31 January 2009

Mission accomplished....

... Kiddo has glasses. We purchased two identical pairs in case of loss or irreparable damage.

30 January 2009

Adventures in Optometry

Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
On and off Kiddo has been complaining of headaches and sore eyes and more recently these complaints have increased. This coupled with the news that she needs to work on her hand-eye coordination really hit the point home that we were long overdue in taking her for an eye exam.

I arranged to take her in at the same time I got mine done so she could see how some of the tests worked. Unfortunately, I didn't warn her about just how uncomfortable the glaucoma test (that nasty little puff of air to test the pressure in your eyeball) so that wasn't pleasant for anyone in the office. After that she calmed down and the rest of the exam was relatively uncontested. As soon as she started trying to read the letters on the chart I knew she needed glasses. My heart sank -- why had we waited so long? Eventually I stopped kicking myself and just decided it was better late than never.

Me? Well, aside from getting nauseous from the eye dilating drops, I discovered that my eyesight has improved again. Weird. I have roughly 20/25 vision plus a mild astigmatism in one eye and "virtually 20/20" in the other. Of course the change means new glasses again. Sigh.

So, tomorrow, we'll go find some glasses.

26 January 2009

Shameless promotion and future projects

I am home sick (First cold of the season. Hooray.) so I thought I would blow my own horn in between rounds of blowing my nose:

1. My recycled crayon tutorial has been shortlisted over at The Sunday Best for favourite tutorial; you can vote for me there, though the prize is a bowtie and I am not sure what I would do with one.

2. The other day, I discovered that much of the stuff posted on ThoseDeWolfes was being hidden from anyone not logged in (DOH!) we've fixed that now, so tutorials and everything else should be visible.

3. I've been trying to update FrugalVictoria more regularly -- if anyone out there is interested in contributing please drop me a note.

4. I have also been trying to regularly add listings to my Etsy stores -- Creative Miscellany and ThoseDeWolfes.

4. Stuff I am working on: a redesign of my Unofficial Guide to Victoria (yes, it seems like I have been working on this for ages, but I am close enough to just post the new site and fix it rather than tinker endlessly in development mode); an e-book to accompany virtualstager.com (I'm close to finishing this, too); helping Hubby edit his novel (which you could download now in its "beta" version).

5. Stuff I am considering: a crafting book; a photo-book of My Views of Victoria; getting back into writing movie reviews (I've been offered a regular gig -- same deal as before: swag and free movies in lieu of pay).

OK, I'll take off the barker's hat now; thanks for reading.

24 January 2009

Sometimes the system works.

Yesterday, just before lunch I received an email from a fellow Etsy user who wanted to let me know that someone on eBay was selling my pattern (and other crafters' patterns as well) as if it were her own. I checked it out and there was my pattern for Ma Cobb's Hat -- but the font, formatting, and even the photo had been edited (poorly). She was selling the pattern for 99 cents plus postage. 

I immediately reported the item to eBay for infringing on intellectual copyright (yes, I released it under a Creative Commons Attribution license -- but she hadn't even done that; she was passing it off as her own pattern along with many patterns others had posted to the Commons or elsewhere.) I also sent the user a stern warning to pull the auction. Within a couple of hours the auction for my pattern had been terminated and within 24 hours she had no listings at all. I've had run-ins with eBay in the past but I was happy with how this situation was settled.

Oh, and if you are interested in seeing how Creative Commons can be used well, check out this listing for the same pattern on AllFreeCrafts -- they give proper attribution and even link back to this blog. Well done!

21 January 2009

I've got a crush on my iPod.

I do! I luuuuuuv my iPod Touch -- and I never, ever thought I would say that about any Apple product but I there it is. I think I have used it every day since I got it for Christmas (thanks again, Hubby!) -- it makes the morning (and afternoon) transit much more bearable and it is a pretty good bribe for Kiddo, too.

Of course, I personalized it. After packing it with music, I discovered video podcasts. Educational, entertaining, esoteric -- little bursts of eye candy! I love being able to watch clips of The Hour or science tidbits from NASA or whatever other weirdness there is to offer. I downloaded some games, too -- Bejeweled2 and a cute little Eye-Spy type game called Little Shop of Treasures. (The only drawback is that the videos and games are quick to drain the battery).

