Monday, 30 September 2013


The cob in today's pointless photo is convenient for the post title, no? Although he looks jauntily unconcerned about the state of his hair, you must admit. This corn, by the way, was local. As in out of the garden local. We're not in a real corn area here, so for Dad to have corn at all is something, even if the cobs are small.


The hair that the title really refers to is mine. I spent the morning outside in the rain with a bunch of kids, and when I got back my hair was wet enough that I took off my barrette and combed the hair out to give it a chance to dry.

I never wear my hair loose at work. Ever. To the point where people were doing double-takes as they passed the office because they didn't recognise me.

I don't wear my hair loose (it's tied up again now, by the way) because it would drive me nuts. I don't even wear my hair loose at home. The minute it's dry enough after a shower, it gets barretted or elasticked. I even wear it that way at night, because if I don't it gets tangled under my armpit and wakes me up because I can't move my head.

That's true, you know. Not even an exaggeration.

Let's face it; my hair's too damned long. I never meant for it to be this long. I've never had it this long. My once-a-year haircut was forgotten a couple of years ago, though, and now I have way too much hair. It's easy to have that happen when you tie your hair back every day, however. Out of sight really does equal out of mind, and all of a sudden your stupid hair is past the midway point on your back.

It needs to come off.

It needs to come off, and the funny thing is that when I get around to do anything about it I can just hear the panicked are you suuure? that I'll get from the stylist. Look, I know some people prize their hair like they were Samson or something. I know it, but it doesn't mean that I get it. It's hair. It grows. Mine grows fast. Cut it off, please.

The sad thing is, I can't even really donate it or anything. No one wants to try to make a wig out of baby fine, greying hair. Or at least no one should want to...

Back to work for me now. It's a busy rest of the week, so there may or may not be posts.


Sunday, 29 September 2013


As promised.

I think I promised, didn't I? To explain the wheat, that is.

As part of a spring training interpretive exercise, one of our staffers brought in some Red Fife wheat and explained its history as well as the steps that go into preparing wheat for market. Flailing away, as it were...

Um, anyway. At the end of his presentation he gave us each packets of Red Fife. So I planted it.

On my balcony.

Yes, that's right. On my balcony. It gave me a bit of a laugh over the summer, actually. Me, the smallest scale wheat farmer in history. As you can see, though, I got a crop. A few of the stems came up fully awned, which isn't characteristic of Red Fife, but overall it looked pretty good. This wasn't all of it -- I'd already eaten a few heads by the time I brought in everything else.

You read that right, by the way. Eaten. Raw wheat makes a surprisingly good snack while you're watching television. A bit messy if you have a fan going (I did manage to do some accidental winnowing, and I definitely need to vacuum when I get home), but otherwise kind of fun. And after all, isn't that what wheat berries are? Raw, whole wheat? It sounds less weird if you refer to it as eating wheat berries, I guess.

And what happened with the rest of the wheat? Well, I saved a couple of heads' worth to try to plant again next year... and I ate the rest.

And that's why I need to vacuum. Silly chaff.

Later, all. It may be another slow week for the blog, depending on my program schedule. I guess we'll see.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Post? Yeah, I did say something about a post. Right.

The problem with having a busy week where you haven't had much time to do personal things on the computer is that when you finally get a morning to catch up while doing laundry you end up in Internet Stupid S--- Land.

Oh, and for those new to the program, the censoring above isn't due to any delicacy on my part. Whomever knows that I'm not shy about my language. I know that people generally don't come here for the four-letter words, though, so I try to take it easier on the blog than I do in real life.


I've spent most of the morning looking at every stupid thing that I might have missed during the week and NOT thinking about blogging. Yep, no topic again, unless you'd like to hear about the weird (or lovely, depending on how you look at it) lighting on a few of the pointless photos I've posted lately.

It's simple, really. I got bored one night before my flowers all died and went out on the balcony to take flash pictures. Some of them turned out not too bad, actually. Almost like I'd planned it or something.

Maybe the best time to take pictures of flowers is at night? I'd never really thought about it, but you do have more control of the light that way. Maybe it's something I'll have to try next year. Oh, there's a topic: why it'll have to wait for next year.


