misslynx: (Default)
Had a nice visit from [livejournal.com profile] lgbtech. Our 40s film noir costumes for the Halloween party we went to came together pretty well, though the concept we were going for didn't seem to be that apparent to most people - a lot of people thought she was supposed to be a gangster rather than a detective. I think the Bogart-ishness was more apparent when she had a beige trenchcoat on over the suit, on the way to the party, but you can't really keep something like that on indoors without overheating.

With my costume, I did learn a few things: Film noir femme fatale costuming notes )

However, a good time was had by all nonetheless. Also, we saw Cthulhu on the St. Clair streetcar.

Oh, also - [livejournal.com profile] mycrazyhair, I have your earrings in a safe place and will return them to next time I see you. Thanks so much for lending them to me!

In other Halloween-related news, the Lynxcub seems to like his tiger costume, but refuses to actually wear it. He'll play with it, cuddle it, carry it around like a security blanket or lay it on the floor like a tiger-skin rug and sit on it, but I could not get him to actually put it on when I took him to the Samhain Family Circle. However, tigers still seemed to be the theme of the day, as he insisted on me making him a tiger ghost and a tiger jack-o-lantern during the crafty parts of the event. I really should have gotten a photo of the tiger jack-o-lantern... It ended up at [livejournal.com profile] kettunainen and [livejournal.com profile] optimystik's place - I don't suppose you guys got a chance to take a picture?

Speaking of the Cub, it's been a while since I posted a Cuteness Report, not because he has in any way ceased to be cute, but because I've been freakishly busy for most of this fall. But yesterday's visit featured a couple of things that just have to be recorded for posterity: Two hilaristurbing conversations )
misslynx: (Default)
This article, which someone on Facebook posted a link to, has some disturbing information about new agreements in the US which give corporations the right to all water within certain jurisdictions, even if it's on private property. So independent farmers getting water from a spring or well on their own property could be regarded as "stealing" water from whatever corporation owns all the water in the area. Shades of Tank Girl. :-/

But there was a bit of ironic humour, for me, in the odd combination of ads in the site's sidebar. I was especially entertained by the juxtaposition of organic raw vegan protein powder with free handguns. For some reason [livejournal.com profile] thewronghands immediately came to mind, but there may actually be several people in my circle of friends who'd appreciate both, strange as it might seem.
misslynx: (Music - Within Temptation - Be the chang)
Last night, I wrote in an e-mail to my mom:

Why I was having second thoughts about going to the G20 protest today )

It would have been nice to have been wrong about that... :-( *sigh*

I didn't go to the protest. Instead I opted for cycling and cupcakes, which was great fun -- I'd never been on the West Toronto Railpath before, and it's beautiful -- a hidden trail lined with wildflowers, winding its way through what is otherwise mostly an industrial wasteland. Definitely one of they city's hidden gems.

But I did feel a bit like a sellout... In my 20s, I'd never have missed out on an event like this. But I'm not in my 20s any more, and the political landscape now isn't what it was then either. Cops were not nearly as likely to attack nonviolent protesters as they are now, nor were protesters as likely to get violent -- and it only takes a very small handful of people doing that to make things horrible and dangerous for everyone. And of course, the two create a vicious circle -- uber-militant assholes doing stupid things makes the cops more paranoid and more inclined to overreaction, and cops being heavy-handed makes some people who might have stayed peaceful otherwise more inclined to get angry and reckless, and the whole thing can spiral out of control very easily.

And because a lot of the media report mainly on whatever's most dramatic, the thousands of peaceful protesters are completely eclipsed by the relatively small handful of store-smashing yahoos. Most of the discussion I've seen online, apart from that by people who have some contact with activist communities, has talked about what "the protesters" did, as if they were one uniform mass who all think and do exactly the same thing.

But one positive thing I've seen is at least a couple of fairly mainstream journalists have bee trying to draw attention to the fact that most of the protesters were peaceful and that many were attacked with batons, tear gas, rubber bullets, etc. and/or arrested despite that. Despite my general distaste for Twitter, the Twitter feeds of the Toronto Star's Antonia Zerbisias and TVO's Steve Paikin have both highlighted that. Kudos to both of them for having the nerve to talk about the stuff the rest of the mainstream media aren't. Here's a string of posts from Paikin, about the cops attacking a journalist and a group of peaceful protesters:

Cut for length )

More of my thoughts on all this )

I don't even know where I was originally going with this post... I think I'm just having a "Stop the world, I want to get off" sort of day. Good thing I already had a tag made up for that...

