Sunday, March 28, 2010

Look away, she's talking about food again

Remember the preserved lemons from a couple of weeks ago? They were ready today.

I have other plans for them next week, but this week I decided to make lemon-dill chicken. I finely chopped some dill and one of the lemons, then covered the chicken with the mixture. I took another lemon and put it in the cavity of the bird, then roasted it. It was very, very tasty.

I also made yogurt. When I was a kid, I remember my mom making yogurt. I don't remember how it tasted, I just remember that you needed to buy yogurt so that you could make yogurt. Today I decided to try it myself.

I can't tell you how it turned out - it's not done yet - but it's looking promising. I have to admit I made a lot of yogurt - plus, you know, I bought yogurt to start the whole thing off. The next week will be interesting.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I Read Twilight ('Cause The Internet Told Me To)

One of the pages I visit at lunch time is NPR's Monkey See. A couple of weeks ago, they started the "I will if you will" book club.

The idea was that everyone would read Twilight and then we'd talk about it.

I read Twilight and I have to say, I don't really get it. I found Bella kind of ... boring, the "romance" borderline abusive, and the book almost completely empty of conflict.

However, the discussions have been very entertaining. The latest one included the sentence "I'm just saying that a Viking or two might have helped."

Let's see, what else has been going on ....

Oh yes, last weekend was another show at the NAC. This one was Music & Magic (or Magic & Music? There was music, there was magic.)

That's right, the music was magic themed and they had magic acts perform as well. I really enjoyed it. Of course, I like magic shows - and it made a nice break from reading a book about a vampire.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Musings on health care

Some things puzzle me about the health care debate in the U.S.

Obviously, I'm looking at this from a Canadian perspective, so keep that in mind.

First of all, they're voting on a Sunday? Around here, we have trouble getting politicians to show up during the week. No way could we have a vote on a weekend.

The other thing that puzzles me is the debate itself. Canadians have had health care since before I was born. (I'm too lazy to look up the exact year.)

It's not perfect - wait times can be long and not everything is covered. For example, dental procedures, ambulance rides, and prescriptions are not usually covered. Also, if you're traveling, coverage is limited (if it exists at all). Supplemental health insurance (for example, through an employer) usually covers some portion of the cost for things not covered by the government plan.

Coverage can vary between provinces - the federal government transfers money to provinces for health care, but each province decides what to fund (and how much).

All citizens (and permanent residents, I believe) living in Canada get a health card that is essentially how you pay for your health services. No matter what your income level, if you need to see a doctor, you will not have to pay a cent to do so.

Many countries have universal health care - including Botswana, which has a small population and one of the largest rates of HIV infection in the world.

I haven't been following the American debate very closely, but I don't understand the attitude that it's OK for people to not have access to health care. It seems so short sighted (because minor conditions don't get treated until they become serious conditions) and selfish (the "I'm not sick so why should I pay for people who are" view of the world).

I guess it's similar in a way to some of the people I worked with at the large telecom company a few years ago. We had been going through layoffs multiple times a year for close to 10 years. Over 2/3 of the company had been laid off, but they were still convinced that it couldn't happen to them.

I didn't understand that either.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hey, there are people around here!

This has been another week of unseasonably warm weather. In fact, the snow on my front lawn is almost gone. The front lawn usually takes forever to melt for two reasons:
  1. It's on the north side of the house, and
  2. That's where the snow from the driveway ends up.
Due to the time change, it's also light later - it's 7:30 now and the sky is still relatively light out. When I got home at 7, it was still quite light.

You can also tell it's spring by the fact that there are people on the streets. That's right, the winter hibernation is over.

On the way home, I saw two kids playing a game of catch (or something), a kid skateboarding on his skateboard ramp, and kids playing street hockey.

In my backyard, I saw two small rabbits - not babies, but they didn't look full grown either.

It's possible that we'll still get snow, of course, but at this time of year, we know it's not going to last. That makes a big difference.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

When Life Gives You Lemons ...

Does anyone remember the episode of The Simpsons where Home becomes a food critic? Soon everyone in town has gained massive amounts of weight because he makes all of the food sound so good.

That's kind of how I feel about Choosy Beggars. Every time I read about something I've never heard of before, I want to try it.

This week, Tina was talking about preserved lemons. I've never had them before - I didn't even know they existed - but they sounded good.

And this week, I happened to find a supply of thin-skinned lemons at the grocery store. It was fate.

I followed the directions on the website, washing the lemons, cutting off the nub on the end, cutting them almost in quarters, packing them with salt, and putting them in a jar.

I was surprised at how many lemons fit into the jar - I thought I'd have a lot left, but I didn't.

I put the salt on the top, filled it with lemon juice, and put the lid on.

Someone remind me in a couple of weeks to use them in something, OK?

Friday, March 12, 2010


I've been reflecting on the different types of people I've encountered in past jobs.