However, the best application I found has to be Stanza, an e-book reader. When there's a wireless connection you can download books from a dozen different sites, many of which are free. (Hubby even uploaded one of his books to Smashwords, one of the catalogues supported by Stanza.) I've been reading like crazy -- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald (good story, pity they had to make a movie), I, Robot by Cory Doctorow (well written but somewhat cliched), the Smashwords publishing and marketing guides, and The Public Domain by James Boyle (still in the midst of this one). I've got 23 items (books, stories and collections) in my Stanza library right now, including a couple for Kiddo, some classics (Heart of Darkness, Call of Cthulhu, The Picture of Dorian Gray...), fiction and non-fiction. I love that Stanza remembers my page and is so easy to hold and use that I can read with one hand!

20 January 2009

Interesting day....

Originally uploaded by minicoopergirl
It's weird. I am, in general, very pessimistic, and I will not blog some of the scenarios that have run through my head in the past months since Obama was elected to be the next President of the United States. However, listening to his swearing-in this morning, I actually got a little choked up.

All around me, people were watching live video, or listening to streaming audio (I was listening to CNN radio) -- productivity definitely took a hit this morning. (Happily, it coincides with our system update at work, so productivity was already scheduled to dip.) Hubby just plain booked the morning off to watch.

Apparently, Obama is coming in to the Whitehouse with an unprecedented 78% approval rating. As Bush drove away, you could hear the crowd singing "Na Na Na-Nah, Na, Na Na-Nah, Hey, He--eyy, Goodbye." The next 100 days may be some of the most interesting in recent history.


[I am hoping this photo stays available -- it's a fantastic shot by minicoopergirl on Flickr and I used the Blog This feature to share it with you all]

18 January 2009

Vegas vacation thoughts....

Yes, Las Vegas and yes, with Kiddo.

Hubby and I had planned to go to Vegas for our 10th anniversary since we've never been but, as you may remember, a broken ankle kept us from doing so. At least we managed to see the Blue Man Group while they were in Victoria -- one of the main reasons we'd considered Vegas in the first place. Aaaanyway. Since then, one of the other reasons for going (the Star Trek Experience) has closed (bah!) but on the other hand, there are now regular direct flights from Victoria to Vegas.

So, we've been thinking about heading down for a couple of days in February. Neither Hubby nor I gamble so we don't have to worry about juggling Kiddo for casino time so I spent time online yesterday looking for other ideas. I got pretty excited when I found out there was a monorail but disappointed at how little area it covers. I also noted that there is both a Bodies exhibit and a display of Titanic artifacts (Kiddo is fascinated by all things Titanic) at the Luxor and I was amused to find many bowling lanes on the Strip, too.

We haven't booked anything yet so I haven't spent all my waking hours researching.... but give it time. Once we are booked, it'll be the only thing in my search history.

(Oh, and if any of you have suggestions for what to see and what to avoid, let me know.)

A brief bright moment.

Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
Poor Kiddo. She had a day of disappointment.

Most of the day was about waiting; her friend was supposed to come over for a play-date but never showed and never called. Unfortunately, we didn't have his phone number so we couldn't check about it either.

Once it seemed clear to me that he wasn't coming, I suggested putting together the soccer goal she got for Christmas. I realized we should have checked a little closer when she pulled the ball out of the box -- it was about the size of the cat's head. She was not impressed. I told her she could still use her full size ball. The goal is tiny -- meant for little kids -- but it is still a goal and she can still aim at it.

She played outside for about 15 minutes then declared it was too cold, came in, and moped until she also realized he just wasn't going to show. Hubby tried to tell her that it likely wouldn't be the last time she was stood up ("Because guys do that sort of thing; ask your Mother.") but that didn't really help her mood.

16 January 2009

Are we there yet?

Sometimes, Friday can't come soon enough; sometimes, it just appears. Today, Friday was all up in my face starting at 6 a.m. and I really just wanted it to go away.

