Impartially bored?

As I walked down the street past a newspaper box, I saw the headline of the Epoch Times: "Disinterested Voters a Trial for Democracy." And I thought, disinterested voters might be a trial for political parties, but they'd do wonders for democracy. They might actually pay attention to issues!

I hadn't remembered which newspaper it was, so I Googled the headline. Not surprisingly, the headline in the online edition now reads "Uninterested Voters." Who truly are a trial for democracy.

I realize that languages change and evolve, and English more than most. English is incredibly dynamic, adding new words constantly. Meanings shift over time. What bugs me, though, is when a meaning is lost due to ignorance.

Disinterested is a very handy word! If someone does not have an interest or stake in some matter, then that person is more likely to be impartial or unbiased than someone with an interest. Even though "impartial" and "unbiased" probably count as synonyms for disinterested in a thesaurus, I'm not sure that they all mean exactly the same thing. That's the beauty of English. You can express different shades of meaning using different words that mean more or less the same.

Alas, disinterested is now very often used to mean "uninterested," as in "totally not interested" rather than "lacking a personal interest and therefore impartial." It's funny that the Epoch Times changed the online headline. Either someone at the newspaper realized the error, or one or more pedants like me contacted them. The original headline was unintentionally funny—if you get the joke.

I've been thinking of doing some word blogs. I have to do something with that dusty old English degree, right?


The show that never ends

There were two benefits for Girls Rock Camp Vancouver recently. I had to miss the one last Thursday, which is too bad, because there were camper bands there, including a couple of girls I worked with. I would love to have seen them play! Sweetie and I went Saturday, though, to see two bands in which a fellow Ladies Rock Camp participant plays and the non-party debut of a band that was basically formed at the last Ladies Rock Camp. They came up from Portland to start their careers with an international tour! The two shows raised almost $3,000 for the girls camp. Woot!

I made a little music of my own in between those two shows, at a party. It was the first time I had done the acoustic-guitar-and-singing thing in front of people for several years. And that hasn't been my normal mode of expression since I was in my early 20s. I have usually played electric guitar with a band. Being a singer-songwriter without a net was a little scary.

Still, it was a friendly if sober audience. I played an old song of mine, then a brand new one, then another old one, and finally a cover (someone else's) song. I could have made a couple of different choices, but overall things went well, and the reception was good. One friend told me she wants to hear more.

No plans for that yet. It's time to get back to drum practice! But who knows what opportunities might arise—or that I might create. As well, seeing our Portland friends playing on Saturday made me wish I had a band, at least one for fun. I do love to make electric guitar noise! And maybe drum noise, or even bass noise. No one ever said geezers couldn't rock out. Well, actually, some have, but they were wrong. Joan Jett is not much younger than I am!


Time is on my side

I destroy my enemy when I make him my friend.
Abraham Lincoln

I love my computer. I actually have two on my desk, but one belongs to work. That one's fine, but I don't love it. I spend my work hours on it. I spend far too much of the rest of my time on my personal laptop, reading Facebook, commenting on Facebook updates, reading blogs, commenting on blog posts, writing blog posts, looking up things for blog posts, reading email, writing email, chatting on IM, finding out where that restaurant is and what they serve...well, you get the picture.

I love my computer, but my computer is my enemy, or at least the enemy of any attempts I make at time management. I am already a chronic procrastinator. That was true before I ever owned a computer. But the bond between my laptop and me makes breaking this habit all that much harder.

This past week, I tried something new. I already use Outlook to keep track of appointments and tasks such as "send birthday card to Paul." I realized I should add other kinds of tasks, basically anything I have to do, with a reminder. So I started to do it. I added even small tasks and things I would have done anyway.

Monday was a busy day: do laundry, change the cat box, write a letter to my mother and mail it, go to the gym, make lasagna for supper, and upload a school assignment. Instead of sitting at my computer after work thinking that I should be doing something, I was out doing things. That was the first time I've been to the gym in, well, I'd rather not say.

I didn't stay quite that busy for the rest of the week, but then those were small tasks. On Tuesday, I made an appointment for later in the week, went to the gym again, made stir fry for supper, and went over material for my final exam. I had to be downtown on Wednesday evening for my final, but I managed to squeeze in preparation for mailing in our (Canadian) taxes (photocopying a bunch of stuff and stapling documents in proper order) and taking a shower. On Thursday, I put the tax returns in the mail and went to the gym again, and then later went to the meetup. On Friday, I called in a prescription, picked it up, went to my appointment, and even ironed the pillowcases that often sit on the ironing board for too long (until Sweetie ends up taking care of them).

