30 April 2005

Vancouver: Day 1


From the ferry, we went directly to Stanley Park and headed for the Aquarium to see fish, whales, seals, reptiles, bugs, and even a few birds. We were disappointed to find that the zoo had closed some time ago(although some of the habitats remain in place, overgrown and abandoned).

abandoned habitat

After a slow winding drive out of Stanley Park, we spent some time wandering through the shops in Kitsilano then checked into the hotel which, as you can see, has complementary internet access.

And, We're Off!

It's stinking early and we are getting ready to head for the BC Ferries. We are taking plenty of technology so I hope to be able to post an update or two while we are away. Aloha!

29 April 2005

Mystery Destination Vacation

Not wanting to jinx the Great Road Trip of '05, I will say that I have booked one night in Vancouver (well, Richmond actually, since it was cheaper) and after that, fate will guide us on our travels. A lot will depend on the weather -- if it is snowing through the Rockies, we won't drive that way.

Our options include a drive to Calgary with a side trip to Drumheller, a BC loop through the Okanagan, a dip into the U.S. (hubby joked after watching CSI that we could drive to Vegas -- though more likely we'd hit Seattle), or just stick around the Lower Mainland (Vancouver and area).

Most likely I think we will stay in the Lower Mainland. There is so much to do that even if we stay the whole week we won't get bored. I definitely want to take the kid to the Vancouver Aquarium, Granville Island, and maybe the Greater Vancouver Zoo, and I'd like to see the Coquitlam IKEA, and if we run out of stuff or feel bored we can drive further afield.

28 April 2005

So Very Done.

By 9:00 last night my Mom's old place was empty.

It was a tough move for me; tough because it was physically a LOT of effort; tough because there were a lot of things we moved and tossed that had significant memories attached; tough because it put a strain on my home life.

25 April 2005

Debout les Morts

Browsing through a recently returned book (Tribute: Frans Masereel -- An exhibition of paintings, watercolours and graphics), I now have a new name to add to the list of "artists I like." Masereel was a Belgian artist, a pacifist, who created many unsettling images inspired by the first world war and the unrest that followed. One of the most haunting and heartbreaking images in the book is from a series called Debout les Morts and shows a drowning woman clutching her drowned infant.

The skeletal images which repeat throughout Masereel's work remind me of Jose Guadalupe Posada's famed calavera prints.

Willows Beach

As promised, here's one photo from our trek to Willows Beach last Tuesday.

willows view 3

Bono lives up to promise.

To be fair, Bono said he would be "the biggest pain in his ass" if PM Martin didn't live up to his foreign aid promis. Now Rock Star Bono Raps Canada Prime Minister Over Aid, even though Martin is barely treading water.

Jeez. I'm all for political activism among musicians and other celebrities, but this is a bit much, Bono. Get a grip, mmmmkay?

24 April 2005

Mom's Mostly Moved

So, I know you're all dying to find out how the move went. Generally, smoothly. About 85-90% of what needed to go to the new place fit in one load of the U-Haul. I stayed inside the new place, shuffling and directing while my brother, hubby, and four of their friends did the worst of the hefting, assembly-line style.

There's still plenty of tidying to do, and lots of junk leftover to deal with. Since the place is being reno'd we weren't expecting to have to clean, but now the landlady wants to do a walkthrough, WTF? I may suggest a quick sweep through, just as a CYA.

I'll be shuffling the last few remaining boxes tomorrow and helping where I can Tuesday, plus we are getting the spare bed that Mom just bought last year which means we have to find a new home for our far-too-firm double bed ASAP. Sigh. At least we can finally jettison the futon frame it's been resting on for the past 8 years.

Tuesday is Hubby's birthday (whee! party time!) and also, not coincidentally, the first day of my 13-day vacation.

23 April 2005

Garage Sale of Doooooom

Last night, there was so much stuff piled in every corner of Mom's main floor that you couldn't move easily. Today, after 5 hours of letting strangers wander through and haggle over two dollar teapots, Mom has over $650 in cash and a lot less crap in the way. She even managed to sell about 120 of the 170 jigsaw puzzles and she got $5 for the giant, ancient deep freeze.

