Sunday, 27 July 2014

So disorientated

The title, by the way, is a joke. There's a debate about disorientated versus disoriented, and to be honest the first one makes me cringe a little even though it's in common use and increasingly accepted. It's not something I go all Grammar Granny over, but if you knew me in person you'd know that I'm never disorientated. I am, though, frequently disoriented.

I am now, in fact.

Summers mean that my work week has shifted so that I can be here (at work, that is) on weekends. That's always weird to begin with. Tonight I'm also helping to cover the evening shift because I'm somewhat short-staffed, and that makes it weirder.

But hey. Here's a spider picture. That should make things better.

These particular ones are Bowl and Doily spiders; a female and two males. I took this a while ago, and I don't imagine both males stayed long. One might have, though. Males and females have been known to share webs for a while. I like Bowl and Doily spiders (big surprise, I know). They make cool webs, have a neat hunting style, and look like they've been graffittied down their abdomens.

And they spend most of their time upside down.

Without being disorientated.

Anyway. Not much to say from me today because it's been kind of a talky day already. This afternoon I was leading an edible plant walk (surprise! If you get lost in the Alberta woods with me, we won't starve to death. I have sooo many secret skills, you know) this afternoon, and it's surprising how tired an hour and a half monologue on a hot day can make you.

Speaking of hot, we're supposed to have a fair scorcher -- for us, anyway -- of a week coming up. And of course the newscasters are all saying how great it sounds in their obligatory chummy chat after the forecast. WHAT IS GREAT ABOUT TOO-HOT WEATHER? We're not used to it, it makes everyone crabby, and it's probably going to be a gajillion degrees in my apartment by Friday. Geez, people. Have some sense.

That's um, a long-standing annoyance of mine. Bet you couldn't tell.

Ah well, back to work for another fifty minutes or so for me. At least there are some words down here tonight. There probably won't be tomorrow because I'll be busy, and then I'll likely be away from the computer for a couple of days after that. This blog is terribly active lately, isn't it?

Ah well.


Friday, 25 July 2014


It's never a good thing when the post is titled Something. Something is usually just a placeholder for me. It gets changed when I figure out what I want to write about.

You'll notice that it hasn't been changed.

Not a good sign.

Yeah, I guess I don't really have anything to write about but the weather today. Rainy with a side of pseudohurricane, which at a nature centre basically means that you could count the number of visitors we've had today so far with the fingers on one hand and still have enough fingers left to knit with.

If, erm, that's your thing.

A totally uninspiring day, and not surprisingly it leads to very little blather inspiration. Oh, I could complain about the usuals or tell you what stone I'm wearing today (the petrified shark's tooth), but you hear enough about that as it goes anyway. My two fans will know that sometimes I just keep typing in the hopes that something will occur to me, but that's not looking...

Oh, maybe... wait for it...

No, the fact that I put a little too much mustard in my coleslaw dressing this morning doesn't count as a blog topic. I do like mustard, though. However, I think I've already even blogged mustard. Yep, just checked and I've blogged mustard several times.

Several posts about mustard. I think I may need mustard therapy.

Anyway, this is going nowhere so I'm stopping now.

That part will be obvious in a moment, you know.

You're welcome.

Sunday, 20 July 2014


This'll probably be a fairly mixed bag of short thoughts that don't all deserve individual blog posts. Bear with me.

First off, what do you do with your unwanted stuff? Toss it? Take it for recycling when possible? Swap meets? Here in this city there's a twice yearly event where people can take unwanted but usable stuff (all kinds of stuff), put it out on the curb, and put a free sign on it. At the end of the weekend you have to bring anything left back in, though. It's been working well enough that it's gone on for a few years now. I think it's pretty cool.

