Books 9, 10, 11 & 12 Of 2012

I have now finished four more books.

For my class, I was assigned to read “Fast Food Nation” by Eric Schlosser. “Fast Food Nation”, as I’m sure you can guess from the title, is a book about the fast food culture. I won’t say too much, but if you love fast food and/or just want to read a well-documented account of the industry, then I completely recommend you read this book.

Upon finishing, I felt both grossed out and intrigued by the rise of fast food and the success of the various key players.

The next three books I read go together: “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”, “The Girl Who Played With Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson. Let me start by saying, I loved these books! I understand that some people find them hard to read and others can’t even stomach the content, but I personally loved the books and wish Larsson had lived longer in order to write more books. His writing style is different, but for some reason, I find such styles attractive. I started the trilogy just over a week ago and whenever I had the chance, I got out Huib’s iPad and read for as long as possible.

Lisbeth Salander is an anti-social, introvert who likes nothing more than to spend hours skimming mathematical textbooks and learning as much as she possibly can about others in order to keep herself safe. As a young girl, she was locked up for two years in a psychiatric institution and then released under guardianship. No one understood this quiet young woman and assumed that she was mentally unstable. Throughout the trilogy you learn more about Lisbeth and her abilities and you watch people try to break through her personal walls of stone. In between all of the drama Lisbeth experiences, she helps a journalist, Michael Blomkvist, with an assignment to investigate the disappearance of a young girl, decades earlier. Then, in the second and third books, it is Blomkvist’s turn to help Salander.

If you’re looking for something different to read, I recommend all four of these books.

**************

Before I hit publish, I wanted to ask everyone to please take a moment and vote for Canyon in the Modern Dog Holiday Hounds Photo Contest. You just need to click here, and “like” his picture. Then, if you feel up to it, ask your friends and followers on your blog, Facebook and/or Twitter to do the same. Canyon thanks everyone for their help. The contest ends on December 17th, so I’ll be posting reminders here as I post new entries.

The Working Beauties

Cessna lies in front of limestone columns.  She is wearing her black leather CVC guide harness, a baby blue martingale collar with various coloured bugs and a black leather leash that is partially braided.

Rogue stands in front of limestone columns.  She is wearing her teal Active Dogs vest with her Silverfoot collar and leash that are different shades of blue.

Food For Thought

As mentioned earlier, I am taking an online course through the University of Guelph, called The economics Of Food Usage.

We are entering week six of the course, and I am finding there to be a lot of repetition in what people are writing in their discussion posts.

The most popular answers are:

* Food contamination;
* environmental Degradation;
* Social Inequalities; and
* Genetically Modified Organisms.

I’m not sure why, but it seems as though the above are the only possible responses to questions being posed in this class.

this week is my group’s opportunity to lead the online discussion, so I was doing some web searches to find some interesting resources I might offer on supply chain management – I know, so boring, but that is what we were assigned!

here’s an interesting link I came across that discusses the recent debates on GMOs and Monsanto:

I Learned I am the Problem

An interesting viewpoint, isn’t it?

Book #8 Of 2012

On the weekend, I finished reading “Persuader” by Lee Child.

Let me start out by saying, it was awesome! Even though I have tons of reading to do for school this semester, I couldn’t put the book down, so finished it as quickly as possible.

Jack Reacher is a retired military cop. he is approached by two federal agents, Duffy and eliot. they had been told that he was looking into the license plate number of a person they suspected of illegal activities. They want to know why he is interested in this person and what he knows about him. Reacher joins Duffy and eliot, in their investigation and in the process, hopes to finally avenge the death of a former military underling.

I’m sorry for the vague description, but I really don’t want to give too much away. It was an action-packed book from start to finish. I can’t wait to read another book from this series.

Since I have a lot of reading for school, I don’t know if I will get much more leisure reading done until early November.

General News

Again, sorry for the lack of blogging everyone. Hopefully this phase will pass soon.

Tomorrow, I will be starting another online course through the University of Guelph.

This will be the third course I have taken with them since moving to Northeastern Ontario.

This semester I have chosen to take Economics of Food Usage, through the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

I’ve never taken a course through this department, but from the course description and list of assignments, I think it should be a good one.

Next…

In just over a week, Rogue will be 17 months old.

Over the past couple of months, we have been trying to proof Rogue’s obedience outside the house, but have run into some difficulties. After some discussion, we’ve decided to try working on basic obedience in the house wearing a leash and her vest. We are beginning to wonder if maybe Rogue is having trouble associating the various obedience commands she knows so well at home with also being able to be done while wearing a leash and her vest. It sounds silly, but from what I’ve learned, dogs are really horrible at generalizing.

