zingerella: Capital letter "Z" decorated with twining blue and purple vegetation (Default)
( Aug. 17th, 2011 11:54 am)

More reporting from a Toronto High School: It's the 1950s now, so most of the "Baby Bags" have graduated. For context, I have just edited an entire page that lists all the citywide athletic championships that the Boys' athletic teams won.

Oh authors with your casual sexism! 

When the old auditorium was converted into the Boys’ Gym, the girls inherited the smaller upper gym. The gym rang with giggles and laughter at 3:30 most days while girls played whatever sport was scheduled. The girls’ teams also participated in Hi-Jinks, the Track and Field Days and Cadet Inspection Day. It was a huge honour to be chosen as a cheerleader.  It required stamina and quite a bit of athletic ability to do cartwheels and jumps in formation. The Drum Majorettes group was also always popular.  The 1952 squad was the largest in any school that year.  They performed at the annual Red Feather Tournament of Champions sponsored by the Community Chest (later the United Appeal). It had been organized to raise funds for needy Torontonians. The Majorettes also marched at Varsity Stadium at the City Football Championships and in the Santa Claus Parade.

N.B.: This is the pre-edited version. I'm fixing up the awkward phrasing.

Giggles and laughter! The Boys' teams won citywide championships. The girls giggled and laughed. 

Oh, 1950s. 

Not, nothing, really. But vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free, which is a tall order. I tried each of these recipes last Friday, and they were all super tasty!

Recipes behind the cut. )


zingerella: Capital letter "Z" decorated with twining blue and purple vegetation (Default)
( Apr. 19th, 2011 11:26 pm)
Last fall, I went to Guelph to get measured. Hugh Black at True North Cycles measured my height, my inseam, my arms, and my back, and marked all these measurements on the wall of his workshop.

This spring, after looking at drawings, making calculations (I found a real-life application of the Pythagorean theorem!), researching and choosing components, looking at samples and selecting colours, I went to Guelph again.

Hugh had built me a tiny, perfect bike!

Me, with hair in two braids and a turquiose beret, behind my small, dark green touring bike.
Me, behind a tiny, perfect, dark green touring bike with curly handlebars and 650 cc tires. I am wearing a fuzzy turquoise beret and a delighted grin.

For those who care, this is a custom True North frame, with compact drop handlebars, 26-inch wheels, and triple crank (plus a lot of fancy components that I'm happy to tell you all about, but only if you ask.

More photos behind cut. )
I love my tiny perfect bike!

zingerella: Capital letter "Z" decorated with twining blue and purple vegetation (Default)
( Jan. 8th, 2011 10:59 am)
Last year captainmushroom gave a home to an amaryllis plant. We watched it grow until finally, in February, its crimson blooms burst out and brought a bit of breathtakingly lovely colour to the February greyness.

So when amaryllis bulbs went on sale this Season, I decided Dictionopolis could use a bit of colour and brought one home. Today, it repaid my $6 investment and benign near-neglect*:

Pink and white amaryllis flower in full bloom. Flower is placed against a greenish background. Shot shows stalk and leaves as well as bloom.

Extreme close up of the inside of a pink and white amaryllis, showing stamens. The sun is lighting the bottom right of the bloom.

*Seriously, these things are incredibly rewarding plants, even for black-thumbed people. All you need to do is put it somewhere the cats won't eat it, water it when the soil starts to feel dry, and marvel as it grows really blessed quickly. I swear, I could see the flower unfurling when it started to bloom.
[personal profile] sabotabby posted some of the spoils of our not-very-suitable-decoration phototreck. I was confident that we hadn't captured the extent of weird seasonal decorations even in our kind of boring neighbourhood, but took a break to get ready for the various festivities.

Turns out that there's more in our very neighbourhood:

Exhibit 1: The Underinflated Penguin

A 6-foot-tall inflatable Christmas penguin, standing and waving outside a little urban house. The penguin wears a Santa hat decorated with holly, and is waving cheerfully. Because it is a bit under-inflated, its head is tilted at an angle reminiscent of a spinal injury. The penguin is illuminated by Christmas lights and the glow cast by a wicker-and-Christmas-light deer in the garden beside it.

It's not that I'm opposed to decorations. But I do like some sort of consistency. And I really generally don't like inflated things that are not balloons. Underinflating your penguin causes it to look like it needs the services of a chiropractor, or maybe an EMT unit with a spinal board.

Exhibit 2: On Second Thought, Inflated May Be Preferable

Hanging limply  the porch of a little urban house, an empty, too-small-looking Santa suit, complete with beard, but NO FACE.

