Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008: Year in Review

The time has come to reflect on a year gone by and anticipate the year ahead.

At the beginning of 2008, I had several goals: ace the GMAT, visit New York and visit the Harvard campus. I accomplished these goals, and I must say that 2008 has been the year of the flight. I read once that you should visit three new places every year. In 2008, I met the quota for several years' worth of new places: Cuba, Toronto, Niagara Falls, Boston, New York, Virginia and Washington DC.

I discovered the joys of all-inclusive resorts and figured out the fine balance between relaxation and adventure while in Cuba.

In Toronto and Niagara Falls, I recognized both the joys and pitfalls of travelling alone. You meet amazing people when you don't have a comfortable group around you.

And in Boston and New York, I found cities that speak my language. While visiting campuses, I met other people whose career ambitions match my own. I also formed some great memories with my mom, and got to see a Broadway show, an NFL game and the NY Philharmonic perform at Lincoln Center (all in the span of two and a half days :) ).

2008 was, in many ways, a year of confirmation for me. I have long been growing tired of Edmonton, and being in cities like Toronto and New York just confirmed that there are places that I indeed belong.

While 2008 was an island of stability and predictability, I am facing 2009 without a clue what comes next. If I find myself in the same place I am now as I approach 2010, I will be very sad indeed. 2009 is going to be a keystone year in my life... a year in which something must change, otherwise I fear I may be stuck in Edmonton in a dead-end job forever, just being the "crazy lady," since I don't like cats.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Who Rules the Internet?

Today, I was invited by my favourite band to go to their YouTube channel and view their latest video. I clicked the link in the email, and lo and behold, when I got to the site, I was informed that I am not allowed to view the video from my country.

This is something I don't understand. Clearly, there is not a copyright violation, since the band made it's video available to the public.

This particular incident is not the first time I've been frustrated by having content available, but not accessible. I would love to be able to download (for a fee from iTunes!) old episodes of Grey's Anatomy, or The Office that I missed. However, in Canada, all that is available is Little Mosque on the Prairie.

Something I have never considered before is that maybe something like the Internet, which is internationally accessible, should be internationally governed. Copyright laws should span borders, so there isn't conflict regarding who can access what.

Anyway... just food for thought. I am not a lawyer by any stretch of the imagination, so I have no expertise in this area, and I know it's complicated. I just want to be able to watch my Switchfoot video. :-(

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Paradox of the Crowd

In 1964, a young woman from Queens named Kitty Genovese was stabbed and killed while 38 neighbours watched from their windows.

In The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell mentions a study done by Bibb Latane and John Darley which found that the more eyewitnesses to an emergency, whether medical, fire or criminal, the less likely any one of them is to act. The reason is either that someone assumes someone else will do something, or the presence of so many witnesses has a numbing effect. People assume it isn't a significant problem because no one else is doing something.

I have long been baffled by charity organizations that do little more than "raise awareness." Tonight, as I was reading, I realized why. Is it possible that raising awareness can actually have the opposite of the intended effect? If I pass on a social issue to someone else, does that in effect reduce my passion to actually do something? I could easily get to thinking "well, I've told someone... that's something." But in reality, even if that someone tells someone else, the end result will be a lot of people knowing and assuming someone else is doing something.

I just finished reading The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs. It is a great book in many respects, but the one part that frustrated me was that there were no suggested actions. In fact, Sachs makes the case that extreme poverty could be ended by taking back the tax cuts from the superrich. Well, whoop-di-do. That's not really something I can do.

If you've followed me thus far, I am issuing a challenge. Next time you are faced with a significant issue, be it poverty, declining donations to charitable organizations, or even an emergency... DO SOMETHING! Don't just assume that someone else will.

This week I had the opportunity to hear Craig Kielburger speak. He founded Free the Children when he was 12 years old. He did it because he saw a problem and wanted to do something. At the age of 25, he has now been awarded several honorary doctoral degrees and a number of other impressive awards, including the Order of Canada. Isn't that impressive? But all he did was do something when he saw a need, rather than assume someone else would.

It is those who do something who make history.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


Tonight I was reminded that every once in a while (or maybe more often than that!), we need to step back and count our blessings. So here is a list of the blessings in my life:

- conversations... about books, about shoes, about travelling, about social justice, about the future... I love conversations that last for hours, with old friends and new friends

- roses... I love that Costco sells 2 dozen roses for a very reasonable price so that I don't feel guilty buying them for my dining room table

- small world coincidences... meeting new people who have connections with other people I know

- silver shoes and finding gorgeous blue dresses and silver clutches to match with them

- new possibilities and horizons that I never imagined... making connections with people on the other side of the world who can tell me about the realities of life I can only read about in books

- compliments... words of love from those who don't even realize that's exactly what I need

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


2008 will go down in my life as the first year of many flights. I've heard that it is recommended that you go three new places in a year, and this year, I am definitely filling that quota!

