Tag Archives: ice cream

Ruminants, Ice Cream, And Welding Feet

I often send cryptic reminders to myself when I think of a blog topic but don’t have time to write the whole post.  Usually a few words are enough to jog my memory, but when I discovered this email on my laptop a few days ago, I was confounded:

“Ruminants.  And ice cream.  Welding feet.”

All-righty, then.

I do actually remember sending the email; but beyond that I don’t have a clue.  It must have been something so weird that my brain discarded it in self-defence.

I guess I’ll never know, but at least “welding feet” still makes sense (to me, at least).  ’Cause you never know how foolish you’re willing to look until you’ve shuffled around wearing welding gloves on your feet.

(Note:  I’d like to emphasize that it wasn’t my fault – I didn’t know I was going to be welding.)

Hubby’s uncle Bert had offered to fabricate a trellis for us, so I drew up the plans and we went over to his workshop.  I planned to hang over Bert’s shoulder and watch the master at work, so I had worn jeans and a denim jacket and brought a welding helmet and gloves.  But when he offered the stinger to me, the learning opportunity was too good to pass up.

Everything was going fine… (that is to say, I sucked just as badly as when I first tried welding as a teenager) …until I felt a sizzle on my toes.  And then another.  And another, until I was doing a funky little soft-shoe shuffle in an attempt to avoid the pain.

Yep, I had worn nylon running shoes instead of my usual boots (see “not my fault” above) and specks of red-hot slag were burning through my shoes and socks and toasting my toes.  But I wasn’t about to abandon my educational opportunity, so that’s how I ended up shambling around with welding gloves on my feet like some deranged leather-toed waterfowl.

My welding didn’t improve much, but at least the trellis is solid and I had fun revisiting another long-abandoned skill!

And best of all, there’s no photographic evidence of my latest goofball performance.  Instead, here’s the almost-finished product:

We still have to clean it up, attach the decorative panels (they’re only laid in place in the photo), and paint it. Then it’ll support our peach tree in an espalier-type setup against the garage wall.

Any oddball activities in your life this week?

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Self-Driving Auto-Paranoia

A couple of days ago I discovered an article about how and when a self-driving car should be programmed to injure or kill its passengers.  It’s an alarming proposition, but it’s actually a valid point:  if the car has to choose between wiping out ten pedestrians or only its driver, simple logic says it should choose the lesser number of casualties.

But the realization that my future vehicle may be plotting to kill me makes me just a wee bit mistrustful of technology.

Or, in my case, more mistrustful of technology.  I’ve never been good at leaving my safety in the hands (circuits?) of inanimate objects.  (Or even animate objects, for that matter.  I’m a lousy passenger even with a human driver – I spend as much time watching the road as the driver does.  But that’s another story.)

My point is, I’m suspicious of any electronic device that wants to make decisions for me.

Take my GPS, for instance.  The lady inside my GPS can usually get me where I want to go, but she’s not always good at it.  When we’re in unfamiliar territory, Hubby usually drives while I navigate.  Theoretically the GPS should be all we need, but I never go anywhere without a paper map; partly because my GPS has a tendency to announce “Low battery!” and/or lose its satellite connection at critical moments, but mostly because I don’t trust it to choose the best route.

I can set it to ‘faster time’ (which is usually dog-slow) or ‘shortest distance’ (synonymous for ‘via goat-paths and dodgy neighbourhoods’), but there’s no setting for ‘common sense’.  So, after a few forays through dense forest on steep roads no wider than our car (though, as the GPS insisted, that road was technically ‘paved’) our trips have become a power struggle between the GPS and me.

The GPS lady says, “In… two hundred metres… turn left.”

And I say, “Ignore that.  It doesn’t know what it’s doing.  Keep going straight.”

Hubby, like all husbands with a modicum of self-preservation, silently follows my directions while the GPS says in snotty tones, “Recalculating.  In… one hundred metres… make a U-turn.”

Me:  “Ignore that.  Keep going.”

GPS (getting cranky):  “Recalculating.  In… three kilometres… TURN LEFT, IDIOT!”

Me:  “Ignore that…”

Given the choice, I’d rather have an up-to-date paper map and only use the GPS to pinpoint the location of the nearest Dairy Queen.  (And don’t get me wrong; that’s a critical function.  I need frequent ice cream breaks when I’m on the road.)

But antagonizing my GPS is probably a bad idea, because the new cars will have them built in.  And if a hostile GPS triggers the ‘kill-the-driver’ algorithm, I could be in serious trouble.

On the surface, the self-driving car seems utopian:  I could be snoozing or reading or snacking while my car takes me safely and efficiently to my destination.  But in reality I’d probably end up sitting in the driver’s seat with both hands on the wheel, simultaneously watching the road and keeping a wary eye on the car in case it tries to kill me.

