<$BlogRSDURL$> Spontaneous Things: Karina Sumner-Smith's Blog
Saturday, January 31, 2004
Quote of the Day

Sitting atop a six foot high shelf made out of two by fours, crouched down to avoid the ceiling, nailgun in hand:

"Look! They're going to give me a Darwin Award!"

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 3:35 PM (0) comments

Wednesday, January 28, 2004
All That Snow

Yesterday was supposed to be my full day of classes (aka marathon class day), but the storm came instead. I woke to my alarm and left the radio on while I checked the weather situation on the internet. York said that the University was open, the weather stations said that the weather looked horrible, and I didn't know what to do until the radio DJ said, "If it is not absolutely necessary for you to go out today, don't."

"Sounds like a plan," I thought, and went back to sleep for another few hours.

Good thing, too, for while I could have made my way to York in the morning (though would have likely been very, very late) getting home would have been next to impossible. In the morning the snow had stopped for a little bit, giving people some opportunity to start clearing the snow, but in the afternoon it started again, and kept snowing, and kept snowing, and kept snowing... In the middle of the afternoon I went out to go to the corner store at the end of the street so we didn't starve in the snow, and a walk that usually takes about four or five minutes took almost fifteen. I had to walk in the middle of the road for part of the way, simply because the tire tracks were the only part I could see where I wouldn't flounder helplessly in the snow. By the time I finally made it back to the apartment, my jeans were coated in snow up to my knees, my gray hat was white with snow, and I had snow stuck in every imaginable nook and cranny of my boots and jacket and mittens ... ack.

It was rather pretty, though. Even as I was slipping and sliding my way through the drifts, face buried in my scarf, I thought how lovely it all was, in a strange sort of way. When the wind would pause, or I'd go into the shelter of the building, the snow came down so gently in big, soft flakes. And there was a quiet that you don't usually hear in the city--so few cars moving, the sounds of voices and machinery muffled by the snow.

The snow is making its way into my writing, too. A story idea hit me rather suddenly on Sunday morning, and I wrote a few hundred words before heading off to Sarah's. I'm reading Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series right now (which is probably my favourite YA series) and was thinking a lot about endings, and forgetting, and moving on with one's life after the magic is gone. And it started to coalesce into something resembling a story. I pondered it all the way home from Sarah's too, walking home from the subway station in the stillness with the snow drifting down. Somehow they've all become connected: snow and remembering, that sense of stillness and sorrow, the calm of the absence of memory.

The story itself is all a mess right now--bits of text and dialog and ideas floating around. We'll see what comes of it, if I can only convince my body that it's not time to hibernate, I really don't need 15 hours of sleep a day, and that this is all productive work time. (Ha.)

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 7:24 PM (0) comments

Monday, January 26, 2004
Catchall Entry

I know I haven't been here much lately, and I apologize. I have been distracted. There have been the usual school-related things, but what's really been occupying my mind is my Oma. I'm not going to go into much detail here, but in short when she moved into New House lifting a box (or perhaps the repeated lifting of many boxes) broke her back. Literally. And this fractured back was not healing and causing a great deal of pain, so last week she went in for surgery. Day surgery, amazingly enough, with a new technique, not very invasive and all that lovely sort of stuff. But still, I worry. That's what I do.

I went home for a couple of days just to be with her, and am happy to say that she's feeling better, bit by bit. At this rate, within a few days she'll be on her feet for more than just a few minutes at a time, and getting back to her usual self. (My Oma so hates to be in bed.) And so that's a big relief.

Yesterday, for a change of pace, I went to Sarah's for our 10th Kingdom marathon. I'd never heard of this miniseries, to be honest, before Sarah insisted that I needed to see it when we were talking on one of our Inuyasha days, and popped the first DVD in to prove that indeed I really did need to see it. Apparently, this one came out around the same time as that Merlin miniseries and others, but whether I was curiously absent from the TV while the promos were running or the ad campaign was dreadful or what, I don’t know. But I've seen it now, and am happy that I did. As I tried to describe last night, it's a contemporary fantasy/fairy tale(s)/comedy/drama/adventure story. I do so love "unclassifiable."

