Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Free Time... What?

I wrote my last exam almost a week ago and spent my first few days catching up... I had a piano recital, got a few things done that I've been putting off all finals season, and slept. Then yesterday I woke up and said to myself,

"Janine, what are you going to do today? For the first time in weeks you have an empty day with no textbook readings tugging at the back of your brain, papers hanging over your head, or pressing Sunday School lesson deadlines. You don't even have any back episodes of Flashpoint left to watch. What are you going to do with yourself?"

I know that at one point of my life I had hobbies. I used to have things to do in my spare time. There was a time when I loved to make projects out of scrap wood in the garage and would set up a little workshop out there. I also seem to recall enjoying gardening a few years ago. I know that I love to bake and cook, and I even had time for knitting during this past semester once in a while. But a full day's project that I would be able to do without running out for ingredients, supplies, or any other sundries? It seemed a tall order. Mum had also commandeered the island in the kitchen for some flower arrangements, so I had to find something constructive that would allow me to be in the kitchen for company, and yet keep me confined to the table.

I found the answer in a big bin of fabric scraps, my mum's old sewing machine, and a shoebox full of crazy quilt squares that I've made over the years. With my favourite Old Time Radio Shows going on the stereo, I happily knocked off 6 quilt squares, bringing me up to 68– only 13 more needed for my giant 9x9 picnic blanket! I had completely forgotten how much I love my old hobbies. Maybe next week I'll bring out my old chisel set and some scrap wood.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Some Movie Reviews

Last night I celebrated my 24th birthday by writing a test, baking my brother's birthday cake, going out for Thai food, and watching two movies. When we stopped by Blockbusters on the way home from Thai Boat, we weren't really sure what to get, but ended up coming home with two movies placed in the Victorian era. Not really sure how that happened. That, however, is where the similarities between these movies ended.

The first movie was The Young Victoria, with Emily Blunt. I really had no idea what to expect with this one, as I don't recall seeing the preview or anything. It looked good, so we got it. It ended up being a wonderful movie! The costumes were incredible, the characters believable, the story very sweet. It's not a huge dramatic story like so many love stories are these days (Nicholas Sparks, anyone?) but when the movie drew to a close, I was left with a wonderful, happy feeling and was touched by the love between Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert. I remember reading in my London guidebook that she wore mourning for forty years after he died and that all the iron-wrought fences in downtown London were painted black for his funeral, but to see their story portrayed so well was a real treat. I would give it five stars.

With our happy love story out of the way, we turned to our next Victorian movie. When I heard a while ago that Sherlock Holmes was being made into another movie, I was apprehensive. You see, I'm a bit of a closet Sherlock fan. I've read most of the Sherlock Holmes short stories and novels, listened to the Sherlock Holmes radio show from the 40s, and devoured lots of old Holmes movies. My favourite portrayer of the occupant of 221 B Baker street is Basil Rathbone, the voice from the radio show and star of several old films. He plays the perfect dry, sarcastic, condescending Holmes from the books. I love following the dance of crime and detection between Sherlock Holmes and his nemesis, Professor James Moriarty. The preview made the current Sherlock Holmes sound a little too supernatural for my taste and I wasn't sure if I liked their portrayal of a sloppy, badly dressed Sherlock. Last night, though, I figured I'd give it a try. I was not disappointed. The whole movie was full of little gems from the books– references to previous cases from the short stories, constant use of characters from Sir Conan Doyle's writing, and a wonderful (though slightly reinvented) portrayal of the world's most famous detective. I was pleased with the attention to detail that came out in Holmes' final expose of the criminal and in the way that this movie didn't replay all the classic Holmes' eccentricities to death. The way they treated the violin set this movie apart. This one is a gem, especially for detective fans. It's not BBC's Hercule Poirot, but it's pretty dang close.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Non-Author

It seems like lately I am the only one of my sisters that is not writing a book. Between one's work of historical fiction, another's planned series of fantasy novels for 8-12 year-olds, and another's constant children's stories, I feel woefully unartistic when it comes to my writing skills.

I did, however, recently finish a work of shocking non-fiction. It is a tale of scandal, intrigue, and underhanded government operations. It reveals the truth unvarnished and exposed in all its ugly complexity. It has a nasty villain– the one and only Alberta government, headed by the shadowy figure some call "Ed Stelmach". Along with its accomplices– Altalink, Atco Electric, and the dangerous gang nicknamed "the Northern Electricity Generators"– it has conspired to regulate the Alberta transmission market according to their own evil plan. Seizing control of previously independent regulatory processes, this formidable foe plans to build unnecessary transmission lines to the tune of $14.7 billion and the worst is yet to come... they plan to make the Albertan consumers pay for it! Ominous music here.

This ghastly and woeful tale was all foretold many years ago by the visionary predictors of markets, sometimes called "economists". Almost 50 years ago the great and wise pair of Stigler and Peltzman tried to warn us against the approaching calamity, but Alberta took no heed.

But there were those who fought against this malignant medley of evildoers. A last alliance of academics, think tanks, engineers, economists and a lowly Calgarian electricity provider would not be silenced! They fought the machine of bad regulatory policy with words, with brilliant papers and studies, and with public awareness campaigns! They fought bravely and well, but alas! Their victory was not to be. The cartel of wrongdoers had one last weapon on their side: the great sword of CONSUMER APATHY. They wielded that great weapon with deadly force and with deadly accuracy, until the papers were buried for none to see or care about. In November of last year, despite the efforts of these valiant warriors, Bill 50 was passed, another great victory for the majority-generating function and shockingly bad legislation.

So yes, I finished my paper. It was fun.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Utah by the Numbers

Number of kilometers travelled in a single day: 1,517

Number of Finns seen: 12

Total tanks of gas used: 5

Conference sessions in which I dozed at least once: 4

Conference sessions in the conference centre: 1

Heart attacks of joy from hearing that Sister Julie B. Beck would be speaking in that session: 2

Calories consumed at Cafe Rio: at least 1000

Number of mission buddies seen: 12

Number of Elders hugged (and it didn't even feel weird!): 8

NIghts away from home: 5

Proportion of those nights spent in an actual bed: 40%

Proportion of those nights spent on a couch 2 feet smaller than me or the cushion thereof: 40%

Total hours of sleep: maybe 20, if I count the half hour accidental nap I took during Sunday afternoon session

Servings of Wooz and Syd's delicious ham and scalloped potatoes: 2

Number of times I was exhorted to "Move to Zion": 12,897,348,623,857,029,749,023,493,014,901,284.

Dollars spent at the BYU bookstore: $36.45

Awkward and compromising pictures taken: 1

Winks from an apostle: 1

Showers taken with zero water pressure and a showerhead that's 5 feet from the ground: 4, every time I was taking a shower in a BYU apartment

How much I wish I could see these awesome pals every weekend: pretty much 100%