Sunday, June 11, 2017

You're Now at DEFCON FOUR

So many people say they hate Math, the adding, subtracting and oh my God, FRACTIONS!  Seriously, there are people who will go out of their way to avoid doing any kind of math. What's so scary about math?
Well, the other day I was in line at the grocery store and it hit me, parents are putting the fear of numbers into kids heads right from the start. This little kid, maybe he was three years old, was being very cheeky.  He just wanted a bit of attention and he was fussing with the grocery bags and that sort of thing. This sort of behaviour was unacceptable to his mother so she started counting to him. "You're at ONE".  This was funny to me so I chimed in, "Uh oh, you're at one".  Couldn't wait to see what he would do to get to two. He started pulling on the rope that blocks off the aisle. "You're now at TWO".  He smiled and gave another tug. "NOW YOU'RE AT THREE".  Good lord woman, how high are you going to count? At this point I was starting to fear the numbers too and thought I had better get out of there. The kid didn't do anything wrong at number three it was just that he wasn't obeying his mother's commands. She wanted him to go round the counter and stand next to the cart. "YOU ARE NOW AT NUMBER FOUR".  No, really, how high was this woman going to count? I was very close to provoking that child to do something wrong just to see what happened when she hit five. Was her head going to launch off of her shoulders like a missile and annihilate us all? What was with these numbers?  I can only imagine what's going to happen to this child when he goes off to school.  The teacher asks him what two plus two is and he'll probably wet his pants.  10+10 is probably the equivalent of digging your own grave then throwing the dirt on top of yourself. The kid only made it to number four then straightened up and did what his mother told him to do.  Still, I find it hilarious that parents can put fear into their children's heads just by counting. Poor Count von Count.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Cry, Baby, Cry

This past weekend I had the pleasure of going on a short tour of a very old theatre. I don't have the exact history of the building but the tour guides told me that the theatre began as an opera house back in the late 1800s. It then moved on to become a live theatre venue, then a movie theatre, then some sort of warehouse until it was lovingly restored to a movie theatre again. Some of the lights were original and the windows in the projection room are also original. One thing that was also preserved was the door to the cry room.
I've spent a fair amount of time in theatres but have never had the pleasure of being able to send a mother with a crying baby to a room where they'd no longer be seen nor heard. Seriously, the last time I went to a movie theatre a two year old was allowed to run around the dark theatre, unattended, while the movie was playing. Not only was that dangerous for the child's safety but it was incredibly annoying for the other patrons. They also strategically started screaming every time there was a quiet part in the movie. Don't get me started on what I thought of the parents who took their young child to The Wolf of Wall Street. Back to this cry room. From what I understood, the cry room was a place where mother's could take their children but there was still a window for them to watch the show, but it would muffle the sound of their upset child.  This particular theatre only had the evidence of where the window once was. It was covered over when converted to the projection room/office area.
After doing a quick search the cry room is still being put to good use in some theatres and churches. Unfortunately they just aren't in use at any of the theatres I frequent. So it got me thinking, when did they go out of fashion? According to this Mental Floss article cry rooms aren't the only thing to go out of fashion.  What happened to the movie going experience? It seemed like it was such a formal experience to go watch a show, or "the pictures" as my grams would call them. Besides having to put up with crying babies some theatres now charge you a ticket price but it also includes popcorn and a soda. OK, that's not that huge of a deal, but what if I don't want soda and popcorn? You don't get a discount you just don't get the "free" junk food. Another theatre I go to assigns you seats. Well, technically you get to pick them but you don't just walk in a grab an empty chair. What kills me about that is, the theatre can be relatively empty and some weirdo will choose seats right next to you. Then  the theatre where I go the most barely gives you any sort of service. You can go to the concession stand and get popcorn and pay for everything else but that everything else you have to get yourself. Yea, they can't even take five seconds to grab you a box of Junior Mints, you have to do that yourself. It's a far cry from free pieces of china with your movie.
So the cry room is a new to me concept that I think is a genius idea. Can we get a cry room in every type of building or for every situation?  What other cry room type amenities are we missing out on? We could use sneeze/hack rooms for those obnoxious gross people who hack and insist on blowing their noses at the dinner table. We could have a shut the hell up room for those awful people who yell at their family members in public. We could use a check writing line for the old people at the grocery store who insist on waiting until the last item is rung up before they even put the date on their check. Also, why are you still writing checks at the grocery store?
So what do you think, should we bring the cry room back in fashion? We could probably all spend some quality time in a cry room from time to time.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Too Far

