30 June 2008

Under the M...

Apparently I'm not the only one doing some digital housecleaning; popular* local weekly, Monday Magazine has finally redesigned their website. The difference is astounding. I am happiest about their move to a flexible calendar since that was the worst part about the old site and the main reason I would ever check online (though for some reason, the editor is still pointing out that you can read the giant/useless pdf version of the calendar for a while, until staff adjust to inputting everything on the new calendar. Ugh.)

As it happens, there is a great article up this week about the extremely dubious Climate Action Dividend and the many, many groups whose hands are extended in hopes that people will part with their $100. Hubby also had a great rant up about the subject, plus a photo of all the paper used to mail the silly cheques and The Tyee lists many of the groups vying for your Campbell Cash. We've already put ours in the bank and more than half of mine went toward a tank of gas, the rest went to groceries. Thanks, Gordo.

*(Readers may remember that Monday Magazine is not so popular in this house -- warning: link includes graphic content. I have mostly stood my that promise not to pick up another issue, though I will admit to having picked up maybe three issues in the past year on autopilot and checked the website about the same number of times when other venues are exhausted. Overall, if they disappeared, I would no longer notice.)

29 June 2008

WALL-E widget

Ooo, look! fun with plug-ins.

Birthday Thanks....

While my actual birthday isn't until tomorrow, we went out for brunch today (which was lovely) and I was spoiled with many gifts. Among them, two new books -- Roger Ebert's Your Movie Sucks and Craft, Inc -- a polarizing filter and a flash attachment for my camera, the first three American Pie movies, some makeup, some specialty foods, a new MEC shoulder bag, and gift certificates for Value Village.

This afternoon, we went to see WALL-E, which I very much recommend.

I'm very thankful to everyone for a lovely day and the thoughtful gifts.


One of my quirkier/darker habits is, after hearing the train whistle sound, waiting in morbid anticipation of a possible crash.


28 June 2008

Etsy Travel Showcase

Trying something different, I bought a spot in the Travel Showcase for Sunday -- it's still late Saturday here on the west coast, but the spot is already up; here's what it looks like when you expand my spot:

I was originally planning to showcase the travel colouring kit, but put a Wradical Wrap in first place instead. As you can see, it lists the travel kit, too, and another 8 items that I selected. (After Sunday, unless they all sell out, the items will be available in my Etsy store.)

26 June 2008

Mini-vacation begins...

I'm off work for a few days for a combo of getting stuff done (today and tomorrow), seeing family (Saturday-Monday), and celebrating my birthday (officially it's Monday, but we're going for brunch Sunday). And then there is the "bonus" day off Tuesday, Canada Day.

Today was getting stuff done; check off: book hotels for next month's road-trip (actually I did that last night), renew my driver's license, clean bedroom, clean bathroom, do laundry, vacuum carpets, drop off and pick up Kiddo for last day of first grade, go to ArtEVO opening.

The highlight of my day was definitely watching Kiddo marching along the street and later around the living room while she sung the Imperial March from Star Wars. The low point was surprisingly not cleaning the toilet -- that, at least, felt satisfying. No, the low point was the ArtEVO opening.

I signed up for the "preview opening" online with the promise of a free gift (this turned out to be a rather monochrome print of a nude with a violin -- definitely not to my taste). The gallery, while it looks kind of swish, is nothing spectacular. Only slightly interesting is that it seems to be a bricks and mortar outlet for its online store; in the centre of the store are two kiosks where buyers can search the full range of available art. Unfortunately, the art is average, at best, in Victoria's market which is so rich with local artists. I wish them luck.

I also had fun booking all the hotels along our route up-island this summer. We decided to go pretty much to the top of Vancouver Island -- the full route we are taking is a little over a thousand kilometres, round trip and will take us about a week. We are camping the first night, then staying in hotels the rest of the way. I tried looking for Bed and Breakfast places, but I only found one that was suitable for families. (If we ever open a B&B it will definitely have at least one family-friendly suite.)

Tomorrow will be more cleaning and some decluttering around the house plus some craft time with Kiddo.

How to cripple my city in three easy steps.

1. Bring a glitzy festival to the Inner Harbour -- in this case, the Tall Ships festival, which travels up and down the west coast annually. This had the effect this afternoon of clogging traffic from the Johnson Street Bridge to Fort Street along Wharf Street; we were moving at about 5 km/h and tempers were pretty high because once you make that turn, there's no easy way out.

