Thursday, September 27, 2012

At least I'm not sharing pictures ... yet

A few years ago at Christmas., I discovered a lump on my back.  It was red and sore and annoying, but frankly I had other things on my mind, and after a couple of weeks it went away, so I did nothing about it.

Last week, it came back.

Again, a red, sore, noticeable bump. It was kind of squishy - not solid - and by the end of boxing last Wednesday, it was driving me nuts.

But I had other things to do, so I didn't make it to the doctor until Saturday.

It turns out it's a something-cyst. It's irritated right now, but if I leave it alone and stop what's causing the trauma, it'll calm down. The only way to get rid of it completely is to have it cut out, but it's not in any way serious. Totally not a big deal.


It's right where the band of my bras go. Specifically, it's in a place where it gets hit - a lot - by a sports bra.

After I saw the doctor, I covered it with a bandaid. This week, it started feeling better - more itchy than sore, and not as ... bumpy.

Yesterday, I added a second bandaid. (Well, I made Wanda add a second bandaid - my elbows don't bend that way.) The cyst was protected by a cross of bandaids.

I went to boxing.

When I got home, I took off the first bandaid and, by the time I pulled off the second bandaid, it was bleeding.

Applying pressure is extra fun when it's a place you can't easily reach.

The new bandaid started driving me nuts today - my back was itchy all day - so I asked Wanda to pull it off. (I find this fascinating - she finds this really, really gross. She's probably looking for a new place to live as I write this.* )

It's not bleeding. But I'm out of boxing & going to the gym until it heals. 

This is the lamest excuse ever.

* Just kidding - she's watching Glee. Yes, I know it doesn't make sense.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Things I have not wanted to do in the last week

  • Go to work (tired, must sleep)
  • Go to sleep
  • Deal with unnecessary apple-picking drama
  • Write an e-mail to Sparks parents (especially since I don't work with Sparks anymore)
  • Go to boxing (this is becoming a theme ... again)
  • Dishes
  • Eat the eggplant-filled dish I made (it was good)
  • Go to the doctor
  • Go to the gym 
  • Burpees (I started a campaign to make sure the instructor knew they were so easy it was practically like having a break. Turns out he's too smart to fall for that.)
  • Deal with my Kobo, which forgot it had any books on it, again
  • Figure out how to print in colour at work ... again
  • Fix the doorbell
  • Replace the light bulb in the kitchen
  • Read the book I borrowed from my former manager
  • Buy new socks (1/2 of my socks are sprouting  holes again)
Most of them I did anyway.

Except the last 4.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Watch out, more newspaper ranting ahead!

So, about the Ottawa Citizen.

I know, I've ranted about it before. I've talked about how I got the paper delivered, but didn't read it. Eventually, I cancelled it and moved to reading it online.

The online version isn't as good as the paper version - mostly because there's not as much content. They might have everything online, but they don't link to it all, as far as I can tell.

The Citizen is going through financial issues. They've stopped the Sunday paper (which has always been a very small paper) and combined it with Saturday into a weekend edition. A lot of their columnists mysteriously decided to retire around the same time.

And they've decided to start charging if you want to read more than 10 articles a month online.

The thing is, a lot of newspapers started charging for online reading about ten years ago. Most (if not all) of those papers are now back to being free. It fundamentally isn't a business model that works. 

There are lots of reasons for that:
  • There are thousands of free news sources (including OCHeadlines, which is the Ottawa Citizen's twitter feed - you can't necessarily read the article if you're past your 10, but you get enough info to google it). There's also the TV news. The Sun network ( is still free.  CBC's website has news. And, of course, that's just for Ottawa-specific news. If you want world news, there are tons of options.
  • They're charging for information they purchased from someone else. For example, the business section largely comes from the Financial Post - which is free. That means you have other options for reading that news.
  • There are easy ways around their limit, like changing browsers or computers (or, I assume, clearing your cookies).  Frankly, I can't be bothered to use these methods - I'll just go elsewhere - but it can be done.
I read once (note the vague, uncited source) that newspapers exist is to sell advertising, which is why it's cheaper to buy them than it costs to print and deliver them. That's not just traditional advertising, but also things like classifieds and obituaries.

(When was the last time you read the classifieds?)

Obviously, the business model has changed.  Classifieds have been largely replaced with online equivalents, and ads on the site clearly aren't doing the job.

The thing is, paid access is unlikely to solve the problem.

In fact, it will likely reduce the ad revenue, because people like me will just stop going to the page to start with.

