Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Warp Speed Wednesdays: "taH pagh, taHbe..."

On Sunday, Christopher Plummer won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Beginners, a movie I have heard nothing about despite it featuring Young Obi-wan Kenobi, aka Ewan McGregor. Obviously this movie's promotional tie-ins did not involve action figures or Halloween costumes.

Plummer's victory pleases me because Mr Plummer and I are both dual citizens. We are both Canadians, and we are both citizens of the Republic of Star Trek.

Plummer appeared as General Chang in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, as a Shakespeare quoting Klingon general.


The title for this post is the Klingon translation of "To be, or not to be" -- aren't you glad to know that?

Monday, February 27, 2012

And the Award Goes to...

Does anyone else watch the Oscars (or in my case, look at photos the day after the Oscars) and try to decide what dress they'd wear?

If I had the body -- and more importantly the posture -- I'd wear this:


But if I was going to the Oscars with my current body, I'd choose a simplified version of this:


I like the colour. I like the jacket. But I don't care for the detailing on the bodice, and the train is fussy.

It is kind of ridiculous for me -- who is typing this while wearing faded jeans, a t-shirt, a bathrobe and Birkenstocks -- to criticize anyone's fashion choices. But hey -- it's my blog, so what the hell.

Cameron Diaz was one of several women who fell victim to a case of VBF (Visible Back Fat) syndrome at the Oscars. I have great sympathy for women who suffer from bouts of VBF because I have been there. We have ALL been there. VBF doesn't care if you are toned and tight like Ms Diaz. It doesn't care about your age. It only cares about the fact that the person who designed or altered your dress is a moron who shouldn't be allowed near a needle and thread or a bolt of fabric until they learn basic anatomy, ie WOMEN HAVE BOOBS! THIS DRESS NEEDS TO BE BIGGER IN THE CHEST EVEN IF IT FUCKS WITH THE "PERFECT LINES" OF YOUR DESIGN!


What the hell is going on with the bodice of Michelle Williams' dress? Why is it nude on the back?


Maybe Gwyneth should have loaned her that cape.

According to a fashion site I read, Missi Pyle's dress sports an "assymetrical upper arm drape." To me this looks like the formal-wear version of your bra strap falling down.


I love the colour, though. Pyle's dress was also made using "cruelty-free silkworms" -- WHOA. Now there are larva-rights activists? Give me a break.

Is Colin Firth poor? He's successful, doesn't that mean he's rich? Then why did his wife have to wear an old bridesmaids' dress from the 70s? Also I'm afraid that Livia might take out an eye with her crumb catcher:


She's so beautiful, but I don't think she'd be able to carry off an eye patch.

I love the dress Lily Collins wore to the Vanity Fair party:


She looks beautiful. And classy.


What was up with Angelina and the leg pose? She was working that leg. I assume it was a spare one that Paul McCartney had lying around the house after Heather Mills left and he let Jolie borrow it for the evening.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Warp Speed Wednesday: NERDGASM -- SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Good news -- Mr Wrath's work schedule has changed and now we can go to the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo.

I'm so excited! It will be the day AFTER my [gulp] 39th birthday, and Mr Wrath's [gulp] 45th birthday AND our 12th wedding anniversary.

I finally get to go to a Star Trek  (and other Geek-tastic stuff) convention! One that will feature the ENTIRE CAST of Star Trek: The Next Generation. How cool is that?


Admittedly, I would be a little more excited about going if I knew exactly what happens at a convention, or how the boys are going to cope. Will they be bored? Will they be okay lining up for events? And sitting through sessions? Which hotel should we stay at? How much money should we expect to spend on pop-culture stuff? Will I finally be able to find a cool Wonder Woman shirt? Should we dress-up in cosplay? Can I justify this as a homeschool field trip? Would it be art? Science? Career planning?

Anyone have some advice? 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Gaydar jokes stopped being funny when "Will & Grace" went off the air.

One of the things I love most about Canadian politics is that it's not personal. Political allegiance in Canada is fleeting and amorphous and average people do an excellent job of remaining civil when discussing politics. Also, the personal lives of Canadian politicians are respected and ignored. In the nineties it was common knowledge that the adult child of a high-profile Canadian politician was frequently in trouble with the law. Other politicians and the media did not use this to discredit the politician. Can you imagine the same thing happening in the US? No, me neither.

