Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Inertia, momentum, power tools, and beer

Contrary to what the title of this episode implies, the above is not a recipe for disaster.

There was a near-disaster at the dinner table when I fumbled My mug of barley soda. That's where the inertia comes in: The mug tipped slowly enough that I was able to catch it despite My fatigue.

The fatigue was caused by momentum that carried Me through a particularly busy day. After work, Red and I went out for coffee. Then we went to a home improvement store. After that, we stopped over at a friend's house, where I acquired a handful of seeds from an interesting clump of blue grass.

And then, upon our return home at about 8 p.m., things really got busy. First, I went outside, unlocked the almost-finished Cat Gazebo 2.0, and planted a Japanese spirea and the handful of grass seeds.

Then I went back in the house and used some 2x6's to make a temporary platform for the freezer at the back of the kitchen. Sliding it out of the way, I opened up a section of the kitchen wall and drilled some pilot holes to the outside of the house.

Then I went outside again, and sawed through the outside wall to create a cat-sized passageway from the kitchen.

Finally, I reattached a staircase left over from Cat Gazebo 1.0, put the freezer back where it belonged, and sat down to have supper.

Which is roughly when the beer tried to escape.

But Cat Gazebo 2.0 is now operational. Even as I type, the Dark Legion are exploring their new 24-hour playhouse. I can now go on to other things for a while, such as planning the demolition of My garage, gutting the old downstairs bathroom, and levelling a floor or two.

Not tonight, though.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

It's La Fin du Monde as I know it...

...and I feel fine.

It's Saturday night -- uh, early Sunday morning -- in Winnipeg. I'm sitting here with a mug of my favourite beer, a little Québecois number called La Fin du Monde. It dwells at the "WTF???" end of the beer strength scale, coming in at a hefty 9% alcohol content. (It also tends to make me sneeze, possibly because my nose has gone completely numb, but that's another story.)

Oh, and I also have a *snif* empty bowl that previously contained some BBQ potato chips by Old Dutch, a legendary local purveyor of crispy snacks. Lest you think that I've gone all commercial on you and am engaging in some bizarre form of divine product placement, kindly allow me to explain further.

I've noticed, over the past couple of years, that I *do* tend to eventually get what I ask for in life. Here is my wish list as of several years ago:
  • A Dragonlance movie.
  • A movie about the Silver Surfer.
  • The Tick, animated version, on DVD.
  • A complete new set of Dragonlance graphic novels, to supplant the old DC graphic novel series that died halfway through the story.
  • Potato chips that taste like Humpty Dumpty barbecue chips.
  • A book about Raistlin Majere that fills in the gaps in Dragons of Spring Dawning.
  • Max Headroom TV series on DVD.
I now have six out of seven. The DL cartoon did leave much to be desired, but I still rather enjoyed watching it. The Silver Surfer showed up in the second Fantastic Four movie, and there was much rejoicing at Astrejurhof. Got the Tick cartoons, and a re-release of DangerMouse as well.

Then Devil's Due Publishing put out a whole new comic series based on Dragonlance Chronicles, and to my delight also issued them as a four volume soft-cover compilation. Even better, they've also done some work on Dragonlance Legends.

As of tonight, I have the potato chips.

I'm also mere weeks away from the release of Dragons of the Hourglass Mage, the third and final book in the Dragonlance Lost Chronicles series, and the de facto third book in the Raistlin Chronicles. I'm already foreseeing an all-nighter when I finally get my hands on the book, as was the case when I picked up The Soulforge in February 1998.

(Now, if someone would kindly drop a complete DVD collection of the Max Headroom TV series in my lap, I will be rather pleased to receive it.)

What I'm trying to figure out right now is how these wishes are converted into tangible form. It does appear that the things I want the most fervently do eventually come to pass; and, as you can see from the list above, I tend to desire some fairly unusual things.

Could it be that pop culture is now actually capable of serving fringe tastes such as mine?

... Or is the Weird Wish Faerie listening to my pleas?

Either way, it's a win-win situation.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Carpentry diem!

Or, "Hand me the crowbar... I've gotta finish this before dark."

Ah, the mad caprices of Winnipeg weather! I have contractors coming by in the morning to install a beam and some teleposts, so tonight was the night I had to open up the side wall of the crawlspace.

It rained, of course.

Rained with extreme prejudice. I'm talking copious amounts of dihydrogen monoxide here, enough to leave four-inch-deep puddles in My back yard.

I managed to get the outer layer of siding off the wall before the rain started in earnest, then stood on the back porch for about five minutes and watched the deluge. Red finally convinced Me to come inside.

Because we had a thunderstorm in progress, I had to do something that didn't involve computers. I spent an hour or so with a box of carving tools, detailing a little clay cat sculpture that I started a couple of months ago.

