Thursday, April 28, 2011

Swan Song of the Last Typewriter

My parents had this old typewriter that I used to play with in the basement. The "E" key would always get stuck and it was the loudest thing I've ever heard, but damn was it fun. There was something so satisfying about clicking away on those keys, hearing the "ding!" at the end of the line and pushing the planten back to the start only to return to the clicky-click-click of the keys again.

This may surprise some of you (and maybe even others might not even know what I am talking about) but,  it now seems that the typewriter’s days are officially numbered. Godrej & Boyce closed down the last manufacturing plant of typewriters in the world on Wednesday. In the world! The factory was based in Mumbai, India.

As you may have noticed, the device has been replaced by computers, printers, tablets and keyboards. I’m surprised the old guy lasted this long. Even until 2009, the factory still produced between 10,000 to 12,000 typewriters per year. The demand now? About 800.

RIP typewriter. Oh, he’ll still be around in movies and on the desks of hipster writers, but the world will have moved on. It’s sad, but it’s just evolution.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Political Compass

Something interesting to play with if you are a Canadian interested in the upcoming election:

The Test

and then when you are done everything, compare it to THIS

I'll show you mine (Here are my results) if you show me yours!

[thanks Spaceman Spiff!]

Monday, April 25, 2011

Educating Yourself

Canada is having an election May 2nd and we all know how I feel about voting. Calgary just went through a civic election which ignited the city with passion and I have to admit, I was proud. I'm hoping that something similar will happen with our Federal Election.

Excuse me as I get up on my soap box for a moment. I want to address the voters.

First of all, if you choose not to vote, that's fine. That is up to you and I honestly think it's for the best. Someone who is choosing not to vote is fundamentally someone who is choosing not to care. They have their reasons and truly I don't want people who don't care to vote. I would rather have a small fraction of well educated voters at the polls then a mass of ignorant, apathetic voters picking the one guy whose name they recognize most.

and so for the rest of you who do have that fire in your belly, go with it. I'm with you. I care regardless of how fractured I think the voting system is. It's what we have now and so I have to use it. I want to use it.. it's the only way to do what I need to do. I'm voting for me.

I always go into any election with a blank mind (I know, it's not that hard for me- haha) I am not loyal to any particular political party. I may have voted Conservative last election but that doesn't necessarily mean I will vote that way for this election. This is why it is so important to me to educate myself. Starting from the ground up I scour as many unbiased sources to get to the meat of the platforms and promises. I research the candidates individually, taking both their past and current histories into consideration. and then, I take a long hard look at what I need from my country and what I want. When it comes down to voting, I vote as if my opinion is the only one that matters. My decision is selfish and it is based purely on what I want and think would be best for me and the ones I love; the things that matter most.

*steps down from soap box
I've said my piece.

So educating yourself, how do you do that? 

I find that there are plenty of resources to do that. Ideally, what you are looking for is something that states the facts, not the emotions or opinions. Even the Calgary Herald has a decent interactive site that allows voters to find simple, factual information within a few clicks:

Here is one from the CBC:

And the site from Elections Canada:

I'm sure there are plenty of other resources out there that supply similar information that might be better or more detailed, if you know of any- please share. I'd love to read them, I don't think I can ever get enough.

So, I've said my two cents about this and will more than likely keep things to myself from this point forward or at least off my blog (unless I have someone to say along the general terms). Those of you with the same fire in your belly as me,  I don't care who you vote for as long as you have taken the time to do your research and feel confident in what you believe in. Enjoy educating yourself. Oh and today is the last day for Advance Poling so if you don't get your say in today then I'll see you on May 2nd!

(writing this made me so tried! It's not a good sign when you even bore yourself when talking about stuff... *yawn)

I'm SUCH a Geek

There aren't very many reasons for me to want to go to Vegas. But if I had one, this would be it. This would make me go to Vegas and I would love every inch of that filthy town. I'd also eat a lot, see a lot, visit the desert and maybe drink a bit but between July 14th-17th I'd totally geek out.

TAM (The Amazing Meeting), it's the 9th annual celebration of science, skepticism, and critical thinking. Bill Nye (yes, the science guy) is going to be there, James Randi, Adam Savage (I once had a plant that I named after him but then the plant died), Phil Plait, Rebecca Watson, Elyse Anders (the anti Jenny McCarthy -don't get me started-), Banachek (hell YA!!), Richard Dawkins (In my opinion, he is the Deepak Chopra of science), Penn and Teller, and more. I really am just a big ol' geek who gets off on listening to people talk rationally about things. Or just talk science. I do not have anything to contribute to any of it other than I would be the biggest, most absorbent sponge in that room.

I'm sure I'd stick out like a sore thumb as the girl who missed the turn to the outlet mall and ended up at a Science Convention but inside, I'm not.

Is that wrong?

Oh my goodness, I'm such a geek.

Do I even know anyone who knows what TAM is? Anyone out there (comment if you do, please)?

I think somewhere out there the idea of Skepticism gets confused with Conspiracy Theories, which isn't the case at all. To me, Skepticism is questioning- never taking things at face value. The questioning of assumptions. Where as Conspiracy Theories tend to be based on assumptions.

-Best definition of Skepticism is actually Critical Thinking
-Definition of Conspiracy Theories

The Queen and Prince of Hearts

I want my marriage to last forever

Last weekend I went to see a showing of portraits at the Glenbow Museum, when looking at one of Queen Elizabeth, JP asked me if she had ever been married. I wasn't sure. Somewhere in my mind I seemed to recall that she might have been but he must be dead. Must be, I never hear anything about it.

I was wrong (which doesn't surprise me, I hardly know anything about the Royals). Queen Elizabeth is married and has been married for 63 years to Prince Philip, and they are still going strong. I came across a post about Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip that listed 25 things about the couple that I found rather interesting:

1. The Queen’s former private secretary said of Prince Philip: “He is the only man in the world who treats the Queen as a human being.”

3. Philps` pet name for his wife is “sausage”.

4. The Queen Mother used to refer to Philip as The Hun, as he is a member of the German house of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg.

5.When the pair honeymooned at Broadlands, the Mountbatten’s country home near Romsey, Hants, the bride had 15 suitcases, the groom two.

