Donair & Lobster

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Donair pizza and lobster for supper. It doesn’t get much more New Brunswicky than that.

Except the beer. I should have been drinking Alpine instead of Stella. All the years in Ontario have rusted my maritimer ways. On the other hand, my lobster appreciation is a new development. Paradox.

And what’s a trip to New Brunswick without ferries and lighthouses.

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Oh Please Anything but Barney

I recognise parenting comes with certain sacrifices. There is much we will do for the sake of our children. But I had resolved to make it through parenthood without being subjected to Barney & Friends.

I’m sure I expressed this ambition to my husband at some point. Apparently, he forgot. Yesterday, I found father and son watching the dreaded Barney. I told myself not to panic. Maybe we can keep it a father-son thing.

This morning breakfast was barely over and Kiddo was pointing to the TV, “Diasaur? Diasaur?”

“You mean, Dinosaur Train?” Slight desperation in my voice.

“Purple diasaur?

“How about Paw Patrol?”

“No.”

“Thomas the train?”

“No tain. Purple diasaur? Yes, diasaur, yes.”

“Sigh.”

Kiddo has also decided his farts are hilarious, and has learned he can replicate the noise, quite convincingly, by blowing raspberries on the leather couch cushions. Fabulous.

Beer Delivery

Last night I thought to myself, “Self, I might like a beer tonight.”

Self replied, “It’s Monday.”

Me: “So?”

Self: “Do you really need beer on a Monday?”

Me: “I didn’t say I need a beer, I said I might like a beer.”

Self: “Too bad. There’s no beer in the fridge.”

Me: “Oh. Well, that’s easily fixed.”

Self: “Really? Do you really want to get in the car and drive halfway across town to the Beer Store? There are only so many hours between Kiddo’s bedtime and the time you turn into a pumpkin. And weren’t you going to do some writing tonight.”

Me: “Hmm good point, Self. Still, we should get beer sometime this week so we have it for the weekend. We have company coming after all. And it’s Canada Day weekend. If I wait until Friday the Beer Store will be way too busy. It won’t take too long, I’ll still get my writing done. I promise.”

Self: “Whatever you say.”

I told Hubby my plan to go get beer. He was supportive. He did request that I swing by the Shell station on the way home and get some of those garbage tax tags as it’s garbage day and we might be over the limit this week. No problem. I grabbed my wallet and keys.

On my way down the street, I noticed dark clouds on the horizon. By the time I was across the bridge raindrops were falling.

By the time I got across town Armageddon had arrived. Sheets of rain and ice pellets were coating my windshield faster than my wipers could swipe them away. I know hail is common during thunderstorms, but I have a grudge against Nature when she makes me deal with frozen water from the sky in June.

I was seriously reconsidering how badly I wanted that beer. But the Beer Store was in sight, so I pulled into the parking lot. I turned on a podcast and waited for the onslaught to let up. Eventually it did. Sort of. I got beer.

I went to the convenience store closest to the Beer Store. Turns out, they don’t sell garbage tags. There was a Shell across the street. Not the one we usually go to, but if one Shell sells them…it’ll be faster if I just jog over. By this time it was raining again. They don’t sell garbage tags either. I gave up, ran back to my car, and drove to our usual Shell station. I got garbage tags.

I came home soggy. I had a shower, and some tea, and a beer. I didn’t get my writing done.

Which brings me to today. Our Tuesday morning routine went as usual: dropped Kiddo at daycare, Hubby and I went to the gym, I dropped Hubby at work. On the way home, this came on the radio:

Have you ever found yourself sitting on the couch in the evening thinking, ‘Boy, I’d really like a beer.’

(Whoa)

Only, you realize you don’t have any beer in the fridge. And you don’t really want to go all the way to the store to get one.

(It’s like they know me)

Wouldn’t it be great if you could have beer delivered to your door?