Perhaps when they go back to being free, I'll check out the site again.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

More Random Thoughts

Remember how I resolved to do some exercises every day in August? And then I went to Europe?

I didn't make it through the month.  Once I got on the ship, I kept forgetting, and eventually I just gave up.

* * * 

A conversation with my niece:
B: I want to take tae kwon do.
Me: That sounds like fun.
B: Yeah. Then I can hit and kick, and you can just hit.

* * * 

I usually go to the gym at lunch, but I didn't go today because they were giving away free frozen yogurt there was an employee meeting.

When my instructor asked yesterday whether I'd be there today, I said, "I don't know, there's a rumour we're getting ice cream tomorrow."

She said, "I'm competing with ice cream?"

Yes. And losing.

* * * 
Wanda often buys the Glee soundtracks, and we keep them in the car. Right now, we're listening to Glee #9583023, which contains the most randomly-shoehorned song in the show's history, "Last Friday Night".

I'm not sure whether there's a doll on the BBQ, an Australian BBQ on the BBQ, or whether they killed someone named Barbie.

Any way you look at it, it's weird.

But catchy.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


As I've mentioned before, I get organic vegetables delivered every 2 weeks.  I really enjoy it, and it's required me to learn more about cooking vegetables than I've done before.

Some are easy - patty pan squash, corn, beans, broccoli (which I still can't spell) - but others require more preparation.

Swiss chard, for example - it's not ... good. I mean, I guess some people must like it*, but I really don't get it.  Naturally, I get it every single time.

Here's what I do to make it edible.

  1. Melt a little butter in a frying pan - you don't need much.
  2. Press a clove of garlic into the pan.
  3. Add a bunch of fresh mushrooms - I usually get mushrooms delivered as well, so I just use whatever I have.
  4. Wash the swiss chard. Cut up the stems. When the mushrooms are about half cooked, add the diced stems to the pan.
  5. Cut up the leaves. When the mushrooms are mostly cooked, add the leaves. Cook until the leaves are wilted.
On the other hand, the recipe I tried yesterday for tomato sauce was awesome, not just edible.
  1. Preheat the oven to 300F.
  2. Take a baking dish - I used an 8x8 pan. Wash fresh tomatoes. Cut off any bits you don't want to end up in the sauce and put on the bottom of the baking dish.
  3. Bake for 3 hours.
  4. Add several cloves of garlic - I used 7 - and some onion - I used about 1/4 of a medium-sized onion, cut in chunks.
  5. Bake for another 1.5 hours.
  6. Blend.
  7. Add a little salt, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar - I added a tsp of salt and about a tablespoon each of the oil and vinegar. Blend again. The sauce is quite thick due to the skins and seeds.

* Hi, mom!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Random Thoughts

I believe I forgot to mention in my last post how ... historic Europe is. Our tour guides in Denmark and Norway both mentioned how Denmark lost Norway because they sided with Napolean. That was 200 years ago. In North America, we barely remember World War II (which, BTW, we also heard about in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway).

* * * 
I wasn't feeling well yesterday - not totally sick, but not totally well, either. I didn't go to the gym at lunch (we had a wellness fair, so my class was cancelled), and I debated whether I should go to boxing.  (I'm lucky we had the wellness fair, because they were giving away water bottles and I had forgotten mine.)

I went to boxing, albeit with the thought that I might leave early.  

It wasn't bad - until I hit myself in the face with the skipping rope. (I'm such a graceful skipper.) I almost cried.

(I didn't. There's no crying in boxing.)

After the class, I felt better, and today I'm fine.

* * * 

My garden is producing tomatoes, and yesterday I got 3 containers of tomatoes in my CSA box. Good thing I like tomatoes.

* * * 

Blogger is doing this thing where it turns on bolding when I hit enter. It's very annoying.

* * * 

My neighbour works at the same place as me. She worked from home today, and e-mailed me at lunch to ask me to pick up a parcel someone had sent to her.

It was a beautiful basket of flowers. All afternoon people were stopping by and asking what the occasion was. I, of course, did not know.

I managed to resist the temptation to read the card. (When I dropped off the flowers, her daughter read the card, so I know who they're from now. As always, the reality was less interesting than the speculation.)

* * * 
I need to buy a new suitcase. Mine got munched on the way back from Europe. It was pretty old, and I was pretty tired, so I didn't report it.

But I need a new one, because I might be traveling again soon.  I want one of those fancy ones that has four wheels and can be moved without tilting it, but I think I'm too cheap to pay for one.

