Month: April 2008

Pushing through

plants growing through asphalt

This has been making me smile recently. On my way in to work, either walking from home or in the hike in from the parking lot, I traverse a small back street. In addition to the ignominy of not being a main thoroughfare, this street doesn’t have houses on it, just the back of an apartment complex.

So this street gets ignored, and it shows. The street surface is a mess, and the sidewalk was even worse. However, the apartment building residents are seniors, and for a number of them, exercise equals a stroll around the block. The heaved slabs and crumbling concrete of the sidewalk was dangerous for them.

Last fall a city crew came out and resurfaced the sidewalk. They laid asphalt and rolled it, then came back a week or so later and repeated the process. Voila, smoother, safer sidewalk surface.

Except they didn’t clean off the old sidewalk terribly well before resurfacing, it would seem. This spring, once things started to warm up, in assorted spots on the sidewalk, tiny heaves kept appearing, and within a few days, the bits of asphalt would fall back to reveal… weeds. Some grass, mostly dandelions, all less than an inch tall.

There are dozens of these spots along that one-block stretch of sidewalk. In some places, the plants would have had to grow/break through a couple of inches of asphalt. (Not to mention surviving the heat and toxicity of it being laid down in the first place.)

It gives me a small amount of hope. Mother Nature is still there, waiting. And given a chance, or given the need, she can find it pretty damned easy to push us aside.

Assorted pictures

A few spring walkabout photos:

The “falls” at the end of Silver Lake between the Grist Mill and Clay and Glass Gallery.

Erb Grist Mill falls

The remains of some chalk art on the dock in the lake.

dock shroom

dock flower

A tulip out front of my building. I love when they’re so red you can barely delineate the petals.

red tulip

And, as a bonus, here is my niece giving Piglet a kiss. (It’s still a bit bigger than she is.) She looks like she’s biting it on the face, but that’s because all her kisses are given with a big, round, open mouth. (She’ll learn…) Unfortunately, what’s not captured on film is the moment shortly after when she grabbed Piglet by the forehead and started kicking him in the ‘nads. I’m sure he deserved it…

Cadence kisses Piglet

I am so hardcore.

Around mid-March, I started feeling fairly pleased with myself for surviving the winter without getting sick. Mind you, it was still winter, but hell, after six months, some days you need a bit of delusion to get you by, you know?

Of course, the powers that be sprang forth with their sense of humour and promptly gave me a cold. Har har. So that was a couple weeks of fun. And the congestion never entirely went away, which means my nasal membranes have been largely shredded since. (“The doctor said I wouldn’t have so many nose bleeds if I kept my finger outta there…” Huh. Apparently there is an appropriate situation for that quote!)

Oh, and then I got conjunctivitis (pink eye). Haven’t had that since I was a kid. Charming!

So we got that cleared up in a few days… And then I got a sore throat. I mean, honestly. And basically it was one moderately sore tonsil, which happens sometimes, and clears itself up in a couple days. This stuck around for a week, then switched to the other tonsil for a week or so. Then everything just sort of mildly to moderately ached. However, I was at least three weeks in by this point, and so I figured it was time to get it checked out.

Of course, I haven’t seen my doctor for any of these woes, because she remains on leave recuperating from a knee reconstruction she apparently brought on herself with a skiing accident. So I’ve gotten to meet the other doctors in the practice. Some are better than others…

The doc I had for the throat appointment seemed profoundly bored, vaguely annoyed at my existence, and of the opinion that I was the dumbest organism alive. Yes, I have had a sore throat for three weeks. No, it hasn’t spread. No, no major congestion, fever, or swollen lymph nodes. And I really like to avoid antibiotics when I can.

Anyway, so we ended up agreeing that it didn’t sound like strep (I never got particularly sick, and typically you get sick as a dog, with those symptoms I listed above). And he didn’t prescribe “just in case” antibiotics, but he did take a throat swab and said the culture would tell them in 24 hours if it was strep or not. If it was they’d call me and call a prescription in to my pharmacy. That was Monday morning.

Didn’t hear from them the next day, or any day since. Amusingly, I also started feeling a lot better the next day, and within two days, all pain and swelling had pretty much departed, leaving me to wonder if a lot of it hadn’t been psychosomatic for some reason.