Didn't feel like I'd just watched 8 hours worth of show, though. It's like reading a good book before going to bed; all of a sudden you look at the clock and say, "It's what time?! I have to get up in an hour!"

In fact, the only real disappointment of the day was the garlic bread. I told Marissa the other day about some very disappointingly insipid garlic bread that I'd had while out, but that, while being little more than toasted butter bread was at least enjoyable on the bread level. The garlic bread that we ordered with our pizza, however, was not enjoyable on any level whatsoever. There were only two pieces--a blatant rip off, if you ask me--which proved to be the top and bottom of a hamburger bun. An old hamburger bun, from the taste of things, which was really not made any better by the fact that the bottom was totally burnt. And while they seemed to use real garlic and some quantity at that, it was ... sour. And lacking in salt, or something. Dreadful stuff. It's just wrong to mangle garlic bread that way.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 12:00 PM (0) comments

Friday, January 23, 2004
The Plan

I received an invitation the other day to Tobias Buckell's summer writing workshop. "Oh, cool," I said, feeling pleased with myself. I haven't been involved in a writing workshop for almost three years, and this one looks like could be interesting. Of course, considering the distance I'd need to travel, I'd have to go to the week-long workshop, not the three-day one. I looked at the dates.

"Oh," I said. "Well, that's out." It goes until July 17th, see, and that just doesn't work for me. That conflicts with The Plan--a key element of The Plan, no less! And then I realized that I have only told one non-family person about the plan in its entirety, and a few more know bits and pieces. The Plan is important to me. The Plan is officially being unveiled.

See, we all know that I'm a fan of adventure racing, and for years now I've wanted to be in a race myself. We're not talking full-flown Eco-Challenge here (let's be realistic), but something. There are many races that take place all over the world, and which vary in length from a few hours or an afternoon to the nine, ten, eleven day expedition races. There are many possibilities. However, entering is not really an option for the following reasons:

1. I have no money.
2. I have no team.
3. I am not exactly what you'd call "fit."

I can earn money. I can find teammates. But how on earth could I get anyone to have me on their team when I have the physical fitness of your average, computer-based undergrad? I sit in chairs all day. Does this sound like someone you'd want to have on your adventure racing team? I thought not. So physical fitness is task number one.

Last summer I learned to run. (My best lesson: when running, your feet should propel you forward, not up. Seems simple enough, but just watch; many people out there go jogging like they're on a trampoline.) I even learned to enjoy running, something I once thought was never possible. And I thought of Phil, who has been both encouraging and inspiring. Phil's been running short races of late, 5K and thereabouts. "Hmm," I said. "I could run 5K."

And so a mini-plan was born: I could run a short race! Woo! And happily I went off looking for races to be in this summer. While searching I stumbled across something far more interesting and convenient.

See, I have a cottage in a small town--hell, it's just a subdivision with trees--on Lake Huron. The closest real town, with stores and everything, is a place called Kincardine. (The name's supposedly Scottish, as were the people who first established the town, or so the story goes. I have some crazy Kincardine-related bagpipe stories to tell, but those will wait for another day.) And there, on a list of Ontario races, was a link to the Kincardine Women's Triathlon.

Yes, I'm going to enter a triathlon. Running, swimming and biking--now we're talking! Once upon a time, I was quite a good swimmer, and I was best at distances (with the 1h 22m swim across a bay as my absolute peak of triumph). And once upon a time, I was able to ride a bike for more than five minutes without being tired. (Yes, bikes and I have had a few bad run-ins in the past, but I can and have been and will move past all that.)

Plus, as it's just a small triathlon, the distances aren't overwhelming: 300 meter swim, 10 km of biking and 2.5 km of running. Yes, I can do this.

But The Plan doesn't end there. If the triathlon is successful, I will move on to Phase 2: the 5Peaks Trail Running Series. The places where they run these races are all quite close to where I live. The early races are out, of course, but the ones in August and September seem to be possibilities. These are trail races that vary in length between about 9 km and 12 km, so we're talking about a rather more significant distance. This will take quite a lot of work to get myself up to this level. But whenever I feel that this might be impossible, I remind myself: Oprah ran a marathon.

