30 September 2005

Coffee, Tea, and Me

Coffee is one of my favourite substances; if you've been reading this blog or know me in person, this will not be a surprise. However, I am not a coffee snob. Aside from preferring dark, very dark, oily French roasts, I drink even the most mediocre restaurant and bar coffee from time to time.

What you may not know is that I also drink a lot of tea. I really didn't drink tea for many years because my Mom used to give me weak, milky tea when I was sick. Then I got back into tea through green tea in Japanese restaurants, and black tea with Dim Sum... then herbal teas, then gradually back to black tea with milk and sugar.

Now I know I was going somewhere with this post....

Oh yes. After reading the TEANY book a while ago, I decided I wanted to try rooibos and white tea. So the last time we were in Lifestyle markets (to buy more 5-HTP for hubby's grand experiment) I picked up some Nu-Tea Our Premium Rooibos African Chai Tea and some TRANS HERBe inc. Four O'Clock Organic Imperial White Tea.

The Rooibos Chai is quite nice. Not like the chai I am used to, but like a smooth slightly spiced tea. I still add a bit of milk but no sugar. The white tea however I didn't much like. It's sort of like a weak green tea that was vaguely-nutty. But like black tea, I prefer my green tea strong, and for a nutty tea nothing is better than a brown rice green tea blend known as genmai cha; the roasted rice often looks like popped corn and you will sometimes find this tea referred to as "popcorn tea." [We currently have Ujinotsuyu brand Genmaicha in our tea cupboard; it is splendid!]

28 September 2005

two days to vacation

I know what you're thinking, "Didn't she just have a week off, like in September?" Why yes, I did. And next week I will be on vacation again, it's the beauty of working for a long time for one employer; I get a lot of vacation days to use.

Besides, next week is due to be busy: our wedding anniversary, seeing Neil Gaiman at Alix Goolden Hall, walking kiddo to school; maybe painting a wall or two; prepping for Halloween, doing some Christmas shopping and/or crafting.... yep. Busy. Happily, hubby also has the week off so we can do the busy stuff together.

Hopefully, we can also get in some mellow time; I'd like to catch up on some reading, write a few reviews for Medianook, and knit kiddo some slippers.


Until then, I'll have to be amused by more episodes of Firefly and new tunes: The Killers Hot Fuss.

26 September 2005

Who the hell loses ATTACK DOLPHINS!?!

The only people who would train attack dolphins, I guess, the U.S. Navy.

36 of the U.S. Navy’s trained cetaceans have gone missing in the Gulf of Mexico, could be wearing special harnesses carrying “toxic dart” guns (can’t be good), and have been trained to shoot at divers in wetsuits simulating terrorists in exercises


Thanks to Cyn for pointing out this weird news offering. Here's the original source article from the Observer International.

25 September 2005

mystery chrysalis


My garden clean-up managed to unearth this wonderfully shiny-gold chrysalis. Unfortunately, as you can see, it landed on the cement having been separated from its host plant. I have no idea what that plant might be, though if it is a Painted Lady butterfly it should like thistles... I have placed it in one of my planters and I will try to check on it over the next few days to see if it survives.

the edge of sickness...

Kiddo had a bit of a fever last night and no appetite all day... hubby and I are also feeling like we are fighting something... so we have been hanging around the house "catching up." It's 50-50 right now whether I will go into work or not tomorrow.

scarf1 Hubby and I watched two episodes of Huff and several episodes of Firefly (we borrowed the series from my Mom) last night and more of Firefly this morning. While watching so much TV, I was able to finish the scarf I was knitting for myself.

Today, I did some garden clean-up and finally cleaned kiddo's play-tent which she was anxious to climb into but quickly abandoned. Oh well. I may keep working in the garden. I've pulled up the corn stalks, trimmed back the pumpkin leaves, and weeded most of my beds; ultimately I'd like to clean up a bed or two for winter salad greens and bok choy and cut back my carnations and my herbs.

