Happy Solstice! Even here, so much further south than I’m used to, the nights were getting longer.* But now the swing has reached its highest point, there’s that breathless pause of no movement, and we’re plunging back the other way towards warmth and light.

Not that it’s been particularly cold and dark here, of course, though you’d never know it from seeing people trooping along in their down parkas and earmuffs. I’m not kidding. It’s about 12C here, but people dress like they’re in Peary’s expedition. I’m really not trying to do the stereotypical “Ho, I am so tough that I don’t even put clothes on until it’s -20” Canadian-weather-bore thing, but I honestly have not felt the need for a jacket even**, and I’m lobbying for keeping the bedroom window open at night.***

Blogging will likely be pretty sparse on my end for the next week or so, so y’all have the happy holiday of your choice. Amen, praise Allah, and have a nice day.

P.S. May I just point you to one of the funniest days of one of the funniest comics that I've ever read? This is really funny.

* Well, that misguided daylight savings idea messed things up a bit.

** I will admit though that if I were spending the day outside, especially if I weren’t going to be moving around much, I would want a coat and maybe a hat.

*** R:tAG’s blood has thinned, unfortunately, and the window remains closed. I try to at least keep the furnace off.

Frost! There was frost on the ground this morning! It was the kind that just looks like faint white dust and it disappeared within a minute of sunlight touching it, but still. Frost! Winter! Comfortable sleeping temperatures!

Hint for Viva Piñata - You breed your piñatas. You can name your piñatas. As you value your sanity, don't give them the names of your friends.

Driving back from SFO to pick up R:tAG, a cop car ahead of me with lights a-blazin' started swerving across all four lanes, side to side in slow sweeps, until traffic behind him was slowed to about 60 km/h (regular = 120). We all drove along like this for a while, following our enforcement pace car since no-one was going to pass the crazy cop. After a few minutes, he switched his lights off and zoomed away, and everyone resumed their normal speed. I noticed, though, that a few miles up the road a cop car (maybe the same one?) was set up in a speed trap. So what the hell? A warning? Spilled coffee? Some guy spiting a colleague who had a speeding ticket quota to fill? R:tAG, who was very tired from his trip, wasn't sure that the whole event had actually happened. I resisted the urge to mess with his head and pretend like nothing was odd.

We're watching Supernatural (on the DVD, of course) and while the first couple of episodes managed to give me the whimpering creeps, the later ones seem to have lost the touch. Maybe it's because the show seems stuck now in a Littlest Hobo kind of rut (we have been so spoiled by shows with a story line that actually advances*), maybe just because the earlier episodes managed to find my personal phobias. We’ll probably stick with it for the rest of the first season, but I hope it gets better. We're only on episode six, I think.

Christmas Fun!

3D Paper Snowflake - I just realized I could do this at work with office supplies. Hmm...
Cocoa in a Jar - Mmm.
Carved Crayons - I'm glad I didn't see this when I was about 12. I'd have spent a couple of years trying to do this.
An Even Scarier Solstice - I love the HPLHS folk so very much. This is possibly even better than the first one. For my favourite track, I can't decide between "The Worst Hotel"** and "The Deep One Song".*** Wonderful, wonderful stuff. Alas, the tentacle stocking is sold out!

* E.g. Rome, Deadwood, Carnivàle, hell, even Buffy. On the other hand, we are also watching Twin Peaks for the first time, so it's nice that Supernatural offers no challenges beyond monster-of-the-week, just by way of contrast.

** "The worst hotel / In which I did stay / Was the Gilman Hotel / In Innsmouth, MA." And it gets better!

*** It's that "Christmas Time is Here Again" song originally done by those chipmunks, except instead of voices electronically altered to be high-pitched chipmunk voices, it's done with voices electronically altered to be bubbly, low-pitched Deep One voices. Marvelous.

Or in this case, Mr. Pilotman, I suppose.

R:tAG just called... I'd dropped him off at the airport this morning in plenty of time for his 12:45 flight. Well, four hours after the ETD he's still sitting on the runway* due to a mechanical problem that they can't seem to fix. He's missed his connecting flight now, so we just hope the airline will take care of everything and get him to Edmonton eventually. They're giving the passengers free beer and a Woody Allen movie in an apparent attempt to sedate them and keep them docile.

