Tuesday, February 28, 2006

KOOKY: Better than "ER"

I used to be a huge fan of the show "ER". It fascinated me to no end that there were a bunch of actors who were able to spew out a string of medical terminology and emergency room colloquialism while everything around them was total chaos and the very life they were trying to save was hanging on a thin thread, ready to break with the slightest mis-step.

Then I started getting bored, and watched something else. Ha.

Anyways, guess what the building in the picture is? It looks like an office building, doesn't it? That's what I first thought when I entered the Life Sciences Center (LSC). This building is one of the places where the medical school students have their classes. The building is equipped with state-of-the art AV equipment for the distributed medical school program. There are three main centres where UBC runs the medical school: UBC, UVic and UNBC. That means that the instructor can be in any one of the three centres and teach a class in all three centres simultaneously via teleconferencing. And there are future plans to expand the AV network through other places within the province.

My boss has also mentioned that the building has been designed as eye candy. The building's has already been in a few films and TV shows. Just a few months ago, Al Pacino graced the walls of the LSC when he was in town filming 88 Minutes. Where you see glass windows in the upper floors, those actually house research labs, not offices. Pretty nifty, eh?

The building was also supposed to have been completely finished 1.5 years ago. They're still doing construction, although most people can't see it. The area where I need to go sometimes, I still need to technically wear a hard hat and steel-toed boots. I swore after the first time doing that, that I would never go there again until I could wear normal shoes in (a very traumatic event that I may tell on another day). The building's construction has also caused my team a great deal of headache. I'm glad I'd managed to miss most of it, although they still speak of that time with great fondness (no bitterness of course!).

I was in the building yesterday because they were hosting a free lunch for a bunch of doctors, and I was invited to go eat. The doctors were doing interviews. Yes, it's that time of year again, the medical school interviews. This is where people who applied for medical school need to go through an interview as part of the process of gaining a seat to medical school.

I was looking around to see if there were any good looking doctors-to-be. I saw people dressed to the nines, radiating tension and anxiety that was so palatable that even I could feel their uneasiness. I was just glad I wasn't in their shoes.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Book Review: North and South

Okay, after having raved about the BBC mini-series, I figured that I'd actually give the book an actual review.

I finished the book a few nights ago, and I have to say... I actually enjoyed it. I was quite surprised as I tended away from Victorian Literature in general as I was under a very false impression of that genre being depressing.

I had read Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy back in my university days and hated it. The book was so bloody depressing, and I wanted to smack Jude more than a few times, the idiot. Plus, I had impressions of Victorians as being prudish and uptight. (Read boring).

Synopsis of book (from Amazon.ca): Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South examines the nature of social authority and obedience and provides an insightful description of the role of middle class women in nineteenth century society. Through the story of Margaret Hale, a southerner who moves to the northern industrial town of Milton, Gaskell skillfully explores issues of class and gender, as Margaret's sympathy for the town mill workers conflicts with her growing attraction to the mill owner, John Thornton.

What I learned about Victorian England from reading the book (and cursory research from the Internet):
  • England had a large booming cotton industry
  • There were actually unions in England at that time (I thought it was a North American phenomenon)
  • There were other Christian denominations in England other than Anglican (John Thornton was thought to be Non-Conformist, whatever that means)
  • Victorians weren't necessarily prudish people, they just didn't allow to show certain emotions publicly.
  • There was great proliferation of pornography available to the upper class gentlemen. (Not in the book, simply a point of interest)
What I liked about the book:
  • Getting a glimpse of the cotton trade and unions in England during the 1850s
  • Seeing the relationship between Mr. Thornton and his mother
  • Characterization development. I found the characters to be very interesting, and quite well developed
  • Lots of romantic bits
What I didn't like about the book:
  • The ending was way too short and abrupt (I blame Charles Dickens for that)
  • There are some depressing parts, especially when seven people die within a span of a few chapters. It almost felt like plot devices to advance the story
  • Margaret, although having to endure a lot silently, annoyed me at times (see below)
What I didn't get about the book:
  • I felt that while reading the book, I'm certain that there were sexual/religious references that I'd completely missed as I don't have the same mentality as a middle/upper class Victorian, so that did take a bit away from the enjoyment of the book.
  • If Margaret was so thoughtless to risk her reputation by throwing her arms around John Thornton, why didn't she just tell him how she felt? It certainly would have made things easier. Again, unless I'm totally missing out on some Victorian impropriety. (Okay, by the time she realizes that she's in love with him, she thinks that he's not in love with her any longer, but still...!)
All in all, I give it 8.5 out of 10. It would be higher if Mrs. Gaskell didn't have to feel the need to kill so many of her characters in a short span of time, and if Margaret didn't cry so much. And she cried a lot! I wanted to smack her!