I am excited. Very, very excited. And last weekend I was also scared, because I hadn't done any real running in so very long. (See earlier entry for the cold weather/asthma attack connection.) So I ended up going with my father to a local community centre that has an indoor running track, where I ran for 2 km. (2K--woohoo! I am not hopeless!) And then I fiddled around with a rowing machine for a while, because my arms have the strength of wet noodles, and then spent a while on an exercise bike. It was the bike that did me in. It's going to take a bit to be able to bike 10 km, especially after swimming and before running. But I'll do it. And on Sunday I ran 0.75 miles on a treadmill that doesn't convert the distance into km (boo, hiss) before thinking, "Okay, that's enough for the first weekend."

So that, ladies and gentlemen, is my Plan. Wish me luck.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 12:09 PM (0) comments

Wednesday, January 21, 2004
One Paragraph
Or, Thank You, Connie Willis

I finished up Andre Schwartz-Bart's The Last of the Just a few days ago, and it left me completely emotionally toasted. Overwhelmed. Reeling. The book itself is actually rather good on quite a few levels, though not light reading, to be sure. (The translation is very good, too--quite readable.) But the penultimate paragraph ... wow. Never have I read anything so emotionally charged in my entire life. I don't know if it was that I'd read a whole book to get to that one paragraph, or just the paragraph itself, but it totally flattened me. I started reading that paragraph dry-eyed, ready to close to close the book. I read a line, two ... and then I realized what he was doing, what I was reading. And I kept reading, each word, and by the time I was halfway through the paragraph my throat was closing and I was choking down sobs.

A paragraph. A single, small paragraph. Sweet lord.

After I put the book down, I went to watch part 2 of the Battlestar Galactica mini-series, which I enjoyed, despite only seeing the last ten or so minutes of part 1. Nearly cried through part of that, too. I blame Just.

But that level of emotional burnout transferred over into everything else. I sleepwalked my way through Elie Wiesel's Night on the bus, and stumbled halfheartedly through other things, before saying "Enough!" I grabbed an old issue of Asimov's off of my shelf (May 1986, to be precise) and read Connie Willis's novelette "Chance." It was like being able to breathe again. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Connie Willis.

Course, reading "Chance" I noticed something odd: it was almost eerily similar at times to Elizabeth Hand's Waking the Moon (except without the Benandanti, and the killer goddess). It was the setting, memories of a college campus in the eighties, and it was the people, this triangle of college students with nicknames taken from their last names. It was the aura and the feeling and the energy of the story, and it made me think, "Is this what college life was for people?" Is there this similarity in tone popping up in different stories simply because when people talk of college (in that ever-so-American way that makes Community College into college and University into college), is this what they mean? Is this what they experience? I am confused.

Ah, well. I went to Bakka this afternoon (which is different than usual, because I usually go on Tuesdays to pester Sarah), and bought a Connie Willis book that I didn't have (thank you, Connie Willis) and chatted with Chris for a while. Happy. Now I'm blasting music through my earphones, delighting over anything with a fast tempo. No Doubt's version of "It's My Life" is absolutely fantastic ("It never ends...").

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 11:14 PM (0) comments

Tuesday, January 20, 2004
Letters, Letters

I can send and receive email again, hooray! But as a consequence of the pause, I am now noticeably behind on my email and tomorrow's marathon class day is not going to help any. Plus, some of my email time is now devoted to the Letter Game.

After I mentioned how fun the Letter Game sounded, as described by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer in Sorcery and Cecelia, M'ris said that she'd play the Letter Game with me. (Course, her public mention of the Letter Game now means that she's involved in lord only knows how many fiction-based correspondences ...) I tried to be strong and dutiful and say that I'd only play when I was finished with my classes in April ... but what fun is that? I gave in, and am very happy that I did. We're playing a three-person Letter Game, too, which makes everything that much more interesting.

And what's fantastic about this is that it doesn't have to be anything. It doesn't have to be plotted ahead of time, or follow rules or guidelines. It doesn't have to be finished by a certain date. It doesn't have to be saleable when we're finished--and if by some miracle it is, then that's just a lovely bonus. I have no idea what's going to happen to these characters next, and have few ideas about what's happened to them in the past (though they keep dropping hints). It's just so fantastic to write something that's just fun.