I am a liberal and have no great affection for current Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, or his wife Laureen. Because I mentioned Mrs Harper in several insolent posts, people now visit my blog seeking gossip about an online rumour that Mrs Harper is/was having an affair or relationship with a female RCMP officer.

Let me be 100% clear on four points:
1. I do not have any information about the Harper marriage, nor do I wish to get involved in the spreading of this gossip.
2. Coming out of the closet isn't a spectator sport. If you aren't sleeping with Person X, then you have no right to know the sexual orientation of Person X, even if that person is married to a politician you dislike.
3. Speculating on a person's sexual orientation -- regardless of her place or your place on the political spectrum -- perpetuates the social stigma associated with homosexuality.
4. You might be surprised that Harper -- who once upon a time pissed me off with his talk of restoring the traditional definition of marriage -- now advocates internationally for gay rights. Shhh...don't tell anyone in rural Alberta, they're gonna be pissed.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Warp Speed Romance.

I'm a day late for Valentine's Day but right on schedule for a Warp Speed Wednesday post saluting romance (and/or sexual dalliances) Star Trek style:


Best Trek romances:

James Kirk & Edith Keeler (TOS).  I first saw this in the 80s and didn't believe that this Joan Collins was the same Joan Collins who starred in Dynasty. Amazing what a few decades (and lots of shoulder pads) will do for a woman. One of only a few women out of THOUSANDS who tamed Kirk's heart and loins. Till she dies.

Picard and Kamala  (TNG). I'm a feminist. I should not like Kamala whose empathic abilities made her  an empty shell that adopts the personality of any man in her presence, but I do.


Kira and Bashir (DS9). They were only a couple in one episode and only because of a viral infection, but it's a fun episode in part because they were an off-screen couple.


Chakotay and Seven of Nine (VOY). This was not a fan favourite because it was "sprung" on the audience suddenly in the final season. Personally, I was just glad they gave Robert Beltran SOMETHING to do after two seasons being the starship equivalent of Gunther on Friends


Miles and Keiko O'Brien (TNG & DS9). An accurate rendering of a marriage in any century.


Picard and Vash (TNG). She was an intergalactic Indiana Jones who left Picard for Q. She was the anti-Beverley Crusher. That alone is reason enough to like her.

(Check out Picard's barely concealed Horga'hn -- ooh la la)

T'Pol and Tripp (ENT). One of the few things I liked about this series.


Torres and Paris (VOY). A much better pairing than Paris with the drippy, elfin Kes.


Jennifer and Benjamin Sisko (DS9). Her death made Benjamin treat Picard like an asshole, but I'm willing to let it slide because she was a strong, clever broad.



And my least favourite couples on Star Trek:


Kirk and Miramanee (TOS). Stranded on a planet,  an amnesiac Kirk literally "goes native" and weds and impregnates a woman. She conveniently dies at the end of the episode. Phew.



Beverly Crusher and Captain Picard (TNG). He belongs with ME. I mean, Vash.


Kes and Neelix (VOY). Kes' species had a life span of seven years. This minor detail tied the hands of the writers because there was this faint hint of pedophilia about her romance with Neelix. 

Jadzia and Worf (DS9). I liked Jadzia. I liked Worf. But I am not a particular fan of Klingon culture nor do I like hearing people discuss their feeeeeeeeeeelings -- both of these were in abundance during Jadzia and Worf episodes


Seska and Chakotay (VOY). After she ran off with Kazon, Seska kidnapped and sedated Chakotay then "stole his DNA" to impregnate herself. Evidently the audience was suppose to know this meant "procured his sperm" and we were not meant to dwell on the particulars. But I could not help myself. Still can't.



Spock and Uhura (Movie XI). Other than shock value this really didn't interest me.
 
Kira and Odo (DS9). I'm going to assume a shape-shifter who can not form a nose properly would have problems accurately creating other appendages.  Hence: creeeeeeeeeeeeepy.


Hope you had a great Valentine's Day!

• • • • •

By the way, Horga'hns do not come cheap. One sold at Christie's Auction House for $12, 000!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Be Mine.