Around eight p.m., the rain finally abated and I went outside to try again. I wore winter boots this time, which allowed Me to traipse through the mud with wanton abandon. This time I did manage to open up the wall all the way. After removing a layer of tongue-and-groove lumber, a few other pieces of wood, and a bit more concrete parging... And adding a healthy amount of mud to Myself... I staggered back into the house at 9:40 p.m. with today's mission accomplished.

I now have an opening wide enough and long enough to admit a couple of concrete pads, a beam, two teleposts, and one or two labourers.

Also large enough, alas, to permit a midnight mass escape of My Dark Legion of cats. If they're all still in the house when I get up for work tomorrow morning, I'll be... Disappointed, somehow.

Monday, July 13, 2009

On omnipotence and other superpowers

It's July 13, 2009, which means that it's Think Like a God Day. As mentioned earlier, this year's theme is:

Omnimax: Something's gotta give!

The concept of an all-powerful, all-knowing and benevolent god is an absurdity. How could a good god have knowledge of an injustice and the power to do something about it, and yet sit/stand/float idly by and do bugger-all?

It's a simple problem to fix: All one needs to do is take away one "omni" characteristic, and the hypothetical divine being becomes slightly more believable.

But which characteristic are *You* prepared to forego, Mr. or Ms. God-For-A-Day?

I'm not particularly obsessed with power, so I could quite easily do without the omnipotence part. Give Me the ability to change My own oil without forgetting to put the oilpan plug back in, and we're good.

I do treasure knowledge. The question is, do I really want to know everything about everything?

Think about it: Do *you* want to know what happens next, in excruciating detail? Would you need a stiff drink to forget what you saw just seconds ago? And what about the joy of learning something new? Me, I think I'll also pass on Total Knowledge of Everything.

Omnibenevolence is a great idea in theory, and it's the omni quality that I like the best. If I absolutely had to pick one of the three, this would be the one.

(Then again, there are the people whom I don't want to like...)

In the final analysis, I don't want any of the three "omni" powers. I'm perfectly happy with My limited magisteria of the Vernal Equinox, punctuation, Random Equipment Malfunctions, and chocolate.

Especially the chocolate.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

"Weekends are supposed to be relaxing??"

Could've fooled Me...

I am finally sitting down at My desk, after a profoundly exhausting day running around and doing stuff. In fact, today (Sunday) was almost a carbon copy of Saturday.

Both started with the packing of sundry junk into My little compact car: A huge bucket of assorted wood pieces; dozens of bricks; tiles that had been removed from the back wall of the house; several bags of weeds; an old trunk with rusty locks. Once the car was full, Red and I drove down to the Brady Road landfill south of Winnipeg and paid $10 for the privilege of making pickup truck drivers giggle. (To make sure of that, I wore a plaid flannel workshirt with a cap in a completely different plaid.)

Then we stopped for coffee. No dump run is complete without a layover for coffee.

After there, it gets fuzzy.

Near as I can figure, on Saturday I visited My aunt, took My mum shopping (bought a hedge trimmer), bought some completely different bricks, came home, and wreaked three hours of un-havoc in the front garden. Grass was weedwhacked, bricks were installed. Then Red and I went out for burgers. Upon our return home I made Myself a Havana (pineapple, lemon, white rum); staggered upstairs; and wrote till three in the morning.

Imagine My surprise when the rest of the morning showed up.

I did manage to get up before noon, and as mentioned above, we loaded up for a second dump run. Crawled up the dump hill in a convoy of F150s and Silverados and other vehicles much bigger than ours. Flung stuff out of the car, went for coffee. Then we went to the parental units' home to show them how to use their new hedge trimmer. It cut a few strands of hedge, then stopped working. After about ten minutes of fussing, I was convinced by Red to pack it up and take it back to the store.

So off we went again...

About an hour and a half later* we returned with a trimmer from a completely different store, and the fun began. Pieces of shrubbery flew in all directions. We finally got back home just after six o'clock, only to be confronted by a horde of disgruntled housebound cats.

The cats went outside. I went upstairs to have a bit of a lie-down.

An hour later, *I* went outside with a crowbar, a hammer, and a pair of tin snips, and smashed up the concrete parging on the south side of the crawlspace. The removed material got dumped on the freshly-cleared patio, right where the bricks and wall tiles used to be. So it looks like we're heading back to the dump next Saturday morning.

Make it stop!

* Somewhere in the middle of the hedge trimmer exchange, we stopped for ice cream. You know you're tired when you completely forget about the ice cream...

Friday, July 3, 2009

Whatever you do, don't say 'Asparagus'!

Aaaaa! (dives under desk)

I just spent an hour and a half dealing with three grocery bags full of the aforementioned vegetable... About ten pounds of the stuff.

