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Monday, March 31, 2003
What I want: I want to punch things. I want to lay about me with a metal-edged ruler. There's some blame-storming going on, brought on by a rather expensive typo, and all the compass needle fingers are pointing at me, today's hapless magnetic north. Further proof that you have no friends when mistakes occur. So much for my attempts to cut down on the number of later proofs by checking corrections only. Looks like I'll have to read each one as though I'm seeing it for the first time. Not bad if it's a quarter-page ad. A tad boring when it's a 100-page annual. Particularly galling this time, as it was an element that had been fine for the first five proofs, then changed. I hate those damned sneaky late changes. Hate 'em bad.
This weekend's challenge: The Spring Cat Bath. Martini was particularly ripe and was also shedding like crazy, so I figured a bath was in order. She puts up with it pretty well for a cat, meaning she howls constantly and tries to get out of the tub by climbing up my face. Ah, but this time I'd remembered to trim her claws first. So she had to put up with turning into an even funnier looking animal than usual, sodden blob of a body, chicken-bone legs and tiny black thread of a tail. She stayed smelling good for about two hours, until she headed to the litter box for another disastrous evacuation. Booted it back up stairs and trailed horrors into the living room, proudly. Only to have her exasperated owner haul her into the bathroom for damage control. Cats. You know I love them.
Friday, March 28, 2003
Before I forget: Happy Birthday once again to two of the finest: my younger brother, Colin, who is about to go through the fatherhood thing for the 5th time; and Grant H., who astounds me with his knowledge, and shames me with his goodness.
Thursday, March 27, 2003
Font Protest. [Again, swiped from Harrumph.]
Well designed Protest. [From Brushstroke, via Harrumph.]
Stupid Protest.
Brilliant protest. [Note: it's the March 25 entry.]
Monday, March 24, 2003
Another busy weekend. Lots of driving. Lots of volleyball tournament. And therefore lots of memories. Coaching can't be easy when yelling "Caitlin!" causes at least 3 heads to swivel simultaneously. [In my day and playing against Catholic teams, yelling "Cathy," "Mary," "Bernadette" or "Theresa" had the same effect.] There is still the inadvertent hilarity of watching a volleyball "thunk" in the middle of five people who all think the person next to them is going to get the ball. Also the surprise of getting a volleyball accidentally spiked to the head when you are sitting in the stands. "Sorry, ma'am!" What? Where am I? Who are you?
The secret to a memorable puttanesca sauce is in both the ingredients and the timing. Yes, you need anchovies, and yes, anchovy paste will do. I will let you get away with using tinned, sliced ripe olives, but I'd really rather you used Kalamata olives that you've pitted yourself. If the fresh tomatoes in your grocery store are like styrofoam, by all means use the canned. Only freshly ground black pepper, please. Yes to a whole teaspoon of crushed chilies. And four cloves of garlic, which you've minced exceedingly fine, and a quarter cup of extra-virgin olive oil. And four tablespoons of capers (equal to a small jar's worth). No, that's not too many. If you're using ripe tomatoes, here is where you blanch them in boiling water for 30 seconds or so, plunge them into ice water, peel them and seed them. Next: Gently, you fry the crushed chilies in the oil. Then you add the garlic, four good squeezes of the anchovy paste, the capers, the olives. Then you add the tomatoes and a good grind of black pepper and let everything simmer 12 minutes. That gives you plenty of time to cook your 454g of spaghettini al dente, and not drain it too terribly dry. Then you can sling it into your tomato sauce and serve it immediately. Feebs can cut down on the crushed chilies, I suppose. Feebs.
Hiya, Cousin Pete. Congrats on the impending happy event! FYI, "Jane" is a lovely name for a girl.
The Mystery is nae more. Fearless owned up to arranging the mystery letter from Arcata CA last week. Her pal Kaleb found himself in Arcata with nothing to do, so he e-mailed F. and she suggested that he send me a newspaper. Which was thoughtful, not to mention cool, and explains how a stranger got my address -- though I confess to being slightly sad not to have the mystery to cogitate about any longer. It was very fun while it lasted.
