Monday, April 27, 2009


The Ex emailed me the other day to congratulate me on the upcoming move to Glasgow. He mentioned that he's started his own photography website as a side business and asked me to have a look. I know you have a good photographic eye and I'd like your opinion was what he said.

I took a look at the site. And then I was torn.

Was I supposed to give my opinion as a friend (wait, are we friends now? When did that happen?) or as a fellow photography enthusiast?

I chose the latter, and here's what I said:

You have a great eye for photography - that goes without saying. You are able to capture lighting and shadows to the best of your advantage and in the process capture a moment on film. Not many people have the skill to do that.

If you're motive is to photograph young ladies who all look like they're about to audition for the next issue of Sex Kitten, then fine. You're accomplishing your goal - and I'm sure they are as well.
Don't read on.

If however you are serious about photography and human subjects - you have a lot of work to do. There's nothing that distinguishes you (or your subjects for that matter) from the hoards of other "fashion" photographers out there.

Teach your subjects to showcase their talents and photogenic skills not with their wardrobe and bodies only - but with their face, their eyes, their expressions and overall body language. As a model, they should be capable of a range of emotions. Sex is a type of emotion, but there are a hundred others, and only one of the models managed to come up with a difference shot that set her apart from all the rest - and even she maxed out at 3 expressions.

Try working with an experienced shoot artist or art director to instruct the models and give the shoot a focus and a theme until you are comfortable (and experienced) enough to do both - photograph AND direct.

Watch, learn, read about other fashion photographers. I'm sure you will be able to improve your own style through their knowledge and experience. Attend workshops if you can. It will only help you gain further insight into your skills.

OK, that's my piece. Best of luck in your new endeavours.

Do you think I was giving him good advice? Or was I simply too harsh or worse - bitchy! Tell me readers - I'm agonizing right now!


The Ex's email response:
Thanks for the constructive criticism. I don't get enough of it.
I agree with everything you've said. Most of this stuff is just fluff - often that's all the model wants. And, since I've been doing this, the main thing I've been concerned with has been the technical side of it, and coming up with consistent results. The most challenging part of the process is what you're talking about, and I know my work is lacking in that department. Hopefully I'll continue to improve...

Thanks for your comments guys! Much appreciated!

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Just found out that this years Toronto Open Swing Dancing Championships are being held the weekend AFTER I leave for Thistle Towne.


Now I won't be around to defend my title!

Friday, April 24, 2009


At dance class last week we were learning a new step in the Waltz that required the leaders to take 4 steps backwards and then turn and whip the followers around. The instructor was warning all the leaders to make full sure that the path was clear before attempting this move on a crowded dance floor.  

Think about your follower like a beautiful and expensive car. You don't want to damage any part of that body - do you? You're in the drivers seat and can do anything. Show off the car, but keep it safe.
To which, one of the guys replied, "So if we're pretending.... can we pretend this is a convertible and take the top off?"

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Higher Education

My company can accept only a limited number of applicants each month for a specific internship program. Once those numbers have been met, a notice goes up on the website that says:

Thank you for your interest in the XX Internship program. All screening locations are now closed to further intake of candidates.
Registration will reopen on the 1st day of every month. Please try again at that time.
During the closure of the website we will not be accepting any new applications either by email or phone. We will be working on completing the screening of all our current registrants only.
We are unable to respond to individual inquiries but please watch this space for updates.

We recently received the following email:
To Whom It May Concern:
I am highly interested in the XX program and tried to register online on several occasions. However, the system does not allow me to do so. Was there a deadline I was not aware of to register?
M.S. Economics.
M.A. International Affairs
Fulbright scholarship recipient

Me thinks, a refund to Fulbright is in order.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day

Here's hoping that everyone will take a step towards a greener tomorrow. My contributions:
  • Taking public transit - everywhere, every day
  • Printing on the back of used paper at work. Works for all internal office documents
  • Carrying my travel coffee mug and water thermos instead of paper cups and plastic bottles
  • Always, always using cloth/reusable bags at shops and grocery stores
  • Upgrading our furnace, fridge and oven to greener models
  • Using less heating and AC by dressing warmer or lighter at home
  • Adding to my garden - both indoors and outside
  • Researching on recycling for every one of our household products - from batteries to bottles, electronics to eggshells!

After all, isn't all of this worth saving?

What are you doing for our planet?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Second Date (or is it 3?)

Notice how I've managed to insert a pretty picture at the top of the blog? It didn't quite turn into the header bar that I wanted, but again, I will regard this as another date in the Technology and Me saga.

Again, if anyone knows how I can get it to look more like a header bar, by all means.... drop me a line. I'm ever willing to learn!

Oh, pretty picture courtesy of Shutterbug who snapped this on our weekend trip to Stratford in May last year.