A bit on the BBC mini-series. There are three main deviations from the book:
  • At the beginning, Mr. Thornton is seen beating a worker for smoking in the factory, and Margaret sees this (this is also the first time she meets him in the story). It's to impress upon the viewer that Mr. Thornton represents the North, and Margaret, at first, resents the North and everything about it (Including Mr. Thornton). Although effective, I felt that the beating was a bit excessive as it went a little longer than just trying to make a point
  • A visit to the Great Exhibition (thereby setting the adaptation a couple years later than the book).
  • The ending. It happened on a public train platform and not in the privacy of a drawing room. There was a lot of hot kissing. Nuff said. =P
I give the BBC adaptation 8.5 out of 10. Why not full marks? I have complaints:
  1. The story really didn't pick up for me until the end of Episode 2, the Proposal scene. The story did drag a bit until that point (and this point will seem contradictory to point #2).
  2. The adaptation went too fast for me to really pick up what was going on the first time around. I had to watch it again (not that I'm complaining) to start picking up subtleties.
My personal opinion, the story should have been an hour longer, there's so much sub-text going on in the book that gets lost. Having said that, I realize that the scriptwriter had a tall order to compress everything into four hours.

Acting was great. My favourite characters were Mrs. Thornton (played by Sinad Cusack, Jeremey Irons' wife), and Fanny Thornton (Jo Joyner really hammed it up). All in all, a good watch for an afternoon.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Indian cuisine and pizza?!?!?

What does pizza and Indian cuisine have in common?

A lot, if you order from the Pizza Factory on Kingsway. This particular Pizza Factory is also owned by the people who own Safferon. The two stores are right next to each other; they even share the same kitchen.

Safferon has been recommended to us by more people than we can count. I've eaten there once for dinner, it was very good, and quite reasonable. However, the pièce de résistance is their $11.95 all you can eat lunch buffet, or so I am told. I already know that the food is good there, so the buffet must be awesome.

Tonight, I had ordered pizza from the Pizza Factory, because hubby is sick, and I don't cook. A friend of mine (who is Vegan) had tried the pizza there and he really liked it. Normally I wouldn't take advice from a Vegan as he's a non-animal by-product eater. However, this guy is a great cook and a pretty good connissseur of food. Plus, his wife isn't a veggie, so to accommodate her, he's put back some animal food stuff back into his diet.

And he was right! It's one of the best tasting pizzas I've ever had. Yum!

Can these people do no wrong? They've mastered Indian and pizza, which is an odd enough combination as it is. Maybe they should try Chinese as their next venture. After all, if most Japanese restaurants in this town are operated by Chinese people, who's to say that the Indians can't do an equally as good of a job with Chinese food?

PSA: It's a beauty!

My poor hubby started feeling sick on Sunday while we were still in Calgary. And lo and behold, I started feeling the woosiness, nausea and the lump in my throat Monday morning when I woke up. So I took a quick break at work and high-tailed it to the Shopper's on Campus (yes, there's a Shopper's at UBC, go corporate giants!) and bought some Cold-FX.