Jane vs. The Pastor: Another round of "Dodge the Pastor" concluded successfully for me yesterday. I had been invited to the brother's place in Red Deer not only to be a chauffeur, but to observe the baptism of my nieces and nephews at the Lutheran church. My brother and sister-in-law had wondered about asking me to stand as the children's sponsor for the baptism, but decided (rightly) that it would be better to pick someone who actually went to church. Instead, they asked my sister-in-law's sister. I'm not sure what my relationship to her would be, unless there's a degree of kinship called Middle-Aged Females Who Can't Stand Each Other, Politely. Anyway, she came in very handy after the service. While she talked to the hand-grabbing pastor, I stepped to one side and went around them. Goal!
Thursday, March 20, 2003
Book update: "Carter Beats the Devil" is a hell of a lot of fun so far.
Dolt(s). They would be the creative team behind the latest "Pizza Pop" tagline, "Pop your hunger." Who do you think is actually buying the household snacks, anyway? The mothers, not the pre-teens you're targeting. And if you gross out the mothers, your campaign is a goner.
Another sign of changing times: After 29 years of never missing the Academy Awards, this year I can safely say that I really do not give the tiniest trickle of a damn who wins what. No, wait. I can muster up just enough reaction to predict my outrage at the inevitable travesty of "Spirited Away" not winning Best Animated Film. And even though I love Steve Martin, not even the prospect of him hosting the ceremonies is sparking my excitement. I will probably go through the motions, mainly because it's something to watch other than CBC Newsworld, BBC International and those coked-up Henny-Pennies at CNN.
By this time tomorrow... I seem to be saying that a lot this week. By this time tomorrow, I will (a) have had some news from Dr. H. (I hope), (b) have taxed the motor of a rental car to the limit on the way to Red Deer, (c) have finished kicking the slats out of a promotional postcard, and (d) have remembered where the holy thundering hell I left the remote.
Tuesday, March 18, 2003
It's news like this that makes me realize how trivial my blog rants are, as well as regret every time I've indulged in the luxury of complaining about my dad. Bryce, my heart goes out to you and your family.
Monday, March 17, 2003
And the verdict is: "Amsterdam" was a rare comedic literary achievement, a suspension of different kinds of disbelief, and a great way to spend a day.
Freedom Poodles! Flipping through a few TV channels on Saturday, I came across a local news item about the tinier-brained restaurant owners in Calgary jumping on the "Freedom vs. French" bandwagon. One of them, surprise surprise, was the Blackfoot Truck Stop Café in my neighbourhood. The reporter interviewed several diners for their opinion on "Freedom Toast" and "Freedom Fries." A couple of the younger ones thought it was a good idea, but (and this did surprise me) none of the elderly patrons agreed. Including my ancient, wizened and scathing Great Auntie Grace: "Do we have to start calling French Poodles 'Freedom Poodles' now? It's ridiculous!" she said. Another older gent agreed, then added, "It reminds me of back in World War II, when instead of calling them 'German Measles,' we used to call them 'Liberty Measles.' "
"Liberty Measles?" Don't let any of the current propagandists hear this. "Freedom fries" is stupid enough. I can't imagine dying of "Patriot Flu."
I wrote to tell Dad about seeing our venerable ancestor on the television, and he wrote to ask if I would get in touch with her, perhaps take her to lunch. I don't know. I'm not much for the family obligation myth, faking respect for an elder who has never much liked me, and never bothered to hide that fact. Of course, as soon as I read Dad's letter yesterday, a PSA flashed on the tube about Elder Neglect. Yeah, but-but-but -- mean old lady -- cranky -- oh...never mind.
Friday, March 14, 2003
Test your Sense of "Humor": [Swiped directly from Metameat, and indirectly from Geegaw.]
Take this quiz!
Which Humor Troubles the Disposition of YOUR Body?

I'm full of WHAT?