Oh, and my brother gets the Unethical Salesdude Award. Among the collectibles he cleared out of his cache was a box full of "food" -- gummies, hard candies and fruit-roll-ups with Spiderman licensing. Now, bearing in mind that the stuff is about 10 to 15 years old -- this is not from the recent Spiderman movies -- someone asked him, "Is this from last Halloween?" and his answer was "You know, I honestly couldn't tell you." The person bought the stuff. I really hope their kids don't try to eat it. =shudder=

There's still a lot of crap to clear out, and I felt like complete trailer trash* when looking at the "free" pile out front -- wow, what a load of garbage. Still, people looooove getting stuff for free, and we need it gone.

[*Actually, I felt like complete trailer trash when we kicked out a section of the fencing so we could move furniture in a direct line from house to vehicles.]

Tomorrow, we get the U-Haul and try to move stuff around the crap that remains (anyone need a harvest gold sofa bed??). Should be a real treat considering I also have to work until 11 pm. Ugh! Oh well, only two more 11 p.m. closes then I'm on vacation! Whee!

22 April 2005

Reviewers wanted.

Aversion reviews rock/punk/indie music and they are looking for a few more reviewers. What I love is this line at the end:

* It probably goes without saying, but if you don't provide us with an email to get hold of you in your kit, you're obviously too retarded to work for us.

I wish more job postings were that frank.

20 April 2005

Critic by association.

Many of you know that I have been reviewing movies for Apollo Guide for several years now. I don't have much time these days, but still file the odd review. Many of my reviews are mirrored through Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB and quoted or linked to elsewhere on the web.

In one of my regular Google-myself sessions today, I found the page for Steel Magnolias at the National Geographic Movie Voyager which lists only two critics: Roger Ebert and me.

You can just imagine how big the grin was on my face. I printed the page on the colour printer and may just frame it.

19 April 2005

Worn down but not out.

I am SOOOOO looking forward to my vacation. Next Monday I work my last 11 p.m. closing shift of the term and am then on vacation until the 9th of May, when I return for a slightly earlier shift (1-9). Unless I get another job in the meantime [grins]. Until then I shall be filing, purging, and shredding. Last night I filled a 28L recycle bin and half of another. I am purging as if I am not coming back; it feels really good.

On the home front, I am too frazzled to do much at all. Sure, this weekend I remembered to run the vaccuum around the place last week but only because I stood on a crusty piece of Kraft Dinner® -- eww. And I did clean the fish tank (three days behind schedule). But mostly I just get up, get fed, hang with the kid, and get out of there.

Today we had a nice change; I decided instead of the usual Tuesday rush-around to get the kid to playgroup that we would have some outside time. She wanted to go to the library so we did that then went to Willows Beach in Oak Bay which has a nice kids' playground plus a beautiful sandy seaside to walk along. We stayed there a little under an hour which gave her lots of time to run, climb and roll around. It's also a really beautiful spot to visit (great ocean/mountain views and relatively sheltered water) but I don't often go there because it is so popular! Today I did get some nice photos which I'll post later.

Mom's rented a U-Haul for Sunday so the next few days will be busy as hell helping her up to and at the garage sale on Saturday then heaving boxes and furniture around on Sunday (followed by almost a full shift at work).

Next week I'll probably end up helping her dig out from under everything as well as clean up her old place. I think I will be absorbing some of her plants (some miniature roses and native plants) for my deck; I haven't had the energy to plant my veggies yet and it's really late now... so I may have to do without this year unless I buy seedlings. Sigh.

17 April 2005

Driving, Moving, Working.