Another area which we have been having some troubles, is with Rogue putting on her collar, Easy Walk Harness and vest. Rogue seems to have a big issue with things going over her head, so we have decided to start making everyone wear their collars all the time. I used to have collars on my dogs at all times, but started leaving them off when Canyon was little and would use the collars to drag the other dogs around the house. Then, Rogue almost snapped her neck from falling off the bed when she was around six months of age. It didn’t happen, obviously, but if Huib had not been there when her collar looped itself around our bed post and she lost her balance, I really don’t know what would have become of our little Hurricane.

Now that she is older, and to try and combat the problems with having things go over her head, we have started leaving the collars on everyone. It has been about a month now, and I think it may be helping, but we’ll wait a bit longer to see if she’s really gotten over the problem.

Lately, we have been noticing our little Hurricane maturing. People are starting to see her less as a cute little puppy, and more as a service dog who should not be bothered. We are still encouraging people to approach her and pet, but we have also started truly teaching rogue to stop and wait at curbs, steps and any other sort of surface change I may need to be warned of. Huib and I seem to be on different pages with consistency in this portion of her training, but I am hoping that maybe I can start taking a little more of a role in her public access training – which will in turn, increase consistency.

In addition to learning to stop at surface changes, Rogue is starting to hear some of the directional commands she will need to know for guiding and in time, I hope to start teaching her their meanings in harness.

It’s honestly hard to believe that Cessna was almost fully trained at this age, and would begin working with me in just a month’s time.

I hope to sit down, and start really putting together a solid training plan for Rogue, so that Cessna can retire from service in the spring/summer. I’m just so nervous and worried about doing things wrong, that I guess I’ve really delayed things I probably didn’t have to.

Hmmm, what else have we been up to…

Just over six weeks ago, we went down to Guelph for a few days and took Aspen to see a doggie chiropractor. I honestly never thought I’d ever be taking my dog to a chiropractor, but after seeing how much of a difference the adjustments have made for Aspen, I am definitely a fan.

On Monday, Aspen will go for another treatment and we’ll get to see if the adjustments are sticking long-term or if we will need to continue going on a semi-regular basis (which, if they are helping, then I will do for her lifetime if needed).

I think I’ll stop here, but please come back tomorrow for some Canyon news 🙂

A new Semester

On Monday, I started another online course through the University of Guelph. There weren’t too many options for winter semester, so I chose Business & Consumer Law, through the Department of Marketing and Commerce Studies.

From reading the course outline, it looks as though this course will be a little tougher than I had hoped. In addition to my online participation, there will be an assignment, a midterm and final examination. I’m not too worried about the online participation or assignment portions of the course, but am not too excited about the midterm or final because both will be multiple choice.

I’m hoping that as long as I study hard, that maybe I can defy the odds and for once, actually do well on a multiple choice exam.

Please wish me luck!

Independent Woman

I’ve never taken part in the Disability Blog Carnival, but after reading this round’s topic, I was inspired.

I lost my sight in the summer of 1993. I had just finished grade 8 and was excited to begin grade 9 at a new school. It was a total shock. My parents weren’t sure where to turn. I spent my summer indoors, trying to adapt to a life without 20/20 vision.

September arrived and students returned to school. My mom didn’t know what to do with me. She kept me home the first day, and called our region’s Board of Education. She talked to a woman in charge of organizing special services and was relieved to learn that there was a department of sorts designed to help visually impaired and blind students.

That afternoon, I met a woman who would forever change my life.

Stephanie Sommer arrived around noon. She sat with my mom and I, at the kitchen table and asked questions. She had come to assess whether I truly required her assistance. The phone rang at some point during our meeting and after watching me reach past the phone, she took my hand and placed it onto the receiver with a smile.

After mom was finished with the call, Stephanie told us she would start working with me the following day.

Over the next five years, Stephanie would teach me not only the usual lessons of Braille and getting around safely with a cane, but she would inspire me to be an independent woman.

Stephanie never once treated me like I had a disability.

She expected me to act appropriately and study just as hard as every other student in my high school.

She always expected me to give eye contact.

She wouldn’t help me unless I said please or thank you.

And if I got frustrated and attempted to give up, she’d walk away and wait for me to get over it.