But maybe I’m just paranoid.

Or maybe that’s not a ‘maybe’…

* * *

And speaking of technology… there’s a new discussion over at the Virtual Backyard Book Club:  Aydan’s Tech Gadgets – Love ‘Em Or Hate ‘Em?  Click here to have your say!

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Want Some Cheese With Your Kryptonite?

Happy New Year!  I missed you!

I thought I was doing myself a favour by taking a one-week vacation from blogging, but apparently if I want to retain my sanity I need to interact with people who don’t exist solely inside my head. (And if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll be justifiably horrified that this is my version of ‘sanity’.)

But sane or not, I’m grateful to all of you for taking the time to read and interact with me every week – thank you!

This is prime time for New Year’s resolutions, but (as usual) I haven’t made any. I’d love to pretend there’s some noble intellectual reason for that, but the sordid truth is that I avoid making resolutions because of my donkey DNA.

I’ve mentioned before that it forces me to respond to dares, but it also impels me to do the exact opposite to any resolution I make. The instant I resolve never to (fill in unhealthy habit here) or touch another bite of (fill in unhealthy food here), I’ll immediately seek out the prohibited food or activity and binge on it… even if I don’t really enjoy it. I swear I could renounce brussels sprouts and within a day I’d be sneaking away to pig out on them.

Okay, bad example.  I could probably resist brussels sprouts, but everybody has their kryptonite: a substance that renders them weak and utterly helpless. I’ve already confessed my shameful addiction to hortiporn and my ongoing membership in Toolaholics Anonymous, so I won’t revisit those-

…Vegetables! Perfect vegetables and brilliant flowers, and the seeds are so cheap! And tools! Shiny beautiful wrenches and air tools and-

*shakes head and slaps own face vigorously*

Sorry. I’m back now.

You’d think two varieties of kryptonite would be enough, but no; I have several:

  • Ice cream – I’ll eat it any time of the day or night, even when it’s 30-below outside. I’d eat it for every meal if I didn’t know I’d gain so much weight that I wouldn’t fit in my car. And that would prevent me from going out to buy more ice cream, which would totally suck.
  • Cheese – Ditto. Any kind of cheese; or better still, all kinds. I’m particularly partial to stinky ‘robustly-flavoured’ varieties but I love them all, from mild to malodorous to mouldy.
  • Yarn and fabric – I don’t go into those stores anymore. Crossing their thresholds would violate the terms of my parole.
  • Camping/outdoor equipment – Show me anything from a Ka-bar knife to a kayak, and I’ll immediately begin to salivate. It’s pathetic.
  • Outdoor reference books – Want to identify a bird? I have seven bird books. Mushroom? Four volumes. Wildflower? Fish? Animal track? Turd? Yep, yep, yep, and yep! (Do you know how hard it is to find books on identifying animal scat? Sheesh.) And still, any time I travel to a new area I buy a flora and fauna reference book as a souvenir.
  • Potato chips – I can’t even have them in the house. At least not for longer than it takes me to snarf the entire family-sized bag.

You may notice that I’ve omitted beer, chocolate, and rare steaks from the list, but believe it or not, I can actually resist those if necessary. (Most of the time. And I reserve the right to define ‘necessary’.)

What’s your kryptonite?

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Crazy Cones And Cockroaches

Yaaaa-hoooo!! It’s Stampede Week here, and the usual happy insanity reigns.

I love the Calgary Stampede. If I had time (and if I wasn’t too cheap to pay the daily $18 admission fee), I could easily spend days there. The free exhibits are fascinating: circus acts, horseshoeing contests, tractor pulls, Superdogs, team penning competitions, art shows, native cultural displays, live bands, extreme BMX/motocross/snowmobiles; you name it. There’s even the Cannon Lady getting shot out of a cannon several times a day.

The giant midway doesn’t really attract me, though. The rides are expensive, and I can’t quite get over the knowledge that they’ve been knocked together in record time by sleep-deprived carnies fresh off the road. Or worse, fresh off their last party. I know they have a stellar safety record, but… I’m just sayin’.

The rodeos are fun to watch, too, but I rarely go to them. Tickets are pricey, and there are so many other things to see and do that I just can’t fit it all in. Not to mention I can’t help giggling at the thought that rodeo is clearly a sport designed by men, for men. A bunch of guys giving each other prizes for their ability to stay up for 8 seconds…? Boys, I hate to break it to you, but an 8-second ride ain’t gonna do it for the ladies!

Speaking of rides to remember, I noted a few years ago that the Stampede is a prime opportunity to get the gift that keeps on giving. Syphilis was the big winner when I wrote that post four years ago, but in true Stampede spirit we’re diversifying. Now gonorrhea and chlamydia are getting their fair share of erm… exposure, too. So before you ride that cowboy, you might want to slap a latex saddle on his pocket bronc.

