Interesting tidbits from the internets

Multicolr – from Idée‘s Lab. Be warned: you will be unable to stop playing with this. SO PRETTY.

Upside down wiener dog. Heh.

A good post about racism.

For my peeps who enjoy a Canadian accent: Melle, YouTube star! (They won’t be terribly interesting to you unless you want to learn how to use our new site. Which you should. At one point I recorded a most egregious “aboot”, but am not sure where now. Might even have gotten edited out.)

Go Behind Interesting – Series of delightful videos for those who’re fans of Dos Equis’ “Most Interesting Man in the World” ad campaign. And who isn’t? 🙂

Jared Diamond’s TED presentation on why societies collapse – Interesting stuff, plus he has the most awesome accent.

And not exactly internet-centric, but nevertheless worth a look: Waterloo Potters’ Workshop Fall Sale – Amazing wares, great holiday gifts, guaranteed to be thronged. (Recommend going as early as possible any day, and Friday at lunch overall.) Note the venue change to RIM Park this time around.

Should have a teeny bit more spare time now, thanks to a few things being checked off the calendar, so hoping to get back to posting more. Planning to do NaBloPoMo again to force that. Need to upgrade WordPress and fix the mess I made last time, too…

Prosit!

I’ve avoided Oktoberfest for years, mainly because I and many friends went to university here, so in my youth I got PLENTY of Oktoberfest.

However, Helen brought it up ages ago, since Steve insists on coming out every year. Plus Helen dangled the added lure of seeing Steve in Lederhosen. And then Steve and I had a drunken conversation at the wedding about it. And then they brought it up again and happened to have two tickets left.

So Sherry and I found ourselves in a cab last night with an over-cologned driver, heading to the Alpine Club, which had been going gangbusters since 4pm that afternoon. (Helen and Steve had been at the Queensmount the night before and the beer tent on Frederick in downtown Kitchener that afternoon…)

We met up with Helen and Steve and friends of theirs. An excellent time was had by all. There was eating, drinking, dancing, and the rubbing of Steve’s tush. Ahh, good times.

Photo evidence here.

Wherein I put my magic powers to work

According to friends, I have magic powers where knocking people up is concerned. (Don’t ask.)

I cannot confirm or deny the existence of these powers, however, just in case, I have named the wee person to whom I will be First Aunt in a few months Dexter, since my brother, sister-in-law, and I all want it to be a boy.

See you in March, little dude. Can’t wait. 🙂

The Canadian Omnivore’s 100

Stolen from here. Huh. I did pretty well. Nom.

Maple Syrup & Poutine’s 100 Canadian Foods to Consume

1. Arctic Char
2. Ketchup flavoured chips
3. Wild Rice Pilaf
4. Caribou Steak (Not yet, but I’ve had an elk burger.)
5. Gourmet Poutine (Not yet, but a friend recently told me where to get an excellent version.)
6. Screech
7. Beaver Tails
8. Maple Baked Beans
9. Bison Burger
(I know I’ve at least had “beefalo”, so I’m counting it.)
10. Bumbleberry pie
11. Nanaimo bar
12. Butter Tarts
13. Cedar Planked B.C. Salmon
14. Wild Blueberries

15. Pure Local Cranberry Juice (not a lot of bogs in the greater Kaydublian area…)
16. Chocolate from Ganong or Purdy’s
17. A cup of warm cider from your local orchard
(Well, local when I still lived back home. SO GOOD.)
18. Caesar
19. 4 of the following types of apples (Cortland, Empire, Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Spartan, Greensleeves, Liberty, Granny Smith, Red Delicious, Honeycrisp, Golden Russet, Idared, Gala

