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Monday, April 30, 2007
Schmamazon. Well, how perfectly refreshing to get another e-mail from Amazon this morning, telling me that the DVD that I ordered in early December 2006 is still not quite available. How's about May 9 to 15th for delivery? You're okay with that, eh?
Oh, look! The product page no longer says the DVD is "in stock," but that it delivers in "1 to 3 days." Yeah, Venus days. One of which equals 243 Earth days. Heh.
Thirty-four minutes to glory: That's one way on His Nerdness the Red Baron from my house to the office. Thirty-four minutes of fairly constant pedalling, so that I am noticeably sweaty-headed for a half-hour or so after arrival, which the kinder of my coworkers are sure to comment upon.
Summer project is ON! After another enjoyable party with my friend Paul and his deaf parents, I'm determined to learn what you might call "Tourist ASL," or the very basics. I learned a few more things yesterday. That Paul's parents were themselves children of deaf parents. And, that ASL, like all languages, evolves over time. Paul told me his version of ASL is quite dated, that he hasn't kept up with the slang. Also that the government doesn't consider fluency in ASL to be the same as being bilingual--and that is just retarded, Canadian Government. A language is a language, you numskis.
Summer Project No. 2! On a typically annoyingly windy Calgary Sunday afternoon, I introduced the crabby old mare to some desensitization practice à la Pat Parelli. Using a long stick to gently poke and rub her all over, then attaching the "savvy string" to the stick and gently flinging it over her withers, back and haunches, etc. All accompanied by soothing talk and many oat crunchies. As I suspected, Abbie had never had anything of the sort done to her, and so the first 10 minutes were a bit of a rodeo, with her spooking and jumping and snorting and me staying out of range while she was tethered, or getting yanked around at the end of the halter shank when she wasn't. She really is quite a sweetheart, though, and quickly responded to the trust-building. Soon I was wiggling the halter shank to get her to back up, draping the savvy string over her head, getting her to flex her head towards each wither, and even standing quietly when the string would suddenly arise from her blind spot. Frankly, as has often been said about Pat Parelli's methods, it's the human who gets more from the training. In my case, patience.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
New things that start with "B":
  • Bike: the ultra-spiffy Red Baron, formerly known as the Vagabond something-or-other, found in the basement of a Lacombe hardware store. I have been dithering about getting a new bike for years, since the loveable mountain bike has always been a bit too small and my carpal tunnels have been getting bitchy lately. Anyway! The Baron has 1/3rd as many gears (6), upright handlebars and a seat that wouldn't look out of place on a tractor. Of course I'm in love.
  • BEES. I helped set up four hives on the roof of our office building, and then sort of helped unload the four tubes of bees (one tube per hive). The Karo bee whisperer, Rudy, had advised wearing old clothes, since upon their release the bees tend to poop right away. During the setup I learned that our bees were imported from Hawaii--a state still happily free of colony collapse disorder. I vowed there and then to refer to the 2007 apiary as The Big Ka-honey, only because I know Vinnie will punch me for it. We put a few jars of feed (simple syrup) into each hive, since the Calgary flowers aren't out yet. I was clad in veil and gauntlets, and with thousands of bees dancing around my head, was as happy as hell.

Friday, April 20, 2007
Just overheard in the developer/programmer zone: "E-mail? Old school." Delivered in an appropriately scathing tone. Oh, SURE....just when I'm finally convinced that my computer is not a television set wired to a typewriter. Nice going, kidlets.
Cheering for small cows. Yep, that was me at an actual rodeo last night, a very poorly attended rodeo thanks to the NHL playoff game going on at the Saddledome next door. Cheered for the calves that escaped being roped. And saw something I've never seen before in a rodeo, which was one of the pickup riders roping a bull (which bull had just catapulted a cowboy into the boards), in order to tug it out of the arena. Nothing new there, except this time the pickup rider's horse suddenly went nuts, bucking, rearing and spinning. The rider soon bailed, but the confused bull was still attached to the bucking horse by a rope. The rider caught the horse and remounted, a gutsy move that made me envious. The other pickup rider took over the bull-tugging chore. After a few more snorts and hops, the spazzed-out horse regained its cool.