(That would be so great)

As it happens, starting today, the Beer Store in Ottawa will be trying beer delivery on a trial basis. I no longer live in Ottawa, so I won’t benefit unless it’s successful enough for the Beer Store to expand this idea to other locations. My first thought was, “Cool! It’ll be great if that catches on.”

My second thought brought me back to university, and I realized we were all probably better off that it took considerably more effort to get our hands on alcohol than it did to get a pizza. I can probably continue to survive without beer delivery.

On the other hand, if the liquor store got on board and we could get delivery wine…ok, ok I don’t really need that either. The list of reasons to leave the house is getting pretty small as it is (thanks, Amazon).

Too Much Beige

We’ve lived in our current house since September. In the nine months since then, we’ve mostly unpacked (the garage doesn’t count, right?), but decorating has been another matter. So far, the only items adorning the walls are a calendar in the kitchen, a mirror left behind by the previous owners—conveniently over chips in the paint—and a TV mount we have no use for. Even if we did have use for it, it’s current home in the dining area doesn’t work for me.

So, the TV mount has to go, decorative as it is:

As for the mirror, it’ll probably go too, but there is part of me wondering whether I would like it better if I took the time to refinish it, maybe in white?

I’m also wondering about the odds of me ever getting around to refinishing it. Slim, I think. Either way, it doesn’t look good where it is in the middle of the dining room. Then there’s the question of why I haven’t hung anything of ours on thw walls, except the calendar.

Rewind to September…

I’m not a huge fan of the multiple shades of beige that make up this house. Especially the two shades in the living/dining room:

This is not a trick of the light. An interior decorator I am not, but surely I can do better than this. That mint-green in the bathroom could be improved upon too. And the off-white in my den was probably done by the builder. Do I like that bluish colour in the bedroom…

Ok, so priority one is to unpack. Priority two is to paint. I wouldn’t want to put pictures up only to take them all down again when I paint. That would be silly. Especially if I’m going to paint soon, which of course I am. Maybe in a month or so…

October…November…December…maybe over the Christmas holiday?

…and now it’s June.

We narrowly dodged the bullet of having to move within a year of buying this place, but there is still a reasonable chance we will be moving a year from now. This has put a damper on my decorating enthusiasm. However, there is also a good chance we will not move in a year. At which point we will have lived here for almost two years, in multi-beige, empty-wall land.

Time to paint.

Step one: find a colour that works for almost all of the upper lever (semi-open design makes this the most logical approach), that I won’t get tired of looking at, neutral enough that I won’t panic if we have to put the house on the market in six months, but not beige.

Not blue, we had that in our last house. It’s time for something new.

Not yellow. I like yellow, but too much yellow can be worse than too much beige.

Green? In my experience (3 homes ago) finding the right hue us tricky. The right green is awesome. The wrong green is horrible.

When we were house hunting we saw some houses with grey as their main interior colour. Each time we liked it, even different shades. Grey it is.

But there are so many greys. It’s hard to get an accurate picture of paint cards, but I’ve narrowed it down to these:

On first impressions I love the darker shades on the bottom. I can imagine a brightly-coloured, or even white, picture frame against a saturated-grey backdrop and I love it. Unfortunately, our main living area isn’t huge and it doesn’t get much natural light. Dark is not a safe bet. I don’t want feel like I’m living in a dungeon. And I really don’t want to do this twice.

On the other hand, I also don’t want to trade various shades of beige for various shades of not quite white. Thus, I’m leaning towards the shades on top. Lighter, but still far from white.

Step two: Given the difficulty in imagining what a colour will look like based on a tiny square, and the overall surface area I plan to cover with this colour (therefore the effort that would go into fixing a mistake in colour choice) I will be investing in sample cans of paint for the first time.

To be continued.

Cricket Candy

I recently came across these in a candy store:

Cricket and larva candy? Much too real looking to be appetizing, if you ask me. Turns out, that’s because…

…they are the real deal. The other green meat?

