Sunday, October 31, 2004

25 minutes and counting

Well, NaNoWriMo officially starts in 25 minutes. So far, I have three main character profiles completed, posted, and linked. I'm as happy as I can be with the page at the moment, but trust me - tweaking will be done. I don't expect that I'll be posting long messages during the month (ha!) since I'll be busy with the story (double ha!).

I'm already in a better place this year than I was last year for NaNoWriMo. I'd only heard about it at the end of October, which wasn't enough time to mentally prepare for it. And I only decided to do it after it had begun, so I was behind already. My final word count was somewhere in the 13,000 range - I'd get stuck on a scene because I hadn't thought that far ahead in the plot, so I'd go off and start another scene in another file, and get stuck there, too.

Some good did come of it. I started keeping a writing journal, talking about things that struck me about the characters, debates about what should happen next, and rants about various things. At the end of November, when I gave up for good, I thought I'd had enough of writing. But during December, I realized how much I missed writing every day, even just a little bit, so I started an online journal, which I managed to keep well into this September.

So, the things I have going for me this time around:
  • I've been psyched up for this since, oh - around May, which is enough time to mentally prep for it;
  • I have a plot, and I've thought it through to almost the end;
  • I'm used to writing a little bit every day - now to write a lot every day;
  • I'm living on my own - fewer distractions (which guarantees that my Mom will be saying to herself, "Must call Rebecca at random times every night for the next month" when she reads this. Love you lots, Mom!)
Right - must go finish last three profiles and scene summaries for first six scenes.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Time well wasted!

Remember that long list of blogs that was on the left side of the page? Well, I found an item in the Blogger Knowledge database about how to expand and collapse the text of posts. I took it, played around with it, and made it work on the sidebar. So if you want to see the list of blogs I read on a regular basis and recommend you check out, just click where it says "Click Here" and the list expands.

See! I knew I'd get something done if I stayed home!

The life of an anti-social hermit

Well, last night at this time I hoped I'd be writing tomorrow morning about my first time in a gay bar - in Sudbury, no less. Karen and some friends were going to the Hallowe'en party there, and I was gearing up to go, too.

Alas, the fates intervene - in the form of rain. Now, normally, rain is not a bad thing. It's a good thing, and completely expected in the fall. And, as several people went to great lengths to remind me, at least you don't have to shovel it or scrape it off your car. (Aside: okay people - the Southerner GETS IT. It gets cold up here sooner. There's lots of snow, and it usually comes sooner that it does in Niagara. I knew that when I moved up here. You can now offically quit it with the perky reminders. I give you permission to stop.)

However, when that rain is accompanied by a warmish front, and it's been chilly all week, the air pressure changes rapidly. And it's this rapid change that my sinuses Do. Not. Like. At all. I woke up with the beginnings of a headache, and it lasted pretty much all day. I had to go to the mall and for groceries, and it was a zoo, which pretty much pushed me over the edge as far as my anti-social tendencies go. So I called Karen and opted out. I'm still going over to her place tomorrow night to help hand out candy.

I've been out almost every night this week, I'll be out almost every night next week, and I'll be out all next weekend. I needed some serious hermit-time. Knitting, blogging, drinking tea or fruity mineral water, NaNoing - that's all that's on the agenda for tonight. And that's how I like it.

And the "Beginner's Guide to Being a Bitch-Hermit" from iLL WiLL PreSS pretty much sums it up. (Warning - contains strong language. So Mom, you might not want to watch it. Actually, you probably can't anyways because your connection is too slow. Never mind.)

Friday, October 29, 2004

Book club verdict: The Englishman's Boy

This is going to be short and sweet, because even though it's surprisingly early for a Friday night, I'm tired and going to bed.

The verdict was a general "meh" feeling. While none of us actively hated the overall books (there were moments that made us see red), we felt that there wasn't really any build up. Normally, you have an introduction, a build up, and a climax, but this book went straight from intro all the way through to the climax. As well, there were a great many cliches, such as the gruff but loveable old guy, the crazy rich guy, and the psychopath.

My feeling was that the story ended poorly. That is to say, I would have been happy if it ended badly or happily, yet this book drifted off. The narrator was wimpy all the way through, and it had a suitably wimpy ending.

This led to a discussion about Canadian lit in general, and award-winning Canadian lit in specific. That it's dull and heavy and depressing - and that's not something that Canadians are known for. Really - it's like we're a nation of agnsty teenagers: "Oh, I'm all happy and funny and laid back on the outside, but if you read my book you'll see that I'm deep and sensitive and complex!" Pshaw.

Next up: Life of Pi, by Yann Martel.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Veiled promises

At the end of yesterday's post, I mentioned in passing that we'd be doing veil work at belly dancing. Not having a real veil, and not really knowing what they look like, I brought along a veil-like scarf I have.

It was not even close to what real veils look like. My pathetic excuse for a veil is about 30cm wide by about a meter long, while the veils we use in class are about a meter (or more) wide by 2.5-3 meters long. Holy cow! The instructor loaned me one of hers, which was nice of her.