23 September 2005

Costumes for Kids

It's that time of year again, when parents start to panic over what their kid wants to be for Halloween.... our kid tends to change her mind day to day, so having a well-stocked "dress-up" box (or in our case, hammock) is key. [For her first real Halloween outing in 2002, she wanted to be Yoda. Hubby slaved away at a costume but on the night she pitched a fit and wouldn't wear it. Instead, she was Minnie Mouse.]

With this in mind, I've been scouting for some basic costume patterns; today, I came across the simplest hero-cape pattern ever, using fleece. Biggest surprise? It's on a Disney site. Of course, if you've seen the Incredibles, you'll know that capes are a bad idea. Burke's Backyard offers some classic favourites -- fairy, vampire, pirate, princess, and robin hood -- plus commercial tie-ins Obi-Wan Kenobi and Xena, Warrior Princess. Is your kid a fan of Madagascar? Fleecefarm offers instructions for making basic animal parts (ears, tails, etc.) so you can customize to your heart's content.

22 September 2005

Searched in the name of Copyright

Hubby and I snuck out to see a free preview of The Corpse Bride last night (click link for review). Now, we've been to a LOT of free screenings over the years, but the security is getting to be ridiculous. The place was packed. The movie was supposed to start at 7:00, but they didn't start the security search until 6:45. C'mon, guys! It's an EMPTY FREAKING THEATRE. We got there at just after 6:00, if the goons had shown up earlier, maybe the film could have started on time. Instead the guards started freaking out because people were coming in too fast. They had two guards with sensor wands (which incidentally failed to pick up both hubby's and my cell phones) then two more with flashlights to check bags (also failed to ask about cell phones and my mp3 player).

It's clear that the goons are there because the movie company feels it is being threatened via illegal copies. A week ago, I'd have said, "C'mon, in Victoria? Seriously?" but in the past week there has been growing evidence of a serious crime ring operating. Last Friday, the Ministry of Vital Stats was burgled; thieves took blank birth, death, and marriage certificates. The Ministry has of course voided those serial numbers, but the average clerk might not think to check, especially if they are used out of province or outside Canada. Even more frightening is the revelation that on Monday, the offices of the Saanich School Board were also burgled and thieves took personal information about teachers and students. Hundreds Thousands of students are now potential victims of identity theft -- many too young to understand the kind of hell that may await them.

So... maybe someone in Victoria is filming the free screeners... but you know what? I don't care. I don't like being treated like a criminal -- guilty until proven innocent -- and with that in mind, I think that'll be the last free film I attend for a while.

21 September 2005

Running Away to See the Circus?

Ever since we took kiddo to see the very pathetic excuse for a circus which came through town two years ago, she has wanted to see another circus. A few days ago, we saw an ad for the Ringling Bros. tour, though it was in Seattle the following day.

When I checked the Ringling Bros. site last night, I found that the "Gold Tour" is currently in Canada (!!) albeit in Prince George right now, then Grand Prairie Alberta. However, in mid-October they will be in Spokane, Washington.

In theory, we could take the Coho ferry from here to Port Angeles on Friday afternoon, stay Friday, see the show Saturday afternoon, stay Saturday night, and come back on Sunday morning. But it wouldn't be a cheap trip; circus tickets would cost about US$65; the ferry would cost us about US$70 each way; plus hotel and food costs....

Since the circus follows a regular route, I think maybe we should go next year. Sigh.

Yacht Spotted

On my way to work, I noticed a HUGE yacht in the Victoria harbour -- big enough to have a helicopter on board. The yacht is the Attessa, owned by Dennis Washington, according to YachtSpotter.com, and it was recently refit in Vancouver after a rather devastating fire.

More pictures are available on Flickr; if it is still in port tomorrow, I'll try to get my own shot.

19 September 2005

NerdTV - Future of Television?

