Tuesday, February 28, 2006

100th Blog Entry

It took me almost a year to write one hundred entries in my blog, but here I am. Still no focus, still just rambling about what's been going on in my life - just the way I like it, actually.

Speaking of what is going on in my life, look at the pretty picture in today's post. Note the bright vertical lines. There are also some dark horizontal ones. Yes, that's right, I broke the LCD panel on our little iBook.

So naturally I would be upset about this. But there wasn't really much point in freaking out since the damage was already done. I was pretty discouraged though, and my wife noticed. Sometimes it amazes me how she is able to do exactly the right thing in certain situations. Once I had determined that damage to the iBook was limited to the LCD panel and the power cable, she was quick to search ebay to find a suitable replacement panel. So now it looks like the damage can be repaired (by me) for much less than I was expecting. But it doesn't stop there. Even though her back was sore, she decided to bake up a bunch of things like cookies etc. Then, she did the dishes and cleaned the kitchen (normally my chore) before I came home so I wouldn't be faced with a mess on arriving home. Hon, I know you put the extra effort in yesterday because I was feeling low - I really appreciated it and wanted to say so here. When times are tough, you are the one person I want in my corner.

Now as for the iBook, let me just say this is our first laptop and as such we have not exactly been kind to it. I can't count the number of times it has been knocked off the table by the pets tripping on the ethernet chord alone. And every time it happened, I would wince and have this horrified look on my face that made my wife wish we never got a laptop. Yet here we are. I guess we will just have to figure out a way to prevent the laptop from falling off the end table. I'll use C-clamps if I have to. heh.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

No picture for you.

Bleh. it's snowing again and I'm tired of photographing the neighbor's backyard to show it. Besides, as it turns out, the house next to the office had a grow-op in it. Someone broke into the house, and then someone from our office called the cops. The cops entered and discovered it. Then they parked an unmarked-but-obviously-a-cop car across the street while they waited for a warrant.

They were there to make sure nobody came in to clear out the pot gear before they got their warrant.

That's about all I know about it though. The whole thing could have happened without me ever knowing, if not for office gossip. Oh yeah - I think the gossip spread beyond the office, because this morning there was another broken window in front of the reception desk. My guess is the alledged pot-grower was upset.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


So the place I work was giving out more free hockey tickets to the local team, and I managed to get a pair. It's usually a fun night out, even though the home team doesn't usually win (at least when I attend) and even though it is usually pretty cold outside.

It also meant we would be taking the Jeep to get there - luckily, no incidents to report with that.

Trivia note: our local arena is the same one that was used to film Making the Cut - the hockey reality show from 2004. It's really quite a nice arena.

Once again we were seated a few rows back from the benches, and once again we were afflicted with the stinky player stench. I didn't bother to post any shots of the stink lines this time though. Probably because I am a little stuffed up these days, so I wasn't smelling things as strongly as usual.

I also find that it's harder work to watch a hockey game in person. TV has spoiled me with instant replay and multi-angle analysis. It seemed every time I looked away, or followed the puck, I would miss some other interesting part of the game. Oh yeah, no real fights to report in this game either. I would have had to run down to ice-level to get some good pictures if one did.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The kindness of strangers

So last night after work, we headed out to do some grocery shopping. This meant using the Jeep, which is always an adventure to say the least. We got a lot done, but when pulling into the parking lot of one grocery store, I was stopped by a complete stranger who wanted to tell me that my headlight was out.

I thanked him and prepared to continue into the store, but he then offered to give me a headlamp. As it turns out, he recently replaced his with a new set and happened to have a spare working lamp, so it's not like he was offering me something new. But still, I thought it was a very nice offer and thanked him for his generosity. It was too cold to attempt installing it right then and there, as we have all that arctic air blowing through town right now. I'd rather do it in sunshine on Saturday.

Running errands in the old Jeep last night reminded me of how upset I was over blowing the engine. I was just getting used to this vehicle and starting to enjoy driving it when the engine trouble hit. At some point we will have to get a newer vehicle to replace it but that is always filled with compromise as I never seem to be able to spend enough to get what I really want.

What would I want, you ask? Well take a look at the Jeep pictured here. It's clearly not mine. You can tell because it's all shiney and new. I really like the Jeep TJ (or Wrangler, in the US) and would be happy with just about any of them, ideally with a standard transmission and air conditioning. I'm not saying the TJ is the only thing I would like to drive, but it's a fun rig.

