misslynx: (Default)
  1. There is no such thing as moderation at the farmers' market in midsummer. You cannot go there and get "just a few things", no matter how many vegetables you already have in your fridge. There are too many delicious-looking things available, and they all look awesome.

  2. Bringing just one shopping bag in an effort to enforce moderation did not work. First of all, a lot of the greens are so big and bushy at this time of year that you can fill one shopping bag at the very first stall that you usually go to, given that it's three bunches (of lettuce, kale, chard, callaloo and pretty much anything else green) for $5.00. Second, you are good at finding way to fit many other things in around the side of the bag. So all you end up with is an awkwardly overstuffed bag, and still buying too much stuff.

  3. Next time, try leaving your wallet at home and just bringing a small amount of cash in your pocket. That might have some chance of working.

  4. Telling yourself that the berries did not count against your budget because they're for the Lynxcub's birthday was almost convincing. "Almost", because he is unlikely to eat two entire baskets of berries all by himself (although he will probably give it a good try, because he's a berry fiend).

  5. Just because a vendor is offering two (or three, etc.) of something for a slight discount, it does not mean that you have to buy two (or three, etc.). Yes, this even goes for greens, and berries.

  6. Telling yourself that you are celebrating the fact that you paid the phone bill yesterday is all very well, but not an excuse for overspending today. There are, in fact, other bills. Paying one is not some kind of grand lifetime accomplishment.

  7. On the scale of things you could overspend on, though, healthy, locally grown food is probably not one of the worst sins available. And the fact that you are clearly going to be eating well this week, regardless of other stresses, is probably a good thing.

    This does not, however, negate any of lessons #1-6.
Conversely, small wins:
  1. Forgoing your usual market-day empanada breakfast in favour of eating at home.

  2. Resisting the urge to buy more beets, regardless of how good they looked, because you have not yet eaten the ones you bought last week.

  3. Not buying any baked goods, no matter how tempting they looked.

  4. Barely managing, through an extreme exercise of willpower, not to buy a large basket of peaches in addition to the two baskets of berries you did buy. Particularly because all the way home you kept thinking "Must go back and buy peaches! NO, must not! Yes, must! NO, must not!"

All right, maybe I really should have bought the peaches. They had damn well better still have some next Saturday, is all I can say.
misslynx: (Default)
Dear self:

When at the farmers' market, and still during the 60% or so of the year when apples are the only damn fruit available there, never, repeat never, buy only the small green plastic basket of them. Always get the big cardboard basket.

Yes, even if there are only two varieties left, and one of them is just for baking and the other is that creepy new "Red Prince" variety. Whatever kind of apples they may be, they are the only ones left, and when faced with a choice between a weird and overhyped variety of apples and no apples at all -- or tasteless supermarket fruit that's been picked totally unripe and shipped in from gods-know-where, losing all flavour and texture in the process -- your obvious and logical choice should be bring on the damn apples. Specifically, the big basket.

Because between you and your offspring, you have now blown through fully half the stupid little green basket, and it's only Sunday, with the market having been on Saturday. Seriously, that thing holds what, six apples? You eat at least one a day. Sometimes more. And the boy eats an apple more visits than not. Do the math. Also, for future reference, apparently Red Prince isn't too bad after all...

*sigh* How long is it until strawberry season starts?
misslynx: (Seal kiss)
As a general rule these days, the only kind of animal I eat is fish (and occasionally other undersea creatures). Might have a taste of something else once in a while (because as another general rule, I'm not overly strict about general rules), but seafood is the only sort of animal product I eat with any regularity. And I have always found that I feel better when I eat it on at least an occasional basis. I have been strictly vegetarian at other times, but that never really felt quite right to me - I'd crave fish frequently, and while my diet has ranged up and down the herbivore-to-omnivore scale at various points in my life, on the whole I've spent more time being vegetarian-plus-fish than being properly vegetarian.

I've also always been of the opinion that whatever a person's food choices, they should be able to take responsibility for them, and be fully comfortable with the processes involved in whatever they eat becoming food. If someone eats plants, they should be OK with the process of planting a garden and harvesting veggies. If someone eats animals, they should be OK with the process of killing and preparing said animals to eat. The former is no big deal to most people. The latter is a little trickier. The cliche that "If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian" may be an exaggeration but it's not without a grain of truth. I don't mean that people should always have to grow/raise/harvest/kill/whatever everything they eat - that's hardly practical in an urban context. But they should at least not be completely grossed out by the process, and ideally be able to handle doing it themselves if they had to.

Now, the only animals I have ever killed and eaten, personally, are clams and crabs. I have attempted fishing once or twice, but never actually managed to catch anything. The fish that I cook, by and large, comes in nice little fillets, ready to cook. So there is a bit of a disconnect there between my theory and my practice.

