Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Don't touch that dial!

Among sundry other divine responsibilities, at one point in my career I thought it would be a good idea to become the Goddess of Random Equipment Malfunctions.  The rationale was simple:  "It's a dirty job, and someone's got to do it."

Or not do it, if you will.  Random Equipment Malfunctions are infuriating precisely because of their randomness.  They come on unexpectedly, switch on and off intermittently and frequently cure themselves without rhyme or reason, leaving the source of the problem an eternal mystery.  In other words, they appear to violate cause and effect by virtue of being all effect and no cause.

And now I know why no one else wanted the job.  For the last couple of days I've been beset by a whole flock of REMs:
  • Lost com link for the entire house for a day and a half due to a malfunction in a data line.  A mysteriously sudden windstorm is the prime suspect.
  • An elevator at work has been attempting to hold unwary passengers hostage.
  • Also at work, one of the toilets is occasionally refusing to refill due to a moribund float mechanism that gets jammed at the bottom of the tank.
  • My garage remote control had apparently stepped out for coffee when I returned from band practice this evening, and I had to let myself and the car in with a good old-fashioned key.
  • And the strangest one of all:  Last night, when I was attempting to bake a cake, the oven decided that I didn't really mean 325°F and reset itself to 223°F at some point during the baking time.  Darchala, the somewhat bemused witness, was kind enough to reset the oven to the proper temperature and we did end up with non-liquid cake shortly thereafter.
The one thing all of these anomalies have in common?  I touched these things.  I know it tends to get a bit dry in Winnipeg in cold weather, but even if I were generating one heck of an electromagnetic field and zapping remote controls, oven touch pads, computers, telephones, TVs and elevators, it doesn't really explain a damaged cable outside the house, or a toilet.

Must be magic.

(Springy G starts dialing the crisis line for the Tower of High Sorcery in Wayreth, only to hang up suddenly.  She sighs and pushes the phone to far side of the desk.)  Best not do that.  Last thing I need is an entire Conclave of magi complaining that their digital clocks are all blinking  12:00 .

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The most dangerous garage in the city


(Springy G ponders the sound that just came out of a convoluted brass Fiendish Thingie) Relax ... Relax ... Fill the lungs from bottom to top ...


Ah, that's better.  (starts to play a one-octave F major scale, but gets distracted on the way down and wanders into a cool little riff from "Sing Sing Sing")

Hæ!  I'm out in my garage this fine Sunday evening, sitting on a rolling stool that used to be a desk chair, doing music homework.  I am finally learning how to operate the alto sax I bought back in the spring of 2013.

But why am I here in the garage instead of in my cozy little office?  Two reasons.  First of all, it's kind of crowded in the office at the moment because stuff that should be in the bedroom is in the study, and stuff that should be in the study is in the office.



... Saxophones are loud, with a capital L O U D.  I'd rather be wailing away out here than timidly playing notes that don't even sound like sax notes.

So if you happen to be strolling down a back alley and hear strange noises, approach with caution -- or with a jazz rhythm section.  Don't worry; I'll park the car in front to make room for the drums.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Well, at least I'm not listless.

I'm pleased to say that since My last report, things have improved considerably at My desk.

Now it's My extradeskular activities that are out of contr...

... Oh, look!  A pussycat!

(Springy G pauses to airlift Frey Kittehson off the printer and onto the floor)

Where was I?  Oh, yes:  My task list.  This is what's up:
  • I have plans to acquire some bulbs for fall planting, some nice gravel for the front path, a better coffee machine, a pattern for sewing some pyjamas, and a salad spinner.
  • As usual, there are fix-it tasks aplenty:  Concrete work, insulation, drywalling, painting, finish carpentry, pants alterations, lawn mower sharpening, network cabling, grubbing around under the front and back porches for various non-nefarious reasons, and ... painting the trunk of an elephant figurine, which I repaired with epoxy putty.
And then there's the usual stuff, like making appointments for this and that.

And then there's the not-quite-as-usual stuff:
  • Renew passport so that I can go to the States to see the total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017.  Kansas City sounds good, or maybe I'll go to Oregon.
  • Choose a guild for My next 6-week fitness challenge at Nerd Fitness.
  • Repair the dragon in the front yard.
But oh! that last item on the list:
For one thing, I don't speak Arabic, let alone read it, let alone write it with anything near the skill that such a translation would require.  Haven't even finished learning the alphabet, in fact.

For another thing, there aren't enough hours in the day (and if there were, I'd already be taking the alto sax lessons I want to sign up for).

For another, other thing ...  

... Aah!  *scribble scribble scribble*  If there's an infinite number of universes, there's probably a version of Me who's already done the translation.  (rummages through cupboard)  Now, where's My box of acrylic paints?  Got an elephant to spruce up.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

I need a Batcave. And tap shoes.