Hubby has been excited about NerdTV from the beginning (maybe even before the beginning) and I have to agree, Robert Cringely is the go-to-guy for history and biography in the techie world. What I didn't realize until today (sorry hubby if it got lost in amongst your many praises of the show) is this:
NerdTV is distributed under a Creative Commons license so viewers can legally share the shows with their friends and even edit their own versions.

Hubby and I have had many other discussions about web-delivered television... but the killer is always bandwidth. If you can afford bandwidth, you can put whatever you want on the web... NerdTV is backed by PBS.

But is it the future of television? I'm not sure. Entertainment Weekly had an article a while back on channel101.com which bills itself as "the unavoidable future of entertainment." Supposedly highlighting failed pilots and web-delivered content, most of it is craptacular to the nth degree. I would in fact question any network exec who greenlit any one of these things.

I think the future of television is much closer to the Simpsons' version where a show is re-tooled as Homer is watching it due to low ratings.


Avast, landlubbers! Today is Talk Like A Pirate Day so dig out your eye patches and staple that parrot to your shoulder! Shiver me timbers!

18 September 2005

Fun-Frugal-Friday (err, Sunday)

Made a day-trip up to Nanaimo; it was a tech-savvy trip -- hubby was working on the laptop and the tunes were care-of my mp3player via a recently-purchased FM-transmitter.

First stop was Value Village where we scored silicone bakeware -- a muffin "pan" and a loaf "pan" -- for only $3.99 each!! We also scored a USB-powered Canon LiDE scanner (an older model, admittedly, but still useful) for $12.99; a trip to the dollar store next door provided the needed cable. (And I can confirm that after a couple of hours of twiddling and downloading and installing, it does in fact work with our laptop.)


Funniest line of the day: while searching through dresses for kiddo, she declared of one, "Put it back. It's too pretty; everyone will think I'm a movie star."

At Jysk we picked up something for kiddo's bedroom-to-be (we are planning a reno, and considering swapping her bedroom and the office... we'll see how that works), and a king-size pillowcase, which fits the kid-size body pillows. The dollar store in the same mall provided a collapsable steamer basket for $2. We also popped into Curious Comics to oggle the new toys and pick up a comic box and some bags for kiddo to store her growing collection.

On the way home, we stopped at Russell Farm Market (as usual) and picked up a HUGE stalk of brussell sprouts (seriously, the thing was only a few inches shorter than kiddo) for $1.69. Kiddo even agreed to try the brussell sprouts! [Worth $1.69 on its own -- and she did indeed try them. Jury is out on whether she liked them, but she ate about half of one.] We also got oodles of red peppers (4 1/2 lbs) for $2.20 and enough fresh produce to fill two bags for under $20.

16 September 2005

Movie bonus: Proof

One of my coworkers had a conflict last night -- tickets to two free movies, so knowing I watch a lot of movies, she offered me a pass for two to see Proof! After some quick checks to make sure someone could watch kiddo, we went off to join the rest of the folks looking for something free to do. [The people in front of us were so excited to be getting something for nothing that they had to ask us what movie was going to be showing!! They hadn't even read the ticket.] I have reviewed it over at MediaNook if you're curious. I'd recommend it if you can tollerate people yelling at each other (there's a LOT of yelling!). Seriously, though, it's a good film; Paltrow's performance is nearly flawless.

If Google says so, it must be true.

1. Go to Google.
2. Type in "failure"
3. Observe first returned result.
4. Laugh.

I love this... though I suspect it is a case of Google-Bombing. The same result is used as an example of Google-bombing using the term miserable failure instead of failure. Just doing my part to keep it in the loop. I'm actually surprised Google hasn't addressed this issue. =shrug=

15 September 2005

Jessamyn West on Systems Librarians

An Interview with Jessamyn West [via Bookslut]:

Librarianship is a tech-heavy profession. Do you think that librarians should be required to study programming and web design along side Dewey and story-telling?

