Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I was at Belvedere station this morning awaiting my train, and I caught a good glimpse of the train operator.

I think it was Santa.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Raising Readers

David and I, along with Sheri, spent a few hours on Sunday volunteering as packers at the Raise a Reader book drive on behalf of Young Alberta Book Society. When a box of books would come in the sorters would sort them into categories as best they could, then books were boxed up by the packers and labeled. Last year we worked at the book sale helping to keep tables stocked and neat.

If I'm available I'll work a shift at the book sale in a couple weeks. You should, too. It'll help out some really valuable organizations.


There was a guy playing a harmonica on the train.

Left 4 Dead

David was pretty excited about the potential in Left 4 Dead when it was released. He got a copy of it for Christmas from his parents, but it wasn't until recently that either of us tried it out much. I've been really slow to warm up to it; I like zombie movies, but that's because I really prefer to be a spectator when it comes to a zombie apocalypse rather than one of the participants.

Part of the problem with the game turned out to be that's it's not as much fun playing with the computer, and you can't turn off NPCs. The premise of the game is four strangers banding together to try to escape the zombies, which makes playing online with strangers a very harmonic way to play the game. Unfortunately, it's hard to find strangers who are fun to play with. I want to play with people who are competent enough to compensate for my gaming shortcoming without being arrogant douchebags. I'm pretty sensitive to being made to feel dumb, and once I feel like I can't do it or I'm made to feel like a liability, I don't want to play anymore.

The interest in the game was fueled when Joey rented a copy and we played online together. I'm comfortable playing with David and Joey, and it wasn't so bad to have a random online stranger as our fourth. It seemed like we played with both people very familiar with the game as well as one or two n00bs. There was one fellow who had played the game before but was modest and nice about his experience and didn't make me feel bad or make David and Joey frustrated.

The most fun was last night. We rented a copy and had our friend Sheri over. David and Sheri played split-screen in the kids' room, I was in our room, and Joey was playing from his house. That, for me, was exactly how Left 4 Dead should be played. David and Joey, as the most experienced players, strategized as well as anyone can with zombies running around everywhere. I've improved a little since last time and almost matched David's score on headshots. Sheri, who had never played any kind of shooter before yesterday, picked it up quickly held her own very well for a first-timer and became really good at getting in there to revive fallen teammates. I think the zombies knew she was new, because she seemed to be targeted by the special infected and swarming hoards a little more than the rest of us.

I've been digging in my heels until now, but I think I'm sold on picking up a second copy.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Il Dentista, Pt. II

The second dentist visit last Tuesday was better in some ways and worse in others. There were no close calls with swallowing metal clamps and my mouth isn't as stiff or painful as last time. Last week the needle was no problem. This week I started to have some of the physical symptoms of a panic attack. Last week the noise and vibration of the drills and grinders and buffers made me cry. This week they were still awful but weren't needed as much so it was over faster.

The most concerning difference was the numbing agent they used. Last week the freezing wore of in a few hours...a little longer than expected, but not unreasonably so. This time I still had parts of my face that were completely numb 14 hours(!!!) later. About six hours after the injection my upper lip/nose/cheek muscle area became completely unresponsive as if I'd had a stroke. I called to tell them about that since that's really not normal and they put a note in my file.

Cleanings have changed since I last went to a dentist. They used to use some sort of power tool to polish the teeth, but now they essentially sandblast the teeth with a mixture of warm water and baking soda. It was pretty gross, but better than power tools in my mouth.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


The dentist was just about as bad as I remember. Maybe worse. The only thing that was better was the topical anethestic and the needle. The needle, to my surprise, really wasn't that bad. It was all of the noisy power tools that brought me to tears. The noise and the vibration and the pressure in my mouth was too much and I started to cry. The tooth that was being worked on was the very last molar and my jaw still hurts from being propped open.

Also, I nearly swallowed the metal clamp that holds the rubber dam in place. The clamp was on, then when they tried to put the dam on the clamp popped off right to the back of my mouth. I didn't even know it was there since I was frozen up to my eye (seriously, my lower eyelid was frozen). The dentist said "Don't swallow the clamp!" which of course meant that my reflexes couldn't help but do exactly that. He was able to extract it with a plier-like took which I think is usually used for pulling teeth.

And I have to go back on Tuesday. Alas.

God bless the fool

One of Thalia's favorite hobbies is making constant attempts to escape. Another hobby is sitting at the bottom of the stairs singing an obnoxious caterwauling ballad about the injustice of her very hard life.

Yesterday, she finally (for the first time since we moved) made good on her escape. None of us saw exactly what happened, but I suspect that when David went into the house to get something a few minutes after we'd originally left, the wind caught the screen door and held it open long enough for her to sneak out. Then the wind, being the fickle accomplice it can be, let the door close and trapped Thalia in the great outdoors.

The major flaw in Thalia's constant desire to escape is that she doesn't think ahead to why she wants to be outside, what she'll do when she gets there, and how she's going to get back inside. As soon as the door closed, she realized that the forbidden fruit she so desires is really quite bitter. The great outdoors is a big and scary place and she didn't like it one bit. She sat on the step outside the door, crying and howling to be let in. Unfortunately, no one knew she was outside. Darlene thought Thalia was sitting at the bottom of the stairs, voicing her mournful dirge about how hard it is to be a fat and spoiled housecat as she is wont to do. Darlene called to her and talked to her, which often works to draw Thalia upstairs, but the little fuzzbutt just kept crying.

David came upstairs to look in the kitchen for her, thinking she must be there. When he didn't see her, he turned and saw her sitting on the step. He went out to get her, but from he said she had no desire to be held for very long and she beat a hasty retreat into the house.

She's just so cute and dumb that it warms my heart.


I was standing on the train this morning reading Yarn Harlot: The Secret Life of a Knitter by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. A lady was standing near me, and I noticed her handmade knit hat and wondered about making one like it for myself. As I returned my gaze downward towards the book, I noticed that at the lady's feet was a satchel stuffed so full of yarn that it couldn't be zipped shut. Another knitter! Right next to me! She has yarn in her bag, I have yarn in my bag (though mine was closed), I'm reading a knitting book...what do I do?! This was the first time I've run into another knitter (or at least another knitter who didn't mind it being publicly known), so I was unsure of the protocol.

When I glanced again at the knit hat, the lady caught my eye, gestured to the book and asked "Do you read her blog, too?" YES! Yes, I do! We chatted very briefly because I the train inconveniently arrived at my stop. I wanted to show her the knitting project I had in my bag but there wasn't time. I considered riding the train until she got off at her stop and then riding back to the one I needed, but I needed to get to work. She let me know about two casual knitting groups that meet on Mondays and Thursdays and suggested I come. I don't know if I will or not because the locations aren't very convenient, but I was very excited at the encounter. I'm used to getting odd looks from my own age group for being a knitter and also getting odd looks from older generations for having bright pink streaks in my hair (in fact, I had just been receiving disapproving stares from another lady on the train), so I usually work under the assumption that I'm not going to fit in. A moment of acceptance and camaraderie with a stranger on a train was a lovely feeling.