Dear Greece,

I was going to ask you to be my Valentine. I thought we'd make a cute couple. I find you so attractive. Ouzo is one of my favourite things to drink. I have read all the Percy Jackson books.  I love your yogurt. I adore your pita -- which always kicks the dried-out, tough-as-old-leather-boots ass of Lebanese pita. I once bought a Yanni cd. I have seen all of Nia Vardalos' movies, even the horrific I Hate Valentine's Day.

But Greece, you are breaking my heart. What's with the riots?

No one likes austerity. I know that all too well. For instance, I'd really like to go to Hawaii for vacation. But we don't have the money in our savings account, and I don't like to go into debt. So we are not going to Hawaii, and are saving money for a vacation in 2013. But you, Greece? You don't have any problem borrowing money and living a lifestyle that you can not afford. Greece, you're € 340,000,000,000.00 in the hole.

I'm sure it's galling to know that you have to give up a lot of things -- and not just trivial things like retiring at age 53 -- but serious things that will fundamentally impact your quality of life. I can't even fathom how hard that will be, or how much stress you are under, Greece. But I also I can not imagine not paying taxes or living under the delusion that membership in the European Economic Union was your "Live Like You Are the Star of A MTV Reality Show" ticket.

Greece, if you don't like the measures proposed by Prime Minister Lucas Papademos and adopted by your duly elected officials, then you need to come up with a different solution. But nothing comes of having a nation-wide temper tantrum if you don't pair those violent and fiery protests with alternate plans to solve your financial morass.

Your government has finally realized that your economic imprudence will have repercussions that reach far beyond your borders to nations where bureaucrats do not get paid bonuses for showing up to work on time. You know what you get in Canada when you show up for work on time? YOU GET "NOT FIRED." Being on time is simply what grownups do! Personally, I think Papademos' plan is your only option. For one thing, Papademos knows his shit. He holds multiple degrees and has years and years of experience in the banking industry. Another vote in Papademos' favour: he -- unlike Antonis Samaras -- hasn't spent the last three decades helping you get into your current political and economic mess. Thirdly, the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank have you over a barrel. It's this plan or nothing.

For now, Greece, I will love you from a far. I will remember the wonderful month we spent together in 1996.

Maybe next year we'll finally get together. I'll bring the Yanni music. You bring the ouzo.

xoxo

Nan

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Milestones.

Friday was Zarf's 10th birthday. Or as I like to think of it: The Tenth Anniversary of the Last Time I Pooped In Front of a Room Full of Strangers.

This year we celebrated by giving him an obscene number of Ninjago and Iron Man toys. Mr Wrath made him a cake. We went swimming. I was mindful to lock the bathroom door every time I used the facilities.

• • • • •

As a follow up to a comment left by Allison on my last post, I'd like to draw your attention to my most favourite review on Amazon.com. It's for Rocks and Plants (God's Creation Series) Book 3, by  Michael and Caroline Carroll:

• • • • •

Whitney Houston's dead. This is sad, right? Much sadder than when Michael Jackson died. Because Whitney Houston -- unlike Michael Jackson -- wasn't a pedophile who preyed on innocent children.

No, Whitney was a talented singer with bad taste in husbands, who helped make Dolly Parton a billionaire forty nine times over.

Rest In Peace, Whitney Houston, I will remember you when ever I hear your catchphrase "Crack is Whack." Indeed. It is whack.



Friday, February 10, 2012

Beginner's Guide to Homeschooling: Curriculum is Fancy Talk for Books.

I suspect that the women who work at the post office think I'm a shopaholic on account of the many parcels I receive. I do shop online frequently for clothing and housewares (such is life in a small town), but the bulk of packages are homeschool curriculum. Based upon four years of homeschooling, here are some titles I recommend:

For Language Arts...
Handwriting Without Tears
My eldest son used this program in kindergarten, and I carried on using it at home. For my left-handed kids it was great until grade 3. At that point the program transitions to cursive. Zarf enjoyed the exercises but he could not decipher the shapes he was making. I now use StartWrite software to create custom worksheets using HWT style script.  If I had it to do over again, I'd be inclined to try Explode The Code.
Daily Word Ladders, by Timothy V. Rasinski
6+1 Traits of Writing, by Ruth Culham
In the last 10 years a fundamental shift has occurred in elementary schools in North America toward a literacy based curriculum. This system is a very popular book with teachers and breaks down the process of teaching writing proficiency.
Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading, by Jessie Wise and Sara Buffington


For Math...
JUMP Math
Developed by Canadians for Canadians -- don't underestimate the importance of having a curriculum that uses metric, Celsius, Canadian currency and incorporates Canadiana into the questions:


Math Dictionary (Canadian edition)
Great reference tool that I use frequently.
Shuffling Into Math


For Social Studies...
Modern History Through Canadian Eyes, by Heather Penner
This book is a spine -- a book that offers a framework for incorporating many resources into a cohesive program. Many of the following titles are recommended by Penner.