6. Under pressure from his wife-to-be, Philip gave up smoking on the morning of his wedding.

7.When Philip’s cousin Patricia Mountbatten remarked on Elizabeth’s flawless complexion, the Prince joked: “Yes, and she’s like that all over.”

8. In traditional upper-class fashion Elizabeth and Philip had connecting bedrooms. When he walked into Philip’s bedroom one morning, royal valet James MacDonald was embarrassed to find Elizabeth in a silk nightgown and Philip naked. “Prince Philip didn’t care at all,” said MacDonald. “Pyjamas? Never wear the things,” Philip said.

9. When they first moved into Buckingham Palace, Philip had a direct phone line installed so that he could talk to his wife without going through the switchboard.

10. Once, when the Queen repeatedly sucked in her breath at his fast driving, Philip told her: “If you do that once more I shall put you out of the car.”

11. Both the Queen and Prince Philip dislike duvets and prefer sheets and blankets.

12. On the day of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s wedding, a footman lost the bride’s bouquet and her tiara snapped in half as it was put on.

13. In the year of their wedding, the Queen and Philip attended a fancy-dress ball. She was dressed as a maid, he as a waiter.

14. Philip has nothing to do with his wife’s life as sovereign but does deal with family problems, of which there have been many.

15. The Queen still carries in her handbag a silver make-up case given to her by Philip as a wedding gift.

16. All the Queen’s major decisions – paying tax, giving up the royal yacht, urging Charles and Diana to have an early divorce – were taken after consulting Philip.

17. At the Coronation in 1953, Philip was the first layman to pay homage to the Queen. He knelt at her feet and kissed her left cheek.

18. After the death of King George VI in February, 1952, the royal couple did not want to move into Buckingham Palace but Prime Minister Winston Churchill insisted.

19. The Queen and Philip still have blazing rows. One courtier said: “You can hardly believe what you are seeing. There are cries of ‘Rubbish’ and ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about.’”

20. When arguing with her husband, the Queen’s technique is to talk in riddles to confuse Philip’s logical mind.

21. Philip could never have a bath with his wife because a maid is always in attendance.

22. The Queen loves to do impersonations and does a very good one of Philip.

23. Although they still sleep in the same bed most of the time, they stay in separate rooms if one of them has to get up early.

24. The Queen finds video recorders complicated so Philip is in charge of taping her favourite programmes.

25. They eat breakfast together with cereals on the table in plastic Tupperware containers.
[hat tip to Jo for her post]

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Reason #35134 Why I Need Paris

Je me cache derrière mon col

I don't know if you remember my post about some South Park PJ's that I wanted? Well, they were worn by Katy Perry (did I spell that right? I'm not checking it out, I'm leaving that spelling as is) in some Twitter picture and I've been obsessed with them since. Not obsessed with Katy Perry at all but her PJ's- yes.

So, I went back onto JC/DC to try and find them again (as with most things fashionable, they are gone before your know it) and came up with nothing...

but I did find this sassy little trench. Which OF COURSE doesn't come in my size... Boooo...

I can still covet it. Just a little and remember that I don't need it. I have two wonderful little trench coats already for spring and they will do me just fine.

I also love this little dress and I need a little dress (especially one with a big bad wolf on it) as much as I need another hole in my head. True Story. Nice to see a super pale model though. Yay alabaster skin!

Giving a Tweet: Election Results Ban

This doesn't have much to do with my post but I enjoy the image.

I read this article on Wednesday about a ban on the "premature transmission" of electoral results across time zones. Meaning that Atlantic Canada has to keep their results, opinions, ideas to a bare minimum (you are only able to phone or text friends, or send private e-mails) until the polls close all the way over on Vancouver Island. Posting to a Facebook wall, a web page or to Twitter will be considered a violation and could in turn land you with a maximum $25,000 fine, or up to five years in prison.

Over the top? Maybe... it is a result of a law that was created in 1938 when "radio was king" and no one even thought that things would be as they are now. Even in 2008 when we had our last Federal Election, a lot has changed since then.

I'm not really sure what I think about the whole thing. One side of me views the whole thing as absurd and out dated. Freedom of speech is important and I like seeing people being active in thought around election. But then I also see a lot of ignorance being breed. More so than ever before. And I have to admit, I worry a little that people might base their choices purely on Facebook rather then taking the time to really research who the candidates are and finding someone who supports what they want and need. Though, I doubt that would actually happen to the point of causing an effect in the last few hours of an election. So really has nothing to do with the ban. But, it might cause a difference in whether or not we end up with a majority or minority government. Do you think that's possible?

I suppose I am looking at this from both sides of the bus, I see reasons to support the ban and why not to support it and that's why I find I don't have a definite opinion. Society is always challenged by restrictions that seem outdated and confining to freedom so it doesn't surprise me that this is making headlines. Especially knowing that we live in Canada, a land of much freedom and after seeing the bans that occur in other areas of the world, though for different reasons, it can really ignite entitlement.

It's a curious thing indeed... what do you think? Do you even care?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Honey Badger

Tuesday night I slept like crap. I think I went to bed at 3AM ish and maybe only slept for about an hour.. maybe two if I'm lucky.

I was having nightmares about Honey Badger. And his snakes (which, in real life... I don't mind) and his mouse (which in real life seem pretty cute). And the mouses tail...

and Honey Badger's teeth. That Badger needs some orthodontic work. Adult braces for you Honey Badger!

Honey Badger

And for the record Glee did not send me to the site. JP did, right before bed. After drinking a Sleemans and eating Lime Sorbet.

Reclaming the "S" Word & Everything Inbetween

There are always many sides

There has been a story in the paper since January about a police officer who blatantly said that the only way to prevent becoming the victim of a sexual assault was to "avoid dressing like sluts." This police officer was later reprimanded for this statement as it spread like wild fire from news source to social networking sites. It spurred groups for both protesters of the use of the word as well as those who supported the Officer.

I was reading today that one of the groups which is openly against the Officers statements is hosting a "Slut Walk" in Calgary. A way to "reclaim the word 'slut' and promote sex-positive thinking." There was already one held in Toronto which was met with great success.