So for anyone he hasn't called already, he's running late.

Oof. We just had our company Christmas lunch at Buca di Beppo and I feel almost spherical. Damn, that's good food. Not a lot of work is being done here this afternoon; everyone's in a garlicky coma.

Have a good weekend, all.

[5:00 PM: Edit] So R:tAG's flight ended up being cancelled completely. He's got a few other options, so we'll see what happens.

[5:30 PM: Another edit] He'll be arriving in Edmonton, via Vancouver, at about 1:00 AM. Eesh. Be extra nice to him, he'll be feeling fragile.

* Like, in the plane. Not all by himself.

Like she said in her charming post, Christmas has really snuck up on us. Part of it for us, like last year, is the fact that there’s no winter here. Christmas lights on green leafy trees are still a source of low-level cognitive dissonance for me. Another part is not having TV, listening to NPR, and avoiding (for the most part) stores. I hate most advertising, but cutting myself off from so much of it is having an odd effect. I don’t know what’s going on around me. It’s like walking through the woods with an iPod on, but in reverse.*

I am eating oatmeal with flax seeds right now, and my enjoyment of my lunch has been cut short by the realization that flax seeds look like carpet beetles. Eew.**

So this is a bit late, but if you’re interested in seeing pictures of one of the weddings that I was raving about, they’re here and here.

Man, I should go eat something with protein and have a coffee. Each paragraph of this post is completely unrelated. This does not bode well for all the work I’ve done this morning. I’d better have another look at it before it gets reviewed.

Christmas links!

The 10 Least Successful Holiday Specials
Christmas Knitting - How cool is this? Cenobyte scooped me on this one, though. Now I’ll have to make her something else…
How not to blow it when you buy a woman a gift - A public service announcement
Best. Christmas Concert. Ever.
Christmas Avoidance - You may not miss only Christmas, you might become a complete hermit until February (well, maybe not that long. I’m up to 52 after only a couple of days so they’re not that hard once you get the mindset)

* In that in both cases, you’re ignoring the signs and subtleties of your environment. Am I saying that knowing “what’s hot for Christmas” is the same as knowing it’s going to rain because the swallows are flying low? When I put it that way, it sounds stupid. Never mind.

** This digression brought to you by no coffee, a tired brain, and the letter “S”

So the trees are finally turning that special “winter” shade of green. Just thought I’d share that with all y’all still in Western Canadia. R:tAG’s got a feed on his blog that lets you compare the temperatures in S’toon and San Josey, and I see you have a heat wave going of -10 C. Heh.

Speaking of R:tAG, he’ll be in Edmonchuck in mid-December for a weekend. This fly-by is to renew his TN-1 visa. He has the choice of doing it at the border (i.e. taking a quick trip to Canada) which costs $50.00 + plane fare and takes maybe half an hour*, or renewing by mail which takes 2-3 months minimum and will cost over $1000.00**. Unhappily, I can’t take any more time off, or justify the expense, so he’ll be traveling unescorted. Look after him for me, ‘kay? We're starting to have more friends in Edmonton than we have in S'toon, sad to say.

We’ve just finished watching the new Dr. Who series (the 2005 season, with Christopher Eccleston as The Doctor) and jeez Louise is it ever good! I am sad that they have a new Doctor for the 2006 season (is that the policy? I actually was never a huge hard-core Dr. Who fan***) since I’ve got a bit of a fan-girl crush on Mr. Eccleston. But the writing is really good, the acting is excellent, the special effects are good**** and I am really looking forward to the second season.


Modular pie-cosohedron - Not to be confused with a dough-decahedron. Stuff like this restores my faith in humanity. Honestly.

Kansas Outlaws Practice of Evolution - OK, you probably saw this, but it’s funny. My absolute favourite part is too long to quote in full, but it’s the paragraph that begins "If Earth's species were meant to change…”

My next knitting project - Well, it’s crochet. And I’ve got too much stuff to do before Christmas to start this. But isn’t this tempting?

Keep warm!

* The Gods willing and the crick don’t rise.

** And he can’t leave the country during that time, which means that he might miss Al's wedding, which Would Not Do.

*** Wow. I guess it is.

**** But the story doesn’t rely on them. The effects are good enough to not take you out of the story (“You can see the zipper on the monster!”) but not at the expense of writing or acting. Yay!


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