Saturday, December 31, 2005

Where did the year go?

Happy New Year's Eve! Or, as we like to call it, "Happy Fall Asleep On The Couch Before
10:30PM!" Yes, we have funny names for things 'round here.

I wish I had something retrospective to post here, but I don't. Not yet, at any rate. All I could really do is talk about the books I read this year, except that I don't have the list of them with me, so.... And the bulk of the music I downloaded this year is on my computer back in the frozen north, so.... There are also the movies, but they're all a blur, so....

I will leave you with this. I wish all of you the best and brightest New Year's. I wish all of you good luck and good fortune and good health, and success in any endeavor you undertake this coming year. I wish for you patience, grace, wisdom, and security. May your hair turn no grayer than it already is (unless that's your wish), and your nose hairs stay short. In short, a thousand blessings on you and yours.

Now, go out and have fun tonight!

Monday, December 26, 2005

Happy Boxing Day!

Or, as we like to call it in these here parts, "Happy Day To Sit Around Watching Movies And/Or Reading In Front Of The Wood Stove, Doing Nothing More Strenuous Than Making Another Pot Of Tea!" Tomorrow we fight the crowds, but today is all about the recovery and the regrouping for tomorrow's efforts.

Everything has been just dandy so far. Except for the rain - I think I speak for everyone in Niagara when I say the rain is something we could have done without. Last night, I engaged in a ritual I've performed every year since I was in elementary school - staying up until well after midnight to read in bed. I finished The Kite Runner (which made me weepy in parts and gave me sad dreams afterwards), and am tackling Valley of the Dolls right now.

Otherwise, I'll be posting in drips and drabs for the rest of the week, unless I get myself somewhere I can use high speed on my laptop. Have a great day!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Almost there...

So everything (except the laptop) is packed and ready to go. There's still some mess, but nothing major, that can't be done in the morning.

The books I'm taking with me are as follows:
Commitment - Dan Savage (yes, that Dan Savage)
Valley of the Dolls - Jacqueline Susann
Partly Cloudy Patriot - Sarah Vowell (I considered downloading the audiobook of Assasination Vacation, but chose to download Tegan and Sara's So Jealous instead.)
Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
Holidays on Ice - David Sedaris

Now, it's late. And unless I want a repeat of last year's sleep-freak out cycle, I should probably hit the hay now.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Two down, a million to go...

Firstly, I got the laundry done. My mother will appreciate the fact I'm not bringing home laundry.

Secondly, I got the rest of the gift bags made tonight. Witness...

Christmas gift bags

Thirdly, I'm tired and that's all I can think about right now.

Ten minutes for looking soooo good

Heh. I was reading something about Maurice Richard yesterday, and they referenced that line from the commercial he was in. I can't remember the product to save my life, but the tag line is now embedded in my brain.

Last night I spent the WHOLE FRICKIN' NIGHT dreaming about competitions and challenges and puzzles and races and games and teamwork, and this morning I'm exhausted. I put in at least three days work last night - can I stay home today? No? Rats. (It's related to running around trying to get things done before I head south for the holidays.)

I won't say my Christmas shopping is completely finished, because every time I do, I find something else to do. So I will leave it at all the major stuff is done. Now I just need to finish making the gift bags.

What else? I have five minutes left...

I'm picking the books to take home with me. I have a nice little stack on my table right now, but I don't think it's the final list right now. Holidays on Ice (David Sedaris) is definitely coming, as is Valley of the Dolls (Jacqueline Susann). I'm thinking of brining Close Range (Annie Proulx) so I can re-read the story that was just recently made into a movie.

Wow - iTunes just played me a Scissor Sisters song. It hasn't done that in a while - thanks!

I am addicted to mint tea. Never liked the stuff, but now I'm hooked. I drink, like, three cups (at least) a day. Is that a bad thing?

Damn, I guess I should go get read for work now.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Holiday recipe - Gingerbread cookies

(I've been wanting to post all weekend, but have had too much to say. Instead of sitting down and writing a bunch of drafts to tidy up and post later, I did what I usually do when I get excited about something - I lie down with a cool cloth on my forehead until the moment passes. I will post at least a few more times before I go on holidays.)

The other day, I got a lovely card from Jen (aka The Canuck Librarian) in which she requested that I post my favourite holiday recipe. Well, here is the gingerbread cookie recipe that we've been making in our family for years. Lately, I've seen quite a few other recipes for gingerbread, ranging from something similar to others which make me raise my eyebrows. Trust me, this one is damn good.

5 1/4 cups of flour
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar (I can't remember what the substitute is - Mom? Help?)
2 tsp ginger (I used half dry, half fresh zested ginger)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup of white sugar
1 cup of molasses
1 cup of vegetable oil
1 egg
4 tsp baking soda
3/4 cups of hot water

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Combine flour, cream of tarar, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt in a mixing bowl.

3. Add remaining ingredients and stir only until ingredients are blended. The dough may be too wet, so add more flour if necessary.

4. Roll onto a floured surface (make sure the rolling pin is floured too!) I find it's easier if you do it in smaller chunks than trying to do it all at once.

How thick you roll the dough depends on what kind of cookie you want. The thinner you roll them, the crisper they will be. The thicker you roll them, the cakier they will be. And yes, baking time will also factor into this.

It goes without saying that now's the time to use cookie cutters to cut shapes in the dough. Use whatever cutters you want. I have a couple of Christmas cutters, but I also have a bat and a Halloween cat I was tempted to use. Go with the flow! And if you're going to hang them on the tree, don't forget to poke a hole with a straw in the top .

5. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

They are delicious with a glass of milk or a mug of tea.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Happy Holidays!

Holiday card, outside

Holiday card, inside

This is my holiday card to everyone visits me here.

(If I'm related to you, I do have a card for you. I have addresses and everything! Just no stamps!)

Seven songs meme

So. Amanda has done gone and tagged all and sundry with the seven-songs-you're-currently-listening-to meme. I did something similar a while back, but hey - time passes and song preferences change. Might as well update it.

Martha - Tom Waits (Romantic and melancholy. My new favourite Tom Waits song.)

This Charming Man - Death Cab for Cutie (I know nothing about this band, and I don't even know if I'd like anything else they do, but this cover is so much fun!)

When I Get To The Border - Linda and Richard Thompson (It's a long story how I came to discover this British folk duo from the 1960's, but it was worth it for this song which sounds like it would not be out of place in a pub-type setting.)

Baby - Martha Wainwright (Absolutely soaring and gorgeous. Like her brother, she's got a very unique voice which I suspect won't appeal to everyone, but I love it.)

Galang - M.I.A. (Guilty pleasure!)

Reunion - Stars (Almost makes me want to go to my high school reunion next time.)

Little Sister - Queens of the Stone Age (My office partner is a huge QotSA fan, and I've started liking this song.)

Like Amanda, I'm going to leave it open for anyone who wants to post a list of the seven songs they're currently listening to.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

What are you doing next April?

The Canada Reads list has been announced. It's not going to to be until next April, but that gives us all enough time to read the books, doesn't it?

Deafening - Francis Itani (defended by Maureen McTeer, aka Joe Clark's wife)
Cocksure - Mordecai Richler (defended by Scott Thompson, former Kid in the Hall)
Three Day Road - Josesh Boyden (defended by Nelofer Pazira, star of Kandahar)
Rooms for Rent in the Outer Planets: Selected Poems, 1962-1996 - Al Purdy (defended by Susan Musgrave, author and poet)
A Complicated Kindness - Miriam Toews (defended by John K. Samson, of the band The Weakerthans)

Happily, this is the first year I've read more than one book on the list, Complicated Kindness and Three Day Road, which were both very good. I recieved Deafening last Christmas, so I can read that one, too. I'm not much of a poetry fan, but one of my English teachers back in high school was a huge Purdy fan, so maybe I'll give it a try.

If you would recommend a book for the Canada Reads program, what would it be? The only criteria is that it has to be Canadian.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Join the posse!*

A while back, I suggested that I was looking for volunteers to join my posse, and we'd be called the Inco 89 (because I'd just seen Kill Bill, and it was going to be based on the Crazy 88, yada yada yada). Since then, I've had a few more volunteers, but we're still not up to full strength.

Let me assure you, we will not be going around terrorizing people with pointy things, or causing general mayhem. Oh no. Instead, we'll just travel around, causing mirth and merriment in our wake. We'll show up, entertain you for a while, maybe make cookies and watch movies and stuff, and then we'll be on our way. See? Harmless!

So, what I'm doing is putting together a map of everyone who either wants to be a part of the posse, or wants us to visit them. If you go here, stick a pin on the map and let us know where you are.