2. Bomb threat! Well, at least a suspicious package -- found on a BC Transit bus during rush hour. This shut down part of Admirals road -- one of the major routes in and out of the dockyards and naval base plus a popular route to the Western Communities.

3. When all else fails, roadwork. This morning and into the afternoon the Bay Street bridge was reduced to a single alternating lane, blocking traffic a looooong way. I think I may have idled away as much as an eighth of a tank of gas while waiting. Adding to the congestion is that the nearby area is semi-industrial so there were more than the average number of dump-trucks, cement trucks, and 5-ton box trucks merging in and out of traffic.

24 June 2008

Spreading love in toy form

I love the idea of The Toy Society -- it's a little like Bookcrossing but with hand-made plush toys instead. While I am tempted to send some Huggitz into the world this way, I would be crushed if they just vanished, as many of my Bookcrossing releases do, never to be heard from again.

22 June 2008

Virtual Housecleaning...

After ignoring the item on my To Do list for months, I have finally started tidying some of my personal web spaces. I started with my main index page, a.k.a. Victoria Living, and our master "DeWolfe on DeWeb" index.

Then I decided to radically trim down my brain pages since most of the information there has been replaced by this blog and other pages. Eventually, I suppose, I will go in and scrape out the remainders but, for now, they can linger unlinked in the directory.

Of course all of this is really procrastination from the web maintenance at the top of my list: redesigning my Unofficial Guide to Victoria and upgrading my Drupal 4.x sites to Drupal 5.x.

Etsy Additions....

Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
I've added a bunch of new things to my Etsy store this weekend; my Park Series of ACEOs (seen here) plus three of my MiniHuggitz monsters. I wrote up a little blurb on MonsterEtsy, too.

The most exciting thing to me, though, is that my store has been faved by 50 Etsy members! Now I just need some of those to evolve into sales...

21 June 2008

Kiddo's Chichian Empire...

Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
A few weeks ago, Kiddo used some scrap fabric left over from a Huggitz crafting session to make her own little critter. She called it a Chichian and she took it to school for show-and-tell. Soon afterward, other kids started asking her for them -- she has made two others for friends -- and she is off to a birthday party today where the birthday girl asked for one as a gift! I suggested making a pair (regular size and BIG), so that's what we did this morning.

Right now, Kiddo picks the fabric and the buttons for the eyes, and does all the hand-sewing; I prepare the fabric and do the machine sewing. She also helps to stuff the critters.

I think it's very cool that she is making these little things but even cooler that her friends and other kids actually want them; they even play with their Chichians at recess!

And, yes, I have suggested that she sell them on Etsy... but so far, she hasn't gone for that yet!

20 June 2008

Old skool research

Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
I remembered today why I have glasses: microfilm. (I didn't get them until after 4th year of University, a year I spent working with many reels of newspapers.) I really, really hate working with it, but the BC Newspaper index, prior to 1991, is only available in this format. Ugh.

Anyway, I spent a little over two hours winding and unwinding index reels and reels of the Victoria Times from the mid-1960s and managed to almost answer one mystery that has been bothering me for some time; the full answer will likely require a trip to the Esquimalt archives, but I got much closer than I had expected. (And, yes, this is all part of the local history stuff I am working on.)

I had also forgotten how easy it is to get sidetracked while skimming through old newspapers -- ads for movies; grocery store ads with deals that now look amazing; headlines that could have been written today (I read one story about Victoria's "hot" real estate market -- sales from Jan-April 1966 totalled $5.6 million) -- and how tiring the work is. Still, I felt like today was not wasted; now I have to figure out when I can carve out another block of time for research...

Is this supposed to be funny?

Let me start by saying that there is nothing funny for the families of the people whose feet have been washing up on BC's shorelines. Nor is there anything funny for the people whose feet they are, though I am guessing they are no longer particularly concerned about their feet.

But, you have to admit, it's funny in an absurd way -- six feet in less than a year (scratch that, it's actually just 5 feet; the one found in Campbell River turned out to be someone's idea of a funny prank -- an animal paw stuffed in a sneaker, padded with seaweed. Ewww) being found by ordinary people walking along our beautiful shores. I'm pretty sure this is not going to improve our tourism numbers.

So, yesterday, Hubby created a t-shirt for our Cafe Press store that I thought was pretty funny... when I showed it to people at work, the reactions were... well... "mixed" I guess. Some people thought it was in very poor taste. Naturally, I thought you needed to see it too. :)

So, is it funny? Tasteless? Meh? So awesome you have to have one? Buy it here.

