Friday, December 9, 2005

whatever gets you through the night, is all right, it's all right

I remember December 8th, 1980. It is hard to believe it's been 25 years. It makes me feel old to think that. I remember our living room on Lascelles Blvd. I remember the white shag carpet, looking up to the mantle piece and leaning on the speaker (which was only a couple of feet high, but I wasn't that much taller in those days) listening to the CBC. The last thing I expected was to hear that John Lennon had been shot. I was shocked to my core. I think it was the first time I understood that violence can happen to good people. I was transfixed, listening to the radio. I started to cry and went to my room because, with the arrogance of a child, I thought my parents wouldn't understand that John Lennon's death was so upsetting. I failed to understand that they were of his generation and had grown up with him as part of their lives.

On the news last night, they quoted one of his biographers as saying he was no angel but had made people think about something other than themselves and that that was as good a legacy as one could hope to achieve.


Monday, December 5, 2005

A cautionary tale

OK. This is a true story. This morning, I'm having a Monday. I got up to go swimming but there was a frost so I rushed in to borrow the egg lifter (aka windscreen scraper). I went swimming (good girl) but had to stop for gas and this horrible old yuppie woman cut in front of my with her SUV even though I was clearly there before her and I had to wait for an available gas pump and then I was on the wrong side. I debated confronting her, but made do with quietly and good naturedly complaining to the kid behind the counter. I rushed off frantically to the post office, because now I was behind schedule. I grabbed the package and lept from the car, smashing the package's sharp corner into my nose. I ran into a cheerful and ditzy elderly woman (she didn't know if she was coming or going) in my haste- luckily she thought this was hysterically funny. Who rushes in Sidney? I rushed in- mercifully no line. Yet since there was no one behind the counter I had to wait. Then I realized that my wallet had fallen out of my purse, so the postal worker had to cancel the transaction, flinging the small post office into disarray (since her computer skills lack much to be desired). I rushed back to the car and got my wallet. Luckily, this is Sidney, and one can leave a wallet in an unlocked car for 5 minutes without having it stolen. I came back to the post office and there were ten people in line! The one computer still wasn't working because postal lady A didn't know how to cancel a transaction. I finally got to the front. Postal lady A gave up and I luckily got Postal lady B (finally a break).

I made it to work, luckily in time to get some (bad) coffee. Bad coffee is marginally better than no coffee.

I checked my email. I am currently having discussions with colleagues about the possibility of:
1) shipping 2.2 metric tonnes from Germany to the Yukon
2) doing a marine electromagnetic survey ON LAND in the arctic with said heavy equipment, in the summer when the land gets flooded, dragging a kilometer of cable, say either behind a caterpillar type truck or one of those boats with the big fans used in the Everglades. Any one got a hovercraft I could use?
3) alternatively, we do a land EM survey in the winter at 40 below. Electrical tape will freeze and cut like a razor. Nuts and bolts won't match since they will shrink. We might have to heat up the electronics to get them to work.

I can't decide which of the people involved in these preliminary plans is craziest. I'm having difficulty telling if they are kidding me. The scary part is that I'm the one trying to convince them we could do this arctic survey and the harder I push the more bizarre the ideas they throw at me. Am I the craziest?

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


So, I'm trying to swap my trip to San Fran next week into a trip to Amsterdam in April. Not that I don't like SF, which is a great city. Hehehe. Wish me luck!

Am I truly demented that I'm pleased I'll have more crafting time to finish xmas gifts rather than disappointed not to go to SF?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

what happened today?