I woke up early, just close enough to my regular alarm-time that I couldn't go back to sleep. I got up and managed to get out of the house. Things were fine until I stood up to make my way to the door for my stop to transfer buses. The bus driver braked earlier than I was expecting and before I could grab hold so I ended up falling forward, hitting my knees hard. I was, however, able to keep my coffee mug upright so it wasn't completely tragic. I mumbled "Yes" to the "Are you OK?" queries, stood up, gave my right ankle a quick check and got off the bus. Later I realized that my right knee looked like coleslaw under my jeans.

At work it was just a bunch of little things but, at one point, I opened a door that turned out to be heavier than I was expecting and now I have a bruise on my right arm from the handle whacking me. Sigh. By early afternoon I was feeling tired, achey, and just generally miserable so I called it a day.

Tonight, Hubby will be watching BSG with the guys; I'm going to hang with Kiddo and maybe design some Barbie® dresses from some fabric remnants.

14 January 2009

Our province is so screwed.

If our esteemed leader had put the Winter Olympic bid to a province-wide vote, I am fairly certain it would have failed. Why? Because I know of no one who is deluded enough to think that any modern Olympics, now a bloated athletic circle-jerk run by crooks and cronies, can come in on-budget. And guess what? We are now hugely on the hook for cost-overruns for the Olympic Village (the overrun alone will cost nearly eight hundred thousand dollars per unit* by the time it's done -- are you effing kidding me?? You could buy 1100 otherwise empty condos on the Vancouver market right now for better value.)

When I say "we" I mean the province because the City of Vancouver has taken a page from the current corporate culture and stretched out its hand to government for a bailout. Harper is being all tough-love about it but Campbell will cave and we will all have to pay.

And if you think this is all Vancouver's problem, think again. The rocket scientists/flim-flam men running the Millennium Development Corporation that is behind the Olympic Village haven't been able to even begin construction on the other project bid they won -- a hotel complex adjacent to the new Nanaimo conference centre. The city council there has been trying to fine the corporation but in the meantime they are still screwed.

Meanwhile CBC is pointing out that two of the big sponsors for the Olympics are Nortel (which just filed for bankruptcy today) and General Motors (and I think we are all aware of how they're doing).

It's not just me crying foul:

Of course, part of this mess can be blamed on the current global economic situation but at the root of that is the very same thing that is at the root of the consistent cost overruns and scandals faced by both city and international Olympic committees: greed. There's a good reason it's one of the seven deadly sins.

*simple math: $875million overrun for 1,100 units.

If you want to show your disdain for the Olympic mess, how about a Vancouver 2011 bumper sticker? See the pile of rubble? Yeah.

11 January 2009

Celebration and organization.

Interesting (long) weekend. 

Friday was my first flex day of the year and I used the morning to pack up Christmas, at last. In the afternoon, I spent some time with my Mother-in-law. Later in the evening, we had friends over, doing some last-minute editing for what we would premiere Saturday.

Saturday morning we went out for a nice brunch at Floyd's Diner 2 after dropping bottles off for Kiddo's bottle drive then, on a whim, decided to renew our Costco membership. Then spend a chunk of cash on bulk buys (actually a third of the bill was for a variety of fresh, frozen and canned seafood). Saturday night, we celebrated a birthday -- this is the year when most of my friends hit 40 (and I will, too). To honour our friend, four of us conspired and conscripted many others to make a video (it's now on YouTube). It was well received (and I have to hand it to Hubby who managed to get the local morning show hosts to participate, albeit unknowingly).

Today started quiet and then I got a proverbial bee in my bonnet. By the time I was done whirling through the basement, I had cleared out or stowed about a dozen boxes, organized, and rearranged enough to be able to vacuum most of the carpet.

laundry_area_before laundry_area_after [365/09:11]

Now I'm settled in, watchching the largely surprise-free Golden Globe awards. Though I am now convinced I will have to see Slumdog Millionaire; I already watch the show that seems to be taking home all the awards, 30 Rock.