The overall effect of a group of (mostly) middle-aged women in our brightly coloured coin belts and sweat pants and t-shirts isn't always the picture you'd imagine when someone asks you to describe what a belly dancer looks like. But, give us veils and have us twirl around to the music, and it's a whole other story. We're no match for Salome and her sisters, and we may never do the Dance of the Seven Veils, but the overall effect is rather stunning.

In a new record last evening, I managed to loose three coins from my belt, mostly from getting them caught in the veil. I found all of them, and will sew them back on once I get the right colour thread. I have two belts - one is white, and has coin-and-bead chevrons, while the other is a red ten-line (four double-rows of coins, plus a row on the bottom and rows on the edge of the belt). It's the red one I keep loosing the coins from. I just need to get some red crochet thread, and I can tie them back on. Better yet, I can just reinforce all the other coins while I'm at it.

Wait... what.... did I... what... am I... nucking futs? There has got to be over 200 coins on that thing! When the hell am I going to have time in the next month to do that?!? And since the workshop is next weekend, I'm going to have no time to do important things like sleep, eat, or practice personal hygiene between now and then!

(Speaking of short on time, I need to go finish a birthday present, write a thank-you card, and have something to eat before 6:45. It is now 5:30. GO!)

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

"Did you hear that noise?" "What noise?"

Wow. That was a seriously lame post last night. I apologize - I was a bit scattered and was having problems focusing. Happily, I did eventually manage to settle down and get some things done. And then ended up chatting with, like, everyone I know, who all happened to be online at the same time. The odds of that happening again? Infestiminal. I hope. Five separate conversations are a bit much to carry on at one time.

I did end up going with option 3 of #3 last night, but I'll be dipped in batter and deep-fried if I can remember the URL I chose for the page. Oops. It has something to do with the title of my NaNo, tentatively called The Posse.

("Posse" is one of my favourite words - it conveys the idea of a small, tribe-like group, without the formality, structure, or hierarchy of an official unit. It also reminds me of one of the funniest Far Side cartoons: two cowboys are looking at a pile of horses and people, and the one is saying to the other, "A posse isn't something you throw together! You have to organize these things!" Or something to that effect. I can't remember it verbatim. It was a big hit in my Organizational Management class at library school.)

(As for the title of this post - I couldn't think of anything clever that was in any way related to the body of the post. Besides, I have to go get ready for belly dancing. Tonight we start using veils!)

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Apparently, I don't have enough to do with my free time

Well, once again book club was postponed, but this time for medical reasons. Not mine or Karen's, and it's nothing serious. We will be rescheduling on Thursday.

So, seeing that I have an evening free in a week where every night I'm committed to something, do you think I'd use it to tackle one of two major upcoming projects - knitting Christmas presents or planning for NaNoWriMo.

Oh - and I can watch Making the Cut now - 'scuse me!


Where was I? Right - what I did instead was: 1) read more of Going Postal (did I mention it was brilliant?); 2) play around with my other blog, which was originally for book reviews, with the idea that I'd make it my NaNoWriMo blog; which led to 3) an ongoing, internal debate about whether I should convert the blog back to its original purpose, delete it and keep everything together, and start a new blog for NaNoWriMo. Stupid, unproductive stuff, really.



This is adorable - yet, terrifying. (Thanks Louise!)

Monday, October 25, 2004

For everything else, there's Bausch & Lomb

* Going to curling and not being able to see the skip's instructions from the starting block because you can't see them over the tops of your glasses: blind as a bat.

* Knowing that there is a solution to this problem in your linen closet: curious.

* Spending ten minutes digging through the closet, looking for said solution: frustrating.

*Finding said solution, sitting at eye-level and to the right of where you've been looking: d'oh!

* Discovering that the box of solution also contains a lens case and cleaner: yay!

* Getting your contact lenses in in under twenty minutes after four years not wearing them, without cursing, swearing, poking self in eye, scratching the lens, or loosing it on the floor: priceless.

Update: Remembering what you did with your glasses once you put the contacts in: useful.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