Cold-FX was recommended by the wise women of Hitched, and once again, they were spot on. Not only are my initial symptoms gone, but I did not get sick! I have been converted! Whoo!

The only down side to Cold-FX is the price. It's really pricy. I paid $11-ish for 18 pills. You can either get a box, which you take if you start feeling symptoms, and take all 18 over a three-day period, or get a bottle of 60 capsules. Either way, not cheap.

I am, however, not completely convinced that it's a great preventative measure. On the packaging, it even says that it's a derivative of North American ginseng, so I'm going to take a look into taking ginseng on a regular basis. I will however, be taking Cold-FX whenever I feel another cold or flu coming on. I'm convinced that it will work for a hopeful quick fix.

As for hubby, he's miserable, he's tired and he can't sleep at night. Poor guy.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

An Interlude: Calgary

This past weekend, I went with Dave to go visit my in-laws in Calgary. Here's a quick synopsis:

Arrived Thursday night around 9PM-ish local time. It was -37C! I almost died! I've never been this cold.

Friday: In the afternoon, it "warmed" up a bit, enough for some shopping along 17th Ave. I bought a Lululemon bag and a skirt and top from American Apparel. I also discovered a store that I really liked, Purr. There's one on Kensington Ave somewhere as well. Afterwards, we went to Cannery Row for dinner for my father-in-law's birthday.

Saturday: Shopping at Market Mall, my favourite mall in Calgary! My favourite stores are, Jacob, Aritzia, Areosoles, Browns, Lululemon, Nine West, to name a few. A list of my booty:
  • A jersey top, a couple of sweaters and a pair of pants from Jacob/Jacob Connections
  • A tank top from Lululemon for the gym
  • A couple of pairs of shoes from Areosoles
  • A skirt and top from Aritzia
  • (A bra from the Bay, but that was a necessity!)
What I found really amazing was that when I walked into a store like Aritzia and Jacob, they actually had items that not only fit me, but were on SALE! Same with shoes. This never happens when I go shopping in Lotusland (land of petite Asians -- there are probably more females my size, or smaller, and we are all competing for a scarce commodity, ie, the store maybe only carries the item in the smallest size, and there's usually only one, everything else being for larger women. Hence, it's almost impossible for me to find something I like, that will fit me AND is on sale. How on earth do the distributors ever figure out that people in Lotusland need 100 items in larger sizes and only one in the smallest size is beyond me; the stores are constantly filled with size 6-12 on sale, but nary a size 2 or 4 is to be found.). Flabbergasted does not even being to describe my amazement!

So I got a lot of thing either on sale or used my gift card for the purchase, and ended up spending about $300 less than if I had bought everything regular price. Plus I saved the PST! Whoo! Score!

I went with my good friend L, who had moved to Calgary last summer after her wedding, and my sister-in-law J. L & J would always lose me as I went crazy, grabbing a lot of clothing to try on in the change rooms. Ha!

Another thing to be excited about, Market Mall is opening up an Accessorize and there is already an Origins in the Bay. Can you see why this is my favourite mall? Most of the stores I love are here!

So that was a five hour shopping trip. Heh! After a bit of a rest at L's house, we went out for a big group dinner at Smugglers' Inn. Steak, yum! Irene was very happy. =D

Sunday: Our friends L and her hubby R took us to church. Great service. Now we're packed and ready to head home.

I will have to say one thing about the weather. It's darn cold. Before you go snickering about how I'm a West-Coast Wussie (which I am), I also tend to be very temperature sensitive. Literally (no exaggeration), if any one part of me is slightly cold, even if the rest of me is warm, I'm cold, and I'm miserable. Right now my toes are cold, and therefore I am cold. I'm one of these people who stand over a heat register and the heat doesn't bother me. It's very cold here. -3C is NOT warm people! When we flew in, I actually had thermal leggings and socks on to ward off the cold, and wore the same on our foray out to 17th Ave. I'm happiest in the 21C-25C temperature range, so it's tough for me to feel warm all the time.

