Friday, February 29, 2008

I Survived!

I made it through yesterday and there were no casualties! The morning course downtown was great, and I made it with five minutes to spare despite the fact that the trains were delayed and the traffic was slow due to the snow & ice on the roads. There had been a car vs. train incident (the train won, of course) which closed one track and slowed things down considerably. Thankfully I had given myself an extra 20 minutes of traveling time (OCD to the rescue?) and wasn't late for the class.

The preschool storytime, my very first, went well. A couple of the younger kids spent their time playing, crawling under the display table and running around. They weren't too disruptive, though, and the other kids were very attentive. A few of the little cuties were very good about singing along and doing the hand motions with me, which encouraged the other more reticent children to join in as well. As I told one of our librarians afterwards, "It went well: no one cried, not even me!"

My probation review was a non-event. I was told that I'm doing a good job at the information desk and I'll have my official review in a couple of months. I'm no longer on probation and can put myself on the sub list to work at other branches if I wish. I think I may do that, but I'd like to see if I can just put myself on a list for the branches in my section of the city. Long commutes suck & I'd like to avoid that if possible.

The Hawaiian luau party at my sons' school was a blast. I had a chance to chat (shout over the music) to some friends I hadn't seen in awhile and the boys had fun running around and doing their versions of breakdancing to the music. We're very fortunate to have a professional DJ as a father of some kids in the school and he put on a great show. The music was great, the light show and video projection effects were dazzling and he has a real talent for getting people up and having fun. The limbo contest was hilarious. It was a late night for my boys, considering they had to get up for school in the morning, but they really enjoyed themselves. I did, too.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Big Day

It has been a busy week, and today is the big day of my big week. This morning I have another course - the second of the week - for which there was a pre-assignment and reading. This afternoon is my very first storytime program at the library. I think I'm ready. I've practised reading the stories, singing the songs and doing the activities. I should be nervous but so far I'm not. I don't know why. It will probably hit me when I'm on the train from the downtown library branch to my suburb branch. There I'll be, sitting quietly among strangers, when I'll start to sweat and shake and feel nauseated. Gawd, I hope not!

To top it off, I have my three-month review this afternoon as well. Wow, I've been at the information desk for three months already! Today I'll find out how my supervisors think I'm doing. Again, I feel like I should be nervous but I'm not. And again, it will probably hit me later - right before I walk into the office for my review, I expect my knees will be shaking and my fingers will be like little icicles.

As a reward for making it through the day, I get to take my boys to a school dance tonight. It has a Hawaiian luau theme. Since I was planning on wearing a sleeveless little dress printed with hibiscus flowers and jungley leaves, it came as no surprise to see that it snowed overnight. Hmmm, I'll have to re-think that one. Perhaps jeans and a tank top with an obnoxious Hawaiian shirt and a plastic lei. At least that way my legs won't freeze on the walk to the school and back!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Odd book titles

I came across this article about books with odd titles. You can actually vote for your favourite quirky title, which I intend to do later. Here, for your amusement, are the contenders this year:

-- "I Was Tortured by the Pygmy Love Queen" by Jasper McCutcheon;

-- "How to Write a How to Write Book" by Brian Paddock;

-- "Are Women Human? And Other International Dialogues" by Catharine A. MacKinnon;

-- "Cheese Problems Solved" by P.L.H McSweeney;

-- "If You Want Closure in Your Relationship, Start With Your Legs" by Big Boom;

-- "People who Mattered in Southend and Beyond: From King Canute to Doctor Feelgood" by Dee Gordon.

Monday, February 25, 2008


A number of years ago I was driving my van (Moby the big white whale) with my then three-year-old son in the back seat. It was extremely windy, what Winnie the Pooh would call a "very blustery day", and as we were stopped at a traffic light we could see the wind whipping the treetops back and forth. I was thinking of the unpleasant effects: would the chairs on the deck be blown away, would there be power outages from tree limbs landing on power lines, what would my hair look like as soon as I stepped outside the vehicle, and so on. At this point my son piped up from his carseat, "Look, Mummy, the trees are dancing!" I think I want to see the world through his eyes.

Friday, February 22, 2008

I Shoulda Been a Receptionist?

70 words


I think my typing speed might actually be a bit faster than 70 wpm. This was done on my little laptop with the tiny keys, and I'm used to typing on a full-sized keyboard. I might have to try again on the other computer.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Special Kind of Stupid

I worked at the library today, 10am - 2pm. Returning to the information desk after my lunch break, I found things to be busy. I jumped in and started helping people. As I walked back to the desk from the children's non-fiction section a little while (or what I thought was a little while) later, I glanced up at the clock. 2:25pm? Really? Oops - that takes a special kind of stupid. At least I was having fun ...

