Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Keyboard Function Keys That Didn't Quite Make It

Thanks stresstwig, fount of ideas and facial hair.

"Inform Miss Penny That One Of The Vacuum Tubes Has Blown, BLAST IT" - yelling was more efficient and cleared Babbage's blood of dangerous humours.

"YELLING" - Functionality was merged with Caps Lock.

π - use of circles and any calculations with circles was seen to be a sign of a weak mind, weaker constitution, and a moral fibre that was entirely suspect.

"Definitely Nazi"/"Most Likely Nazi"/"Carrier Pigeon Error" - Enigma was a very specialized machine.

"Nuke It" - Part of the original DARPA spec, it was thought that there may be a need for more safeguards.

"Check Connection Time to BBS " - Ones parents always needed to use the phone before this became an issue.

"Power Down Memetic Cyclotron " - Can't think of a reason, honestly.

"Toggle" - Apparently in Urdu this means an imaginative way to soil ones underwear whilst balancing on an inverted sun umbrella.

My Dog's Suggestions On A More Orderly Household

Thanks metamonk, for the idea.

Just leave the food on the ground, seriously. Let's not delude ourselves into thinking I care whether or not food is in the dog dish. It could be beside, or, let's be honest here, inside a toilet, and I'll still eat it. Clinging to a rather disgusting belief that I care either way is an insult to both of us.

Accept that I will slobber on anything and everything. Especially the children. Just tell yourself it's better to have e-coli infused dog slobber on them than the spackle of mucous and food that was there previously.

Why are you throwing away dog bones? They dry out and can puncture your garbage bags, leaving a mess everywhere. Just throw it on the ground. I'm sure someone will dispose of it properly.

Invest in scented candles. Much better than dog baths. I like the way I smell, you hate giving me baths, win-win.

Dirty laundry isn't. It's a marvellous treasure trove of fascinating smells. Please pile it high and everywhere. Tell visitors it's a 'living post-humanist look at canine-hominid cohabitating symbiosis'.

You know what's better than giving yourself a manicure, which is sure to leave human skin droppings (ewww!) and various files and things scattered about the home? Scratching juusut behind my ear, my hair acts as a natural and gentle exfolia-aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh.

Take a nap.

Go for a walk.

Take another nap.

The dishes can wait.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Family Letter 2009

The year, as is the case when you get a certain age, has passed us by faster than you can "Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet was made TWENTY THREE years ago?". And so it has. This year has been slightly more eventful than others.

We've had another child on January 16th, 2009. A boy this time. A somber, serious boy who will look at you with soulful eyes full of life's regret and the eternal struggle of self-actualization until you play peek-a-boo and he kills himself laughing. He's a mystery. His birth was little on the long side, but everything came out swimmingly, we were out of there in record time because we've done it before and as much fun as hospitals are, they're no place to raise a child.

What else is there to say about him. Well, he's a baby, he doesn't have a whole lot of opinions. He likes to crawl, he likes to hold things and stand up. He's really into objects. He'll be crying bloody murder like someone has just suckerpunched him with a bag full of nickels, then you'll give him, say, a Tupperware container, and he'll be as content as, uhm, well, a baby with a Tupperware container, I suppose.

He's the quiet, understated sort. Or at least, he's quiet in relation to Owlet.

Owletis even more of a firecracker now that she can speak in full sentences. A strong enough grasp of language has lead to bartering and pleading and, more often than not, commanding. While the word 'bossy' is often whispered or just said outloud, we, proud parents, prefer to think of her as spirited! Enthusiastic! Decisive! Bossy! No, wait, not the last one.

She's in a whole whack of activities. Dancing, gymnastics, swimming, and a few hours of preschool. It's fun to see her flail about at different activities and discover the joys of sport and athletics that her parents never quite got a grasp of.

Everything now is pink, princess, fairy, purple, ballet, butterfly, chocolate, and tea. Often times all at once. As much as I'd hoped she'd be kinda agnostic towards the entire 'Princess' thing, she's gone full bore. Hopefully when she's older and rebelling against the perfect image that Media and the Disney Conglomerate try to brainwash into young girls she'll remember the time I took her down the aisles of boy toys and she looked at me blankly before racing towards the aisles of pinky, fluffy, toys that seem to make her oh so very happy.

Owlet loves her brother a whole lot. She's adept at making him laugh, and they'll often sit there laughing and laughing and laughing and I know not too far in the future they'll still be laughing and laughing and laughing but it'll be at me and I'll grumble something incoherently before making shoddily constructed bird feeders in my wood-shop. But what's important is that they seem to be hitting it off. They both find each others pretty darn interesting.