* Subtitle: I haven't met a bandwagon that I didn't like

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Never drive a car when you're dead

Happy birthday, Tom!

Yesterday was Mr. Waits' 54th birthday, and to celebrate, The Townehouse in town holds a birthday party, where members from various local bands come to pay tribute to the man. I and a group of my co-workers went, and even though we had to leave early (because we all had to work today), it was a fun evening. The pictures are here.

(But I have to share this one - proof positive my co-workers are evil:

Karen and Steve

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

It was 16 years ago today

16 years ago today, a man with a gun walked into the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, and shot and killed fourteen women.

Despite advances in the women's movement, there is still a long way to go.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

That's a wrap (NaNo Postscript)

In the first two passes at NaNoWriMo, I managed a combined total of 21,978 words. The first year I gave up towards the end for several reasons, mostly because I didn't have the time to devote to it. Last year, I did worse than the first year, but I liked my story anyways. So this year, I recycled it and took another stab at it.

This year, I managed an astounding 26,685 words, a full 4,707 more than my first two attempts combined. What, pray tell, did I do right this time?

Characters - I used the same characters from last time, so I didn't really need to change much about the individuals. I changed names and relationships (originally, two characters were brothers and two others were married; this time they were cousins and the other two were just friends), but besides that, I had the work done for me already.

Somewhere, out in the ether (oh, here it is), there's a character chart you can use to build your characters - give them habits, favourite things, virtues, vices, personality traits, etc. You may think you know your characters in your head, but this gives you some other things to think about which may affect how act/react to certain situations. I'm not saying you should use this, just that I found it really useful.

Plot - The first two attempts didn't have concrete plots. I had a good idea where I wanted to go, but nothing that laid out how I'd get my characters from point A to point B. Actually writing out the plot was helpful because it made me think about how each scene would play out, who would be there, how it would end, and how it would transition into the next scene. As well, I knew exactly where the major plot development was, and ended just before it.

It also gave me ideas for later developments, and gave me some flexibility - if I knew character A had to go to location B to meet character C, maybe they could bump into character D and set up a meeting at location E later on. But if didn't want to use character C or location E, I could just skip all that and have A meet D at E. The important thing was that they meet at a certain location - how and when could be negotiated.

Backstory - Some stories introduce elaborate histories to explain why a thing happened. Others start you off in the middle and expect you to keep up without explaining why. Still others start you in the middle, but explain why a thing is happening at a certain time (i.e. Character A hates enclosed spaces and can't complete the mission because ha/she can't slide down the narrow tube. In a flashback, we see it's because her mean older sister used to lock her in the laundry hamper and leave her there for hours.) The first year I did the first type, and got bogged down. The second year I tried to do the second, but still ended up wallowing around in the history. This year, I pretended there wasn't a history, and made it up as I went*.

* Which, in retrospect, would have worked better if I'd done a more detailed plot outline. At 7:30 on the 30th, I realized I had a major character inconsistency because I forgot what I'd said at the beginning and made up something new later on. At the time, I just went with the second history I'd created and kept going, but I will need to go back and fix that at some point.

Writing - I usually tried to write a little during breakfast, and later in the evening. These are the times I felt the most like writing - I wouldn't try and force myself to write if I didn't feel like. If I didn't feel like writing, I got up and did something else, and came back to it when I felt like it. There was no point in forcing myself to do something I didn't want to do.

So, in a nutshell, that's why I did better this year. I plan on jotting down a few of the other ideas I had so that next year, when I go to start writing again, I have somewhere to start.

Even though I didn't hit 50,000, which is the stated goal of the challenge, I'm very happy with how I did. Oh, we could sit down over a pot of tea and argue whether 'tis nobler to attempt and succeed, or to attempt and fail but to be pleased with the effort. But my personal challenge was to do better than I did on my last two attempts. If I got over 12,000, I would have been okay with it; if I made it past the combined total of the two, I'd be happy; and if I made it past the halfway mark, I'd be overjoyed.

There you have it.

(Pender asked in the comments the other day if I would be posting it. I don't think so - I posted what I thought was the best bit in my profile, and then completely neglected to link to my profile. There's another passage I'd like to post, which was fun to write, but not necessarily the best in the story. I can't bring myself to post the whole thing just yet - it needs some TLC and space just now. It's sort of like a bad tattoo in an embarrassing spot - I need to come to terms with it and accept it before I can start showing it off.)

Festivus Interuptus

Okay, before I forget, here's what I

Me, sort of bundled up for the cold

did today (so far): put the Christmas lights up on my balcony.

More Christmas lights on my balcony

Christmas lights on my balcony

They're supposed to be cascading icicle lights, but they haven't "relaxed" properly, and they tend to bunch up.

Close up of the lights

This afternoon: gingerbread cookies. Maybe. Definitely chili*

* If my mother remembers to send me her recipe. Hint hint.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Basking in the afterglow

Okay, so I've been running silent lately, but it's not because I had a post NaNo-meltdown. I'm just trying to gather my wits about me once more, and will write something more coherent in a day or two.

In the meantime, congrats to all my fellow participants, whether you wrote 5 words or 50,000 words. They're words you might not have written otherwise. And thanks to Dave for the kind words and the title of Miss Congeniality. I expect that my sash and crown are in the mail.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

And the verdict is in... (NaNo Day 30)

The finishing time:

Finishing Time

The final total:

Final Total

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Crunch time (NaNo Day 29)


It's crunch time. We're down to the wire.

In less than... wait... 24 plus... let's call it 9ish, so 12-9... carry the two... square root... divide... 3... plus 24.... 27 hours*, NaNoWriMo will be all over for another year. While I am not close to the 50,000 word goal, I have done exceptionally well this year. Right now, I'm at 20,996 words and counting. I've added almost 2000 words since 4PM, and I'd like to add another 1000 before calling it a day.

But, it's almost 9:20, and there's still a ways to go yet.

* Okay, so I'm not all that good at math. I'm not the engineer in the family, but at least I got the right answer!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Movies, this time for reel (NaNo Day 28)


As promised, here goes nothing:

Constantine - John Constantine is somewhere between a exorcist and a demon hunter. He sees these things that no one else can see, and uses this ability to send the demons back to hell, all in an effort to get back into Heaven's good books. Except that Heaven isn't interested in taking him back for the "life he took" (his own, albeit briefly), and Hell is only too eager to have him back for what he's done to all those demons over the years. Enter Angela, whose sister Isabel committed suicide in a Catholic mental institution (and is now in Hell), wanting to know why. Turns out that Isabel and Angela also saw/see the same things Constantine does. Also, there's been an increasing number of demons lately, and a whole thing about the Spear of Power (dun dun dun!), and an impending apocalypse.

I like Keanu Reeves - I really do. I wish he'd be cast in more roles where he gets to smile and laugh sometime, because although I'm impressed by his ability to do deadpan, restrained frustration and outrage, the Neo-clone roles are making worry there's typecasting going on. Rachael Weisz was good - not overly sentimental or drippy or wimpy, but just vulnerable and tough enough. Tilda Swinton - love! She does androgyny like no one else. The story was good, if a little light on exposition, and the special effects were outstanding. Also, brings up some interesting questions about the nature of Heaven and Hell.

The Animatrix - Nine short films about the Matrix and the Matrix universe made by some very talented writers and directors. All of them have very different styles of animation (one of the films is a two-parter), and I'd be hard pressed to say which one I liked best, although The Second Renaissance Parts 1 and 2 were very useful in providing a historical context for the three movies. Look for it in the Anime section of the video store.

Cowboy Bebop: The Movie - A tanker truck explodes, and people start dying. The government isn't sure if it's toxic chemicals or a bioterrorism attack. Of course, it's the latter, but is the government agency who created the chemical agent really interested in releasing the antidote? Who is the former secret agent behind this, and isn't he supposed to be dead, like, three times over? And will the bounty hunters catch him before the Halloween attack?

I can't decide how much I liked this one. I like the concept of a pair of bounty hunters, a computer whiz-kid, a Welsh Corgi, a gambling tomboy, and a space ship, but the plot of this movie didn't really do it justice. The animation was good, though - I find some anime is choppy and skimps on the little things, but this one, like both Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke were strikingly detailed about the actions.

Sugar - On Cliff's 18th birthday, his sister gives him a mini bottle of vodka, a package of condoms, and instructions to take the subway to "go get sex." Did I mention his sister is about 11? (She was my favourite character in the movie!) While out following her directions, he befriends a hustler and becomes immersed in drugs and the seedy lives of those who live on the streets. At first, his friendship with Butch is great, but then Cliff starts to realize that things between them aren't going to end well, and tries to cut him out of his life.

