Sunday, August 24, 2008

Approved

  • Enviro Decision Making
  • Enviro Policy
  • Advanced Seminar in Enviro Sci
  • Enviro Risk Analysis and Management

I'm excited for the fall. I don't think I've been this excited about school before. Maybe it's because I've finally realized that I have so much more learning to do and I've got this opportunity that I'm finally appreciative of. Before, school was routine. It was required. Things are usually more pleasant when you are the one making an active choice in doing it rather than being pushed into it by some default. 


Monday, August 18, 2008

Something fishy is going on...


These past few days I was in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta: the oldest settlement in the province, located north of the oil sands situated by the UNESCO-protected Wood Buffalo National Park. After many personal stories were shared of how the oil sands have impacted members of the small, remote community, Parks Canada dropped off this double-jawed goldeye fish by the conference centre. This is just one of the many deformities that have been reported. Will this even make front page news? Maybe in the local paper. Not national. Heaven forbid our federal government step in and say that something is wrong here, that something needs to be done. Heaven forbid our government actually protect ALL the people and not just the affluent majority. What's happening is not just deformed fish, it's a defunct way of government. The federal government HAS the ability to reign in what Alberta is getting away with here, but why haven't they stepped in? Because they think that a small community of over 2000 Aboriginal people is OK to sacrifice in the name of the Canadian GDP. They think that these people don't have a voice and can be silenced. Well I can guarantee you that this is just the beginning of what the world will hear from this community. It's only a matter of time before deformed fish populate our water ways and the Canadian fishing industry goes under, at which point the government will be flocking to the needs of the industry, not the needs of the nation of people who will be deprived of what was such a basic food source. When will government be accountable for their inaction, let alone be accountable for the things they've done wrong? One person CAN make a difference. We've been led to believe that it's not possible because industry and government don't want us to believe that we as individuals have power, but we do. We can vote and use the power that we do have. 

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

You know...when...

You know you've been in a long-distance relationship for too long when....

You still blow kisses to each other when you're (finally) physically together.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Say hello wave goodbye

It's funny... the past 5 years I've been trying to perfect my cover letter for job applications. Now, I'm trying to find the perfect words to do the very opposite. Some may say it's too soon, but the present is the only right time to do what makes you happy. The purpose in life should be to minimize the number of times you sacrifice happiness and if a sacrifice should be made, it should be made for the sake of happiness because as all the adages go, 'life is too short'.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Cake

Whoever said you can't have your cake and eat it too was wrong. It's all about perspective.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Clarity

It took a while, but now I see. Happiness is the key to success in life so I've decided to choose the path of least resistance because a person can and should be happy. Sacrifices should only be made when it is the only option available and right now happiness is an option so for once I'm going to choose it.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Cost-benefit analysis.

I need one of those done on my life. Honestly, confusion befalls me. I'm reminded of that time I wanted to quit my coffee-shop job after a day, but I decided to stick it out because I hadn't given it a fair chance yet. So would me wanting to quit now mean that I'm giving up too easily? If I choose to persevere, would I just be left with another scar? I'm 24, just starting up my career, have this shiny new job, have a long-distance relationship with everyone I deeply care about, and may possibly be offered admission into grad schools. So what do I do? Persevere & build my career and seize this opportunity that I sit upon right now? Or do I finally choose something that makes me simply 'happy'? Would leaving now be 'too early'? What's a fair amount of time to give this thing a good chance? I feel like pursuing happiness is a selfish thing, yet I'm the one who's living for myself, so of course I need to be selfish, right? Or would it simply be a foolish thing to do? I don't know what's right anymore. 'Follow your heart'... 'do what makes you happy'... I don't feel like it's that simple, but maybe that's the problem.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

In pursuit of happiness...

'Happiness is a choice' is what I usually say to people who are down and in a rut. And now that I sit in the rut I've tried to help people get out of, I'm beginning to wonder... Is it really just a matter of opening your proverbial eyes and finding happiness again and throwing your smile back on your face? Five months have come and gone and at first it was easy: It was a novel idea of a big city girl living in a mining town, traveling and staying at hotels every few months, having a wickedly chill work environment with a family-like group of co-workers, getting paid more than I ever imagined I would after university.

Sigh.

And now, the dust has settled and I see the dismal town this big city girl has been dropped in, the traveling for work is wearing down my love of movement, I'm finding that the family-like group of co-workers have already established their lives here and don't need a newbie in the mix of regularity, and the paychecks are losing their luster. This is the first time I've been stuck wondering how to dust myself off and make myself the happy girl that select people have come to love.

Advice is always easier to give than to take. So note to self (and others who like to give advice): don't hand it out like it's candy because chances are you won't enjoy it like candy when it comes time to taking it yourself.