20. Freshly foraged mushrooms (I despise mushrooms.)
21. Dinner cooked by Michael Smith, Susur Lee or Rob Feenie
22. Fondue Chinoise
23. Dish created from a Canadian Living Magazine recipe (Got some great Christmas baking from there last year.)
24. Peameal Bacon Sandwich from St. Lawrence Market in Toronto (Why does it have to be from there? I’ve had them in assorted places, so I’m counting them.)
25. Lobster bought directly from a boat in a Maritime harbour
26. Handmade perogies from your local church or market
27. Alberta Beef at an Alberta Steakhouse (I think so… I certainly had Alberta beef in BC. Think we did steaks last time my family was out west.)
28. Leamington Tomatoes
29. Roasted Pheasant
30. Wild Game hunted by someone you know
31. Ice Wine
32. Habitant Pea Soup – entire can
33. Any Canadian Artisinal Cheese

34. Bannock
35. Tourtiere
36. Flapper Pie
(Huh. I’ve never heard it called that, but I’ve had it plenty, since my Dad loves it. We just call it graham wafer pie.)
37. Jellied Moose Nose
38. Saskatoon Berries (I think so.)
39. Fish and Brewis
40. Screech Pie
41. Fiddleheads
42. Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich
(Oh lordy, yes.)
43. Flipper Pie
44. Montreal Bagels with Smoked Salmon
45. Toutins
46. Jam Busters
47. Bakeapple Pie
48. Bridge Mixture
49. Canadian Style Pizza (Yeah, though I picked off the mushrooms.)
50. Shreddies
51. A cone from Cow’s Ice Cream
52. Lumberjack or Logger’s Breakfast
53. Jigg’s Dinner
54. Rappie Pie
55. Pemmican
56. Lake Erie Sturgeon Caviar

57. Belon Oysters
58. Brome Lake Duck
59. Beer from a stubby bottle.
60. A beer from Unibroue or Phillips Brewery.
61. Salt Spring Island Lamb
62. Fry’s Cocoa
63. A bag of Old Dutch Potato Chips (They just brought these back!)
64. Every Flavour of Laura Secord Suckers (It’s pretty likely…)
65. Chicken Dinner from St Hubert’s or Swiss Chalet (More than I care to think about…)
66. Hickory Sticks
67. An entire box of Kraft Dinner (Yes, and I don’t even like the stuff.)
68. Candy Apples (NOT caramel apples)
69. Corn from a roadside stand
70. A meal at Eigensinn Farm (Not yet, but I’ve heard of it and totally want to go.)
71. Okanogan Peaches (Had some on this trip.) 🙂
72. Berkshire Pork
73. PEI Potatoes
74. Something cooked in Canola oil
75. Figgy Duff
76. Blueberry Grunt

77. High Tea at the Empress Hotel
78. Fresh maple syrup hardened on the snow
79. Oreilles de Christ
80. Nova Scotia Beer Warmer
81. A cheese plate containing Bleu Bénédictin, Friulano, St. Maure and Oka. (I’ve eaten all of these, just not at the same time.)
82. Black or red currant jam
83. Maple glazed Doughnut from Tim Horton’s with a Large “Double Double”

84. A glass of Mission Hill’s “Oculus” (Pretty sure I have, though, ironically, not on this trip.)
85. Alberta Pure Vodka
86. Chokecherries
87. Canada Day Cake
(Like with white icing and the flag done in strawberries? Sure!)
88. Boulettes
89. Canadian Iced Tea
90. Mead

91. Fricot
92. Grandperes
93. Local honey
94. Creton on toast
95. Glen Breton Rare
96. A whole box of Smarties, where the empty box is then used as a kazoo (Hah, of course!)
97. Grilled cheese made with Canadian Cheddar (Mmm… ideally on sourdough.)
98. A meal from Harvey’s
99. Lake Erie Perch
100. Red Rose Tea

Got a light?

I don’t understand smoking. Yeah, I know how it works, both mechanically and physically. I’ve done it (I used to waitress in a small town diner, it’s practically a requirement…) But I am one of a few lucky people for whom it doesn’t “work”. I can’t get addicted, and I’m not sure exactly why, but I’m bloody grateful for it. And now I’m allergic, or whatever you’d like to call it when smoking gives you a pounding headache and makes you throw up. Doesn’t help that usually I’m drinking a fair bit while smoking…

I know plenty of smokers, both regular ones and social ones — at least one of whom just IS a smoker. To his DNA. A cigarette is like an extension of his hand; nicotine is a “natural” ingredient in his blood composition. I once saw him “ash” a cheesie. It was hysterical (and kinda sad).