No. However, I think libraries need to be savvy in their hiring practices to make sure they have a healthy mix of old school and new school librarians. The Accidental Systems Librarian phenomenon [so aptly written about by Rachel Singer Gordon] is a real travesty. People with little to no training are becoming systems librarians because they formerly were in circulation and now need to run the OPAC. Everyone suffers. The library computer systems become a cipher. Librarians look like idiots because they don't understand what is essentially a small cryptic tech fiefdom. It's avoidable, but it requires more money for good tech staff, prioritization of tech issues right up there with book repair and replacement issues, and no staffers should be able to beg off of computers entirely. I don't know how to program [though I'm good with HTML] and I don't know Dewey [though I can fake it] there's room for everyone but while we KNOW why books are important, I think we're still as a profession, muddling through why tech is important. ALA website, need I say more?"


14 September 2005

Peeps in the Library

OK...this is too funny. Millikin University Library produced this little web page on how to use the library, how to get help, and what constitutes inappropriate behavior -- but they used Peeps (i.e. those little sugary-marshmallow confections) to illustrate it all.

13 September 2005

Egg & Muffin Toaster by Back to Basics

Mmmm. Another useless appliance? Maaaaybe. But it's fun to play the build-your-own breakfast sandwich game -- the designers use sarcasm to great effect.

11 September 2005

Chinatown Festival

Hubby and I were downtown for a couple of child-free hours today and stumbled across something going on in Chinatown. There were two dancing dragons and a lot of drums and cymbals and firecrackers, so there was plenty of noise. I think it was likely the Moon Festival (link is to the San Francisco Moon Festival; I can't find any info on Victoria celebrations).


The dragons were dancing up to each business in Chinatown and eating strings which were tied to the front of the buildings -- at the bottom of each string was a lettuce, then all the way up were either red (money) envelopes or $5 and $10 bills tied evenly along the string. The dragon would dance in front of the building while a man guarded the entrance with a pitchfork; the dragon would eventually see the money string and eat it. (After the money strings were "digested," men in blazers with Freemason crests gathered them from under the dancers.)


There were two dragons which must have started on opposite ends of the street, and eventually they met in the middle. After that, the people creating the perimiter (holding broomsticks) started to push the crowd out of the way. We moved back then got moved again. Eventually, we were far enough back and they said they were preparing a demonstration.

We waited for about 10 minutes then gave up and wandered off to buy a treat from one of the Chinese bakeries (I had a red bean sesame ball; hubby had a pork ball -- basically the same thing without sesame seeds on the outside and with ground pork instead of bean paste) then went for a short wander before returning to my mother's to collect the kid.

violence in the hood

Last night, around 6 p.m. we popped out for ice cream and along the way encountered a police detour. The roadblock was on Esquimalt road, along a stretch in front of a particularly seedy nightclub and some housing of questionable quality -- about a five minute walk from our home. On the news today, it was revealed that police had received complaints of an individual being physically threatening at the local McDonalds (to the point that staff had locked the doors and windows to keep him out). Police apprehended the man a few blocks away and during a scuffle/takedown/whatever "the officer's weapon was discharged" into the man's abdomen.

The problem here is that I'm both bothered but also lack any compassion. I'm bothered by the fact that the officer's weapon drawn while they were trying to hold down a man who, by all accounts so far, was unarmed. On the other hand, I am bothered that it took police long enough to respond to complaints about this violent individual that he was able to travel on foot several blocks. I don't really care that the person who was yelling, threatening, and violently hammering on the windows of a McDonalds Restauarant around the dinner hour (i.e. there were most likely children inside) has been injured, perhaps critically but I also don't think the police should get off lightly for what sounds like a(nother) seriously botched takedown.