We have a similar, accidental thing in the student-filled apartment building where I live. People who are moving tend to leave things in the lobby with a note on them. I'm sure the management hates it, but it keeps a lot of things from hitting the dumpster. A problem arises, though, when people are too lazy to make it even to the lobby. For days now there's been an old CRT television sitting in the stairwell, free sign and all. No one will want it, and eventually (eventually... that's kind of how everything works with this management company) someone will get around to moving out to the trash. Not recycle -- that takes effort. I've seen the same thing happen with old printers, desks... move it to the end of the hall seems to be about as far as s fair number of people are willing to go. Sad, when there are options out there.

Kind of depressing about what it says about the average renter, too.


And now, customer service. I had a couple of things that needed buying the other week, and had two very different experiences. I needed (yes, needed), a new remote and went to one of the electronics stores in fear of the usual up-sale. I was pleasantly surprised. As I was looking at the selection I was approached by an... associate, I suppose they're called... who was very friendly and quick to just accept that I'd found what I wanted. Well, she did make a joke about the $300 model that can control everything in your house, but it was so obviously a joke that there was no pressure in it at all. Sale? About $20. Oh, and batteries because I was out, but that's ok. Good job, big box electronics store.

Next, big box department store because I needed (yes, needed wanted) a silver chain that would better suit a couple of the new pendants I'd bought. I wanted actual silver because you know my feelings about plated fake jewellery. Well, I found what I thought I wanted in the locked case, hung around for a while... and no sign of anyone in the department. I looked around for someone for a fair while, but nothing. And no call button. The only salespeople that I noticed were probably in a different department, and were standing around in a group gossipping with each other and ignoring the customers in general. I finally gave up, found a costume piece that will do for now, and left. Sale? $6, and a package of nuts that I found in the grocery section. And yes, I went looking for the nuts. It wasn't an impulse.

So, big box department store? Lower prices + no service = when I do buy that silver chain it certainly won't be from you. Too bad, so sad. Well, not for me.


And finally, tea. I haven't been keeping you up-to-date, so here goes. I've tried the Jungle Ju Ju, which is the guayusa-based one. It was pleasant and didn't give me the jitters, so that's good. I'd still go spicy over fruity overall, but I'll have no trouble finishing it. Next was the Mango Fruit Punch sample, which I made as an iced tea. I liked it. Apparently fruity is good when it's iced tea as opposed to hot tea.

Yeah, I'm weird.

Anyway, next up was the Cotton Candy sample, which I'd been dreading. It just sounded so gross. It turned out to be basically pre-sweetened rooibos, and was nothing like cotton candy. Probably a good thing, but I don't know what they were thinking with the name. And finally, today's offering was Saigon Chai. This is a good chai. Great balance of spices, and the hint of vanilla was nice. I'll be finishing this one up pretty quickly, I imagine.

So, my success rate (or, I suppose, the company's success rate) was pretty decent. Good thing, because that's way too much money on tea otherwise.

After all, I could have bought a silver chain.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Sometimes I forget what I know

Wait. That sounds wrong. Let's try again:

Sometimes I forget that not everyone knows what I know.

That doesn't sound much better, really. Now I just sound like I'm full of myself. What I mean is, sometimes I forget that what to me seems common knowledge isn't necessarily that known. In respect to my job, in this case.

I've been at this whole naturalist thing for so long that it's easy for me to assume that things I learned when I was first starting out are things that everybody just knows, you know? They've become so much of my base knowledge that I forget that not everyone has the same base knowledge. After all, I've known it forever so of course everyone else does too, right?

I imagine it's the same for any job or interest, though. You get so used to your own basic knowledge, assumptions, and jargon that it comes as something of a minor shock when you talk to someone outside the field and find yourself explaining things that shouldn't (or at least feel like they shouldn't) need explaining. It's not that people are stupid; it's just that you've become a little isolated in your own personal niche.

Um, as it were.

It's a little weirder for me than some, however, because a big part of my job is teaching children. Now, naturally children won't just know that "common knowledge". That's why we teach them, last I checked. I expect children to have questions about the basics, but it always seems a bit odd when I go for a walk with an adult and they have the same questions as the kids. That's when I have to remind myself that the basics for me aren't the same basics someone else may have. It's fine -- and a little exciting, to be honest -- once you get past the moment of realisation and start talking about those basics (assuming that the person that you're with wants to learn them), but there's definitely a slight Twilight Zone moment of whyyy don't you know this? before you get there.