Except then this afternoon (Friday) around 5:15 my phone rang. It was the doctor’s office. I do, in fact, have strep. Huh. I told the nurse that, ironically, I was feeling fine. She insisted I needed meds, so I gave her my pharmacy’s info and they called in the prescription, which I picked up an hour or so later on returning from a walk.

What’s kinda funny is that I thought I had lost my robustness mojo. Cold followed by pink eye followed by strep — and I’m supposed to be the one who never gets sick. (Andrew’s supposed to be riddled with pestilence!) I thought, too, that I had started developing allergies (which is still possible). HOWEVER! Where most people fall vanquished from a strep infection, I was only mildly irritated for a few weeks. Grr! (Needless to say next sore throat is getting checked out sooner. Can you tell I’ve not had very many of them?)

So… yeah. I’ll be feeling… even more fine in 10 days. Go me. Oh, and If I’ve made out with you in the last month or so? Umm… sorry.

A better idea

As anyone who’s worked in tech, knows someone in tech, or has attended a tech-related conference knows, the industry is awash in schwag. The volume and ridiculousness of said schwag varies, depending on what we’re being told the current economic outlook is, but in general: schwagolicious.

(The schwag is particularly useful if you are of dwarven or colossal proportions, since those are the only sizes of one-size-fits-all t-shirts and golf shirts that seem to exist. But I digress…)

As I mentioned once before, I fail to grok why anyone would want more of this stuff. Fortunately, I am apparently not alone.

Enter… Schwaggin’ Wagon. These folks have embarked on a mission to collect unwanted schwag (the hats and t-shirts, anyway), and donate them to charitable causes. Good stuff.

Because really, how many gardening or painting clothes do you really need?

Now, if someone could just explain this concept of “waste not” to the Toronto International Film Festival and SXSW

(Link courtesy of Dan.)

The Fountain of Youth is 100% cotton

I got carded buying wine last night. Took my bottles up to the counter and the girl (mid-20s at most) gave me the “CanIseeyourIDplease” spiel. I giggled aloud. 🙂

I handed her my licence and her eyebrows went up, “I never would have guessed!” (That you are actually an ancient hag…) Then I explained that it was because I was wearing a bandanna. I always get carded if I have one of those or a hat on. She said it was just because I have a young face.

Right, which is why I got into bars at 15…

Needless to say, I was greatly amused. This is only about the sixth time ever that’s it’s happened. (And I was never carded before my mid-20s.)

I wonder if my brother still gets nailed with it. (He would still get carded pretty much every time he tried to buy booze well past his 30th birthday.) Of course, now he can bring the baby to the LCBO as an age-accentuating accessory. 🙂

Use your braaaaaaaaains!

Last evening’s film feature was another Andrew special. A cinematic gem he discovered whilst media shopping with his cousin on the weekend… Flight of the Living Dead: Outbreak on a Plane. I’d call it a dual homage, but with those production values, we’re talkin’ serious rip-off action. 🙂

Fortunately, this film was excellently bad enough to encourage much audience interaction, and not just me sobbing and slamming my head against Andrew’s knee in an effort to knock myself blessedly unconscious.

And so, as a service to humanity, I would like to present lessons we can all take to heart, which are readily available by watching FotLD: OoaP.