Okay, hanging empty stockings I understand, though you're supposed to do that indoors, on the mantle of your fireplace, or, if you don't have a fireplace, wherever you can hang a stocking. I'm not sure what an empty Santa suit conveys. Are they waiting for St. Nick to fill his own suit with his jolly self? (Hint to the denizens of this house: that suit is TOO SMALL.) It looks more to me as if they killed Santa and are hanging his pelt outside their home as a trophy, or perhaps as a warning. Eep.

On Christmas day, captainmushroom and I went for a walk and hit Unsuitable Decoration Mecca.

Exhibit 3: The Upholstery Shop

A storefront window. Above the window, the sign for the shop says UPHOLSTERY. On display are an upholstered couch surrounded by an assortment of tchotchkes: a cadaverous dummy wearing a tinsel Christmas-tree headdress, several superhero dolls and action figures, a framed portrait of Henry VIII, a church. On the couch are a Ken doll, a gargoyle with reindeer antlers, a nutcracker, and another framed Renaissance portrait (I'm not sure of whom.)

Oh man, I don't even know where to begin with this place. It's just AWESOME. Here are some details:

A detail of the left-hand side of the Upholstery Shop window. In the window are a cadaverous dummy wearing a suit and checkered tie, topped with a headdress made from a conical tinsel Christmas tree. Seated on the dummy's extended left arm is a Robin superhero doll; on its right arm is Lisa Simpson. In the foreground is a small model of a church, completed with steeple. Straddling atop the church is a female superhero. Beside the church, and much taller (about 2 feet tall) is a toy soldier figure.

The cadaverous zombie guy is a permanent fixture of the window, as are, I think Lisa Simpson and Robin. The tinsel headdress is seasonal.

A close up of some items arranged on the couch: a model of an overstuffed armchair. Seated in the armchair is a Ken doll in a white suit. Seated on the couch in front of that Ken doll is another Ken doll in its underwear. Behind the chair is a model of Chuck Norris in a Santa hat. Norris's face is plastic, but his body is quilted. Flanking the armchair are a blonde Ken doll in a sparkly top and a Barbie doll in what appears to be a Space Adventurer's suit. In the forground the head and shoulders of a rather phallic toy soldier are visible.

Quilted-body Chuck Norris doesn't wait for Santa. Quilted-body Chuck Norris is Santa. You better watch out!

The bottom left corner of the Upholstery Shop window, containing a small red sign saying XXXmas, and a photo of a very buff shirtless dude in a Santa hat. More permanent fixtures in the window include a tribal-style mask, some geraniums and fake flowers, and Canadian flag.


More decorations in the window: a Norman-Rockwell style picture showing two small children, one dressed inexplicably as a cowboy, peering through the banister of the stairs as a pyjama-clad fellow kisses a fellow dressed as Santa, under the mistletoe. Beside this is a small painting of very buff, shirtless guy reclining and wearing red trousers and a Santa hat. On the other side of the Rockwell-style picture is a portrait of Henry VIII. In the foreground is a small model of an upholstered chesterfield.

There's really nothing unsuitable about the Daddy Kissing Santa-Claus picture, except for the Rockwell-esque style, but somehow I think my mom would find it objectionable. No, I have no idea what Henry VIII is doing there.

A close up of the Daddy Kissing Santa Claus faux Rockwell picture.

You need to see the Daddy Kissing Santa picture up close to fully appreciate its delicate, nuanced portrayal of the holiday spirit.

A close up of the church montage. A small model of a quaint country church, completed with steeple. A snowman is placed beside the church. An action figure of a superhero is on the other side. Straddling the church is a female superhero. A Santa Pez dispenser stands outside the door of the church.

I don't even. All I can think is that no Christmas idyll is really complete without random superheroes.

And finally, the saddest Christmas gargoyle I have ever seen:

Obscured by reflections in the windows, a stone (or faux stone) gargoyle crouches on the upholstered couch, its hands wrapped around its knees. On its face is an expression of deep sadness. It has been adorned with red felt reindeer antlers.

This gargoyle is SO SAD FOR BEING A REINDEER.

I'm at the cool part of things again--the part where I come up with ideas about what's going to go into a resource. In this particular project--a literacy resource for primary students--we're using a lot of poetry. I'm rediscovering Dennis Lee, of course. And Raffi.

I'm also encountering a lot of poets whose work I've never read before.

There's a lot of bad kids' poetry out there, I can tell you. But, it is also amazing and humbling what some people can convey, using very simple words. Here are two that hit me today:

From Thanks a Million: Poems by Nikki Grimes, Illustrations by Cozbi A. Cabrera

Shelter
I wish these walls were ours,
I wish this bed were mine,
that dinnertime meant just us three,
my brother, mom, and me.