I think this is one of those days where I just need to put "See Who I Am" (see this post) on repeat play until I feel like there's hope for the world again. But I'm exhausted and need to sleep, and that song is way too energizing, so I'll settle for making a user icon based on it instead.
misslynx: (Misc - Oh R'lyeh?)

Now is that, or is that not, one of the creepiest things you've ever seen?

From Pictures: Hard-to-See Sea Creatures Revealed on NationalGeographic.com.

Elsewhere in undersea weirdness, check out this surly-looking fish with hands, which looks like it's stomping over to smack someone.

Also, "City of Gonads" Jellyfish Found. I can't think of any comment I could possibly make on that one that would be more entertaining than the story itself.
misslynx: (Quote - good day)
Memo to: the driver of the silver Lexus at Bay and College.

Accidents happen. I get that. Yes, people should really look to see if anything is coming before opening their car door on the traffic-facing side, but sometimes people forget to do that. With unpleasant results for all involved.

But you know, a little bit of courtesy in such situations goes a long way. Such as, say, asking the cyclist who is trying to disentangle herself from her bike and pick herself and it up from the road before getting run over whether she's OK. And providing your contact info like you're supposed to in the event of accidents. Or, just maybe, apologizing. Or expressing any trace of concern whatsoever over anything apart from whether your fucking Lexus got a scratch or dent.

Yes, yes, I'm sure you were in a hurry, and found the whole thing terribly inconvenient. Which is why your sum total response was to glare at me as I was still trying to sit up and figure out whether I'd broken anything and snarl "This is a new car!" as if I'd hit it on purpose just to ruin your day. As opposed to because you flung the door open directly in front of me so that I didn't have a hope in hell of stopping even though I (thankfully) wasn't going that fast. And then, as I was still picking myself up, to jump back in your car and drive off.

News flash: sticking around to handle your part in an accident like a grown-up might have seemed like an intolerable imposition to you, but I think you're going to find the visit you'll soon be receiving from the nice officer who came to take down my information after I reported you a bigger nuisance.

Did you know that failing to remain at the scene of an accident, especially when someone's been injured and/or appears to require assistance, is an offense not just under the Highway Traffic Act, but also the Criminal Code of Canada? And can get you a hefty fine, your driver's license suspended, and even potentially six months in jail? I didn't know that either, but I do now, and you're about to find out. Because thanks to the fact that you pulled this crap in front of several witnesses, I have your license plate number. And the officer said he'd give you a choice between apologizing and offering compensation, or being charged. Unless you're as much of a douchebag to him as you were to me, in which case he'll just go ahead and charge you (well, OK, he didn't use the word "douchebag" as such, but that seemed to be the general drift).

Would it really have been that big a problem to have just taken some kind of responsibility for your actions at the time instead of being a complete dick about it? I would not have reported you if you had, and you wouldn't be looking at a possible license suspension and other unpleasantness. Karma, honey.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to attend to my various scrapes and bruises, retrieve my bike from downtown (since all of this delayed me enough that I had to take a taxi to pick up Aidan), and write a statement. Oh, and call my doctor tomorrow morning to see about getting my (thankfully fairly minor) injuries* documented.

* For the curious: a big scrape over a nasty bruise on my right shin - not sure if that was from the pavement or the door; various smaller bruises above and below it in the same area; a really deep, wickedly painful bruise on upper left thigh which is already turning black and blue with big streaks of dark red in it - I think that was maybe from the corner of the seat? - and another nasty scrape/bruise combo on my right shoulder, which was probably from the door. Also, a bit of neck, shoulder and lower back muscle soreness. Epsom salts bath required tonight, I think. Also, beer.
misslynx: (Default)
Found via Craftastrophe:


I take no responsibility for any sanity damage caused by clicking on the above link. Or damage caused to your computer or nasal passages should you happen to be drinking any liquid while clicking (which I do NOT recommend).

But seriously... Yes, it's horrifying, but it's also kind of awesome. If I were the sort of person who (a) had enough disposable income to consider spending $395 on a teapot, and (b) had enough storage space for the epic collection freakish teapots I have always secretly wanted to start, I would so buy it.