10 September 2005

So begins the chapter of my life as a redhead

Got my hair done today.... I couldn't decide between black and red, so we ended up with a kind of burgundy-red which, I'm told, should fade a bit. Since I know you're all dying to see the new look, here's the before:

and after:

And for those of you who want to know what all that haircolour looked like piled on my head, here's the half-way shot:

You'll notice the bit of foil which is covering my white streak, this was in an effort to safeguard against having a pink streak. It sort-of worked, but I expect it will be little-girl pink right after my first shower with the new dye.

New Orleans Archives Safe!

Wow. When I heard about the trouble the archivists were having even getting to the archives, I have to agree with the sentiments of the Assistant Archivist when she says, "The fact that the archives have survived leaves us almost delerious with relief."

Really, it is amazing. The city archives (which includes 19th century Orleans Parish court records) "are housed in the basement of the Main Library, some 18 feet below sea level" in a building 4 blocks from the Dome. While the branch libraries took a considerable beating (about half are underwater), there was minimal damage to the main branch and no apparent looting (aside from one van stolen from the lot).

Maybe it's my inner history and library geeks talking, but this news makes me much happier than the odd dog being reunited with its owner.

09 September 2005

How does this represent FREEDOM???

I don't get it.

ABC 7 News - Freedom Walk Interlopers Threatened With Arrest

Arlington, Va (AP) - Anyone who joins Sunday's Nine-Eleven memorial Freedom Walk without registering could be arrested.

Pentagon officials tell The Washington Post that the route from the Pentagon to the Mall will be lined with four-foot-high snow fencing. US Park Police will keep out interlopers. Hundreds of officers will patrol the route on foot, horseback, motorcycles and in a helicopter.

Park Police Chief Dwight Pettiford says anyone who joins the march or the subsequent concert on the Mall without a permit and refuses to leave will be arrested. The media will also won't be allowed to join walkers on the route.

Police have approved a permit from a small group of protesters that plans to stand along Independence Avenue.

Walkers have until 4:30 p.m. Friday to register online at www.asyfreedomwalk.com. There is no walk up registration.

If a march happens in a city, and no one is allowed to broadcast it, does it happen? I thought the point of the freedom march was to show the Terrorists they didn't win.... how will they know if it isn't on CNN?

08 September 2005

Is Victoria worthy of its own soap opera?

The people backing Mile Zero think so. For me, the jury is still out... I think it would be a bit weird to see this sort of show in my own hometown... but then again, people who live in larger centres (or even Dog River, Saskatchewan) see this all the time. I might feel more positive about it if I were playing a role... maybe as an avid blogger? :)

[Thanks to Don at Victoriawood Reports for keeping track of the goings-on]

07 September 2005

History repeating itself...

marmalade.ca points out that having a city below water level washed away by water from a broken levee is not new. Read more about what happened to the city of Vanport, no longer to be found on any map.

06 September 2005

Spamments & Renos & School, OH MY!

Wow. I thought I was being really bright this morning when I referred to those spam comments as "spamments" but that word, it appears, is both old -- Metagrrrl wrote about spamments back in December 2001 -- and also common in the blogosphere. Back to the drawing board for me.

Actually, it's back to the bathroom where hubby and I finally finished our touch-ups to the bathroom mini-reno we did back in November '04. After a bunch of months looking at the sponged border around the top of the room, I tried to fix it by songing over in another colour, but it looked worse. So now the walls are monochrome! (We did, however, leave the sponging on the cupboard door.) The base tiles also got grouted, so I am ready to consider that room "done" until we can refinish or replace the tub.


Once the bathroom is clean, the kiddo gets to have a morning bath before she goes to her first day of preschool this afternoon! Wow! She is looking forward to it... though today is only one hour and she will phase in gradually through the week. Her first "full" day is Friday; the first day she has after-school care is Monday. This is why I took the week off work (although I gotta say, it's nice not to be at work the first week of classes).


How did this slip my mind? I forgot to mention that my favourite coffee website (The CoffeeCrew) started a blog! Wheeeee, caffeinated sarcasm! However, it seems Colin is taking a break from the blog after a snooty barrista attack....