I have also noticed that whole fish are frequently much cheaper than said fillets, and been tempted to buy them, but always held off partly because I wasn't sure how to cook them, and partly because, if truth be told, the idea squicked me a wee bit, in flagrant violation of the above principle. But I'm not really good at maintaining that sort of contradiction between what I think people should be able to do and what I can actually do. So, a while back, I bought a whole frozen fish. And proceeded to leave it in the freezer for quite a while, avoiding the inevitable. But one can only avoid such things for so long...

Lynx vs. fish, cut to spare the squeamish )
misslynx: (Default)
Well, it is now officially spring, because today I finally took my bike out for the first time this year!

There were a number of days in March when I wanted to, but either circumstances prevented me, or I wasn't sure how long a ride I should attempt given that all my hard-won cycling muscles had probably atrophied over the winter and I might be basically starting from scratch. But Tuesday I went on one of the stationary bikes at GoodLife as a sort of trial run, and was able to do two miles on it without too much trouble, so I figured that meant I could probably try riding my bike to GoodLife today, since that's only a little over a mile.

I was equal parts excited and apprehensive, because I've really missed cycling, but I wasn't sure how hard it would be. But really, the only down side turned out to be the discovery that my tires had gone flat over the winter. Once that was remedied, I was off, and quickly found that riding was no problem at all...

Hell, I ended up riding up a hill on Heath Street that last fall I would end up walking up half the time. And I didn't even downshift. Mind you, I think I was in somewhat of an altered state of consciousness at the time: bike intoxication, defined as having all rational thought replaced with an endless stream of "BIKE BIKE FREEDOM YAY WHEE FRESH AIR SUNSHINE WIND SPEED WHEE BIKE BIKE BIKE <3 <3 <3 !!!" :-)

I hit Yonge Street before I knew it, and was only the very tiniest bit wobbly in the legs after getting off the bike. I did find that some of the weight machines that I suppose must work the same muscles one uses in cycling were a little harder to do than usual, though. But that was the only ill effect, and even the way back was easy, though I really have to say that Heath Street is a much less desirable cycling route during rush hour than at other times.

Note to self: time gym visits better in the future. Yes, Heath is a nice long relatively quiet street paralleling St. Clair that is usually great to bike on. But it is also narrower than one realizes until one finds oneself on there with wall-to-wall cars in both directions and about six inches of space to ride in (OK, slight exaggeration, but really, not by much).

Anyway, very pleased to find that I didn't lose my cycling ability over the winter after all. Unless a mere two weeks of working out brought it back?

. . .

One thing that I really did not enjoy, though was carting the bike up and down stairs again. I remember now that that was why I didn't always ride it as often as I otherwise might have, because sometimes I could easily see riding someplace, but couldn't quite bring myself to wrestle the bike down the stairs (a somewhat cramped staircase with several bends in it, at that).

I know keeping bikes outside is generally regarded as Not Safe, but I'm really tempted to try and find some semi-secure way of doing it anyway, just because this is going to drive me crazy. Also, I've had several near-accidents on the stairs with the bike, and sooner or later the "near-" part of that phrase is probably going to slip. I don't want my bike to get stolen, but I really don't want to fall down the stairs with it on top of me, either.

Any ideas?
misslynx: (With Kiska (on couch))
  1. Note to self: When "almost" recovered from a respiratory infection that among other things has resulted in occasional voice loss, perhaps leading Sunday circle is not the smartest thing to do.

    On the bright side, in a fairly low-key meditative ritual, that stage-whisper my voice was reduced to at some points may have sounded like it was just for dramatic effect. The periodic coughing spasms, probably not so much.

  2. Note to child: styrofoam packing pellets have many uses, to a creative mind. Leaning into the box and wildly digging and flinging them about with both hands, all good. Tearing them into teeny tiny pieces with a look of great concentration and placing each shred in my hands as you tear it off, also all good.

    EATING THEM, however, is NOT on the list of recommended uses.

    It's not like you didn't have a PERFECTLY GOOD plate of Triscuits, veggie pate and clementine segments three feet away from you. Seriously, how flavourful can styrofoam possibly be?

    Oh, and speaking of clementines: No matter how many of them you try to get me to peel for you, they will always have the same thing inside. If you are not eating the segments of the last one I peeled, asking me to peel a new one is unlikely to meet with success.