I honestly don't mind riding the bus to work. But damn, I miss driving my Jeep.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Sloppy Sushi leaves no room for Sloppy Seconds

So last night I decided to embark on a new adventure. Without assistance from my wife (who is a master chef in her own right, at least according to me) I decided to make sushi for the two of us.

During the process, I learned a few things and was reminded of a few more.

First, I learned that if you use quality ingredients, even a novice can make tasty sushi. At first I was worried about screwing up dinner and being left with nothing to eat. No such problems, my friend!

Next I learned how important the rice is. When I started asking around about sushi prep, EVERYBODY kept stressing this point. So many horror stories. So many good tips too - like keep a little extra rice wine vinegar to dip your fingers in when working the rice. It helps to prevent the rice from sticking to you. I'm sure that some of you are saying 'well yeah, of course!' but for me, this tip was the difference between eating a sushi roll, or eating a pile of rice and fish on a seaweed wrapper. Here is the recipie I used for the rice, and as you can see in the picture, my first rolls were made with too much rice. Still tasty though.

I must have asked a hundred questions about the fish. I already knew (roughly) what kinds I wanted, but wasn't sure on how to properly thaw it out, or of any special technique for cutting it. Luckily for me, the guy I bought the fish from was super helpful and gave me all the answers I would need. Memo to self: our kitchen knives really do need sharpening.

Best of all, my wife was pleased to not only get some sushi, but to also have a night off from cooking. Well that, and she was thoroughly entertained by watching me prep the food.

Sushi on Valentine's day is starting to become something of a tradition for us. It's partly because Sophie's birthday is on that day, and we indulge the pets with a little taste of the raw fish as a birthday treat. Sorry, we were planning on taking pictures but some of the pets were so quick at eating the food that there was no time to get the camera ready. I won't mention any names.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day from the Trip

Happy Valentine's day to all of you who have wasted your time here at one point or another. More importantly, Happy Valentine's day to my wife - you have stuck with me through good times and bad and I honestly don't know how I could live without you anymore.

Yeah, it's mushy - what of it? Valentine's day is a special day where guys make fools of themselves for their women and I'm just following with tradition. Lots of guys complain about this but I don't. To be honest, I like having an annual reminder to recognize my significant other - without it I might go too long without doing something to show her how much I appreciate all that she does. Anniversaries are good that way too. So as for Valentine's day I say bring it on. Yeah, there is pressure, and yeah, failure can be catastrophic. But we as men signed on for this. Back when we were dating our wives, we would do backflips for them. Valentine's day serves as a last measure to prevent the worst of us from being a total writeoff by forcing us to actually acknowledge our love for another. For the best of us, it's cause for celebration. I'm hoping I at least fall somewhere in between the two.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Hypocrites, Blasphemers and Cartoons

I'm breaking this post into global and local topics, starting locally.

Local issues:
Stephen Harper (our latest Prime Minister) has barely been sworn into office. What does he do first? He announces his new cabinet of Ministers. No big deal you think, this is normal stuff. But wait - David Emerson, who ran as a Liberal just two weeks ago and won with an overwhelming majority changes teams to be the Conservative Trade Minister. I honestly would not care about this so much if Harper had reacted differently to Belinda Stronach's defection just last year. If it was clearly not okay for Belinda to defect, why is it suddenly okay now for David?

Stephen Harper, your actions portray you as a political hypocrite. I won't even get into the whole issue of appointing someone who wasn't even elected to be Minister of Public Works and Government Services. We are off to a spectacularly bad start. So much for electing a more accountable government. I've already lost confidence in this minority government. Can we get a motion?

Global Issue:
I'd continue this rant, but I also wanted to mention the first sane article I have seen that discusses the Danish anti-Muslim cartoons. I applaud the Times for taking the stand they did. Muslims the world over have been offended by these cartoons, and for what purpose? To highlight the difficulty experienced by Danish writer Kåre Bluitgen in finding artists to illustrate his children's book about Muhammad. So now an Iran newspaper has decided to hold a contest of their own to test this 'free speech' in Europe to find a dozen holocaust cartoons. Which I suppose, is better than burning down buildings or killing folks.

