a pick-me-up

Thursday, 26 May 2011 07:12 pm
A capella flash mobs are awesome. A friend linked to this one ("Heathrow T5") last week, and I've kept it open in a tab since then. About 80 seconds in is my favourite part, an opera singer named George Ikediashi covering "I am a Passenger" by Iggy Pop. I found this "making of" video which feels like it captures the exuberance of it, more than the polished end-product, which is, of course, a commercial.

And now that I have posted this, I can close that tab.

Back to your regularly scheduled Thursday evening!

Back from Nova Scota.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009 09:23 pm
Our Nova Scotia vacation was a success. We put 1,600 km on the rental car. [1]

I have something like 440 photos to weed through from the last week. As a lazy first approximation, click on the google-map link above, and anywhere our route took us, check out the existing photos. :)

There were many surprises on this trip, but possibly the biggest came in Mahone Bay where dan (and possibly me too) were caught by what looked to dan like a Google Street View truck. If so, that would be a fun birthday present to me from Google, as we were there on my birthday... [edit, 9 February, 2010: wow! Happy Birthday to me! :]

The most remote location we visited by car was Meat Cove, at the northernmost tip of Cape Breton. Egads, that dirt road. And those cliffs. Whee!

The most awesome food was, of course, eaten on the hiking trails, because nothing tastes better than food you carried up a mountain. In this case: lobster picnic. Yes, that's right. Caught the same morning around 4am, sold to us on the dock at 10am. 5 lobsters for $20. Tossed in a pot by our B&B host and packed up as a picnic lunch. MMmmm tasty. And to follow it up, the next day we had the leftover lobsters in sandwiches, on another trail, just before we saw mooses.

Very grateful for my travel partner sweetie. He did every last bit of the driving in the rental car (rather than $100ish more to add me to the allowed drivers). And he had excellent suggestions, including taking the morning today to drive a long way around to the airport, which meant we happened across the lighthouse on the Bay of Fundy with the highest recorded tidal range in the world (17 meters). We were there at low-tide, and then 30 minutes later we saw waves lapping upward as the tide rose; I will have to look up videos or photos to make up for not seeing high-tide, which given the huge mud-flats, looks like it must be amazing to see as well.

And now that I've run out of superlatives for the evening, with a snoring dog at my feet and a now much smaller pile of email to go through tomorrow, I think it's time for bed.

[1] the google map only shows 1400 km, but we backtracked from our B&B in Pleasant Cove (in the NW corner of the Cabot Trail) a number of times. The squeaky-new white PT Cruiser they gave us came back just a little bit muddy. :)

Weekend Wrapup

Monday, 24 March 2008 09:48 pm
The weekend was fun. Conveniently, the chest-cold I've acquired didn't show itself until last night late- well *after* the Easter dinner out with [livejournal.com profile] melted_snowball and his colleagues. But last night I went to bed with a tight chest and woke up at 5ish this morning feeling pretty icky. Today was blah, but manageable.

I'm drinking tons of fluids and hope I can get over it quickly- if I'm still likely infectious on Friday, I'll scuttle my trip to NYC to see my grandmother... ("Happy 100th Birthday! I brought you a cold!")

Anyhow. This weekend: I slept in (till 8am! wow!), did more paper-sorting in the closet (getting down to the end on the left-hand closet!) did some art-wrangling [1] (three more framed pieces in my study: one by [livejournal.com profile] catbear of d. [2]; one an odd-sized matted piece I bought and promptly stashed in the closet when I realized it would cost a mint to get it properly framed, but [livejournal.com profile] catbear's advice gave me the proper $30 solution; and finally, I bought a frame for the LP album [livejournal.com profile] fuzzpsych gave me when I became a citizen) [3].

[1] Ugh, apologies for the dreadful sentence structure. I bet you can guess what my excuse is?

[2] which looks like a much wider view of this:


We also attended the baptism for [livejournal.com profile] tbiedl's youngest, who's young enough that neither d. or I had met her yet. It was a sweet welcome to her; though the church service was long- it included four readings, three skits, an outdoor portion, two candle lightings, and communion. Whew! :)

We also saw the Phil perform St. John's Passion, with surtitles and projected art. I don't have the oomph to properly review it, but I'm glad we went.

