December 2004 Archives

A Short History of Nearly Everything

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by Bill Bryson

I really, really liked this book - although it's not 'nearly everything.' This is a great history of the progress of scientific thought, particularly scientific thought in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. It gives readers a really good, layman's terms, idea of what we think about the universe, the planet and the life thereon.

The Da Vinci Code

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by Dan Brown

Well, first of all, kudos to my Dad for sending my Mum to Scotland, ostensibly to visit my gran, just to find me a paperback copy of this! I have managed to avoid The Da Vinci Code thus far simply because I have been waiting for the paperback, for a couple of reasons - first, because $30+ for a hardback seems a little extravagant for a novel, and second, because I tend to read in bed, or at least in semi-prone positions on the couch, and hardbacks are heavy.

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"Trifle" my ass

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Xmas goodies produced to date:

- 2 dozen pecan puffs (melt-in-your-mouth balls of pecany goodness);

- several dozen raisin-filled cookies (even Dina likes 'em);

- about 4 dozen ginger dots, all of which were rapidly consumed by my colleagues, some of whom had apparently not eaten in days;

- an army of gingerbread men (not necessarily an effective army, considering some of them look more like gingerbread thalidamide babies) and various other shapes with the rest of the dough;

- a vegetarian Christmas pudding;

- a trifle.

Ok, now this last item. "Trifle?" Whose idea of a cruel misnomer is this, anyway? Eight perfectly good egg yolks later, and it's bye-bye lumpy custard, hello Bird's canned powder. Anyway, it's done now, sitting in the fridge, looking trifly. I used Nigella Lawson's Domestic Goddess recipe, slightly modified to accommodate the lack of brandy - so it's a cherry trifle with amaretto.

Next up is the cranberry gravy - I love this recipe. It's got all the cranberries one could want, but in a savoury, red wine and red onion sauce that tastes way better than the usual cranberry jelly, IMHO.

Monkey

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Well, the year is fast winding down, which of course means it must be time for the last Blork et Martine Monkey.

The theme for the December Monkey is "give me a year." What would you do if you had a free year, all to yourself, to dedicate to whatever you wanted? Assume money was not a problem -- you've just received a $60,000 Monkey Grant.

This may sound mundane, but with a year with no responsibilities and enough cash, I would definitely travel. There are hundreds of places I would love to experience - but I would narrow it down to three or four places, and spend three or four months in each place, living as a local, getting to know real people, and really absorbing the culture.

So, where would I go?

Well, Africa, definitely. I would love to spend a few months living on a wildlife preserve, working with the animals, learning about the native flora and fauna. Plus, I'd get to wear a safari hat and not look like a poseur.

A Greek island - no idea which one, as long as it's small and sunny and Shirley Valentine-esque. I want to stroll down to the market and buy fresh fish from the Mediterranean and haggle with the locals, and wear floaty sundresses all the time.

Vietnam, Korea or Laos. (It's possible that my travel plans have been slightly influenced by Anthony Bourdain.)

Final destination? I can't decide - maybe India... but Australia would be neat... then there's eastern Europe... and western Europe... and South America... and the Caribbean...

Sigh. Back to the Arctic blast of reality. Maybe Santa will bring me my Year of the Monkey!

Just for Bruce

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Yesterday's temperature, with the windchill. was -40. And remember, folks, that's -40 C, and -40 F.

Today's forecast high is -12 C. Today's forecast high for other places, like, oh, I dunno, Tucson, is 20 C, or 68 F.

Merry Christmas, Bruce!

It's beginning to look a lot like chaos

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Dr. T has just ensured our holiday spirit will be well-fueled with holiday spirits. He bravely faced the pre-Xmas crowds to stock up on Yellow Label, amaretto, porto, and various other bottles of Xmas cheer.

This may not seem like such a big deal, but out-of-towners should take note that at the moment, the SAQ is on strike.

The SAQ is the provincial liquor commission, the 'Societe des alcools de Quebec' - yes, 'societe' - we may drink a lot, but we're really only social drinkers. We can quit anytime. Taxes and other revenues collected from the SAQ, which is a government body, help fund our educational and health programs. Our children are schooled and our sick are healed, thanks to our passion for porto. We're saving the world, one merlot at a time.

That said, it's interesting to note that although the SAQ workers are on strike, there are several outlets that remain open, because let's face it - providing us with wine and spirits is an essential service. There's a limit to how pro-union we can be, and clearly, we're more sympathetic after a bottle or two of a nice Cabernet Sauvignon.

Our blue-collar workers are also on strike, but y'know, like, what else is new? Sure, there's snow in the streets and ice on the sidewalk. We can handle it! We're tough! We're resourceful!

But if we have to navigate streets covered in fresh powder and ice-dance with random strangers on downtown sidewalks, we're gonna need a stiff drink.

Your sophomoric humour for the day

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Bumpass, Virginia.

Now, is that pronounced 'bum-pass' or 'bump-ass'?

Brenda Veccaro, eat your heart out

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I have laryngitis.

My colleagues are, shall we say, unsympathetic. I believe Zeffie's exact words were "I have been waiting for this day for a year and a half."

:P

Bumper sticker

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BOYCOTT SHAMPOO! DEMAND REAL POO!

Welcome to Denial, QC

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Why would anyone resist living in denial? In denial, I am tall and thin and my hair always looks great. Also, my nose is just like Nicole Kidman's, but better.

In denial, the snow fluttering past my office window is not accumulating on my car, and my car will never die (nor will I, for that matter).

In denial, all the coffee I drink is good for me.

In denial, it's only a matter of time before the American citizenry collectively storms Capitol Hill and drags the Bush League out of the West Wing, unanimously declaring Bill Clinton (or Colin Powell or Oprah Winfrey or Jon Stewart or Big Bird) in charge "at least 'til we figure out what the heck our foreign policy is."

In denial, all of my students will have epiphanies in their sleep the night before the exam, and awake with fresh, permanent insight that allows them to coherently analyse literature without any comma splices or sentence fragments.

In denial, the approximately 125 papers on my desk were magically marked by the Grammar Gnomes overnight, and this morning I can relax, put on some perfectly legal tunes, and catch up on my reading.

Sigh.

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