So please give a sympathetic thought to my hubby Dave, who had to put up with my constant whining, and of course good natured ribbing from his friends because I'm such a big whiner.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Actor Crushes

(A little silliness for Valentine's Day)

The other day, my boss happened to glance at my desktop wallpaper and saw a picture (it's more of a college) of some guy.

"Who's that?" he asks.

"It's my actor crush du jour," I replied.

"What does hubby think about that?"

"Oh, he has the hots for 7 of 9, so it's cool."

"Who's 7 of 9?" (My boss, as wonderful as he is really needs to brush up on his Star Trek lore).

He found that idea quite intreguing. I guess it's more of a female phenomenon, than a male one (if you exclude teenage males). The conversation continued on for a few minutes more. (By the way, it's really embarrassing to have your boss start a conversation about stuff like this.)

Actor crushes are a kind of a "safe" thing, I suppose. The likelihood of you ever meeting that person are close to zero, and a lot of other people are in love with whomever your actor du jour is, which I suppose, validates your "safe" feeling.

When I get a new actor crush, I usually go on the internet and do a fairly exhaustive search to find out as much as I can about the actor: general statistics, filmography, biography, what they ate yesterday, etc. I invariably find other fan sites. Some are pretty well put together for those who are not website designers; most of them though, I'd rather scratch my eyes out than look at them, they are that bad (Don't get me started on horrid animated gifs and a blatant lack of usability, that's a rant for another day).

Anyways, back to the topic on hand. I scour the internet for any sort of information. There is a ton of information about people out there, even on fairly obscure people. But when I take a look at these actors, I always wonder about them. What is life really like for them. Do they enjoy acting or are they in it for the money and fame (or a bit of both)? Do they wish they could be doing something else? How do they put on a toilet paper roll: over or under? Enquiring minds want to know. I've also played with the idea of actually writing to one of the lesser known actors, in hopes that he may write back to me, but never had the guts to do so.

So I got to thinking, who were my past actor crushes. Here's a partial list (in no particular order):
  • Clive Owen - First saw him in BMW films
  • Hugh Dancy - Daniel Deronda
  • Gerard Butler - Phantom of the Opera & Laura Croft
  • Jamie Bell - Nicholas Nickleby
  • Orlando Bloom (I am embarrassed to admit this)
  • Matthew Macfadyen - MI5/Spooks
One thing that you will notice in the above list is that they are all British actors. It's really weird that I have this thing for British actors, I don't know why. Perhaps it's the accent. Or the soft romantic light reflecting off of their pasty white skin. Hmmm...

As obsessive as do get with my actor crushes, I tend to be a fair-weathered fangirl, as I told my boss (as per conversation above). After a while, looking at the information and pictures on the internet gets boring and repetitive. I start losing interest, and the crush eventually settles down to a fizzle.

The next day, my boss asks me, "So what's this guy's name" (motioning to the same picture on my desktop).

"Richard Armitage".

"Ohhhh, very British sounding."

See what I mean about the British thing?

Monday, February 13, 2006

KOOKY series: Parasites are cool

I was reading this article yesterday. It's about a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii, and they suspect that this little critter may be a link to schizophrenia in humans.

I love this sort of stuff as I was a science major myself in undergrad. I love the sense of discovery, of mind getting together to try out something new and uncertain. There is so much of our own world that we don't even know and have yet to discover.

I had taken a couple of parasitology courses in my undergrad years, and from that, gained a healthy respect for God's minute creations. In vain do humans try to rule the world from a perch, scorning those who crawl under our feet as if they are mere nothingness, only to humbly find that something not even visible to the naked eye can knock us on to our butts without effort. Very cool.

Now you may ask, what this has anything to do with work. I work for the Faculty of Medicine. Many times, people think that the faculty's existence is to run a medical school. Well, that's only a part of why they exist.