  1. If you are one day away from retirement, you are going to die. (Note: when this exposition takes place, the audience is compelled to shake their fists at the sky and holler “Mendozaaaaaaaa!” If you do not know what this means, I don’t want to be your friend.)
  2. If you are black, you are going to die. (Kind of a redshirt thing.) However, astute bad movie goers among us may have noticed a trend the last while that black people (males particularly), now die much later on in movies, and generally in at least a semi-heroic fashion. We commend them for this heartening evolution in cinematic stereotyping.
  3. If you are a bitchy ‘ho, you are going to die. ‘Nuff said.
  4. If you are an asshat jock, you are going to die. (Especially if you’re diddling someone else’s bitchy ‘ho girlfriend.) More importantly, you are going to die in a non-manly, near-throw-away fashion, which is as much as you deserve, brah.
  5. Zombies have taken a page from corporate HR: hot women make the best recruiters. In this case, hot stewardesses in short skirts have the highest body counts. We applaud female achievers.
  6. If you are a serious, business-like stewardess with tasteful makeup and a ponytail, you will live. If you are a slutty, fun-loving stewardess, you are going to die.
  7. By the end of the movie the serious, business-like stewardess’ skirt will somehow be shorter, and her hair will be loose and playfully touselled. This appears to be so the cop will want to save her.
  8. If you are a criminal, you probably, nonetheless, have a heart of gold (though you can’t shoot for shit). And you are not only capable of embezzling tens of millions of dollars, you can also dispatch zombies with aplomb AND fly a 747. Mark my words, ladies, cons are the 21st century’s renaissance men…
  9. It is amazingly easy to knock a cop unconscious (turbulence is a criminal’s best friend!), thus enabling the criminal to whom he is handcuffed to escape. However! Cops in bad suits will still always save the day and get the girl, no matter how deplorable their acting skills.
  10. Even if the heroic white menfolk discuss how many bullets each has left, this has no influence on the number of shots they can actually take.
  11. It is perfectly reasonable for a flight departing from the United States, en route to Paris, to pass by Yellowknife.
  12. The more top secret and highly dangerous the cargo, the greater the guarantee that it is thoroughly poorly secured, and will crack open and unleash the whoopass at any moment. Particularly if there’s a thunderstorm going on.
  13. It is perfectly usual practice to transport top secret and highly dangerous cargo on a commercial airliner. In the main cargo hold along with everything else. It may, as a precaution, be accompanied by a security guard who is comically easy to kill.
  14. Guns have excellent zombie stopping power, and it is perfectly okay to fire them — even automatic weapons — willy-nilly on an aircraft.
  15. You can have not one, but two gaping holes in a flying aircraft’s fuselage (for the purposes of sucking out marauding zombies), and this will not affect the plane’s flying ability in the slightest.
  16. Apparently the imperative “You must remove the head, or destroy the brain”, which Shaun of the Dead kindly drilled into us all re. how to dispatch zombies, is just a suggestion. You can pretty much shoot them, stab them, hit them, or impale them anywhere and they’ll fall over. Even if they have a virulent engineered strain of malaria that revives dead organs and reanimates corpses.
  17. The military is totally on top of biological weapons research. For example, virulent engineered strains of malaria are totally awesome in warfare! Your soldiers can keep fighting — even after they’re dead! And you can infect prisoners and send them home — to chomp and infect their own armies! Malaria FTW!
  18. Scientists will allow their own wives to be test subjects for new and untested engineered strains of disease. Of course, it will all go horribly wrong. But that’s okay, cuz guess who’s going to kill the scientists?
  19. Scientists’ amoral, self-serving asshole boss, when he inevitably gets his comeuppance, will, of course, become a sort of uber-zombie.
  20. While you can dispatch regular zombies with anything from an automatic weapon to a putter, an uber-zombie will survive hanging, shooting, being sucked into a jet engine, and a plane crash. And boy, will he ever be mad afterwards.
  21. Zombie movies really do have drinking games built right in.

I hope this list has provided some valuable and life-saving tips that will serve you well should you ever find yourself on a zombie-filled aircraft. Of course, like Penny Arcade’s Tycho knows manticores, such is the depth of Andrew’s zombie expertise, so I would recommend gleaning his expertise before you travel. Or, y’know, just take him with you…

Warfare 2.0

Lawmakers: Terrorists May Tap Same Web 2.0 Tools as Military

An interesting read, especially pondering the potential uses and implications of online communities and virtual worlds in a military context. Dovetails nicely with the gaming piece I wrote about the other week.

I find the idea of using VR to try to heal soldiers more interesting than using it to train them. The latter seems obvious; the former seems like at least someone’s starting to think in ways that might actually help.

I think, too, that the most notable parts of the article are at the end – the two-pronged potential of warfare actually going online, either in terms of thinking of attacking other countries infrastructure as an act of war, or in terms of virtual fighting.

Looks like someone owes Michael Marshall Smith some royalties…

When in doubt

Last week I developed a hankerin’ to get my veggies on. A grocery shop was imminent, and veggies were on the list, so I checked the fridge for Italian dressing (it’s the best to marinate lettuce-free salad fixins’ until lunch time). I had some, excellent.

Out of curiosity, I checked the expiry date, even though I was pretty sure I’d only bought it a few months ago.

December 1st, 2006.

Oh.

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