Monday, April 20, 2009


If you've been following the blog for a while, you already know that I have the capacity for some epic dreams. You only have to see here or here for proof. But last night, I had a first. A featured guest appearance by a blogger pal!

Yup, it was none other than Timorous Beastie who had a guest role in last night's dream sequence as a consultant helping me to kick off my new foundation to help kids with cancer. Beastie showed up at my dream office, plonked down (at my colleague's desk) and began typing out a launch plan for this new foundation. I believe she had everything decided in under 30 minutes after which she packed up and declared that she was leaving.

If that wasn't bizarre enough, that scene was followed by someone (I'm assuming me) interviewing Beastie re her cameo in my dream and asking her if she'd like to return. I don't remember the answer. I hope it was yes!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Take 2

Ok, so I figured out the embedding part.... now there's the size part to consider. And yes, I did try to change the height and width requirements - didn't work. Still, I will consider this a step towards ultimate techie success! Its not a sprint my dears.....

PS: "Figured out" consisted of following step by step instructions from Jules.

Friday, April 17, 2009


I'd been meaning to cancel my gym membership for some time now seeing as a) I would no longer need their services in Scotland and b) my dancing was giving me all the exercise I needed at this time.

Accordingly, I trotted off at lunch today to get the paperwork done. The customer service rep at the gym was obligated to ask me a laundry list of questions before he would just terminate my account. I was in a particularly cheerful mood, so I started off obligingly, but by page 3 boredom set in and I started making up answers. He must have sensed this - I had just stated that the dimensions of the yoga studio were not in accordance to my religion - and so asked if I could give him a final statement re my reason for discontinuing the membership.

My answer: I can now fit into a size 10 pair of jeans, and that is enough to make me happy.

I left the gym and walked into the Tim Horton's next door and bought a chocolate doughnut.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Hand of God

As my wretched cold continued into today as well and forced me into house arrest for the second day in a row, I looked back on some of my travel pictures and found these I'd like to share. Taken on my second day on the Gold Coast, one of the most spectacular sunsets I've ever witnessed.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Much Needed Cheer

My friend Maestro sent me this to cheer me up when he heard that I was at home and suffering from the sniffles and frog-in-the-throat syndrome. I thought I should share the love.


PS: Can someone tell me how I can upload the video right into the blog post? My tech skills are limited as you all know!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

My New Loves!

Was finally able to find me a pair of dance shoes that fit both my not-so-dancer-like-size9-feet as well as my rapidly-shrinking budget. I proudly present to you, my new ballroom babies!
With just the right balance of support and style, these shoes are going to help me do wonders on the dance floor! Man, am I going to nail those triple turns in the Cha Cha and demolish the rope spin into Aida of the Rumba. Henceforth, the intricacies of the Quickstep will be vanquished and the dizzying spin turns of the Viennese Waltz are like a walk in the park.

Oh, I am so looking forward to class next week!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Exit Strategy

Turns out, it was just hunger that was making my tummy turn into knots. As soon as I started telling my VP about my decision to leave and my upcoming plans, I felt much better and much relieved! She was super cool about it, other than the fact that she was wailing I thought I had you for AT LEAST another year. But I suppose I can take that as a compliment?

Sat down with her today to map out my wind down over the next few months and plan for my replacement. Turns out, she'll have to fill my spot with two people, so now I'm thinking I should have asked for a raise while I was at it!

For 3 hours we toiled divvying up this year's budgeted internship numbers between my colleagues and trying to figure out the best way to reallocate my clients. I hated it. These were accounts that I had nurtured and grown over the past 2 years; put my blood, sweat and many a tear into promising results. There were some that I had worked on for such a long time. I didn't want to have to just pass all that hard work on for someone else to reap the benefits! It hardly seemed fair.
I also found out that there was a promotion in the works for me, should I have stayed. For a second, I was tempted to take it all back. Then I thought about all those exciting lists I'd made and I was fine with it. There will be other jobs, and other opportunities, but only one lifetime.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Sound of Silence

I've never had so much to say on the blog until my decision to move and all the excitement that followed.

Sometimes though, I feel like I'm talking to myself here. Which is a pity because I would dearly love for people to comment on the happenings, give me advice and the likes.

Then again, perhaps these ramblings are no different from the multitude of thoughts I have swimming around in my head - and I'm certainly hearing no voices in response to them. At least, not recently!

I'm about to have lunch with my VP and tell her about my leaving. Why am I so nervous? Its not a job interview! Maybe I'm just hungry. I usually eat at noon and perhaps my stomach is protesting via my madly thumping heart.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

A Close Shave

My travel agent and I had been engaged in oodles of research for my ticket to the UK, scouring the Internet and flight websites to find the best deal to Glasgow in the peak of summer!