Today: snow on the ground! Invitation to China! Invitation to K&D's wedding in Ann Arbor sooner than I expected. Encouragement to go to San Francisco before I go to Toronto and Montreal for the holidays. I just might do that. Invitation to go to Halifax next summer. Three meetings. Dozens of email. Several phone calls. Somehow I'm supposed to work too. Scheming to go to Arctic and Korea. Suddenly there's action... it's all very strange. Mucho politics. Of course, everything could go down the toilet depending on what happens after the election! The money might dry up. A lot of behind the scenes jockeying for funds. It's all very strange.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Lando Carisian

So Dimitri pointed out this morning that we are now apparently living in the Cloud City with Lando. It has been foggy since Friday and we have about 25 m visibility. There is a white wall where the ocean used to be. As in the driving rain, to drive my car, I need to employ the brake lights of the car in front of me for navigation. The other day I sort of got lost on the 500 m walk home. I mean, I knew I was on the road and I was between work and home, but that's it. I had no precise knowledge of my whereabouts. It's creepy.

Wednesday, November 2, 2005


The mushroom season apparently begins immediately after Halloween. The next morning they had sprouted everywhere. Along my short walk to work there are trails of mushrooms varying in size from my smallest fingertip to a dinner plate. The caps vary in texture from fibrous and leafy to spongecake. Some are flat and some are domed and some are even concave. Some are round and some are irregular organic shapes. Colours range from beige, tan, chocolate, to tangerine through scarlet. Some form randomly and some in little fairy trails. Some I recognize from childhood hikes with my naturalist aunt, but most are foreign to me. I don't recall mushrooms in Ontario looking like the illustrations in children's fairytale books. I'd would like to know more. An industrious colleague goes on mushroom gathering walks to make gourmet meals. Less innocent friends know how to gather them for other purposes. Are they dangerous? Do I have to watch where I walk least I track psychotropic chemicals on my shoes? By 6:00 pm when I walk home, it is quite dark. There are no streetlights here, except at intersections. I carry little turtle-shaped LEDs, but that's really not sufficient. I'll have to get the BIG flash light out already. Mainly I worry about falling in the ditch or turning my ankle.

Today I went swimming before work and began to tackle the gravity data. Maybe as a treat for ceasing to procrastinate on both issues, I'll go home early. :) If I'm lucky, the awaited Halloween package will finally be there.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween

I hope you all have a great Halloween and get some fabulous little trick-or-treaters tonight. Last year we did not get a single kid, so maybe this year, we'll go for a walk in town so we can see them in their costumes.

On Saturday I got up at about 7:40 to make it to the paper-making workshop. I managed to get out of the house with plenty of time to drive to Metchosin. Fortified by coffee, I actually felt pretty good about being up that early, since I was able to do something, when I would normally be sleeping. Unfortunately, I pulled the usual silly scientist trick of merely scanning the instructions from MapQuest, and assuming I knew where I was going, which I did not. It turns out there are two different "Burnside" roads within a couple of km. I drove up and down the wrong one and realized I wasn't going to figure this out on my own. So I stopped at a 7-11/gas station and asked the woman behind the counter for help. She looked at me like I was crazy and got out a street directory which she did not appear to know how to use. She turned to help the next customer behind me in line and he asked what I was looking for. I turned around and said, "Sooke Road" and he said "Oh, hey, how are you?" since he was John the medic on the Tully who sent me off for stitches this summer and got to take them out gleefully (they rarely get any interesting injuries to treat apparently) mid-cruise! He drew me a map.

I got there 20 minutes late, but that was okay. The teacher was a wonderfully calm, Buddhist artist with a huge studio in the country. There were 5 other students- a local mother-daughter set, two students from the international Pearson College (alma mater of our former housemate Maria), and a women from Brentwood. No one had come as far as I. We made cotton and abacca paper first. We got to try different sized frames and deckles. After lunch we could basically try whatever struck our fancy. I had fun working with a mixture of 7 types of fibres and found paper inclusions. I even found a Bathurst streetcar transfer to include to remind me of home. I think the results will be quite something. Others focused on lamination or combining different types of pulp in a single sheet. It was interesting to see what attracted different people and the paper that was made. We cleaned up at 3:00 and then discussed what we had made. The teacher said I appeared quite patient and that I knew exactly what I wanted. I'm always surprised when someone tells me I'm patient since I feel impatient, but I do generally have a good idea of what I'm trying to create. I can't wait to see the finished products.