ETA: some other entertaining and/or amazing Craftastrophe posts (these are mostly the ones tagged with "Not a craftastrophe but cool enough to rate high"):

Eye Pod
Cake Wrecks, or Cake Rex?
Mr. Sandman, Bring Me a Nightmare (this one is really mind-blowing, though you have to scroll down a bit to really get a sense of it)
misslynx: (Me w/ Kiska (on couch))
First surreal moment of the day:

Where are we going, and why are we in this handcart? )

And this (among many other reasons) is why I should never become a bus driver. Because that would be me. Every single day.

. . .

Second surreal moment of the day:

The Hound of the Baskervilles... wants to be your friend )

. . .

In less surreal news, I am now coming to fully appreciate why cardigan sweaters are popular among middle-aged women. In particular, things like those "twin sets" of cardigan + camisole/tank-top. I think I need to get about a dozen of them.

Random perimenopausal grousing )
misslynx: (Default)
A staff member at a sushi place I've eaten at many times was stabbed to death in the kitchen by one of his co-workers.

Apparently it started out as some kind of minor dispute out in the front of the restaurant, and they took it back into the kitchen - where the one guy stabbed the other.

And I am probably a bad, bad person, because the first thought that went through my head (after the initial "OMG, what happened? At New Generation?!") was "Damn, that's the only sushi place that's open until the wee hours of the morning, and now I'm not going to be able to go there without wondering whether that's actually fish in the sushi, or bits of missing employees."

. . .

In other, unrelated news, still no flu-ish side effects from the H1N1 vaccine, which is a relief. Arm still achy though.

And I really need to stop reading the comments on news stories related to the virus, in the interests of saving what remains of my sanity. mini-rant )
misslynx: (Default)
I'd been thinking for a while of making some kind of post about some of the controversies surrounding H1N1/swine flu, because I seem to find myself arguing with people about it a fair bit lately. But then, I think of making many more LJ posts than I actually make. I am constantly writing LJ posts in my head, and maybe 5% of them ever actually get posted. But I think this one's important.

I recently wanted to strangle someone in one community I read, for giving blithe assurances to someone whose partner's child was seriously ill with it and having difficulty breathing that "Oh, it's just the flu. She'll be fine." The kid was in the hospital. Having what sounds like respiratory failure. That does not meet my personal definition of "just the flu", let alone "fine". (OK, admittedly the original poster hadn't mentioned the hospital part at first, just in subsequent comments, but still, even on the basis of what they had described, it sounded serious.)

It seems like there's precious little ground out there between all-out panic and hysteria on the one hand, and dismissing it as trivial on the other. And I don't think either extreme is justified. No, it isn't the end of the world. The majority of people who get it will have a relatively mild case and recover completely. But even a relatively mild case of this flu tends to be longer and more severe than the ordinary seasonal flu, and there is a significant risk of it shifting into a more severe form, which can be life-threatening.

And the particularly disturbing part is that, contrary to what the person I was arguing with in the above community said (something to the effect that "It's no worse than regular flu unless you have AIDS or something"), most of the severe cases of this one have not been people with AIDS, nor have they been elderly people as with most flu viruses (people over 65 seem to have partial immunity to this one) -- they've been children and young adults. Women especially, for some reason. And while certainly having a compromised immune system does put someone at higher risk for complications from it, so do a lot of more common factors, like asthma, diabetes and pregnancy. And a substantial proportion of the people who've gotten seriously ill or died from this have had no identifiable risk factors at all -- they've been previously healthy children or young adults.

Anyway, I haven't had the time to put together the sort of detailed write-up I really wanted to, but as it happens, a friend of mine did just post a whole lot of information, so I'm going to be lazy and just link to his posts. A couple of words of introduction before I do:

  • The friend in question has a science background, but isn't currently affiliated with a university or other institution that would give him direct access to medical journals etc., so the research he did on this was mostly from publicly available sources (which usually means abstracts rather than full papers), plus some discussions with people in the medical field.

  • He started out being skeptical of the H1N1 vaccine and not sure it had been through enough testing to be considered safe (pretty much how I was feeling until fairly recently), so he did most of this research trying to answer his own questions about it and make an informed decision. That involved looking into both the disease itself and the vaccine, since choices like this always need to based on a risk/benefit analysis.