I'm sort of in the Twilight Zone just now, and it has to do with the whole working weekends again thing. For most of the year my contact with my weekend staff is by Friday memo and monthly work schedule e-mails. In the summer, however, I switch my days off so that I can go out in the park and be Nature Girl for the visitors, and as a result I actually see my staff in person.

They always have questions.

That's good, because I often have answers.

It always hits me, though, that they don't have a chance to be here on the weekdays when what we call the core staff (not that fond of the term myself, but I'm not sure I'd have a suggestion for a replacement) is answering questions, bouncing ideas off each other, and generally gaining a knowledge base whether we realise it or not. The weekenders largely fend for themselves. They do it well, for the most part, but if they don't know something they have to do the best they can with search engines and books. When I'm here they ask me first. Makes sense -- it saves time, and I can often give a little more background than a website can.

Some of the questions honestly surprise me.

Yep, whyyy don't you know this?...

Because they haven't been doing it for twenty-two fricking years, Dee. Twenty-three in September.


Ah well. They pick it up, as I can easily see from those who have been here for a few years now. And eventually it'll become base knowledge for them, and they'll be the ones with the Twilight Zone theme in their heads.

Nah, that'll probably be just me with the earworm. Most of them probably don't know the Twilight Zone theme to begin with...

Will you kids get off of my lawn, already?

Back to work now, being a know-it-all.

Or at least a know-more-of-it-than-you.

Saturday, 12 July 2014


Action shot!

Not a particularly good one, but still. Kind of neat, right?

Anyway. I'll try to keep this short because I'm at work. Yeah, it's that time of year again when I switch to weekends, and to top off the feeling of weird I'm also working late to cover a shift. All of this means that I'm not super in the mood for a blather.

You're getting a whinge instead, and I'll try to keep it short.

I hate the whole #firstworldproblems thing (bandwagon much, people?), but I have to admit that I'm having one. I'm remoteless.

The remote for my cable box died. I knew it was going to because it was getting pretty erratic, but the deed has finally happened and I'm currently a push-button girl. Go to the television and hit the button to turn it on; hit the cable box buttons to do anything else.

It sucks.

I mean, I can access most (most... sigh) of the functions of the cable box via its buttons, but having to go right up to the tv any time I need to change things? Sucks, as I said. In a minor way, yes, but still sucks. And it's almost like getting exercise, after all. Can't have that.

So what now? Well, I'm not stupid. I'll get a universal remote. I just haven't had the time to go shopping yet, and currently I'm here at work (did I mention?) so it won't happen tonight.

More push-button, I guess.

That sucks.

Sigh. #firstworldproblems. 


Nearly forgot: Today's tea is Quangzhou Milk Oolong. This is a nice tea, boys and girls. I probably overbrewed it slightly because I was talking to my coworkers, but even then it was so very smooth. I'm really going to enjoy this one.


Friday, 11 July 2014

How hot is it?

So hot even the fish are looking for shade.

Yes, I know that's not a joke. But we can pretend that the peekaboo fish head is doing something less boring than being a fish, right?

So how hot is it? Hot, sweaty, and gross. In my apartment, that is. Full south-facing, remember? And with the weatherpeople gleefully predicting that the rest of July is going to be freaking hot (the official term, yes), my stupid apartment should be running at about 35C in a few days. Which leads to no sleep -- although that finally happened last night -- which in turn leads to total non-function for Yours Irritatedly. Irritated as in, why exactly do people think it's a GOOD thing to have the highs approaching (and possibly exceeding) 30C? I mean, seriously. That's too hot. The only people happy in that sort of weather are kids in splash pools.

Expect a lot of cranky in the next while.

Anyway, I need to get back to work. Today's tea? Chocolate Chili Chai. It's fine. I mean, it's pleasant enough, but a) I wouldn't especially consider it a chai (yes, I know that chai just means tea. But really, when you think of chai don't you think of spicy Indian-style tea?), and b) it needs more chili.