In other news, I've heard a rumour that there may not be an Eco-Challenge 2004. I hope and pray that it is false, but am coming to distrust good ol' Mark Burnett. If you've watched that reality show with Donald Trump, The Apprentice, (or at least seen the end of the closing credits) you'll have noticed that it's a Mark Burnett Production. And all I'm saying is that he better not have abandoned adventure racing for a bunch of business weasels. That would be ... sub par.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 12:31 AM (0) comments

Sunday, January 18, 2004
I have been trying to get into my email inbox since last night and whenever I try I am told by Yahoo that the page is not currently available. I am irritated. I want my email! I have email to reply to, and Letters to write (woohoo, Letter Game!) but I just can't get to them. Grrr.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 5:55 PM (0) comments

Friday, January 16, 2004
Say What?

Last night I received an email from Matthew Cheney with a link to this entry in his blog.

I was ... am ... shocked. And very, very happy.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 10:13 AM (0) comments

Thursday, January 15, 2004
Quote of the Night

To Carly, referring to our dinner: "You know, except for the oil fire, that was pretty sucessful."

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 12:10 AM (0) comments

Wednesday, January 14, 2004
Dare I Ask?

Jamaica Kincaid has a book, which I've read, called My Garden (Book):. No, I am not punctuating that badly. One word is in brackets and there's a colon at the end. Here's my question: WHY?? The word "book" being in brackets is actually kind of clever, giving a double meaning for the title and all, but what's with the colon? And it's not just a typo, unless the typo was on the original manuscript and has been put on the cover, title page and copyright without anyone noticing the error. Is there a reason for this, or are authors just adding unnecessary punctuation to titles to be different (aka pretentious)?

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 7:53 PM (0) comments

Report from the Fort

Jury's still out on the sick thing. I am feeling wonky, let's put it that way, and hope it gets no worse. The weather, of course, is going downhill rapidly. It's something like -13 outside again, and snowing, and windy, and tomorrow's supposed to be sunny but a high of -20. This is officially insanity.

What makes it worse is that the radiator in the kitchen/front door area of the apartment does not appear to be working very well. And the large windows of this apartment, which are ever-so-lovely in the summer, are now just letting the heat escape at a rather frightening speed. So we've put up sheets over the windows, and, in desperation, a sheet to block the kitchen area from the living room. (The kitchen is currently only 15 degrees, a good seven degrees colder than anything a normal person would consider "room temperature".) Carly has likened the appearance of our apartment to a play fort, and I must admit she's right. All I need now are a few couch cushions, a toy sword and maybe some Lego and I'll suddenly be eight again.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 12:14 PM (0) comments

Monday, January 12, 2004
I'd just like to note that I'm not getting sick again. Not. Not, not. Because that would be crazy. It would keep me from getting work done, and generally drive me to despair. It would be my third cold in about five weeks, and that just doesn't sound possible. Right. Glad I've decided that. Now could someone please tell my throat?

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 11:27 PM (0) comments


The devil seems to have taken some pity on me and the rest of the city: the weather today has been gorgeous. It's only a few degrees below freezing, and at least around the apartment there is no wind. I woke up this morning to see fresh, white snow everywhere, on every branch, with more drifting slowly down. I went outside to check on my car, and everything was still and cool and clean. Beautiful. I would have loved to go for a run this afternoon, as I did yesterday afternoon, but my running shoes have zero traction in any sort of snow or slush, no matter how beautiful. Still, lovely.

Speaking of running, since it's been so difficult for me to go out running in the winter (due to the aforementioned shoe problem and the fact that cold weather and exercise usually equal an instant asthma attack) I've been searching for a good local pool. I think I've found one, too, and rumour says that it's Olympic size, which would be perfect. I have plans for this coming summer, and though the summer's still months away the plans require that I get much fitter than I am in pretty short order. So. Yet more luck and crossed fingers requested.

My only problem now is that the plans have interested me to such a degree that I've been worrying about that rather than, oh, say the essays that are due in a matter of days and the stack of books I'm supposed to read for class. "Focus!" I tell myself. "Focus!"