Comic Strips

I just added a Dilbert widget to my side bar. Dilbert is my favourite comic strip currently in production. Scott Adams is hilarious.

My all-time favourite comic strip ever is Calvin & Hobbes, but Bill Watterson retired it a number of years ago. It always amazed me that Watterson could portray a six-year-old so well without having children himself.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Another Cool Use for Stem Cells

The BBC News website posted an interesting article regarding the potential use of stem cells to mend shattered bone and damaged cartilage. This is still in the research stage and is a few years away from actual use, but exciting nonetheless. From reading the article, I understand that the researchers from Edinburgh University are currently using stem cells from bone marrow but hope to be able to culture bone-forming cells from blood which would eliminate the need for bone marrow extraction surgery. Very promising research and I hope to read more about this work in the coming months.

Things I Don't Need to See #2

I don't need to see a middle-aged man using a library computer (the one that is as far as it's possible to be from the staff at the information and check-out desks) to view pornography. Not only is this computer far from the desks, it's also right beside the program room where a children's storytime program had been held less than half an hour before.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Geckos in the OR

I stumbled across an interesting article today. Researchers have made a waterproof, biodegradable bandage that can be used internally in surgery. Inspired by the microscopic surface irregularites that make a gecko's toes "sticky" and allow it to defy gravity, American scientists have made a surface-patterned sugar-based glue on a biodegradable tape that can be used in the decidedly wet environment found inside the body. The paper has just been published. Hopefully we'll be hearing about its success in operating rooms in the near future.

Happy News

Last month I wrote about two friends who had both received scary news. One had a lump in his lymph node, another had a cancerous lump detected by mammogram. I'm very relieved to find that both surgeries had fantastic outcomes.

The friend with the lymph node lump was told the tumour was benign and he is back at home, perfectly healthy. The friend with breast cancer had a lumpectomy, is undergoing radiation and has an extremely good prognosis since her cancer was caught so early.

I'm very happy for both of them and for their friends and families.

Movie Night #2

I recently watched The Bourne Ultimatum, the third Bourne flick, and thought I should do a little movie review. The movie was OK, entertaining enough, but not great.

The power the CIA has in these Bourne movies is absurd. As if they could be monitoring ALL cellular phone conversations worldwide, and pick up the mention of the codeword "Blackbriar" by a London journalist. Please. That's just the start of the omnipotent CIA ridiculousness, but it's a good example.

Two things about this movie distracted me and hindered my suspension of disbelief, which needs to happen if I'm to accept plot holes and nonsense like that mentioned above.

The first: What was with the funky shaky camera crap? This was more than using odd camera angles, this was akin to the "novice with a handi-cam" a la Blair Witch Project. Sorry, it didn't work for me.

The second: Joan Allen (the actor playing the part of Pamela Landy, CIA agent) appears to be botoxed to hell and back again. The woman's face is so immobilized, she is completely incapable of any facial expression! Her forehead and eye area are totally wrinkle-free, as is her upper lip. Sure, she looks serene and smooth, but so does a mannequin. I liked her better in the second Bourne movie.

I've always thought Matt Damon was an odd choice of actor for the Jason Bourne role. When reading the Bourne books by Robert Ludlum, I felt that the Bourne character had to be older (by ten years or so) and more world-weary than the fresh-faced young Damon, particularly in the first movie, The Bourne Identity, which came out in 2002 when Damon was all of 31 (he must have been 29/30 during the filming). Damon's a good actor, but I just had a hard time finding him believable as Jason Bourne.

Now that I've slammed this movie I'm sure to be told off by someone else who loved it. I'm not saying it was awful - after all, I did sit through the entire thing - I'm just glad I didn't pay to see it. It was entertaining enough to keep me occupied while parked on the couch in my family room, but I'd have been disappointed had I paid nearly $20 Cdn to view it in a theatre.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Stating the Obvious

Red alert! A new study has found that driving while fatigued causes as many road collisions as driving drunk!

OK, so tell me something I didn't know. Like the amount of taxpayers' dollars that went into funding this so-called study.

Procrastinators Anonymous Meeting Postponed Until Tomorrow

I find myself harping at my kids to get their work done, whether it's chores or schoolwork, before playing. It frustrates me when they announce there is a school project due that they've known about for awhile but haven't begun, and then we have to scramble to finish it in time.