Friday night we drove a friend up to Qualicum Beach so he could help his parents move house. The drive up was rainy and miserable but not unmanageable. The drive back was more miserable and almost unmanageable by the time I took over for the Duncan-Victoria leg (over the Malahat). At some point I realized that I am way past due to get my eyes checked. On the sections of highway without streetlights I had a LOT of trouble just finding the lanes. The rain was heavy enough that the pavement was reflecting headlights and lane markers like a lake and then when we hit the higher elevations on the Malahat we started running into patches of fog. Of course hubby is telling me to pull over and he'll take over but if you've ever driven that route, you'll know that there are emergency shoulders but not much else. About this time, I also realized that the last time I had actively driven the Malahat (as opposed to being a passenger) was about 6 or 7 years ago, during daylight hours. So anyway, I was glad to get back into Victoria on familiar streets and we did get home safely. On Saturday night, the news reported there was a fatal accident on the Malahat a few hours after we drove through when a pedestrian was struck by an SUV, so I am feeling extra lucky that we arrived home safe.

My mom got posession of her condo on Friday afternoon and proceeded to re-measure and try to figure out exactly which pieces of furniture were to be moved and which were to be sold. She is still waffling on a lot of things and it's hard to know what I am supposed to do. I haven't absorbed much -- I've been pretty good at saying "Nope. Don't need that," but we haven't gone through the Garage Sale of Doom yet... We did move her books and some bookshelves over yesterday, plus a load of things for the storage locker (xmas decorations, etc.). In moving the bookshelves I managed to slice a finger (inside knuckle of my left hand) -- luckily it's one of those injuries that should heal fairly quickly (it wasn't deep). Slow moves are painful though and this one is going to be especially annoying because while hubby and I figure between us we have participated in about 60 or 70 moves, this is Mom's first in 18 years, so she hasn't thought through the logistics very clearly. I'm sure it will be fine, but the month end is going to be really stressful.

Came into work today and had a good chuckle at our spiffy new "privacy panels." For those of you who might not work in an office-setting, privacy panels are also called "cubicle walls" and various derivative terms. Anyway, our new ones are not only much shorter (about 8 or 10 inches shorter) but they also have a window portion, so now the supervisors have no privacy whatsoever. For a change though, I am not going to be the squeaky wheel on this one. Someone else can do the complaining. I'm working day shift today which is nice for a change, especially since I have to come in an hour early tomorrow for a meeting. And since I did apply for that other library job, maybe this will be one of my last weeks here. We'll see.

15 April 2005

The (not yet) infamous Cuppa' Joe Cozy

After much trial and error, I managed to make a coffee-cozy I was happy with. Today, I have posted the pattern for Cheryl's Cuppa' Joe Cozy just in case anyone wants to try it. I must give a thanks and a shout-out to Suzette who whipped together and mailed me her version (which is ribbed, so it's stretchy) and convinced me I didn't need to bother with decreasing any rows.

I knit the whole thing while watching CSI and that makes me pretty happy.

13 April 2005

In the long list of Popes...

Pope Saint Hilarus ("also spelled HILARIUS" -- no I am not kidding) has the best name.

Over at Kimsquit's blog, he posted a Name-the-Next-Pope contest (back on April 6th). I'm now rooting for Pope Urban IX which has a nice post-modern vibe while being really damned traditional.

All about Urban (which means "kind" in Latin):

The first Urban reigned 222-230; the most recent (Urban VII) from 1623-1644. Urbans II and V now carry the title "Blessed" (indicating their Beatification). Urban VI was elected amongst chaos and "his whole reign was a series of misadventures" but he was luckier than Urban VII who died 12 days after his election which meant he missed his own Papal coronation! Urban VIII was quite controversial. He used nepotism to install several nephews as Cardinals, spent heaps of money on armaments, and served through the Thirty Years War. On the other hand, in 1627 he founded the Collegium Urbanum, whose object was the training of missionaries for foreign countries (whether you see this as good or bad likely depends on whether or not you are Catholic) and the library that one of his nephews created was eventually absorbed into the Vatican Library in 1902.

OK, so maybe Urban isn't the best choice, but I'm still rooting for it.

12 April 2005

Cookie Monster curbs cookie habit

I actually heard about this nonsense on the "news" segment of SNL last Saturday. Here's the BBC's take: Cookie Monster curbs cookie habit.