I wish I had a room
that I was forced to clean.
I'd gripe for my best friend, then say,
"Come to my house and play."

Things could be worse, I know.
At least, I'm not alone.
My mom and brother hold me tight
when I cry late at night.

Dear Author

When my father died last year,
Somebody threw a switch and turned me off.
I couldn’t breathe. Or cry.
My family wondered why.


Months passed, and they figured
I must be okay. But they were wrong.
I leaked sadness everywhere I went.
No one seemed to notice or understand.
Until Lotus, the girl in your last book.
She was also drowning deep inside.
Some nights, I’d crawl between the pages
of that novel and hide for hours.


The two of you made all the difference.
I just thought you’d want to know.


Sincerely,
Grateful



I haven't posted about the wedding in Ottawa, mostly because other people have, and I've been swallowed by my life.

I received the beautiful invitation from [personal profile] commodorified , [personal profile] fairestcat , [personal profile] random , and [personal profile] rayne in the mail, after [personal profile] mycrazyhair  warned me it would be coming, and I arranged to take two whole days off work to travel to Ottawa with her, despite my trepidation about travelling the week before the Dance Flurry, meeting new people in general, and weddings in general.

We had an awesome trip. I am really glad I got to see the MacFlails get married, to dance with them (and with [personal profile] dagibbs—finally!); and to visit [livejournal.com profile] audrawilliams and see [livejournal.com profile] human_loser once more before he vanished back to the west; to experience the most breathtakingly epicurean vegetarian cuisine I have ever eaten, to hang out and breakfast with [personal profile] toft , [personal profile] curgoth , and [personal profile] neeuqdrazil ; to meet whole bunches of very interesting, kind, funny people; and to dress up pretty and dance with my girl.

To the MacFlails: It was lovely to meet those I met, to spend some time with you, to witness your marriage, and to laugh and danc

Thanks to the MacFlails for inviting me, for having an awesome wedding, and for providing me with an opportunity for such a very enjoyable weekend. [personal profile] commodorified , you sure know how to make a girl feel welcomed and appreciated (or at least ogled). You are a lovely, lovely family, and I'm so glad to have witnessed your beautiful wedding.

[personal profile] dagibbs , after all that geeking out at various parties, it was lovely to finally dance with you—thanks for taking me out on Saturday night. Thanks to [personal profile] neeuqdrazil  for driving us all home.

And [personal profile] mycrazyhair  wins an AWESOME SWEETIE award for organizing everything, and being generally awesome.

My life, it does not suck.

zingerella: Capital letter "Z" decorated with twining blue and purple vegetation (Default)
( Jan. 2nd, 2010 10:44 am)
I think anyone who works with kids, has kids, deals with neuroatypical kids or grownups, likes Mythbusters, or likes robots (or children who like robots) needs to read [personal profile] toft 's fic Robots Need Love Too.

Adam likes robots and math, and has a cape. He and his mom have just moved to a space station, where he meets Jamie. Jamie likes quiet, and math and doesn't like being hugged. He thinks robots are pretty neat too.

A snippet:

"Well, I guess we can be friends as long as you don't mind my behaviour abnormalities," Adam says.

Jamie wonders what they are. He rolls the dark blue cylinder in his hand, then opens his pen and slots it in. He draws a little cube on the top corner of his datapad, then another.

"Those are really neat and tidy," Adam says, leaning over to look at his work and almost touching him, but not, so Jamie isn't annoyed and doesn't have to push him. "I can't get them that neat and tidy. I always smudge them."

"Quiet now, boys," Educator Kari says. "It's time for first period." Jamie thinks that's hardly fair, as he wasn't the one talking, but he concentrates on booting up the math programs and inserting his earbuds. He leans over to check that Adam has the right programs up, and he does, so Jamie ignores him for the rest of the period. Adam falls of his chair a couple of times, and once tries to talk to Jamie, but Jamie ignores him. Jamie likes math.
Toft has created an entirely believable space station, and two entirely believable small boys. She tells the story from Jamie's POV, and this is the best fictional representation of the way a child with Autism-spectrum traits might see the world that I've ever read. Adam's behaviour is entirely reminiscent of some small boys I've met—I love the exchange with his mother over Jamie's mother's hydraulic chair, where Adam doesn't understand why his curiosity makes his mom uncomfortable. The story is, as other commenters have said, sweet and adorable, without being cloying or sentimental.

Even if you don't follow Mythbusters (I don't), you should still consider reading this story. It's quite excellent.

Now I'm off to clean out the fridge.


zingerella: Capital letter "Z" decorated with twining blue and purple vegetation (Default)
( Dec. 15th, 2009 04:25 pm)
If I were superstitious, I'd be feeling very nervous about tomorrow's concert, right now.