My First History of Canada, by Donalda Dickie
The Story of the World, by Susan Wise Bauer
A Little History of the World, by EH Gombrich
Canadian History for Dummies, by Will Ferguson
Discovering Canada series, by Robert Livesey
A Life Like Mine: How Children Live Around the World
Gold Rush Fever, by Barbara Greenwood
The Kids Book of..., by Kids Can Press
Who Runs This Country Anyway, by Joanne Stanbridge
How to Build Your Own Country, by Valerie Wyatt


For Science...
Science: A Closer Look, by Macmillan/McGraw-Hill
I can not say enough about these textbooks. They're designed for use in schools (and hence are hard to find and relatively expensive) and lay out a comprehensive program. I use them as a spine and incorporate other resources and documentaries. 
REAL Science Odyssey, by Pandia Press
A great series developed by a homeschooling mother that is based on fact not propaganda by fundamentalist fear mongers who like their "science" all tied up in a nice, neat package. My only complaint is that the titles do not jive with the Canadian model of integrating life science, earth science and physical science into every school year.
Change It, by Adrienne Mason
Move It, by Adrienne Mason
Build It, by Adrienne Mason
Touch It, by Adrienne Mason
Evolution Revolution, by Robert Winston
Head to Toe Science, by Jim Wiese
Darwin and Evolution for Kids, by Kristan Lawson
Science Is..., by Susan V. Bosak
Usborne 100 Science Experiments
Teaching Science: Yes, You Can!, by Steve Tomecek
Exploring the Solar System, by Mary Kay Carson

For Fine Arts...
The Big Book of Quick and Easy Art Activities, by Linda M. Bentley
Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Cartooning But Were Afraid to Draw, by Christopher Hart
I really like Christopher Hart's books which do an excellent job of breaking down drawings into small steps based upon easily copied geometric shapes.
Drawing With Children, by Mona Brooks
The Usborne Book of Famous Paintings

 • • • • • •

This is the third post in a series. Part 1 was a list of books for Canadians contemplating homeschooling. Deciding what to teach your child and when, was the subject of Part 2. I'll be doing one more post about "Shit you should think about buying because it will make your life easier."

 • • • • • •

Anyone have titles they want to recommend? Or titles they want to complain about? Please share.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I Like Valentine's Day More Now That I'm Married And Have Kids.

The high for today in Karachi, Pakistan is 24ÂșC. I know this because Zarf and Klaxon (these are aliases, by the way) sent Valentines cards to a family living there and we researched the country beforehand (currency: the rupee, population: 177 million). I took an inordinate amount of joy posting that envelope, asking the postal employee, "How much will it cost TO SEND THIS LETTER TO PAKISTAN?" in a too-loud voice.  "I am worldly and sophisticated because I'm sending a missive to PAKISTAN, where it is thirty four degrees warmer." being the unspoken message. I assume everyone at the post office yesterday at 10 AM was duly impressed.

We also sent cards to various American states, about which the boys had many questions. On an unlabelled map, I can locate only 16% of the states: Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, California, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and Idaho. In short: I know some western states close to Canada, and some with coastlines.  Thank you unnamed Canadian bureaucrats/forefathers from the days of yore for only subdividing my nation into 13 provinces or territories -- you've made my life easier. We sent the cards as part of this year's Homeschool Valentine Exchange (organized by everyone's favourite bobcat-in-the-sack, Eryn from the Heart to Hearth blog). I'm glad that my sons are learning about geography ("This girl lives in Washington DC, with Nico DiAngelo and Barack Obama" I told the boys) and participating in an activity like their school-attending peers.