WIPs: October

I'm getting ready for the Stitch n' Bitch and I'm digging through my stash trying to find scrap yarn and extra needles and such, so I might as well update:
  • I'm calling the kitty hat from Stitch n' Bitch done, even though it doesn't have ears. I used the Red Heart Cozy (in Paprika) that had originally been earmarked for a poncho. The reason that it doesn't have ears is that I'm tired of trying to figure out where to put them. Since the gauge was completely different from what the pattern recommended, I had to improvise, so the whole thing came out slightly different than in the book.
  • The fingerless gloves are coming along. I have one completely done, and the other is over halfway there already.
  • I have two scarves on the go. The first is with the Lion's Brand Incredible (in Autumn Leaves). The first time I tried knitting with it, everyone who was in the room with me got tense, so I (wisely) put it aside for a little while. Happily, my second attempt went much smoother, and it's coming along nicely. The second is with the Gedifra Dandy I got in August when I went home. It's very pretty, and I like it, except that it does not frog well at all. Which is a problem, because I think I made it too wide.
  • I restarted the QaF socks, and the second attempt is much better. Still, I'm no further along than the cuff - it's slow going because it's such fine yarn.
  • My sisters and I are going to make something for my mother. Which reminds me - I still haven't sent them the pattern for it yet. Oops.
  • Various other Christmas presents I'm trying to get started before NaNoWriMo. Time is at a premium this week, so every spare minute will be spent knitting (or goofing off because... y'know - I don't focus on one thing at a time very well.)
Updates of last month's projects:
  • Still not finished the halter top. I forgot to look for yarn for it in Guleph.
  • The scrap vintage-and-boa scarf is too wide. I feel like I should frog it and start over, but that's going to have to wait.

We've got a computer down! Oh wait, never mind...

Minor crisis yesterday. My computer wouldn't boot up. It would turn on, make all the appropriate noises, and then... blank screen. It's done this before, most notably after I moved up here. And once last weekend. It gets fixed through a combination of blind luck and threats - seriously, I have no idea what combination of poking around the wires and blowing on stuff makes it work, but working it is. So, I'm happy once more.

Brief update: finished The Englishman's Boy - FINALLY! It was okay, in the end. I wouldn't reread it, but I wouldn't tell people not to read it. I liked the last chapter a lot more than the rest of the book, because it tied in to the first chapter, and then brought the whole story to a satisfactory, if unhappy, ending. We meet to discuss it on Tuesday.

I went to see Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban on the IMAX screen at Science North yesterday, with a fellow Dal grad who moved to Sudbury in the summer, and a co-worker of hers. It turns out the co-worker has family in the same area where I'm originally from down south. At the end of the outing, I got invited to a Stitch n' Bitch yet another co-worker of theirs is hosting. Looking forward to it - must start Christmas presents for my sisters, so this is as good an excuse as any to start.

As soon as I finished TEB last night, I started Going Postal. Utterly and completely brilliant! It has all the elements of a classic Pratchett novel - reluctant heroes! Highly intelligent tyrants! Fiendishly evil villains! Weird old guys! The Glom of Nit! (Hey - read the book yourself if you want to know what that is!)

Friday, October 22, 2004

Swap meet!

Crooked Timber's Friday fun thread!

I can think of a few to add to the list:
  • replace George Michael with Freddie Mercury
  • swap Jack Spyerek (The Trews) with Gary Low (ex-Big Sugar)
  • let old-school, talented Michael Jackson take over from the alien who is currently in possession of his body
  • substitute Tom Waits for Diana Krall (just for a little while)
  • have Holly Cole cover for Tori Amos
  • give Harry Connick Jr. the day off while Big Rude Jake fills in
  • better yet, Big Rude Jake for Johnny Favourite
  • MC 900 Ft. Jesus for Beck
  • anyone, ANYONE for Jessica Simpson. I've heard coat racks with more talent than she has.
  • let's replace Michael Stipe (R.E.M.) (who's voice is like nails on a chalkboard) with Gord Downie (The Tragically Hip), and Colin MacDonald (The Trews) can sub in for him.
  • Shane McGowan (The Pogues) for Leonard Cohen
  • Jimi Hendrix for Eric Clapton - hell, Joe Perry (Aerosmith) for Eric Clapton!
  • Janis Joplin can cover for Courntey Love
  • wouldn't it be interesting to see what Bjork could do with Celine Dion's music?
(To wit: if you could replace any band member/musician with any other, who would you exchange for whom? You are not bound by practical considerations.)

Promises, shmomises

Earlier this week, I promised myself that I wouldn't buy any more yarn or any more books until I finished what I had on hand. I'm in the middle of four or five projects, and I have a stack of library books that I've already renewed once and need to go back. Plus, my bookcases are starting to reach capacity.

However, when I checked the Chapters site this afternoon and saw that there were copies of Christopher Moore's The Stupidest Angel available at the local store, I knew I'd be breaking my promise come 4:30 that afternoon.

It was worth it, though. I read the first three pages and am giddy with anticipation for the rest. However, I must finish The Englishman's Boy (bleah) and clean my apartment before I can proceed. The promise of reading both Angel and Going Postal, the latest Discworld installment from that literary genius, Terry Pratchett, will add speed to my chores. It is going to be one hell of a funny weekend around here.

(An aside: I didn't buy Knit Wit: 30 Easy and Hip Projects, a tres cool knitting book by Amy Singer. I was quite impressed with my restraint.)

(Another aside: my sister and I are somewhat competitive with each other, to put it mildly. While I have far more knitting books and magazines in my collection than she has in hers, she has way more finished projects that I do. I am envious.)