Note to barrel racers: Ladies, sequins and sparkles belong on your blouses. Not on your horse's bum. Please.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Very well put:
There is nothing to learn from listening to the killer…a vacant Narcissus with an infinite supply of masks, a clever manniken [sic] who cannot apprehend the humanity of others. He could only feel empathy for the object in the mirror, and it’s hardly surprising this example spent his last hours posing for the camera. It was the only thing that understood him, and accepted him for the glorious, tragic creature he knew he was.

[from The Bleat by James Lileks, Apr. 19, 2007.]

They humour the Old One: Yesterday the programmers in my vicinity made a point of asking me if I'd like to hear anything in particular on the department stereo. Why, yes: I've been nostalgic for my old EyeWire days lately, and so wished to hear the Chemical Brothers. No sooner asked than programmed and played. Thank you, kiddie-winkles, for catering to the ancient. Even though it resulted in the resident production manager hollering "What the hell is THAT?" as she does every time something that is not Top 40 wafts through the speakers.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Amazonked. I ordered a DVD back in early December 2006. On the Amazon product page the DVD was listed as "in stock." I have been watching with increasing irritation as the delivery date has been pushed back in two- to three-week increments ever since. I've e-mailed Amazon a couple of times with subject lines that translate to "What the hell?" "What does "in stock" mean to YOU?" and so on. Finally I was given a toll-free customer service number to somewhere in the deep southern United States. I had a lovely, liquidly consonanted chat with an agent who assured me that sometimes things just get delayed, that's all.
I probably wouldn't have called, except that in 10 years of blowing my paycheques on Amazon, this is the first bad service I've had. No, "bad" isn't exactly it. "Confusing" is more like it, because the DVD product page still says it's in stock. And this morning, what do I see in my e-mail but a message from Amazon! Saying that I will get my DVD not this week, but sometime in May (unless something else happens). Quelle freakin' surpreez.
Because no words suffice.My American friends have written next to nothing about the Virginia school slaughter--what posts there are have been more about the media reaction, not the tragedy itself. There is nothing to say that can make sense of such events.
I heard an interview with an American professor this morning on CBC where he said that this kind of thing couldn't happen in Canada, because we don't have the same killing culture as the U.S. does. I find this statement so uninformed as to be ridiculous. This tragedy can happen, and does happen, anywhere--as Canada already knows to its sorrow.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
I'll always remember my cousin Laura reading an excerpt to me from "Breakfast of Champions," where Zog, a visitor from the planet Margo, tries to alert the owner that his house is ablaze, using his planet's customary communication: farting and tap-dancing. For which efforts the house owner brains him with a golf club.
Kurt Vonnegut, a great writer and breaker of conventions.
Monday, April 09, 2007
World's Worst Charades Player. He picks a TV show, three words in the title. First word--he mimes a clock, a wristwatch, being tired. Eventually someone says "late," at which he nods vigorously. Okay, "late" is the first word, right? He nods again. We throw out guesses: "Late Late Show" and "Late Night With," "The Tonight Show"...nope. He mimes the clock and fatigue again. Late! Late! Okay, we get it, LATE is the first word.
Except that his charade is actually for "Saturday Night Live," which he finally shouts out to us in frustration a few minutes later. Didn't we know that Saturday Night Live is on LATE? Are we STUPID?
All part of an Easter dinner get-together which was also the scene of me going through a range of awkwardness rarely experienced in recent years. I knew about half the guests, but none very well, which was my first reason for slight tension. Then it was a potluck dinner, and although I was reassured by the main courses cooked by the professional chef, Paul, many of the side dishes were cooked by people unknown to me--tension generator #2. Then--and I am setting this down as an illustration of how my own character is far from perfect--I was followed in the buffet lineup by a 500-pound man, whose rough, phlegmy breathing quite distracted and nauseated me. Of course it brought out my own fear of getting obese again. Hardly a surprise. Strangely, being seated next to two deaf people, the parents of Paul the chef, was a delightful experience, even though I know next to no sign language. But they were lovely people and very keen to teach me some shorthand "hand," as it were. Then one of the people I didn't know, a man in his 50s, sat beside me often enough to make me uneasy--I'd occasionally sit elsewhere and within minutes he'd be beside me again--that and he insisted on giving me some of the food his mother had sent home with him earlier that day, which was in his car. Not what you'd call menacing behaviour, but the kind that added to my undercurrent of unease nonetheless. I realize I could have just said "No thanks" to his generosity, but unease always clams me up and keeps me from acting naturally. Oh, and he was the type of person whose own awkwardness leads him to making sex jokes in the company of people he's just met (another of Jane's tension-inducers). This time, however, I managed to impart the message that his bawdy commentary was a bad idea--at any rate he stopped with the raunch around me.