The gym is a really important thing here. It's funny how if I stop going, I don't feel as good, even to the point of not feeling good enough to work out. It's kind of a Catch-22. But if I can break the cycle of lethargy, and start up the cycle of regular exercise, I feel better. Sleep better too. Keeping it up is going to be one of the most important things to come out of this scheme. I took Friday and today off, but I'd better either go tomorrow or be sure to start again on Monday. The more days I take off, the easier it is to take another day off, and another, until lethargy has take over again.

I'm not turning everything into Outlook tasks, but doing it at all is helping me to keep things in mind that I need to do and to be in a mood to be more productive. Saturday morning is always grocery shopping on the Drive, and I don't need a reminder for that, but this afternoon I pulled myself away from this machine to work on the garden. Weeding! Such fun, but really it was pretty satisfying. Then I filled all the bird feeders, which is normally Sweetie's job, but she's been pretty much flat out this week at work. That felt good too. I put out the thistle feeder for the first time this year. I want to see goldfinches!

I must keep dumping tasks into Outlook and giving them due dates. I don't want to get all regimented and shit. But it really is too easy for me to waste time in ways that I claim are not a waste but are not what I ought to be doing. And that's so I can feel good about myself. Some people are naturally motivated to get stuff done. With little self-discipline, I need help. So I put my computer to better use.

I'm not destroying my enemy. I need it for this scheme to work! But I'm using it to take away some of its power over me, and taking that power back for myself. I think my laptop and I will be better friends for it.


Stylin' on Main

This post should have at least one picture, of course, but fashion articles talk about lots of items for which there is no corresponding picture in the magazine, right? So I shall attempt to paint a picture with words.

Last might, I met seven other people from a Meetup group at Public Lounge Eatery at Main and 17th. I could not have had a better time! I knew some of the people there, met others for the first time, and thoroughly enjoyed sharing food and wine and conversation with them all.

This was my first time at Public Lounge. It seems like a place the cool local people go for a drink and some nibbles. The menu has groups called First Plates (starters), Second Plates (small), Third Plates (larger), and sides. They also have a menu for antipasto, charcuterie, and cheeses. Everything is à la carte but very reasonably priced.

Since I was sharing a bottle of Domaine de Chaberton Bacchus (a Riesling-style wine) with the others, I ordered pan-seared Arctic char from the Third Plates menu, with sides of risotto and the seasonal vegetable, which was asparagus. What arrived was a generous portion of char, bigger than I had expected, on a bed of risotto, with asparagus on the side. The fish was excellent, cooked just enough. The risotto exploded with flavour. And the steamed asparagus, no fancy treatment, just a bit of lemon, was delicious. It all paired very well with the Bacchus.

It was a very Main Street night. I wore a black dress with a criss-cross neckline that I bought at Two of Hearts during a Main Street shopping spree with another Meetup group. I had thought I was done shopping, but the dress was just too complimentary to pass up. I wore orchid tights for a bit of colour and my new favourite black caged sandals that I got on sale at Nine West. They're going-out-with-a-bit-of-an-edge shoes and are amazingly comfortable for a four-inch stiletto heel. It was fairly mild and springlike last evening, so I wore a poncho I'd bought on that same shopping trip at Twigg and Hottie. It's various shades of pinky-purple, made from patches of reused wool, and it went perfectly with the tights. I clipped my hair up, wore simple hoop earrings and my new Joannie Rochette heart necklace, and even managed to get my makeup just right (a smokey eye combination called "pink smoke" from Jane Iredale).

I got snaps for the poncho as soon as I walked in the door (I was a bit late—the others were already there). And as we were leaving, outside on the sidewalk saying goodbye, this nice-looking young man approached me. I thought he was going to ask for money! Instead, he said, "Excuse me. If I may impose—nice shoes, nice stockings, nice cape." It wasn't creepy. He wasn't hitting on me. Apparently, he just liked the look. I was caught off guard, and it was all I could do to say thank you—with a smile.

I really love this group, and since the group owner keeps the meetups small (which I appreciate), I feel privileged when I manage to say "yes" in time or to slide up the waiting list.