The whole movie had the feel of a documentary, or an improvisational piece. The dialogue had a very unscripted, natural feel, and it looked as if it was filmed using an old hand-held camera. The story itself was barely there, at times very sweet and touching, and other times brutal and hard. I especially enjoyed the actor who played Cliff, Andre Noble, who died shortly after the film was released.

(Rant - One of the reviews on the back of the case suggested that this was a "bittersweet coming-of-age story". Frankly, I hate that kind of description because it's a cop-out. All stories involving teenagers discovering parts of themselves they didn't know existed and learning life lessons in the process are going to involve some joy and some pain - but that's how things are in the real world. Try to be more original next time, 'kay? End rant!)

Childstar - A famous child actor is sent to Canada to film a major blockbuster movie, but all he really wants is a family. He's spoiled and cynical, and is tired of being treated like a child. His mother is bored, self-absorbed, and when her son goes missing, sees it as an opportunity to renegotiate his contract. The driver is an aspiring director, and when he tries to impart some wisdom onto the child, he's rewarded with failure and a chance to screen his movie. Go figure.

I dearly love Don McKellar. He's got a dry, twisted, almost sarcastic sense of humour, and while you don't really laugh at his movies, you just might grin sardonically. None of the humour is really slap-your-knee funny, but it's barely there, just enough to make you chuckle every now and then. He wrote, directed, and plays the driver for the young star, and does a pretty good job of it all. Jennifer Jason Leigh does very good detatched narcissism. And Mark Rendall, who plays the Taylor, the child star, is excellent (a bit of trivia - he's also one of the voice of Arthur!)

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Knitting and movies (NaNo Day 27)

Three more days folks, and then it's all over.

So I did a lot of knitting and movie watching this weekend. First, the knitting.

I made Karen a scarf for her birthday last month, and I just finished weaving in the ends yesterday, so I'll bring it to her tomorrow.

Karen's scarf, whole

I also finished a mitten I made last January, but ended up having to frog because the thumb started to unravel. There will be no pictures of this mitten, because it looks nothing like its mate. I don't even know what pattern I used to finish off the top of the first because it looks nothing like the top of the second.

Year-old mittens

Proving that I'm a sucker for punishment, I've started a second pair of mittens using some leftover Lopi Denise gave me a few weeks ago.

New mittens

I'm going to make these with a cable on the back. There isn't much there right now, but this is what the first twist looks like:

Close-up of first cable on new mittens

One more project - it's a scarf that was going to be a basketweave scarf, but I frogged it and will be making a broken mistake rib scarf instead.

Mistake Rib scarf

This is the one I'm going to take with me to work on during lunch this week.

Now, enough knitting!

Movie stuff. Happy birthday, Michael Vartan. Frankly, I don't understand your appeal, but lots of women (and quite a few men) drool over you constantly, so maybe it's just a matter of taste, I guess.

Updated, Monday morning: Okay, those were really crappy reviews. I was tired, impatient, and having trouble typing (see reasons 1 and 2). I was also struggling with trying to recap all my knitting, all the movies I watched, the two pizzas I made, and wanting to write 500 more words on my story so I'd be over 20,000 words (didn't happen - boo), so I was also overwhelmed. I'll try and do better reviews of the movies tonight. For now, though, I will say to anyone who read the review of Constantine, even though I complained it seemed slightly too long, I rather enjoyed it.

A teaser of sorts: the movies I watched this weekend were
The Animatrix
Cowboy Bebop: The Movie
Child Star

Saturday, November 26, 2005

It's a miracle! (NaNo Day 26)

No, not that I somehow miraculously made it to 50,000 words since Thursday (it's closer to 19,036).

I actually went to church tonight. It's the first Sunday of Advent, and I always like the Advent masses. There's something so deliciously ironic about an institution who stole the original ceremony from the pagans (the evergreens, the approximate time of year, etc. - Yule, anyone?), complaining that the original reason for the season has been stolen by commercial interests.

Let it never be said that whatever higher powers exist don't have a sense of humour.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you South of the border (NaNo Day 24)

If today's the day you celebrate Thanksgiving, happy turkey day!

If you celebrated Thanksgiving with the rest of Canada last month, happy Thursday!

If you're Julie and I still haven't sent you an email wishing you the best, happy belated birthday!

If you're me, then your word count is at 17,359 tonight.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Consider the lobster (NaNo, Day 23)

After work tonight, I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a case of tonic water, my fizzy beverage of choice. As I walked past the seafood area, I chanced to look upon the herd (group? school? frat house?) of lobster in the tank.

They know they're doomed. That's why they're there, with those elastics around their claws. Most creatures who are doomed (but don't know their hour yet) are usually either passive with acceptance or panicky with fear. Not the lobster. Oh, no.

There were three or four in the corner engaged in what can only be described as some kind of tag-team wrestling action gone crazy. Since they couldn't use their claws to pinch off other bits of their opponent, they were using them to bash the living hell out of each other. The rules of engagement (only two persons in the ring at a time; tag the team member when you wanted to be relieved) had been tossed aside in a massive free-for-all. If the lobsters weren't engaged in the main scuffle, they were contributing to one of the many side events that were also taking place.

There was one lobster who was sitting apart from all the action, near the public side of the tank. He wasn't fighting, but he didn't look any less fierce or pissed off than the others. Sitting there, his powerful claws rendered useless by those thick elastic bands, his antennae were twitching as if to say, "I know what's coming, and I'm not going quietly. If I have to, I'm taking one or two of you mofo's with me."

I can respect that, which is part of the reason I don't eat lobster. (The other is that they taste yucky.)

On to other things....

It is bitterly cold out there tonight. We're supposed to be getting a snow storm, but I think it's too cold to actually snow. We'll see. Either way, I'm not walking again tonight because it's so so so cold, and I'm such a delicate flower, that I might freeze something if I do.

Plus, the laundry is about to grow legs and smother me in my sleep, so I need to do something about that.

(Oh, and the story is coming. I have really good days followed by really bad days. On Monday, I got about 2000 words written, and then yesterday I had a migrane, so I got less than 100 words done. Tonight, I'm feeling wordy, but I have to constantly interrupt myself to fetch the laundry from one place to another.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

An announcement (NaNo, Day 22)

Can I have your attention for just a sec? Thanks...

My total word count as of Dec. 1, 2003: 11,024
My total word count as of Dec. 1, 2004: 10,954

My total word count as of Nov. 22, 2005, with eight days to go: 15,019

I'm really hoping to make it 20,000 by the weekend, and 25,000 by next Thursday, when NaNoWriMo is done for another year.

Monday, November 21, 2005

"... - the good spanner, I might add - ..." (NaNo, Day 21)

I'm sort of embarrassed to admit that I've posted an excerpt of my story on my NaNo profile. It's from an exchange I wrote Saturday afternoon, and it cracked me up (it's not very long - less than a page in Word).

It struck me last night that in about two months time, I'm going to look back on all this and wonder what the hell I was thinking blogging about this. I mean, it's kind of dorky the way I keep going on and on about it*, and when it's all over with, I'll wonder what all the fuss was about. Then I'll go back and reread November's posts, and want to crawl into a hole and pull the hole in after me. It's almost

Back in high school? When you and Lori used to rush to each other's lockers after class? And breathlessly discuss which one of the many guys you have crushes on you saw before, during, and after class? And at some point, the list of guys becomes so long you have to start writing them down? And then you have to start narrowing the list of guys down? And one of you, you can't remember which one, comes up with the idea of the Top Ten Babe List (TTBL)? Which is updated on a weekly basis? And rankings are complied using a complicated system of how many times you've seen him, how long you saw him, who you saw him with, and whether or not you actually got to make eye contact/speak to him?** And you keep doing this for, like, two whole years until all the original guys have graduated/you've graduated?

And ten years later, you come home for Thanksgiving and find a copy of the list you kept stashed in a drawer?*** And you read it? And you cringe - hard - and wonder what you were thinking at the time?

Yeah, something like that.

*And have spent a total of about three hours drawing diagrams so I know where everything is.
** I went to a Catholic high school, and we all wore uniforms, so what they were wearing was pretty moot.
*** That scraping sound you heard was my mother trying to open the drawers on my desk in my old room at home in order to look for the list. The joke's on you, Mom - I hid it somewhere else! Heh heh heh...

Saturday, November 19, 2005

I'm not an engineer - I don't even play one on TV! (NaNo Day 19)

You're sick of this already, aren't you? Don't worry - there are only 12 days left!