Thursday, March 13, 2003
A curious thing. I'm not so much reading as racing through books lately, which is a classic anxiety trait. As soon as I approach the closing chapters, I start to get tense: how's it going to end? Could my guesses be wrong? It's going to be bad, isn't it? And so, in what I can only call a sort of mental cringing, like a child who can't watch something scary onscreen but can't drag herself away, I scuttle through the final pages and finish each book with a sense of relief. Phew, it wasn't so bad. We're okay. Only, then, I have to start another book almost immediately -- lighting it from the dying embers of the last book, so to speak. In the last two weeks I have read "Atonement," by Ian McEwan, "Waterland," by Graham Swift, and "The Miracle of Castel di Sangro," by Joe McGinnis. The first two are masterly and the third starts entertainingly and ends exasperatingly. I feel somewhat bad that I'm not devoting all my powers of concentration to the books I read, but I am, at least, enjoying them on some level. Today I started "Amsterdam," again by McEwan, and restarted "Carter Beats the Devil," by Glenn David Gold. Why am I telling you this? No idea. Possibly it's book club neurosis. (Like I needed another one.)
Tuesday, March 11, 2003
Surprised, Delighted x 2: Before I left for Victoria, I received an e-mail from a Stanford University linguistics senior, asking if I'd like to take part in a survey he'd designed. Apparently he'd stumbled across Not My Dog in a search for something else on the Web, you know, as you do, and paused to take in a grammar rant or two. I wrote that I was completely thrilled by the invitation, though pretty sure I would be ineligible to take part, not being an American citizen. But Canadian is close enough, and I've already completed a couple of surveys, and they were a hell of a lot more interesting and better written than the last 20 Internet surveys I've been forwarded, that's for sure. Thank you, J.W. I've always found linguistics a fascinating science, so if there's anything more I can do to represent an extreme on the grammar spectrum, just let me know and I'll comply in the twinkling of an interdental fricative.
Cool Thing No. 2: Talk about serendipity. Today a package came in the mail, postmarked Arcata, California, a town with the best local newspaper going, The Arcata Eye. I've blogged before about how the Arcata Police Report supplanted The Onion as my weekly online addiction. Anyway, the package contained last week's copy of The Arcata Eye, and a handwritten note:
Dear J:

You don’t know me - Im an unbalanced traveller passing through Arcata CA...Taking enjoyment from buying local papers and sending them randomly to people I dont know. By the time you receive this I will be in Alaska - If you have anything to say about my disorder my mail will be forwarded thru General Delivery, Arcata CA to Alaska.

Have a great day -
Kaleb Aldred.
The package was addressed to my office. No, I have no idea who Kaleb is, or how he tracked down my mailing address [though, wait -- I did subscribe to the Police Log Book online...maybe he accessed a database?] -- but I'm not worried. This is just plain neat-o. Thanks Kaleb, wherever you are.
Monday, March 10, 2003
No Sympathy! So movie theatres are hurting for cash, are they? I wonder why. After all, I took Win and Luce to see "The Jungle Book II" (they loved it), and the cost of tickets for one adult and two children, plus two small popcorns and two small beverages was only a whopping, vein-bulging, tooth-grinding, what-the-fracking FORTY-TWO DOLLARS. For 82 minutes of cartoon entertainment. That's what, 51 cents a minute? If I'd splurged on popcorn and a drink for me, it would have been more than $50. Attention, movie outlet morons: you're driving people away, knuckleheads. I could have rented a cartload of kids' videos at the price of taking them to one movie at your overpriced garage. You make me wish that you'll go under. I hope someone smarter (like a bug) comes along and says, "Hey, let's drop our prices and actually get more people in here! Oh, sure, charging people $10 a gram for popcorn to support our operating costs works in theory....but let's get those bums in seats first, then watch them buy more snacks at reasonable prices."
Babysitting recap: The girls and I had a great couple of days, and particularly liked our "Cinderella" rehearsals, which consisted of Win as the cranky director, Luce as a stage-bashful Cinderella, and me as the Narrator, Wicked Stepmother, Mean Stepsisters, Fairy Godmother and various Court Attendants. Brothers Grimm meet Disney meet Britney Spears (the girls objected to waltz music for the ball). It was kind of like the Monty Python sketch where the local women's institute re-enacts "Birth of a Nation," or some other epic. Good practice for improv, let me tell you.