IT'S TOOOOO FARRRRRRR...
Not that long ago some friends and I were discussing things that are out of our control. Why do we do that? Why do we talk about the things that annoy us knowing full well that we have no way of changing the circumstances? It feels good to vent I s'pose. Our gripes were simple that day, we simply can't understand people who leave the house in their pajamas. It takes a minimum amount of effort to put on a pair of jeans and a clean t-shirt. Nobody's asking for a three piece suit, just put in a little effort and get out of the clothes you slept in. On the other hand, if you sleep nude and you put on clothes that look like pajamas we should be thanking you for that. At the end of our discussion we all agreed that people could be doing a lot worse things in this world and yes, there are those who do. But I posed this question, if we continue to just except this type of lazy behaviour then what's next? WHAT NEXT!?
Unfortunately I got my answer last week. I now know what's next and it's just another shade of lazy. My friends and I were in line at a cafe.  We ordered our food and stood in line waiting to pay and pick up our food at the end of the queue. As we waited I took notice of a group of teen aged girls sitting at a table. One of them had dropped a ten dollar bill on the floor underneath their table. Two of them looked at it then looked towards me with eyes pleading for me to pick it up for them. My eyes looked back in their direction with the expression that said, are you freaking kidding me?  The two girls then gave me a look of disapproval, like how dare I not pick up the money for them. (It's fun to have a conversation without actually saying a word) After many exchanges of facial expressions one of the girls attempted to pick up the money. She slightly bent over then gave up. "It's too far away", she panted. She even made an excuse about how the chair was preventing her from bending over far enough to reach it. As if she were strapped in with a seat belt or something. The girl who dropped the money gave this girl an even angrier look than she gave me and finally moved her chair back, ducked under the table and grabbed her cash.
After we got our food and sat down I asked if anyone else had witnessed what had happened.  I was the only one but they laughed and asked why I didn't pick up the money. Some of them said they would have kept the money. It would have served them right if someone had taken the money, like some sort of lazy person's excise tax or something. You're over your limit of laziness for the day, that'll be $10.  The funniest comment was, I bet they were trying to find an app on their phone that would pick it up for them.
What kind of lazy is this that you drop money and look towards a stranger to pick it up for you? Some might say I should've just been nice and picked it up for her. Perhaps if she were 102 years old and incapable of getting out of her chair to pick up her money from under her own feet, but she wasn't.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Nice, Not Nice