You know, it pissed me off when they made Snuffleupagus visible to all the adults because they feared that kids would think adults wouln't take them seriously in cases of abuse or whatever. Then they dumbed down the whole show by segmenting it instead of having a story across the hour of the show that would be interrupted by other skits or whatever. Now Cookie Monster is no longer eating cookies? WTF, people! He's a cookie monster. He eats cookies. What's next? Oscar suddenly decides he should take a bath every episode because kids don't bathe? I can barely stomach the show these days but thankfully neither can my kid. She says "no, I want to watch Maggie!" (Maggie is the craft lady on Crazy Quilt.) Bah.

Third time (Un)lucky.

CBC News: Third trial finds Kelly Ellard guilty of Reena Virk's murder

Well, that's actually a surprise. I said as recently as lunchtime today that the chance of a guilty vertict was highly unlikely. I'm pretty confident she deserves to do the time, and it does send a strong message to would-be bullies.

11 April 2005

"Section 810" for Homolka?

OK, so the fact that Karla Homolka is most certainly one of the most dangerous people in Canada is not something I am going to dispute. I think there was a major misstep by the Crown when thye agreed to her plea and reduced sentence. And this summer, she is due to be released from jail.

But I have to ask whether it is right for the provinces to band together to get and support a "Section 810" recognizance order. [Read the details here: Ontario targets Homolka] I am pretty sure that she will instantly hire Doug Christie (or someone similar) to represent her in fighting what may well be a fair fight regarding her rights. The order they are trying to impose would mean severe restrictions to her movements -- including 24 hour surveillance -- and whether she's dangerous or not, technically, she's done her time.

That said, I am sure I would not want her moving into my neighbourhood but it is also pretty unlikely that she will go unnoticed anywhwere in Canada since she is one of the most recognizable women in the country.

10 April 2005

Nose in the News

Ewww. This is not normal nasal congestion: Doctors Remove Leech From Woman's Nose

For those of you not congested but facing exams, try this yogic remedy to "instantly" relieve stress:
Breathe in through one nostril to the count of three, and then breathe out through the other. This simple exercise, apparently, releases stress instantly. And if you’re suffering from a mental block, all you need to do is either breathe in through your left nostril or look up at the upper left corner of the room.

The Times of India article deals specifically with "Maths Terror," but one could hope it might also be applicable to other subjects.

Meanwhile, DownUnder, scientists at the University of Sydney have pioneered some small but effective nasal filters (worn in each nostril) to ward off the effects of hayfever and pollen-based allergies. I couldn't find any photos of the filters (possibly that's due to pending patents) but I'm guessing they aren't pretty:
"Ninety-three percent of subjects said they would wear the filters again. However, most subjects favored wearing them in private rather than in public settings."

09 April 2005

The week that was

Gosh. Where to start?

We abandoned the second hand store plan when it became clear we would need to bring in $2000 per month just to keep the doors open. Like everything else in this city, commercial rents are inflated to the point of absurdity.

My mother is moving from a 3 bedroom townhouse into a 1 bedroom apartment so we are purging like crazy and helping her pack and shuffle and downsize. This is not a fun task as the pack-rat gene runs deep in our family.

We got our tax refunds back but the inflated bank balance was short-lived as the money went toward a tune-up of the van and a repair of the turn-signal. At least now it is road-safe for the planned drive to Calgary at the end of the month and I don't have to stick my arm out the window to turn left.

The job I'd been waiting for has finally been posted though the description is much different than I was anticipating so I have no idea what the compettition will be like. I will put my name into the hat, but hubby's first week in his new position was mighty stressful, so I have to question whether a change in my work situation would be wise at this point.

The kid, as usual, is the bright point in my days. She's quite the artist (though some of her art is pretty dark*), she can write her name correctly most of the time, she is starting to ask how words are spelled and follow letters when looking at words. Today, she was riding a play motorbike in the park and when she saw me, she threw back her head and said "Rock and roll, baby!" The only thing that is driving me crazy is her tendency to burst into tears and have a hissy fit the very second she does not get what she wants.

*The other day I caught her drawing on her wooden truck again; she was drawing a "bone-a-saurus" which was her favourite thing "because it has bones and blood!" Maybe she'll be a doctor... or a forensic scientist... or a butcher. Who knows?

