Sunday, November 26, 2006

Casino Royale

We caught the new James Bond flick last night. It was good, though a bit slow at times. I'm not a die-hard Connery or Rogers fan; I thought Daniel Craig did an excellent job. He put a new face on Bond - a bit more callous, more brute, less debonair, less reliant on gadgets. I would definitely go and see him as another Bond.

The movie itself was good although there were a few car-size plot holes (why didn't Vesper allow him to re-buy in, especially in light of what was going to happen to the money?). There was also lots of missed opportunities for a more complete plot (blood tears, the Asian lady at the table). And who was that dame in green?

The low number of gadgets creates in me a dichotomy; I love the gadgets and their incredibleness, but plots have often relied on gadgets too much in the past. I do know that I want a laptop by the side of my bed though - especially one that just has the colour green.

After walking out of the theatre last night the comment was made that we have to go to our regular, boring lives now. I think that might be the real reason that James Bond has attracted such a following and for the success of many of the movies. The Bond world is a world of tuxedos and gowns, clever quips and clever gadgets; where women get saved, men battle and the winners are always the good guys. There is too a sort of gnosticism - where everybody in play is part of a secret knowledge, a secret plot. We are attracted to secrets, to life-styles that we could not afford and to characters that act and behave like we could never.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Why are the good books too short?

In case any of you are interested in what I am reading...

I started two awful books - The Pale Horseman by Bernard Cornwell and Seven Gothic Tales by Isak Dinesen. Both were stinkers that I gave up on after several pages in. And yes, 'stinker' is the correct literary term for books that you just can't get into. If any of you guys out there want the books just let me know. They are just collecting dust here.

Feeling a little discouraged I picked up a copy of The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien). It was good, really good. I hadn't read it since grade seven or eight, but it was better that I remembered it. It's too bad it was so short; I blew through it in a few days.

I'm going to try and sink my teeth into The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde). It might be over my head, but I'll give it the old college try.

After that - who knows...

(Oh - happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Just me?

Is it just me or did the Christmas season come earlier this year?
  • Christmas music playing in stores
  • People turning on their Christmas lights
  • Store fliers selling fake Christmas trees
  • Signs up for cut-your-own Christmas tree
  • Christmas parades happening
People - what's going on? December is still days away! Have we gone mad?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Slow rise bread

I don't know if there is anything better then fresh, out of the oven, home made bread.

I made a loaf today. I haven't made bread from scratch in a long time, partly due to me always screwing it up. My bread tends to turn out dense, tasteless and overall disappointing.

Not this time though. I tried a new recipe and decided to actually follow the directions as much as possible. Except that I couldn't bake it when I was supposed to, so I put it in the fridge for a few hours and let it come up to room temperature before throwing it into the oven.

The loaf is round because I put it in my round cast iron dutch oven.

Look at all those nice bubbles!

Golden crust and a chewy inside. What more can you ask for?

The recipe I used is this one. It actually turned out much like the picture shown. Nobody was surprised more then me!

I will definitely make this recipe again, except next time I will probably make it with 50% whole wheat (if I am feeling lucky).

The recipe says to put the dough in a dutch oven that is already hot. I had never done that before, but it make the crust nice and crunchy. And it actually crackles when it cools (don't ask me why...)

The dough must slowly rise over 12-18 hours. This poses a problem if i want to make the dough on a weekday. If I make the dough right before I go to bed (11pm), and then get off work a little early (5pm, by the time I get home), I'm looking at 18 hours on the nose. I'll give it a try this week if I can.


I hate bullies. Well, I don't hate the person per se; most of the time I don't even know the bully well enough to stir up the passion of hate. But I do hate bullying behaviour. And I hate that behaviour with a passion.

I was bullied a fair amount as a kid - more so in elementary school than in high school. I have no respect for people who resort to bully tactics. People often have negative things to say about bullies ('Bullies are really cowards', 'Bullies don't have self-confidence', 'Bullies always back down when someone stands up to them'...) These things are often said by people trying to console the kids/people being bullied. I don't buy into those 'words of wisdom'.

I'll tell you what I think. I think people bully others because it works for them; because it provides some sort of positive feedback. Whether it is lunch money, a prime spot in line, or a sales contract it doesn't matter. Bullies bully because in the end they receive something that benefits them. They may be cowards, they may not. They may be self-assured, they may not.

We were on the short end of two bullies today. One wanted money for providing an unrequested service, the other wanted choice time-slots in a limited schedule. Both of them were demanding and unpleasant. Both of them didn't respect us (it just so happened that Tara dealt with them both and didn't back down).

The question in my mind is how do you properly respond to the bullying behaviour while properly valuing the inherent worth of the bully. I don't know the answer. I know it is really easy to dismiss the person as a whole - I was guilty of that twice today. But that isn't the proper response. I just don't know what the proper response is.

(This photo is of my awesome brother-in-law Tim. As far as I know, Tim has never been a bully - he was just pretending to be the Hulk)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Tara's lab

I finally got to see Tara's lab and office this past weekend! Her office is pretty boring; it's an empty desk save pictures of her three cats, but her lab was pretty cool.

It’s larger than I though it would be, but she shares it with several others. There were no smoking beakers full of blue or red liquid; there was no Vandergraff machine in the corner; and there were no caged rats.