Out of all the research monies that come through the university, 44% of it goes to the Faculty of Medicine. The next faculty who has the most amount of research money is the Faculty of Science, with 23% of the pie. Needless to say, a lot of medical research happens within, or in partnership with the faculty.

Now what does this have to do with me? Toxoplasma gondii actually rang a bell in my head. I helped the Division of Infectious Diseases do up their website, and lo and behold, T. gondii is on their front page (bottom right). I've stared those pictures for more time than I care to admit as I had a hard time getting to lay out properly.

Every once in a while , I get to glimpse at what the researcher are doing and marvel at how far we have come over the last few decades medically. I suppose it's my way of living vicariously through them, even if it's only a little sliver that I get to see. But it's this golden thread that makes it worth coming to work in the morning, to allow me to be a part of the greater world of medical research, if only in some obscure, tenuous way.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

It really is a small world

In the Lower Mainland (that's Vancouver and a bunch of cities surround it to the non-locals), there are over 2 million people. So with so many people, what are the chances that two of your acquaintances knowing each other? Pretty good actually.

I went to my esthetician, M. today for my regular facial. Dave went to our hairdresser, S. for his regular haircut. S lives in North Vancouver, M lives in Downtown Vancouver, and we live in Burnaby.

When I got home, Dave mentioned to me that our S actually knew M. Considering that we don't socialize within the same circles, it's pretty weird that M & S know each other. In an area where there is over 2 million people, you'd think the chances are pretty rare.

Or are they?

When you really think about it, you only hang around certain people and certain places. And if your friends, colleges and acquaintances also hang around similar people and places, you're only ever going to see a certain sub-set of people out of the 2 million.

It has happened to me more times than I can count where so-and-so knows someone I know. Or someone knows about me. (I really get around more often then I realize! Lucky me).

But it's times like this, which makes me feel that Vancouver isn't that big. The degrees of separation is certainly smaller than six. Having lived here all my life, I wouldn't know what it would be like living in a larger city. Would I still see the same sort of pattern that I see here?

(Ok, this was a totally boring post. The only thing that makes it funny was I almost typed out "it's pretty weird that S & M know each other". I wonder how Google will index this page. My blog might end up on some bondage listing or something. Which may make my life a little more interesting. Hmmmm....)

Friday, February 10, 2006

KOOKY series: It's a Soap Opera life

Let's just say that you need a house to live in. So your husband, who fancies himself a bit of a handyman, and knows "a little bit" about building a house, decides to build a house for the two of you. His knowledge is from reading books, learning bits here and there from the internet and just really tinkering around a little in his spare time. He's the "expert", or so he thinks.

So he builds it and for cheap. Now he wants to hook up the plumbing to the main sewer lines and hook up the electricity to the main electrical lines. But he can't because he's built the house incorrectly, not everything is to code. He forgets that he needs to put in insulation in the roof, but there's insulation in the walls. And the indoor porch that he was hoping to put in next year, well, he doesn't have the proper foundation for it. It doesn't even enter to his brain that it may be a prudent thing to do to consult real experts for an opinion.

However, when he does approach the city for hookup to the main sewer and electrical lines, the city comes in and helps him patch up his shoddy job, hooks him up and he's good to go. When one side of the house collapses, the city comes in again to patch things up an makes it better. And get this, your husband hasn't paid a cent to the city for their help.

Also, when the city tries to tell him that there are things that he has done incorrectly or things that he didn't plan out properly, he huffs and he puffs and tells them that they have no idea what they are talking about. He laughs in their face when they say that doing anything like building the porch is going to cost more money. In fact, the city should build the porch for him, and for free.

The two of you move into your house, and live happily ever after, or until the next problem arises, where then this vicious cycle arises.

Sounds crazy? Welcome to my world. This is what is happening right now. I realize that this seems to be an extreme-ish example, and I will admit that it's a little over the top, but this is to really illustrate the point that I'm going to make.