* * * 

I bought Season 1 of Downton Abbey back in January. I've watched one episode, and the summer is over. I may need to get a cold and spend a weekend watching TV.  

* * * 

My dishwasher is broken.

Well, actually, the dishwasher itself is fine, it's just no longer screwed into the cabinet - which effectively means it can't be used. I need to figure out how to get the screws back in through the tiny slot above the dishwasher. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Europe Wrap Up

Friday was a day at sea, and Saturday we made the trek back home.

Final thoughts:

  • Britain has sorted out automatic toilets. The toilets at Heathrow & in Hyde Park have a motion sensor - simply wave your hand over it to flush. Yes, I took a picture.
  •   This trip was to five countries, with 5 different currencies. I hadn't realized that there were that many countries in Europe that hadn't adopted the Euro. (Belgium was the only one where the Euro was the official currency.)
  • My manager suggested we bring rain ponchos. That was, without a doubt, the best thing we brought with us.
  • I read a lot more books than I usually do on vacation - I think because I had them on the Kobo and thus I didn't have to limit myself.
  •  I did a much better job than usual at limiting the amount of stuff I brought with me. I did not have to buy anything I forgot.
  • Favourite stop: Bruges, Belgium, followed by Copenhagen. I would have preferred to do the cruise in the opposite order so that we ended in Bruges.

Thoughts on the boat:
This is the third cruise I've done. The first one was with Costa, the second was Royal Caribbean, and this one was Princess. They all have pros and cons. These comments are specific to three ships - the Costa Magica, the Legend of the Seas, and the Grand Princess. 

  • This was the most "foreign" cruise line - prices were in Euros, and every announcement was in 4 or 5 languages. (Also - topless sunbathing, which didn't really happen on the other two ships.)
  • The food was excellent (and Italian-style - a pasta course instead of a salad course, for example). 
  • The organization (especially with respect to embarking and disembarking) was lacking.
  • Using the Euro as the currency on board made it more expensive that the others to buy a drink, etc.
  • Swimming pools were opened limited hours, and I think there were only a couple of them.
  • If you wanted ice cream, you had a couple of hours in the afternoon when you could get ice cream, otherwise you were out of luck.  
  • The ship was quite nice, and public areas were clustered around the center of the ship.
  • Lots of lounges.
  • More smoking on board than other cruise lines.
  • People joined the cruise at almost every port, so it wasn't the same kind of everyone gets on at once / everyone gets off at once atmosphere. 
  • There was a specific English-speaking ambassador who was there to answer questions from the Canadian/America/British passengers.
  • Frequent "shows" or special events in the dining room.
  • Frequent, hard to get out of picture taking.
Royal Caribbean:
  • Prices were in US Dollars. Far more American-feeling.
  • The ship was quite nice, and public areas were clustered around the center of the ship.
  • There was a rock-climbing wall, ping pong and min-golf.
  • Embarking and disembarking was well-organized.
  • The food in the dining room was good, and the lunch buffet was quite good. There was also an area where you could get pizza late at night.
  • Trivia happened daily, with prizes like highlighters and other Royal Caribbean-branded stuff.
  •  Prices were in US Dollars. Far more American-feeling.
  • The ship was not even close to my favourite. Some areas (like the excursions desk) were hidden away down back hallways, and the main area of the ship was only 2 floors high. The promenade deck - where you could walk around the ship - had areas that required you to walk up and down steps. Also, there were no stairs in the middle of the ship. Of course, there were emergency stairs, but we were on the 12th deck, and many of the food options were on 14. Our options were to either walk down to the end of the ship or wait for the very, very slow elevators.
  • Embarking and disembarking was well-organized.
  • I didn't enjoy the lunch buffet - not enough salad bar options (I can make a salad with lettuce, tomato, and cucumber at home), and the dining room food was my least favourite. Some days were quite good, but there were also days where I couldn't really see anything I wanted to order. 
  • There were multiple food options on board - the International Cafe (paninis, salads, desserts), a couple of pizza places, a grill for hamburgers/hot dogs/sausages.
  • Also, the ice cream bar had popcorn at night.
  • Lots of pools - I think there were far more than the other ships.
  • "Movies under the stars" - a giant movie screen on deck 14, where they played recent movies, sporting events, etc. We didn't go - it was too cold, and there was nothing we wanted to see badly enough - but it was a nice idea. 
  • Far and away the best shows in the evenings. 
  • Trivia happened multiple times a day, and the prize was a bottle of champagne.