05 September 2005

How about you DON'T visit?

I appologise, gentle readers, but I have just enabled word verification to try and weed out spambots. Unfortunately, the Evil spamdoers seem to have hired lackeys to actually cut and paste generic comments like this:

"I like your news clips. Visit anytime, And Im always looking for new reads."

Followed by a link to some crappy site. [Now I'm not even going to get into the lousy grammar of the above but if the "person" commenting liked my clips, why would they be asking me to visit anytime???]

Hubby has noticed a sharp increase too -- like all the lackeys started September first -- so we are tracking the offenders. There is also a new "flag" option on the blogger bar up above and if I find anyone spamming with an actual blog, believe me: they will be flagged.

If the word verification doesn't work, I will go back to requiring that users register before commenting. Sigh.

PayPal Blocks Relief Efforts

Wow. I have issues with PayPal, but nothing like this:

...humor site SomethingAwful collected over $29,000 for Katrina's victims in less than 9 hours - until PayPal froze the funds. Since their credit card processing had been down due to the hurricane, SomethingAwful founder Rich Kyanka asked visitors to donate to the Red Cross from a temporary page explaining the situation.

Kayanka was then told he would need to fax in three pieces of ID and it would take 3 to 5 days to unlock the account. But here's the real kicker:

Another PayPal representative called Kyanka Sunday afternoon, offering to help resolve the problem. However, she also delivered some bad news: PayPal was unable to directly donate to the Red Cross. Due to prior agreements, the United Way is PayPal's relief organization of choice.

OK, I understand the need to have one designated agency for unfocused relief donations, but why on earth should that preclude individuals from selecting their own designated agency?


04 September 2005

the media nook is open

Since Hubby and I take in a lot of media each day, we figured we would start collecting our thoughts and reviews in one place: the media nook.

So, if you are curious what we are watching, reading, listening to or even surfing, head over to have a peek.

isadore mimobot

Cute tchotchke or useful gadget? Who cares?! One of the reasons I love to read Shiny Shiny is its focus on things like this which cross those boundaries betwen art/design and function.

03 September 2005

Ottawa's Bright Idea.

The Globe and Mail: Ottawa hopes Canadians slow down, stay home


OK. I know the US could use some oil to get things going again... but this makes it sound like Mr. Martin is asking Canadians not to drive our cars so much so that Americans can drive theirs.

Bite me.

Fitness of my Youth

Let it be known that I do not like exercise just for the sake of exercise. I can exercise in a quasi-social setting like a set of raquetball or a round of golf or, hell, even line dancing; or I can exercise with a goal -- walking to get groceries, biking to work, etc. -- but I cannot cope with aerobics, jogging, weight-training, lane swimming, or ab-rolling. I have tried all of these and failed.

I blame the long-defunct Canada Fitness Program. In the 70s and 80s, all elementary students were put through meaningless quantified tests of fitness then awarded Excellence, gold, silver, or bronze patches, or the "Participaction" pin -- the booby prize I usually earned.

Recently I came across copies of the Canada Fitness Award Manual -- the main one, and also one which includes adaptations "for use by trainable mentally handicapped youth." The thing is, the one test I invariably failed, the dreaded Flexed Arm Hang, is included in the modified one, but not in the main manual. My guess is that it was discontinued sometime before the main manual was updated (we have the 1984 edition in reference, which I presume is the most recent/last edition published). I will try to scan that baby soon and post it -- the illustrations are cheesy, so it won't be without an amusement factor.

The Canada Fitness Program got it wrong by grading kids on their performance rather than encouraging them to participate -- if everyone had been given a Participaction Pin and praised no matter what their ability, I might have actually grown up enjoying basic exercise. OK, maybe not... but by dooming me to the bottom of the heap I grew up not only disliking the exercises themselves but also those who excelled at them. I know it's not a healthy attitude but that's the core of it. ::shrug::