I'm staring 12,000 in the face. A few minutes ago, I was over 12,000, but I had to delete a whole bunch. It's all well and good for you to say that someone went down a level to do something, then went up two levels to do something else, but at some point, you're going to need to draw a diagram so that you don't have a character doing the same thing, but going two levels instead.

Christ, I'm boring myself now. I'm going for a walk, cleaning my apartment, making dinner, and watching a movie tonight.

(I was very good and restrained myself at Costco this morning. I came out with less than $100 of stuff I will need in the foreseeable future, such as tissues, bagels, socks, and something I'm bringing home for Christmas to share, so I can't tell you.)

Friday, November 18, 2005

Friday, thy name is frustration (NaNo Day 18)

It's one of those days where I want to write, and have a whole lot to write (because I've finally worked out some logistical issues in the storyline), but have no time to. I finished work early, went for groceries and gas, came home, and had to get ready to go to the Sudbury NaNo group's meeting. At which I was the only one to show up, but I'll save that rant for later. Tonight I'm going to see this new movie about this kid who's going to wizard school - I hear it's the fourth installment, but I doubt you've heard about it.

Anyways, I went hogwild last night and downloaded a few CDs. Right now, I'm listening to PJ Harvey's "Is This Desire?" and loving it completely.

Will try and write something before I leave, and update you when I return.

Update (Saturday morning):

I wasn't sure whether to make a new post for this or just add to this post. I'm going with adding to this one because it's still too early to broadcast the day's accomplishments.

Harry Potter was.... okay. Most of my problems have to do with the director for this one - Chris Columbus left every stinkin' element of the plot in, which made the movies too long, dull in spots, but true to the book. He was also good at playing up the emotional elements of Harry's struggle with discovering who and what he was, and has a proven track record with movies with and aboutchildren (and their families). Alfonso Cuaron cut a lot of the superfluous stuff, made the struggle as much about adolescence as it was about good vs. evil, and made a better movie than the first two. And he's a pretty good director, too.

This one was directed by Mike Newell, who brought you such notable films as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Pushing Tin, and Donnie Brasco . Besides being British, I'm not sure how this qualifies him to direct the movie based on the book where things take a definite turn for the worst.

The third one remains my favourite for many reasons, the first one being the director made the actors act like teenagers. In this one, where they should be even more into the angst because they're supposed to be 14 (and because of events at the beginning), they just seemed too wooden. There was very little effort put into convincing the audience these are just typical teenagers who happen to be wizards. Instead, they came off as wizards who don't have beards and grey hair yet.

But, good for Newell for leaving out chunks of the book that would have made the otherwise long movie even longer. Except that in leaving out parts, there should have been a smooth transition from one part of the story to the next, and it wasn't happening. If you're going to leave out the aftermath of the attack at the quidditch match, could you at least make the next scene not be the one where the trio are on the train back to Hogwarts? Tell us a little of what happened when they got home!

There were some funny bits, and one outstanding bit near the end, but they weren't evenly spaced throughout the movie. I thought the actors were great, especially the two who played the Weasley twins (and who had more screen time than the actress who plays Hermione). The special effects were also good - I was dizzy during one particular chase scene (if you've read the book, it was during the first challenge!).

So, that was the movie.

When I got home, I listened to another of the CDs I downloaded, and loved it. Let's hear it for Rogue Wave's descended Like Vultures, people! And the Cash Brother's How Was Tomorrow? - that one was before I left for the movies.

Word count (and I'd like a drumroll for this): 11,110! Less than 2000 words before I surpass the totals I got in each of the last two years! Woo-hoo!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Membership (NaNo Day 16)

I am now a member of an elite organization, that millions of people across the continent are also a part of.

I got my Costco card today - fear me! I can buy goods that I don't need in bulk!

(No real writing done yet. I was making muffins and thought up the "fear me!" line, and had to get it down before I forgot it. I'll keep you updated.)

Update - see? I promised I would! I just cracked 10,000 words, and, even though it's only quarter after ten now, I'm going to bed.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Meanie (NaNo Day 15)

Today is the halfway point, and I'm nowhere near halfway. However, I made considerable progress tonight (9011 words and counting!), so all I need are a few more days like this and I'll be all set!

During this marathon sessions, one of the peripheral characters did something nasty to one of my main characters. Bitch.

In real life things, congrats to Jen for correctly identifying the Star Trek alum who appeared in Crash. You win ten points, which are redeemable for nothing. Except maybe coffee or tea next time I'm in your neck of the woods. (I also forgot that we also watched In Good Company, which I'd seen when it came out. It's still a great movie.)

Monday, November 14, 2005

Miss me much? (NaNo Day 14)

Lest you think I was neglecting posting my daily word counts while I was in Owen Sound, the truth is that I couldn't connect to Blogger. Damn unsecured wireless network that I was stealing bandwidth from! However, as I'm only up to 7326 words, so obviously, I didn't get much written. But you know who got a lot written last week? Scaper. That girl has mad NaNo skillz - she'll reach 50,000 words by the end of the week if she keeps up the pace she's going at. I'm chartreuse with envy!*

Fun things done in Owen Sound: met the outgoing Tommyboy, and as a result, pretty much everyone else at the market. Knit. Went out for supper at a neat restaurant. Went to a craft show at the Tom Thompson Memorial Art Gallery. Went to the Spinner's and Knitters Guild show at the library. Played with a sweet-natured Chesapeake Bay Retriever and her grumpy sidekick, an adolescent Himalayan (who's actually also quite sweet - when he wants to be). And watched a metric tonne** of movies:

  • Sideways - Meh. It was okay. I can now join the throngs who can say they've seen it.
  • Garden State - Lovely. Understated. Reminded me of some of my favourite Canadian films. Zach Braff is awesome.
  • The Delicate Art of Parking - If you haven't seen this, why not? A mockumentary about Parking Enforcement Officers, and I found myself getting completely sucked in by the middle of the movie. Features a couple of cast members from Corner Gas***.
  • Crash - Not the David Cronenberg film. The "Oh my god, this is bloody brilliant!" film. Seriously. It was brilliant - it was so good, I was shaking at the end. (Ten points to the first person (except Rachelle!) who can tell me which former Star Trek cast member appeared in one of the storylines.)
  • Being Julia - My new favourite period piece. Annette Benning was stunning!
The drive home was uneventful. Except for the wind farm I passed - *that* was cool.

* I'm not exactly sure what colour chartreuse is - for all I know, it could be a soothing shade of taupe.
** A guesstimate really, since I didn't have scales to measure them.
*** Which, I just realized, I missed again tonight. Gah!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

One more thing... (NaNo Day 10)

The other reason I didn't get anything written today is because tomorrow morning we're having our book club, and I haven't finished the book. So I've been reading like a madwoman, and have less than a quarter to go. However, I still need to finish packing, etc.; therefore, no writing was accomplished today.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

More days like this (NaNo Day 9)

Back in my first year of undergrad, I had one evening course which went until 9PM on Tuesday evenings. One night after class, I needed to stop at the library on my way out to pick up an item that was being held in reserve for me. As I went to open one of the doors, I saw someone had stuck a note on the glass:

Thunder Rider,
9th dimension was boring. Meet me in the space pub
Cosmos Woman

I was intrigued. Who was this Thunder Rider, and where was this space pub? The only student bar on Campus was Isaac's, the campus pub. I didn't' take the note, just in case Thunder Rider hadn't seen it yet, but I did write it down and have held onto it for the past ten years.

And now, I've incorporated it into my story. Thanks, Cosmos Woman!

I need more writing days like this. It was an especially productive evening, which is perfect, considering tomorrow night I'm busy, and then I'll be away for the weekend. Today I've managed over 1000 words, bringing my total up to 6534. Woo!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

My iPod {hearts} me! (NaNo Day 8)

Rough day today. On my walk tonight, while I was stewing over everything, this is what Gretchen played for me:

Get Free - The Vines
Born Slippy - Underworld
Filthy Bastard Cabaret - Big Rude Jake
Breath - Swollen Members (f. Nelly Furtado)
Out of My Head - Junkhouse
Step Back - Bumblebeez 81
Rock & Roll Hootchie Koo - Bootsauce
Au Fond du Temple Saint - David Byrne (f. Rufus Wainwright)
Flower Duet - Delibes (from the opera Lakme - you may know it from the British Airways commercials a few years back)

In short, good venting music to start with, and the calming stuff just as I arrived back at my apartment.

And Jeff? If you're going to make me guess who you heard on the CBC at lunchtime, give me more than one guess! I would have gotten to the right answer in less than five guesses anyways!


Writing has been sporadic and light lately, despite my desire to write write write. I've managed to get my word count up to 5516, which is only 500 above where I was last time, but I've gotten those words in a relatively short period of time. If I were able to focus on the writing, instead of the need to do other distracting things, like washing the dishes or making dinner, I'd be so much further ahead.