In an attempt at positivity, let's try to identify what I can be happy about:
My family, Ian, my health, work is going well, the weather is starting to show signs of improvement...

I guess in my time alone here, I've realized just how important friends are: They really are a support system. And somehow they've disappeared from the above list. I'm sorry to Ian because he is now carrying the burden my friends usually share the load of. We've become the victims of circumstance and I'm sorry for that because I was an accomplice in the crime.

per·se·ver·ance /ˌpɜrsəˈvɪərəns/ [pur-suh-veer-uhns]

–noun
1. steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., esp. in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.

Today I watched Bella and the movie reminded me of another story I once heard of... the story of a woman who gave up friends and a good job to be with a man in a foreign country. Just a year into the marriage, and there were already fears and proof of infidelity. How could a person do that to someone who gave up so much to be with them? More importantly though, how could a person have another child with this man and stay married to him? Perseverance is what it was/is. This woman refused to let go of the nuclear family life that she always dreamed she'd have. She sacrificed her own happiness to make it work for herself and for the sake of the children. Sometimes I don't know if I should be praising this woman or feeling sorry for this woman. If you get what you want by sacrificing true love and happiness is that a good thing? When is enough enough? But to be fair, I suppose she found true love and happiness in her children. If a person can persevere through a marriage like that, it takes a certain type of bravery. Some might say it would've taken a braver person to get out of that situation, but I'd have to disagree. It's a different kind. It takes different kinds of guts to get out of an unhealthy situation than it takes to seek and find love and happiness somewhere else within that situation.

I guess this thought-exercise has finally made me realize why she loves her children so much: it's the only love she's been able to attain for herself to shroud her dark past with. Some may misconstrue this love with over-bearing and protective, but that's what love should be, right? It should consume you and protect you. But wait: is it still perseverance in this case or is it love? Or is it because of love that perseverance exists?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hooked on phonics worked for me.

Every time we spoil each other with these extended visits, I get scared of the addiction I'll re-develop.

But like any good addict, you brace yourself for the withdrawal you'll go through after you get that little taste just one more time. And like any good addict, you've come to accept that you'll never be able to give it up, no matter how far or how long of a time you're away from it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

RE: cancer rates in an aboriginal community downstream from oil sands production

Alberta Cancer Board apparently assessed the cancer rates in the community and concluded that cancer rates were on par with the rates of the rest of Alberta. Just because it's on par doesn't mean it's normal and acceptable, especially if the community's cancer rates were below the province's average before the boom in oil production began. The Alberta Cancer Board can't possibly say with 110% confidence that these cancer rates are acceptable when you're comparing apples to oranges. That conclusion has no substance because it's attempting to average an isolated spike in cancer rates with a population size magnitudes greater. It's statistically unsound to make this kind of conclusion. Does that mean if 50% of Albertans were suffering from cancer, then it's OK for a once untouched community to see those rates of cancer in their community? Shouldn't the government be concerned with rising cancer rates in any community in the province? Unless the Alberta Cancer Board has done studies on the community pre-development, then they cannot make any conclusion. The doctor who initially conducted the study even said that she did not have sufficient data to come to a conclusion. So of course the Board took whatever data she did have and pulled out provincial data sets to statistically fudge numbers to make a poorly substantiated claim about the community's cancer rates. I remember, quite clearly, from my first-year statistics class that you can come to very different conclusions based on the same statistics, depending on how you interpret those statistics. The conclusion that the Alberta Cancer Board came to clearly shows how they chose to interpret their data. But my argument to all these statistics is quite simple: cancer is the plague of the 21st century, so it's safe to say that cancer is associated with development in the modern world. Ergo, it should also be safe to conclude that there is a connection between a community that has been more exposed to development today than when they first settled the land and the rates of cancer that they are experiencing today. It's not a question of whether or not the community's cancer rates fall within some province-accepted cancer average, it's a question of whether these rates are unique and abnormal to that isolated community. If these cancer rates were always present in the community, what reason would they have to speak up now? Provincial "average" does not mean "acceptable" but that is what the Alberta Cancer Board is trying to define it as. According to my dictionary, as an adjective, "average" means "having qualities that are seen as typical of a particular person or thing". It also means "mediocre; not very good". So why don't we rephrase our question to the Alberta Cancer board and ask them how they define "average" and why the government acknowledges this average as "acceptable" when "average" implies "not very good" as well.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Anniversary

It was quiet, understated, and sweet: more than I could ever ask for. When ~80% of your relationship has been long-distance, that 20% you get makes Chinese food in the core of downtown Calgary taste that much sweeter; it makes cramped hotel rooms feel that much cozier; it makes life feel that much fuller.