I was hoping to go back to Metchosin to pick up my dried paper yesterday, but no such luck. I took Di downtown when I went to tour the drill ship. Luckily Sam reminded us about the time change, so I wasn't an hour early, like my colleague B. Another colleague T. admitted that he had arrived a WEEK early, since he mixed up the dates. This made me feel better about playing the silly scientist's idiot navigation game the previous day. Unfortunately, the tour was 1.5 hours, rather than 20 minutes as advertised. So I was quite late meeting Di. Then I rushed to catch the last minutes of annual Halloween super arts supply sale. Di had convinced the landgirl to store the unwanted bed in his mini-studio elsewhere. It blocked much of the room, but was used as a place to stack vinyl records. Thus to complete his studio transformation he needed some more furnishings to store records and stack electronic recording devices of various sorts. Sam and Di and I braved Value Village in the height of the pre-Halloween buying frenzy. I spotted a great piece of furniture, clearly designed for records and record player, for $20. Along with a $12 cabinet, we were set. Except, of course, it did not fit in the trunk or the backseat, and it was already dark at 5:00 pm, and of course, it was raining, again. So after much exertion and discussion, I got the guys to shove it as far as it would go into the trunk and used my handy rope tying skills to tie the trunk down. We dropped off Sam and headed carefully back up the peninsula. I had to explain the concept of the blind spot and enlist Di's help, but we managed fine and it did not get too wet.

We went home, moved all the vinyl out yet again (as previously to remove the bed) so that the furniture could be moved in. Then we had to move the records back into the room. Then we watched "Grand Hotel" on DVD. We bought it and you should too. It's awesome. It stars Lionel and John Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Greta Garbo, Wallace Stevens, need I go on? I cried, again.

I put up all the Halloween ornaments I made. Di said the glow-in-the-dark skeleton hanging from the light fixture in the kitchen keeps freaking him out. But that's rather the point isn't it?

Overall, quite the weekend.

Friday, October 7, 2005


So I am a bit bewildered. How did it get to be Thanksgiving? I think we must have skipped a month while I wasn't looking. So, I have a plan. Two years ago, my mom came to visit and give me the "how to prepare a turkey" lesson. We had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner, she flew home and Di and I were stuck with many remaining pounds of bird. Eventually, I started to harass all guests to the house and demand that they help eat the turkey whether they wanted to or not. This was not a good thing. Last year, Di and I had prawns provencal. Not very traditional, but we enjoyed it. However, we eat that a lot, especially since meeting the new upstairs neighbour with the prawn traps. My plan this year is a compromise: special poultry dinner but not to drag on for days- we bought a cornish game hen. :) Just right for the two of us for one meal. Plus we can have some local squash. I got a spaghetti squash. I was driving down the road and there was a sign, "Free squash"- one of the benefits of living in the middle of nowhere. [Aside: I will always remember the time that J&T asked about preparing spaghetti squash and I explained that it is nice to cut 'em in half, add some butter and SPRINKLE with brown sugar, wrap in tin foil and bake in oven. Somehow, this was an instance of broken telephone, since was ensued was a squash with the entire empty depression in the middle FILLED with brown sugar for some scary sweet squash soup! Ick! Almost as bad as the hyper-vanilla "Pleasure Dome" for a lesson on how there can be too much of a good thing.]

I must confess there is another motive for my merely semi-tradition Thanksgiving. Every day I walk to work past the WH stables. In the late summer/early fall, they raise not only horses, but turkey. Seeing these turkey, even these one living the good life of a free range bird, has made me reluctant to eat one. I was never the city girl who thought food originated at the grocery store, but I do find it different when I am acquainted with the birds most likely to show up at the local store. I mean the poor things are so colossally stupid, it seems like taking advantage of them, or eating Weirdo the local mentally deficient cat [I suppose Weirdo has a real name, but I dubbed her Weirdo and it stuck]. One day I was walking home and a large number of them had escaped through a small hole in the fence. They were milling around on the road and by the fence in a senseless manner. I tried to gently chase them back into the field and panic ensued. They ran around like the proverbial chickens with their heads chopped off, running into things (mainly the fence which would hit them at neck level and they would fall over). After a couple of minutes of this, and utterly failing to catch one (since I now know how to catch a chicken*, I thought maybe I could catch a turkey), I decided I was doing more harm than good, so I continued home and looked up the stable in the phone book and left them a message about their wayward turkeys.