We shared two quite enjoyable dinners. One with [livejournal.com profile] catbear, [livejournal.com profile] dawn_guy, and Boy; it included scads of double-entendres, talking about games, food, and favourite stories. And the miracle of the Uncovered Pie. The other dinner was with colleagues of dan's, plus other academics at the Other University. It included no double-entendres, some French, many bottles of wine, shop talk, favourite stories, and a Devon Rex kitten who looked much like this. (Awwww!)

Hm. It's probably a good idea for me to go thud now. Hopefully I will wake up well-rested and less sick than today.


Friday, 21 March 2008 04:57 pm
I was charging my way through sorting a big pile of papers into smaller piles, but at some point, the meaning for the two biggest piles got switched. This is bugging me more than I think it should.

Also, either: my laptop screen's contrast has spontaneously reduced; or I'm having a vision problem; or I mis-remember what the screen should look like. I think I've ruled out vision problems, at least. Leaving the appealing possibilities of hardware failure or tricks of memory. Joy.

Thirdly, I had meant to write about last weekend's music adventures, but it's increasingly likely I won't. Boo.

Also, my body's not being terribly cooperative- neck, shoulder. I should be doing my shoulder exercises, but I'm lazy. Boo.

What's balancing these out is that I'm expecting some good news next week. Also, I'm going to my Grandmother's 100th birthday party next weekend. And, and, and.

Happy Spring, anyway.
Natural selection is so cool. The Dec. 24 issue of the Economist has a neat article about humans' shift from hunting to agriculture; how it was in a sense a desperation move as they hunted the big game to extinction. Such as the rhinoceroses in France. 30,000 years ago. That's... amazingly recent. When they ran out of rhinos, they went on to elk and bison. When they ran out of bison, agriculture seemed like a good idea. OK, I'm bastardizing the story a bit, but it makes a fun story that way. I'd link to the article, but the Economist didn't put it on their website.

On Thursday, [livejournal.com profile] the_infamous_j showed me Gankutsuou. It's a sci-fi anime in 24 episodes retelling The Count of Monte Christo. After watching two episodes and reading up in Wikipedia, I want to read the (English translation of the) original. I may come back and watch the anime- it's got a different perspective, starting the story with the young aristocrat Albert and his friend Franz, piecing together the Count's story in flashback in a much less sympathetic fashion. Other interesting bits I learned from yon wonderful time-sucker wikipedia: two other stories whose plots were heavily borrowed from CoMC: Sweeney Todd (which I know some of you liked) and Stars My Destination (by one of my favourite old sci-fi authors, Alfred Bester).

Thirdly, from [livejournal.com profile] epi_lj: The Complete New Yorker on DVD has dropped in price from $100 to $39.99. That's cool enough- $40 is a very fair price- but if you order with coupon-code 'WINTER25' it's $29.99. Wow. I'm going to buy a copy for my parents; perhaps then they will throw out the great big stacks of the magazines in their house?... Yeah, it's unlikely, but I suppose I can hope. ;)

And now maybe my brain will quiet down a bit and let me get to sleep; though I won't complain, because the evening was pretty great. Not the least of which: for dinner d. made duck burritos and lemon bars. Yum!

Egg Pants

Thursday, 13 December 2007 02:06 pm
Egg Pants.


If you are not [livejournal.com profile] melted_snowball, you may open the cut. If you are [livejournal.com profile] melted_snowball, please wait until I say you can. Thanks. :)
d. and I just went to Scoop DeVille near Rittenhouse Square. I asked for coffee and moose-tracks with mint oreo cookie chunks. They asked if I wanted it blended. I said yes. It is the BBEST.

Oh yeah. We're in Philadelphia.

The flight was 15 minutes too short- the Personal Media System only had 35 minutes to run, and the BBC Planet Earth series runs 48 or so minutes. So I saw 2/3 the Mountains episode. Great stuff, though- I saw mountaintop
brown bears foraging for... moths. Which, we all know, are full of fat. Yum-lish. Also, snow leopards stalking
ibixen (ibixes? ibixae?) and shooting directly DOWN the mountain at them. Wow.

Dinner was a tasty Mexican meal at Tequila's on Locust St. I took a photo, bbbut I'm sure it didn't come out.