But there were several fume hoods and microscopes and there were lots of containers with red liquid in them scattered around.

There were no radioactive materials in this fridge. I checked.

I got to watch Tara change the media on her corneas (explanation: Tara sliced up bits of eyeball and put the pieces in a little tray with liquid called media that makes the eye bits reproduce; if you ever need an extra eye, get Tara to grow you one).
After 45 minutes of changing media we (she) was done. We then went to the barn for the rest of the evening.

You know that scene in the Simpson’s opening credits where the radioactive bar lands in Homers shirt? Well, I think that must of happened to one of us because a) the radioactive material was probably laying on the counter (since it couldn’t be in the fridge) and b) our cats got into it when we got home


"The rhythm of the weekend, with its birth, its planned gaieties, and its announced end, followed the rhythm of life and was a substitute for it."
F. Scott Fitzgerald

Ah the weekend. A time to relax, a time to slow down and take stock of life, love and yourself. At least that's what it should be. More often than not I find myself filling up the weekend with activities, jobs, rushing around and busyness.

This past weekend I
  • Worked on a coding project
  • Got a good chunk of the boxes and mess in the spare bedroom cleaned up
  • Shredded several bags worth of old documents
  • Went to church
  • Put together bathroom shelves
  • Did laundry
  • Collapsed several packing and delivery boxes for recycling
What I didn't do was slow down much. I sat down for tea with Tara and Laura (my SIL) and I watched half a football game and this weeks episode of the O.C. That's it.


I don't know. I think I need to make a more concerted effort to relax, rid my mind of the clutter of everyday and focus on what is important. I don't know how I'll do that, but I'm going to try.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Nothing better for a Sunday afternoon...

There really isn't anything better then spending a warm fall Sunday afternoon raking up leaves. Sure I'd rather just sit outside, but if you are going enjoy the shade in the summer, ya gotta enjoy the raking in the fall. Besides, it was warm out (10°C), the sun was kinda shining and I had a coffee. Plus we have those really cool big leaf rakes, the kind that are one big piece of plastic (way better than the little metal rakes I grew up with). And to top it all off, both Tara and I were out - it is so much nicer to work with someone else - that job goes more than twice as quickly.

This was the second raking of the year; it didn't take us too long to do the backyard (a couple of hours between the two of us). There might be a third raking if the weather stays nice; but we might just let them compost the yard.

I've been considering getting a leaf blower. Ya they are loud and noisy, but there are areas that are hard to rake (gardens, over rocks). I'd still use the rake for most of the work - there is something peaceful and relaxing about moving leaves into a pile.

We do get to rake our leaves to the curb in our new place; we couldn't in our old place because we lived in too much of main road. We pilled the leaves onto a tarp and dragged it to curb. Four loads later and the back yard was done.

Royal Winter Fair

Tara and I and Darren and Hannah spent the day at the Royal Winter Fair yesterday. We had lots of fun. It was a busy day:
  • Tara did some tack shopping and picked up another blanket, some saddle cream and a few other things
  • We all partook in the many and varied samples at the booths. Samples that stand out are some good soft cheese and some great cranberry salsa
  • We watched the afternoon show which consisted of
    • The Canadian Jumper finals
    • Tommy Turvy (rode around on two ponies standing up - kinda a one trick show)
    • The Iam super dogs (dogs that ran over dinky little jumps - last year was much much better when the dogs ran the same course that the horses did)
    • Two wheeled cart competition (Percheron)
    • Four wheeled cart competition (Road horses - Standarbred)
    • Wagon completions (Clydesdale)
    • Large Pony Hunter
After the fair, we had a fine dinner at Swiss Chalet and then browsed around Ikea for a bit. It was a good day.

My camera didn't work too well in the fair, but here are a few pictures to make you want to go

This is the view from the top of the arena - I love the colours in this picture

Man these horses can jump!

Ian Millar - not 3 rows down from us!!!!!

Friday, November 03, 2006

No Mr. Bond, I expect you to die

If I was filthy rich and had nothing better to spend my money on I would fly to London in December; The James Bond guns are up for auction!

From the article:

JAMES Bond's guns are going under the hammer at Christie's. The weapon which Sean Connery wielded in 1962 film Dr No is the star lot and is expected to fetch up to £25,000 ($61,705).

Other guns up for auction include Roger Moore's Walther PPK from For Your Eyes Only, which carries an estimate of up to £12,000. ($29,618).

The model from 2002 film Die Another Day is expected to sell for up to £7000. ($17,277) Timothy Dalton's WA2000 sniper rifle from The Living Daylights has a price tag of up to £6000 ($14,809).

Other lots include Bond girl Halle Berry's Beretta Cheetah handgun from Die Another Day (£5000 - £7000 ($17,277 - $12,341), the midget Nick-Nack's Derringer from The Man With The Golden Gun (£3000 - £5000 ($7404 - $12,341) and Tanaka's Gyro Jet gun from You Only Live Twice (£3000 - £5000 ($7404 - $12,341).

How cool would it be to have those guns! I'm not a gun fanatic by any stretch of the imagination but having those in a display case in the house, to pull out and pretend you're a covert agent when no one is around would be incredible.

Alas, I won't be going to London and I won't be buying those guns. I don't have £61k just laying around.

But I'll still pretend to be Bond when no one is looking...