As is My wont (or do-not-wont, as the case may be), I'm currently sitting at a desk that is much, much too busy even for a goddess like Me.  In addition to the basics (clock, desk caddy, computer, printer, monitor, keyboard, telephone, stapler, Cable Management Rabbit, tabby cat), this is what I literally have in front of Me:
  • Clarinet
  • Turntable
  • Sheet music for a synthesizer bass part for a piece I'm learning in the fall
  • Box of crochet hooks
  • USB key
  • Metronome
  • Bag of leftover computer screws from a system build that someone else did
  • Borrowed USB key on a bright yellow lanyard, which is the only reason I can still find it
  • Drawing tablet stylus
  • Another lanyard I don't particularly want
  • A digital coaxial cable
  • Tiny D&D-sized lead figures, primed and partially painted, of Caramon and Raistlin Majere from Dragonlance
  • Headphones
  • Yellow paint
  • One #31 Marrette wire nut
  • A clarinet swab that needs washing
  • A mirror
  • Two USB cables slated for the giveaway box
  • A double-sided whetstone
  • A couple of notepads, including one from Starcraft II
  • Printout:  "Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet," which I may or may not try
  • And the pièce de resistance, My current craft project:  3 skeins of shocking pink yarn, with which I'm crocheting leg warmers for My dear friend Glori the Kitchen Dragon.
Don't even get Me started on what's in the desk caddy.  Suffice to say that it isn't 100% office supplies; in fact, I'm not even sure what's in there any more. (purses lips and frowns at a couple of the odder items, a spool of white thread and a collection of carving tools)

Clearing the desk is one of those Sisyphean things that never makes it to the to-do list -- Even when I can find the to-do list -- because I've finally accepted that My desk does have a natural ebb and flow.  The problem is that I keep losing things at high tide.  Fortunately, last night I came across an inspiring article:

How to Build a Batcave for Habit Change, by Steve Kamb of Nerd Fitness.

I'm not quite sure which habit I need to change, but if I reverse-engineer the processes that cause random items to accumulate in and around My desk, and then reverse that habit, at very least I should be able to find the telephone on the first ring.

In other news, as the summer community band season starts to wind down and we start gearing up for the regular season (with twice as many bands, hence twice as many rehearsals), I've decided to diversify by taking a beginners' tap dancing class.

Be afraid.  Be very afraid.  Or at least very slightly nervous.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Think Like a God Day 2014: Trickster's Free Kick

It's July 13, and once again it's time to put Yourself into a divine frame of mind.

This year, I'm pondering the role of the Trickster in world mythology.  (pops open a beer and passes it back to dear, sweet Uncle Loki as He chats with someone on the Internet)  Specifically, what I have in mind is how Tricksters move the plot along by challenging the status quo and kicking the other gods out of Their comfort zones, forcing them to Do Something.

So here's My question to You for 2014:  What do the other gods need to do, and how do you propose to make Them do it?

(giggling from a certain Mr. Laufeyson as He types something into His laptop computer.  He pauses and asks Springy G a question.)

Uncle, if I take the picture, it wouldn't be a "selfie."  Just aim that little camera thing at your face and press --


*sniff sniff* What's that awful  -- Sleipnir!  Look out for the --

*clatter clatter clatter*

No, Uncle; I'll put the stuff back on the shelf.  You can take the horse home to Asgard.  (Springy G sighs heavily and goes looking for some spray cleaner and a roll of paper towels)  Well, I know what *I* have to do today.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Am too a Luddite!

A long time ago, in a city about 2700 kilometres away, Springy G was a for-real DJ at a college radio station.

Okay, it was a mere 30 years ago; and it was a CEGEP -- which is a fancy Québec way of saying "college" -- but I was quite adept at finding and spinning interesting and sometimes insufferably obscure vinyl.  Quicksilver Messenger Service, anyone?  How about Mandala?  Maybe a track or two from Tubular Bells -- No,that would take up half the show.  (Besides, the guy who comes on after Me usually plays it.)

Every Tuesday I would show up at the station with a Girl Guides canvas knapsack full of vinyl, hand-picked from My collection of 400+ albums.  The only thing you could count on is that I'd always play one track each from The Guess Who, Steely Dan, The Doors, and Led Zeppelin.

When I came west to live in Winnipeg circa 1977, I left about half the collection behind in Montreal.  After My turntable succumbed in the late '80s, and a very young Ludwig von Snow mistook a shelf full of albums for a scratching post and destroyed most of the jackets and a few of the discs as well, I sighed heavily and invested in a CD player.

That all changed last Saturday, when I traded a chronically disused bass guitar for a new turntable -- Uh, an old turntable.  (An ADC LT-31 linear-tracking turntable, to be precise.)  And I'm playing Gerry Rafferty's album City to City on it, no less.  My all-time favourite sax solo, from "Baker Street" (played by Raphael Ravenscroft), sounds great.

I'd forgotten how much I like analog recordings.  Smooooth.  I'm not what you'd call an audiophile*, but I can actually tell the difference between a standard CD and an .mp3 sampled at *whimper* 128 kbps.

Welcome to 1978!   Put down the smartphone and the ear buds and back away slowly.

* audiophile n. Humanoid life-form that thinks nothing of spending $10,000 on a stereo amplifier, $5,000 on a preamp, an indeterminate amount on parts for homemade 3-way speakers with 18" woofers, and another $5 grand on a turntable, to reproduce sounds that can only be heard by bats, cats and moths.