Agreed, I am all for sex-positive thinking but does the word "slut" need to be reclaimed?  Was it ever really ours in the first place? Sure, the definition as a "sexually immoral woman" has a little less sting to it then the actual social assassination the word can project but personally I could do without that it. Maybe that's the point? Dissolving the word to the point of little to no emotional reaction or a change in definition- it theoretically can happen. Just look at the word bitch. All it takes is a few songs, some celebrity endorsement and people are all over it like fresh cookies. Or at least that's been my reality. It helps when your best friends mother uses it in her oh-so-posh British accent as a term of endearment "You silly little bitch!"

Like with most things, there is such a grey area to me. As someone who has been sexually assaulted in my past,  I personally am not keen to the simple notion that the way a woman dresses is any indicator of if she should be raped or not. It is obvious that in extreme cases the way you dress is a good indicator of how you might be treated and perceived by anyone around you. A woman person should be able to wear what they want and feel safe doing so, but there is also a level of responsibility that comes with it. There is an apparent sexual response that will happen when skin is shown in abundance and it's ignorant for anyone to expect any less. Women can be just as crude as men, sometimes even worse. However, to create a correlation between sexual response to clothing and rape isn't accurate. Rape is not about sex or sexual drives. It is about dominance. Sex drives are normal. Not controlling them isn't.

The word slut has become somewhat of a loose term for an abundance of something. Cuddle slut, chocolate slut, clothes slut, etc. It's not part of my regular vocabulary and it's not in my nature to call people names anyway (except maybe the odd "jerk" here or occasional "poop"). It is just a word. However, if it makes people feel empowered to try to reclaim it, great. That's the true benefit- people embracing their sexuality with whatever they have in them. A healthy relationship to sex means a healthy relationship in general. If marching in a Slut Walk helps you feel good, then do it. If wearing a shirt as a dress does it for you, then go for it. If sending sexy texts messages helps you grasp onto the root of your sexuality then do that too. Do it with the right intention, do it for your right reasons just as long as the relationship you have to sex is a nourishing one that builds you up rather then tears you down. Sex-positive thinking does not mean promiscuity.

I'm not a feminist but I don't think that women should be cowering in a corner scared of the world. Their confidence should not come at the expense of men- or anyone for that matter. "Slut" is just a word to me. I can see why some people might be offended however I think it's more out of ignorance of the statement then the actual shock of the word. It was a poor choice- however, I have not seen a video showing me what actually happened so I am admittedly unaware of the full context and am going mostly by articles I've read.

I've seen a lot of banter in regards to the subject so I imagine that there might be some pretty powerful opinions out there. I know, I've heard them in the lunch room at work. I'm curious about your opinion on the matter. What fits for you?


Attention Span

Before you do anything, watch this video:

Did you watch it? If not, do it... right now (if you are reading this on Facebook then you might not see a video and should just go to this link) before reading further. It’s a fun test, but will be spoiled by the discussion below.



The phenomenon demonstrated by the video is called inattentional blindness (I have also seen attentional blindness and inattention blindness). It reflects the fact that we have a finite capacity to process information. We cannot attend to all the sensory information coming from our environment at the same time, let alone do that and attend to other cognitive tasks as well, like solving a math problem. So, moment to moment, we apply our finite capacity selectively to one or a few tasks. The more tasks we try to do simultaneously (multitasking) the fewer cognitive resources can be applied to each task, and performance suffers.

Most people cannot effectively multitask, even if they think they can. Only about 2.5% of people can genuinely multitask – perform two demanding cognitive tasks simultaneously without both suffering. For most people, multitasking comes at a price. We can divide our attention, but not without a decrease in performance. Many places now have laws reflecting this research – prohibiting talking and texting on cell phones while driving.

What the "famous" gorilla video demonstrates is that attention itself is a task that suffers from from multitasking. We can focus all of our attention on one thing, or spread our attention out to monitor our environment, or do a little of both. You have a budget of attention, and you can spend it as you please at any moment, but you cannot increase your budget.

What the gorilla video research (and other research) also shows is that everyone does not have the same budget. Some people have more attention to spread around. Neuroscientists are not content simply documenting the finite attention and cognitive budgets of our brains – they also want to figure out what specific brain functions determine our attentional budget.

That is the focus of new research by psychologists Janelle Seegmiller, Jason Watson, and David Strayer. They reproduced the gorilla video experiment, but also tested the hypothesis that the ability to see the gorilla is linked to working memory capacity.

Working memory is the immediate information that you can hold and manipulate. When you do a math problem in your head, you are using working memory. It is distinguished from long term memory which can be stored for years to be retrieved, but cannot be manipulated – unless it is recalled into working memory.

I find it interesting, whatever the underlying cause, that some people are significantly better at directing their attention than others. I wonder if this is an ability that is changing over time. At the risk of being a bit extreme I wonder if poor multitasking ability will be selected against because poor multi-taskers who try to talk on their phones while driving have a higher chance of being killed in a car accident?
I also wondered if the higher working memory and higher attentional flexibility in some subjects represents type of superior hard wiring, or does it mean that they have decreased capacity elsewhere? Are attentionally flexible people less able to think deeply without distraction? I can make either answer make sense, so I don’t think there is an obvious answer. And both answers may be correct.

So many questions, so many wonderings... obviously, this is less about the Distracted Driving references and more about how the mind works. In the end this new research is an interesting piece to a massively complex puzzle which is slowly starting to show a bit of a picture...

now, what was I saying?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Confession: I Watched The Rockets

We're going to make it after all....

When I was little I used to love this show called The Rockets, it was a Canadian show... a really bad one all about singing and dancing. I use to watch it and just ache to be one of them. I was so inspired that I started my own singing and dancing group in elementary ( we were called "The Popcorn Girls"- true story). I would get everyone together at recess to practice Mini-Pop songs and dance the way I wanted everyone to dance. It was a mess, a glorious fantastic mess that I would put on display for the whole school at talent shows or the whole class every other week. I think back now and I can't believe my teachers would let me. It must have been painful to watch.

And this was only the singing and dance thing I had people do. I also wrote plays (my favorite was one called "What 'cha Cooking Mama" and "Dad Makes Toast") and reenacted Anne of Green Gables, Cats and Phantom of the Opera.