Thursday, October 21, 2004

To do list

Towards the end of the second teleconference (the portion I like to refer to as "navel-gazing time" because two or three people start discussing minutia), I jotted down a to-do list of things I needed to do when I got home. It ended up that the first three items were in alphabetical order, so I did my best to carry on with the theme:
  • applesauce (as in, make)
  • bathroom
  • closet
  • dishes (not many, but still)
  • email
  • fridge
  • garbage
  • have nap
  • ironing board (as in, pick up)
  • (I can't think of anything for "J" Jog? No thanks!)
  • knit (while I watch CSI and ER tonight)
  • laundry
  • make supper
  • (Yeah, I got stuck on "N" too...)
  • organize papers
  • printer ink
  • quit procrastinating!
  • read bookclub book
  • sweep
  • telephone home
  • ummm...
  • vacuum
  • walk (instead of jogging)
  • Xmas list
  • yarn (as in, pick up and put away)
  • zzzzz.....
B could also be for blog, since that's pretty much what I've done since I got home. And nap. So two things down, 21 to go!

Sounds like a teleconference

Today at work, I had two meetings, both by teleconference. The first was fairly small, just myself, the other client services people, and our manager. The second was related to our interlibrary loan software, so it was all the various North American user groups and the North American office. Some of the background noises heard during the second teleconference:
  • barking dogs
  • someone eating something crunchy near the mouthpiece
  • someone drinking/slurping
  • a dot matrix printer
  • a doorbell (that could have been in the office, if we were getting a delivery)
  • a screen door opening, then slamming shut
  • someone heaving a huge, world-weary sigh after someone else finished explaining one of the proposed software improvements (no one owned up to it, so I don't know if it was a general sigh, or a sigh related to what we were discussing)
  • howling dogs (probably the same dogs as above)
I put my speaker phone on, so I can move around my office quietly. I did eat graham crackers during the call, but well back from the phone. I also dropped a stapler on my desk at one point, so that probably got picked up.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Mama, don't let you baby grow to be a Skip

Tonight, and every night of the week, in cities all across the country, thousands of people are taking part in a dangerous sport. They don't realize what kind of harm they risk incurring, with their complete lack of safety equipment, like helmets or kneepads. Oh sure, it looks harmless enough - even guys with beer bellies can participate, so it can't be all that bad.

Recently, a friend invited me to come out for the Monday night Mixed Rec league. I jumped at the chance, having never done it before. I mean, I'm no athlete, but I've done some stuff before. I played softball, basketball, and soccer. Hell, I fenced epee for over two years, so I know wacky danger sports! I just wasn't prepared for the risks I would be taking.

Curling, people - no one ever tells you that when you step onto that ice, it's sink or swim, baby. They hand you these Teflon sliders to make it "easier" for you to glide around, but they don't tell you that putting that glider on is akin to putting butter in a hot pan - you'll glide all right. If you can stand upright for more than 5 seconds.

They give you a broom, which is supposed to be for sweeping the ice, but can also act as a crutch when you slip and break your ankles. It also becomes a deadly weapon if flailed about while falling down.

I went to a beginner's clinic on Friday night, and did okay. Once they took the glider off of me. I used Teflon tape instead, which is still slippery and allows you to glide, but isn't as bad as the glider. Eventually, I got used to being on the ice - I'd forgotten how slippery it was (which sounds like the stupidest thing anyone's ever said, but I haven't been skating in years and I forgot which muscles to flex, where to put my weight, etc).

Once I got the hang of gliding, it was on to "curling" the rock, sweeping (which was okay), scoring, and throwing the rock. Eventually, I stopped falling on my ass whenever I threw the damn thing, and when the instructor stopped laughing long enough to come up for air, I got to use a stabilizer, which acts as a "crutch" - it's perfectly legal, and is actually a good idea for anyone learning how to curl, at least until you're used to balancing.

Monday night I went out for the first game. Since Karen couldn't find anyone else to fill the last two spots on our team, we had to wait for the second round - in the end, it was just me, Karen, and Karen's dad on a team. We were up against another team of teamless newbies, and we all went down to the sheet.

(The highlight of the evening was when I almost got my rock onto an adjacent sheet. Hilarious! I didn't see it because I slipped and fell as soon as I let go of it.)

Another hazardous element of the game is the other team. Guys? If my teammate has just thrown a rock, and I'm sweeping, I'm doing all I can to stay upright and trot awkwardly down the ice and wait for someone to holler "SWEEP!" If you get in my way, or don't get out of my way fast enough, there's no way I can slow down and I will be taking you down with me when I trip and fall. I'm just sayin'.

My other moment of glory - when you're sweeping, you're focused on the rock and sweeping for all you're worth. I kept forgetting to watch for other rocks once I got passed the hog line and more than once, ended up tripping over guards or other rocks. The other skip was really good about it - once she stopped laughing, she just put them back to where they had been before I blundered through. Oy.