Fall has hit us in a big way, boys and girls, and it really kind of sucks. Normally I don't mind autumn so much, but this year for whatever stupid reason Alberta had one of the warmest Septembers on record. I say stupid (an awful lot of stupids here today...) because unseasonably warm temperatures mean that both your body and mind go what the hell? when the temperatures suddenly go from the mid twenties to the low to mid teens. And when I say suddenly, I mean within a day or two. No transition.

Gotta love Alberta sometimes. Where else can you go from summer to below zero temperatures at night without at least a hint of what's coming?

Ah well. My flowers are dead, the poplars have turned, everything else is headed that way, and I have to remember to get that rock hit fixed before the nights start getting even colder and I end up paying for a whole windshield.

New pointless photos today, if I can find something to take pictures of that doesn't depress me too much.

This was almost a post, wasn't it?

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Pointless photo of the day:

Sorry folks, I've just been busy. Actual post by the weekend, probably.

In the meantime, here's a picture of my wheat.

Yes, wheat. Red Fife. I should tell you about it sometime.

Maybe on the weekend.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013


Psst... there's a spider in this photo.

Bet you never would have guessed.


The other day my boss was mentioning that people had told him this place seemed somehow less cheery over the summer; people were either looking kind of glum or too head-down busy working. I was surprised by that, because I honestly hadn't noticed. I said something about it to Wheat, though, and he agreed with the statement. Funny, really. I thought we'd had a decent summer overall. No real fireworks, and to me I'd sooner have calm and functional than overly exciting. Isn't the curse may you live in interesting times, or something like that? Ah. Here we go.

I'm not sure that I'd agree that the workplace is down, really, but one thing it is is less social. I figure a couple of reasons for this: more work space, and the internet.

When I started here, back in the dark ages, there definitely wasn't enough work space for the staff. There were, if I recall, three offices. My own "desk", which was originally just a table, was in the storage room, and in summer when I was full-time I used to spend an awful lot of that time working at our sister site. It was more pleasant than working in the hole.

We used to have pretty strict (or maybe regular would be a better word) breaks back then, and I really do think that escape from our cramped work quarters had something to do with that. Mid-morning coffee break, ostensibly fifteen minutes but more like thirty by the time everyone had gathered. Lunch breaks where we actually came out to the lunch tables to eat. Mid-afternoon coffee break, much a repeat of the morning. We sat, we socialised, then we went back to the dungeons.

This place definitely doesn't qualify as any sort of dungeon anymore.

The building was expanded about thirteen years ago, and a lot of thought was put into things like natural light. I share an office with a wall full of windows. It's pleasant, it's not cramped, and...

It has internet.

When I first came here we had, I think, three computers in the building. Not networked, of course, and only one was on a dial-up internet connection. It was easier to use books (remember books, boys and girls?) to do research, and there wasn't really anything to hold us at our desks during break times. That doesn't work in today's world, of course. We all have our computers and our high-speed internet, we do most of our work that way, and on breaks it's usually easier to eat at the desk and use our time to check personal e-mail or favourite websites or, I don't know, watch cat videos or something. We don't all wander to the front to talk to each other because we have other forms of entertainment.

That's not to say we don't talk, of course. Overall this is a pretty friendly place to work. We just do it more casually now. There's not a designated time to visit.

Does that make the place glum?

I have no answer, by the way, and having spent my break time typing a blog post I really should get back to work now.

What can I say? I'm a product of my environment.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Tired or working, one or the other

Either way, not blogging.

Enjoy the photo. I can't remember what it is, but it's growing on my balcony. The flower, that is.

Not the photo.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The world ended yesterday

At 5:02 pm, to be precise.

What? You didn't notice? That's only because you probably weren't in the long lines at the corner grocery watching people scramble to figure out how to deal with an intermittently working debit machine. One or two people were lucky enough to have cash on them. Me, I was one of the few that the machine would work for (yes, my mastercard is just that good). Other people had to give up and leave. The cashiers, of course, were frustrated as hell.

People were nice to them, though. That's the advantage of using the corner grocery rather than going to a big aggravating box, I guess. Especially just before dinner on a Monday.