Molly is going with me to work now, which mean she gets to have naps outside the home, which is a nice change for her, I suppose. I'll take her upstairs from the bowels of the building where I stare at a computer all day, to the clerks and program officers and whatnot who all love her to bits. Echoes of her name will ring through the offices as people realize she's come for a visit, "Molly!" "Molly's here!" "Is that Molly?". Course, I've worked there coming on 9 years and I'm sure none of them know my name. I wouldn't have it any other way.

I'm still at Corp. ABC. At some point they'll try and nail a plaque on me and declare me a heritage building. I'm still doing programming. Let's move on before you fall asleep.

Mrs. Owl is almost done her maternity leave. She feels as if she hasn't done anything this year. And besides birthing our second child; caring, feeding and clothing and entertaining a baby and a toddler; not having a complete night's sleep in a year; and putting up with me, she's completely correct.

She keeps herself busy taking Owlet to all her activities, having play-dates and tea-time with her friends, and dreading the time she'll have to go to work. At least it's part-time. Which will be good since she'll spend most of her time chasing around two energetic small children and counting the hours until she can go into work and take a breather.

And that's all the news that's fit to print for this year.

May the new year find you all healthy and wealthy and wise, and if not that, at least under the influence of a full night's sleep.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Things I Would Do For Fun If I Had More Moxie

  • Buy a security guard outfit, stand in the foyer of a very swank theatre, wait for the opera intermission, then bustle about, pushing people aside saying, "Move along, move along."
  • Sneak into a gynecologist's empty patient room, then scream at the top of my lungs, "The baby's going to come outta WHERE?"
  • Drive at exactly the speed limit. High-beam and honk at others that don't.
  • Make a buncha mix-CD's featuring Grandmaster Flash and the Funky Bunch, New Edition, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and Cannibal Corpse, put a barcode on them, and sneak them into the library CD section.
  • Sing the national anthem at the top of my lungs, with a few incorrect words, give a ribbon to the first person to correct me.
  • Put 2 chairs and a desk, interview style, on the street. Put a camcorder on a tripod. Interview any and all people who sit with me. Alternate between an interview for a legally suspect and highly dangerous job, a celebrity interview (with questions intended for John Voigt, circa 'Deliverance), naturalization interview for Luxembourg.
  • Go to McDonald's, ask to see the manager, order Combo 1, haggle.
  • Get on a bus with a ghetto blaster blaring Bing Crosby's White Christmas at full volume.
  • Wear a utilikilt, stand in front of the women's washroom, pointedly refuse entry for anyone who doesn't not, in fact, have a skirt.
  • Get a three-piece suit, get a haircut, briefcase, better posture. Go shopping at the local organic co-op. Complain about the prices.
  • Protest Greenpeace, just cuz.
  • Stand in the middle of a busy street, offer free hugs, ask for tips.
  • Go to a Volkswagen dealership, try and get as much info as I can about the current Jetta, try and drop the word 'Nazi' as casually and as often as I can.
  • Buy a moleskine notebook, strike a conversation up with a hipster, try and find an excuse to bring out my moleskine and open it up, revealing pages after pages of pasted in Cathy comic strips. Ask him which one is his/her favourite.
  • Open up a stall selling peanut butter jelly sandwiches.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Guide to Vancouver #1

The Olympics are coming up.¹

That's why I'm going to do this series of posts, where I'll expound on my general overview of the city I live in/around/in a suburb of: Vancouver.

Vancouver is, first and foremost, a city that seems to be always ranked near the top of this and that livability study. It's also tiny. A hamlet. 2.5 million people live here, if you include the suburbs. 600k if you count only Vancouver proper. This gives most of Vancouverites a bit of a complex. A phrase you'll hear often is 'world-class city'. Maybe too often, maybe too forced, usually coming down from some chamber of commerce or some captain of some industry. We're constantly preening and trying to make ourselves a little more important than we are. True 'world-class' cities, like a CIA operative or someone who actually enjoys Christmas cakes, never have to proclaim it. I don't think you'd ever hear someone from Paris, or London, or New York, expound about how 'world-class' their city is. I mean, here's a hint, when Hollywood is shooting a film in LA pretending that it's Vancouver, then you'll know.

If you like the outdoors, rain, and relative low crime rate, Vancouver is not too bad. If you take umbrage with ridiculously high cost of living with lower than average salaries, have a touch of SAD, or are expecting theaters and museums on the level of truly large city, Vancouver is not your destination.