I think I'll stick with it for now. I have to be super careful out there because I've got enough war wounds from fencing that one wrong move on the ice and Bam! I've blown out my knee again, or pulled the trick muscle in my back. So, if you're at the curling club on Monday nights, try not to get in the way of the chick with the funky reddish-orange hat with pom-poms and cat ears. She's as much a danger to you as she is to herself.

The Last Ten Songs I Listened To

  1. The Cult - The Witch
  2. Starkicker - Get Up
  3. John Lennon - Woman
  4. April Wine - Tonite is a Wonderful Time to Fall in Love
  5. The Go-Go's - Our Lips are Sealed
  6. Big Country - In a Big Country
  7. Dodgy - Good Enough
  8. Apples in Stereo - Tidal Wave
  9. Crowded House - Always Take the Weather With You
  10. INXS - Elegantly Wasted

I don't have an iPod or any other sort of mp3 player. I mostly use Winamp (v2.8) or Windows Media Player. Right now, I've loaded all the mp3's on my hard drive into a Winamp playlist, and am going through them one at a time.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

There goes my attention span...

I sat down earlier this evening to write a couple of posts, but got involved in two major chat sessions, one with the person responsible for getting me hooked on Farscape (hi Robin!) and another with the ILP (Insane Larocque Posse). The discussions included: book club selections and their suckage, Farscape, Peacekeeper Wars and the sad ending, knitting, knitting blogs (specifically this one), cats, accidents involving kids on bikes, my "thing" for cowboys and how now it's all about hockey players, Making the Cut (which I just typed as "Cute" for the third time this evening - very possibly a Freudian slip), Rachelle's paper on EU environmental policies regarding wind power (am I even close?), tearing down big houses to build even more ostentatious houses, what's new at work, my latest activity, and the Top 100 Greatest Canadians. Y'all know who I talked to about what.

So, you're going to have to wait to hear about my further thoughts on the top 100, how freakin' hot it is in my apartment despite the windows being open, my WIP update, my NaNo update, and the most dangerous sport I've ever played. And a few other things, which are... like... completely gone...

Monday, October 18, 2004

Sunday Night TV - Take 3: The Greatest Canadian, eh?

My mom called last night to tell me that the CBC was airing The Greatest Canadian. I hadn't known it was on, or even intended to watch the whole thing, but naturally, I got sucked in.

As one of the commentators (Ian Ferguson, I think) said, it was truly and exercise in democracy, and demonstrated why sometimes democracy doesn't work (or, at least work like you think it should). Hence the inclusion of the DJ from Winnipeg, who must have started a campaign to be included, because they said almost nothing about him. Or the guy who founded the Kinsmen - Harry or Harold something. Who? Exactly.

Other than that, it included more Canadians who were famous than actually great. Mike Myers? Jim Carrey? The DJ from Winnipeg? Not so much nation-builders and great thinkers as Canadians who made it big down south. And only one Canadian author (contrary to the claim that there were no Canadian authors on the list) - Pierre Burton.

The list of the 50-11 people they featured doesn't seem to be posted. Or at least, isn't posted yet. But the top 10 will be presented over the next 10 weeks, complete with celebrity advocate. It was interesting to see who made the top 10 (Don Cherry? Meh. David Suzuki? Yay!), and even more interesting to see who the advocates are:
  • Frederick Banting (Mary Walsh)
  • Alexander Graham Bell (Evan Solomon)
  • Don Cherry (Brett Hart, who was one of the 50)
  • Tommy Douglas (George Stromboulopoulos)
  • Terry Fox (Sook-Yin Lee)
  • Wayne Gretzky (Deborah Grey)
  • Sir John A. MacDonald (Charlotte Gray)
  • Lester B. Pearson (Paul Gross)
  • David Suzuki (Melissa Auf der Maur)
  • Pierre Elliot Trudeau (Rex Murphy! Woo!)
You can vote here, but watch the episodes too!

Sunday Night TV - Take 2: Surreal enough to be funny

I don't get The Brak Show. If I were watching it in the middle of the afternoon, I'd probably change the channel, scratching my head and wondering what the hell that was.

However, Sunday nights when I'm falling asleep on my knitting needles, it's the funniest show EVER. I think you need to be really tired, drunk or high to appreciate how funny the dream-like apparition of Spoony (a walking, talking wooden spoon) and Geoffry the Wonderbird are. Or the following bit of dialogue, which made me laugh so hard I snorted apple cider everywhere:

Brak: "Hey Mom. Where's Dad?"
Mom: "He's in the trunk of the car."
Brak: "What's he doing in there?"
Mom: "I just wanted five minutes to myself!"

See? Not really that funny. Try reading it when you're really tired, and it becomes comedy gold!

Sunday Night TV - Take 1: No Farscape!

Space, which is Canada's answer to the Sci-Fi channel, isn't showing The Peacekeeper Wars - or at least, not yet. I haven't been able to find out if it will eventually be shown in Canada, or if I'll have to wait until it comes out on DVD.