(To which I inevitably reply, "Focus, ha. You really do get funnier with age, darling. ... Say, don't we have an Eco-Challenge to watch?")

Ooh ... Eco-Challenge. My preciousssss ...

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 5:08 PM (0) comments

Sunday, January 11, 2004
Well, yesterday started out badly with a visit from the landlord to demand that I move my car out of its parking space. He said that Carly and I had to put our cars together in one driveway, and give the other one to the woman upstairs. Now while there is physically room for our cars to sit side-by-side in that space, there is not room for us to get them there--not in the winter, anyway, with the permanent ice on the very steep lane. Siro does not have snow tires, nor do I have the money to buy any, and so fancy maneuvering on ice is not something that I can do--especially when failure to maneuver properly means that I hit either A) a pole, B) a brick wall, C) a low wall made out of rocks, or D) Carly's car. And if by some miracle I missed all of those objects, I could slide off the lane into a ravine. Nice.

The landlord didn't care about any of that, though, and so I now have to park my car on the street. You're not supposed to park on the street long-term. (The signs say 1 hour is allowed.) But I really don't have any alternatives. And I'm trying to be very calm and mature about this, really I am, telling myself that no one is doing this because they want to inconvenience me personally, that the woman is just looking for a place to put her spare car, etc., etc., but damn is it ever hard.

But things got better. Much better, actually. First, there were cupcakes, and then I went to a party at Rob Sawyer's house. Despite never driving to Rob's place from my apartment, the drive was actually pretty straightforward and easy (no getting lost--woohoo!). Sarah and Nathaniel were already there by the time I arrived, as were many others, and a vegetarian pizza.

As Sarah says, the biggest surprise was seeing Rick Wilber there. Apparently he’s moved away from Florida and now lives within driving distance of Toronto. Since we missed each other at Worldcon, it was great to be able to chat for a bit. And I got some good news, too: my Asimov Award submissions did reach him in time, and I’m still in the running. Cross your fingers for me everyone!

It was a fun party, with many lovely geeky moments, SF television theme songs and much amusement thanks to Batman (all three of them). It was a pity, though; when I hoped for cute, young, single males to be at the party, I meant ones who were older than five. Just goes to show, I should be specific next time.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 9:56 PM (0) comments

Friday, January 09, 2004
O Canada

Yesterday, about mid-way through my afternoon class, my knees and ankles started to ache in that unique way that means Bad Weather is Coming. As the hours passed, the pain got worse, to the point that I had to take Advil on the bus ride home (which is really rare for weather aches). I literally limped home from the subway station.

"Well," I said upon returning home, "something's moving in." I checked CP24 and found out the details. Today, the high is -15. The high. And there's a windchill of -35. Remember how I said that Wednesday's wind was the devil? I was wrong. This is the devil.

And, of course, I have plans to go out tonight, and after a week of being in here, sick, I want to go somewhere. Maybe I'm crazy to go out in this weather. Okay, no, wait, rephrase that: I am crazy to go out in this weather. So here I go!

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 3:46 PM (0) comments

Wednesday, January 07, 2004
Thank You, Skippy!

Oh, I'm so happy! I found the Greater Toronto Online Adventure Racing site for ... well, obvious reasons, and on their message board someone has posted the times that SportsNet will be playing the Eco-Challenge North America 2003 (the NA qualifying race). Seems that even though EC 2003 was a no-go, they still ran the qualifiers--and they're on TV! And Episode 1 is being played tomorrow! Woo! Now, looks like I have to take another trip out into the devil of a wind to buy myself a new video...

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 4:18 PM (0) comments

The Devil, In Various Incarnations

I just got back from the bank. Please note, the bank is not far away from me--about a ten, fifteen minute walk at the very most. It's right next to the subway station, and we all know how I blather on about how conveniently close that is, so. Anyway. Just got back from the bank, and the wind out there is the devil. Absolutely 100% Devil. According to the ever-trustworthy CablePulse24, it's currently -8 degrees out there with a wind chill of -18. Trust me, it feels colder.

Well, at least I got that bill paid, and I will avoid panicking by simply not discussing the state of my bank account. And, really, anything that will keep me from going back to writing presentations is a good thing.