The silly part is that if I'm honest with myself, I see that I'm no different from them. Just last week I assessed the 'frig, determined that we had enough milk to last another day and decided to postpone grocery shopping until the following morning. Later that same afternoon, I received a phone call from work asking me if I could do a shift the next day. Needing the experience (and the money!), I said yes. By this time it was too late to get groceries before supper, which meant I had to do an evening grocery shop. I hate shopping for groceries in the evening: the produce is picked over, and the store and parking lot are full of tired, cranky people who have worked all day and now need to stock up on food for the next week.

Why do I do this to myself? Just like my kids, I don't seem to learn the lesson.

In an attempt to get out of this bad habit of procrastination, I plan to do some baking this afternoon. I'm responsible for the treats at my quilt guild meeting tomorrow evening. I have tomorrow off and I originally thought I'd bake then, but why not this afternoon? That way, I'll have tomorrow free if something else comes up (and it probably will).

Update: The cheesecake bars and coconut cherry slice are in the 'frig and ready for tomorrow's guild meeting. If I'm feeling ambitious I might make something chocolaty tomorrow.

So Much for Good Will to All

This nonsense drives me mental. I have no use for religion, and I feel vindicated in my views every time I read articles like this.

Who cares if a couple is heterosexual or homosexual? As long as those two people care about each other, why does the shape of their genitalia matter? It appears the Anglican Church of Canada pulled its figurative head out of its figurative ass long enough to realize that there's nothing wrong with same-sex unions, but now a number of parishes are separating because they are too narrow-minded to accept this. Arrgh.

Then again, why should a same-sex couple (or any couple for that matter) feel the need to have their union blessed by a religious group? I fail to comprehend that aspect as well.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Right Foot, Right Foot, Right Foot, Feet, Feet, Feet?

Silly me, I thought the Dr. Seuss Foot Book started with the line "Left foot, right foot, feet, feet, feet." Apparently I was wrong. Either that, or some other sick puppy has messed it up. It seems a few sneaker-shod feet have washed up on shore on some coastal B.C. islands. (B.C. = British Columbia, on Canada's "Left Coast".)

Just imagine: there you are, having a lovely morning walk along the shore of a pretty little island when you see a washed-up running shoe on the beach. Hmmm, you think. That's odd. Perhaps I'll wander over and have a look-see. Oh, there's still a foot in that shoe!

The part I find really odd is that these three feet have washed up separately, months apart, yet all three were clad in a running shoe, and all three were men's right feet, size 12. Is there some bizarre serial killer out there who has a thing for guys who wear running shoes and have size 12 feet?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Ooh, I Want One!

Remember James Bond's car that could go underwater in The Spy Who Loved Me? Well, now for a paltry 750 000 British pounds (roughly $1.5 million Cdn) this can be yours! Here's the link to the article at the Brisbane Times.

Whale Tails and Muffin Tops

There's an interesting article at the Sydney Morning Herald about the recent publication of the annual New Word List. Yes, I'm nerdy and find stuff like this cool. I had a chuckle reading over the included glossary. My favourite WOTY (Word of the Year) contender has to be floordrobe: a typical adolescent's horizontal clothing storage system. I was a little disappointed to see that neither 'ho tag nor tramp stamp made the list: both terms refer to the lower back tattoos sometimes seen on young (or not-so-young) women.

Things I Don't Need to See #1

I don't need to see the abundant grey chest hair of a patron who must be well into his seventies. It's not 1970 anymore: the shirt undone nearly to the navel with the large gold medallion nestling in the silvery pectoral rug is gag-inducing.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Good News and Bad News

The good news: I was asked to work more shifts at the library this week.

The bad news: I'm covering shifts for a coworker who is with a hospitalized family member.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

More Silly Quizzes

Bonjour, I am Brigitte the invisible mechanic.

You Are Brigitte Bardot

Naturally sensual and beautiful

You're an exotic beauty who turns heads everywhere

You've got a look that's one of a kind

Your Superpower Should Be Invisibility

You are stealthy, complex, and creative.

You never face problems head on. Instead, you rely on your craftiness to get your way.

A mystery to others, you thrive on being a little misunderstood.

You happily work behind the scenes... because there's nothing better than a sneak attack!

Why you would be a good superhero: You're so sly, no one would notice... not even your best friends

Your biggest problem as a superhero: Missing out on all of the glory that visible superheroes get

You Should Be a Mechanic

You are logical, calm, and detail oriented.

You're rational when things are chaotic, and for you, reason always prevails.

And while you are guided by logic, you aren't a slave to it.

You're flexible when it counts. You are always open to being wrong.

