos as an undesirable, or a troublemaker. Which is really funny to me because I know a lot of people with tattoos and they are just regular folk. Yet professionally, I think there is still the perception that tattoos can be career limiting depending on where they are placed and how large, obnoxious and in-your-face they are.

I expect this will change over time. I certainly hope so anyway.


* source: Harris Interactive, Three in ten Americans with a tattoo say having one makes them feel sexier or more artsy.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Alaskan Dude (aka Frank Kovalchek).

Chic (in Ottawa) for a week: 100 Strangers Project

1 09 2010

Some of you may know that I’m co-founder of Girl Geek Dinners Ottawa (GGDOttawa) with Veronica and Kelly. Well, we had the great fortune to be included in a photography meme featuring and celebrating people of Ottawa.

The meme is photographer Kimusan’s (aka @relishing) Ottawa contribution to a global photography exhibit called The 100 Strangers Project. Kimusan is an Ottawa-based photographer, blogger and all around rockin’ person.

GGDOttawa - 100 Strangers Project

Our evening at the Elgin Street Diner - 100 Strangers Project. Photo courtesy of Kimusan/

We GGDOttawa gals are number 30 on a growing list of amazing stories captured by Kimusan’s lens.

Check out Kimusan’s Who’s chic this week? photo journal at

The experience was tons of fun – Kimusan is an ace at making you feel comfortable in front of a camera.

And because the photos were taken at the Elgin Street Diner, we got to eat glorious poutine. Yum!

We’re really proud to be a part of this photo exhibit celebrating the people of Ottawa.

Thanks Kimusan!

Hunch recommends vampire TV and more

9 08 2010

I was just browsing’s recommendation for vampire TV shows. In case you don’t know me, I heart vampire TV shows. I heart them very much.

I like that Hunch knows that about me too, because the site very thoughtfully gave me a personalized list of bloody good television programs. Get it? Bloody good? Ha-ha! Ahem. Yes, I laugh at my own jokes.

There are some vampire shows on the list that I don’t care for. Like ‘The Gates’. I tried to like it. Honest I did…but it’s terrible. (I won’t even link to it. Is it even still airing?)

And there are some other shows I’m interested in checking out, like Being Human and Ultraviolet. screenshot - Questions about Vampire TV Shows

All this to say, I can tell Hunch which of the shows I like and I can personalize the recommendations further by answering a few more questions about the genre, the decade I want to focus on, etc., (like the example in the image to the left).

Many of the questions that Hunch displays are submitted by other Hunch users.

I can keep answering the questions if I want. I can even recommend a question for future users and give pros and cons for each recommendation displayed.

The goal is to make Hunch smarter for the next user interested in the same topic.

All this to say, Hunch is a fun site to sift through. Just select a topic and go. It’s fun (and addicting) to see how closely this recommendation engine can get to matching topics to your interests.

Oh and for the record…

My favourite vampire TV shows in order of liking:

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer – pure awesome. Joss Whedon is a genius. The story arc for this show is thought-out, layered and emotive in all the right ways.
  • Angel – of course I like Angel…it’s a Buffy spin-off! Maybe not how the series ended, like the storyline was swept up into a dustpan, but I understand Joss didn’t have a choice. His show was being cancelled and while Joss did dot his i’s and crossed his t’s, the ending was sloppy. (Joss, it hurts me to hurt you, but what I say is true).
  • True Blood – based on the Southern Vampire Series by Charlaine Harris, the show’s creators have balanced a fine line of staying true to the original storyline while changing things up enough to make it work for TV. It’s gory, funny and hot, hot television.
  • Vampire Diaries – I haven’t read the books so can’t comment on them. I do know the TV series switched up some of  L.J. Smith‘s storyline but I don’t miss what I don’t know. I enjoy the “push-pull” of the relationship between Elena and Stefan (“we can’t be together” / “we have to be together” / “no we can’t” / but here we are…together” / etc, etc.). And have you seen the season finale? Oooh…trouble has come to town!

Jane Austen’s Fight Club: that’s right!

26 07 2010

While the first rule of Fight Club may be to not talk about Fight Club…I can’t resist.

There is a video making the rounds on the Internet called Jane Austen’s Fight Club. reports the video is racking up more than 37,000 views on YouTube. I know I’ve saved it to my YouTube favorites.

I’m a huge Jane Austen fan. I’ve read all her novels, even the less-than-fantastic Northanger Abbey. I love the kind of mashups people are doing with Austen’s works, first with the zombies and sea monsters, and now with Fight Club. Because this kind of thing is funny. Take prim and propper Victorian England and throw in some preposterous scenarios like zombies or Victorian-era young ladies kicking butt and it works.

The central characters in Austen’s novels are for the most part, strong women facing unpleasant circumstances forced upon them by society because of their gender and economic status. So making the Bennett girls zombie fighters or in the case of the above video, just plain old fighters, is an homage to their strength. In a funny, totally ridiculous way.

And that’s why videos like this go viral and Austen’s books, mashed up with zombies and sea monsters, sell like crazy. Because Austen fans love Jane Austen and will celebrate her heroines any way they can. Plus who doesn’t like a good round of fistacuffs now and then?