Okay, what is she doing up there? The new woman who lives upstairs, the one who replaced Stompy, is having a loud day today. Right now she seems to be bouncing some sort of gigantic ball on the floor above my head. Repeatedly. Course, I'm liable to be irritated at Not-Stompy right now, because she wants to take my parking space. Carly and I got a message from the landlady yesterday saying basically, "Hi, the woman who has moved in upstairs has two cars, and so she'll be parking in one of your spots. Please accomodate this situation. Bye." Hmm, let's see. Carly and I are two people, with two parking spots and two cars. She is one person who has access to half of the garage and half of the main driveway (her side can fit two cars, end to end). And there's no way that I can fit Siro next to Carly's car--maybe it's physically possible, but I can't make that kind of turn off of the very steep lane into the narrow driveway in the winter in the ice. Not and avoid scraping the side of my car on the low rock walls. So. I'm not moving. What does one woman need with two cars, anyway? She can only drive one at a time, after all.

Anyway, what I was going to say before she distracted me is that I'm having some difficulty concentrating these days. Part of it is the cold, which has made my head ache and my eyes hurt and water so much that I have great difficulty looking at the computer screen for any stretch of time. And part of it is that I simply don't care anymore. I've hit that point where I just don't want to do this anymore. Not the classes, not the books, not the presentations, not the essays, not any of it. Usually I hit a point like this in mid-March; I think the thing now is that I'm so close to being done. I've made my appointment to have my grad photos taken, and am having to make post-April plans, post-student plans. And I just want to be done with it all already.

Ah, well. 12 weeks is not a long time. I can do this. Focus, breathe, and plow through.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 2:53 PM (0) comments

Monday, January 05, 2004
Small Mercies

I've just received an email about one of my classes tomorrow: it's cancelled. Upon reading it I cried, "Oh, thank you!" to my monitor and whatever kind person made this decision. The class that comes before it is "sort of" cancelled: he has nothing to teach us, but if we'd like to discuss our major essay topics with him, then by all means swing by. I've known what I'll be writing about since class #1 (Blogging and SF Writers--appropriate, eh?), so that's a no. Which means that my only class tomorrow is my 10:00 - 11:30 class, and I am NOT going to get up at 7 AM and commute for over an hour to get there and then over an hour to get home again for an hour and a half of class. Not feeling like I do right now, not even with the lovely Extra Strength Dristan Cough and Cold on my side. So: yay.

Of course this also means that the two assignments that I've done so far today don't need to be handed in until Thursday and next week, repectively, but hey, I will not complain. Especially as I now have another day in which to prepare these damn presentations and work on this essay, as well as another week to deal with Civilization and Its Discontents and The Brothers Karamazov, never mind Last of the Just.

And speaking of The Brothers Karamazov, it went and surprised me by getting interesting around page 580 or so. See, it always had interesting bits in it; I'm particularly fond of times when the narrator stops the story to give a person's entire history, or tells an only tangentally related story. Seriously. While pointless side-stories and the like usually irritate me no end, these bits were the absolute highlights of the book for me (and far too rare). When it came time for the main characters to interact again, my eyes would glaze over.

So I don't know what changed. Did I suddenly connect with the main narrative? Is the approaching murder trial enough to finally get my jaded attention? Was it, perhaps, that the Devil suddenly became a character? Or should I merely chalk my sudden enjoyment of Dostoevsky to the fact that I seemed to be running a fever last night? Whatever the cause, all I know is that after crawling into bed at about 9 PM, I pulled the heavy book onto my lap and read it quite happily for a good hour or so. And speaking of bed, I'm going back to mine.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 5:27 PM (0) comments

Sunday, January 04, 2004
Well, either the cold decided to give me a week of rest before returning stronger than ever, or I've picked up a new one. Just in time for classes to start, too... Now I'm facing the bus, the returning cold weather, class, as well as an essay to write and two presentations to prepare and give all with this lovely head cold. Well, serves me right for not doing it earlier.

But, though I've spent a good lot of time over the last day or so curled up in bed, or curled up in a chair, or generally curled up, I've tried to get things done. I'm back in Toronto, with all the packing and driving and whatnot that that entails. I baked four banana breads, and wired in a new car stereo. I also tried to plow through a bit more book, but last time it literally put me to sleep. (Maybe a good thing, seeing how long I slept.)