If you’re looking for a slightly less risqué adventure, the Stampede offers lots of scope for risky business of the culinary variety.

Last year’s scorpion pizza was a big seller, and this year foodies were eagerly anticipating the cockroach pizza. Alas, they were doomed to disappointment: Apparently the shipment of dead cockroaches from Vietnam got delayed at the border. (There’s a unique first-world problem.)  But our indomitable pizzameister promises they should be in soon, so the pizza might get its cockroach crunch before the end of Stampede.

I dunno; I expend a considerable amount of effort to avoid eating food containing cockroaches, but I guess that’s just me.

And in case your stomach wasn’t upset enough after the rides and cockroaches, you can also get a cup of mini-doughnuts topped with cheese curds, gravy, and jalapeños. I’m not sure why you’d want to, but you can.

Or, if you’re looking for a treat that’s both risky and risqué, how about a Crazy Cone:

Oh dear...

Oh dear…

The last time I saw something like that, I was in a sex shop. (Doing research on Lola’s merchandise for my novels. Honest. That’s my story and it’s sticking to me.)

Anyway, no Stampede Week is complete without the requisite crazy-citizen stunt, so here it is: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/calgary-man-soars-over-city-in-lawn-chair-attached-to-helium-balloons-1.3139591.  Some folks’ll do anything to get high…

What’s risky or risqué in your neck of the woods this week?

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And That Was My Week

The week after I finish a book is always interesting.  During the final stages, I’m so immersed in writing that everything else just… goes away.  Including my brain.  And it hasn’t come back yet.

I tried to come up with a coherent blog post and instead spent an hour staring into space and mumbling non sequiturs.  So I’m just gonna go with that.

Here’s what my week was like, in no particular order:

Ironic:  This week I kickboxed, lifted weights, planted a few thousand square feet of garden, shifted a ton of garden soil, mowed the lawn, did some minor home renovations, and generally abused every muscle in my body.  I was fine.  Then I hurt my back… bellydancing.

Efficient:  I finally discovered the secret to efficiency:  a to-do list.  In the morning I wrote a list of all the things I wanted to get done during the day.  Then at the end of the day, I wrote “Tomorrow” after the “To-Do” title.  Voila!  Efficiency.  Now I don’t have to make another to-do list.

Fashionable:  In my closet, I have a skirt… hey, don’t laugh!  I really do own a skirt.  It’s a broomstick skirt, which, for the uninitiated, is a skirt that looks as though you’ve rolled it up in a ball and slept on it for a couple of months before wearing it.  It suits my attitude toward dress-up clothing just fine.  I unearthed it a while ago, shook it out, and then hung it tenderly back in my closet.  You never know when I might need an easy-to-care-for skirt.

Oblivious:  I showed the above skirt to a friend about a month ago, and she said, “Oh, what a great skirt!  I remember when those were in style!”  Then the conversation moved to other topics.  Just yesterday it filtered through my thick skull that my beloved skirt had been insulted…

Illogical:  About six weeks ago I hurt my arm kickboxing.  So I ignored it, because everything gets better sooner or later, right?  But it kept hurting, and a couple of weeks ago I threw a punch and ouch!  So I went in at the beginning of the week and got a diagnosis.  Apparently I have tennis elbow.  From kickboxing.  Makes perfect sense.  (Fortunately muay thai allows strikes from fists, feet, elbows, and knees, so I can still train.  Otherwise this heading would be “Illogical and Cranky”.)

Absent-Minded:  I went for a walk, and half a mile down the sidewalk my brain suddenly shrieked:  “Wait!  Did I forget my pants?!?”  The relief was indescribable when I looked down to discover that I was actually dressed.  The subsequent question, “Are they done up?” was anti-climactic by comparison.  Unfortunately, accidentally going sans pants isn’t an inconceivable scenario for me.  I’m not in the habit of wandering around half-naked, but when I’m this distracted there’s always a possibility that I might begin to change clothes and just forget to finish the job.

Gluttonous:  Because the universe has a cruel sense of humour, it was my week to be Designated Driver.  So I haven’t even had a beer to celebrate finishing Book 8, but I compensated by eating a candy apple and a triple-chocolate ice cream cone that was as big as my head.  And I have plans for beer this weekend, so all is well in my world.

And that was my week.  How was yours?

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Feeling Crabby?

Six months ago one of my blogging buddies, Carrie Rubin, wrote a post about gross things she’s found in her food.  But after commenting with a list of the various disgusting things I’ve discovered on my plate, it occurred to me that perhaps I’d shared too much.

Which got me thinking about other instances of inappropriate sharing I’ve witnessed over the years.  I’m not talking about inappropriate verbal sharing; I’m talking about sharing physical objects that really, really should be one-person items.

I know little kids tend to be cavalier about swapping bacteria, but I generally prefer to think adults know better.