We dropped a considerable amount on transportation alone, so I wanted dinner to be economical but still good, so hence why we ended up in Chinatown for our anniversary dinner =) It just so happened the hotel was on the corner of the Chinatown block. We skipped out on the dozens of gourmet restaurants on 8th Ave. for some 乾惼四季豆,麻婆豆腐,& 牛肉大餅. Yummm... I.S. got a 榴蓮冰沙 and we went to Second Cup for a green tea chiller for me.

The weekend felt like it completely flew by and I imagine the next 4.5 days of work for me will also fly right by, considering how much work I now have to do given that my direct supervisor is away for 3 weeks and quitting after his return, so it's all on me and I'm so not prepared for this... I have a hard time falling asleep because of all the thoughts running through my head and I get waken up early by the same things that prevented me from falling asleep >.< And so the stress finally begins. But I'm excited to spearhead another major project ("another" being in addition to the one I had in the summer). I like knowing that I'm the lead on an important project and that no matter where I end up, I'll leave a little legacy behind for someone else to pick up =) Perhaps I'm getting a taste of power and I like it...!

But speaking of power... I'm running out of it.

Thanks, I.S. for flying out here. One week away for S.F.!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Hayyyyyyaah!

I can't remember the last time I 'rawred'. I thought the final phone call with M. counts as the most recent occasion, but it's not the same, at least not in the way I felt today. I've never seen it, but knowing the premise and the posters of the movie, I felt like Rocky today. That infamous image of him finishing his jog to the top of the stairs was what came to mind when I hung up the phone tonight. I was shaking, but I boxed it out of me. And threw a few kicks.

Lessons learned:
1. You can never be too careful.
2. Everything happens for a reason.
3. Whatever doesn't kill will only make you stronger.

I trust that the accident happened because I needed something to help me grow in a different way that I've forgotten about/tried to avoid. So perhaps the wind did blow the door open: to reveal a side of me that I should carry around with me more often. You know, just in case.

The Meaning of Life

It's a good question, especially after collecting yourself from being shaken up by a "minor incident". We are subjected to moments of trials and joys to culminate into what? I think people approach this question from the wrong angle though. Life doesn't "culminate" to anything, per se. Life is energy. To carry out life is to help perpetuate it. And why must this energy be perpetuated? To that, I say just because. Humans are constantly looking for an answer to everything and that's why we have Google and Wikipedia and the Discovery Channel and we refuse to accept that sometimes there's nothing to say in response to "why?" And that is where faith is based. Trusting without knowing. And that is where religions are based. Religions give people an answer to the "why", but yet there is nothing to answer the question of a religious idol. So there is no meaning to life. We just need to have faith in there being a purpose without knowing it. And in order to attain such faith is to work to bring yourself closer to something in life that gives you purpose and meaning. So you see: it's just a circle, which is life.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Thank You

I would just like to thank I. for being the inspiration of my words, my thoughts, my love, my life. I owe the perpetuation of this blog to him, which I'm glad for because it's been so long since I last wrote about things that are important to me and about things that make me laugh and smile.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Captain Planet

I read a blog post today written by Bob McDonald RE: Climate Change, as well as the accompanying comments. The post focuses on clearing up the confusion between the extreme weather patterns we are witnessing vs. climate change and the comments focus on praising the post as well as attacking the idea of anthropogenically-driven changes in climate/weather patterns.

My response to talks about climate change and this whole battle between questionable climate data is that we need to stop fighting about what we don't know and stop unloading the onus of having to do anything about pollution on the fact that people are still debating the validity of the claim to anthropogenically-driven climate change and start focusing on what we can change and what we can do and what is happening. We are adding substances to the environment that is disrupting the healthy flow of nature (something I like to call pollution), our fast-paced Westernized cushy lifestyles are the source of a lot of pollution, we are starting to notice the limits of our fresh-water sources, we are starting to lose agriculture land to urban sprawl and deteriorating quality in earth, and we are seeing a rise in cases of asthma due to the declining air quality mainly seen in urban centers. You would think that the health of the human population would be reason enough to do something about pollution.

Working for a First Nations community has made me realize one thing: that we're losing focus on what is really at stake here: Ultimately, we are all fed by the land and water that we interact with on a daily basis both directly and indirectly, whether we see it or not. The point here, though, is that we need to recognize this connection of humans to the Earth (it's a crazy notion, I know, but just bear with me for a few more moments) and recognize that whatever we're doing to the Earth, we're going to feel the effects through one channel or another.