17 June 2008

Of Aches and Aging

I ache today. I am tired and achey but it's a "good ache" ... I think.

I've been going to the gym lately; I finally sucked it up last month and forked over the cash for a membership on campus. (It's dirt cheap -- especially compared to health clubs or even rec centres -- it works out to about two bucks a week.) I've been going a couple of times a week with a co-worker, doing about 20 minutes of cardio plus 20 minutes of weight training in the weeeeee hours of the morning (i.e. before 8 a.m.) I've also been walking (semi-regular "walkies" around the Ring Road with another coworker, plus walking elsewhere and, yes, I do count my wanderings with camera-in-hand). Since I finally replaced my VHS Kripalu Yoga "Gentle" program with the DVD version, I have also managed to work in a session or two of yoga.

The strangest revelation to me out of this recent round of fitness is that despite not being a "morning person" it seems that morning really is the best time for me to exercise.

So why all this now? A couple of years ago, I made myself the goal of being "fit by forty" but now that I am staring down my 39th birthday, that long term goal seems pretty short-term... and I am far from fit. Sure, I got derailed last year with the whole ankle-breaking nonsense, but I still maintain that the regular walking I had been doing prior to the accident helped me to heal as well as I have, and recognizing that made me more eager to embrace the idea of regular exercise for the rest of my body, lest anything else get broken (touch wood).

So, I will continue to make every effort to work all the parts of my body that don't get worked while I sit at my desk, and we'll see if I am any less achey a year from now.

16 June 2008

Mini-Huggitz creations!

Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
Last night, I was sewing up some Swiffer™ sleeves but I got distracted by the little scraps of leftover fleece; the purple floral print lent itself well to the embroidered mouth features and the rest just fell into place!

I love the resulting creatures so much that it's going to be really hard to part with them... I will probably keep one and list the rest (I made six last night) in my Etsy store.

Here's some other photos -- the brown one, Boris, may be my favourite, even though he's made from fake fur instead of fleece.:

shrunken_huggitz boris gil

14 June 2008

Parade day!

Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
Without really planning it, Kiddo and I walked in the Buccaneer Days parade today. We knew it was happening, but hadn't been sure about attending due to her dental work. It all worked out though, and we got to join in with some of her good friends, as we all walked along with her school group in the parade down Esquimalt Road. We couldn't have asked for better weather -- it was a beautiful day for a parade.

For the last leg of the tour, she even got to ride in the pirate boat buggy (seen here) that her friend's mom was pushing. There's a chance she will show up in the News Group papers, too, as a photographer took their photo and their info.

After the parade, we went to the midway, but didn't end up staying long. Kiddo was sad because, while she is now tall enough for some of the more exciting rides, she is now too tall for the Dragon Wagon, one of her favourites. Sigh.

I am hoping next weekend is mellow. Maybe just crafting or a quiet walk along the waterfront.

13 June 2008

No! NO NO NO NO!!!

Sometimes, I just want to find the people who pitch things like this and slap them into another dimension.

And now I am going to light a candle for the end of childhoods everywhere. Morons.

[from kirtsy]

Dental work for Kiddo....

Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
Friday the thirteenth may or may not be seen as unlucky, but I am pretty sure that Kiddo will forever more equate it with the icky feelings that follow dental work.

Early this morning we trucked her into the office of a Pediatric Dentist -- his office is overflowing with dinosaurs and there is even a game system (a PS2) in the waiting area -- for an all-at-once marathon of dental work. Amazingly, the dentist did all of it inside an hour: filled 6 cavities, performed two pulpectomies (with crowns -- basically the juvenile equivalent of a root canal), sealed four adult molars, and extracted her "shark tooth" -- a baby tooth that was refusing to fall out despite the adult tooth coming in above it.

In a typically weird Victoria's-a-small-town moment, we ran into good friends of ours in the waiting room -- also bringing in their daughter for dental work.

She is still recovering; really didn't appreciate the after-effects of dizziness and double-vision (but she's clever enough to figure out that if she covered one eye, she felt better). She should be able to sleep off most of the ickiness, though, and if she feels up to it, we'll be headed for Buccaneer Days tomorrow.

12 June 2008

Parting (with stuff) is such sweet sorrow....

Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
... or at least pain.

Psychologists at Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania have uncovered the following tidbit:

"...the insula, which has a role in the experience of pain, and the greater mesial prefrontal cortex became activated when the subjects contemplated selling one of their items"

This explains a whole lot about the feelings of malaise I sometimes experience when trying to reduce accumulated clutter....