It's fairly boring, fairly nice. Fine for me, fine for people who like safe, boring living. Also, actually, fine for people who like their bit of gangland warfare. We seem to have little flarings of that, every once and a while, I guess we have a booming trade in mary jane, which leads to organized crime having kerfluffles, but I suppose not enough to hurt 'livability' ratings.

The drugs thing is pretty major, in many ways, and in only some ways that I have any handle on. For instance, there are quitea few growops in and about town. And not in the run-down part of town either, in $900k houses in nice parts of town, subdivisions that feature the word 'Heights' or 'Pacific'. I think it's safe to say we have an above average number of hydroponic supply stores. And I can't believe there are that many gardeners who simply must have their hothouse tomatoes year round.

Weed, especially, is largely tolerated. So if you are at some outdoor event, say, fireworks or One of The Ten Days When It's Not Precipitating In Some Way, you'll get a whiff of that really charming 'mossy grass being burnt under a poorly supervised butane torch' smell. I'm more of a live and let live guy, really, and when it comes to things you can use to decimate brain-cells, I'd much prefer to be in a group of totally stoned patchouli chewing THC-imbibers than any number of drunks. In general.

There are really a ton of things to complain about in Vancouver, possibly more than there are to boast about. I'll hit on more of them in upcoming posts.

1 It's awash with controversy, on one side people ecstatic that we are 'on the world stage' and 'make our mark on the map'. On the other side, calls that money has been funneled from social services and money ear-marked for the most vulnerable in our society. On one side, the opinion that this'll really rake in money for the province and country. And then on the other, the realization that most corporate deals are going to companies south of the border, and that local communities are going to be in debt for this world party for a looong time.

I try and stay neutral about these things. I think they both have points. I have no doubt that the public will have a debt, and that private companies will have the lion's share of the profits. But, I mean, they are the Olympics.

Let's not dwell on that.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


I like to cook. I'm not much of one, but some of our friends tend to think I can . The trick to this is learning how to do the big dishes; the type that have been trodden into our Western Subconscious as Real Cooking. Think June Cleaver or any meal as depicted in safe and painfully wholesome Disney movies. Turkey, roast, rack of lamb. Large portions of vertebrates prepared well. I can't bake to save my life, or do much of anything other than roasting animals, but I still bask in the small glory within our circles of friends of Someone Who Won't Burn Water.

There was a certain reader in mind when I wrote this, my little cooking tutorial. Then I realized that this person might think 'learning to cook' as being able to prepare a 6 course meal and dessert cart using nothing less than a Coleman Stove and a rather heat tolerant teacup. I will then presume this little post is for those of you just taking the plunge. Who wish to brandish a spatula with grace and aplomb and who's idea of 'going wild' in the kitchen isn't just adding ketchup to your Mac N' Cheese.

When I cook, I generally go by a handful of rules. Now these rules are written with one objective : Make Stuff Taste Goood. If you have other objectives, you'll likely have different rules. Say, if you wanted things to be Healthy, or interested in Using Semolina In Everything, your rules will be different.

So, with that in mind, in no particular order:

That clogger of arteries, that most hated and revered of all cooking ingredients, fat. Fat in the form of butter or lard or whatever you have on hand, is the foundation of taste. A good steak is a well marbled (fatty) steak. Recipes are invariably 1000% better when you replace it's ingredient of half-half organic no-fat soy with cream. Those fish only served in fine restaurants? Fattier than a State Carnival deep fryer.

I had to attend a potluck way back in my single days, I didn't really have anything GOOD to make, so I just made mac and cheese. I added real cheese, substituted cream for milk, and added entirely too much butter. It was a hit.

More than half your cooking is done in the grocery. Fresh over frozen or dried, choice cuts over that that slab of government beef that may or may not lead to certain, mouth frothing death. Even using, for instance, fresh basil over some dried Mrs. Spice concoction is massive improvement.

For me this is the venerable Joy of Cooking, a half-ton tome that has stood the test of time and fallen souffles and too-rare roasts for the past several decades. It's very old school, which I like, and covers almost anything you'd think of cooking.

It covers quite the detail on topics that you'll eventually need to learn, like what cut of beef is best for roasting, how to make a pie crust from scratch, what's the diff between a pancake and a crepe. All sorts of food nerd things that you'll want to know so you can regale your friends just before they suddenly spot someone they just have to talk to across the room.

When cooking meat, use high heat to sear the outside and seal in the juices. Then cook at a lower temp to finish it. I'm surprised at how many old school cooks (mother-in-law, for example) who just never learned this, and spend hours tending to their roasts, basting and fiddling.

That's it, I think. Well, I'm sure there are others, but that's probably too much already. So go forth! Burn water! Add fat! Bask in the glory!