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!