Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Back again

Well, long time, no blog ... Kristen was here in St. John's all last week, and ended up staying two days longer courtesy of a "record-breaking" blizzard on Saturday.

This of course is the aftermath ... I wish I'd been able to get some pictures of the actual storm itself -- not that you'd be able to see anything.

Sunday morning was the impressive part. Kristen and I ventured downtown at eleven in the morning, not entirely expecting to find anything open, and discovered a city like an anthill. Everything had been effectively dug out, from sidewalks to storefronts.

I'm becoming inured to these winter storms. This time around, it barely made an impact on me. I suppose that's a good thing.

Anyway ... reading week is over and Kristen is gone, and I'm getting back to the real world and the stack of work I spent last week assiduously avoiding. Sigh.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Kristen countdown

Until my beautiful girlfriend arrives for a week-long visit?

At time of posting, 41 hours.

Gonna be a long day tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Can't you just feel the love?

Some events that have unfolded on this day in history:

1670 - Roman Catholic emperor Leopold I chases Jews out of Vienna

1779 - Captain James Cook murdered by natives of Hawaii during his third visit to the Pacific island group

1899 - Voting machines are approved by the U.S. Congress for use in federal elections.

1913 – Jimmy Hoffa born.

1924 - IBM corporation founded.

1929 - St. Valentine's Day Massacre: Seven gangster rivals of Al Capone are murdered in Chicago, Illinois.

1943 – General Erwin Rommel defeats American forces at the Battle of the Kasserine Pass in North Africa

1945 - Bombing of Dresden begins

1945 - President Franklin D. Roosevelt meets with King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia aboard the USS Quincy, officially starting the US-Saudi diplomatic relationship.

1962 – President John F. Kennedy authorizes American advisors in Vietnam to return fire if fired upon.

1971 - Richard Nixon installs secret taping system in White House.

1989 - Ayatollah Khomeini issues a fatwa encouraging Muslims to kill Salman Rushdie.

1995 - Roseanne weds bodyguard Ben Thomas (the horror—the horror!).

2003 - Dolly the sheep, the first cloned mammal, was euthanized because of incurable lung cancer.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Again with the snow ...

Yesterday evening was fun. And by "fun" I mean, well, actually the opposite. Anti-fun. Not as bad a root canal ... well, really nowhere close to root canal, given that I didn't actually suffer any pain, but still kind of annoying. Laced with moments of terror. OK, not so much terror as overweening impatience with the weather.

You get the idea.

It was a repeat of last week's snow day, except that this time it really looked like I might not make it up the hill on the way home. There were a number of tense moments sitting with my foot on the gas while my car, rather than moving forward, sort of meandered vaguely sideways. I had no traction. None. I was reduced to trying to match up my tired with the tracks left by the car ahead of me (which was in similar straits) in the hopes that the spinning of his wheels had excavated some pavement on which my tires might find some purchase. Ack.

The hill on the way home wasn't the most annoying bit however -- that awaited me on arriving home, in trying to enter my building's parking lot. There is a sharp incline at the entrance ... and try as I may, there was nothing happening. It was only a passing stranger who offered to a push that allowed me finally to make it in.

On the plus side, my car seemed to have escaped the snow fence effect this time around -- some cars on the other side of my lot were afflicted. One in particular.


Friday, February 10, 2006

Running music redux

Back in September, I posted about my favourite music to run to ... Lately I've been playing with iTunes and downloading some new music and tweaking my playlists. And while the original list still stands, I have some additions.

Actually, this was largely inspired one of of the comments left by former student Brian -- who commented that his favourite running song was "Kickstart My Heart" by Motley Crue ... and what do you know? I downloaded it from iTunes two weeks ago and damn me if it isn't something to put some spring back in the step halfway into the run. Thanks for that, Brian dude.

And the rest of the new additions?

Beastie Boys -- No Sleep Till Brooklyn
Joan Jett -- Let's Do It (from the Tank Girl soundtrack)
Wise Up, Sucker -- Pop Will Eat Itself
Wake Up -- Arcade Fire
Two Tribes -- Frankie Goes to Hollywood
Saturday Night -- Bay City Rollers

OK, was that snickers I heard in the back there at the last entry?? Don't be dissing the Rollers, baby. First, the song has the perfect cadence for running. Second, it gives me fond memories of So I Married an Axe Murderer. Third, it give me fond memories of my brother's wedding reception, when The Laura requested it in honour of my father, who was wearing his dress kilt for the occasion.