A friend gifted me a box of books and it was a treasure trove of illustrated covers. I could have just enjoyed the cover art but curiosity got the better of me and I had to start reading them.  The first book I chose was, The Indiscreet Confessions of a Nice Girl, written by Anonymous. There is little to no information available about the book, other than it was originally published in 1935 by William Godwin Inc. No information on who 'Anonymous' really was.
Considering the book was originally published in 1935 it makes this book even more head scratching.  When I began reading the first thought that came to me was, this nice girl is anything but. She begins by describing how she was not only the girlfriend of a married man but she was the type of girl who would pick up random guys at parties and not remember their names the next day. As it goes on she introduces us to her friend. This friend assures her that in order to know if a man is worth marrying he should already be married. In other words, she should only try to marry a man who is currently married. Considering she's spending mornings and random lunch breaks with a married man she should have no trouble finding a married man.
Reading further into the book it occurred to me that the word nice is clearly undefined, or it's quite possible that I have no idea what the word nice means. This girl obviously considers herself one of the nice ones. What is nice?  Has the definition of nice changed since the 1930s?  Perhaps there are too many opinions about what the word means. Perhaps the word has been misconstrued in the last few decades.
Reading this book and questioning what the word nice actually means it reminded me of this guy I dated back in college. When my friends asked me why I quit seeing him my answer was, he was too nice. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?  It meant that there was something off about him, being too nice felt like he had something to hide. Perhaps it's just my superpower to see through people's BS, but I could tell there was much more to his niceness. Much like Hansel and Grethel coming across a nice woman with a house made out of candy, there has to be something lurking behind that niceness. Those two discovered she was a witch and I eventually discovered this guy was only two weeks away from having a baby with a girl he went to high school with. In this case you might say too nice is sort of like too good to be true.
It's sad because it makes me sound completely jaded but I'm not. I truly have super powers. In all honesty intuition can take you pretty far in most cases. It still doesn't help me get to the bottom of this word nice. The protagonist clearly thinks of herself as a nice girl. She never sees any fault in her behaviour. If anything ever goes wrong it's on the other person. When one of the many men she dated turned out to be dating five other girls it turned out that he was the snake, in her eyes.  Never mind that she was still having an affair with a married man and plotting and scheming how she could get married to someone else she hasn't met yet. After reading the book I have yet to find one nice thing about this nice girl. Perhaps I'm confusing the word nice with kind. Maybe this girl is nice but far from kind.
The dictionary's definition of nice is as follows; pleasant; agreeable; satisfactory.  The definition of kind is; having or showing a friendly, generous and considerate nature.
There it is, she could quite possibly be a nice girl, but not kind. So this is more of an issue with the use of the English language and how it is evolving. How is it I've been alive this long and incorrectly using the word nice? That's an easy question to answer, it's because it's what I've been taught and I never questioned the definition until I picked up this book. What other words am I misusing? What words are you LITERALLY misusing?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Super Supper

Every year I have a Super Bowl party and every year I try to serve something different. One year it was pizza, not creative but easy, and one year was brisket, etc. This year I decided to try my hand at Maid-Rites. Maid-Rites seem to be a local term and others call it "loose meat" sandwiches. Loose meat sounds like a really bad Ron Jeremy movie so we'll stick to calling them Maid-Rites.
Searching for a recipe for Maid-Rites gave similar results so I chose one at random. At first I thought it would be simple, brown the ground beef, throw in some onions and salt and pepper, but the recipes all called for a little more, so I took a chance and loosely (no pun intended) followed the recipes. The first problem I encountered, how much meat and what kind?  This is why I went to a local butcher shop and didn't just grab something off the shelf at a big box store. The young men at the butcher shop were very helpful but weren't afraid to look to their fellow female meat cutter when they couldn't answer all of my questions.  First up, how much meat to get? One young man said you should consider 1/4 lb per person. After he said that it made sense, most restaurants serve 1/4 lb burgers so yea, that's a good portion. Then there was the choice of meat. They had three choices of ground beef; ground chuck, ground round and ground sirloin. Which one would make good Maid-Rites? The pleasant woman suggested ground round. After looking it up I learned that ground round comes from the hind leg, which is a little leaner than the chuck, which comes from the more fatty shoulder. The ground round ended up being really good, as it was just the Goldilocks amount of fat to keep the meat from drying out.
Here is the recipe I ended up using:
3 pounds of ground round
1 1/2 C warm water
2 Tbsp french onion soup mix
1 tsp beef bouillon, or one cube
1 tsp chicken bouillon, or one cube
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp brown sugar

Add the water and all of the ingredients except the meat into a crock pot and set to high.  Stir until everything is dissolved and mixed well. Then add the meat and stir well, making sure the meat is all coated.  Let cook on high for 4 hours. Stir often to prevent the meat from clumping. I think I stirred it every 30 minutes or so but it probably didn't need it that much.