Forget about climate change, erratic weather patterns, the IPCC, Kyoto, emissions targets, what-have-you. Remember that we're all living in the same bubble so take a step back and just think of how you'd want your own home: clean and tidy. How do we keep it that way? We throw stuff out, scrub things down etc. or else our houses would begin to look like a pack-rat's dwelling. Except the difference between the Earth and our home is that besides outer space, there's no where to put our crap. All we are doing right now is re-arranging the placement of our crap and trying to make the Earth absorb it by digging holes, tossing our garbage in, and covering it up. And being the non-smoker that I am, I see pollution of our air/atmosphere as sitting in a closed, unventilated room with a smoker. Sure, the room that is our atmosphere is large, but sit there long enough and invite enough smokers in and you're going to start noticing the haze in the air. The solution to pollution is not dilution.

So I'm not asking people to accept the idea of climate change or admit that green house gases are warming the Earth: I'm simply asking people to recognize that the world is our home with no curb to leave our garbage along and we can only rearrange our waste around our "home" for so long before we're surrounded and we can only carry on so long with our comfortable lives before we start choking on the "smokers" in our "house".

Many people like to justify their inaction by asking, "what difference is one person going to make in the big scheme of things?" But my rebuttal to that is, "well what difference is tens, hundreds, thousands, millions of people going to make?" If we continue to just sit and pretend that each of us as individuals can't change anything, then you're right, apparently you can't because you so choose. We are in this together. United we stand, divided we fall. So it doesn't matter if our weather is being weird or that Al Gore flashed a graph showing an exponential increase in our global temperatures or that we don't agree on climate change being a problem because it doesn't matter what temperature it is when there are more and more kids developing asthma as a result of the air we are polluting and when we are running out of places to dump our garbage and when the rich white nations that take up less than 10% of the world population are declaring a water crisis and telling households to conserve water as they consume more than half of the world's accessible fresh water.

Having a positive influence on our planet isn't impossible, it's merely improbable because people choose to see it as impossible.

So we can make a difference: it's just a simple matter of choosing to make that difference.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Resistance

It's almost like I feel I'm on an extreme weight loss program where I'm working my butt off to achieve the things that others are naturally endowed with. But I know it's worth it in the end. Because when I finally become one of those who were naturally endowed with the conveniences of their lives, I'll remember where I came from and how the better person I've become is a direct result of the toils I've gone through. And of course, a direct result of the one who was there with me going through the transformation.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Love & Long-Distance

You would think no one would ever volunteer to participate in such a relationship. It's emotionally draining and every day you wish you could fast-forward to a time when that distance is just an arm's length. And then there are my landlords: a couple who shipped their 2 year old daughter back to relatives in China. Every other night they go on Skype and try to coax their barely-speaking child to smile or say 爸爸 or 媽媽. Sometimes they'll take out her toys and play with them over webcam as if she were physically here. They shipped her off for reasons that I can only guess, which I've boiled down to the following possibility, the only one that seems justifiable: They couldn't find a replacement nanny for the one who resigned before Christmas (even though they helped another couple in the area hire a nanny after Christmas).
It just seems senseless to me to voluntarily put yourself in a long-distance relationship and one with your baby for that matter. And it's sad when I hear them laughing and cooing to their daughter over Skype every other night. I wonder what effects there are on a child who interacts with their parents intermittently over webcam during crucial years of development for the child. This is a remote town, but according to them this town has enough to offer them for raising a child. Are they trying to give her the best? Is sending her away doing any good? Did they really have no other choice? Non-parents usually think they can raise a child better than parents they see, but this is something that I don't think I would ever allow myself to do unless I were fighting a war.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Bipolar

The past week I've gone from feeling aggravated by him and then back to being smitten. Why the aggravation? Can I just blame the hormones? OK, that's cheap. Perhaps it's a temporary loss of patience: Patience that he seems to always have for me. Every time I pull out the bottle of olive oil from the cabinet, I am reminded of how patient and forgiving he is. He'd rather take the blame for something inane than to bicker about it. I don't know why he does it. I guess he loves me or something. I guess I love him too.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Memory Lane

So I went back in time today. Went through old chats and emails circa the time we just started dating and yeah, my feelings have changed. They've changed from being smitten by this new-found love to the feeling of an old, life-long friendship with this person you adored all your childhood and you're just completely loving the fact that you are still best friends with this person and still talk to this person. It's marvelous. Marvelous. That's the first I've heard of that word in a long time. It's also been too long of a time since I said I love you.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Remember

Remember when you said you didn't know how much you could give?
Remember when you said you didn't want to let me down?
Remember when neither of us had any expectations?

Now see me terrified of being the unsure one.
Now see me letting you down.
Now see me falling short of your expectations.

I'm sorry that I'm not stronger.
I'm sorry that I let you down.
I'm sorry that I'm not the amazing person you see me as.

But remember that I'd give you the world if I could.
But remember that I just want to be your only sunshine.
But remember that all I expect is that you know I love you.