Last night's dress rehearsal went really well. I'm kind of excited about tomorrow's performance. The soloists are excellent, the ensemble sounds good (even if we don't have any tympani), and the choir is pretty darned good, if I do say so myself.

The superstition goes that a good dress means a bad opening night. I don't buy it one little bit. It's such a relief when a good performance follows an awful dress that I think people remember those instances, and have, by process of inversion, created a superstition around the q. In consequence, I'm just plain happy to be singing this great music and sharing it with people.

(If you're in Toronto, you really should consider coming. Really. There are trumpets!)
zingerella: Capital letter "Z" decorated with twining blue and purple vegetation (Default)
( Aug. 14th, 2009 11:34 pm)
Hi!

I'm home!

Not squashed!

Ontario is very big! It is full of water, and rocks, and trees, and swamps, and farms.

Trucks are very scary.

The Waterfront Trail is a lie: It isn't really a trail and it doesn't go along the waterfront very often.

Rural people have a bizarre penchant for novelty mailboxes.

More later! I have to let my mom, grandmom, and great aunt know that I am home, alive, and in one piece. And sleeeeep.

Thanks to [personal profile] neeuqdrazil 
This one's especially for [personal profile] mycrazyhair and [personal profile] neeuqdrazil :

Sound of Music guerilla dancing in Antwerp's central station.




I dabble in design. I am not, nor do I aspire to be a designer. However, like most of my colleagues who work with text, either printed, or onscreen, I have opinions about type and typography.

I tend to like old-style, angled-serif typefaces, with good balance between thick and thin strokes: Goudy, Jensen, in a pinch Garamond.

But when it comes to pairing typefaces, and choosing display fonts, I waffle. My own preference is for slightly ornate, whimsical type:  Gallia, Parisian, Rendezvous, even Harrington. I balance my love of whimsy and floweriness against considerations of legibility.

But I recognize that I can't always have ornate display fonts. They're not always appropriate—sometimes I need to focus on legibility, sometimes the documents I create demand a bit more gravitas. So I dither.

I was dithering yesterday over what typeface to use for the headers on a handout on Editing and the Law (aka What Editors in Canada Should Know About Libel, Copyright, Trademarks, Plagiarism, and Model Releases). The body was set in Goudy. A topic of this weight demanded a more serious typeface, but I didn't want to go as far as the monumental Citation. I didn't want to go the cop-out route of using a darker, heavier family of Goudy, and Helvetica doesn't please me.

So I googled something like "Which font goes with Goudy?" and found my way to Esperfonto's handycool font-matching engine. 

Did I mention it was handycool?

Tell it what typeface you need to match. Tell it how you plan to use the matching typeface—display or body text—and what kind of look you need—traditional or modern? Cool or warm? Serious or friendly? Then the engine suggests a typeface. It seems to like Gill Sans a lot. Daniel Will-Harris, the proprietor of Esperfonto, is quick to remind users that we're getting his suggestions and we should feel free to disagree.

Lots of other cool stuff at Esperfonto, too,  including a list of typefaces that work well together (Marigold & Centaur: a match made in mythology, or maybe Narnia! Joanna & Gill Sans—they're a sweet couple who like to go golfing on Sundays. Albertus & Shannon—initially I thought they were going to open a used book store together, but now I see they're actually opening a patisserie.)

Fontastic! *ducks and runs*
In addition to being freaky looking, weirdly cute, and sadly endangered by habitat destruction, tilapia, and carp, axolotls are just bloody weird.
Weird and fascinating axoltl floating in a tank. Larval salamander is salmon-pink, with reddish gills radiating out from its head, beady eyes, and a sort-of smiling expression.
They are neotenous (sexually mature larval) salamanders! They can be induced to metamorphose if you either inject them with iodine (though this may kill them), or gradually reduce the amount of water in their living environment (though this may kill them or make them very unhappy).

They consume food by sucking it directly into their stomachs! Their gills close up when they do this to prevent the gills getting clogged or something.

They regenerate lost body parts quickly and without scarring. They are, in fact, zombie resistant, as they can even regenerate parts of their brains. I mean, assuming that zombies, which tend to proliferate in densely populated areas can be bothered to get to the remote, high-altitude bodies of water surrounded by a risky, often inhospitable, terrestrial environment in which axolotls are found (in diminishing numbers) in the wild.

ETA: FUP agrees with me, only in a more profane way:

Just because you have a weird looking smiley face where a normal face should be doesn't mean I'm gonna ignore the fact that you can't even metamorphosize your crazy ass. EPIC EVOLUTIONARY FAIL, AXOLOTL.
 
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