    But of course, you are adorable anyway, and having you here is awesome even when I am prying shards of styrofoam out of your mouth.
misslynx: (Cat Attack)
Had a very weird experience walking Kiska earlier tonight. Just past the park I usually take her to, she was up on the lawn of a house sniffing at things, when I saw a small, long-haired ginger cat looking at us. Out of habit, I called to the cat, although I didn't really expect him to come near with Kiska there. But he did, though a little hesitantly, and came up and rubbed against my hand, though glancing warily at Kiska and making a few little warning "wrr-rrr-rrr" type sounds under his breath.

Kiska noticed the cat and came over closer, because Kiska is made of optimism where cats are concerned, and expects all strange cats to want to be her friend, despite the fact that in the five years I've had her, this has almost never been the case. I expected the cat to run away, but no -- he glared up and her, and then walked across the little wall he was standing on, directly in front of Kiska, who was only inches away. I had just started to compliment him on being fearless, when he suddenly turned around took a whack at her with his paw. She yelped and jumped back, then, giving him a wide berth, jumped down the sidewalk and stayed on the far side of me, glancing nervously at the cat, who by now I guess she was pretty certain was not her friend.

The cat, looking very pleased with himself, strolled back along the wall and rubbed up against me again -- and then jumped off the wall and went charging straight for Kiska. He got in one good swiped before she yelped and ran out into the street, and I got in between them and pushed him back.

Since this was now well beyond admirable fearlessness in a cat and into sheer thuggishness, I tried saying emphatically "NO! BAD kitty!" while keeping Kiska behind me and urging her to get moving, which at this point took very little urging. So we started off, only to look back and see that the cat was following us, with a look of determination in his eyes. The fact that Kiska outweighed him by about ten times didn't seem to deter him at all (nor did it reassure Kiska any -- she was definitely trying to put some distance between her and this cat).

I stopped and told him to go back, which being a cat he ignored completely. His body language didn't look aggressive, and he seemed to be looking at me more than at Kiska, so I thought maybe he'd just swiped at her because she was on his territory before, and he was now following us just because he was affection-starved or something. So I reached out to him, somewhat against my better judgment, and he came up and rubbed adorably on my hand looking all sweet and cute again -- and then, as soon as he had me off guard, darted past me and tried to attack Kiska again!

I intercepted him, just barely, and yelled "BAD kitty! GO HOME!", pointing back to the house where we'd found him, but he just kept trying to duck around me to get at Kiska again. So I nudge him back with one foot, and then took off with Kiska, not running, but walking very fast. Looked back: he was following us again.

When we crossed the street diagonally to our block, he stayed on the corner, and began mewing piteously, as thought to say "Wait! Wait! Why are you leaving? Look at me! I am cute and adorable! How could you possibly abandon me like this? Don't you realize that I have not been petted or given attention EVER?"

Not about to be fooled at this point, I left him there, and when I eventually couldn't hear the mewing any more, glanced back just to be sure -- and the damn cat had crossed the street and was heading after us again. So for the remaining long block down to our building Kiska and I played Dodge The Ginger Avenger, with me running interference when necessary -- and the cat nearly always trying to get friendly with me in between bouts of trying to assassinate my dog.

At one point we passed another pedestrian, and the cat seemed to get distracted, looking up at the new person with the same "Love me! Love me NOW!" sort of look that he had tried on me, but apparently got nowhere. I glanced back hopefully and saw no sign of the cat, and thought momentarily that we had escaped -- only to suddenly have him dart out from behind a hedge and go after Kiska again.

We picked up the pace and soon seemed to have lost him again, and finally made it home with no sign of the cat -- until suddenly he appeared from behind a parked car and tried to chase Kiska right into the building.

I got Kiska inside and closed the door, trying to figure out what to do about the cat, who promptly strolled over onto the patio of the Italian restaurant I live above. My apartment is right on the corner of a busy street, and psycho or not, I didn't want the cat to get run over. But on the other hand, given his apparent volatility, I wasn't sure I wanted to try and carry him back to his home -- Kiska may be up to date on her vaccinations, but I'm not! Not to mention that I didn't know if the house where we first saw him even was his home. He didn't have a collar on, though he clearly wasn't a stray -- long-haired cats get matted very quickly if they're not groomed regularly, and his coat was perfectly silky and tangle-free.

Eventually, I lost sight of him and went inside to soothe Kiska's frazzled nerves, leaving Ninja Kitty to find his own way home, though I felt kind of bad about it. I suppose it's weird to be concerned with the well-being of a canicidal and possibly insane stalker cat who seems to have devoted himself to the downfall of my dog, but I do hope he gets home OK.

But I think I may be a little warier of befriending strange cats in the future, because some are clearly stranger than others.
misslynx: (In tree)
In the future, when contemplating a possible shortcut in a neighbourhood with which I am not overly familiar, I shall try and remember the following:
  1. The Path Less Travelled may make all the difference, but it is not necessarily an efficient means of getting where you thought you were going.