You know, I really must post pictures some time of my dad in his kilt.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Random thoughts and observations

I've started using my Starbucks travel mug to bring my second cup of coffee in the mornings to work with me, and I can say definitively: there is a qualitative difference in the taste of the coffee in my apartment, in my car, and in my office.

I think that if he really worked at it, I mean really put his shoulder into it, Pat Robertson could quite possibly be a bigger jackass. There's unexplored territory there.

"Heuristic" is my new favourite word, simply because when asked to define it I get to talk about Maxwell's Demon.

I am approaching the point where I can carry on a conversation in MSN Messenger entirely in emoticons.

Now that Sawyer on Lost is bad again, the show is in serious jeopardy of becoming like 90210, i.e. characters will alternate between good and evil depending on the ratings and the unimaginativeness of the writers.

Dominic Monaghan on Lost; Sean Astin on 24; we need to have Billy Boyd and Elijah Wood to turn up on their own TV series, and then put all the shows on the same night for an all-hobbit lineup.

I think there's a house at the top of the hill I drive down on the way to work that burns tires in its fireplace. The past three mornings I have smelled burned rubber as I drive through that area and gotten paranoid that my car's engine is about to explode.

I've been eating a lot of soup lately.

In the last seventy-two hours, I have had two songs stuck in my head, and they're taking turns driving me insane: "Hollaback Girl" and the theme song to The Gilmore Girls. I wouldn't have thought anything could be worse than Britney Spears for this sort of thing, but here we are.

Someone at CBC Radio Two is overly fond of organ music in the middle of the day.

Friday, February 03, 2006

After the flood, all of the colours came out

This picture doesn't quite feel like it does justice to the task of digging my car out yesterday, during which I was quite seriously thinking to myself, "I don't need my car -- I can just wait until spring."

What is perhaps most aggravating however is the fact that I seem to be the only car (besides the poor guy in the spot next to me) with quite this level of snow to deal with -- all the cars on the north side of my lot are far less buried. I'm guessing being in the lee of the building is my problem here. Damn you, snow fence effect! Damn you to hell!


Anyway, as promised, a few pics in the post-blizzard St. John's -- which, given my porous memory (i.e. I forgot to take the camera with me downtown yesterday), are all from my drive up to campus today.

Also, a picture of one of the many tunnels running underneath MUN campus. Now, seriously, tell me: wouldn't this be such a cool setting for a horror film? I'll have to get some pics soon of one of the pedways on a foggy evening for full effect ...

Plus, interesting thing I noticed today: when I use the tunnels to get from the parking lot to my office, I have to go through the music building. Immediately inside the main door to the music building are a series of portraits of former deans of music. And guess what? Jesus Christ was Dean of Music here! Seriously, check it out:

You know, that's what I love about the guy. Most people, in his position, would use that family connection to score themselves some distinguished chair of something or other at Princeton or Cambridge, where they would be paid more money than Dad to teach one half grad course every three years. But not the Man -- no, he works honestly. WWJD? He'd work at MUN, baby.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Ain't nothing seeing its shadow out there today

We have officially reached "Holy crap" as far as the weather here goes. When I left home for work yesterday at about quarter after seven, there was the lightest dusting of snow and no wind; by the time I reached campus, the wind was howling and there was significantly more so; about an hour into the day I couldn't see more than a few meters out of my office window.

They closed the university at one o'clock. I toyed with the idea of sticking around to get work done in the absence of classes, but thought better of it -- and a good thing too! The snow was up to my car's wheel wells on the slow, dodgy drive home. And then I got stuck in a small drift getting into my parking lot, and my parking spot was kind of full. Fortunately there's communal shovel just inside one of the side entrances to my building.

It's the one time of the year I see the appeal of SUVs. Though I must say: experts on the subject have frequently commented that the extra safety afforded by SUVs is often offset by the sense of invulnerability drivers feel when behind the wheel of those tanks, something I saw no fewer than three times on the drive home: SUVs taking corners like it was a mild summer day nearly plowed into (1) a fence, (2) a pair of people forced by the blocked sidewalks to walk on the side of the road, and (3) ME.

Not amusing.

As much as I would like to coccoon in here today, there are some unavoidable errands to run. So I was just outside digging out my car for the last forty-five minutes ... which means my jeans are in the dryer for the second time in twenty-four hours.

I considered running in to grab my camera to document the digging-out process, but I was too busy considering varieties of suicide that would be warm and dry.

I do need to go out shortly though ... I shall take some pics around town for the smug amusement of all those enjoying above-zero weather and green grass in Ontario.