As Marilyn33 says in the comments below the video:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that, a young man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of an uppercut to the jaw & a kick to the kneecap, followed by the removal of his wallet and running like hell.

ps: Everyone knows a movie is coming out for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, right? With Natalie Portman starring as Elizabeth? Awesome.

Promises are promises

23 07 2010

I know I’m kind of late to the party but I’m going to see the The Twilight Saga: Eclipse movie tomorrow night. I’m going to go see it with my husband. On a real date. Something I haven’t done all that often since becoming a mother.

I used to tweet and blog about the Twilight franchise weeks and weeks ahead of each movie’s release date. And then go see the movie asap. But this motherhood gig has slowed my Twi-hard activities down to a snail’s pace. So you can imagine how excited I am to finally see Eclipse.

But I need to confess something.

My friend @giggey and I talked about going to see the movie together ages ago. And well…we never figured out when that would be. And she’s on vacation right now in Honduras. And we have a sitter lined up because my mother-in-law is visiting and offered to watch my daughter for us. And get this – my husband actually offered to take me to see the movie (even though he will roll  his eyes throughout).

So I’m going to do it. I’m going to see Eclipse on Saturday night. But rest assured, I’m not breaking my promise to my friend. No, I promise to go see Eclipse with her too when she gets back from vacation.

Because I promised to. 😉

Millennium Trilogy a knock-your-socks-off read

9 04 2010

I recently finished books one and two of the “Millennium Trilogy” by Stieg Larsson – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire.

I’m so stoked about this storyline that the release date for the final book in the series – The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest – can’t come soon enough (sometime in May or June – I keep seeing conflicting reports). The books follow two main characters, the journalist and publisher Mikhail Blomkvist, and the genius hacker and researcher Lisbeth Salander.

The books were originally published in Sweden in 2005, 2006 and 2007  respectively. Unfortunately, Larsson died in 2004 and so never saw the broad appeal his trilogy garnered. According to Wikipedia,

[Larsson] was the second best-selling author in the world in 2008, behind Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini. By March 2010 his Millennium Trilogy had sold 27 million copies in over 40 countries.

I’m not usually into the crime book genre so I was surprised by how much I liked the storyline. There’s intrigue, take-to-the-grave secrets, murder and revenge combined with socio-political commentary and serious ass-kicking which altogether make these books hard to put down.

What I find so interesting is how the titles of the books have changed in the translation to English.

In Swedish,

  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is Män som hatar kvinnor or “Men Who Hate Women”
  • The Girl Who Played with Fire is Flickan som lekte med elden (same as English version)
  • The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is Luftslottet som sprängdes or literally, “The Air Castle that Blew Up”  with air castle representing a “pipe dream”

Now try saying those Swedish titles five times fast. 😉
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
In the first book, Larsson cites some interesting statistics on violence against women in Sweden that correlate to the theme of the book. In the second book he cites mathematical formulas, and I get the feeling they are representative of Lisbeth Salander’s strict and unbending code of morality, justice and revenge.

Dude, you don’t want to cross her.

The books were all made into movies in Sweden, and an English version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is now playing in North America . See

This story spanning three books is a seriously good read that won’t disappoint. Looking forward to the release of book three!

Top Internet searches of 2009: we miss MJ and love social sites

3 12 2009

Google and Bing released their top Internet searches of 2009 and it looks like a lot people wanted to find social sites like Twitter, Facebook, Hi5 and Hulu. Understandably, Michael Jackson was hugely searched as well.

As listed on ReadWriteWeb, here are the top search queries for 2009:

Google – Fastest Rising Search Queries in the US Google – Fastest Rising Search Queries Globally Bing – Top Trending Topics
1. Twitter 1. Michael Jackson 1. Michael Jackson
2. Michael Jackson 2. Facebook 2. Twitter
3. Facebook 3. tuenti 3. Swine Flu
4. Hulu 4. Twitter 4. Stock Market
5. hi5 5. sanalika 5. Farrah Fawcett
6. Glee 6. New Moon 6. Patrick Swayze
7. Paranormal Activiy 7. Lady Gaga 7. Cash for Clunkers
8. Natasha Richardson 8. Windows 7 8. Jon and Kate Gosselin
9. Farrah Fawcett 9. 9. Billy Mays
10. Lady Gaga 10. torpedo gratis 10. Jaycee Dugard

According to the 2009 Google Zeitgeist survey, the “spirit of the times” was all about the King of Pop’s songs.

As a Twilight fan, I nod in understanding at the high number of searches on New Moon (have you visited Twilighters Anonymous yet?) The Lady Gaga searches gave me pause though. I didn’t think she was that popular. Guess I’ve been living under a rock or something.

The results really are a sign of the times though with high searches on celebrities and people who made news this year. You can bet that Tiger Woods would have made one of these lists if Google and Bing had waited just a wee bit longer to collect their findings. 😉

Queries on “Swine Flu”, “Cash for clunkers” and the “stock market” also indicate what has been top of mind for many people this year.

That “paranormal activity” (or “activiy” as spelled above) made it to number 7 in fastest rising searches in the US makes me wonder if those Ghostbusters out there have seen an increase in business. 😉