Yes, I just said that.

As it stands, it's a tea with chocolate and a slight hint of chili. Not exactly what chili seekers would... um, seek. It's fine, though, and I won't have any trouble finishing it. And maybe brewing it a little stronger next time will help.

Gee, didn't you miss tea reviews?  I know I did, because it at least gives me a topic for the blather. Stay tuned for more.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Crouching tiger, hidden spider

 Except for the tiger part. Although the fact that tiger selfies are/were a thing still astounds me. That gets girls how? And who came up with it in the first place, anyway?

People are weird.

Anyway. This will, I hope, be a short post (and it never is when I say that, so why do I keep doing it?), because I was arting this morning and I have neither the thoughts nor the wrist to type a long one. So... an update on my usual summer spider hunt, whether you want it or not.

It's not going terribly well, to be honest. I haven't exactly seen an abundance of anything, and those that I do find -- with one exception, which I haven't posted yet -- I seem to be finding in the photoeditor after I've taken the shot. There was that Goldenrod Spider in the High Bush-cranberry flowers from a few weeks ago, if you'll remember, and there's one above in that Centaurea. Bottom right, if you're looking for it. I wish I'd seen it at the time, because my focus would have been way different.

To the left, at least, is a spider that I found before I took the picture. It's on Mock Orange (third flower down), to give you an idea of the size. Pretty tiny spider and pretty hard to get in there, but at least when you zoom that one it's pretty easy to tell that it's a spider and not just some random white legs like the other ones.

Ah well, they'll come. And when they do, it's looking like the new lens will do a pretty good job of them. It was interesting this weekend, comparing the two lenses. Other than Christmas it's the first time I've had them both here at once. I'll have to do it more often.

There. Does that count as short? Ish? It'll have to do, I'm afraid, because I'm done now.

See you in a bit. However long a bit may be to this blog.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Tea, with no picture of tea

As promised. This columbine intrigues me, though. I could swear that there wasn't a columbine in the yard last year. And I'd say that maybe it was hidden under the rose except that the rose is a climber rather than a bush so it's not especially thick. Ah well, nothing wrong with pretty volunteers, wherever they come from.

Just as an aside, I had my kit lens on the camera rather than the 50 mm wide angle I've been using to take close-ups lately. Biiig difference. And I miss the bokeh, so it's probably back to the other lens for more flower pictures after this.

Anyway, tea. Again, as promised... or should I say threatened? My latest tea order arrived at Dad's this week (I generally have parcels delivered to Dad's address rather than mine for a few reasons; one of which is less hassle since he's on a superbox -- aka Community Mailbox now, apparently -- and, unless the parcel's too big for one of the parcel boxes, doesn't have to go down to a mail outlet for pick-up), so I'll be talking about tea again whether you want to hear it or not. A topic's a topic, after all.

First, though, the actual parcel. Does anyone else think it's slightly overkill to mark a parcel that (only) has six plastic bags of tea in it with not one but two fragile, handle with care stickers? Two stickers, kraft paper, tissue paper (to make it look pretty), six of those air-filled packing things that avoid a carton full of styrofoam peanuts (I get that one, though. You don't want things to thump their way across country). Six plastic (and did I say plastic already?) bags of tea.

Ah, modern shipping.

Before I give you the links to the teas you'll be hearing about (so that you can study, of course), let me talk about the samples. This company sends three samples along with each shipment, which is good for the consumer and of course good to help create repeat consumers. I think that they might have struck out with me this time, however. They're pushing a series of teas in a carnival collection, with flavours that are supposed to remind you of the concessions at a fair. Yes, seriously. As a result, I have samples called Caramel Corn and Cotton Candy. Um? They also included a sample of Mango Fruit Punch since it's iced tea season. Um. Don't get me wrong, I'll try them (because... free), but I don't hold out a lot of hope. The mango might be all right, though. I'll keep an open mind.