The fact of our world today is that most of us can't exist without the plastic. Go ahead -- have a look in your purse or wallet right now and see how much actual cash you have with you. I think I'm at about seven bucks, if I remember right. I buy almost everything with my credit card; partly because it's a good way to budget if you pay off your balance regularly, partly because I get cash back, and partly because I hate my bank so I use my debit card as little as possible. I carry a bit of cash (generally more than I have at the moment, yes, but not too much more) for emergencies. I'm sure I'm not the only one out there who's like that.

Those of you in your twenties can't possibly realise how quickly the world's changed in that regard. Just before I went to university -- think late 80s here -- my bank sent me this thing called a debit card. It meant that you could go to a machine to get cash instead of going to the bank itself. If I remember right there were two machines on campus, and luckily the one by the bookstore was for my bank. I'd go about once a week and take out enough money to cover groceries and other incidentals. There weren't any debit machines at tills, so I was still paying for everything in cash. At least I didn't have to go to the bank every week to get it.

Speaking of tills, I was a grocery cashier in high school. No debit machines, as I said. Also, no way to deal with credit cards. Cash or cheque only, boys and girls (a cheque is a piece of paper that tells the bank to pay somebody out of your account. You know, in case you've never seen one). No scanners, either. We hand-keyed in everything. Personally, I'd like to see a cashier who can do that now.

That was about twenty-five years ago. I know that twenty-five years is literally a lifetime for some of you, but if you took the twenty-five years between, say, 1950 and 1975 (or even 1960 and 1985) you'd find that nothing much had changed in the wonderful world of payment.

Things move fast nowadays, though. In two or three years I suppose we'll all be so used to transactions via smartphone that the thought of using a physical card will seem almost as weird as the idea of carrying $200 worth of bills to get groceries does now. I haven't figured out whether that's a good thing or not, but in the end it doesn't matter if I figure it out at all. It (or whatever the next big thing ends up being) will happen whether I figure or not.

And I feel old.

Cheque please.

Monday, 9 September 2013


Today's pointless photo isn't of stones. I didn't have one of stones, so you're getting Fireweed seeds instead. I kind of like this one. Not bad detail for not having a macro.

Did I mention that I don't have a macro?


I've been watching bad jewellery shows on the home shopping network again (read that as: sleep's been kind of sucking again) and it occurred to me that I'm developing a slightly weird -- or let's say not quite mainstream -- taste in stones. I mean, don't get me wrong. I like a nice stone (but maybe not the takes-up-half-your-hand type of stone usually featured on the aforementioned bad jewellery shows). I'm currently wearing that ring of my mom's that's probably an aquamarine since it was her birthstone. Hang on... bad picture from last year here. I rather like my grandmother's topaz rings, especially the more natural-coloured one. I got mother of pearl in my high school ring because I was ticked that Josten's only offered fake birthstones.


More and more I'm finding that I'm just not into arbitrarily expensive stones. Let's face it, ladies (and those of you men who are jewellery types). Some of you are paying way too much for prestige stones when there are other cheaper and often better looking alternatives out there.

One of the advantages of watching the bad jewellery shows is that since they're trying to offer "affordable" jewellery they go out of the box a bit to find their stones. You're not going to find much more than diamond chips in those pieces (and diamonds are stupid anyway. Don't be fooled by the whole diamonds are a girl's best friend thing into paying too much money to a monopoly for the privilege of wearing a stone that was probably mined by an exploited worker), but you will find a whole bunch of pretty things that you've never heard of. Oh sure, many of them have been renamed to appeal more to the average uneducated consumer, but if all you want is a nice looking thing to put on your hand or in your earlobes, then who cares if you've never heard of the rock before, or if you find out that the whateverite you've been admiring is just a piece of coloured quartz that they've given a spiffy name?

As long as the price doesn't go up too much to fit the new name, of course.

I'd sooner have stones be interesting than expensive anyway. Most of the mainstream stones you're going to be finding in the kind of jewellery I can afford (i.e. cheap) are heat or radiation treated anyway to make them look more vivid (and fake) so why not go for the natural stone that might not be so well known then? I've said before that as I get older I'm finding that I avoid fake nearly as much as I embraced it in the 80s. Give me a nice piece of jasper over a heat-treated emerald any day.

Anyway, that's enough bad jewellery talk for now. I need to get back to work. If anyone's interested, it's rose quartz in my ears today. I guess I was in a stony mood for some reason.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Chapter 1806: Wherein Dee annoys the crap out of a spider with a spray bottle

But first...