Alas, it's almost time to call it a night, despite wanting - nay, needing! - to know how this scene ends.

Monday, November 07, 2005

No news... (NaNo Day 7) not good news. More tomorrow.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Busted! (NaNo Day 6)

Today has been one big huge bust.

I ended up not going to the second day of the workshop, although I had intended to go until at least noon. Except that I woke up with a headache that didn't go away, and only got worse - a lot worse. I've spent the entire day until now laying on the couch, watching whatever was on that required the least amount of brain power to watch (except for Frantic, which is just about one of my favourite thrillers), and telling myself that the drugs will kick in soon. Hopefully. Maybe. Argh. Kill me now!

So, I've gotten no writing done today and I have to do 6000 words to get caught up. Like that's going to happen, now that the drugs have kicked in - at the same time (I'm spaced out and sleepy! And twitchy! Woo!) Also? Starving. I could eat everything in my apartment, which is a sign that I'm on the road to recovery. Blah

And now I'm going to go do some superficial cleaning so my apartment isn't a sty for the rest of the week.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Late late late (NaNo Day 5)

Betcha though I wasn't going to post anything today, huh? Well, it's been a close thing - I almost did. It's been a long long day, and it's not over? Why? I know get to have fun prying my contact lenses out of my dry, tired eyes. This could take all night.

The bellydancing workshop was okay, but it wasn't really what I expected. The instructor has a very different style of dance, which involves using happy hands. Now, I can dance the choreography, or I can do the happy hands, but I can't do both at the same time. Plus, there were so many people it was hard to see what was going on.

The show tonight went well. I stepped on my veil on the first step and almost dropped it. Then my coin belt almost slipped off. But we were awesome! We rocked that joint!

So, word count so far. Last night when I called it quits, I had 4071 words. Tonight I have 4977. Wait - 4977? Jeeze, I might was well stay up and write 33 more words so that I crack 5000.

Or, I could scrape off my makeup, chip out my contacts, have something to eat, and go to bed. Yeah, I like that idea better.

Friday, November 04, 2005

PSA and milestones (NaNo Day 4)

I like how this whole thing starts on the first day of the month. That way, I know how many days have passed by looking at the calendar.

(Hi! I'm a dork!)

From the lovely acro-tastic folks at NaNoWriMo comes a new fun faux word - NaBaUpYoNoDa! Or, for those of you not in the loop, National BackUp Your Novel Day. So, for all of you playing along with NaNoWriMo at home, back that baby up!

(Are you getting the impression that I've had too much caffeine today? Me too! Wow! It's like you're reading my mind!*)

Last night, when all was said and done, I think I only had 2253 words. I'm now up to 3375 words! AND, I'm finished the introduction! Which is actually all about something that takes place about 3/4 of the way through the eventual story. But! I cracked the 3000 mark before the 15th. Yay me! And because I'm awash in a happy glow and more than a little spun out on coffee and tea and lattes, I'm going to reproduce one of my favourite passages:

Character A: Byrnes! Fancy running into you here! I'’ve been looking all over for you, only to meet you here on this doomed planet! Poetic, don't you thing?
Character B: It's freakin' Shakespeare.

See, it's funny because Character A is there to kill Character B. But maybe you figured that one out already.

The soundtrack has been narrowed down to 66 songs. So I'm thinking it's going to need a little more work.

* Or, what's left of it, anyways.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

On surpassing Day 1's total this morning (NaNo Day 3)

When I left for work this morning, I had 1776 words. Before I left for bellydancing, I had 1963 words. Sweet Jesus, I'm falling behind! I only need to write a little over 4000 words before bedtime to meet today's total. For now, I'm going to do the dishes and do a little tidying so I don't have to do it in the morning.

A question for y'all: how are you choosing the names for your characters, place names, pet names, etc.? I have a bunch of things and people to name, and since there are a lot of fun place names in Northern Ontario, I'm going to use some of them. And there were some great street names in Halifax, and those are becoming people. Mayhaps I'll post the complete list of names et al tomorrow.

Or maybe the soundtrack. Whichever comes together first.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The word count button is my new bestest friend (NaNo Day 2)

903 words so far. Yay me! Of course, by the end of today, I should have 3334 words, so maybe I should get cracking. But first, a dilemma....

Part of the story is set on a space ship. Because I'm a girl of limited imagination when it comes to schematics, would it be terrible if I just used the Serenity (from "Firefly") as a model? It's sort of the inspiration of my story, but different characters and stuff, and it's in roughly the same "fiction" (another way of saying fictional universe) as where "Firefly" was set. I'm not close to that part yet, so I still have time to change my mind.

Other than that, I'm happy with how it's going. The outline has really helped me see where things are going, and now all I have to do is get them there. I'm recycling the names and character profiles I made last year, since the whole story is the same one I tried to do last year, but got bogged down in the beginning part.

Also still up in the air - my NaNo soundtrack, which all the cool kids are putting together. Mine keeps changing, but I'll have it nailed down soon.

And, while Dave has a picture of himself finishing Day 1, I'm not nearly as photogenic and won't be posting pictures of me at the end of today. Sorry*.

* Well, not really. I mean, look at this photo - do you really want a closeup of that? I didn't think so.

Update at 11pm: Bedtime. My total is up to 1539 now.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The first day of the rest of the month


Today is the first day of NaNoWriMo, and I already feel behind because I didn't stay up until midnight to start. But I got up early (like I do everyday) with the intention of getting a little of it down before I go to work (stupid work! It interferes with my ability to NaNo*!)

(If any of my managers read this - ha ha, I'm just kidding!)

I meant to write a post last night to basically give you something to read for the next few days, but I lost track of time and didn't. And haven't. And now, won't. Don't fret - it was going to be a playlist anyways**.

Good luck to Dave, the Furious Redhead, Scaper, and all of the Sudbury NaNo Posse. We're all in this together now.

* That sounds vaugely naughty, doesn't it?
** Playlist numero 2; or, as I like to call it, "The One Where I Decide I Lurve The Scissor Sisters".

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Bad Rebecca! Bad!

Here I am! It's Sunday night, and I'm camped out on my couch with my laptop and Gretchen, and a list of things to do while I veg. Oh, and peanut butter cups. Always good.

So, where have I been? Well, going back to bed Thursday morning was seriously an option. It's been a stressful, longish week topped off by a busy, longish weekend. But a good one - I've managed to put off thinking about what's been bothering me, and had a blast at the same time.

Friday was Karen's birthday, and I went out for supper with her, her mother and aunt, and Kris and Kevin. There was a hilarious mix-up at the beginning where I waited at the wrong restaurant for 45 minutes (I could have sworn Karen said "Kelsey's", not "Casey's"). After supper, we went to the opening evening of the big craft show.

For the most part, it was pretty standard - wooden crafts, kid's clothing, candy, etc. There were a few vendors selling jewelry, but there was one couple who stood out. They were from Toronto, and they were selling antique-looking pieces that were just incredible. And not only was their product amazing, it was fun to watch the two of them in full sales mode, which I could have watched for hours. Daniel Pollack Accessories (sorry, no web site) will be at the One-of-a-Kind Show and Sale in Toronto at the end of November - if you're in the area, you should definitely check them out.

New bling

Saturday Karen and I hung out watching movies and crafting. Saturday night, we had a barbecue at her parents, friends dropped by, and Trivial Pursuit was played (after a long, hard-fought battle, the team of Karen's mom and aunt, Marti, and I were victorious over the team of Karen's dad, Jeff, and Andrew, a friend of Marti and Karen. It was close - we were both in the middle of the board and fighting for that last correct question.)

Then off to the bar (guess which one*) for dancing and cavorting. Karen was a wild gypsy, Andrew was a hippie, Marti was a stressed-out mother of three, and I was a witch. I wasn't the only witch there, but I had by far the coolest hat - it's vinyl, wide-brimmed, and had black feathers all around the brim. It's a fabulous hat, and of course I'm wearing it to work tomorrow.

Witch hat, full

Witch hat

(To Julie, Stuart, and Lisa - remember my orange plaid cape from our first SLIS Halloween party? Yeah, I wish I hadn't given it away. Now I'm sad again!)

Afterwards, we witnessed a near-riot in Burger King when they ran out of fries.

Today there was a rehearsal for our open house next week. Our number has gone from almost twenty people to four of us. I'm not going to think about the potential for stage fright. Nope. Not at all.

