Monday, May 31, 2010

A Perfect Pairing

In sticking with my current theme of stupid people in the news, I have found the perfect pair of criminals for my dear friends in the Paris Bureau.

This morning, while listening to the radio, I learned of two men who stole a city bus to go joy riding for half an hour while the bus driver stopped for a break. While I do not see the thrill of driving around a giant vehicle that scares me out of my wits every time it attempts to make a turn, this duo had a grand old time driving around, damaging the bus and three others cars as captured by the bus's video security system.

The thieves decided their joy ride would be an excellent time to discuss their places of residence, and give detail as to where they live.

After the police go knocking on their door, I am going to suggest they move to Paris.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Idiot Needed? Look No Further!

I was talking a few months ago with one of my closest friends about blogs. Both of us have our pet peeves about bloggers, and Kylie has a beef with Facebook. As I listened to her tirade, I started to get worried. Noticing my face, Kylie smiled and said:

"But I love your blog, Elena. Yours is just a collection of random thoughts that pass through your head. It's so amusing."

I'm pretty sure that was a compliment.

Well Kylie, here is a random thought that has been passing back and forth in my head like a bouncing screen saver for the past week:

I really want to fly to Paris and whack several people in the city's bureau on the head. What is wrong with these people?!

Okay, here's the scoop: last Thursday morning the Paris Museum of Modern Art was broken into. I saw the headlines when I was browsing through the morning news and was immediately rivetted. After reading several articles, this is what I learned:
  • five paintings were stolen: a Picasso, a Modigliani, a Matisse, a Braque, and a Leger. Some writer's see this as a trajedy because the Braque and Picasso in particular were considered masterpieces of the 20th century. Most people I have shared this story with however, shrug it off and say they don't like modern art.

  • the collective value of the works taken amounts to about $123 million (US).

  • it's suspected this was an inside job.

Now here's the kicker:

  • the paintings are supposed to have been taken by a single thief. This person appears to be quite clever, and didn't even pull of the job in Danny Ocean style. The thief snapped a single padlock, smashed a window, and then went in to help themselves; having time to carefully remove the paintings from the frames without slicing. Miraculously, the thief also managed to escape all three security guards, who didn't notice anything until they looked at security tapes in retrospect.

  • four years ago, 15 million Euros were spent to update the museum's security system. This top of the line burglar alarm has been broken for two months.

  • this morning I also learned that Paris officials admitted that none of the paintings were insured because "their huge value meant no one would take the risk of stealing them."

Science, I would now like my time machine. My first stop as vigilante will be to find the idiots who made the decisions leading to this.

Then I think I would go meet this art thief, although I'm undecided as to whether this person deserves a whack on the head, or a cupcake for making everyone else look stupid.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mail Order Husbands

Yesterday I got an envelope in the mail from a charitable organization who wants me to give them money. Their tactic was was to offer me a gift of free address labels, and in return, I was supposed to write them a cheque. I figure I already do enough charitable donations through my church, so I threw out the donation slip and got right to my free stickers. You can imagine my surprise when I saw the name written there was "Mrs. Elena Redd."

Naturally I was very excited at the prospect of some non-profit group sending me stickers AND a husband, though I was a trifle concerned they'd paired me with a distant cousin.

I looked around, but he seemed to have gotten lost in the mail. Gosh darn, I knew that was far too simple. Silly non-profit group can't get anything right.

I decided to keep the stickers; they're a really pretty set, and I can just take a sharpie to remove the "Mrs" and field off awkward questions. Although I can't help wonder if there is an ulterior motive to this mail. I attend a church congregation made up entirely of people in their twenties, it's designed to encourage us to date and get married in the church. Perhaps this is my bishop's way of telling me to get a move on. Or maybe some loving older relative is trying to send the same hint.

No, all joking aside, I am pretty sure the non-profit group is working alone in this plot. Still, I can't help laughing every time I look at them.