The ingredients list sounded so bizarre to me when I first read it but these were the best Maid-Rites I've ever had. If you're familiar with Maid-Rites you may have tried a Cheese-Rite which is just a Maid-Rite with, wait for it, Cheez Whiz.  Melt some Cheez Whiz and put it on a bun and oh my God, it's so good.
Maybe the half-time show was lame, the commercials were boring and the Falcons blew a huge lead but the food made it worth it.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Princess Pickles

It's hard to believe it's almost been 12 years since I brought Pickles home from the humane society. She was so teeny tiny when Petey and I went to rescue her from jail. When we got her we had no idea she had so many health issues but she's the best and has the biggest most loving heart. She loves everybody and I can't even imagine a life without her.
Getting back to her health issues, she has hip dysplasia, which is managed with glucosamine, and some severe allergies. She not only has environmental allergies she has food allergies. Because of these allergies she's on a medication called Apoquel, for environmental allergies, and a special diet of kangaroo and oats. Some people think this is ridiculous and that Pickles is just a "princess" and gets babied. Pickles is my best friend and I take her health very seriously so yes, I spend a lot of money on her special needs and ignore the haters.
Yesterday I ordered more food from her veterinary clinic and they informed me that they were no longer going to keep it in stock. Apparently there are less expensive alternatives that other people are choosing for their dogs with special diets. The thing with Pickles is she's tried every limited ingredient food out there and the kangaroo and oats are the only thing she will continue to eat. She started out on fish and potatoes and although her coat was extra shiny, her puppy breath turned to dead fish breath. I was actually glad she decided she no longer wanted to eat that stuff. Anywho, the news was kind of a kick to the shin because I didn't know where I was going to get the food she'll actually eat. Luckily someone told me about Chewy.com  I normally don't bother with sites like this or Barkbox, etc.  because of her allergies. I'd love to be able to get a box of treats every month and let her eat and be merry but she usually eats and blows up like a strawberry.  So Chewy.com saved my life and will also be saving me about $25 a month. Yes, I can continue to get Pickles's food and at a much lower price than the vet's. Not only that it gets dropped off on my doorstep. I ordered a bag yesterday and Fedex just dropped it off.  I'm not even sure it was a full 24 hours from when I ordered. On top of all of that I found some treats she can actually eat. They have kangaroo treats, which are like jerky and smells horrible, but she tried one and is one happy pibble.
Lucky for me, and the bank account, I didn't have enough time to browse the full selection on the site but it looks like there's a lot of ways to spoil your best friend on there.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Know it all at Alison

El sol
The quest for knowledge took me to the Alison site. It boasts over 750 online courses, many which you can get a certificate or use towards a diploma. Obviously I was curious as to how good these free courses are. I figured one of the best ways to test the waters was to take a course that I would be sure to pass, Introduction to Spanish.
It was easy to sign up, and there are several easy ways to sign up for an account. If you have a google, facebook, yahoo, Hotmail or Linkedin you can use any of those accounts to sign up. If you don't you can create an account. The Intro to Spanish was posted by the Global Text Project that comes from the University of Georgia. It said it had 81,866 other students, would take 1-2 hours, study at your own pace, zero cost and you can get a certificate upon successfully completing the course.
It was broken down into six modules and even though it's free, there are ads that play before you begin each module. S'pose they have to pay the bills somehow. The modules also use Flash, so if you have a flash blocker you'll need to disable.
This was a basic course in Spanish but I found it very thorough. It gave you beginning Spanish lessons with very helpful vocabulary and most important some basic grammar rules. There was no video but there was audio with someone speaking the dialogue. Most of them used the Castilian lisp and one sounded like she was trying out to be the next WHASSSUUUUPPPPP guy in those old Budweiser commercials. She almost made the whole course worth taking.
There was a module that was supposed to teach how to type Spanish accents which I was excited about because I never know how to do that. Unfortunately none of this information worked for me. It's just easier to set up your keyboard to do the accents if you need them.
The course said I could print out a certificate upon successfully completing the course, which meant a passing grade of at least 80%.  I got a 95% because I messed up the question on putting the days of the week in order, I didn't read the part that said starting with Monday. Anywho, so I passed and went to print out my certificate but NOPE, there was no certificate. What I did get was five e-mails telling me I could print one out. Then I received another e-mail telling me that I could print out my certificate for $10. Since I know how to speak Spanish and don't need a piece of paper that tells me so I skipped that.  Unfortunately after signing up and successfully completing a course I'm now getting e-mails from Alison every day. Aside from that the first course went well.
Now if they just had a course to teach me how to like avocado and onions.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Here's to a Knowledgeable New Year