So, now you're all caught up on my comings and goings. There's a new book review up (yay!). Tomorrow is Halloween - have fun! Tuesday marks the beginning of NaNoWriMo and further neglect of the blog (or an overabundance of posts as I procrastinate). So far, I have a goodly portion of the plot done, but no character names or profiles yet, which is kind of important. So, I guess I should get on that.

Also? Go give Julie some love - her family's suffered the double tragedy of loosing both their cat and dog in the few months, which is very sad.

* Here's a hint: there were an unsurprising number of fairies. And drag queens.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Dude, way to make me sad before 7:30am.

I'm going back to bed and pulling the covers over my head now.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

You think so?

iTunes has recently introduced a new feature which recommends songs to you based on other things you've purchased. And like every other recommendation service, it has its odd moments.

In previous versions, there was a "Recommendations based on your purchases" section in the wishlist area. It always puzzled me - who the heck wrote the algorithm for this thing? It would tell me I'd love bands or soundtracks that, not only did I not love at all, had absolutely nothing in common with what I'd downloaded. It was like the service was saying to me, "Hey! We see that you like Daft Punk, the Chemical Brothers, and Kid Koala! We think you'll just adore Mister Mister, Rod Stewart, and the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever!" No, not so much.

The new version - called "Just For You" - also has its moments of backwards zen. Last week, it told me I'd probably like 50 Cent's The Massacre based on the fact I'd purchased Rufus Wainwright's Rufus Wainwright. Really? Based on what, exactly? I can't think of a single thing they might have in common. "Ebony and Ivory" my ass!

Sweet dreams are made of this?

Last night I dreamed that I was helping Meg and Jack White search for mermaids. We had maps and reference books spread out all over fish drying racks, and we were beside a lake. Jack really wanted to take the boat out and go looking right away, but Meg and I convinced him that he needed to read the encyclopedia entry on "Mermaids" before he could go. And he needed a lifejacket, but no one pointed that out.

It's nice to know that, even in my dreams, I can conduct a proper reference interview.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Things I have done this weekend that I am pleased with

Packed up my summer clothes. Hey, it snowed Thursday - I think it's time.

Unpacked my winter clothes.

Before I put the summer clothes into the bins, and before I put the winter stuff in the closet and drawers, I sorted through it all and pulled stuff that I haven't worn, won't wear, and/or doesn't fit. I bagged it all, along with the pile of stuff that's been sitting in a crate in the corner of my room, ready to take to Value Village.

Posted two more book reviews. I'm pleased with them. And yes, they're out of order - I may have mentioned that pretending to post them on the date I finished them was displeasing to me, but I can't remember why. Meh.

Movies I watched this weekend - The Magnificent Seven and In Her Shoes. Both were pretty good.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Happy Scotchtoberfest!

By the time you read this, it will be tomorrow (today being Thursday night). I just wanted to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a Happy Scotchtoberfest, and to remind you to celebrate it responsibly.

So, now you're probably thinking, "Pray tell, what is Scotchtoberfest?" From the Wikipedia entry,

Scotchtoberfest is a fake Scottish festival which was featured in the episode "Bart's Girlfriend". It was invented by Principal Seymour Skinner to catch Bart red-handed in the act of perpetrating a prank, as is Bart's perennial wont. Groundskeeper Willy, the Scottish school janitor, plays the bagpipes whilst wearing a kilt. Bart lifts his kilt with helium balloons, and since Willy wears his kilt without underpants, at least one woman faints at the sight.

"There's no such thing as Scotchtoberfest. You used me Skinner, you used me!" exclaims Willie, realizing he's been had.

Since its appearance, some (it's pretty-much limited to groups of friends sharing the joke round somebody's house) Scots have made Scotchtoberfest into a real festival, held on the third Friday of every October. For most people who celebrate it, it is simply "a celebration of all things Scottish". Another variation is to combine elements of Highland Games and Oktoberfest, with "Scottish" and "German" Pavillions. It is a pun on the Bavarian Oktoberfest.

(As found in the entry, "List of neologisms on The Simpsons")

I'm trying to decide on a menu for my Scotchtoberfest celebrations - I'm thinking haggis and sauerkraut. Or deep-fried Mars bars and bratwurst. Definitely beer.

Whatever you end up doing, take pictures or leave me a comment outlining how you spent your Scotchtoberfest. Ach nien!

(Speaking of strange and odd festivities... on December 7th, there will be a birthday party for Tom Waits at The Townehouse. They've been doing this for ten years now, and it sounds like a blast. Karen, New Guy, and I will be going for sure.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Recipe: Pumpkin Scones

I shouldn't have teased you with photos of those delicious pumpkin scones without giving you the recipe. Truth is, it was almost 11:30 by the time I finished writing the post, and couldn't stay awake any longer (there's a companion story to this, but it's long and not relevant to pumpkin scones). I found this on the Internet years ago because I was looking to make scones like I used to get at the market in Halifax (Mary's Bread Basket - mmmmmm!).

Pumpkin Scones

  • 1/4 c butter or margarine, slightly softened
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp corn syrup
  • 1 c cooked pumpkin or squash (the canned filling is good too)
  • 2 2/3 c flour
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • pinch ground ginger
  • 1/3 c milk (or less)
1. Sift together dry ingredients, and put aside.

2. Beat together sugar and butter. Add egg and corn syrup and mix. Stir in pumpkin with a spoon, and add half the dry ingredients, only stirring until they are combined.

3. Add the rest of the dry ingredients with just enough milk to make dough soft. Be careful not to overmix. If it's too sticky, sprinkle with flour.

(NOTE: I vary how much of the milk from time to time. Sometimes I don't use it all, but this time I did. The scones were very moist and soft, but I also had to add another half a cup of flour to keep in together when I was kneading the dough.)

4. Knead the dough lightly. Pat into a large rectangle of uniform thickness, and cut into squares (if you want to roll it out and use a cutter to cut out shapes, you could do that, too.)

5. Bake for 18 minutes at 450 degrees. Baking time will vary from oven to oven, so start checking around the 15 minute mark - in my oven, it only took about 16 minutes, and halfway through the baking time I rotated the tray (things at the back of the oven tend to burn, while things in the front tend to not cook enough). You'll know they're done when the tops are golden.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sunday Night Grapeshot

(Grapeshot is the term used to describe a cluster of slugs which would be shoved into a cannon and fired to inflict maximum damage, especially on crowds. Tonight's post is sort of like that - a whole cluster of things shoved into one post.)

Several days last week were spent trying to make pumpkin scones last week. First, I didn't have any corn syrup. Then I got corn syrup, only to realize I didn't have pumpkin pie filling, which you would agree might be integral to something called "pumpkin scones". Of course, last week being the week after Thanksgiving, there wasn't much pumpkin pie filling to be found. Long story cut tragically short, there are only two scones left. I must say, they are very tasty, especially with cranberry sauce (which I also made).

Pumpkin scones and cranberry sauce

Here a scone is sitting, smothered in cranberry sauce, waiting to be devoured (which it was, shortly after this picture was taken). Note the old-fashioned jar the rest of the sauce is in. I found this jar and another very similar to it at Value Village on Saturday.

Oh crap, what else was I going to say?

This morning, I watched the most excellent Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead and the 2001 anime version of Metropolis. R&GAD is one that makes you think about nebulous things while entertaining you. My favourite part has always been the question game near the beginning, when the two characters play tennis using questions instead of rackets and balls. It raises a lot of interesting discussion about questions and answers, life and death, identity, and rhetoric.

It also makes you think about the secondary characters in literature, the ones that aren't fleshed out, but put in appearances for the sake of moving the story along - do they spontaneously spring into being, with no memories, no backgrounds, and no identities other than the one assigned to them by the primary characters? Or were they busy doing something else before they were forced onto centre stage, play their part, and then get yanked off again? The presence of the group of players lent some credence to the theory that identity is fluid and your time on stage is limited of you are not a major player. The fact that that the two main characters didn't know which one they were (was Gary Oldman's character Guildenstern? Or was it Tim Roth's character? Who was Rosencrantz?) is evidence of this.

(And maybe I'm completely missing something, but what was the purpose of Oldman's character - the IMDb lists him as Rosencrantz, but I don't think they ever firmly established who was who - making all of those discoveries, like gravity, water displacement, the spoon on the apple-core generator, or the paper airplanes, only to have them destroyed or otherwise fail completely when he tried to show them to Roth's character?)

Metropolis was beautiful. I've seen the original 1927 silent version, and while the stories are fairly close (it's been a while since I saw it last), I liked this version better. The animation was fabulous and better than I expected, and the story made sense. The use of an old Ray Charles song over the destruction of the Ziggurat was a nice touch, too.