The first flight of the year was to Winnipeg. Although it was under sad circumstances (my grandma - Amma as we affectionately called her, since that is Icelandic for grandma - passed away), it was a great visit with family. It's funny how much more we appreciate family as we grow older.

The next set of flights (since it took two each way) was the first one that took me somewhere I had never been... Cuba! Not only had I never been there, it was also my first time outside of North America, and my first time "crossing" the Atlantic Ocean.

Shortly after getting home from Cuba, I got an invitation to head to London, Ontario to check out the Ivey School of Business campus. Although I had been through London and Toronto before, I cannot remember ever really visiting. And I definitely can't remember whether I'd ever been to Niagara Falls, so that was another set of firsts. (And the third set of flights!)

The next set of flights is going to take me to three new places: Boston, New York and Virginia. My mom and I are headed to Boston in early October to check out Harvard Business School and sneaking in a weekend in New York before heading further south to the University of Virginia, where the Darden School of Business is located. As I can't remember ever being out East during the time when the leaves are changing colours, I am VERY much looking forward to enjoying the fall foliage, especially in a collegiate environment!

Anyway... I am hoping this will be a new trend in my life, as it will probably be quite a while before I run out of three new places a year.

Oh, and I'm sorry as this is absolutely the most self-indulgent blog I've ever posted.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Western Affluence: At the Expense of the Impoverished?

This is less of an argument and more of a discussion... For a long time, I always assumed that our affluence in the "West" came at the expense of those in less fortunate circumstances: cheap labour for cheap goods, etc.

Right now I am reading two books:
- A Farewell to Alms by Gregory Clark, which examines the state of the world prior to 1800. Basically, up until the Industrial Revolution, the world was stuck in the "Malthusian Trap," meaning there was no gain to real incomes, since any increase in production was offset by an increase in population. He then examines the causes of the Industrial Revolution, and goes on to describe why some nations are affluent and others are impoverished.
- The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs, which discusses the factors causing extreme poverty, and what we can do about it.

These books may seem different, but they actually cover very similar material. Ironically enough, I had put down A Farewell to Alms last night (since it has many graphs and formulas and I wasn't in that head space) and picked up The End of Poverty, and it was discussing the factors and implications of the Industrial Revolution.

Anyway... all of this is helping me to start seeing poverty in a new way. Sachs, who I would originally assumed would have thought opposite, said explicitly that poverty in underdeveloped nations is not a result of the exploitation by affluent nations.

And, you'll have to bear with my reasoning here... Clark attributes "modern growth" to an increase in innovation... now, theoretically, if there are more countries contributing to innovative ideas and processes, that will simply increase production for everyone!

This is all just food for thought... Any other thoughts out there?

Monday, July 07, 2008

The End of Poverty

"The destinies of the 'haves' are intrinsically linked to the fates of the 'have-nothing-at-alls'." - Bono, from the foreword to The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs

Although I am certain I've posted quotes from Bono regarding the end to extreme poverty before, since I have started reading The End of Poverty, I am coming across them again. And they are still as poignant and powerful and they were when I first heard them. It is pretty intense to think of the immense privileges that we enjoy, as the richest sixth of the world. And I say 'we,' because if you are reading this, you probably have access to a computer, Internet and leisure time.

There are many people in the world who lack the tools required to pull themselves from extreme poverty, with extreme poverty defined as the state in which one fights daily for survival, facing struggles that many of us never worry about: malaria, TB, AIDS and malnutrition.

There is hope, though, and as I am reading this book, I hope to take more time to blog about the weighty issues involved. This is an issue that I have been processing and slugging through as much as I can, accessing as many resources as available so that I can do SOMETHING. Something big.

Here are some more quotes from the intro by Bono:

"..we could be the first generation to outlaw the kind of extreme, stupid poverty that sees a child die of hunger in a world of plenty, or of a disease preventable by a twenty-cent inoculation. We are the first generation that can afford it. The first generation that can unknot the whole tangle of bad trade, bad debt, and bad luck. The first generation that can end a corrupt relationship between the powerful and the weaker parts of the world which has been so wrong for so long."