My B key is sticking.


Thursday, 6 September 2007 11:43 am
Life is pretty darn fabulous right now. It's not been steady-state fabulous, but that would be boring. I wouldn't trade my life for anyone else's... perhaps unless that person happened to be me with better hair.

What is it with skunks around here right now? One has just sprayed near my building on campus, and one sprayed near our house on Monday, which was really frustrating. That evening when I was walking [livejournal.com profile] roverthedog, someone I chatted with said her dog met a skunk right there a few days earlier. General strike? Revolt? Calm down, guys!

This morning my bicycle odometer marked its 3750th mile, which means at least 600 miles since I started riding to work in the spring. (Yes, I should probably re-calibrate it for kilometers, after 6 years, but I lost the instructions some years ago and haven't been bothered to figure it out again. Maybe at 4k. Probably not though.) Unless I break my leg in Philadelphia, this year's total will hit 1000km in a week or so. (Yes, I do switch units like that...)
A finish of my weekend wrapup:

Sunday was Games Day. After lunch, [livejournal.com profile] chezmax and [livejournal.com profile] the_infamous_j came over. With [livejournal.com profile] dr_tectonic, [livejournal.com profile] saintpookie, and [livejournal.com profile] kung_fu_monkey, we played "Unspeakable Words", a Lovecraft-inspired game where you try to spell sufficiently angular words (real words) before you go insane. Yup. The best part was the optional rule that if you were one point from insanity, you could play any sequence of letters you liked. I won the game with... darn, I forgot. Maybe I'll tell you the next time I'm nearly insane.

Next up was Arkham Horror, which everyone had played except for d. and I. This was a good ratio of new-to-experienced players, because the game is complicated. Setup took a full 20 minutes, mostly setting up card stacks. We needed a few side-tables along with the dining-room table.

Azethoth, the Great One the size of a planet, was identified as the foe who would awaken and enter our world if we didn't close or seal enough gates before 13 turns elapsed. If we didn't, we'd have no chance to fight Azeroth; he would eat the Earth, game over.

Despite the steep learning curve, I liked the game. Players work together to try and fight the otherworldly horrors visiting the town of Arkham. Gradually, the game adds more Terror and Doom; players gain spells, abilities, items, and clues. It seems well-balanced for six players; apparently it scales well for smaller and larger parties. It is also fairly luck-dependant, and we were pretty much doomed by mid-game.

We only (intentionally) broke one rule, which was to allow [livejournal.com profile] melted_snowball to chose his Investigator, the Professor. By mid-game, the Professor's unexpected strengths at offensive magic came out. He was redubbed Professor Kickass. The Prof had the ability to cast spells that cost others one stamina with no charge. We funneled all of those spells in his direction, so he became quite handy at killing nasty bads.

Another investigator I particularly liked was Monterey Jack, the bull-whip wielding archaeologist, played by [livejournal.com profile] saintpookie. He suffered some awful luck near the start which lost him his sanity as well as his bull-whip. Eventually he became the Deputy Sheriff of Arkham, careening around the board behind the wheel of his Paddy Wagon, crashing it upon re-entering a portal that opened into a private club. Oops.

I was Sister Mary the Nun. Her best moment came when she was exploring the University, and she helped a scientist fix a machine which could close extra-dimensional gates; and she spent her large collection of clue tokens in order to successfully close three of four open gates (unfortunately trapping [livejournal.com profile] dr_tectonic's character and leaving him lost in time and space for a few turns. Oops.)

Anyhow, around 11pm, in turn 9 or so, we were down to one open gate, though it was likely a second would open shortly, since it would be at least a turn before we could close this one. Without any warning, the investigator who was stuck behind it drew an encounter card that automatically forced it closed- winning us the game. Woo!

All in all, a splendid way to spend a day with friends.

My profile is stale.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007 10:28 am
I think my profile mostly dates from about two years ago. I was just jolted to realize how wrong it is for me right now.

I'm an easily distracted linux consultant [Not much any more, though I could be again] ...

I'm a geek who doesn't role-play, watch anime [I've enjoyed anime for quite a while] ...

I wish I got out more, and I wish I socialized more. I wish I knew more people with a similar intersection of interests to mine. [Nope, nope. Aaaand... nope.]

