Carol of the Mall

It is a matter of public record that I hate Christmas carols. I’ve commonly said that it is because they have been overplayed and I feel like they are always trying to sell me something when I hear them around Christmas. In August there is a better chance that they will feel like they have meaning.
I have come to doubt that theory now.
Instead we will replace it with a new theory. A new theory that fills in some of the holes in the first theory.
I think it is far more likely that I just associate Christmas carols with a traumatic moment in my life. You most often hear them in malls, and malls are miserable places, especially close to Christmas. How could that not be traumatic? It may have happened in my youth and they still cause me grief. I am much better able to tolerate a carol if it doesn’t sound “professional”. i.e. Something a mall might play. A single person on a piano makes a much better performance that does not cause me stress.
The August corollary doesn’t stand up to examination in this light. So let’s examine its origins.
I first came up with it when I saw an Animaniacs Christmas episode in August and found the songs quite touching, especially “We Three Kings” and “Little Drummer Boy”. But I don’t think it is the timing that made me like them, I think those are the only carols I like (Along with “Carol of the Bells”).
It was pointed out to me tonight that “We Three Kings” was depressing. That is exactly right! No mall ever plays that song. So no trauma. And of all of the carols, it is the only one where people are out doing things. The others just try and sell a feeling; this one tells a story. (Not a large one I’ll admit.)
“Little Drummer Boy” is a bit more mall friendly. I can’t explain why I like that one, but it doesn’t feel overplayed to me. “Carol of the Bells” just sounds spooky.
So new theory: There are only three good carols, all the others displease me.


A friend suggested that I partake of a smoothie; soft food while my mouth recovers. That sounded like good advice, especially since I work above a Booster Juice. So I went and, after much deliberation, purchased my first smoothie, put the straw in, raised it to my lips and… stopped. I’m not allowed to use straws; dentist’s orders.
I don’t think the experience is the same with a spoon.

In previous times when I have been in a car accident, I could always take something from it. I could figure out what I did wrong and learn to not do it again. Become a better driver.
This time, I’m having trouble. I wasn’t doing that much wrong. I wasn’t speeding. I wasn’t following too close. Inclement weather isn’t something I have control over.
The best lesson so far is “keep your eyes on the road at all times.” That sounds good, but I can see that causing more accidents than it prevents. If I do that, driving becomes much more boring than it already is. The road is not that exciting to look at, and if you want things to be more interesting, you drive more interesting. Besides, shouldn’t I be aware of my surroundings?
Probably the best thing to do would be to stop driving.

Bad day

Before I even got out of bed, I knew this would be a bad day. I woke up moody. I have a theory about why; last night I had a talk with a friend about relationships and feelings. Whenever I do that I get into an emotional state that tends to linger. I really need to stop introspecting about where my life is going.
It didn’t help that I had a fairly major dental operation this morning. Bad gums. Stitches were involved.
Then there was the car accident. A slippery road and a car waiting to turn left in the middle of nowhere is a bad combination. Especially in an area I’m not familiar with. I wasn’t following too close, but I got briefly distracted looking at the building that was the destination of my first trip in my first car; my first auto insurance company. Irony. Anyway, low speed and no one was injured. My front bumper broke a few pieces off. Their car looks perfectly fine.
The best way I can think of to get out of my funk would be to go for a run. A nice endorphin rush would be appreciated. But the dentist has forbidden me from exercising for the next week.
Another theory about my moodiness might be that I haven’t had a decent dinner in two nights. I have the food, but not the time. And now I’m not supposed to be eating hard food.
The funk shall continue.


Gingerbread icosahedron
Originally uploaded by ad_havoc

The second batch of gingerbread was more fit for eating. But I don’t think it is fit for load-bearing. The burnt cookies did seem strong enough. Let’s face it though, I’m not planning on eating this. I want to build with them.
So, I continued with my plan and started construction. I made three sections of five triangles each, frosted them together and let them harden overnight. It seems to have worked. In the morning I attached two of them together with a few more pieces. Then in the afternoon, I finished it all. The last piece did not fit well and I had to use a knife to de-equilateralize the triangle. I don’t think it is even an isosceles triangle. But the beast is complete.
Now all I need to do is number it.
Unfortunately, the next D&D game isn’t until the new year. So it will be awhile before I can roll/destroy it.