Until then, the folks at TeeVee did an excellent job articulating why you should watch Farscape.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

It's not snowing here - yet

For a while it looked like it might, and it's cold enough to snow. But it isn't.

What I have accomplished this morning so far:

I went to the market and got cider, carrots, cranberries and apples.

I went to Future Shop and got a new CD-R/RW burner (because my current one is not working properly), ink cartridges for my printer, and the Franz Ferdinand CD. It's okay. (While I was there, they were showing "The Day After Tomorrow" and I stood and watched it for a few minutes. I have a fascination with natural disasters - I was terrified of them, but I would collect books about them and watch all kinds of specials on PBS about the. My grandfather delights in telling people about how scared I was of the Mt. St. Helen's erruption, but knew everything about it. So, in other words, I need to see this movie, even though I'll have nightmares for a week afterwards.)

I stopped at Chapters because I had heard that Christopher Moore's The Stupidest Angel was out. Alas, they were sold out. But! They did have a hardcover copy of Terry Pratchett's Going Postal, so - yay! (I didn't buy it - I buy my Pratchett's in paperback.)

I went to the grocery store, where I stood in line for longer than it took to pick up what I went for. And ended up forgetting to get spinach.

And now, I will forage for lunch, replace the burner, and back up my important files so I can format this sucker. Bleah. I've already formatted my hard drive once this year but I'm getting way too many virus warnings from Norton, and everything I've done doesn't seem to be helping. Grr...

Holy crap - I think it's snowing now! No, wait - it's just rain. Sorry!

Friday, October 15, 2004

Ignore the Gal in the Glass Office (or, Why I Shouldn't Drink a Pot of Coffee in the Morning)

At work, I'm a member of a team that is creating an auditing document. It's to be used by the teams who will be auditing the programs we offer our clients. Right now, we're at the stage where we have almost completed the process, but need to test it out to see how it all works. During our regular meeting on Wednesday, I was assigned the task to create scenarios on which to test this draft document. This morning, while working on another document, I began thinking about possible scenarios - all of them silly, of course, because I had slept very well the night before* and had consumed a pot of coffee this morning.
  • Scenario #1: Problem Library Users - the program is designed to teach librarians how to deal with those library users who make your life a living hell. You'll learn when and how to confront them, when to ignore them and walk away, and how to hide the bodies if the first two suggestions fail.
  • Scenario #2: Effective Gossip-mongering - the Library is the hub of any community, where residents go for all of their information needs, from formal and informal sources. As such, the library should be *the* place residents turn to when they want to know the latest news about what everyone else is doing. The tools presented in this workshop will teach you how to collect tidbits of gossip, how to assemble them into a more complete picture, and how to go about passing them along.
  • Scenario #3: Computer Repairs 101 - How many times a day are Librarians forced to drop everything and deal with library users complaining about a major computer malfunction, when in reality the problem is no more complicated than the mouse cord has come unplugged? Or even worse, what happens when the library user announces they have "fixed" the problem, which results in one less computer, irrate Internet users and a visit from the computer technician? In this workshop, librarians will learn how to discourage users from undertaking "repairs", and technical-sounding jargon to placaite the most insistent "computer expert."
  • Scenario #4: Erotica Pool** - Libraries will have a chance to host a collection of tasteful videos, books, CDs and "how-to" manuals. Marital aids not included.
  • Scenario #5: Collecting Overdue Materials - are polite reminders and mailed notices being ignored? Do library users feign surprise when you tell them that the book they borrowed in January is past due and needs to be returned immediately? Learn the take-down and repo techniques that are used by the top bounty hunters in Ontario and across Canada.
Naturally, I'm just kidding and would never actually submit any of these as legitimate scenarios. Although, I'd be curious to see what happens if libraries express an interest in #4.

* Of course, I had another one of my stupid post-apocalyptic dreams. Usually, something disasterous has happened on a global scale, and I'm stuck trying to find various family members - this time, my sister Rachelle who hadn't been heard from, and my sister Denise, who had left me her cat and gone to work, not to be seen again - and figure out how we're going to survive. Then I wake up and try to figure out if what I'm hearing outside is rioting or just traffic and rain.

** A "pool" is a special collection of materials, usually something that a library doesn't have or can't afford to have a whole collection of, and is rotated between participating libraries. Sometimes this might be DVDs or videos, talking books or music CDs.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Rock, Paper, Scissors

Rock, Paper, Scissors

Who knew it was so complicated? Or that there is a World Championships being held in Toronto this weekend? (Thanks Darren Barefoot!)

I was especially amused by the Cow UFO Microbe variation, or the Rock, Scissors, Paper, Spock, Lizard.

S.E.X. and Drugs and Rock and Roll

So, this past weekend was Thanksgiving, and naturally, I made the trek south for the holidays, with a few detours here and there. I came home through Guelph via Waterloo via Fergus, so Friday was a huge travel day. Saturday marked the beginning of PMS, so I was not my usual cheery self (note to siblings: Not. One. Word.). Thus, I spent the bulk of my weekend home socializing even though I would have been happier hiding under my bed with a chocolate bar and a bodice-ripper.