Verdict: it was a very nice dinner, all in all, and just because I am not the most social creature in the world, this should not reflect poorly on anyone else present. After dinner the Charades game took place, and the worst player in the world, described above, took part. That cured my tension completely. In fact, I think it was utterly hilarious, although of course etiquette frowns on crying with laughter in front of the gentleman in question.
Another tradition bites the big one: No "Exorcist" viewing this past Good Friday. The dog walk took precedence, and then I just went back to bed. Had a lovely day of reading, doing old NY Times Sunday crosswords, and walking, despite the bitter weather. It's definitely one of Calgary's more wintry Springtimes so far.
Reading: a good sign. One of my symptoms of severe depression is the inability to read new books, watch new movies or shows, listen to new CDs or even go out to new plays. So I was pleased to spend Friday reading a biography of the Big Yin, Billy Connolly (an okay book but really only good when the author, Billy's wife Pamela Stephenson, talked about him and not herself and their marriage). Then Saturday I started on "Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self," which I had first tried without success before Christmas. Oh. My. God. What a brilliant biography. I bow to you, Claire Tomalin. This morning, before work, I was enthralled by the chapter describing the start of Pepys's diary writing. Turns out there was a bit of a trend of diary-writing in England at the time. A trend like...oh, could we say...blogging today? Just like bloggers, a lot of diarists in Pepys's time only wrote for a couple of years and then stopped. Pepys himself kept his famous diary for 9 years in all before stopping. (I've been blogging for nearly 7 years, so you've all got at least two more years of hell if I decide to copy the master). Anyway, I cannot wait to get back at that book.
Thursday, April 05, 2007
The Bees are Back in Town. Well, they will be in a few weeks. I volunteered to act as apprentice beekeeper, which offer was accepted by our long-distance apiarist. I can't wait. BEES.
Monday, April 02, 2007
Went to see "Bless" by Spymonkey on Friday night. When I see Spymonkey now, I no longer have any transition from my usual hearty laughter to my blaring wheezy honks that startle everyone in my vicinity. It's just "HONK!" from the get-go. At one point, while the actors were backstage, a religious music video was played for the audience. You can see the same one here, (Quicktime, high and low res). Though I expect you won't have been honking for a good 35 minutes prior to watching this video -- so maybe it won't hit you the same way it did me. Just watching Stephan intoning "F&ck you, F&ck you" as part of a madrigal made tears come out of my eyes.
Monkeyed again, no surprise. Went to see the show again on Saturday night. It was also Spymonkey's closing night in Calgary. I have to applaud their ability to keep going despite props not co-operating (like Aitor's gun belt breaking and falling off). Yep, roared myself weak again. I feel incredibly lucky that Spymonkey doesn"t mind coming to my dusty little burgh, that I've seen such gleeful insanity as many times as I have. Perhaps the luck will extend to Spymonkey coming back gaain and again. I can hope.
Secondary sexual characteristics, a refresher course: First, males spit more. And judging by the number of hulking Ford and Dodge pickup trucks sprawling in ditches from Red Deer to Calgary, they refuse to believe that nighttime sleet storms can change road conditions. [Obligatory note: oh, yes, probably there were female drivers in the ditches as well. But when you see the ass end of an F250 poking up from a culvert, with the mudflaps decorated with the classic naked lady in profile, it's probably the truck of a male.]
Coworkers saved anew: short week this week because of good Friday. Which reminds me--get "The Exorcist" ready for viewing at 5 a.m. on that special day.