Stephanie and I developed more than just a student-teacher bond, we became friends. She told me about her own vision problems and told me how she embarked on an educational journey that led her to working with students like me.

I remember the feeling of comfort that would come over me each time I smelled her perfume, and the smile that would sprout on my face, no matter how bad the day, when I heard her voice. Stephanie was my navigator, guiding me through a world I now found scary and full of unknowns.

She taught me how to read Braille and how to fully utilize the vision I still had.

She showed me how to travel safely throughout my community with a cane, and then when I told her I wanted to apply for a guide dog, she challenged me to first move outside of my comfort zone. I learned how to take the bus to a neighbouring town to attend movies and shop alone in their mall. Then, she gave me the biggest test of all, she asked me to learn how to take the bus to Toronto and then learn to take the subway to the largest mall of all (at the time) – the Eatons Centre.

Once I entered my final year of high school, Stephanie was there to help me reach my goal of attending university. She read through university brochures and program descriptions. Then she helped me fill out application, after application because I couldn’t decide on which one to attend. She was there when I received each of my letters of acceptance and then took it upon herself to arrange campus tours so that I could better decide upon the school for me.

After I began university, Stephanie and I talked a couple times a year, but after she attended my wedding in 2006, we sadly lost touch.

I still think about the lessons she taught me. She inspired me how to be the woman I am today, because when no one else did, she believed I could be better.

Beautiful Girl

This picture was taken on Johnston Green, at the University of Guelph. I like it because it shows one of the most historic buildings on the campus – Johnston Hall.

Uninspired

Sorry for the lack of posting this week, but I just haven’t had anything to write about.

Everyone is doing well.

Rogue continues to grow and mature into a wonderful little girl. She is still learning to control herself around food, but we have now started to feed her with everyone else in the kitchen. We have Aspen and Canyon eat together using the bowl table, she used to share with Phoenix, and Cessna eats with Rogue on the other side of the kitchen. Rogue can get really jumpy and overexcited when she sees the food being prepared, so we have started to attach her to a leash that is around one of the couch legs. She seems to calm right down once she has the leash connected to her collar, so I’m hoping that she will learn with time, to just chill out and wait for the bowls to be put down. Other than that, we have been working on loose leash walking and are really hoping to have her ready for a Rally-O competition in November. Of course it will depend upon how much we practice and on whether her CKC paperwork comes in, but we can hope right?

Other than that, I’ve been busy with school reading and assignments. I actually got my first assignment back today and received a stellar grade, so I’m happy about that. The group discussion portion of the course still frustrates me, but the professor is supposed to be reorganizing the groups after she has marked the assignments we handed in today. Today’s assignment was to discuss and reflect on the group discussions and on how we felt our participation could be better. I’m not really sure this one went as well as the first assignment, but there are three other reflection papers to improve upon.

Nothing else is really new here. It has gotten really cold all of a sudden, so I’m sure we’ll have some snow pictures to share in the real near future. I was really hoping to have some more recent pictures of rogue to share with everyone, but it looks as though we have lost our camera. Maybe I’ll see if Huib can take some good ones with my IPhone.

For now, I’ll leave you with a couple pictures Huib took in June of Aspen and Canyon.

Student Woes

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have returned to school. I am taking an online course and am so far finding it interesting. I’m having a bit of trouble getting back into the swing of student life, since I graduated from McMaster in June of 2007, but overall it’s going well.

I forgot how frustrating it can be to work within a group though…

With this course, we do not officially work together, but we do have discussion sections on the course website where we must post our thoughts on each unit’s subject and then reply to others at least twice within that week.

You’d think this was an easy task.

But, it’s not…

The group I have been assigned to, seems to be comprised of worse slackers than myself.

The first unit officially started on the 8th, but no one, including myself, posted their “original” post until late on the 15th. Only one other person posted something along with me, and then nothing else other than my response the following day to that individual, was done until the evening hours of the 18th, and the unit ended at 11:00pm. I had checked the website each day and checked in the afternoon of the 18th, but there was nothing, so I was left without the ability to post my second response.

I went on the site yesterday to see what the topic was for the second unit, and what should I see? Two more people had posted their “original” post around 10:00pm on the 18th, and one of them had posted responses to two people!!!

So frustrating!

I really, really want to do well in this course, but am not sure it will be possible if I don’t have the ability to fulfill my discussion obligations.

I know it is only the first week, but it’s still frustrating because I’m wondering if this week’s performance (or lack of) will be a pattern.

Rant is over.