TV gave me lots of ideas as a kid. I remember watching an episode of Pippy Long Stockings where she used a hose to wash the floor in the house... so I did that. I knew it wasn't right (at least not in Canada, maybe in Trinidad and Tobago) but I did it anyway. Just as Pippy did, I put scrub brushes on my feet and skated around the kitchen and the bathroom upstairs ( I used buckets of water to dump ridicules amounts of water on the floor). It was nothing like on TV. I wasn't propelled by bubbles neither was the room filled with bubbles... I don't even think there were bubbled. Just this frothy foam on the ground- if that. Nothing gleamed and it took about 4 hours to finally dry everything out. How disappointing.

Do you remember the show The Rockets?
Did you ever start weird little groups and put on shows with your friends?
Did TV ever "inspire" you to do anything as a child?

Monday, April 18, 2011

So Far, This Monday

I'd wear Monday on a Saturday, would you?

My day has been thrown off a bit. I got to sleep in a little (which was nice, I've been exhausted recently. Running on empty but still running.) because I had an appointment this morning at 9AM. So, I laid around in bed, reading my book till around 7:30AM and started getting ready for work. I got out of my PJ's just after 8AM- when I actually should be at work.

I always feel a little naughty being at home on a week day (sick or not sick) past 8AM and that naughty exciting feeling starts to dissipate around 3PM when I know people start to filter out of their offices and head home. It's completely gone by 5PM.

So because I had an appointment this morning I didn't get to work till 10AM and dove right into my projects. By lunch, I was done. Not really done with the stuff I needed to do but my attention went else where.


Part of my thinks it's my job. It needs different things from me and I need different things from it and I don't think either of us are suited for each other. I keep trying, and trying and trying and trying and some parts of it are getting better because I understand more what is needed from me. But there is this one side that just isn't what I need. I'm bored with it, and really... it's not me. I'm a people person (no matter how much I try to resist that label because I don't like having to always deal with people; always be on for them) and I am not an accountant. Yes, I like to manipulate money and make it work for me. I like the challenge of make it multiply and I'm good at making it small but damn, this is somebody elses money and I'm just not interested. My brain does not get it. I'm a problem solver and for the first time I just can't seem to solve this because I am just so lost in my resources. UGH! and my supervisor is swamped. She's like a Mum, getting pulled in every direction by everyone. I don't want to do that to her. I've done it enough...

Why can't I get this?

So, I'm going to keep trying... at least till the day is done. But, it temps me a bit... my mind starts to wander a little. I start to dream of another direct and the idea that I could do anything tempts me again. I'm just so distracted, my focus is usually really good when it comes to work. And I love my work, always... true. I might not always like it but I always love it. Sometimes though, love isn't always enough and sometimes not having a reason to go isn't a good enough reason not to go.

I'm not going to up and leave, that's just not my style. When it comes to making big decisions like this I need to take the time to really be honest with myself. I mean really, it's just one little project that I don't like. I'll get better at it. At the end of this year I'll be 5 years at this company, I usually take a chance to look at where I am and where I want to go and be honest with myself about if I'm actually going to get there by staying where I am. The one thing I don't like to do (even though, it can feel comfortable at times to be this way) is to stay stagnant. Also, I refuse to leave a job without a plan. Plus, I live to leave at the start of the year so I have my full vacation pay coming to me (silly, but it's true- it's like double indemnity) and I have a fresh set of benefits to use up (gobble-gobble health spending account/dental/extended health!). Plus, I like to leave things as clean as possible so the next predecessor does not have the issue of sorting through my mess. That's just not fair to anyone.

My intention in writing this post had nothing to do with my job, it had more to do with Monday just being Monday (I like Monday, I wish I had underpants that said Monday on them. I also like Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday... well all the days. Except Sunday... Sunday's are usually a little melancholy for whatever reason.). It's funny how when you think you have nothing to say at all there is often something there, just waiting for the chance to be heard.

How has your Monday been today?

Friday, April 15, 2011


I woke up looking this good.

I want this hair. It's beautiful... I usually don't write about hair, fashion, make-up and all that fussy girly stuff. I like it, I read about it and all that wonderful stuff but to blog about it. It's just not my thing. There is so much really good stuff out there that to join the swarm would be diffcult. Plus, I like talking about other stuff too.

Anyway, back to hair. This hair, it's so sexy and soft looking. I want it. On my head. Now. There is a whole spread on Fashionising with hair I love. It's Bardot with a modern flair. Less spray, more hair. Touchable.

I think I need to get another set of hot rollers, I've been using them on my hair because I think they are better for it then my hotter-than-the-sun culring iron. But, due to the length of my hair, I find I could benefit from using more rollers.

I always ask girls how they do thier hair when I see this look and they often tell me that they just use thier curling iron without clipping the hair into it. Just wrapping the section around... I've tried this and I can't get anywhere with it. I think it's becasue my hair is naturally straight and fine so it just doesn't hold curl well. *sigh

Regardless, I want that hair.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Confession: I Need to Blog in the Morning

I usually get to work at 7:45 AM, I open up my office, put my stuff down, turn the ringer off on my phone (cell phone, not my work phone), change my shoes (it's like being in school again, I have indoor and outdoor shoes- really one pair is just easier to walk in than the other), blow my nose (yup, as soon as I walk in to my office) and turn my computer on. By this point I check my emails, both work and personal and then I start to surf the Internet. At this point I would also turn on my radio which is always tuned to CBC 1 but my battery is dead and I just haven't remember to steal borrow some from my personal free for all the supply room. The ache to write usually hits me about now. I log into blogger loaded with stories, thoughts and feelings. I am always collecting things and filing them away in my head. Sometimes what I want to write it is already in my finger tips and I just have to place them on the keyboard and let everything just happen. Sometimes I've read or heard something interesting that I want to share or express my opinion on. Sometimes I have nothing that I actually want to share so I write about what my heart has to say or what it torturing my mind. Those ones usually don't get published, and if they do they are usually vague, cryptic and don't really make much sense to anyone other then to me. My post inbox is filled with drafts that never made it to being published. I sometimes go through and delete the ones written purely on emotion.