I hope everyone has a lovely long weekend and that it does not RAIN. Today here it is not grey, which is a nice surprise. Enjoy your meals and I hope you don't overdose on turkey (nor let my squeamishness hinder your enjoyment- you are not likely to be acquainted with your dinners after all). Happy thanksgiving.

*footnote: Chicken catching story- 1.5 years ago I was sitting at my breakfast table looking out the window across the field. I saw something russet moving in the bushes and like a good Ontario girl I thought, 'oh, it's a fox' but Di said there are no foxes on the Island. This claim made sense because if there were foxes (apparently weaker swimmers than wolves) on the Island, we would not be beset with thousands of bunny rabbits [Rabbits are a real problem here. The yard in front of the hospital is so riddled with rabbit holes that people get injured attempting to enter the building and falling down rabbit holes]. So, I put on my glasses. Not only was it not a fox, it would consider a fox its enemy- it was a chicken! What was a chicken doing in the bushes? It was caught and talking to itself in a consternated manner. I coaxed it out of the bushes and tried to convince it... yes, I'm not kidding... to cross the road- to go to the house that sold eggs, since that stuck me as its most likely home. Di wanted to take pictures. The bird made sounds that seemed to say, "oh, I don't know about this... I don't think I'm supposed to be here..." Every time I tried to pick it up, it would flap and struggle away. Then our friend (bassist and worker on a chicken farm) rode by on his bike. Within 30 s he had the chicken by the feet, holding it upside down, crossed the road and returned it to its home. Quite the adventure for a city girl on a Saturday morn.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

and another thing...

and all my documents have moved around since MS is evil and can't move an network profile onto a new machine (I mean really! UNIX has been doing that for years and years! so pathetic really...) and ghostview is gone sigh! how many times does a girl have to download Ghostscript? this is ridiculous... and I've been working so that I could give the boss a draft of my paper before skipping off for three days of looking like my avatar minouette (sans the jaunty hat... I'm sick... there will be no hats... just the curling up in a little ball on top of pillows) and he's gone! For a 3 day weekend no less. And! M. sends an urgent message from sea about requiring cadmium nitrate to be sent by helicopter... argh. I'm not going to deal with this ... I'm gonna pass the buck. Yeah.

the greyness decends

Oh... well I guess the rainy season has begun. My mom always complained that there was no spring in T.O. There is spring in Toronto, but it's 2 days mysteriously in January, 7 in March, 10 in April and then, mid-May it's suddenly summer. On the prairie, where she grew up, there were four equal seasons. Out here in lalaland, I have come to understand the beauty of a spring that unfolds. Here, we get crocuses in late-January, followed by cheery blossoms in February, followed by apple blossoms in March (and assorted other lovelies, sequentially). Likewise, summer unfolds. So it seems like the seasons are more equal on that level, but really, it's just that spring and summer are more gradual. Really the seasons here are spring, summer, and GREY. GREY has begun. Since spring and summer are, essentially, next-to-perfect, no one really cares that we are stuck in greyness until the new year. Even I can't really feel sorry for myself. The trees do turn colour, and some pretty spectacular and multifarious I-thought-those-only-appeared-in-children's-fairytale-books style mushrooms pop up spontaneously, so there is a hint of fall. But the main feature is the wet, rainy, greyness. It's liable to be overcast for 3 months now. My colleague's mother tried to retire here, from northern Saskatchewan. Apparently she hated GREY so much she would cross off grey days on the calendar. When she got 40 grey days in a row, she moved back to Saskatchewan. That's a pretty strong statement. My grandfather had stories of his childhood in Saskatchewan, like the time the HORSE FROZE SOLID. I don't think he made that up either. So, think about it: this lady would rather have 40 below and blue skies than 10 degrees and GREY. I almost understand. I miss the fall in southern Ontario! In the winter, I actually miss snow (though we strangely had much snow last year) and definitely miss the clear blue skies.