We have a bunch of different people in different areas who think they are the "experts". We call them "IT-By-Accident". And a lot of times, that's where their expertise is from, learning from books and the internet. Taking a course here and there. But they have never worked or had experience from a proper environment. No one had shown them how things should work and how things should be set up. You don't learn that stuff from a book or from a course; it's from experience.

However, we end up having to save these people from themselves, and they expect us to do so for free. Never mind that it took weeks and weeks to fix, and we had to put aside our own work to save their butts. (How many of you out there had to clean up other people's messes in your own jobs. Fun, eh?)

Why is it this way? To tell you, I'd have to get into politics of my situation, something that I'm not really keen on doing. Just keep in mind that your tax dollars are partially paying for this.

Yes, pretty frustrating. But I keep in mind that we are not the only group that like this. This happens all over the place, in both the public and private sectors. There are a lot of "IT-By-Accident" people out there. For some very unknown reason, they keep on getting hired. I'm am not slogging all the "IT-By-Accident" types out there. Some are actually pretty competent. However, many are not. And there is more going on behind the scenes than just what I've mentioned (ie, politics), but you get the gist of it.

Baby steps, that's all we can do to hopefully change things around. Sigh.

(The picture above is the character Danny Baldwin from the British soap "Coronation Street". This picture cracks me up every time I see it. And it also goes to show how ridiculous the situation, so much so that we can only laugh at it. )

Thursday, February 09, 2006

On the road again: A Preface

I've been thinking about starting another mini-series. This one is about my drive to and from work.

The picture above shows you the distance between home and work. The green dot is work, the red dot is home. Google Maps says that the distance is 21.1 km. The blue line is the shortest distance to work. I actually don't take that route because it takes longer to get to work than if I take another, more round-about way, go figure. Travel time can be anywhere from 35 mins to over an hour. After being an undergraduate student at UBC for seven years, I've pretty much figured out the fastest way to get there.

A couple of things to point out:
  • You are looking at pretty much the entire city of Vancouver. I actually live in a city called Burnaby, which is directly east of Vancouver.
  • UBC is as far west as you can go in Vancouver. Just about any route you take west will eventually lead you there. Meaning that my routes can (and do) vary.
Why start another mini-series, you ask? Well, as you can see, I drive more or less in a straight line, and being on the road for 35 mins to an hour, gets pretty mundane, especially since I've been doing it for a total of almost eight years. So I tend to think. A lot. And observe a lot as well.

Really, there are a lot of things rattling around in my brain, and I want to let them loose. I'm restricting my thoughts, feelings and observations to anything that happens, things that I see, or any thought that pops into my head in relation only to the drive in and out, so there won't be too many postings, I think. But I already have three in mind, and it's time for them to spill out...

KOOKY: "Tall, no-whip hot chocolate"

"Tall, no-whip hot chocolate"

This is what I always order when I go to Starbucks. Lately, however, I've been going there a lot, and have been noticing that I've been gaining a bit of weight. Not much, but when your 5'2" and petite, you notice.

So I looked up the Nutritional Facts on the Starbucks website.

Calories: 270
Total Fat: 11g

My daily intake of calories should be about 1000-1200, and my daily fat intake should be around 24g. Not the end of the world, but extra calories I can do without.

I get hot chocolate for one of two reasons:
1) I need a chocolate fix
2) I need to wake myself up (I don't drink coffee, so this is my new stimulant du jour)

I was very proud of myself when I decided to take a break this morning and went to the Starbucks with my co-worker. It's actually sunny today, so might as well enjoy the weather.

I did not get a hot chocolate. Yay me!

This is a big achievement, especially considering that there four (4) Starbucks within a five minute walking distance from my office. KOOKY, I tell ya.

However, I need my chocolate fix (especially now that I'm PMS-ing, bleh). So I went to the hospital cafeteria and got a chocolate milk. Now let's check out the Nutritional Fact:

Calories: 200
Total Fat: 6g

Dammit, it doesn't look like I'm much more ahead. Bah. Well, at least my bones will thank me.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Step aside Mr. Darcy?