Not so.

I was sitting at an ice cream shop one day when I spotted a prosperous-looking middle-aged lady sitting in her prosperous-looking car with her small yappy terrier.  Okay, nothing surprising in that scene.

Until she licked her ice cream cone, held it out for the dog to lick, took a few more licks herself, shared it with the dog again… you get the picture.

Lady!  Seriously?!?  Do you know where that dog’s tongue has been?  No?

Let me tell you:

(To those with weak stomachs:  You’ll want to skip this paragraph.)  First he licked his balls.  Then he found some dead, partially-decomposed animal and nibbled that.  Then a while later, he found the shit from some other dog who’d also nibbled said partially-decomposed animal, and he ate that dog’s shit.  Now you’re licking the same ice cream cone.

‘Scuse me while I hurl.

Some time later, I was staggered all over again by an incident at my gym.

I pay extra to use the adults-only change room, since large groups of children fill me with an intense need to run screaming (and not in the “running for fitness” sense). One of the perks of the membership is being allowed to leave your swimsuit hanging to dry in the change room.  So I went for a swim and then left my swimsuit on its peg.

When I went back a couple of days later, somebody had stolen it.  I can’t imagine why, ’cause if you can afford to pay extra for the adult change room, you can probably afford a new swimsuit.

But I ask you:  Would you wear a stranger’s swimsuit?  Even if you were totally broke?

I was flabbergasted.  Then grossed out.  Then annoyed.  I would’ve loved to post the following note:

To the person who stole my swimsuit, one word: 

CRABS!

But maybe that’s why the gym doesn’t allow its members to post notices on the bulletin board.  And besides, it would have been really embarrassing if I’d gotten caught.

Anybody else got stories of inappropriate sharing?

P.S. I wrote this six months ago, and last week I decided it would be today’s post.  A few days later another blogging buddy, Murr Brewster, posted The Brazilians Killed The Lice.  What are the chances that we’d both mention a tasteful topic like crabs in the same week?  Obviously great minds think alike.

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Confessions of an Undercounter Lurker

I’m an ice cream addict, and my nephew recently offered to let me hide under the Dairy Queen counter so he could feed me any treats he’d made wrong.  Little did he know that lurking under counters is not a new activity for me.  (And I didn’t enlighten him.  There are some things a fifteen-year-old doesn’t need to know.)

If you’d told me twenty years ago that I’d spend a substantial amount of time on my knees under co-workers’ desks, I’d probably have slapped you.  And a few years later, I’d have had to apologize.  Because I ended up doing exactly that.

Wait a minute.  If you’re thinking what I think you’re thinking, not exactly that.  Jeez.

For a lot of years, the joke around the office was, “If you can’t find Diane, look under your desk”.  I was working as a network administrator, and I spent far too much time hunched under desks, connecting and disconnecting various computer-related plugs and cables.

Aside from the carnivorous dust bunnies, I didn’t mind having to crawl around on the floor frequently.  I hate dressing up, and it gave me an excuse to never wear a skirt to work (or any particularly nice clothes, for that matter).

And it was peaceful down there.  Nice and dark and quiet.  Sometimes it was tempting to just hole up for the day and spout incomprehensible technical jargon if challenged.  Kind of like a deranged techno-troglodyte:  “Back!  Back, I say!  Or I’ll ping your IP ‘til your CAT5 sizzles like an electrocuted snake!  I’ll FDISK your drive ‘til it can’t find its FAT with both hands!  RAM!  FAP!  Buwahahaha!”

I can’t understand why my coworkers always seemed… wary.

I’ve actually hidden under a desk to avoid people, too.  I prefer to call it “a clever strategic decision”, not “cowardice”, but you can form your own judgement.

I was hiding from my ex-husband.  Who had just encountered my brand-new boyfriend at the door to my house.  There was a dog and a bag of cherries involved.  Let’s just say it was complicated.

I couldn’t decide whether it would be worse to make an appearance and potentially exacerbate the situation, or to get caught huddling under my desk.  How do you explain hiding like a kid, when you’re thirty-three years old?  “Um, I just dropped something…”  Ten minutes ago, when the doorbell rang for the first time.  Yeah, right.

Anyway, I didn’t get caught, both the dog and the cherries ended up where they belonged, and both males departed unscathed, if not unruffled.  I like to think I made the right decision on that one.

I’m going to skip the Dairy Queen gig, though.  Wouldn’t want this undercounter thing to become a habit.

Any other lurkers out there?

Update:

As Charles points out in the comments, you can’t just leave a situation with an ex-husband, new boyfriend, a dog, and a bag of cherries without explanation.  So go for it.  Use your imagination, and drop your best explanation of “what *might* have been” in the comments below.  I’ll pick a winner next Wednesday and send out a (probably not so) magnificent prize.

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