One last thought about Saskatchewan. My officemate M informs me that he and his buddies were on a US roadtrip and his friend needed a passport to buy a drink in Arkansas, because the barman insisted his driver's license was fake, because, "There's no such place as Saskatchewan." I can sympathize, because how many Canucks can even spell Saskatchewan and claiming that it's a giant rectangle in the middle of the country is unlikely to be convincing. However, there's added irony here, since the barman was from a place called "Arkansas" mysteriously pronounced "arc-and-saw"... I mean, give me a break.

This wasn't even what I meant to post at all.

Poor cold-addled brain. I seem to have finally got the evil cold Di brought home from F&L's cutie pie kids/walking germballs, especially N, the monkeybaby.

Yeah, I just wanted to complain about having a cold, and maybe mention the rain and the new computer weirdness. I got this new computer at work and now, webpages don't update unless you press refresh. So I posted the giant pink bunny thread and wanted to post something else and I couldn't figure out why LJ kept telling me "update successful" instead of offering me a chance to write more. I can't believe this took me a week to figure out. I'll blame the cold.

I think it's just about time to walk home and snuggle with the cats for three days. Happy weekend folks.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Dr Bongosnat!


My friend Jill has survived living the epic novel known as her doctoral thesis (which she commonly described as the "sh!t sandwich"). No more continents uplifting to Mars! No more tuition! I'm not sure if the "sh!t sandwich" refers to writing the thesis itself, the miasma of PhD committee politics or is a vivid yet crude metaphor for the viscous layer in her geodynamic models of basin formation. Jill is a fabulous, funny, caring, sensitive person, with tremendous mathematical ability, a tendancy towards seasickness (good thing she's a theorist), more patience than she even recognizes, a soft heart for teaching students (aka "punks", "binkstugs", etc.) and a very interesting relationship with words. ;) Jill can spell words much much more accurately and quickly than I and has a huge vocabulary but an incredibly amusing aptitude for spoonerisms and coining new and bizarre, yet strangely intuitive words. My personal favorite (in honour of her Ph.D.) is:
"I'm turd even though I have a chordle-neck on"
I will always remember this because of the way she steadfastly continued to attempt to say how cold she was even wearing the turtleneck, despite my uncontrollable laughter. She writes that she is apparently the only PhD candidate known to have used the words "pac-man", "splot" and "scrunch" during a defense.

I was doomed to meet Jill. She went to school in Ottawa with Julia, did her undergrad and then graduate work in Toronto with me, her father worked with my brother doing geology in the middle of nowhere (midway between Thunder Bay and Winnipeg) and he also became a client of my Dad's, which seems one coincidence too many. Plus, we both have brothers named Jordie. I know we will always be friends since our friendship survived the cruise-from-hell. I miss working with her and always having a good friend just down the hall! I'm very proud and happy for her today. Woohoo! Way to go!

I hope this encourages others toiling with their theses. Hmm... that suggests another possible origin for the "sh!t sandwich" ..

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

it's a boy-cat!

Omigoodness... Whitey's a he. How we failed to perceive this over the last year is beyond me. I thought he was TC-shaped. But he's really fluffy and the anatomy is disguised. He's neutered. So Minny did choose a boyfriend. Explains a lot. Um... anyway, his nail was broken off, but is not infected. He's lucky. We have to wash it in an iodine like fluid twice a day, during which he screams bloody murder, and he is not allowed out of the house for a few days. The vet heard that we had basically rescued this neglected, abandoned, outdoor cat (by "we", I actually mean Di did, and I put up with it, since I did not want another cat, since I'm allergic to cats and he leaves white hair everywhere!) she gave him his shots and the toe-washing stuff all for the price of a single visit (without any extra charges for shots and the like).

And that's my revelation for the day.