As my hubby will attest, I'm a huge Jane Austen fan. In fact, Pride and Prejudice is one of my favourite books. And in my DVD collection, if you include the modern-day adaptations, I've got 14 movie adaptations of Jane Austen's novels. Yes, I'm a nut.

However, I noticed in the last few months, as I surfed my normal Jane Austen sites, there was a lot of comments of how another period drama has supplanted Pride and Prejudice as their favourite. In particular, many (women) have said that the hero of this new drama has become their new favourite hero.

Wha-? Do you mean there was someone better than Colin Firth?!?!?! There's a story better than Pride and Prejudice?!?!?! And a more romantic hero than Mr. Darcy?!?!?!

You have to keep in mind that I'm reading Jane Austen websites and some of these people are hare-core, die-hard fans of the books as well as the many adaptations out there. They are the people who watch and re-watch, read and re-read, analyze and re-analyze the books and movie adaptations to death. These are the people who know every single stinking detail about Jane Austen and the Regency Period. Hard-core I tell ya. But something made them change their minds.

Naturally, my curiosity was piqued.

I wanted to borrow the DVD to watch it first, before I deemed it worthy to buy, but the video stores didn't have it in stock. The only place that had it was Zip.ca, but I can't justify a subscription right now. So instead, I bought it without having actually watched it first, something I would never do, but I had faith in those other people.

(Warning: minor spoilers below. Proceed at your own risk...)

The drama I'm referring to is North and South. No, not the North and South that came out in the 1980s with Patrick Swayze, and no, it's not about the American Civil war. That's what I thought at first.

This North and South is set in Victorian England, during the cotton manufacturing boom in the UK. The main plot is set in Milton (actually, the city of Manchester, but was re-named by the author, Elizabeth Gaskell). Milton is the North. Southern UK, where the heroine is from, is the South.

I'm about half-way through the novel (although I'm very good at reading ahead a lot), and have already watched the movie twice. And the last scene about 20 times (more on that later). The book's actually pretty good, and is worth a read.

However, I'm not going to say too much about the story itself. Instead, I will focus on the swoon-worthiness of the two heroes: Mr. Darcy (P&P) and Mr. John Thornton (N&S), and let you decide who's the worthier out of the two.

Meet the heroes:
Colin Firth, playing Mr. Darcy:

Richard Armitage, playing John Thornton:

Not bad looking eh?

So, let the Darcy/Thornton Challenge begin.

Both men (in their respective tales) are:
  • Rich
  • Tall, Dark and Handsome
  • Broody (and do scowl a fair bit)
  • Sought after by other women
  • Fall in love with women who could care less about them
  • Bungle up their first proposal to the heroine. Really badly.
  • Suffer through unrequited love through most of the story, and believe that there no chance that the love of their lives will ever return their affections
  • During period of unrequited love-suffering, manage to save said heroines from depths of despair and ruination
Now, you're thinking to yourself, "Is Irene even talking about two different stories?". Yes I am, trust me. But you have noted the similarities between the two, haven't you. The the storyline in P&P and N&S actually are not as similar as their TV adaptation counterparts, and there is a subplot going on about a strike in N&S. However, I digress. Back to the important stuff.

So what's the difference? Well for one, N&S has a very steamy kiss at the end. Or should I say kisses. The whole ending is incredibly sweetly romantic, and is probably the main cause for so many women swooning over John Thornton. Trust me, this is one ending you must see.

One reason why I like John Thornton is that he seems more real to me. In the book and in the movie, they focus more on JT's thoughts and feelings more, and it's very clear that he loves the heroine deeply, despite the forces that keep them apart. It's heartbreaking to see him saying one thing and feeling another, but can't voice it to her.

Don't get me wrong, I still love Mr. Darcy. What girl in her right mind wouldn't want a rich man to fall head-over-heels in love with her, be constant in his love to her even though he's uncertain of how she feels about him or that he will ever see her again? Sigh.