Friday, May 16, 2014

How to sneak up on vegetables

*skulk* *skulk* *skulk* *skulk*



*devour devour devour*

Well, that's how it's supposed to work, anyway.  I had a look at My 2014 seedlings this afternoon, and in the mayhem of May I seem to have forgotten to water them for nearly a week.    The snap peas may stage a comeback (and if not, I can plant some right into the garden), but the grape tomatoes look rather like a Grade 4 science experiment that went off the rails during Spring Break.  Traditionally one of the kids will foster the class hamster or budgie while the school's shut down, but who thinks to take home the little green things in the tray by the window?

The May Long Weekend, a.k.a. Victoria Day, is upon us and it's time for all green-thumbed citizens of Manitoba to race down to the local Garden Centre and (in between opening up the cottage for the summer and dusting the cobwebs off the barbecue) Plant Something.  I still have hopes for growing mixed greens, wax beans and Snap Peas v. 2.0 from seed, but if I want tomatoes I'm going to have to join the hordes at the store and pick up some more mature, less-withered seedlings.

 ... On the other hand ...

(Springy G thumbs through an ancient tome, upon which the words "Player's Handbook" are inscribed.)  Mm.  Does the "Raise Dead" spell work on plants?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Les pingouins du printemps

Well, here it is, a whole week into Spring 2014, and I just can't get into the swing of things.  It's hard to get enthusiastic about the garden when You're picking Your way over snowbanks and down icy stretches of city sidewalk, walking like a penguin.

That is correct:  Springy G, Loose Cannon of the Æsir, has been doing penguin impersonations.

In public.

At rush hour.

Due to the condition of the sidewalks in Winnipeg, caused by a week of melting and re-freezing, I have to walk with toes pointing outward lest I take a nasty spill and hurt Myself.  Once in a while I even make a gurgling, purring "Hurrr hurrr hurrrrr" sound, like a flightless denizen of a frightfully cold locale.

Mainly because I am a flightless denizen of a frightfully cold locale.  I also like fish, and look good in black and white.   As far as I can tell, the only significant difference between Me and a penguin is that I have a clarinet and a bus pass.

Please don't give the penguins any ideas.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Mr. X

Astrejurhof has officially joined the Squirrel Relocation Program. This involves providing security for Sciuridae by setting them up with brand new identities.

Identities so secret, in fact, that even -we- don't know them.

Because it's a bad idea to name a squirrel.  Next thing you know, they'll be taking peanuts out of your hand, saying rude things to the cats, and rearranging the furniture in the att --

     rustle rustle rustle

-- Wait a minute; we don't have any furniture in the attic.  At least, we didn't have any the last time I was up there.

We do, however, have had at least three squirrels, ostensibly refugees from the Dreaded Polar Vortex but more likely just here for the noms.

They've been taken into protective custody (takk fyrir, Chala), and moved to an Undisclosed Location, far away from the attic and the cats and the crunchy-style peanut butter.

And I do hope they stay there for a while, or at least till I can squirrel-proof the attic.

Original photo by Cephas, from Wikimedia Commons; edited by Astreja Odinsdóttir. Distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


So there I was at the kitchen counter, preparing to eat My usual weekday morning breakfast of cereal, milk, and a cup of orange pekoe tea, when --

*CRAAASH* *tinkle tinkle tinkle*


Even before I walked into the living room, I knew what had happened:  My "dragon bowl," a small glass container resembling a fishbowl, had succumbed to a Cat Gravity Experiment.

Sodalite, carnelian, quartz, topaz, amber, jade, pyrite, emerald -- You name it, it was on the floor.

Along with a frightening amount of very sharp glass shards.

Fortunately I hadn't gotten around to pouring milk on My cereal so I abandoned breakfast and went for a whisk broom and dustpan.  A short distance away, a fuzzy-butted cat of unknown breed and even more unfathomable behaviour sat quietly on the coffee table, watching Me solicitously.

All except for his tail, that is.  The tail of Frey Kittehson is the closest thing in the universe to a true perpetual motion machine.  In fact, I have reason to suspect that mad propeller-like appendage acted alone in the assault on the dragon bowl, and that Frey was just an innocent bystander.

Já, right.

I swept the chunks of glass into the dustpan and sorted the stones into another bowl, a stainless steel one this time.  Along with the various crystals and pretty rocks, I found various other small objects.

Metal charm with the Chinese character for 'Snake.'  Reminds Me of when I was studying changquan back in the '80s.

Cut-glass window ornament that's supposed to throw rainbows all over the room.  Never did work as well as it did in that bookstore.

A rock with a snake engraved on it.

And here's one engraved with a spiral -- Which could also be a snake.  I'm definitely detecting a theme here.  An epic feline-versus-snake battle --

*jingle jingle jingle*

-- Apparently over this cat toy.

It's amazing how much mystical stuff and whatnot will fit in a bowl.  Almost as amazing as --


-- Frey's tail.