Regardless, I am usually writing by 8:15 AM, just in time for my Breakfast Buddy, E. to come and get me. So, I always get stopped part way and have to come back to my thought which isn't where it was 20 minutes before. But that's okay, I have my food and my steamed milk and I just keep going. I write, and if they are coming easy, I usually write until about 10AM. Like today, this is post #3.. I usually post date them if I write more then one but I haven't been doing that this week. Actually, that's not true. I did three on Monday and posted the one about My Bestfriends Happiness on Tuesday. Just to space them out... I felt like I was posting too many "moody" ones.

I don't really know how many people actually read this blog of mine and the fact that it filters through to Facebook about 48 hours after I've posted it on Blogger, I know even less about how many people actually read what I have to say. I write for me though, but keeping in mind that anyone could read it. Yes, it's a kind of therapy-journal thing but I have no control over who reads this, so I am careful. I try to keep it superficial as possible without completely starving myself of expression. I try to be sensitive to the people I write about who are directly in my life. Really, I just want to dump out everything in my head, heart and mind and play with it but I don't think many people would appreciate that. That's what my private blog is for, I guess.

So, usually by the time I finish my steamed milk I am also done blogging (I just slurped the last of the melted chocolate out of the bottom and tossed the cup away). I am trying to wrap this one up. It's just after 10AM and I am ready to start my work. This will probably reach Facebook by 4:30PM this afternoon. Sometimes, if the day is slow and I find something interesting in my daily adventures I'll post again before I leave for work but really, I'll be back tomorrow morning, just before 8AM, searching for words and loaded with inspiration.

Do you have a method to your madness when it comes to writing? Is it part of your day-to-day things or something done only on the weekend (I almost never blog on the weekend. It's an At Work Only thing pretty much)?

Cheese School 101: Part Duex

Come here you little stinker and get in my belly!

So, you love cheese. You know how to make the perfect cheese plate. You know the proper way to serve, store and eat your cheese. You even know about knives.

So, now what?

Well, what about those change-your-life strong cheeses?

That's right how about a cheese plate for brave souls that will blow your mind (and stink up your living room).

Can you handle it?

Overall rule of thumb: Typically it's alright to eat the rind of any cheese, as long as you can handle the stronger flavor (exceptions, of course, are cloth-bound or wax rinds). I personally just don't like the texture. But then again, I have also eaten wax rinds on error so I think I'm just extra careful these days.

Monte Enebro. This quirky Spanish goat cheese is covered in ash and mold. The flavor is creamy and salty on the inside, and then gets spicy, damp and acidic as you get toward the rind. Its overall funny appearance is said to resemble the leg of a mule!

Quadrello di Bufala. This gamey cheese is made in northern Italy with water buffalo milk. Two SUPER cool brothers took over their father's farm (their dad had started the farm in 1968 and tragically died the same year). They wanted to do more than just make mozzarella, so they created a bunch of different funky cheeses. This cheese is very barnyard-y; you can taste wet straw, a bit of stink and sweetness at the same time. Tangy, meaty, very rich. Washed in brine.

Epoisses. There are two ways to serve this runny cow's milk cheese--cut it like a pizza or cut the top off and scoop it out with a spoon (or dip your bread in!). After four weeks of aging in France, this cheese is rinsed in French brandy--and once it crosses the pond, Murray's washes it in brandy again in their cheese cave to kick up the intensity. Very strong, gooey, stinky. (In fact, it's so stinky that there's a rumor that it's banned from French public transportation.) Like a salty pudding. Fun fact: Napoleon Bonaparte was a huge fan!

Pecorino Foglie de Noce. This raw sheep's milk cheese is buried in barrels full of walnut leaves while it ages. You can taste the walnut flavor in the cheese, and the rind is grassy and herbaceous. Milky, nutty, sharp and very salty. Great with fresh grapes, since it's so salty that you need that refreshing palate cleanser. (Fun fact: Did you know that the word "pecorino" doesn't actually connote a specific cheese, but simply refers to any Italian sheep's milk cheese?)

Caveman Blue. This blue cheese is made with raw cow's milk in Oregon. (The Pacific Northwest is a big blue hotspot.) Really fruity and spicy, the flavor is right up front. Has nuances of beef and bacon and grass. Not for people who are timid about blue cheeses! The name "Caveman Blue" is a nod to the nearby town of Grant's Pass, which is overlooked by a huge hulking statue of a caveman.

So, recently my boyfriend went through a Blue Cheese binge. It wasn't until a few years ago that I actually wanted to put it in my mouth, and then... with JP's insatiable nature I found myself putting more blue in my mouth then I would usually. I don't mind it but I'm picky. I would rather have the my Cambozola then my Caveman Blue. But when I go for cheese with the girls (remember, I said my dream would be to live off of cheese and dessert plates- i eat a lot of both) I always end up getting banished for ordering the stinkiest cheese in the place. I don't mean to, it just kind of happens. Pungent, earthy and bitter. Why does it taste so good at times?
What do you think, my lovelies? Do you dare? How bold are you when it comes to cheeses?

Inspired and pictures by Cup of Jo

The Opera: Aida

"In your looks I trace a joy unwonted"

Before the grand pageantry of Hollywood’s Cleopatra or The Ten Commandments, there was Verdi’s Aida. Set in the Egypt of the Pharaohs, this vast, sweeping saga of love, loyalty and treason is an operatic tour de force which stirs the emotions like few others.

Tonight is the last opera of the 2010/2011 season. As always, Calgary Opera is ending on a bang with the famous story of Aida by one of my favorite classic composers, Giuseppe Verdi. The season always starts and ends strong with the middle performance always being something a little experimental and painful to sit through (My dad and I have gotten into the habit of leaving at first intermission if it's terrible).

Aida, an Ethiopian princess, is captured and brought into slavery in Egypt. A military commander, Radames, struggles to choose between his love for her and his loyalty to the Pharaoh. To complicate the story further, Radames is loved by the Pharaoh's daughter Amneris, although he does not return her feelings.

I'm interested to see this production because, as I mentioned before, Verdi is a favorite composer of mine and his arias tend to be uplifting, captivating and catchy. He's romantic and full of energy, both dark and light. He sets the mood so well for celebration. This should be fantastic.