I have to say though, I have a bias against Colin Firth (*gasp* Sorry girls!). I will confess, I didn't really like him as Mr. Darcy, I felt that he didn't play it with enough emotion (as a side note, I liked Matthew Macfadyen's version better, even though I disagreed with his interpretation of Mr. Darcy, but will blog on that at a later date). What actually killed it for me was when Mr. Darcy jumped into that duck pond. How can anyone find jumping into a poop and slime infested pond sexy? It's just plain gross. And totally out of character with Mr. Darcy, IMO. That aside, I wasn't terribly impressed with Colin Firth's acting, and still am not, after seeing him in other roles. He's okay at best. Meh.

Richard Armitage on the other hand did a great job as John Thornton, and I'm not saying that because I'm now in love with the man. The little piece of acting that I saw was incredible, the amount of emotion that he can portray, and at times, it gets really intense. And the smoochy scene at the end. Yowza! (I don't think that was acting completely, the man was enjoying himself!). My favourite scene though, was when the heroine leaves Milton, and JT watches her leave from his life forever. My heart was about to break, poor guy.

Not convinced about Richard? Read Meg Wood's Boyfriend of the Week write-up on Richard. (Colin Firth's also featured on her site, but Richard beat out Colin. Ha!)

Still not convince? How about the gratuitous, mostly-naked picture of Richard:

You decide.

(And a completely unrelated aside, while I was waiting for my DVD to be sent from Chapters (the DVD sold out and I had to wait for a re-shipment, in which time I canceled the order and bought the thing in the store, even though it costed more), I surf around a lot of sites looking for more information about Richard Armitage/North and South. After staring at countless of pictures of RA, I noticed something: at certain angles, it looks like he has hobbit ears. Of course, when I finally got DVD, instead of concentrating on the movie itself, I kept on seeing hobbit ears. Very distracting I tell ya!)

KOOKY series: I'm a public servant?

Preface: So I've decided to make "KOOKY" into a little mini-series, one dedicated to comings and going, ins and outs of being a employee at UBC. The series will last as long as I'm working at UBC. I'll post when something catches my fancy and I feel like posting it up. None of this is intended to be informative, only musings, and hopefully somewhat entertaining. Onwards...

So I'm a public servant. I knew when I finally signed up as a full-time permanent employee back in December. However, it didn't really hit home until yesterday what that really means.

I am a part of an "Association". I still don't know exactly what that entails, except it's very similar to a union. They take association dues from us, but we don't get the right to strike. I'm sure there are more minor differences than just that, but that's what it means to me.

Anyways, yesterday there was an association meeting. I got to learn about "negotiation", "collective bargaining", "arbitration", "ratification". Frankly, my head's still reeling from all the big words, and I am hardly more informed now than I was last week.

The provincial government want to sign long term contracts with all the public sector groups for two reasons: 1) There is an election coming up in 2009 and 2) the Olympics in 2010 (the real biggie). Bottom line, they want stability. They've given the groups until March 31, 2006 to make up their minds and sign the contract. Really, not very much time. However this information is important to me as it affect my salary and benefits over the next four years.

I've never understood why some groups of people (eg office workers) are unionized. They don't need to be. I don't understand why my position is a part of an association (that is similar to a union). However, I think that being a part of a non-profit organization means that no one is going to look after us? Or we must represent ourselves in behalf of the government and the public? I suppose that must be it, but I still don't see why.

It's all very confusing, and it still doesn't warm me up to the whole unionized/association dealie. I for one believe that most unions should be a thing of the past. The unions of 100 years ago certainly had their place and purpose. But I believe that purpose has lost validity over time, yet they still exist.

Somehow, I don't think I'll ever have this resolved in my mind. Sigh.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

It pays to be a geek

Bill Gates apparently has a computer dedicated to him at the IRS. Poor guy.

Maybe it's running Windows... hmmmm