Thursday, December 31, 2009

Scenery and History

View of Cayuga Lake, taken near the Taughannock Falls Overlook, December 29.

I am home from the Great White North (which I cannot type without thinking of Bob and Doug McKenzie (those tuque-wearing hosers!) and hearing the theme song in my head...). I stopped, both on the way up and on the way back, at one of my favorite places, Taughannock Falls near Ithaca. What a difference a few days makes! For other pix of the falls posted on the blog, clicky here and here (it might just need it's own label...).

Taughannock Falls, December 24th. The rime really was blue.

Taughannock Falls, December 29. Misty!

Ice Flow, December 29.

Ice Falls, December 29

I also have two drunken photos of one of the last hand-operated elevators (and perhaps the first to be electrified) in the City of Toronto. The photos are not drunken, but I pretty much was. Yay for old friends, wine, and walking to the bar so no-one had to drive. Boo for digital cameras that don't compensate for inebriated users.

The Elevator at the Gladstone, December 28.

Elevator controls, Gladstone Hotel, December 28.

The elevator is even cooler than it looks; the ironwork is really amazing (hand-wrought, twisted, and in a basket-weave, with embellishments). We got a ride in it, which was a treat! To visit it, hit the Gladstone on Queen Street West. And don't forget to check out the very cool gargoyles on the exterior of the building. They have great food, too... including poutine. Alas, the kitchen was closed, so we didn't get to enjoy.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Local Eats: Great White North Edition

I'm north of the border visiting family for the holidays. I'm not in Quebec, though I do have childhood connections to La Belle Province. I miss it terribly. [Mental note: really, there isn't anything stopping me from running up there for a few days; maybe in the spring.] Much of the food I think of as Canadian is Quebecois. The three I think of most are poutine, sugar pie, and tourtiere. I was also offered another very Canadian food over the holiday -- Nanaimo Bars. I really don't like them, but it was very homey to see them!

Poutine: Fries. With gravy. And cheese curds. The best poutine comes from snack trucks on the side of the road, with the fries fried in lard. The cheese curds must be FRESH. I mean, so fresh they squeak (unfresh cheese curds do not squeak. Never eat a cheese curd that doesn't squeak; they get gross). Is it a heart attack on a plate? Yes, it is. Is it a hella delicious heart attack on a plate? Yes, it can be (really good poutine is worth it, imo). Is it the same as fries with cheese and gravy? Not even close.

Sugar Pie: Not the same as shoo-fly pie. So sweet your teeth will hurt. I don't have a sweet tooth, but, as horrifically sweet as it is, I will eat more than one piece.

Tourtière: A traditional meat pie, served mostly around holidays. I've tried making it, but haven't found a recipe as good as I remember the pie of my youth. Pork, beef, onion, spices... the recipes I've linked to don't include them, but some recipes include nutmeg and cloves. I will have to try again, when I finally get an oven that has enough temperature control that I can bake in.

Nanaimo Bars: These are so Canadian. I would love to like these, but I just don't. They turn up on all holiday cookie platters up here though... and every time I see them, I wish I liked the damn things.

I am trying to schedule some time with a dear friend before I leave; it will involve poutine; photos may follow.

Edit: thanks, lephysiologiste, for the spelling correction!

Friday, December 25, 2009


It's really nice to see family. I haven't been home for the holidays in at least 8 years. First time I've been in the same place as all my sisters in a long time. There are five of us, so it's a challenge to get everyone together in one place. So, despite the drama (there is always drama) I am very happy. Now on to Xmas dinner #2...

There was also stunning scenery on the drive up, which I'll post when I return (mental note: when traveling with digital camera, travel with thingy that reads the data off of it...) I will also be posting another Local Eats: Great White North Edition.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Almost Done!

I am in grading jail... though it *is* only 20 essays. Then I give my final exam at... wait for it... 7pm, Wednesday, December 23. Nice, yes? I will be returning essays that night, and be happy to see the backs of them. Then I put my butt, my ungraded finals, and assorted holiday presents in the car, and high-tail it North of the Border for holiday dinner on the 24th and a few days with old friends and family. Thankfully I can submit my grades online while I'm up there!

Good holidays to all, if I don't manage to post before then.

PS: Current vice: Hell's Kitchen, via my new nemesis, Hulu.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Margaret Atwood and The Science Scouts

Yes, I am aware that the title sounds like some horrible composition class attempt at B-movie science fiction... if there were composition classes that actually covered that, that is.

But... it is true. Margaret Freaking Atwood (who I completely adore in a total Geek Fandom way, and who my sisters freaking MET, and I am still jealous...) consulted, via Twitter, on the creation of a Science Scout badge.

I'm not sure which makes me happier... the fact that Margaret Atwood twitters, consults on Internet silliness, or that Science Scouts has a batch of new badges out...

Unfortunately, I cannot claim any of the new badges. :(

For the historians, though, I leave you a link to Margaret Atwood's poem, The Loneliness of the Military Historian. It's not just military dead bodies that get you dis-invited to dinner; archaeological dead bodies and researching dead bodies also qualify.

And... I must also leave you with Margaret Atwood's Goalie School. Yes, goalie. As in hockey. Look, just watch it, ok??

Sunday, December 6, 2009

We can not talk about it, but don't tell me it never happened.

Heart-to-heart intimacy, the arbiters of social conduct were beginning to believe, had no place in a courtesy code designed for the smooth social intercourse of the urban middle classes. Sentimental sincerity could not govern face-to-face conduct among strangers and near strangers in an anonymous social world. .. And sincerity was no longer seen as the summum bonum of the polite world because, etiquette writers were increasingly convinced, "if every one acted according to his heart, the world would soon be turned upside down."
From: Halttunen, Karen (1982) Confidence Men and Painted Women: A Study of Middle-Class Culture in America, 1830-1870, p. 167.

Hum, yeah. Kind of weird reading this today after events of last week. If the memo's been around since the mid-19th century, where's my copy?

In sum, in response to a request, I was told "
No thanks, that won't work for me, lets not speak of this again" followed shortly by, "And regardless of what was actually going on (of which we shall never speak again), we shall all agree that this other thing is what was going on, even though it is made up of 98%-whole cloth. And, I shall insist that it is the only truth of what was going on, and in this I shall speak for everyone, and your truth shall be null and void. Kthxbye." (Yes, I am paraphrasing.) Except I disagreed with the null and void bit. I was ok with the framing of it as whatever... but not ok with the complete denial of what actually happened. Seriously, don't tell me I don't know what I know. And don't insist you didn't do what you did... HELLO, I was there. And I'm not crazy. And it hits all kinds of buttons that I keep wrapped up in my personal baggage.

The "No thanks, that won't work for me, lets not speak of this again" was really sufficient and ok with me. I really didn't think the whole thing was this big a deal. That last bit though, the whole cloth fiction, denial thing? Pissed me off, and I called bullsh!t (only without saying bullsh!t; I believe I used "disingenuous" -- maybe bullsh!t would have been better). Which resulted in an angry email about social pleasantries. Hopefully, the other parties will get that I was pissed at the attempt to deny and erase what happened, not at the necessity of social pleasantries following what apparently -was- a big deal to make it ok and grease the social wheels.

Can I also just say that I don't much like it when people's anger is directed at me. But really, I had to say something...

Next post will be a book review, with no personal drama, honest!

Edit: one more quote from the above book: "Finally, they could rest secure in the knowledge that heart cannot meet heart in a world of strangers, and in the recognition that the uncloaked heart is the most dangerous acquaintance of all." (p. 188)