The Visionary
Now, I don't mean the kind of person who can see where a product/company should go and then put a plan in place to get there. I mean the kind of person who, when you ask "Would you like a piece of apple?" starts talking about how to pollinate apple trees and muses about irrigation methods and the kind of bees that should be imported. Ten minutes later, you're still standing there, apple in hand.

The Very Important Person
This is the person who can't answer questions because they're very, very busy. They'd love to help, but their workload just doesn't allow it. Usually, it turns out that it's just as well, since this person is rarely very good at their job.

The Social Butterfly
The social butterfly likes to know all of the gossip. They can spend hours talking to their coworkers. They like to act like everyone is their best friend - at least at first.

The Whole Picture Person
This person wants to understand the whole thing before acting. This works well if, say, you're selling fries, but is extremely ineffective when you're, for example, a software developer working on a product that contains millions of lines of code.

The Information Hog
This person likes to be the only one who knows how to do things. If they told you how they do what they do, it would diminish their power (and you might figure out it's actually really easy).

The To The Letter Person
The "To The Letter" person does exactly what they are asked to do. They don't necessarily know why they're doing it, but they'll do it reliably.

The Go-To Person
This is the person you talk to when you don't know who to talk to. They know everything - or if they don't, they know who does. Usually, this person is in an admin role.

The "Under Control" Person
This type of person can balance multiple priorities. They're legitimately busy, but make time to help out their co-workers.

The "Do The Right Thing" Person
This person values doing the job right over doing the job fast. They take the time to understand the reasons behind the request and find the right solution.

Obviously, many people are a combination of more than one of these types. I've probably missed some types - what types of people have you seen?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I'm starting to adjust to my new schedule.

I made it to the gym after work - although I used one of the recumbent bikes and didn't properly adjust the seat, which was a mistake.

The last two days I stopped off after work to buy supplies for Sparks. Clearly I should have made a list. Last year we made bunnies out of face cloths. This year, we gave the girls the choice of making chicks or bunnies. Most girls chose bunnies, but I have to say that the chicks were really cute.

We also had the Brownies come to visit us - including 5 girls who had been in our unit last year. It was an amazing success. All the girls were super excited and the Brownies taught our girls some games and songs.

Meanwhile, it's definitely spring - if only temporarily. I gave up my boots last week, and I'm down to a spring jacket. (Admittedly, if I were taking the bus, I'd still be in my winter jacket.)

I think I need to start going for a walk at work. Most people in my department eat lunch at their desks, but you miss the whole day that way. I should start going outside to actually see the sun.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Spring is coming

The last few weeks have been pretty warm.

It's nice - the sun is shining, the snow is melting, and the ice that used to coat my driveway is mostly gone. The ice that remains is hollow underneath, since it melts from the bottom. That makes it fun to walk on.

Of course, the other thing that spring brings is a rash of people driving their vehicles (trucks, snowmobiles, etc.) on the ice of the river and falling through. That I do not understand at all. It seems pretty obvious to me that if the snow has been melting for a week, you stay off the ice.

Some people obviously disagree, though, since there have been a couple of instances of people falling through the ice in the last couple of weeks.

I suspect that soon there won't be any ice left, so this will stop being a problem until next year.

Ottawa hasn't had much snow this winter. I suspect winter might not be totally over yet - we could still get a big dump of snow before it's over. The nice part about snow now is that you know it's going to melt soon.

Two years ago we had a lot of snow, and even that year the last big snowfall was March 9. It won't be long now.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Let's talk about work

Let's talk about work - without, you know, talking specifically enough that I get fired.

Week #2 is now over, and I definitely feel like I'm starting to know what I'm doing. I don't know how to do everything, of course, but I am actually able to contribute. Last week, it felt like I was napping while everyone else worked like crazy.

I talked last week about how this office supplies soft drinks, juice, etc. I'm still thrilled with that. Don't get me wrong - most of the time I drink water - but it's nice to not have to worry about bringing other beverages from home or having change to buy them.

This is a customer service job, and I have to say that it's probably the most consistently busy job I've ever had. There's a lot of variety and a lot to keep track of.

There's a parkade under the building and I get a parking pass since I work there. The nice part of that is that I never have to clean off the car after work - in fact, if I had a house with an attached garage, I'd never have to go outside.

Of course, that's not such an issue these days - spring has definitely arrived, if only temporarily.

I'm starting to get into a routine - getting to work by 8, leaving at 4:30, and going to the gym afterward (except on Tuesdays, when I go to Sparks instead). I've decided that two days a week I'll catch a BodyPump class and the other two days I'll just do my own thing. I like BodyCombat classes, but they're all too late for me to go after work, and if I go home first there is no way that I'll go back to the gym.

I'm not nearly as tired as I was last week, due in part to me starting to go to bed at a reasonable hour.

Who knows? Maybe next week I'll even be able to update during the week.