08 January 2009

Holding History

Today, I got a rare treat. I got to hold this early 17th century hinged book. Inside, it holds two texts: commentaries on the books of Ruth and Judges from 1609 and another set of commentaries by the same author on Kings, Chronicles and Samuel printed in 1617. The book is part of a collection which is housed in our library but is owned by the Catholic Diocese of Victoria.

My inner bookgeek and inner historygeek both got very excited seeing the book hinges still both in tact and the binding still flexible enough that the hinges can be used.

More photos:

latin hinge_closeup [365/09:8] hinges_closed

The full record can be found in our catalog. To give you an idea of the value, a volume by the same author bound in a similar manner in 1604 (but with only one hinge in tact) is listed on Abebooks for a little over four thousand dollars Canadian from a seller in Zurich.

So, yeah. Really our library is full of stuff like this -- most academic libraries are -- so when patrons used to come to the desk with a book published in 1898 insisting that it be placed in Special Collections we would tell them it wasn't old enough. This is old enough.

07 January 2009

Clean is Good.

Between being frugal and being green, there are many reasons to make your own household cleaners. In the past, I've done this in fits and starts but not any more! I decided to buy a set of spray bottles and a few other containers and create my own labels with the recipe printed right under the name of the cleaner! This means that when the cleaner runs low, it's easy to replenish.


If you want your own set of labels, you can download the template I made -- they are made to be printed on shipping labels (2"x4") in a pinch, you could print them on paper then cut them to size and use packing tape to affix them to your containers. (You could also just print out the list and tape it on the inside of the cupboard where you keep your supplies.)

Included in the set are labels and recipes for glass cleaner, all purpose spray, disinfectant spray, hardwood floor cleaner, furniture polish, air deodorizer, shower spray, mold and mildew spray, laundry soap and dry carpet cleaner.

Most of the recipes use easy-to-find natural cleaners. Some also include essential oil and one uses tea tree oil. A wee warning about the tea tree oil -- it is a strong smell that not everyone finds pleasant but I guarantee it will be preferable to the mold or mildew it is intended to combat!

05 January 2009

Of ice and men.

(Ooh, clever title, Cheryl! Yes, yes, very clever. Get on with the post.)

I think I have mentioned before that I am somewhat obsessed with the doomed Franklin Expedition and have been ever since photos of the frozen corpse of one of the sailors from that expedition were published in the mid-1980s.

Last time I was in the Wax Museum I took a photo of John Torrington (the aforementioned sailor) and it is one of my most-viewed photos thanks to Google and Yahoo searches:


At least I know I am not the only curious one out there. Late last summer the Canadian Government, through Parks Canada, launched a search for the sunken ships (as part of our claim to the Arctic lands). There's also a piece on PBS's Nova this week discussing the provisions carried for the men on the two ships and how those provisions doomed the expedition.

If you want to read more, there are good articles (student essays, really) on the Victorian Web and Mysteries of Canada websites or you could try to track down a copy of Frozen in Time: The Fate of the Franklin Expedition.

02 January 2009

Technology lives at our house.

It's pretty clear, we have a tech habit. I don't think it is possible to be more than 5 feet from an electronic device in this house -- even our fridge and stove contain "smart" electronic control panels. (Sometimes I worry about this, but we do have hand-crank lights and a radio plus we have the bbq outside on which we can cook when power is out.)

Anyway, this evening, I have been continuing to try and add content and apps to my iPod (more specifically, some video podcasts and an e-book reader application -- the e-books will come later) while Kiddo and Hubby are trying not to come to blows over LEGO Indiana Jones on the Wii.

Really, it's a pretty average and comfortable Friday night.

01 January 2009

Goals for the coming months...

Year-end/beginning seems to be an appropriate time to revisit my list of goals at 43things. As of this morning I am "doing" 19 things as you can see from the list above. Some are more do-able than others; the first four in the list are partly done or near done already... I just have to buckle down and finish them. Others are a little more vague and/or difficult but give me something concrete to consider when I am looking for a challenge.

Oh, and way down there at number 16 and 17 are the most challenging of all -- losing weight and getting fit. My "fit by 40" goal is going to be really tricky as I am pretty sure I can't do nearly enough in the next six months. We'll see.

What are you all doing this year?