[full story -- as seen on BoingBoing]

This might be interesting....

Some time ago, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of Temple of Cod, Adrienne Jones' novella which forms the first third of her full-length novel Brine. Despite not being drawn in by the cover art, I found myself unable to put the book down. (My original review is over at the Media Nook, should you wish to read it.)

It remains high on my list of fantasy/horror tales and I am curious to see where she takes the story next. It is available for pre-order now but if you visit the Brine site, you can also listen to the audio version of Temple of Cod for free, or download it once you register.

09 June 2008

A Weekend of Firsts...

Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
(for Kiddo)

This weekend, Kiddo got to take a taekwando lesson (at a birthday party), go Go-carting and jump around in a kid-size Habitrail (in Nanaimo), drive her own bumper car, and ride two other new rides -- the Sizzler and the ferris wheel -- at the Oak Bay Tea Party.

Pretty exciting weekend for a seven year old... apparently too exciting.

She couldn't sleep last night; she kept having nightmares about the ferris wheel flying off into space (and crashing on the moon) or one of the other midway rides coming loose from its rigging and smashing into the ride she was on. Hmmm.

Thing is, she didn't seem scared at all while we were there so I am not sure if her brain just started working overtime or what's up, but it made for a rough night.

07 June 2008

Comment Contest!

My Unofficial Guide to Victoria has been through several facelifts in the eleven years (!) that it has been online, and it's time for another. This time though, I am thinking more along the lines of liposuction (to remove the bulk) and a whole new wardrobe.

This is where you come in.... I have my own thoughts about what needs to be trimmed and what needs to be highlighted, but I want to know what you think.

Have a look around the site -- start with the site map if you prefer -- and then let me know: What are the strengths and the weaknesses? What's missing? What's your favourite page? Least favourite? What would you change about the layout? The colours? Nothing is off limits, have at it in the comments!

To encourage your comments, I am holding a contest! I will do a random draw for a prize -- to enter, leave a constructive comment about Cheryl's Unofficial Guide to Victoria by 11:59 p.m. (Pacific Time) Sunday June 15th. The winner will get a 5x7 print of a Victoria landmark(winner's choice from my photos) suitable for framing.

Comments may be left on this post, or on my Flickr account, on the logo photo, linked below:


The last couple of days in photos:





02 June 2008

What happens when you take the Channel out of A-Channel?

Apparently you get something that looks like FOX:

On the right is the new logo for "A" which is Global's rebranding of both A-Channel (on the West Coast) and ASN (on the East Coast); on the right is FOX television's logo. You tell me if FOX should call their lawyers.

01 June 2008

How much? For this? Really?

After a quiet morning, we went out looking for open houses to peruse this afternoon. We saw a little bit of everything -- ranging from a low of $409,900 for a ridiculously tiny (786 sq.ft.) 1949 rancher to a high of $1,450,000 (3400 sq.ft.) 1956 home on a third of an acre in Oak Bay.

In fact, when we walked into that house, the first words out of the realtor's mouth were not "hello" or "thanks for stopping in" but instead, "The asking price on this home is one point four five million; if you have any questions, I'll do my best to answer them." The place was clearly professionally staged -- right down to freaking croquet on the back lawn -- but even without the staging, the place felt insincere. I had a good laugh that (a) for all that cash, parts of the basement were still unfinished, (b) the only bookshelf I saw was filled almost entirely with home decorating magazines, and (c) the back yard was pretty much un-landscaped and empty.

Just up the street was a slightly larger home, (4644 sq.ft.) selling for $1,395,000. Thing is, it had been renovated maybe 20 years ago, but it had a much better use of space (despite some headache-inducing wallpaper in the front room), trees in the yard, and it actually looked like a home someone lived in. Oh, and the realtor(s) didn't try to freak us out with the pricetag.

We also looked at one that was waaay up a steep drive and built into the rock (no yard for Kiddo) that was selling for $849,00 (reduced from $929,000) -- you could actually see some of the buildings on campus from the deck.

In amongst the craziness were two that almost appealed to us and one that really appealed to us:

** almost #1: nice little house on too busy a corner $445,900 (reduced from $459,000).
** almost #2: small house with an "unfinished studio" in the back yard, $439,000
** really: (kitty-corner to almost#2), large-ish 1914 house with a separate garage and unfinished basement $479,900 (reduced from $495,000)

Of course, even the appealing ones are more than we would like to mortgage... but the really encouraging thing is that several of the ones we saw today had been reduced. Ahhhh.