I took a peak at the 2011/2012 season and it looks good. I am aware though, that I have been going to the opera a long time now. Well over 10 years... three operas a year. La Boheme is coming back to close up the season. That has to be one of my top five favorite operas of all time (another favorite composer,  Giacomo Puccini).  I'm not sure where I will be this time next year, life seems to be leading me towards adventure and there is a plan that I might be on one of my greatest adventures ever... this time next year. Which I want to be, I want to be on the adventure. So, we will see.

But, see La Boheme next year. Make a point of it. And see it with someone speical.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Your Secrets are Coming to Calgary

My Best Friends Happiness

She found happiness

It wasn't until early this year that my best friend found her soul mate. It renewed my faith in finding a love so special that it could change your life. I stopped believing in that a little while ago. I became disenchanted with the hope that I would find someone who would be my match. I figured that I had missed my boat and that I was past my prime and had to basically accept that I was going to either be with the wrong person for the rest of my life or be alone.

In turn, my best friends journey to connection shifted my own paradigm resulting in it's own series of events.
To see her fully immersed in her life, being herself, giving and receiving love- was so special. I was moved. Love is always moving for me, making me a little misty eyed with happiness and to see someone who means so much to me just enveloped in such adoration and emotional intimacy, it's spectacular.

And I started to beleive that there might actually be that perfect match out there for me.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Double Dining Hobbit Style

breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner and (later in the evening) supper- a Hobbits life for me!

I often joke that I am part Hobbit. Mostly my size in comparison to others, what my feet look like and how I like to eat.

For as long as I can remember, I've always had double breakfast. I have first breakfast before 9AM and second breakfast comes before 11AM. It's just how I am and my body loves it. Then, when I went to Quebec in 2006, I started having first and second dinner. My partner at the time and I were so inspired by the food that we didn't want to waste our 10 days on just 10 dinners. So, we doubled up and literally almost busted at the seams and it was so worth it.

Since then, I don't do double dinner as often now unless I am on holidays. But I do double up on my early morning and afternoon snacks. I'm lucky to have a metabolism that reacts well to high quantities of food. My favorite is double dessert. Sometimes it ends up being triple dessert!

I'm also lucky right now to have a partner in my life who enjoys eating just as much as I do and meets me at my metabolic rate. It's common for the people I eat with on a regular bases to gain about 15-20 lbs which isn't always appreciated by them. On Saturday I had an amazing day with JP as we went for first breakfast right at 9AM, then explored the museum (before, having a snack of cookies with cheese and crackers), walk down 8th Ave and stop into a restaurant to have a glass of wine and pulled pork sandwich, make our way down to 17th ave (stopping for more cookies and cheese) to wander in and out of different shops and stopping at a bakery to buy some buttery flaky treats. This all on the way to farm to share a cheese and meat board. Delicious...

Not only does my schedule match up with that of a hobbits, so doesn't my preference for delights. Bread (actually ANY carb- mmmm), meat, potatoes, tea, and cheese always sit well on my tummy. As do sweets, wine (though a Hobbit does prefer ale) and butter. I have a special passion for french food though, which I don't think Hobbits really like that much.

Because I am working on trying to gain the weight back I lost over Christmas (I dropped 15 lbs which put me at a frightening proportion, in my eyes) this kind of eating is helpful but doesn't produce the quickest results for me.  I've just hovering under 90 lbs which my goal right now is just to get out of the 80's and back into the 90's. It's took me about 5 years to get past that mark but maybe, things will be different this time.

Yes-o, Yes-o, a hobbits life for me!

So, do you think you can eat like a hobbit?

Greece from the Water

It's the time, it's the place, it's the feeling

I keep a Bucket List of places I want to travel to in the next 10 years. Yes, I agree- 10 years is a long time but I want to be realistic and I also want to savor.

A while ago I saw a movie called The Big Blue. An inspiring film, superficially about diving. Metaphorically about search for love, family, "wholeness" and the meaning of life and death. Most of it was filmed in Greece (as well as Peru- another bucket list place) which opened my eyes to the grace of the land.

It was then that I decided that Greece and the Greek Islands were a place I needed to see.

There are so many ways to get around and though I tend to steer clear of cruises, boats are a different story.

How does chartering your own yatch with your own private skipper sound? Stopping when you want to swim and dive, never have to move your luggage (though, ideally... I dream of not having any luggage, unrealistic but a dream), and being able to to jump from place to place with built in down time.

It's cheap too.... $230/per couple total a night which includes 2 meals (eaten on land), a little tour guiding, lodging plus transportation.

I don't like the idea of having to bounce from place to place at the mercy of another persons guided tour. If I want to stay in an area for more then a day, let me. If I want to get out of another place in 4 hours- please... let me do that too. If I want to pop over to Italy for lunch and then back to Greece for dinner, life is good.

So who knows, this was just something that I stumbled across when I was looking at pictures of the Greece Islands this morning. Mykonos, Santorini, Rhodes, just to list a few... There is so much, and my I understand why my sister took 6 months to travel between Greece and all the Islands. I still want to do it, just to get a taste.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Christmas with Steve

DYI: Steve Style

I once had a roommate named Steve, he was fantastic and I was sad the day he moved out. Sure, his furniture wasn't my style and he never ate the food I cooked. But we were good friends and those were good times.

Our first Christmas together was interesting. He asked me if I wanted a Christmas Tree and I said No. What's the point? We have nothing and we weren't allowed real ones in the condo (fire hazard) and I just didn't think we had room to store a fake one. Plus, we had to buy ornaments and there was a big computer desk taking up the whole front room. I just wasn't in to it.

One day (maybe a Sunday??), I was playing one of my computer games (which, I must add I had been playing for the whole day) and Steve came home. I noticed him walk in the door, I said "Hi" and just kept playing. He had bags of stuff, I think he had gone to Zellers and bought a bunch of cereal for the Mustard Seed (Steve had a charity at the time called Zombie Squad and he would do all kinds of wonderful, good karma things). I remember Steve moving about and doing stuff but that was about all I noticed until about 4 hours later when I lifted my eyes from the computer screen and noticed...