"We can be the generation that no longer accepts that an accident of latitude determines whether a child lives or dies - but will we be that generation? Will we in the West realize our potential or will we sleep in the comfort of our affluence with apathy and indifference murmuring softly in our ears?"

"Future generations flipping through these pages [of history] will know whether we answered the key question. The evidence will be the world around them. History will be our judge, but what's written is up to us. Who we are, who we've been, what we want to be remembered for. We can't say our generation didn't know how to do it. We can't say our generation couldn't afford to do it. And we can't say our generation didn't have reason to do it. It's up to us. We can choose to shift the responsibility, or, as the professor [Sachs] proposes here, we can choose to shift the paradigm."

Thursday, June 19, 2008


A few weeks ago, I was at a church service in which they talked about forgiveness. It was the typical talk about letting go of your bitterness, and it was very matter-of-fact. They handed out rocks, and the point was that you should just let go and throw your rock into a pile.

A few years ago, I was in a situation where I was really hurt. Although it was partially my fault, there was also some serious wrong-doing on the part of another party. And, in hindsight (and partially in my defense), most of the wrong that I caused was out of frustration with what was happening to me. When it happened, I became seriously disillusioned, and it caused a lot of pain in my life.

When I held that rock in my hand, I realized that I had never consciously made the decision to forgive. A lot of the bitterness was gone, but there were times (although quite rare) in which I saw the person who had hurt me the most, and it was always awkward... I would look away or avoid eye contact.

Holding that rock, I realized that it was time to truly let go and put it in my past. A lot of me had already moved on - I could no longer recite the list of wrongs that had been done, or remember all the ways in which I had been hurt... but I had never truly forgiven. So, in a very matter-of-fact way, I walked up to the pile and tossed in my rock. I didn't really think much of it at the time... it was just a logical decision.

Yesterday, I was at the mall, and as I walked past a table in the food court, I saw the person who had wronged me the most, but who I had simply chosen to forgive. Without thinking, I smiled and waved...

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Today I had several moments in which I was keenly aware of just how blessed I am... and I just wanted to share. Not to gloat, but to remind everyone that we are all truly blessed. There are so many privileges that we enjoy, and it is so important to realize and appreciate them.

Even more, I am blessed because I am a child of the king of the universe and He loves me very much. What better blessing than to be loved by God?

Saturday, January 05, 2008

In Loving Memory

Today, when I felt the need to look up a friend I hadn't talked to in a while, I found out that she passed away on December 15th. It wasn't a sudden passing - in fact, the last time I talked to her was the day I got the email that the cancer she had so courageously fought was back and too formidable to operate on.

Meredith was my best friend at Briercrest Bible College. I met her the very first day, and we spent the year together sharing laughs and stories. She was someone that I could always be myself around and we had so many laughs together. She was the one who introduced me to MSN (which, of course, is how we kept in touch after we both went back home, her to Ontario and me to Alberta). There are so many songs that I never would have listened to without her introducing me to... "Maybe Tomorrow" by Nouveaux and "Bucket Seats" by Cake are two that come immediately to mind.

A few years ago, she came to visit and we had a great time together. I always intended to visit and always assumed that if I ended up living somewhere near Toronto, we would become great friends again. It is amazing what happens to our intentions when life gets in the way.

Life is so very short. It is a tragedy that hers was stripped away so early, and yet I envy that she is in heaven, hanging out with God face to face. I hope that I never miss the opportunity again to say goodbye to someone and tell them what kind of impact they had on my life.

Meredith Hamilton
September 16, 1980 to December 15, 2007

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Another Year in Review

Somehow it feels as though I were just reflecting on 2006 and anticipating 2007. But here we are in 2008 already!

2007 was a relatively monumental year, although in hindsight it was rather anti-climatic. The big news of 2007 was the transition from full-time student to full-time career girl. After what seemed like forever, I completed my Bachelor of Commerce degree (with distinction, I might add!). About two weeks after writing my last exam, I started a job as a business planner for an engineering firm. Working has been a great experience. I've been able to learn a lot about the daily operations of a business in my role. This will prove to be a huge asset no matter where I end up in my career.

So what does 2008 hold? If I am learning anything, it is that we can never say for sure. Some goals that I have for the year are to ace the GMAT and figure out which MBA school to apply for (with the current plan being to start my degree in the fall of 2009). I think most schools don't extend acceptance until January, so I guess the big mystery of where I go will have to be an adventure for 2009.

On the lighter side, I am heading to Cuba in May with a bunch of friends. Other adventures include hopefully a trip in fall to New York and Boston (to visit the Harvard campus and attend a lecture!).