There were all sorts of variables to consider. The charter airlines like Air Transat had the cheap fares, but their baggage allowance was negligible for a girl trying to move multiple pairs of shoes across the Atlantic! The larger airlines had the right amount of baggage allowance, but either the connection times were too short or too long, or the price was too high or there was something else that wasn't quite right.

Finally, after much searching and changing around the travel dates a number of times, we found the best fare on KLM via Amsterdam for a July 15th departure arriving into Glasgow on July 16th in the afternoon. Ironically, it was July 16th 2001 when we arrived in to Toronto from Bombay - so I guess that's some sort of auspicious travel time for me!

I gave my credit card details to the agent and told her to go ahead with the booking.

About 15 minutes later, I happen to check my yahoo inbox and see a Facebook message from a friend. Try Icelandair was all it said.

I looked at the message, but didn't really pay too much attention. After all, I'd just made the booking. Still, my curiosity got the better of me, and I went to their website and punched in my travel dates. The result came up, and I nearly had a coronary.

It was $600 cheaper than the KLM fare!

I was on the phone to the travel agent in an instant yelling Stop the Presses.........don't process the payment.............praying the entire time that she hadn't been trigger happy with my credit card number!

Thankfully, she hadn't, and so after checking to make sure that I'd have the same baggage allowance as KLM was offering and that there were no extra hidden fees, she booked me on the Icelandair flight.

So I'm now officially leaving on July 14 2009. 99 days till liftoff!

Monday, April 06, 2009


Ma Nature is apparently getting in on the act of preparing me for my upcoming departure to the land of thistle, bagpipes and................everlasting rain. We woke up this morning to freezing rain mixed with snow and a forecast of 3 cms of accumulation for the GTA and up to 25/20 cms for certain parts of Ontario!!! Oh for heavens sake!

To add insult to injury, today is the Jays' Home Opener down at the Rogers Centre. That's supposed to mean THE END OF WINTER folks! They're not called the boys of summer for nothing!

Who can I call and ask for a refund on my Spring? Provincial govt or the Feds?

The rain in Scotland however cannot be a deterrent because if one waited until the weather was nice to make plans or "do" something...well, one never would end up doing anything! As such, Beans and his team mates who are training for the Maggie's Bike and Hike charity event in 4 weeks time were off hiking in the Scottish highlands near Ben Alder on Saturday. As the story goes
" started lashing down with rain as soon as we left the house with the kind of intensity that would have put a smile on Noah's face. Being kitted out with the latest in waterproof clothing we stayed dry for nearly seven minutes. After that it was similar to being in the shower, except cold, and we were fully dressed and there was no shampoo. Beans and I calculated that twenty five miles is the equivalent to walking up and down an average length bath 13,000 times."

For more on the Leaping Badgers and their training antics, see here. I really do hope that these eejits actually make it to the day of the event in (relatively) one piece and don't all succumb to pneumonia from walking around in the freezing rain for 7.5 hours.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

The Best Laid Plans.........

............most often go askew.

Like my grandiose plans of a road trip to the Gaspe and New Brunswick in early July. It was to be my "last hurrah" before I left. One last saunter off into the wilds of Canada with best buds Trippy and Beer Baron. Ah, well. It was not meant to be. And you never know.... we could just end up doing an impromptu road trip at any time! *fingers crossed*

On the other hand, I did chance upon some good leads for dance spots in Glasgow for both International Ballroom and West Coast Swing. Which is very very good news as it means that I'll be able to practice my skills, get some good exercising in and hopefully make new friends!

This is NOT going to deter me from making lists. Au Contraire!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Thai food and Protests - All in a Days Work

Today was the last day of Jules' work/fun vacation and I travelled down town to meet up with her for one last round of fun 'n frolic. Given that Jules is heading back to a (self described) sandbox with limited options for world cuisine, we headed over to Salad King, one of the most awesome Thai restaurants in the city where we proceeded to chow down on Phud Thai and Satay Chicken and Golden curry with rice................

Sorry... just reminiscing.

Our tummy filled to busting point, we wandered down
to Dundas sq where there was a protest in progress. Curious, we went in for a closer look only to find that this was the "One Size fits All" kind of protest since there were banners and placards reading all sorts of messages like Bring the Troops Home - NOW and More Healthcare for All, Avert Economic Mess (a little too late if yer ask me) and even something about Child care that we didn't quite catch. Here's a picture of Jules and the protesters.
And here's one of her just being touristy. Notice, it was a VERY windy day! This was also to prove to certain unbelievers that my blog buddies are NOT just all in my imagination! They really DO exist!

Didn't have much time for anything else other than one last wander through the Eaton Centre where Jules seemed to know her way around that mall much better than me. Guess it was all that time she spent in there dutifully contributing to Canada's economy. Thanks Jules - much appreciated.