I know that two years ago I wasn't unhappy. Though, I was still missing the connection to local friends that d. and I had in Ithaca, five years earlier; strongly enough that I wanted to write that last bit of wishing. Well, as of now, all three wishes have been fulfilled.

And it's not tough to understand, or wishing on a star, either. It's mostly been getting to know people. Here, elsewhere. Developing shared history. Two years is a long time, and as an instant, too. I tend to generally feel lucky for my life, but just now, seeing how wrong my profile is, I feel at least twice as lucky.

...Except now I'm compelled to write a new profile. Foo. :)

As a bit of leavening to this layer-cake, here we've got two years and 6 days ago, when I wrote about the Elora Festival, the first time we were in Grambel Barn for an awesome Patricia O'Callaghan concert. And geekery with Asterisk (some things don't change). And meeting [livejournal.com profile] quingawaga (& [livejournal.com profile] mccorpsecorpse) and [livejournal.com profile] bats22 each for the first time.

Google map toys

Friday, 29 June 2007 03:38 pm
1) Draggable routes on google maps. Nice interface, cleverly done.

2) Google property search! The interface is still slightly clunky, but it's got tons of data; I think they're getting into real estate tools in a fairly big way. I found this a month ago, and today it took me a while to find again, because nobody's blogged about it at all.

Anyhow: go to http://maps.google.com/preview, type in your address at the top, chose the "mapplets" tab on the left, then choose the "real estate sales" box below it. Say "Submit" and you'll get a list of properties for sale within the mapped region. I hope I'm not the only person who's finding it sort of addictive to, say, look for places for my parents to retire to...

The property search isn't a standalone project; it's a demo for "mapplets" which I would love to take the time to learn to program. You can add layers to google, overlay them, and I believe you can put this all onto your own site. Mashups of mashups. Geeky, eh? (good article with a short video.)

OK, back to finishing up my work before vacation!

Land of the Loon

Saturday, 23 June 2007 11:55 pm
Friday's citizenship ceremony was a reasonably banal exercise in officialdom (not High Officialdom, but certainly not minimal either). The judge was the same man who presided over [livejournal.com profile] melted_snowball's citizenship last year. There were 48 New Canadians, from 20 countries. Unlike d's, there was no one from Iran or Afghanistan. The judge spoke at length about the importance of being citizens. Karen Redman, the MP for the downtown area (but not for us), spoke and handed out our citizenship packets.

They gave us pins celebrating this being Canada's 60th year of citizenship. That still catches me; 61 years ago, Canadians were all British subjects.

Because some of the new citizens were from part of La Francophonie (Senegal?), we affirmed our Citizenship in both English and French. Apparently they only do the French during an English-language ceremony at the judge's discretion, plus they have less frequent French-language ceremonies as well.

In case you're curious: the Oath of Citizenship goes like so: "I affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada and fulfill my duties as a Canadian citizen." "J'affirme solennellement que je serai fidèle et porterai sincère allégeance à Sa Majesté la Reine Elizabeth Deux, Reine du Canada, à ses héritiers et successeurs, que j'observerai fidèlement les lois du Canada et que je remplirai loyalement mes obligations de citoyen canadien."

My parents took us out to lunch downtown, and my mom said she wants to go see a US Citizenship ceremony to compare. We expected that it would invoke the flag more, and likely involve a metal-detector.

On the whole, the ceremony was less of a big deal than graduation, but more of a big deal than turning 30. For me, the real big deal was Friday night, when we had something like 30 or 35 people here for the party!

What a lot of fun, from start to end. The only real disappointment was not having enough time to spend with everyone- it felt like a very short 5 or so hours to me!

Our old neighbours David and Lesley (and kids L. and A.) came. ..We'd really like them to be happy in Toronto, but we're doing our best to influence them to move back here. David's first comment was, "So this means that if you've sworn allegiance to the Queen, if we badmouth her, you have to beat us up?" Um, no. But since we're pacifists, must we have someone else beat them up? This led to the question of who at the party had actually sworn allegiance, versus being born in Canada or moving here as a kid. I've done a quick run-through of people at the party, and unless I'm mistaken, I think the only people who have declared citizenship were Karl, Jennifer, and Dan, all three of us Quakers. Huh. So I wonder whether there were any other declared Canadian citizens at the party?