  • He ended up deciding that he did want to get the vaccine, and I'm fairly certain now that I do too. But I am also quite sure that no one who's vehemently anti-vaccine in general is going to have their mind changed by this, because that particular debate really falls into the religious-war category by now. But I hope that even the anti-vaccine people will read over this info, because quite apart from the is-the-vaccine-safe issue, there's a lot of valuable information about the disease itself.

  • All that said, while most of me wants to thank my friend for doing all this research and making it available for me to link to, part of me wants to smack him for not citing sources more specifically. I know him well enough to trust his research, but other people on my friends list who click through to this may not. But then, he originally wrote these posts as e-mails to a small handful of friends, not to put on the web, so they weren't originally intended for a wide audience. He only posted them his LJ after I asked if I could repost some of his info.

  • One last note: from my perspective the most important issue in all this is not so much whether people should get themselves and/or their kids vaccinated - that's a personal choice - but becoming informed about the disease and taking it seriously.

    In particular, knowing that the warning signs that could indicate a severe infection, and when to get medical help. Because in those cases, survival is very strongly correlated with getting them into the hospital fast. Seriously, this thing can go from ordinary flu symptoms to total respiratory failure in 24 hours. If you or someone you're caring for has it and is having any sort of trouble breathing, or running a very high fever, go to the ER. Now. Do not delay, do not hope it gets better on its own, just fucking do it. Because while not every instance of difficulty breathing may be an indicator of impending respiratory failure, a significant proportion are, and this is not something to fuck around with. Getting into the hospital and onto a respirator is the only thing that will keep you alive if it does go that route, and how fast you do it may be literally a life or death decision.

Having gotten that out of the way, on to [livejournal.com profile] oxystat's info:Edited to add one more comment: any references in the posts to "here", "in this country", "in this province", etc. mean Canada and Ontario respectively. One of the hazards of making information originally written for a small handful of locals available to a wider audience is geographical ambiguity.
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)
Came across this via another web site today:

Woman's Shattered Life Shows Ground Beef Inspection Flaws

Those of you who eat meat, particularly in ground form, might want to think about having it ground for you instead of buying it in pre-processed form... No, that's probably not 100% safe either (nothing is these days, veggies included), but it does sound like ground meat has a much higher risk of being contaminated with something horrible than most things do.

When are we going to learn that trusting mega-corporations to police themselves for things like health and safety is just asking for trouble?
misslynx: (Aidan - w/stick)
Being yet another of my periodic reports on entertaining, impressive and/or unnerving things the boy has said or done lately:
  1. While waving a stuffed Ikea bat around: "Flap! Flap! Eat 'squitos! NOM NOM NOM!" (I had earlier been telling him about bats eating mosquitoes.)

  2. Inspecting the stuffed platypus my mom gave him: "Dat is... a duck?"

    Me: "No, it's a platypus. It's kind of like a duck, only different."

    Aidan (looking skeptical, and pointing at its bill): "Has duck... mout'?" (I think he was trying to remember the word "beak" or "bill".)

    Me: "Yes, it's sort of like -- um, partly a bird, like a duck, and partly a..." (inner monologue: Fuck, he probably doesn't know the word "mammal", and I can't really say "animal" like some people would because a bird is an animal, and I don't want him learning everything wrong, and, oh fuck it...) "..another kind of animal, and --" (Herewith followed a rambling and increasingly lame attempt on my part to explain what the hell a platypus was in terms a two-year-old could understand, during the course of which I realized I didn't really know, at least not with any degree of useful accuracy.)

    Aidan: (very emphatically, while giving me a Look that unmistakably said "You're just messing with me, aren't you?") "Dat is... a DUCK!"

  3. (Pointing at a picture of a sea slug in the book Secret Seahorse, one of his current favourites) "Mama find sea slug in Aidan garden!" So apparently [livejournal.com profile] kettunainen and [livejournal.com profile] optimystik's garden is really Aidan's -- and is populated by sea slugs.

  4. He is thoroughly convinced that potatoes, of any sort, are really called tomatoes. Convinced to the point where he will correct adults who try to tell him otherwise. The best of these incidents (which sadly, I only heard second-hand) was when Kettu tried to tell him, with regard to something he was eating, "Actually, it's a sweet potato." Aidan apparently gave her the Look, and replied "Actually, is sweet tomato!"