I've finally posted the semi-complete list of books over on my other site. All the books I've read between January and June are listed, and shockingly, most of them have reviews (it's the second half of the year which isn't so complete). It's here if you want to see it - the formatting ain't that pretty, and I hope to fix the link titles in future editions of the list, but it's what I got for now. There are 38 books on that list, not including the one I reread a few months after the first time I read it; I'm up to 56 now, not including the 3 I reread (hey - they were that good!).

It snowed a little yesterday. Not much, and it was big, wet snowflakes, but that was enough to make me start thinking about digging out my winter clothes.

This morning, while watching the movies, I made the fantastic discovery that I can put my grocery list on my iPod, so I don't have to go digging through my pockets for the scrap of paper the list is on when I get to the store. It's pretty easy - there's a category in Extras for notes, so just create a text file in Notepad with your list, save it as a text file, plug your iPod into your computer, and put the text file into the Notes folder on it. It's so cool that I will be showing it to everyone at work tomorrow, even though I'm probably the last person on earth to figure that out.

Well, look at that. I've gone and run out of things to say. Aren't you lucky?

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Driving me nuts!

I like Sudbury. It's a pretty low key place, the people are friendly (if puzzled about why I would want to move north when I'm from the south, where it seems that everyone goes to find work, etc.), and there's lots of trees and lakes around.

But. I hate driving here. The streets are in pretty bad condition, if not under construction. I could wax poetic about how long Paris Street has been under construction, or the asinine reconfiguring of the Four Corners (where Paris intersects with Regent), but it would take hours. Really.

And the drivers? Scary. Really scary. When I come to an intersection, I always pause when the lights turn green because there may still be a few drivers who are trying to make it through the intersection before the cars going in the other direction start moving. The general philosophy can be described thusly: yellow lights mean "hurry up", red means "you still have 2.5 seconds before the other lights turn green, and then another 1.5 seconds before they react", and green means "don't go just yet, just wait to see if anyone is going to run this." I've sat on my balcony and watched people run very obviously red lights. And turn signals? Speed limits? Mere triffles to used when there are police cars around.

Every weekend, someone's holding a charity car wash at a plaza or gas station or grocery store or wherever. Driving around on a Saturday morning, you are guaranteed to see two or three of them, as well as the occasional group selling Krispy Kreme donuts (imported from somewhere south of here that morning). I don't mind it much if I'm walking around, but if I'm driving, it's hazardous, and only partly because everyone slows down to see what's going on.

Inevitably, whoever's running the car wash has five or six kids there to help, and generally they help out by standing by the road, jumping up and down, waving signs advertising the car wash. And when I say "by the side of the road", I mean stading on the curb, waving signs and jumping around. Firstly, it's distracting, especially on a busy road where there's a lot of fast-moving traffic. Secondly, it's dangerous putting kids that close to the edge of the road. Never mind the crazyness of the drivers - I watched one kid almost slip and fall this morning. Thank heavens there were no cars near her.

(And I know my mother is thinking that I'm just being cranky like usual. I'm not!)

Now, so as not to leave you on a sour note, pictures!

Sunset and sundown from my balcony, Tuesday night.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Look up "Insanity" in the dictionary and you'll see my picture

I've heard (somewhere) that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Or something to that effect. Witness:

Tonight is the second night in a row I've spent 5+ hours tweaking my little network, and accomplishing nothing except putting off eating until I'm an emotional wreck and then realizing why. The good news is that my wireless network is now secure and I don't need to reenter my passkey every ten minutes (don't ask - that's what last night was all about). The semi-good news is that I can see the laptop (Baby) on the desktop (Big Momma), I just can't access any folders. The bad news is that I can't see Big Momma on Baby. And it's driving me bonkers. But I've fought with it enough tonight - I gave up for the day about an hour ago.

Also - see that new button on the side? Yes, I've decided that I'm going to tackle NaNoWriMo again this year. I don't really have a plot or characters or any ideas beyond the vague plan to try and redo my story from last year, chopping out a few characters, less intro, and starting it at the end and working backwards. Whatever. We'll see - as long as I get further along this year than I did last year, I'll be happy.

And I did go home for Thanksgiving and fun was had by all parties. More on that later.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Guess where I am?

You'll never guess where I'm writing this post from! Go on, guess! Hee hee!

If you guessed "sitting on your couch using your shiny new laptop", then you would be correct! Yay!

(Obviously, I'm really over-tired and damn near cross-eyed from trying to get the two computers to talk to the wireless router (done!) and to each other (still to do).)

Sunday, October 02, 2005

The rest of the weekend went something like this...

Lest I left you with the impression after the last post that I intended to get nothing else done (which is what I fully expected as well - sitting down in front of the computer while in the middle of doing stuff is the kiss of death for any ambitions I may harbor), I did actually manage to do a couple of other things.

I spent two hours cleaning the bathroom, kitchen, living room, and bedroom. This includes scrubbing fixtures and floors. After that, I napped for a long time, got up, etc.

After dinner was made, I watched a couple of movies, ate, and knitted. The first movie was Touch of Pink, which was a sweet, fluffy, unconventional love story. Worth it to see Kyle MacLachlan do Cary Grant. Also? The actor who played Giles is utterly adorable, and is playing Wayne Gretzky in an upcoming biopic. Awwwww....

And - I'm telling you this so you don't make the same mistake - Dracula 3000? Worst. Vampire. Movie. Ever*. So bad, it completely knocks Polish Vampire in Burbank out of the spot its held for over ten years now. (Please don't ask how I came to know of the existence of PVIB. It's something that my therapist and I agreed should never be spoken of.)

* Karen, we may need to see this just so you can hear me cry, "Sweet baby Jesus! He's not really wearing a cape and a cravat on a space ship, is he?"

Fleece Artist sock kit sock progress update:

Fleece Artist sock kit sock update

Like I mention in the note attatched to the pic, the yarn was doing a very lovely twisty stripe pattern on the cuff part, but once I started on the main sock part, it's now doing a very unattractive pooling thing. Part of me wants to rip it back and continue with the ribbing for the whole sock to see if the twisty stripe is maintained. But another part of me would resent ripping back all that work to experiment, especially when I have a sneaking suspicion that it won't work.

Today was spent reading two books that came in through ILLO yesterday. They took so little time that I didn't have time to post them. Oh well. I'm assembling another book list, which should include our book club book. Or maybe not. We'll see. And that list I promised to post a while back? It's done, just not posted.

(Because it's sort of relevant - I used Book Collector to make up the list, and I also use it to keep track of the books in my collection. There is a lookup function which makes it easy to add material - you can search by author/title or ISBN. Much has been made of Library Thing recently on library/librarian-related blogs, but I've been using BC for some time now, and like it. I'm not so much interested in sharing what's in my collection as I am interested in keeping track of what's there, and being able to sort it and do geeky things, like track characters and cover artists. It's all a matter of preference, but I have heard a lot of good things about LT, and the first 200 books (as opposed to 100 in BC) are free. Then it's $10, as opposed to $25 (US) (or $40 for the Professional version, which is what I have).)

What else? The train of thought seems to have left the station and neglected to update the timetable... oh yes.

More reading, some groceries, and getting cleaned up to go see Corpse Bride with what was supposed to be a genuine posse (Karen, Sheridan, Shane, Kris, Kevin, maybes from Jeff and the new co-worker, and myself), but ended up begin just Karen and I. A very disappointing movie - sure, the animation was spectacular, but the plot was weak and the story thin. Mostly, I tried to nap during the dull bits (which was most of it) but couldn't because it was so loud.

Afterwards, more reading, tea, and puttering around online.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Even if I get nothing else accomplished...

...I'm pretty happy with my weekend so far.


Flora update

I dug up the Herb Tarleks, which were finished (except for the chives, which are now repotted), emptied the box, and got all the potting soil into a container for winter storage. The Rosemary Tarleks died suddenly before I could do anything with them, and for some reason, the Mint followed shortly after. The Oregano Tarleks never did that well, but I did get some use out of them.

I also repotted the lemon geranium, the two eucalyptus plants (in one long clay pot now), and a rosemary plant I got at the market a few weeks ago. This is something that needed to be done weeks ago, but I finally bit the bullet and did it today. It's lovely out there - a nice breeze and slightly warm.

As well, I went to see Serenity last night. Holy cow! I've never had my emotional chain yanked so hard in so many directions at once, and never have I enjoyed the experience more. I loved it, and would enthusiastically encourage others to see it, even though I'm not sure how much someone who had never seen the show would get out of it. It's better than the last few Star Wars movies, at any rate.