She's off home now, but we already have plans for another meet up in August when I'm in her neck of the dessert visiting Israel. I do hope that works out. Meeting my imaginary friends is a whole heap of fun!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Taking Care of Business

Took my first step towards wrapping up my affairs here in the T Dot and called in to the TTC to cancel my monthly transit pass effective June 30. This was just the first in the long long list of things-to-do-before-I-leave series.

But I had to start somewhere. And now that I have, there's a long road ahead!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Wish Lists

I'll bet you guys were wondering what took me this long to come up with one of my famous lists. Actually, the lists were started in my head the day I decided to make the move, just didn't get around to putting them down on the blog. So, without further ado:

Places to visit in the UK on weekend road trips:
  • Isle of Skye
  • Fyvie Castle (one of my current clients grew up on the castle grounds - how cool!)
  • Oban Distillery (I hear its one of the finest)
  • Inverness (how can I not?)
  • Aberdeen
  • Eilean Donan Castle (where parts of Harry Potter, Highlander and the World is Not Enough was shot)
  • Isle of Cumbrae
  • Isle of Arran
  • Stonehedge
  • Old city of York
  • City of Lancaster (on the hunt for a Beastie)
  • Plymouth and Torbay, Cornwall
  • Liverpool (because that's where Sigsy is from, and any place that produced a Sigsy is worth a visit)
  • Barrow-in-Furness (just because it has an awesome name... and I'm sure they'll have beer there)
  • Dover (to see those famous white cliffs for myself)
  • South Harris (recommended by Beastie)
  • The Orkney Islands (recommended by Jules)

Places to visit in Europe:

  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Paris, France (for my birthday)
  • Istanbul, Turkey
  • Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • And OF COURSE - Dublin, Galway and Cork (and more) in Ireland

Things to do/see/experience:

  • Get Cineplex movie pass for unlimited movies in a year (isn't that a great deal?)
  • Visit Kelvingrove museum in Glasgow to view some interesting exhibits
  • Explore the Necropolis, Glasgow city
  • Attend at least ONE function where I get to wear a hat (wedding, Ascot, tea with the Queen... I'm not picky)
  • Sign up for a year long membership to the Scottish Heritage Trust to get me some discounts into castles, churches and the likes
  • Check out the annual Highland games and all the related activities
  • See a real live Puffin
  • Check out the Edinburgh Fringe Festival
  • Set off fireworks on Guy Fawkes day
  • Attend at least one soccer, rugby and cricket game
  • Find me an early edition copy of The Enchanted Woods and The Magic Faraway Tree, two of my all time favourite children's books
  • Take a picture with a Shetland pony (aren't they just darling?)
  • Go to the Edinburgh Tattoo (recommended by Jules. This is NOT a tattoo festival - contrary to what I first though!)

Any suggestion my dear readers? I'm all ears!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Divine Intervention?

I spent most of yesterday at the National Job Fair where my company had a booth. Usually a busy event, yesterday saw almost 4 times the regular number of job seekers. All morning long I listened to folks tell me about how they had been working for 20, 30 years and were now laid off. By the time my colleague came by to relieve me, I was almost as desperate as the 1000s of job seekers.

WHAT WAS I THINKING????? - was the primary line running through my head. The whole world is going to hell in a hand basket, the global job market SUCKS and new opportunities are rarer than healthy food at MacDonald's.... and here I am blithely thinking about chucking my very nice, very well paying, very comfortable SECURE job and heading off into the unknown. I was a mental wreck for the rest of the day.

And then, when I got home at night I was randomly surfing channels and chanced upon the pilot of a new show on ABC. "Cupid" is about a 30s something guy claiming to be the Roman god of Love. Currently stripped of his powers, must somehow unite 100 couples before he can return to Mount Olympus. The pilot was about how he was trying to help a young musician from... yes, you guessed it - Ireland who'd come to New York in search of a girl he'd met holidaying in Ireland. They'd had a brief chance interaction, but the young man was convinced that this was the girl of his dreams. Long story short, the guy finds the girl, but realises that she's not the one after all and that its been this other girl who actually did a story on him and got him the publicity that he needed. Thanks to the publicity though, immigration catches up with him and he's forced to leave the US. Cupid catches up with the girl (the actual love) and tries to convince her to go to him in Ireland to which she says "I've got a life here. A job. A family. My friends. What's out there other than the unknown and a mere chance at happiness?"
But she does go. Drops everything - job, life, friends - everything. And we'll never really know what happened because that's not how TV dramas work.

And as crazy as it sounds, I went to bed peaceful. Yes, its just a silly TV show (which probably won't make it past the first few episodes). Actual love stories rarely have that kind of fairy tale ending. Still, it was hard to ignore the obvious parallels in story line; it was too close to my truth.

I snuggled down to sleep finally at peace after a long and agitated day calm in the realization that even the slightest CHANCE at happiness is better than a lifetime of not knowing.

My dreams were peaceful that night. 

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