Just before the new year rolled around I came across an article that boasted how you could learn new skills in an afternoon. Of course I was curious. Who wouldn't want to learn something new and at such an accelerated pace? After the initial excitement of "something new" wore off I continued to read the article and laugh at myself for falling for such a scam. Sure you could learn any of the skills but not in ONE afternoon and not for free. Sadly this article had me hooked on the idea that I needed to learn something new and learn it RIGHT NOW.  Since none of their suggestions were going to get me there I searched for a place that would help feed the need. https://alison.com/learn/ was the answer I was looking for. This site states that it has 750 online courses in various subjects, some that you can even print out a diploma or certificate of completion when you've successfully finished the course. Some of these courses even come from prestigious schools such as Harvard and Yale. The one drawback, some of the information is old. That sounds silly because most information is old but in the age of technology it's tough to take a course using a specific software. For example, if you're using Photoshop and the material is ten years old, the info is old. Still usable but recent updates may make it difficult to follow along. Either way I'm going to attempt to work my way through some of the more interesting sounding courses. Data Analysis and Typing aren't high on the list, but I look forward to learning French and Carpentry among others. I'll keep you posted on how many diplomas I print out throughout the year.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Whipping My Way into the New Year

2016 was filled with adventure and lots of fun. It's hard to sit here and think of one new thing I tried that I didn't like. Perhaps trying to brush the beagle's teeth with an electric toothbrush would land on the list of things I tried but will never attempt again, but that's about it. Hopefully 2017 will be just as adventurous and fun.
It only seems fitting to share a few of my favourite things from 2016.  First up is meringue. I had never attempted to make meringue before in my life and was completely intimidated. It looks really difficult and on top of that, people who already know how to make meringue do their utmost to make it seem like an impossible task.  You know the type, they try to make something seem incredibly difficult simply so you'll sing them praises. For all we know those people buy it at the store and pretend they made it themselves. Anywho, I'm here to tell you that as long as you have an electric mixer there's absolutely zero difficulty involved. I'm so glad I decided to not be intimidated by meringue because it turned out to be one of the most successful Christmas "cookies" I've ever made.
Here is the link to the recipe that I decided to try. I ended up having to make this twice because the first time I around I forgot to put in the powdered sugar. WHOOPS! Except it didn't make that much of a difference.  The second time around I did add more lemon though and that did make a difference. Since I wasn't sure I would even be able to make the meringue I didn't want to spend a lot of money on the rest of the materials and I bought the Cake Mate brand disposable piping bags.  I highly recommend you don't bother with them. I think a regular plastic freezer bag would have worked just as well, so maybe spring for a more reputable brand piping bag and tip. In order to put the yellow stripes on the bag I used a chopstick. I simply coated the stick in the gel colouring and drug it up the sides of the bag and it worked really well. Just a word of warning these are highly addictive. Now that I'm no longer intimidated by making meringue I'll try this same recipe with different flavours. Coconut, lime, raspberry, the possibilities are endless.

The favourite book I read this year, The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery. I've read a lot of very, very good books this year but this one tops anything I've read in quite awhile. I'm not going to go into too much depth on it because it presents itself in a way for you to form your own opinion. Basically it's about the study of animals and how much we don't know.  I was just discussing this book with friends the other day and one brought up the idea that maybe humans are just scared of the thought that we're not the smartest animal on the planet.
One of my favourite things I got was this Lomography Konstruktor 35 mm camera. I put it together myself! Seriously, all on my own and it actually works. Maybe 2017 will bring me my own darkroom so I can have even more fun with this. 
With only four days into the new year I haven't yet compiled a list of things I'd like to try. I know I'll be taking several fun road trips and going on lots of new adventures but as far as meringue and attempting the impossible, I'll have to wait and see what comes my way.