  2. In order for something to be considered a short cut, it needs to, in fact, be short.

  3. Because a path appears to wind in a generally southward direction does not mean it will continue to do so along its whole length.

  4. Even if said path does eventually intersect with the street you were trying to get to, it will not necessarily enable you to get up to said street, if its mode of intersection is by passing under it at the bottom of a huge ravine.

  5. You are not a mountain goat.

  6. If you pass under what you think might have been Bloor St, and continue on a fair distance because there is no good way out of the ravine for people who do not happen to be mountain goats, and eventually you hear another street that sounds extremely busy, where by your calculations no extremely busy street should be, it may be that not only did you not pass under Bloor St after all but perhaps you are not even heading south at all.

  7. The laws of time and space work differently in ravines. They're kind of like Faerie that way.

  8. If the eventual route you find out of the ravine involves the path doubling back on itself up the other side of a river, chances are good it will eventually let you out somewhere almost exactly back where you started.

  9. So, overall, when faced with a choice between two blocks of what I have come to think of as the Mount Pleasant Death March*, on a hot summer day, and a shady tree-lined path into an unknown park, your choice may be obvious, but do not expect to get home at a reasonable hour.
On the bright side, there was a butterfly meadow. So really, it was all good, except for the part about all the stores I needed to go to for errands being closed by the time I found my back to the mortal world.

* Explanatory note to non-Torontonians: Mount Pleasant Road does not involve a mountain, nor is it in any way pleasant. In the area to which I am referring, it is a four-lane highway, every inch of which is blasted by intense sun, contains not a single speck of shade anywhere in its entire length, and I would be willing to swear that it really does run uphill both ways.

ETA: for the curious, the ravine in question was this one. Entered at Mt. Pleasant and Roxborough, went nearly to Bayview before the path went around a storm water thing and back up the other side, came out at approximately Glen Road and South Drive. So the bridge I went under was likely Glen Road rather than Bloor, which I in fact was nowhere near, though I did eventually find my way to Sherbourne and Bloor some while later.
misslynx: (Cat Attack)
Strange but true: all the cleaning-up-text functions PHP has to offer will not stop a submission form from generating database errors... If, in the actual insert statement that puts the data into the database, you persist in using the array that holds the original data, before it was cleaned up rather than the new array that holds it after applying the ever-increasing list of cleaning-up-text functions.

And the fact that it took me weeks of fielding tech support messages and tinkering with the code to spot that little detail is not something I am particularly proud of.

Well, at least it's fixed now. On the very last day of Magenta's Emerging Photographers 2007 call for submissions. All the photographers submitting in a panic at the last minute will still benefit, at least.

And on the bright side, Tristania's "World of Glass" is my personal nominee of the moment for Best Song Ever Recorded. There is no problem so great that listening to this song at a very high volume will not make everything better, at least for a while.
misslynx: (Can't brain)
In the future, when working on Drupal sites, do not set the login block to show up only on admin pages, thinking that this will somehow give you a Joomla-like setup where you have to type in the admin URL to get to the login page, and the general public is not tempted to try to log in to something they shouldn't.

What in fact happens if you do this with Drupal is that you type in the admin URL, and get an Access Denied page telling you that you need to be logged in to access the page.

Which of course, you can't do, given that the page you need to be logged into access is now the only page from which you CAN log in.

On the bright side, I suppose this is by far the most secure CMS site I have ever set up. It's so secure that NO ONE can log into it. Including me.

ETA: yourdomain.com/user is your friend. Just not yourdomain.com/admin.
misslynx: (Waterhouse - Magic Circle)
Tonight's favourite words are LEFT JOIN (although ON DELETE CASCADE is still high in my esteem - take that, test data! Ha!).

Note to self (and others who've had similar join troubles):

When you want everything in the FIRST table you list that meets your condition, along with the related data you want from one or more other tables, to show up in your query, regardless of whether there are some null values kicking around in there somewhere, that is LEFT JOIN. Left join left join left join left join.

If you wanted everything meeting your condition in the LAST table you list in your query to show up along with whatever related data there may or may not be in the tables before it, that would be RIGHT JOIN.

LEFT = the table at the beginning is the one that really counts

RIGHT = the table at the end is the one that really counts

Because, you know, people read from left to right in this language we're speaking. Usually. Unless they're holding a book upside down.

INNER JOIN is basically the same as WHERE. You know: SELECT everything from table x and table y where some-column-in-X = some-column-in-Y. INNER JOIN (like WHERE) craps out if there any null values anywhere in the data you're asking it for.

Maybe now that I've typed it out like that it will actually stick in my brain.

On a semi-related note, I want this T-shirt.

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