The opening shot on the ship was useful. In it, Mal and Simon are arguing about something, but as they are doing so, they are moving from place to place on the ship. It's one continuous shot, and gives the viewer a good idea about the size of the ship (not very big), and function (minimalist, thrift store-type furniture in the gathering areas). This is no pleasure craft, nor is it a sleek and sexy computer-generated image of a ship. As well, some of the effects from the series, like the shaky hand-held camera shots, the shifting focus of the camera lens, and the true silence of outer space, were used in the movie, but not as often.

The characters are the same as they ever were, and nothing had really changed in how they related to and interacted with each other. Stuff happens (I won't say what), and it took a good few minutes to sink in and stop saying, "That isn't as bad as they think it is, right? They're all going to make it out again, right? No? Oh. Crap."

It's a fabulous movie - go see it! And, if you need to go with someone who knows what's going on and has seen the series, then I'll go with you!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A playlist to lift the writer's block

Due to the fact I'm suffering through another bout of writer's block, I'm going to post another playlist. Believe me, I know it's probably boring you to tears, but it helps to have something to write about to get you started writing, and this is as good a way as any to start (does that make any sense?)

The writer's block is starting to affect my work work. All yesterday and today (well, actually yesterday morning and this afternoon - my presence was required elsewhere the other times) I've sat and stared at my computer screen, waiting for inspiration to strike. I should be writing things like, "All libraries should have technology plans to clarify how they intend to offer services using their current equipment, and guide decisions to upgrade said equipment and/or offer new services." Instead, all that comes to mind is, "Blah blee bloo blee blah blah bloo blurp." Which is so very not going to look good if I give it to my manager.

Let's go!

(Incidentally, this is the first set of songs I downloaded, back in February or March or something like that. I was new to the whole downloading legal music, and was giddy with excitement that I was able to find what I did.)

The Littlest Birds (Be Good Tanyas) - I probably heard this on the CBC at some point, but the first time I remember hearing it was when my sister played it for my mother and I, and the three of us dancing around the kitchen (maybe I'm the only one who remembers this?) I'd forgotten about it until Phillip played it on Mud Songs Radio, so I checked to see if it was available. Lo and behold, it was!

Sad Eyes (Liam Titcomb) - For a while, this song was in heavy rotation on MuchMoreMusic, and I liked it, but thought that I'd get bored with it if I downloaded it. Lo and behold, I didn't! (And it doesn't hurt that this kid is seriously easy on the eyes, either*.)

* I should warn you - if you click that link, turn your speakers down.

Mr. Brightside (The Killers) - Loved the video, loved this song. Moulin Rouge-ish, with Eric Roberts!

Accidentally in Love (Counting Crows) - Did you see Adam Duritz's 'do at the Oscars? Dude, Sideshow Bob called, and he wants his hair back! (Great song, from Shrek 2, and it should have won.)

Alert Status Red and In A World Called Catastrophe (Matthew Good) - Ironic last name, since I haven't heard anything good about him. But I like these two songs, what can I say?

God is a DJ and Trouble (Pink) - "If God is a DJ, life is a dance floor, and love is a rhythm..." I'm fond of these lyrics, and the message of this song in general, despite the fact it's a blatantly manipulative pop song. And while I'm not "trouble" in the ways Pink is, I'm certainly trouble in other ways (just work my only nerve**, and see what happens - c'mon, I dare you!)

** See, I only have one nerve - it's a birth defect. So you can't get on my nerves, because I only have one, and chances are someone else is already on it, so you will suffer the consequences without the pesky waiting or warnings.

Watch Your Money (The Waking Eyes) - Where did I first hear this song? I don't know, but they rock, and this is a fun song.

Little Drop of Poison (Tom Waits) - Yet another song from Shrek 2. Waits at his menacing, creepy best, set to a tango!

London Rain (Heather Nova) - A good song for a rainy day, when you know you're going home to put on your pj's, make a pot of tea, and settle in for the night.

Booty Call (G. Love) - I caught part of this video on MMM, and thought it was a groovy, funky piece. Happily, the whole song was as good as the clip.

Debonair (The Afghan Whigs) - A song from my halcyon university days. I think they were from Ohio, which was unusual, and probably why I remember them.

Maggie May (Rod Stewart) - Oh, I just like this song! Probably the first pop culture reference to Cougars.

Shake Me (Vocal Mix) (Mint Royale & Various) - It's a fun blend of 50's-ish pop, techno, and dance. It reminds me of the colour pink with white polka dots, if that makes sense***.

*** Oh, it doesn't. Just take my word for it!

And thus ends the drought. We'll see how often I have to revert to using "blah blah blah" in an official document tomorrow.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Death by fiery hot chicken soup

I know, I know - the title sounds like a headline in some trashy weekly, but it's actually what I had for supper last night.

Chicken soup is one of the easiest things to make. You take your chicken, you take your water, add the rest of the ingredients, simmer, and - voila! Soup! What you add is completely up to you, and is only limited by what you have on hand. Although I would hesitate to advocate the addition of asparagus or Brussel sprouts. I can't see how either of those would be a good thing.

A few months ago, I experimented with different ingredients for a two weekends in a row. Neither was a smashing success, so I hesitate to mention them, except to say that sweet potatoes are a bitch to peel, and by the time they're FINALLY cooked, everything else is soggy. Oh well. Since then, I've been reluctant to try any more variations. That, and it was summer, and thus too hot to make soup.

But yesterday was damp and chilly, perfect weather for a nice hot bowl of soup. Both temperature-wise, and, as it turns out, flavour-wise.

Start with:
  • 2-3 tbsp oil - I didn't measure this, so it's really just a guesstimate
  • 2 nobs of ginger, peeled and thinly-sliced - take a ginger root, and break off two medium-sized nobs, peel them, and slice them. Don't grate them or chop them finely
  • 2 cloves garlic - normally, I only use one, but I upped the number this time
  • 1/2 tbsp dried chilies - okay, here's where I went seriously wrong (or right, depending on your taste). That was waaaaaaay more than I actually needed; I think 1 tsp would have been wiser
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese Five-Spice - again, I eyeballed this, so it's not exact. Basically, I used the end of the tablespoon, dipped it in the jar, and dumped the little pile on the spoon into the pot. (I'm not sure what five spices make up Chinese Five-Spice, but I'm certain there's cardamom in it. Possibly cinnamon. Maybe anise.)
  • 1 chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces

Put this all in a pot over medium heat and cook until the chicken is browned. Try not to burn the garlic, okay? Because burned garlic smells awful.

  • 8 cups water - too much. Use 6 instead (do as I say, not as I do - I make these mistakes so you will learn from them!)
  • 3 medium potatoes, cut into cubes - again, learn from my mistakes: I used two medium and one gianormous potato, and it was about half a potato too many.
  • 5 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery - you can use more, but I don't really like it, so I don't use that much. It's basically just crunchy water, and you burn more calories eating it than are actually in it. That's just whack, people!
  • two leeks, thinly sliced - I used some of the green parts, but not too much.
  • 2 cups frozen corn - I like corn. I put it in a lot of things.

Throw that into the pot, stir, and let simmer until the potatoes are cooked to your satisfaction, however long that takes.

Let me warn you, though - I love spicy, hot food, but the tears were rolling down my face as I ate this last night (and even today at lunch).

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Sunday night

Things I have done this weekend:

1. Finished knitting a pair of socks.

Finished socks

If you are looking at them and thinking that the sock on the left is a little brighter than the sock on the right, you are correct. The sock on the right is the one that I knit and frogged at least four times. I don't know if that affected the colour, but I did notice as I knit the second sock that the colour was a little brighter.

If you are looking at them and thinking, "Why hasn't she woven in the ends yet?" - I'll get around to it when I find my darning needles.

I can't give you details about the yarn because I lost the bands somewhere. Sorry.

I also started work on another sock.

New sock

This is Fleece Artist Merino - it's their basic sock kit. It's a lovely colour and has a lovely feel, but it's skinny yarn. I have to use 2.75mm needles (translation: tiny), and am using five of them (so, the stitches are divided over four needles, and the fifth is for knitting). I'm not sure they're going to even fit me because I have really wide feet, and this doesn't look like it's going to make it over my heel.

2. Did laundry. At 12:30am.

The laundry room in my building is open 24 hours, and I was sick of tripping over piles of laundry, and I wasn't tired (yet). But it's done - yay!

3. Bought more yarn.

New yarn

It's all Briggs & Little. The white is sport weight (translation: more skinny yarn) and the red - and it's a rich, wonderful shade of red - is called "Tuffy", and is really good for mittens and socks. Except that wool socks are too warm for me, so it's likely to become mittens, scarves, and hats.

4. Bought a laptop.

I don't have it yet - it should be delievered on Thursday.