I swear that (with the exception of scissors) I don't find most left-handed products all that necessary, but I WANT THIS. As in, where have you been all my life I want this.

Yes, I know that it's not strictly a left-handed product, but think of the lefty applications. Imagine working in graphite and not having the side of your hand look like it's auditioning to play the Tin Man. Imagine being a left-handed kid and not smudging the bejeebers out of your whole page when you're learning to write. It makes me want to commit the sacrilege of cannibalising a pair of my mom's circa 1960s gloves just to get a feel for how it might work.

And yes, I am currently losing my freaking mind over the idea of a one-fingered glove. You right-handers just don't know.

Anyway. Spider.

Yesterday when I was prowling the yard in search of camera fodder I noticed a large spider apparently hovering in the air in front of one of the basement windows. The apparent hover was because the web wasn't very visible, and was sitting at a bit of a weird angle to the window well. I just managed to get the picture above before she scrambled over to her hiding place by the window, and getting shots of her there was pretty much impossible.

I figured that was it for this particular spider and her on-camera debut, but at least I could try for a web shot. Not ideal because of the light-coloured backdrop, but why not give it a go?

So, back inside for the spray bottle (well, truthfully, back inside and not finding the spray bottle, asking my dad where he moved it, going back outside in a huff when he didn't remember moving it, and having him bring it out to me a few minutes later when it turned out that it was exactly where it was supposed to be but for some reason I didn't see it)  and a misting for the web to make it more visible.

I should have figured that vibrating the web with the water would bring the spider back out again. There she sat, getting wetter and wetter as I loaded her artwork down so the camera could see it. Poor stupid thing.

These definitely aren't the best spider pictures I've taken and I do wish the web wasn't in front of light siding, but it's actually the first time I've tried the whole web-misting thing. I think you'll be seeing more of this because it was kind of fun.

The spider itself? Probably a Jewel Spider or Jewelled Araneus. I didn't get the best look at her top side, but she did seem to have the diagnostic bumps on the top of her abdomen. They're in the Orb Weaver group and are one of our largest spiders here in Alberta, although this one was definitely no giant.

Assuming that she mates, she'll lay eggs in an egg sac and then die a few days later. No overwintering for her. Think Charlotte's Web, if that helps. No pig, though.

There was another large Araneus over on the greenhouse. Definitely not a Jewel Spider this time, but the light wasn't good enough to tell whether she was a Shamrock Spider, a Marbled Spider, or something else. My bet is on Marbled, since they're so variable. Shamrocks are more distinctive.

That might be a male up in the lefthand corner. I'd hate to say for sure, but it'd be weird for another spider to hang around and wait to be eaten otherwise. And yes, the size difference is normal.

I sprayed that web too, incidentally, but it didn't show up well in the photos.

Aaand I'm sure that most of my two fans are ready for me to be done talking about spiders now. Too bad, really, since it's my house/my rules all the time here at the home of all things pointless. If for some reason you want a closer look at the web and the spiders, as always click on the thumbnails for the bigger versions.

If you don't want a closer look, then just don't. Pretty simple, really. I wonder why it's so hard for some people to figure that part out...

Monday, 2 September 2013

Why I absolutely must get back to doodling soon, dammit:

I don't know if you've noticed, but it's back-to-school time. Back-to-school time leads to back-to-school ads. Actually, it's sort of the other way around seeing that retail back-to-school season seems to start in June nowadays. Anyway, work with me here. Back-to-school ads give me an urge so strong that I very nearly have to stab myself repeatedly in the hand with a fork to keep myself form indulging in it.

Yes, it's really that bad.

Must. Have. Stationery.

Any of my two fans who've been around this place for a while already know this about me, but I love stationery. I really don't know why, but I get a kick out of it. I was one of those kids who absolutely loved shopping for new school supplies (except scissors, but that's the whole left-handed thing coming up again), and Whomever help my parents if they ever suggested that some of last year's items might still be usable. After all, one of the best parts about going back to school was new pens, binders, sharpeners... yeah, I bet I was a thrill to the pocketbook this time of year.