Gingerbread Man

I’m goal oriented.
When I have a task in mind, I don’t feel happy until I finish it.
Yesterday was gingerbread night at a friend’s place. Basically, bring your pattern, it will get carved into gingerbread. Then build away. Last year I made a Star Destroyer. This year I was even more ambitious. I wanted to make a icosahedron. AKA, a d20.
The pattern was simple; I just needed a lot of triangles. At work I did some math and did my best to construct perfect equilateral triangles in cardboard. (The paper-cutter really helped.) I tried to be precise, but let’s face it, we’re dealing with gingerbread, not machined parts.
Things went fairly well. I used a bowl to help put the pieces together, and then “glued” them with icing. I used marshmallows inside to help support it inside, while I used Ritz crackers for scaffolding.
Unfortunately, the frosting was goopy. I finished and let it dry for awhile, but when I tried to remove it from the bowl, the dripped icing made it stick to the bowl. The extra weight made it collapse.
So, gingerbread d20 failed.
This annoyed me. A lot.
So I decided that I would have to try again. Immediately.
Due to a kitchen mishap, the triangle pattern I used the first time got destroyed. I had triangles that were 50% bigger, so I would have to use those.
My friend was kind enough to give me the recipe. Unfortunately I have no baking skill. While shopping for the ingredients though I saw a box to make gingerbread cookies. Score! I’m more interested in the building, than the taste, so making from scratch didn’t mean much to me.
I soon realized I didn’t have enough in the package for the twenty triangles I would need, so I left part way through to buy another box.
My shortcut though may have destroyed me. This looks like eating-gingerbread, not construction-grade gingerbread. After baking in the oven, they felt dangerously soft. I left them in for a bit longer, hoping that would harden them. All I think I did was burn the bottoms.
But now that I’ve let them sit, they look like they’ve hardened. The next batch out of the oven is not burnt, so we’ll see if they stiffen up.
This is going to be a multi-day project so I’ll update if I have more information. But I might just have to start from, literally, scratch.

Proof that god loves us

This morning I woke with a headache. And as the day went on it steadily got worse. Tylenol was really not helping. Tonight was important and I did not want to be under the weather.
Know what did cure it within half an hour?
A can of Coke. For the first time I used the drink machine at work. And that shot of caffeine fixed my head right up.


There are three essential qualities of a medicine:

  1. It tastes bad.
  2. It is expensive.
  3. It cures a problem.

I’m not a doctor, so these are just coming off the top of my head.
With these facts, I have come to a conclusion (as circular as it is) that alcohol is medicinal for me.
I’ve never liked the taste of alcohol, so I don’t drink it. And on a price comparison, why would I spend a lot of money for something I don’t like when there are much cheaper alternatives that I will enjoy. But the fact remains that I am uptight in social gatherings, especially when I don’t know everybody. When I was in Jamaica where the alcohol was free, I forced myself to drink it, and it was a very good social lubricant.
I should drink more in Edmonton if I’m socializing. But I’m fundamentally cheap and don’t want to pay inflated bar prices. Plus, I don’t want to drink and drive.
Last Saturday I went to a club party in my neighbourhood. This gave me an opportunity to experiment. The event, wasn’t just in my neighbourhood, but across the street from where I live. (Okay, kitty-corner, but the former sounds cooler.) Since I have insane amounts of alcohol in my home for my friends who do drink, it looked like an excellent time to experiment. I could “tank up” before hand. I didn’t have to pay “inflated bar prices” because I could always leave the party, cross the street, and then come back. (The huge lineup at the bathroom didn’t bother me either.)
The difference was considerable. A friend noted how much more extrovertive I was. I had a good time and talked to people I didn’t know. I felt comfortable. I was, dare I say, popular! (Or at least in my own imagination.) I even felt confident enough to ask a pretty girl for her phone number.
Social drunk?
I know there are people who will say I shouldn’t drink (I’m looking at you S) but the results are fairly encouraging.

Superior format

I’m thinking of changing my movie rental strategy. Now that I have a Blu-ray player, I am not confined to DVDs only. And the local store has a small Blu-ray section. And let me emphasize here, small! Perfect! Since only newer films are really in Blu-ray, I can start going through that section. I will get to see newer releases faster, and in high-definition. Plus, it won’t invalidate the old system, since I’ll be preventing previous alphabetic films from coming in.
First up, Burn After Reading.
Any opinions?

Camera shy

I got an underwater camera over a year ago. I’ve taken it on two vacations since then, and it finally ran out of film (yes, film) while I was in Jamaica. In the middle of a dive actually. I’m getting the impression that a film camera is superior to a digital camera in an underwater environment. Digital cameras get hot as they use energy to run themselves. A film camera only needs a battery to operate the flash, which you probably shouldn’t even be using. A hot object will generate fog in a cold, enclosed space.
I cracked the camera open today to get the film out. I am slightly disturbed that there was a piece of foam insulation floating around inside, right next to the lens. It is going to be interesting to see how the pictures turn out now. I’ll have them tomorrow. Hopefully I won’t traumatize the developer with too many level three pictures.