Saturday, March 08, 2003
Babysitting the Demons of Sifton Boulevard, or 2/3rds of them anyway...the ferocious Win and Luce. Their brother Wee Alex is staying with the nanny -- I believe the parents were concerned that taking care of all three over the weekend might end with me being taken away in blankets, sobbing quietly onto the ambulance attendant's shoulder. Anyway: the kids are great. This morning I mentioned that French toast might be a fine idea. "Oh, yes! We love French toast!" said Win. "Or maybe I should make pancakes?" I said. "No! French toast!"
Luce stumbled downstairs in a sleepy haze. "Don't like French toast."
"Tell me what French toast is, Luce."
"I don't know."
Seasoned parents already know what's coming. The toast is duly made, lovingly, even, and patted with butter and trickled with syrup, and sliced into tidy pieces.
"Jane," said Win.
"Yes, Win?"
"I forgot something...I don't really like this kind of French toast."
"What kind of French toast do you like?"
"I dunno."
Cheerios to the rescue. Tomorrow I'll be wiser. Tomorrow I'll take them to the Zoo for breakfast. Now off to "The Jungle Book II" to find out if John Goodman sounds anything like Phil Harris.
Thursday, March 06, 2003
Contrast is life, or so I believe, since I started this week in the city of Victoria with all the colourful blooms and the mild weather, and now am shivering through a Prairie blizzard and some downright unfriendly Celsius. And zero humidity that makes the softest cotton shirt feel like you're wearing rusty chainmail over the Dead Sea scrolls.
In a blatant attempt to get me to move to the Island, family and friends were wonderful to me. "Wonderful" in this context embodies "wise" and "caring" and "patient" and "generous to a fault."
Once again I saw only enough of my cousins to remind me that I don't see them nearly enough. Once again I indulged in bad AM radio while bombing up and down the Island in a rental mobile. Once again I rationalized drinking a bathtub of red wine each night with "Well, I never drink at home, so...."
Nik and Dani were exceptionally devious in their attempt to motivate me to move to Victoria, giving me a foretaste of my future with an "Old Lady's Tour" of the city, complete with luncheon at The Royal Dutch Café, a carriage ride in the old town, a movie at the Roxy (a WWII-era quonset hut), and five-pin bowling.
These days no trip to Nik's is complete without a visit with the venerable Breezy, the stubborn and loveable Arab mare. Nik took her for a ride, with me following at a trudge ("walk" would be pushing it), through several scenic lanes on the Saanich peninsula. Three different times Breezy tried her "How about we go back home NOW" trick, backing up and pivoting, requiring Nik to prove each time that she was not going to fall for such trail pony stunts. Breezy hasn't quite resigned herself to the reality of carrying an experienced rider from now on -- or perhaps she's never had to deal with same. It was almost funny to see her try it on with Nik, although I'd bet Nik wasn't enjoying it as much.
A highlight of this trip was going out in Dad's boat, setting prawn traps and then going for an ultimately unsuccessful trawl for salmon. Dad and I in a boat -- well, we're Skipper and Gilligan, really, with the requisite shouting and glaring, and me just shrugging it off. I warned Dad from the outset that I really didn't know what I was doing on the boat, and then proved it to him by following his instructions ("Just parallel the coast") to the letter, and snagging our trawling lures in the shallows. Lots of helling and damning, and yet I didn't get upset, knowing that Dad wasn't really mad at me, just at the loss of the equipment.
I hope I don't come back as a prawn in my next life, or at least not as a prawn who gets caught by someone like me. I got quite adept at twisting their little heads off after awhile, but the first 20 were an embarrassing trip to Girlyland, dropping them and flinching when they squirmed, and trying not to squeak with dismay. Whatever pity I might have had for the hapless prawns was soon drowned by the anticipation of seeing them swimming once again, this time in garlic and butter.
Actually Dad was in fine form this trip, only savaging me with wisecracks every now and then, and even then they were so funny that I could only laugh. Scored a few points back by fixing a glitch in his Acrobat reader, if updating two versions could really be called "fixing" something.
So a terrific time was had by me, thanks to my delightful cousins Maryann and Laura, then Dad and Lorraine, then Nik and Dani. Coming back to several wildfires on the workfront is almost bearable after such a nice visit. Almost.