There was also something in their included catalogue pamphlet that was a little eyebrow-raising, but only because I don't want to see tea go down the gimmicky road that coffee's gone down these past few years. So how does Teapop sound to you? You can try it in their stores if there's one near you, or you can make it at home by (and this is a rough recap here. I don't have the recipe in front of me) making a bit of strong tea, putting it in a glass with sweetener (they suggest agave because that's what they sell), adding ice, and then topping it off with soda water. It'd probably be ok. I might try it. But I'll cringe for being such a follower while I do it.

Ok then. The teas. I haven't tried any of the new ones yet so you still have the critiques to look forward to (yay?), but as I said I'll give you the links. First, the repeat orders of Second Flush Darjeeling and Chocolate Rocket. I've said before that Darjeeling is my favourite standard tea, and this is a good one in my (fairly limited, true. But my blog, after all) experience. And Chocolate Rocket... well, I can see why it's one of their most popular. Chocolate? Almonds? Raspberry? Yerba mate buzz? Yes please.

The new to me teas are: Saigon Chai (sounds like a fairly pure -- as in, un-effed-with -- chai. I have high hopes), Quangzhou Milk Oolong (Oolongs come a firm second after Darjeeling for me), Chocolate Chili Chai (I've never done the chili thing with tea. I'm predicting that it'll either kill me or I'll become an addict), and Jungle Ju ju (which is guayusa-based).

I've never tried guayusa, by the way. They say that it's similar to mate but without the bitterness. Confession here, though. I've never had mate on its own, so I've never noticed how bitter it apparently is. Anyway, we'll give the guayusa a try and see what happens.

A buzz at lease, I hope.

Less tea talk, more lunch now. I'm sure you're all relieved, but try not to look it too much. I could take offense, you know.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Quick (I hope) jewellery post

Work got busy so there wasn't time to post. And, of course, my two fans know that I don't usually like to post at night (no particular reason), so let's all try to keep this short, ok? I just wanted to explain the shopping channel reference I made last post.

Regular viewers will already know that I watch the jewellery (and no, I don't care that it's Fourth of July. It's still jewellery, not jewelry) shows on the shopping channel -- they're not getting a link from me since they don't need one -- purely for entertainment. So much of the jewellery is bad (for various reasons) and they work sooo hard to make it better in their sales pitches. I sometimes feel sorry for the presenters, really. Until I remember that they get paid to sell bad jewellery and whatever innovation Wolfgang Puck has put his name on now.


Yesterday they had an entire day of jewellery clearance. An entire day. An entire day of trying to sell the stuff that even their audience wouldn't buy. An entire day of seeing the same bracelet that some poor buyer asked for way too many of come up again and again, each time more desperately. An entire day of wondering if the tsc shoppers watching were in heaven because they could finally afford the cheesy whatsit (or should that be cheesy wotsit? Sorry. I just love that sketch. Too bad the BBC decided to cut it off before the punchline. Erm, such as it was.) they'd really wanted, or were totally pissed off because they'd paid four hundred dollars more for that same cheesy whatsit three months ago.

It would have been wonderful. But I had to go to work.

It was really, really hard to do that.

Ah well. I saw enough of it to at least feel like I'd been there. And I probably would have been sick on it if I'd had too much. Oh, and to prove that I'm not just being a snob when I talk about the ugly jewellery, above you'll see part of my misspent eighties. Well, except the Mardi Gras beads; they came later (and no boobs involved, seeing as it was a City function thank you very much). All 100% plastic, and all 100% cheese. I kept them when I did the jewellery box clean-up a while back because they made me laugh, remembering how much I wore them. And... well, I may use them for an art project sometime, who knows.

I do have a tiny portion of the real thing, though. Literally tiny. Freshwater pearls so small they could be seed beads. My brother and I bought them for my mother when we were still pretty young, and with our own money if I remember right. $25 at... I want to say Zales. Someplace like that, anyway. I think she wore the earrings a few times, but I doubt very much she used any of the rest.