They’re a popular item, according to the lady working behind the counter. I opted for the saltwater taffy instead.

U.S. Navy Gets with the Program? Not Really

When I was eighteen and in my first year of military college I, along with all the other first-year naval cadets, travelled to Halifax for a ‘look at the wonderful career that awaits you when you graduate’ field trip. The trip included a tour of one of Canada’s ‘new’ submarines (new to Canada, to be more precise). This was in the spring of 2001, which happens to be around the time women were first allowed to serve on Canadian submarines.

Though I don’t recall anyone asking his opinion on the matter, the submariner giving our tour was happy to share all the reasons women on submarines was a bad idea. Among his chief arguments, which all seemed to center around space and privacy, was the size of the bathroom. I can’t remember his exact words, but it went something like this:

He pointed to the head, “Isn’t even enough room there to close the door and sit down to do your business. I don’t see how that’ll work for ya.” I can only assume he was referring to the females of the group.

I looked at the head. It was narrow. I could see why our tour guide would have trouble closing the door. I didn’t have exact measurements, so hard to say, but the head looked narrower than the diameter of his midsection by my estimation. I was, however, pretty confident I could sit down in there and ‘do my business’ with the door closed.

I kept my thoughts to myself. Something told me this guy wasn’t particularly interested in a debate of the facts. Anyway, I never had any intention of becoming a submariner (I admit, I like my personal space. I also like seeing the sun once in a while). The event was filed away somewhere in the Irking Experiences drawer of my brain.

Sixteen years later, after being thoroughly entertained by Stephen Fry in Last Chance to See, I decided more Fry could only lead to more entertainment. I decided to watch the documentary Stephen Fry in America.  I was right. It was entertaining, for the most part. However…

In the first episode, Stephen gets a tour of one of the U.S. Navy’s nuclear submarines. He asks whether women serve on board the vessel. As of the filming in 2008, they did not. The U.S. Navy was one of the only Navys in the world that still banned women serving on submarines.

The reason Stephen was given when he asked? A lack of separate bathroom and berthing facilities.

Can you say flashback? My irking experience from 2001 came flying out of the drawer, along with a lot more emotion than I remember feeling about it even back then. I wasn’t exactly yelling at the television, but I was telling it off a little.

At this juncture I feel I must point out, compared to any Canadian sub (probably compared to subs from any other country), a U.S. nuclear sub is the fricking Ritz. If every other country in the world can figure out how to make it work…I was miffed at Stephen Fry for not asking the obvious question.

Putting the swankiness of U.S. subs aside for a moment, here’s another personal anecdote:

The summer following my submarine tour, part of my training included three weeks on a boat called a YAG. Here is the inside layout:

There were no separate women’s bunks, and certainly no ladies bathrooms. On some boats, the students hung a curtain across the center when they needed to change. Guys on one side, girls on the other. On mine, we didn’t bother. We faced our bunks and kept our eyes to ourselves. When things were feeling particularly crowded, some of us also mastered the art of changing our clothes inside our sleeping bags.

I won’t pretend this is my favourite living arrangement. It also wouldn’t work for everyone. But it did work for us. It worked because it isn’t the number, or layout, of bunks and bathrooms that makes the difference. It’s respect and trust. We trusted each other and we respected each other’s space and privacy, limited as it was.

During the summer of 2003, I spent about five weeks on a frigate. There were separate berths for men and women, and men’s and women’s heads. If I had to do one of those summers over again, I would choose the YAG in a heartbeat. On the YAGs we spent most of our time on the upper decks in the fresh air and sun. On the frigate, unless you worked on the bridge (as an engineering student I didn’t), you spent most of your time in dark rooms with a variety of interesting smells.