A Christmas tree had been set up and decorated in the front room. The same room that I was in playing my computer game. It's not that I couldn't see, of course I could see. I was just really into my game. I yelped at Steve but I guess he had also left for the night (This is why I need to be careful with how much computer game playing I do, I could loose a whole weekend and not even notice). Upon further inspection I noticed that it had been decorated with those little Winnie the Pooh cellphone charms that you get from the dispensers that are always sitting at the doorways of any department store. The star was Kane's mask from one of Steve's WWE toys. Or maybe it was Demolition's.. I don't remember because I use to change all their clothes around so it's all one big cross dressing mess in my mind now. I think there may have even have been a set of ear phones draped across the tree as garland.

CORRECTION: They were Ear Plugs and he also put a Count bookmark on the tree. But that was a the year after. See picture. One was never taken from the first year.

It was funny and so tacky but I loved that he did that even though I said "No Christmas Tree". A few days later when I was working on wrapping my Christmas Presents (it's an all day event that includes a glue gun and all kinds of bits) and took what I had left over and decorated the tree properly. Leaving the Winnie the Pooh ornaments in place I added colored balls, glittery stars and beaded garland making it actually look like a Christmas tree.

We put all our presents around it (Steve went to Kelowna for Christmas, I went to my parents) and I made sure my Menorah was close by (yes, I light one every year- and it's not because I am Jewish). The following year was much the same. I came home from work one day to find that fake Christmas tree set up in the front room in all it's delight (see picture) letting me know that Steve wanted to set up Christmas. I'd take it all apart and decorate it my way and start putting presents under.

This year I didn't bother with a tree, I made Steve take the tree with him when he left and I have all the Winnie the Pooh cell phone charms handing on my wall at work. I'll do the tree thing later, when I have a place that I am sharing with someone. Maybe it will be a mini tree or a real tree or a fake tree or one I have made out of hangyballs from the ceiling. Doesn't matter. The whole thing makes me laugh and is a fond memory in the back of my mind and I don't know WHY I am talking about this now, in April with Christmas no where in sight.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Eggs 101: Hard Cooked Eggs

Martha, you were a bad egg!

Here I go talking about (please choose one of the following):
a) Eggs
b) Silly stuff
c) Food (this isn't a food blog, remember?)
d) all of the above

I pick: d) all of the above

Easter Sunday is fast approaching, at least it is to me. I need to buy my eggs. It's my duty to bring the eggs in all their smashing glory, to brunch (as well as be the chemist with my Dad on Good Friday when we make the Easter Breads).

I take great pride in everything that I do so when over the years I have learnt how to make a perfect hard cooked egg and now I'm going to teach you.

First of all, they are not called Hard Boiled Eggs because you shouldn't be boiling the egg at all. I'll explain later.

Tip#1 ensure that your eggs have been sitting in the fridge for about a week. The fresher the egg to harder it is the peel because the albumen looses some of its moister and carbon dioxide through the shell. This doesn't change the taste or nutritional value of the egg, just makes it easier to peel (5 points for that!).

Tip#2 make sure the egg is at room temperature before cooking. This creates an more even cooking temp inside the egg as well helps to prevent against cracking.

Now that we have the tips out of the way, here is the method:

  1. Place eggs in saucepan large enough to hold them in single layer. Add cold water to cover eggs by 1 inch. Heat over high heat just to boiling. Remove from burner immediately and cover pan.
  2. Let eggs stand in hot water about 15 minutes for large eggs (12 minutes for medium eggs; 18 minutes for extra large) *be sure to set your timer!
  3. Drain immediately and serve warm. Or, cool completely under cold running water or in bowl of ice water, removing only when egg is completely cool to touch. Refrigerate.
The cooling of the egg is just as important as cooking technique if you plan to serve the eggs at a later date. This helps prevents that unsightly greenish ring around the yolk that occurs from a reaction between the sulfur in egg white and the iron in the yolk.

Hard cooked eggs obviously keep for a long time when kept in their shell (up to 4 weeks, but in my books... that's a little scary! I'd try to use them within in the week). I usually decorate them the day before brunch- last year I hot glued little cotton balls on the backs and googly eyes on the front with little pink noses and ears. They were so cute! I had a picture but it was on my phone and I lost my phone at the start of the year.

This year, I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the eggs to make them pretty. Any ideas? I've often toyed with the idea of making natural dyes for the eggs but I'm not Martha Stewart (though, at times I wish I were... pre-jail) and I don't have the time or the patience for that. I like hot glue guns right now. So, maybe I'll just bedazzle them with all kinds of bits I can find at Michael's. Or even taking a napkin with pretty designs, splitting the layers and decoupaging little designs on them. Easy to get into and no one will complain about their newly dyed hands. Hmmm... I might be on to something here...

anyway, this was my Hard Cooks Eggs class. May you never have rubbery, greenish eggs again!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Accio New York

Stop fooling around Snape!

Okay, so a summoning charm to New York isn't really going to work and if it did, a lot of people would be very cross with me. It's just better to fly there and do my thing. My thing being... eating, shows, adventure, learning AND... (wait for it... wait for it...)

"Stroll into Hogwarts (OH MY GOD!), visit the Gryffindor common room and see Harry Potter's bed in the dormitory he shared with Ron Weasley (OH MY GOODNESS!!) in a new exhibition at Discovery Times Square.

The hundreds (HUNDREDS??) of artifacts, dozens of costumes, props and furniture from the film franchise used in "Harry Potter, The Exhibition" will transport fans of the boy wizard to the world where Harry, Hermione and Ron battle the evil Lord Voldemort (HELL YAAAA!!!).

Stretch out in Hagrid's oversized easy chair (OH PLEASE!!) in the hut he shares with his dog Fang before creeping into the Forbidden Forest inhabited by unicorns (UNICORNS!!), centaurs (CENTAURS!!) and Thestrals (I just don't want to see Argon, that HUGE spider and all it's spider friends, thank you).

Sit beneath the floating candles of the Great Hall, where the sorting ceremony, feasts and Yule Balls are held. (Can I PLEASE have some Butter Beer???)

Even those visitors not familiar with the J.K. Rowling books - a publishing phenomenon credited with introducing a new generation to reading - and the blockbuster film franchise based on them, are bound to be impressed by the artistry and detail of the more than 200 artifacts and props in the show.

"It's like your day at Hogwarts," (OH MY GOODNESS!!!) said Eddie Newquist, the chief creative officer for Las-Vegas based Global Experience Specialists, Inc. (GES).