You lot didn't drink as much as we expected. I am terribly terribly disappointed. Also, my parents weren't scandalized, though I don't know where they were during the Cleavage-Off that eventually went on in the living-room. Heh, I think I was talking to my Mom then, as she was trying to figure out who she'd just been talking to. My parents were both convinced I have great friends, and I'm certainly inclined to agree. If you were there and I didn't introduce you to my parents, I'm very sorry- I had tried to make that work.

What a great way to end the party; chilling with about fifteen of you LJ lot in the living-room, complete with back rubs and mellow conversation. Have I mentioned recently how grateful I am to have friends like you folk?

And additionally, a public thanks for all your party contributions.

Notable at the moment: [livejournal.com profile] fuzzpsych's record album whose title (and soon, image) are at top of this post. :)

Brains and Bones

Thursday, 14 June 2007 04:28 pm
What did I do today?

(Cover your eyes, it's kinda gross):

Reconstructing the surface of a brain sample [1] and installing a Slice-o-matic to segment leg-bones.


Yes, I'm a day late to the zombie party, but nothing of what I wrote above is fiction.


[1] The brain's the optical lobe of a fruit-fly brain, sampled by a laser scanning microscope... which makes for a really neat software tutorial.

[Edited to add:] And I didn't even get to wear gloves.

food post

Monday, 11 June 2007 07:39 pm
Last night we had [livejournal.com profile] mtffm & [livejournal.com profile] the_infamous_j for dinner.

...No, over for dinner, you silly person.

But the food. I'm pretty damn lucky, all I can say. [livejournal.com profile] melted_snowball made mac and cheese, and [livejournal.com profile] the_infamous_j brought a pie with mixed berries and while it baked, we played Killer Bunnies. And the pie was kickass tasty. And then [livejournal.com profile] mtffm won with the only bunny on the board, which hadn't ever happened to us before.

And I still have a sore throat, but I'm coping. And sleeping a lot.

the weekend past

Monday, 4 June 2007 12:32 pm
Good weekend. Atypically social.

- Friday Thursday night tea with [livejournal.com profile] persephoneplace
- Friday night dinner with [livejournal.com profile] melted_snowball just th' two of us.
- Saturday afternoon birthday party chez [livejournal.com profile] nobodyhere & [livejournal.com profile] psychodelicbike
- Saturday night symphony tix courtesy [livejournal.com profile] dawn_guy & [livejournal.com profile] catbear
- Sunday afternoon drop-in at games day chez [livejournal.com profile] mtffm & [livejournal.com profile] the_infamous_j
- Sunday evening at the Glass concert, which d. wouldn't have decided he wanted to see if he'd not seen [livejournal.com profile] epi_lj's comment on it
- Sunday night drop-in at [livejournal.com profile] persephoneplace's for company, birthday cheesecake, and massage from birthday-boy. (yes, that's the way that's supposed to work, isn't it?)


Thursday, 10 May 2007 10:50 am
For my birthday, my mom has offered to get me a water buffalo.
Happy Birthday [livejournal.com profile] dpolicar! (No, not that Dave, the other one.)

May it be the bestest 38th you've ever had. And many more (*). As you were one of the very first attractors of [livejournal.com profile] melted_snowball then me into LJ, it seems only fair to make a note that you've made my time in these parts much more interesting. So, keep it up. :)

(*) At least, according to my mom. She liked her first 38th birthday enough to do it again the next year, and the year after.

seeds and bulbs

Monday, 2 April 2007 08:55 pm
Home Hardware rocks my socks. It's less annoying by far than Home Despot, and oh so friendly. On this evening's trip there we got out in under half an hour with:

  • brita filters on sale
  • pringles for d, also on sale
  • little custard cups with lids, to solve a little plastic-wrap-not-sealing-and-spilling-fish-sauce-in-the-fridge problem
  • a pyrex 1-cup measure
  • 9-v batteries
  • a packet of Morning Glory seeds
  • even-still-more-compact compact florescent bulbs
  • 1 gal. green paint to finish d's study
  • 40kg. water-softener salt.

  • I feel so domestic.
Some days this looks a bit like my household.

For Tom, in lieu of a YouTube video.

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