Has anyone else ever received such a loaded present in the mail?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Obnoxious Navy Blue Folder

As of late, I've taken on the project of editing my book. This is something I have worked on sporadically for the past year, making changes as I thought of them or as they were suggested. After reading Thanks, But This Isn't For Us I gained a better understanding of just how much work my book needed, and so I decided to go back to the beginning and edit the whole thing from start to finish. I even started a new document labelled "Second Draft" on my computer.

I have never had the highest opinion of editing. When I was in journalism it usually meant losing all my favourite quotes and sentences so my story would fit in the space provided for it. Usually I find it an emotional experience where I don't want to cut anything, so while I saw it as a necessary evil, I was not, in any way, looking forward to editing.

To make it fun (and again at the suggestion of Jessica Page Morrell), I printed out my entire novel and went at it with red ink. Apparently this is a good idea because you will look at things differently when it's on a page, as opposed to a computer screen where you usually see it. I agreed to do it because crossing things out is so much more fun than delete.

For the past month, most places I've gone I've carried a navy blue folder with a few pages of my book in it, along with a red pen to pull out and edit when I have some down time. I set a goal to average ten pages a day. Amazingly, I discovered I loved editing! Unlike previous editing experiences, I was doing it for myself, and I could see my story becoming better as I worked. It got to the point where it was what I wanted to do for fun. Some of pages were covered in cross outs, side notes and corrections, others had only a few commas moved around, one or two were crossed out completely with new text scribbled on the back. I began doing more than ten pages a day! I was going to have no trouble meeting the deadline I set for myself . . .

A word to the wise, when you are on a writing kick and want to keep going non-stop past your quota, stop. I already knew that but sometimes I still forget. I got to the trickier parts of my book, the ones where I just don't see a solution to make them better, and suddenly all the wind was knocked out of my sails. I didn't know what to do with one scene. I knew it needed the axe, but I had no idea what to replace it with (still don't). I couldn't bear to look at that obnoxious blue folder still sitting in my bag.

I looked back at the edits I'd made, and came up with another idea. I would go back, add the changes into the manuscript before I forgot what I wanted, and once I caught up, I would follow a new system; edit a chapter with red pen, then add it into the new document while it was still fresh in my mind. I think this is the best idea I've had thus far, and I am enjoying editing again. That navy blue folder no longer makes me cringe when I see it; it's filled with pages to be added into my computer, and if if you hear of me wanting to gorge myself on making edits, please feel free to slap my wrist.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

For Those Who Have Been Living Under a Rock

People keep on asking me about paralegal school, now that I have been there for a month. I learned something interesting when I started school; for the three and a half hours I am there each day I am in one class. One class that is done as a block course so I have nothing else to divert my attention whilst in said class. At least nothing school-wise.

It seemed like it could be a bit of a grunt at first, but I figured it would be okay. I've dealt with long, uninteresting classes before, if I survived History of Media I can survive anything. Or so I thought.

My first day I was shepherded to the computer applications course I was required to take. Once seated I took a look at the text book and saw that the first chapter was entirely about defining what a computer was. The second was about external computer devices, such as a mouse. This class, which I have affectionately named Computers for Those Who Have Been Living Under a Rock for Fifty Years, has taught me many important skills such as how to send an e-mail and change your desktop image in three and a half hour segments beginning at 8:30 in the morning.

Naturally I was devastated when I got strep throat and had to miss.

The class did improve to knowledge that I didn't learn for myself when I was twelve, the only difficulty is it improved to teach me about Microsoft Office, something I learned about in detail during my university career. While I understand that this knowledge was new to some people, I was bored silly.

To my delight, Computers for Those Who Have Been Living Under a Rock ended last Friday. Relieved to have it behind me, I was excited to start something new this Monday. The course I was told to go to was called Business Communication.

I've done part of a Communications degree but why not? I thought to myself. This can't be worse than the lecture on e-mail . . .

Wrong again. The first lecture answered, in excruciating detail, What is a Noun?

Looking at my required courses, there are some interesting courses on the horizon, and my sister has informed me that next week I can learn new things as my conjunctions need some work, but for now, I'm still bored silly.