So in the spirit of today's news, I commissioned a political cartoon of my own, to express what I feel about our newly elected government's actions. While I got exactly what I described from the artist, I was surprised at how conflicted I felt on seeing it. My initial reaction was to laugh, because I did find it funny. But it is funny only because I feel it is true and that there is comedy in misery. At the same time I also find it somewhat offensive to my sense of national pride. Lucky for me I decided not to make fun of my religious beliefs today. I can only imagine how much worse that would have made me feel.

Which is my main point, I guess. I can see how upsetting these cartoons would be to Muslims. I get it - I would hate to be painted with the same brush used on terrorists motivated by my religion. What I do not get is the violence - I can't sympathise with Muslims who feel justified in physically harming others. The cartoon contest, well I don't know. If it's good for the Danes, it should be good for the Muslims - it's just disappointing that they would be willing to stoop to that level. And let me be clear: the Danish cartoons stooped to a new level of low. I have not put the images on my site because I do not approve in the slightest. They were mean spirited and I feel they were designed to incite hatred toward Muslims. And that's an opinion I'm not comfortable with, even though I myself am not a follower of Islam. Free Speech means the racists and assholes of the world have a voice and this can be a problem for some when they spout heresy or offer contrarian opinions. It also tests our resolve toward being tolerant toward those who oppose us. What it does not do is excuse us from the rules of civil conduct. Slander is still slander and offense is still taken from insults. We still have to play nice with our neighbors.

So without further preamble, here is my cartoon:

Monday, February 06, 2006

Vernon Winter Carnival

Every year Vernon has a winter carnival. I know this because every year a bunch of hot air balloons fly into town and descend into one of our parking lots. This happened on Friday. Also every year, there is a parade through town. That happened sometime this weekend, Saturday I think. I didn't go because I have a library book due back today and I was trying to finish reading it first. It didn't help that the book reads like a text book. I was falling asleep quite regularly and ended up moving to the dining room table just to push through it.

Of course, this also means I missed the Superbowl. Well, in all honesty we did turn on the TV to keep tabs on it once in a while, but like most football games it progressed way to slowly to capture my interest. I was way more distracted from my book when The Family Guy came on afterwards.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Report from the doctor

My doctor's appointment was today. This was to follow up on the tests and lab work that was done earlier and enough time had passed that I was feeling pretty confident that he would have nothing but good news. (Remember, if it was bad news, they said I would have heard from them pretty quick.) As usual, the doctor was running behind and my appointment was about 20 minutes late. I say 'as usual' because my experience with doctors is that the good ones are always busy. I'm not suggesting that this doctor is always running late, since this was my first office visit with him. But I digress.

The results of my EKG and blood work are as follows: my good cholesterol levels are good, my bad cholesterol levels are good, my heart rate while exercising is healthy and it's also good while at rest. Physically, the symptoms I report are not consistent with heart disease, which means any chest pains I experience are probably a direct result of stress and not indicative of heart problems. To be on the safe side he is going to schedule another test - an ultrasound or x-ray of my chest just to be sure. But the doctor honestly does not expect to find anything wrong with my heart with this test and is doing it mostly just to be complete. (God bless negligence laws.)

We talked about what else it could be, including things like acid reflux and a few other related conditions. He doesn't think it's acid reflux per se, but wasn't going to say that definitively. Stress seems to be the biggest trigger, so that's the most probable direction for this to go in.

As it turns out, this doctor spent some time in Halifax, so he was interested to learn where I grew up and if I spent time at the Thirsty Duck pub. (I had - lots of time spent, actually.) Overall he asked me a lot of questions and answered all of mine. My only regret is not being diagnosed in Halifax - we could have gone out to the pub after the appointment!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

New tool to use with Flickr - SPELL

ITRrisign - euro car parksno ParkingNOLA alphabet EOne Letter / D
So I stumbled across a handy little flickr tool, which gave me the above series of photos. You can enter in your own text and get associated flickr images for each letter. It's random, so if you don't like the first selection, feel free to do it again.

I'm sure some genius is going to figure out how to insert this into my banner so that it's different every time the page is loaded. Yes, I would be indebted to such a person, and yes, I'm too lazy to spend much time figuring it out on my own.

So thanks to the Jeep's unilateral decision to blow a piston, I'm now commuting to work by bus. Which I thought I would really hate, but as it turns out I don't really mind at all. Although I must remember to bring my headphones so I can at least listen to music during my travels. While the bus schedule around here is good for me going to work, the last run stops at about 6:00 PM, which is really early in my opinion. At least I can get a monthly pass instead of paying $2.00 per trip.