06 April 2005

"Wet" dry wit

From Right Ho Jeeves by the ever-popular P.G. Wodehouse (could someone please tell me how to properly pronounce his last name? I've heard it pronounced to rhyme with roadhouse and pronounced something like wodgeous and everything in between!) comes this wonderful snippet: (In the leadup, Aunt Dahlia has suggested that Bertie take a length of rope and find a nice large brick while out for his walk...)

"Then, " said the relative, "I want you, like a good boy, to fasten the rope to the brick and tie it around your damned neck and jump into the pond and drown yourself. In a few days I will send and have you fished up and buried because I shall need to dance on your grave."

Now, I will admit that up to this passage (which appears on page 102 of the edition I'm reading) I was not exactly eating this book up. It was one of the many books I have on the go -- one in my bag, one in my desk, a half dozen by my bed -- and depending on my mood I will either pick up and read, or skip in favour of something lighter (or denser in this case). Overall, I still think the writing is not to my taste, but since the above passage made me laugh out loud in public (something few books accomplish), I will certainly finish reading it.

05 April 2005

Yummy Invention!

I saw the UCO Ice Cream Ball (TM) in the LL Bean catalog and I was intrigued. Basically, you chuck in the ingredients in one side and the rock salt and ice in the other side then roll it about to make fresh ice cream.

The contraption is marketed to hikers and campers, but imagine rolling it back and forth with your toddler, or maybe your pet! After the experience we had with the Icee Maker, I don't know that I'd buy this before trying it... but it looks slick. It even comes with recipes!

04 April 2005

I don't know why this is such a chore

Philip Pullman’s trilogy consists of the Golden Compass, the Subtle Knife and the Amber Spyglass. They are fantasy novels, written for a youth audience, though since they involve children in danger, religious battles and frankly quite a lot of violence, I’m not sure they are suited for youth as much as young adult.

The problem I have had is that in each book, the build-up (about half the novel) is slow-going, but once I get to the crests of the roller-coasters, I can’t put the books down! I am now on the uphill portion of the third book. I am sure the crest is imminent, but so far no luck. This is why I don’t read series very often.

02 April 2005

A car that runs on air? Cool!

I was watching the Daily Planet today and they highlighted The MDI Air Car which claims to be "the world's cleanest car." MDI is a French company (Moteur Developpment International) and the car actually emits cold air (below zero degrees celcius) as exhaust. Does that mean it will contribute to global cooling?

Seriously, though, I want one.

Got me.

Usually, I am really good at picking out April Fools reports... I don't particularly enjoy practical jokes (I find them neither practical nor funny) so I usually lay low on April first. Today, however, Suzette actually got me. Even after I pointed out that her dates were still reflecting her Aussie clock on the other side of the dateline. I owe you one, Suzette and I should warn you I have a long memory for this sort of thing. :)

01 April 2005

Reducing Net Volume

Well... life around here has been interesting. My mother got a "notice to vacate" because the owners of her townhouse complex are renovating in order to sell the place as strata units. While this was a huge shock, it may turn out to be a small blessing in that she may actually move into the housing market and out of the rental market. Unfortunately the median house price in our city is around $400K. On the other hand, the rental price of a 2 or 3 br. apt or townhouse is up to about $1400/mo. (Need I say that the cost of housing in Victoria is freaking ridiculous?).

Anyway, there are a few things falling out from all this. The first is the realization that my mother, after having lived for 18 years in a 3 br townhouse has a LOT of stuff. The second is the realization that we also have too much stuff. So do my father and my mother in law. In fact, I joked that we had so much extraneous stuff between the four households we could probably stock a second-hand store quite comfortably.

Then we started actually considering opening a second hand store. We have the stuff. hubby can whip together a stock tracking system in his sleep -- and we have spare computers and even barcode scanners to help with that -- and we wouldn't have to be on title for the place... and we know someone who could... and we know others who could work there... and there are loads of storefronts for lease... and the list goes on. So we are at the number-crunching stage, but who knows? Maybe within the next month you will see a new second-hand store in town.