But! All is not lost! I got lots of yarn, lots of leftovers and other assorted goodies, and a microwave out of the deal!

S.E.X. - stands for Stash Enhancement eXpedition. I made several stops for yarn on the way home. The first was in Barrie, when I stopped for coffee; there's a Michael's across the parking lot from the Second Cup where I was, so I wandered over. I came out with four balls of Lion Brand Incredible in City Lights and Autumn Leaves. Then I stopped in Fergus, where my sister had purchased a couple of hanks of Manos de Uruguay for her birthday. Upon seeing the yarn up close and in person, I also succumbed to the yarn and bought a hank. I couldn't remember what colour Denise got, so I went with Jungle, because I love green and I knew hers wasn't green. Also purchased was Christmas present yarn, so I can't talk about it.

When I left Fergus, I picked up Rachelle in Waterloo and we went to Guelph. Len's Mills has a serious overabundance of cool yarn, and the rest of us (sort of) jokingly refer to it as Denise's stash, since she's there at least once a week. It was decided that we needed to "visit" the stash, and we all came away with stuff. I got four balls of Alafoss Lopi in various shades of green to match the Manos, a ball of Patons Divine in grey, and for some reason, a ball of Red Heart Cozy in white. So, I'm going to be good and busy for the next little while.

Drugs - I finally found my migraine medication at home - yay! The prescription is about six years out of date, and it does very little good, but it was my first line of defense if my head started to hurt. Of course, when I was unpacking tonight, I realized that even though I'd found it, I hadn't thought to pack it. *sigh*

Rock - my music selection various from trip to trip. Sometimes I listen to a CD once, then I switch it; other times I listen to one or two over and over. On the way down, it was sort of mixed, going from Fleetwood Mac's rumors, to Modest Mouse's Good News for People Who Love Bad News, to a mixed CD I made for a road trip to PEI, to Buck 65's Talkin' Honky Blues. When I picked up Rachelle in Waterloo, we added Ray Charles and Medeski, Martin and Wood to the mix. However, my trip home was all about one CD - and for once, it wasn't The Trews House of Ill Fame (which, after nine months, I can still listen to constantly). No, this time it was all about the Rolling Stones, and a compilation CD of the best of Forty Licks (which is a "best of" CD).

Roll - I was quite pleased with myself that I managed not to overeat at any point this weekend. For me, it's an impressive feat. However, I did manage to score big on the leftovers front, something which I don't usually manage because I either lived at home or too far away to bring home food. In addition to stewed chicken and dumplings and turkey, gravy, potatoes and turnip for a soup, I also scored two jars of jam (loganberry and an extra large strawberry), a pumpkin pie of my very own, and a box of Land o' Lakes raspberry hot chocolate. Thanks Mom!

(I also somehow managed to get Rachelle's leftover turkey and cheesy broccoli and cauliflower. Seriously - I don't know how that happened! *burp*)

Oh - and the microwave. My b-i-l decided that they needed a new one, so they had to do something with the old one. Since I'm microwaveless (and wasn't minding it) it was decided that I should get it. Initially, I was resistant. But when I got it home, found it a place on my counter, and heated up a piece of pie, I realized it was worth it. Thanks Denise and Mike!

Farewell, Superman

Superman never made any money
For saving the world from solomon grundy
And sometimes I despair the world will never see
Another man like him
Crash Test Dummies, Superman's Song
We were making pancakes yesterday morning, listening to the CBC, when we heard the sad news that Christopher Reeve had passed away.

He went from playing a superhero in the movies to being one in real life.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Insane Larocque Posse

Every night, I sit in front of my computer and try and think of something witty and clever to post about. Usually, I have an idea - something I've thought about during the day or at least since the last time I posted. Like, last night I wanted to mention the Dare thread in the NaNoWriMo forums - where people dare other people to use the dares in their novel (i.e. "Start your novel with the sentence, "This day was just like all the other days-- wet, cold, slimy, and covered with alligators.")

However, I usually end up participating in the family chat that has become our nighttime ritual. Its origins are lost in the fog of time (in other words, I forget), but at roughly 9pm every evening, my mother, my sisters and I all log into MSN and join the conversation. Any stray family members (like my cousin or my b-i-l) who happen to wander through are also invited to join. They're fun, although some nights I'm tired and creatively drained, so I just sit there and watch the conversation.

Last night I posted the link to here, and all were suitably impressed (Mom: "Cool!"), jealous (Denise: "I want one!"), and nitpicky (Rachelle: "Smitten was a girl!"). Hee!

Welcome back, guys!

Tuesday, October 05, 2004


It was pointed out to me by my family this evening that Smitten was not a he. Smitten was a she; in fact she had a kitten, which I had conveniently forgot about.