It’s always puzzled me when smokers have expressed how much they enjoy that first, dizzy head rush from a smoke. I always hated that part, and was careful to control the first couple drags so it never hit me too hard. A bit of a control thing. A rush of dizziness and nausea is not being under control to me. What’s that? Repeatedly doing something you don’t need to do that makes you feel sick is dumb? Yeah, no kidding.

I guess part of it is that, unlike my brother, I don’t have an addictive personality. At all. Which is odd, because I’m certainly obsessive often enough. Never really lasts more than about 48 hours, though. (Stupid Bejeweled…)

My lack of fealty to smoking is also odd because when I get into pattern ruts, they be deep. Being fat, unworkable relationships, not dusting… take your pick. 🙂 I have a hard time relating to recommended ways of changing habits. Consistently starting and maintaining small changes, shaking up what you’re used to, and sticking with it sticking with it sticking with it until new patterns take over. Hypnosis, acupuncture, yoga, gum, patches, pills, oral fixation replacements, cold turkey…

Of course, thanks to my high school drama teacher (hi, Nancy!) I have long understood that we only change when we’re ready to. If you’re not in it to win it, so to speak, quitting smoking, losing weight, leaving a dead-end job — it ain’t gonna work out.

The example she used was the body, which, for me, was probably the best example she could have chosen. The idea that being overweight, for example, was about so much more than just not eating right or getting enough exercise. I remember mentally chewing for days on the idea that people can look how they do because they need to. For a woman, for example, to need to be a bit more invisible. To need a barrier between herself and the world. I guess I’m not a smoker because whatever need it fills for other people isn’t one I have. (And I know a few people who are mostly social smokers, but for whom it is also invariably a stress crutch.)

And it’s true. I’ve lost considerable amounts of weight, and it’s the strangest feeling to inhabit an altered space. I don’t mean how cool it is to see that your clothes don’t fit anymore. I mean literally the space in the world that is taken up by your body, how you move, how it feels when things touch you.

In addition to the change in how your body interacts with your world, how you fit inside your own space changes, too. It’s strange to be in it, and nearly impossible to accurately describe, but has been expressed by everyone I know who has experienced it. Sometimes it’s tactile, like rolling over in bed, and there’s no longer much of a fat pad between your hip and the mattress. Makes you think it must be very uncomfortable to be a supermodel…

I wonder if things like quitting smoking are the same. I can’t see how they wouldn’t be. Removing both that very ingrained habit, which is a significant part of how you interact socially, respond to stress, etc., and its effect on your body would cause significant changes. Fortunately, all good ones (though pretty gross for the first little while).

I guess the real barrier to scrabble over is the time between that first decision to change (i.e. quit) and the time until you reap the real, noticeable benefits (hey, I just ran 5K!) We animals don’t do well without positive reinforcement, and it’s really hard to plan for how something is going to change until it changes. (I wonder how many people who quit smoking try to plan in advance how they’ll handle an unexpected stress without lighting up before they actually quit.)

I am also not sure you can pre-plan who you’re going to be in the long run, either. Something like smoking is very defining. You’re part of a tribe, albeit a much less “cool” one than in the past. However, even when you’re shivering in the snow outside your office in February, you’re probably not doing it alone, and it’s still an environment in which you’re privy to all sorts of valuable gossip and the like (though, again, less so than in the past).

After you quit, who do you gossip with? What do you do when you don’t get those little breaks every hour? Sounds trite, but stuff like that is what makes up the day. After you lose weight, how do you react to attracting more attention, to shopping in different stores. To getting used to wearing tighter clothes (since that’s usually what fashion offers up).