And, much to my delight, my father managed to get the laptop up and working for long enough to get all but two of my files off of it and onto new computer. So I have everything I need, no worries about losing important documents or stories or anything! (So I can stop mourning my lost story submission spreadsheet, because it's fine. Whew.)

Also in the good news category, friend, Clarion classmate and fellow Torontonian Genevieve Kierans has put up a gorgeous new website, complete with blog. (And Happy Birthday, Gen!)

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 1:11 PM (0) comments

Thursday, January 01, 2004
My Computer is Dead

Long live my computer.

The poor thing had been clacking its death clacks for months, and dumping physical memory and shutting down spontaneously pretty much every day. I brought it home with me, but then was afraid to turn it on as I had a feeling that I could get it running once, maybe twice more and that would be it. So it sat.

Knowing of the laptop's pending demise, my father and I went out yesterday afternoon scouting for computer deals. (Though I know a deal, I'm not so good a knowing what, exactly, I need or want in a computer. I appreciated the help muchly.) We checked out Future Shop online, and Dell online, and went out voyaging to see if we could get a better deal at any of the local stores. We ended up at Business Depot and happened to stumble over the best deal imaginable.

We'd been looking at the Compaq computers, and there was a new-but-refurbished one for under $500 that looked interesting. The helpful sales guy guided us to the sales board at the front which detailed their limited time offer: buy one of the listed computers, and receive a monitor and a printer for free. While we didn't really need either, free things are nothing to scoff at, and listed there on the board was the computer we were looking at. Elsewhere on the board was another computer for $100 less, except that it was brand new and had a year-long warranty instead of only a 90-day one. "Hmm," we said. "What's the deal? Newer computer, more warranty, less money?"

That was the deal alright. It was a floor model so they'd discounted it even more. Brand new Compaq computer for under $400 Canadian? We took it.

But wait, the deal gets better. Instead of the cheap monitor that the guy had showed us, when it came time to get our free monitor the helpful computer sales guy wheels us over a brand new Compaq monitor. "Are we getting that one?" I muttered to Martin out the side of my mouth.

"Looks like it," he muttered back. "Don't. Say. Anything."

And then came the printer: a brand new HP colour printer, still sealed in its box.

The retail price for the monitor and printer are more than we paid for the computer. We ran for the car, afraid that at any second they'd tell us they'd made a mistake. But no. So here I am, typing to you on my new computer, looking at my new monitor, with my new printer hanging around here somewhere. I have no idea how these people make money, I really don't.

The only bad thing in this story is that I fired up my old laptop one more time to get some files off it--the exams I just wrote, a final essay or two, "A Prayer of Salt and Sand"--and when Martin went to restart it so we could transfer files across the network, it didn't start up again. I'm not too worried about the files, as I have hard copies of "Prayer" and the exams and essays are all handed in ... but still. Would be nice.

And now ... back to my quota.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 6:11 PM (0) comments


Happy New Year, everyone. 2003 was an unstable year for me, but a good one, and now it's gone. Contrary to form, that's about as deep a retrospective as I feel like doing at the moment.

I surprised even myself by actually doing something for New Year's Eve. When it ended up being too late to drive into Toronto to do anything, I expected to lounge around here for the evening, watching Eco-Challenge and Ranma and TV countdowns. But, rather last minute, I decided to go with my family to the dinner-and-entertainment thing going on at a local pub, and had a surprisingly good time.

Much of my entertainment came from requesting strange songs throughout the evening. Due to the incredibly varied group at this gathering, the DJs were having a heck of a time balancing all the songs that people wanted to hear, hindered by what appeared to be a rather small collection of available material. We had a lot of oldies mixed with some Faith Hill and Bryan Adams and Spirit of the West. My running joke for the evening became, "They're going to play me the Dr. Who theme song next, I'm sure of it this time!"

Well, at least I got the Don McLean version of "American Pie," and had much fun singing along to Boney M's "Rivers of Babylon." They must have played Dr. Who after I left.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 5:45 PM (0) comments

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