"You feel like you stepped into the movie."

The exhibition, which was years in the making and includes items from the final film, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2" which is to be released in July, is in New York until September 5, the final stop on its U.S. tour before moving overseas.

"We wanted to give fans something they have never seen before," said Newquist. "There is no better way to celebrate the imagination and creativity of the Harry Potter film series than to actually walk among the iconic costume and props that helped bring the world of the film to life."

Divided into several sections, the 14,000 sq ft (1,301 sq metre) exhibit covers all aspects of Harry's magical world and his adventures with Ron and Hermione.

The portrait gallery where the painting of The Fat Lady guards the entrance to the Gryffindor common room is recreated and the contents of Harry's trunk - his glasses, family photo album and acceptance letter to Hogwarts - are displayed.

Interactive displays in the Herbology class and in the section on Quidditch, the most popular wizard sport, also enable visitors to feel part of Harry's world.

"It is all real. They are all the things used on the sets," Newquist said. (It all REAL?? OH MY GOODNESS!!!)
© Copyright (c) Reuters"

OH MY GOODNESS! I had expressed at an earlier date how much I just LOVE Harry Potter (Oh my GOD! Harry Potter!!!) and well, I mean... I've been meaning to take a trip to New York this year and this exhibit is on until September (lots of time for me to get my butt down there) and well... maybe I just need to make a point of going. And while I'm there, why not take a little flight to Florida and take in Harry Potter Land as well ( I really really want to be outfitted with my own wand. Really, I do).

So yes, this is all very exciting to me. Though I admit, I wouldn't fly to New York just to see this... I mean, there is so much more to that city that I wouldn't even be heart broken if I didn't get to see this (okay, a little heart broken) but it's an awesome motivator to me. Go on a nice week day when all the kids are in school so I can just chill and play my little Wizarding Games.


Okay, I am done. I will not return to the adult muggle I was born (okay, I wasn't born an adult but you get what I am saying) and stop getting over excited over Harry Potter (OH MY GOD!! HARRY POTTER!!!).


Monday, April 4, 2011

Need Want Like

A few years ago I created a spreadsheet of what I required from a partner in a relationship- that's right. A spreadsheet. I just found it on my computer at work when I was cleaning up my documents.

It's interesting as I look at it, I can see the characteristics of the different male influences in my life. Both the positive and the negative and how they have influenced the idea of what I need from a partner. I even see influences from female friendships.

It was last saved in December of 2009 and as I look at it now, April 2011... not much has changed.

I might add a few things here and there and higher the value content on the a few things that I want in a partner but the core of my ideal partner is outlined here. I remember when I made it, I sent it to my good friend Spaceman Spiff. I asked him if I was being unreasonable in any of these things and he told me no. Too demanding? He said no. Looking at it now, I see why.

It has nothing to do with if these things are right or wrong, I just know that they are things that I personally know that I require so I can effortlessly be myself and be happy therefore having a fulfilling, meaningful relationship.

That is my goal? Correct?

I can deal with everything else as long as I follow these guidelines.

Do you have a list of what you Need, Want, and Like? Care to share some or even all?
What are your deal breakers?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Climb

there she is, down at the bottom! That is my dog, Dinner.

Nothing ever stays the same. And it shouldn't. Going through life with the same patterns, everything predictable just isn't really living. Coming into January I was flooded with a feeling of accomplishment, I've described it as feeling as though I completed a complicated level in a game. I entered, I faught, and finally I completed everything to be rewarded with a bonus level. Life was suddenly slippery, easy and safe. Everything packed away in little boxes. And now, I'm ready to move forward with the next level. As it has been my experience with most games, the beginning is often free of unexpected surprises (usually). They lay of the land is unknown and you just never really know what might be hiding behind the next corner; demon or treasure?

I guess I wasn't expecting to start playing again so quickly. I feel disoriented a little and a little under protected, like I need to upgrade my armor. My allies have changed and finding my rhythm is throwing me off the most right now. It's only a matter of time till I find my footing and get a decent grasp on my journey, I guess I just wasn't ready to jump back into my game so soon. I was enjoying the soft glow ambience. Life doesn't wait for anyone and I guess now that I see that it's time to get moving again, I have to pick my direction and just go.

This is silly, I'm writing this blog post from my phone. I don't really know if this makes any sense of if autocorrect has gotten the better of me. I should post it though, just to put it out there. Things are good, I'm just looking for my new role, my new direction and then, as it usually does, things will start to move like clock work.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

First of all, this is not a food blog. Why? I don't want to commit to just one thing. I just want to talk about whatever the heck I want to talk about and not have to worry about direction.

Second of all... I am obsessed with food. I look at pictures all day long. Well, maybe not all day but if I am laying in bed waiting for something more than likley I am looking at food pictures or places to eat. My Twitter account is mostly all food, weather and news. Plus a little bit about local events in the city. Oh and science. I like science. And space. Anyway... back to food.

Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies.

That sentence alone is amazing and then pair it with this:

Amazing!!! Oh my god I need to go home right now and make these.

Why didn't I think of this? Maybe because I don't usually buy store bought cookies (except for baby cookies of course. Nummy-num-num) but.. wait.. I'm distracted, I forget what I was talking about. That picture is making my mouth water like the rainy season in Indonesia.

So yes, here is the method and the madness to this cookie:

Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies
recipe courtesy of Picky Palate

•2 sticks butter, softened
•3/4 cup packed brown sugar
•1 cup white sugar
•2 large eggs
•1 tablespoon vanilla extract
•3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
•1 teaspoon salt
•1 teaspoon baking soda
•10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
•1 package Oreo cookies – I used Double Stuffed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of a stand mixer (you can also use a hand mixer), cream together the butter and sugars. Add in the eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add to the wet mixture and combine thoroughly. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Chill the dough for 15 minutes to make it easier to work with and to keep the dough from spreading when baking.

Using a cookie scoop place one scoop of dough on top of an Oreo cookie. Place another single scoop on the bottom of the Oreo to create a cookie sandwich. Seal the edges together to completely close in the Oreo.

Place the balls of cookie dough on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 9-13 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack.

Photos & recipe courtesy of: Picky Palate

oh my goodness... Delicious!!