In 2011, I spent seven weeks on another ship (this one was civilian and, by that time, so was I) off the west coast of Africa. I was the only woman on board. I did have my own cabin. I did not have my own bathroom. Neither of those things defined the quality of the trip. On that trip I learned the importance of good food to a person’s overall physical and psychological wellbeing, and decided I really don’t want a career on a boat (actually, I figured that out in 2003, but sometimes I need to learn things twice). A story for another post, perhaps.

I was encouraged to learn the U.S. Navy finally decided to incorporate women into their submarine fleet in 2010. I was not encouraged to learn how they are redesigning their subs to accommodate women. Some of the changes they are making are as follows:

1)         “…adding more doors and washrooms to create separate sleeping and bathing areas for men and women and to give them more privacy.”

2)         “Sailors will be able to connect their masks into the emergency air system at the side of passageways, instead of overhead.”

Ok, these are fine. Actually, I’m a little surprised no one thought no. 2 was a good idea before now. But these:

3)         “…installing steps in front of the triple-high bunk beds and stacked laundry machines.”

4)         “Every submarine…was designed with the height, reach and strength of men in mind, from the way valves are placed to how display screens are angled…

Screen angles? How short are they expecting these women to be? And did it really take women on board for someone to think an adjustable screen might be useful? Or were all submariners prior to 2010 between 5’10” and 6’1”?

I would not be at all surprised to learn that on many military submarines there is a lack of the respect and trust necessary to make them a comfortable environment for women (or anyone). If that is the case, the ratio of men to women is not the cause of the problem and no amount of gussying the place up for women will fix it. In fact, it could make things worse. I can already hear men (and women) chiding each other for using the ‘lady step’ to get up to the top bunk.

As it happens, in 2003 I had the top of the triple-stacked bunks (they’re not unique to subs). It wasn’t that high. The second bunk makes a perfectly fine step. And I’d bet money the guys were stepping on that middle bunk too. Unless they joined the Navy after leaving the NBA, in which case they might find life on any boat, let alone a submarine, a little cramped.

This is not to say these submarine redesigns should not be happening. I’m sure there are lots of improvements that could, and should, be made to submarines to make everyone’s life on board easier and more comfortable. But need it be the equivalent of moving the outfielders in closer when the little ladies come up to bat?

Give these women some credit. They are serving on the old, manly submarines (not to mention space staions) at this very moment. And I bet they’re getting the job done.

Universe Bumper Cars

The cosmic microwave background (CMB) is the cosmological equivalent of a baby picture. The oldest electromagnetic radiation in the universe, representing what it looked like at the tender age of 380 000 years. The CMB is mostly uniform in temperature (it’s had almost 14 billion years to even out after all), but there is an unexplained cold spot.

Image from dailygalaxy.com

One hypothesis is the cold spot is the result of a supervoid, a volume of space containing a lower density of galaxies than average. However, there is another possible explanation making the rounds: It’s a bruise from a collision with a parallel universe.

There are a few problems with this idea. One being the existence of the multiverse beyond a mathematical concept is a matter of some debate among cosmologists. If there is a multiverse, rather than the ‘pages of a book’ or ‘occupying the same space out of phase’ explanations fellow sci-fi geeks might be familiar with, apparently each universe is a bubble floating within a greater, ever expanding, space:

Image from Endless Universe by P.J. Steinhardt and N. Turok

It’s unlikely the ‘observable’ universe takes us anywhere near the edge of our bubble. Then there’s the shear hugeness of the space between bubbles and the likelihood any collision would ever take place. Like the odds a handful of air molecules would run into each other drifting around an otherwise-vacuous football stadium. And, of course, the anomaly could be random chance. There are plenty of other, albeit smaller, temperature variations in the CMB.

Ok, so there might not be another universe to bump into. If there is, the odds our universe would actually bump into it are ridiculously small. And if this collision that probably wouldn’t happen actually did happen, the likelihood we would be able to see any evidence of it in our tiny, observable corner of this universe is miniscule. I should probably vote for the random chance hypothesis, but what’s the fun in that? I think our little toddler universe liked to play bumper cars.