Things calmed down a fair bit when I went to university and actually had to budget, but I still looked forward to treating myself to one or two new things every term. And plenty of browsing, even if I wasn't going to buy. I don't know what it is about a stationery store, but whatever the it happens to be it makes me happy.

As a working adult, however, it's pretty hard to justify a stationery splurge just because it's back-to-school time. There are only so many pens that a one-room apartment needs, and most of the stuff I use at work is supplied by work. So what does a person do when the fork-stabbing urge hits every fall?

Go to the art store, of course.

Art supplies are definitely my adult stationery. That's been the fact for years. I don't buy much because it's far more expensive than buying loose-leaf, but just the purchase of a new something to play with gives me the ahhh factor.

I don't think that I can justify it this year, sadly.

All this mucking about with the screwed-up wrist (geez, there are a lot of hyphens in this post) has meant that I just plain haven't been drawing. I've been splotching around in the mess mixed media journal, true, but since none of that is likely to ever see the light of day it seems to be a pretty flimsy excuse to buy more stuff. Oh yeah, I could use a proper purple Inktense pencil rather than the magenta I've been faking things with and I'm almost out of my cheaper watercolour paper, but if I go to a proper art store with only that in mind I'll still end up being attracted to something new and novel and just spend more.

Yeah, I know that it doesn't make sense. It's the way my stationery brain works, though.

So... I need to draw. I need to draw for me, and frankly I need to do some work drawing too. I'm so short on art at the moment that I had to resort to putting this picture through the photoeditor's fake pencil sketch filter just to have something vaguely artsy for the blather.

I... erm... wasn't in the mood for a completely pointless photo today.

What do you think, then? Is it totally weird that I'm using back-to-school stationery longing to give myself a kick in the hindquarters to get back to something that I already like doing?

It probably is, a bit.

But if it works, does anyone really care?

Should I stop asking pointless questions and go find some lunch?

Sunday, 1 September 2013

How to write

I promise that my hand isn't really that pink. Or foreshortened.


It's newsletter time at work again (or, rather, it was newsletter time three weeks ago but no one ever gets stuff in on time) and long-time viewers will know that newsletter time always sends me into a right snit.

I hate editing the newsletter.

Part of it's the on-time problem (I wonder -- do dentists ever get tired of pulling teeth? I sure do), but the bigger part is the blah, so-so, and sometimes truly awful writing that I have to figure out what to do with.

It drives me mad, really. This is an interpretive centre, and we're in the business of not only communicating, but communicating well. We have an educated staff, too, including more than one teacher. Why do they have so much trouble expressing themselves?

This may surprise any of my two fans that only know me from the blog, but I can write. From the feedback I get, I can honestly tell you that I write well. At this point in my career I can say that I write well at many levels, too. Here on the blog it's very informal and stylised (um, for those who didn't realise it, I do actually put thought into the way I express myself while blathering). For the newsletter and work blog it's somewhat more formal but still fairly conversational. For displays, it's concise and clear. Back when I was writing scientific papers in university, it was extremely specific. For the weekly memo to the weekend staff... erm. Well, those get a bit goofy. I have a hard time writing a business-style memo when we're pretty loose around here.

What I'm saying is that for each of these applications there's a way to write that works well. Choice of words is important. Syntax is important. Clarity is important. Why don't these educated people know that?

You can't tell at all that I get frustrated, can you?

I recently got a submission from a staffer who doesn't usually write for the newsletter but decided that she'd submit something this time. Good. I always need content. She even had it edited by an English teacher friend, apparently. Good again. It would be nice to be able to just slot something in without editing it.

Sigh. Shouldn't get my hopes up. Apparently English teacher friend never learned that simpler is better. I'm going to be changing a lot of utilise to use and peruse to look, unfortunately. That kind of writing doesn't make you seem more intelligent; it just makes it look like you're reaching.

My mother was, for a large part of her career, the office manager for a medical clinic. She used to type out a fair amount of dictation. One of her big pet peeves was the phrase was seen by myself rather than just was seen by me. Myself is basically the doctor version of utilise in the article I will, unfortunately, be editing.

Aaand I guess I'd better get to it. Expect a fair load of grumpiness in the next work week, folks. And if you really want to piss me off, make sure you send me an e-mail with at least one utilise in it.

Address it to myself.
Related Posts with Thumbnails