 In years past the boys have enthusiastically chosen to make cards only to lose their shit interest 10 minutes into the project. This year I got smart and just used commercially-produced cards. It'd been a while since I'd bought cards, and they've improved since my youth. Today's crop of Valentines are delightfully unromantic. I prefer puns based on superhero catch phrases than  a card with a worm crawling out of an apple saying "You are the APPLE of my eye, Valentine." Or a cartoon pony announcing "Hay there! Quit HORSIN' around and be my Valentine." Or a monkey swinging on a vine declaring "Hang it all. You're MONKEYING with my heart."  I remember very clearly trying to sort out which cards to give which classmate. You didn't want to give the boys anything too lovey-dovey lest it be misinterpreted. Also you wanted to make sure the best, funniest, brightest cards went to the class' alpha-female. Heaven help you, if the alpha-female decided you'd given her a second rate card. You'd spend the rest of the week hiding out in the tire fort at recess hoping she didn't turn her claws and tongue on you.

Now I just have to come up with a suitable Trekkie-inspired St Valentine's Day card for Mr Wrath.

• • • • •

Which do you prefer: Valentine's Day, St. Valentine's Day or Valentines Day?

I don't know which is the accepted variant.


• • • • •

One final fun fact about Pakistan: their national animal is the Markhor.



I think the national animal of a nation says a lot about the people of that country. The Markhor is a mountain goat that eats poison snakes. Canada's national animal is the beaver. That our nation is symbolized by a large, nocturnal rodent makes me feel inadequate.



Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Warp Speed Wednesday. The Spots Go All The Way Down.


Season six of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine concluded with the death of Jadzia Dax. She was a Starfleet officer serving on the station and a Trill, a symbiont race where bipedal humans are joined with slug-like creatures who reside in their abdomens. After Jadzia died her slug was passed onto a new host, Ezri.  


We named our new cat Ezri even before we took her home. Even before we told Mr Wrath about her. When we did officially adopt her, I called the vet clinic and booked her in for de-sexing and shots. I spelled her name for the receptionist who remarked it was a beautiful name.

"It's from Star Trek." I said.

"I know. She'll fit right in with two of other cat patients: Chakotay and Seven of Nine."

That there are at least two other Trekkies in this town makes me very happy.

• • • • •



Life with two cats has been interesting. Mostly, Osiris (the black kitten we adopted in August) and Ezri (the flame-point siamese we adopted two weeks ago from the Used Pet Store, aka Animal Control) are co-existing peacefully. There have been a few tussles. Osiris enjoys instigating "fun" wrestling matches, complete with fangs and claws. It seems rather mean, but Ezri doesn't object and gives as good she gets. Osiris does get nasty if he finds Ezri on his cat tree in which case it's a no-holds-barred takedown. Ezri is pretty docile up until the second she tires of him sniffing her lady bits, and then she bops him upside the head. Can you blame her?

There have been three hiccups with her, however. Last week she started drooling ALL. THE. TIME. Using the scientific method (#homeshoolingFTW!), I pinpointed the problem as her new scented cat litter. She stopped drooling once I got rid of the Purina Maxx Multi Cat Scoop Litter1.  Then she developed a case of feline acne (don't follow that link unless you absolutely MUST) on her chin. I assume it's related to the aforementioned drool-palooza, and have been treating it with hot compresses and some swabs of salicylic acid. That will have to do until next week when she can get in to see the town's over-subscribed vet.

These are, in my opinion, minor inconveniences and par for the course in the grand scheme of pet ownership. Having pets is 90% fun and cuddles and 10% unfortunate but necessary contact with bodily fluids and orifices. If you bristled at that last sentence, take it as a sign that you should not own a pet.

This brings me to the third issue to investigate at her vet appointment. Ezri may be pregnant. Her sizable and rapid weight gain (all of it in the belly) is freaking us out. Mr Wrath is convinced it's kittens. I keep telling him it's gas, and that she's putting on weight because she steals Osiris' kitten kibble. But just to be safe, I'm compiling lists of cat names. Uhura. Spock. Janeway. Jean-Luc. Tribble. Q. Riker's Beard. Tricorder. 

• • • • • •

1 I'm mentioning the product by name for benefit of people researching their cat's copious drool production. I switched Ezri and Osiris back to Purina's Maxx Scoop Cat Litter and they're both fine. I assume the problem is that the multi-cat formula has heavily scented air fresheners and deodorizers.