You do best when you:

- Work with your hands

- Can use tools, machines, or equipment

You would also be a good architect or carpenter.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Faking or Not

You know your child isn't faking illness in order to avoid school when you tell him he must go to bed and he does. No playing with Lego, K'Nex or Bionicles; no TV or computer. Just bed.

Uh oh. I think he really is sick.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Book Review #4

Yes, another book review. By now it should be apparent that I'd much rather read than do such mundane tasks as vacuuming, dusting and cleaning bathrooms.

I've recently finished Beach Road by James Patterson and Peter De Jonge. I'm not sure how two people can write a book together (do they sit together and brainstorm, typing as they go? do they send drafts back and forth to each other, each person rewriting the other's work? do they take turns writing chapters?) but these two have done it very well. This is another murder mystery, one of my favourite genres. It takes place in the Hamptons, where a multiple murder occurs and a young black man, Dante Halleyville is accused of the crime. A local attorney, a personal friend of both the murdered men and Dante, takes the case and is ostracised by the white locals as a result.

I wouldn't call this book classic literature, but it's extremely entertaining and (in my opinion) well written. The surprise ending was definitely surprising, yet it works - I never guessed who the real killer was - and fits with the rest of the book. James Patterson has a reputation for writing best-selling thrillers. It's well-deserved. I'm not familiar with De Jonge but if this book is any indication, I should read more of his work. If you like suspense, I'd recommend this book.

Sunday, February 3, 2008


I don't think many people expected the Giants to win the Superbowl - wasn't the spread 13 points? What a close, exciting game. The Patriots had an amazing season, but just didn't have enough to win today. Methinks there'll be a wee bit of celebrating happening in the Manning household tonight.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Book Review #3

Based on a recommendation by Sam De Brito over at All Men Are Liars, I picked up No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy. I must admit to a certain amount of skepticism: I had always assumed McCarthy's work wouldn't appeal to me. Boy, was I wrong!

It took a bit to actually get into the book. I was turned off initially by the grammatical bludgeoning given the English language by the sheriff. I got over it quickly. McCarthy writes the way this man would have spoken and it grows on you. Then there was the lack of dialogue punctuation. I don't think there's a quotation mark to be found in the entire book! I found it a little off-putting at first, but failed to notice it after a few chapters.

The story is modern: drugs, money, guns and death. The setting is current day Texas/Mexico but somehow it has the flavour of an old-time western movie. I've never been to southern Texas (I've never been to Texas at all) but I could feel the heat, the dryness, the dust. McCarthy's writing transports you into his world and a vivid one it is. When Llewelyn Moss finds the remains of a drug deal gone bad and walks away with millions in cash, I found myself cheering for him, wanting him to get himself and his young wife out of their run-down trailer and into a decent life. Sheriff Bell does his best to do right by the people in his county but somehow you can taste the futility.

The book didn't end the way I was expecting. I anticipated a disappointing Hollywood ending with things coming together and ending happily ever after. I was happy to be wrong. Some books are well-written but end poorly. Not so with No Country for Old Men. Well-written, start to finish.

A colleague noticed me reading this novel and recommended another by Cormac McCarthy: All the Pretty Horses. I may just have to pick that up soon. Thank goodness for the library, or my reading would bankrupt me!

The Tooth Fairy May Need to Write a Cheque

My daughter had dental surgery yesterday - six extractions performed under general anaesthesia - in preparation for orthodontic work. The poor kid has big teeth and a small jaw and the result is somewhat akin to a train wreck. At least she doesn't have to worry about having wisdom teeth extracted at an inconvenient time during her university education or early in her career when dental insurance doesn't cover much and she'd be responsible for footing the majority of the bill herself.

Things have changed since I had my wisdom teeth pulled. Back then, I was sent home with a prescription for painkillers and instructions to use a salt water rinse. That's it. Things have improved. Yesterday, the pharmacy delivered the prescriptions (no charge!) to the dental surgery so I didn't have to make an extra trip. (Loved that service - very nice!) There were three prescriptions: liquid Tylenol with codeine, liquid oral antibiotics, and an antibiotic rinse to be used in conjunction with salt water rinses. We were also sent home with a head sling: a soft stretchy fabric contraption that goes around the head from the chin to the top of the head, with an adjustable closure for a custom fit and pockets at the cheeks with gel ice packs for insertion in said pockets, plus extra ice packs to place in the freezer and alternate as needed. My daughter looked like she had a rag tied around her head, but what an effective device! It's nice to be able to ice the jaws without icing your fingers simultaneously. The dental surgeon himself telephoned our home in the early evening to check on the girl-child and answer any questions we might have. Wow. The guy charged us a small fortune (we'll wait and see what the insurance will cover) but his customer service is stellar.