I wore the bracelet to work a couple of months back on a whim. Stupid whim, since I work as a naturalist. Picture proof right here. Bandage courtesy of The Puppy, who was more or less fascinated with the bracelet and tried to take it away for a bit of playtime. No worries. It was just a nick, and the bracelet returned unharmed. And I still think that pearls and STARS bandage is quite the look.

Well, as usual this became longer than I was intending. It's almost a post, even. Tomorrow? Tea, probably. Likely accompanied by a picture of a flower because today's photos were altogether too close to losing their pointless status.

Puuumpkin tiiime...

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Holy weird day Batman

You were going to get a real post. Sure, it was going to be about jewellery again (The Shopping Channel's having a jewellery clearance today. That gives me so much joy of stupid that you may still get a post about it tomorrow), but it would have been a semi-organised thought-about post, at least. Instead?

Well, amongst other things I became the accidentally-designated sugar provider at work today. Stopped on my way in to get some Timbits for everyone with a gift card I had (and no one was in the drive-through. I've seen a line-up at that drive-through at 6 am. This morning? Empty. I was worried that it might be the zombie apocalypse). Then, work stuff, and if I was a Seinfeld fan I'd probably just say yada yada yada and leave it at that. I probably could anyway, since you got a glimpse of work yesterday. Let's just say, then, that I did assorted work things and when I felt myself getting a monitor/air conditioning headache decided to grab the camera and head out to the lake to take pictures of duck bums.

Yeah, duck bums. Here's one I took last year (or whenever. I take a lot of pictures of duck bums).

Anyway, when I got back I noticed on twitter (twitter counts as one of the work things. I still have trouble believing that) that a local radio station was delivering slurpees and that if you replied your office might be on the list. I replied, naturally. I mean, free stuff from a radio station, right? And the free publicity to our followers, the station's followers (and 7-11)... social media's weird. I joked about it to my coworkers.

We were their first stop. I'm officially the Sugar Fairy.

For today, at least. I'm not planning a return performance for a little while. We're sugared up enough for the moment.

And now it's home time for me, so I really should wrap things up. I won't promise much of a post tomorrow since the week's been so bizarre, but I'll try.

No duck bums or slurpees, though.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Aaand she forgets to blog

I guess I'm a bit (a bit? A bit? Seriously, a bit?) out of practise these last couple of weeks, but I really did forget about the whole blog thing and now my lunch hour is nearly over. However, do enjoy this pointless photo of dragonfly sex that I took this morning at work.

Hmm. Work. That might give us (me 'n alllll the voices) a quick topic. What have I done at work this morning, then?

I checked twitter and the work blog. Oh, and e-mail. I flipped the calendar page (by the way, did everyone have a happy Calendar Flipping Day yesterday? I have somewhat of a thing about flipping calendar pages. Just ask my father, who only ever seems to flip one of his. I fix that for him. Every month.). I checked my personal e-mail. I tweeted some info on how to get to us while the road construction buggers things up all summer. Yes, the whole entire summer. I went for a walk with a couple of others to look for a nonexistent grebe nest and ended up taking pictures of bug porn instead. I answered prep questions from the person who's running our day camps. I looked at my previous tweets, realised that I'd made a little mistake, and decided that it was probably too late in twitter timeline land to bother correcting it. I answered a question about how to get rid of a group (charm, tiding, congregation... also, apparently, a collective, although it's not on the linked list) of magpies (answer? You probably don't. They're too smart to be scared away from anywhere for too long if they really want to be there). I had lunch. I answered  a couple of more questions while I had lunch. There was also a dog involved in there somewhere. No, not the puppy. He hasn't been to work much lately. And there was tea.

And I've spent altogether too much time with this song going through my head. To those who know it, I'm truly sorry for the link. Just don't play the music file and you should be fine.

Anyway, that'll be it. I had to go take pictures of a moth (yes, had to), and now I need to see if any of them are good enough to be used as part of a display thingy.

Yes, thingy.

Going now.
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