So, yeah. I don’t understand smoking. Or the mechanics of change. Of course, I’ve (hopefully) got plenty of years left, which will require plenty of changes, so I’m relying on my pretty decent ability to think, to be self-aware, and, interestingly enough, my insatiable curiosity. I have a feeling that for me, that’s where the “in” is.

Many thanks to always charming and brilliant Havi for the inspiration for this one.

Humanism?

You ever get the feeling that maybe human beings are an accident? An anomaly. A really big oops. A mutation that, contrary to the normal progression of things, got way out of hand? Obviously, this is not going to be a common thought among the religious, though, frankly, to me it’s as plausible with a religious fibre to the past as without.

I have to admit, the possibility occurs to me from time to time.

And actually, no, the current financial crisis, political braying, etc. doesn’t really have anything to do with it, beyond being yet another catalyst for a recurring mental question mark. Really, the idea strikes me pretty much every time humans do something particularly dumb… which is not infrequently. (And that’s only the ones that make it into the news…)

Think about it, though. We’re supposed to be mammals, more or less like a plethora of other animals, but in so many ways we really don’t fit. How we treat our kids bears little resemblance to how animals do. How we treat our environment bears zero resemblance to how animals do. What we value often doesn’t bear any resemblance to what animals do.

No animal other than us regularly makes conscious decisions that are bad for them. And yet we all do it, all the time, at every level of our existence, to ourselves and others, from crimes of passion to lighting a cigarette. It boggles the mind sometimes.

Typically in nature natural selection takes over and weeds out the evolutionary versions of a species that don’t contribute to its strength in its ecological niche. But humans? We’re destructastic. Frankly, we seem to have more in common with pathogens. Parasites. Viruses. We thrive, in our way… and are killing our host at an increasing rate in the mean time.

Of course, smartypants species that we are, we’re using our big, evolved brains to work towards being able to move somewhere else should it come to pass that we completely turn this azure orb into a smoking husk.

I guess that’s the problem with an atheist society, really. Back in the day, were we to step out of line, g/God would see, and we’d be in for a righteous smiting. Or at least we thought so, which was enough to keep us somewhat in check. (However, lest you think our tendency to get our grimy fingerprints all over everything is new, keep in mind the Middle East wasn’t always a desert, nor Greece rocky and windswept.)

Now, lest you think the sum total of my mindset and mental state is excessive cynicism (Grade 9 English teacher), swirling undercurrents of negativity (former Marketing VP), or just bleak musings in general, I assure you that this is me, too.

It’s just… When you look around sometimes, and look inside sometimes, you gotta wonder…

Update: And just for a little more food for thought: Humans will not evolve further, says geneticist.

Admittedly, a somewhat anomalous provenance for a community manager…

So remember how I went to San Francisco the other fall and ended up in the Homeland Security database?

Right, so, I’ve been subjected to secondary screening every time I’ve crossed the border with our neighbours to the south since (though never denied, thankfully). However, no one’s ever been willing to tell me anything about why.

Until this trip!

We got pulled over at the Washington border (apologies to Andrew, though I warned him…) after being asked if this was my natural hair colour and if I’d ever been in trouble with the law. (Not quite, and no.) I was also asked if there was a protection order against me. Also no (especially since I’m not sure what that is).

After a repeat of the questions and 10 or 15 minutes of typing and frowning at his monitor, the Homeland Security dude beckoned us back up and asked if I’d like to know why I’m flagged. Umm, yeah? Apparently it’s because the RCMP has a protection order filed against “me”. Alrighty then.

If I was that much of a menace, wouldn’t they… y’know… tell me? Were they just that afraid of invoking my wrath? The joys of not being as awesome as someone like my daughter and being the only one with my name in North America…

The nice man also informed me that my NEXUS interview (presuming it passes successfully) won’t help. Not as long as the order’s on file. Lovely. Still going to get the NEXUS clearance, since it’s paid for, and I have hope, and it’s not like I figure I’ve got a lot of privacy left anyway.

Right, soooo… any chance that when I call up the RCMP, Paul Gross will answer? 🙂