A group of us at work purchased a very large box of... you know... from a local farmer. After I got My share, I also volunteered to take away all the little bits and pieces at the bottom of the box. I'd much rather see the *sp*r*g*s in My compost bin than the dumpster out back.

So I sorted out all the nice thin pieces, a large pile for Me and the Astrejurhof crowd, and a slightly smaller pile for My parental units, and put them in the fridge for later consumption.

And then I put a big pot on the stove, and blanched and bagged most of what remained. I filled five, count 'em, five medium-size freezer bags; then I cut the remainder into bite-size pieces and relegated them to the compost heap.

So if a squirrel knocks on your door asking for a dish of melted butter, you know Whom to blame.

Have you mailed your Think Like A God Day cards yet?

Well, you'd better get cracking. Think Like a God Day is July 13, and this year's theme is...

"Omnimax: Something's Gotta Give!"

Your mission: Given the Dilemma of Epicurus, decide which "omni" you would choose to forego. Would you rather be all-powerful and all-knowing, but amoral? Omnibenevolent, but not particularly omniscient?

(For the record, I'm quite happy being generally benevolent with scattered hissy fits, and with limited magisteria and variable amounts of knowledge on topics near to My heart. I don't want to be "omni" anything.)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Emergency music store runs and carrot pancakes

Red and I enjoyed a rather out-of-the-ordinary Tuesday night at Astrejurhof. Well, *at* Astrejurhof is not entirely accurate. An after-work lie-down turned into an impromptu two-hour nap, and upon coming to My senses at a quarter to seven this past evening, I realized that we only had an hour to get to the music store before closing time.

So off we went in My little Cavalier, driving at a breakneck... Uh, 48 km/hr. We got there in good time, and while Red explored the front of the store I headed to the band room in search of some serious clarinet music. After ordering Divertimento No. 1 by Mozart, and playing with virtually every keyboard in the keyboard room, off we went on another Urgent Mission.

A coffee break, of course.

And then... On to the supermarket to pick up some steaks for our Canada Day barbecue.

Somewhere along the way to the grocery store, I decided it was high time to cook up the carrot pancakes that I've been threatening to make for about a month now. Oddly enough, it was the prospect of imminent and severe meat consumption that inspired Me. I've been trying to eat My veggies lately, because I really do feel better when I do. I spent about ten years (1981-1991) as an ovo-lacto vegetarian, until I finally met My match in a barbecued chicken. I used to make vegetable pancakes fairly regularly, so tonight was a trip down Memory Lane. (turns to guardian dragon) The recipe, please, Glori...
  • One potato, peeled and coarsely grated
  • 8-10 carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
  • 5 eggs
  • One shallot or small onion, finely chopped
  • Enough flour to make batter hold together without being too dry... Two or three handfuls, or about one cup
  • Celery salt, garlic salt, black pepper to taste
  • Sunflower oil, for frying
Mix together everything but the oil in a fairly large bowl. Alternate vegetables and eggs, mixing as you go, until it looks like enough; then season the mixture and add the flour to thicken the batter. (It should be slightly wet, with a small amount of vegetable juice at the bottom of the bowl, but not runny and not stiff.)

Heat up the frying pan of your choice on medium-high heat, without the oil. When it's hot enough, back off the heat a bit and pour in some oil. Swirl it around in the pan, then put in three heaping tablespoons of batter to make the first three pancakes. Flatten and spread with the back of the spoon, then tilt the pan to get it around the pancakes. If the pan is hot enough, the bottom of the pancakes will harden almost immediately and you'll be able to easily slide them around in the pan.

Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until brown on the bottom, then flip over and cook for a few more minutes. Put the finished pancakes on a cookie sheet that's been lined with parchment paper, and keep warm in a low oven (250F or less).

If the pan looks dirty due to browned oil, wipe it clean before adding more oil and more batter. Reduce heat slightly if the oil starts to brown. Repeat until all the batter is cooked, then serve with sour cream. Makes 12-15 pancakes.
Thanks, Glori.

In other news... The weather has finally settled into "sunny, and not too hot to work outside." When I wake up later this morning (early this afternoon, more likely), I'm going to take advantage of the pleasant temperature and try to finish framing the roof of the Cat Gazebo.

In between schlepping topsoil back and forth across My back yard, and packaging up mass quantities of broken bricks for a run to the dump.

You see, sometime this year, I *really* want to have an actual patio behind the house. There is a small concrete pad back there, but between the Pile o' Many Bricks, and the gate leaning up against the wall, and the wheelbarrow, it's a bit hard to access the...

...Barbecue! *happy dance*

(raises mug of beer) Happy Canada Day, everyone!