My apologies to Rachelle.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Soup's On! : Cream of Carrot soup

This is my absolute favorite soup. The backstory: when I was at grad school, I was a student assistant for the Director of the school during my first year. Before the Christmas break, he invited all the student assistants, the MLB/MLIS students, and some of the staff for a formal dinner party. He served this soup and made us guess what was in it. I don't recall that any of us were at all close, but afterwards I asked for a copy of the recipe. It came from the newspaper (my best guess - the Chronicle Herald), so I don't know where it came from before then.

Anyways, there are a whole host of soups that are similar to this - creamy, slightly sweet, and with a warm spicy flavor. I also have a recipe for sweet potato soup that's along these lines (but it's a bit spicier), and am on the hunt for a pumpkin and/or squash soup.
  • 6 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
  • 2lb carrots, peeled and chopped (you can get 2lb bags of carrots at the grocery store)
  • 1 medium or half a large onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 cups light cream
  • 1 cup milk
Combine broth, carrots, onion and celery in a large pot, and boil for 15 min. Remove from heat, and puree until smooth. Return pot to medium heat.

In a small bowl, combine water and flour until smooth, and add to the puree. Cook until thickened and reduce heat to simmer. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes. Ta-da!

Some notes:
  • Since the mixture is going to be pureed, I'd suggest cutting the vegetables into small bits. It takes longer, but it's easier to puree.
  • There are any number of ways to puree the mixture - in a blender, in a food processor, etc. I have a Braun hand blender (not this exact one, but something like this), and it does a fabulous job.
  • By far, this is rather prep-intensive. You've got to peel 2lbs of carrots and chop them into itty bits, and then chop celery and onions into itty bits as well. It goes faster if you have help.
  • Instead of light cream, you can use 2% or homogenized milk.
Bon appetite!

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Soup's On! : Veggie Chili

I started writing this last night, but was so tired I fell asleep. Not at the computer, but in the general vicinity.

The first batch of soup I made was a vegetarian chili I originally found in the Looneyspoons cookbook. However... it's chili. You don't measure things exactly, you leave some stuff out, you add other things, and play with the ratios. So, here's how I make it:
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium or half a large onion, chopped coarsely
  • 1 green and 1 red pepper, chopped into medium-sized pieces
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped into medium-sized pieces
  • 2 carrots, chopped into bite-sized pieces (not too big, but not too small)
  • 2 potatoes, cut into 2cm cubes (make sure you use a boiling potato, like Yukon Golds, as opposed to a baking potato, because they'll fall apart during cooking)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • chili powder and/or dried chilies (to taste)
  • a dozed medium-to-large mushrooms, cubed
  • 1-2 (depending on size) zucchini, cubed
  • 1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (19 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (19 oz) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (12 oz) corn, undrained
  • oregano, basil, cumin, and cayenne pepper to taste
In a large pot, combine oil, onions, peppers, celery, carrots, garlic, chili powder/dried chilies, and potatoes. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until vegetables are soft (about 6 min.) Add mushrooms and zucchini, and cook for another 5 min. Add tomatoes, beans, corn, and spices, and stir well. When it starts to boil, cover and reduce heat and let simmer for 20 min. Ta-da!

Some notes:
  • The original recipe called for chickpeas; I don't really like them, so I substituted potatoes.
  • Like I said, it's chili, so it's naturally better the second day, which is when I'd recommend freezing it.
  • Don't leave in the freezer for more than a few months, because the mushrooms get rubbery and the zucchini fall apart.
  • If you prep all the vegetables at the same time, it takes less than 20 min to prepare.
  • Normally I don't add celery - I've always thought of it as water in annoying stringy form. But since the other recipe calls for it, and I had to buy a bunch, I added it.
Bon appetite!

Soup's On! : Introduction

Y'know how sometimes you come home at night, and you're tired and you're hungry, but you don't have the energy to cook. Even if you did, there's nothing in the fridge or cupboards to cook? To top it off, outside it's cold and grey and (depending on where you live) damp. Misery hangs over your head like a little black cloud, and you contemplate crawling under the blanket on the couch to spend the night in front of the television. What you really want is some good, hot soup to stop the rumbling in your stomach and warm you up.

Yeah, I've had a few of those days. So what I started doing was making big batches of my favourite soups, putting them in containers, and freezing them. That way, when I'm having One Of Those Days, I can just grab a container from the freezer, put it in a bowl of hot water to thaw for a bit (I don't have a microwave), and then put it in a pot on the stove to heat up.

Since I moved up here, I've made three batches of soup, and unfortunately, used the last container two weeks ago. Autumn has started in earnest now, and I need to restock. So this morning when I went for groceries, I got the ingredients for two of the three soups (the third, a sweet potato soup, was good, but not freezer-good.) Once I finish cleaning up the apartment (which means I need to start at some point), I'll begin making the soups.

Friday, October 01, 2004

31 Days and counting

Woo! I've signed up again! Let the fun times begin!

Merry BlogACatMas!

Today is BlogACatMas!

This is Smitten. He was a very sweet little kitten.