  5. A friend of Kettu and Optimystik's recently commented that Aidan was one of the gentlest kids he'd ever met. I said "Oh, you just haven't seen him in one of his hyper-excited moods, when he's hitting and biting and trying to poke you in the eye..."

    Aidan, who was walking beside me and holding my hand, looked up at me and said "Up?", holding up his hands so that I could pick him up. Naively, I thought he was just tired of walking, so I picked him up. Whereupon, he immediately hit me on the head, bit my shoulder, and tried to poke me in the eye -- and then looked from me to the person I was talking to and back, laughing maniacally.

    Not for the first time, it occurred to me that there is definitely a down side to having one's offspring hit the age where they understand most of what is being said around them entirely too well...

  6. Elsewhere in the not-entirely-desirable aspects of child development, it is apparently not enough that he is now tall enough that, when standing on his tiptoes, he can reach things on the kitchen counter and other places that used to be safe to put things you didn't want him to get into.

    He is now also smart and agile enough that last time he was here, while I had my back turned for just a moment making food for him, he clambered up onto my office chair, stood up on it holding the back with one hand for balance, and used the other hand to grab onto the shelves above and around my desk and pull the chair along, such that he could now reach stuff on shelves five feet off the ground.

    So it is now official: Nothing is safe. Anywhere.

  7. Still... While he may increasingly be a handful, he is a delight to be around. Watching him discover the world is awesome. I do wish sometimes that the development of his ability to do new and interesting things were being a little more closely by the development of his judgement as to whether to do them or not. But on the whole? Wouldn't pass up a moment of any of it.
misslynx: (Me w/ Kiska (on couch))
  1. When buying new and interesting hot peppers from the farmers' market, it is generally a good idea to start by putting one (1) of them into a dish, until you know for certain just how hot they are.

  2. Scotch bonnet peppers, like poisonous snakes, are better identified before close contact than afterwards.

  3. Check local regulations to see if there is any provision for aloo gobi being considered a prohibited weapon of mass destruction.

(x-posted to [livejournal.com profile] failed_recipe)

But seriously, is there anyone (local) who has a higher heat tolerance than I do* who would like the rest of the fairly large batch of aloo gobi that I just made? To the extent that my scarred taste buds can determine, it was pretty good except for that whole burning-like-napalm thing.

* I should perhaps mention that I have a higher heat tolerance than the average North American, so by higher than mine, I mean pretty damn high.
misslynx: (Default)
Rode my bike to my dad's yesterday, despite thunderstorm warnings. I think if I had heard anything about tornado warnings, I might have reconsidered, but no warnings of the sort had been issued as far as I could tell by the time I left.

My father and stepmother are away on vacation this week, so I let myself in, rejoiced in being able to play anything I wanted on Last.fm at any volume I wanted since I was alone in the house, and got to work on part 2 of the manuscript (part 1 having been sent to the bookstore to print following last weekend's epic workathon).

Barely two hours in, I began to hear thunder and see the occasional lightning flash. Initially I delayed on shutting down the computer, because I was fighting it out with a formatting issue and wanted to finish before shutting down. But then a glance out the window showed the storm getting worse, so I reluctantly decided I'd better shut off the computer for a bit, and maybe take a dinner break. The computer had not quite finished shutting down, however, when the power went off for the entire neighbourhood. Oops.

Went downstairs, lit some candles, thought about making some tea and then realized that needed electricity. So I got a glass of wine instead, and went out on the porch to watch the storm. Eventually the winds were getting high enough that rain was blowing into the porch and getting me wet despite my being under a roof, so I went inside, got something to eat, and waited for the power to come back on.

After about an hour, it was evident that this was not going to happen anytime soon, so since the storm appeared to have mostly blown over, I retrieved my bike from the garage and set out for home. Very interesting ride - the sky was a really freaky colour, all golden yellow, and there were bits of tree everywhere. The rain had stopped, but the streets were wet enough that fenders have now moved much higher up my bike-related wish list. I think I may have gotten wetter from road spray than I would have if it had been raining, not to mention that my front wheel kept kicking up bits of grit and debris into my eyes.

But I didn't find out the real extent of it until I got home. The power was out in my block too, and there were hydro trucks everywhere, because apparently a huge tree branch had come down and taken out two cars - plus the power lines for the block. Joy. And talking to some neighbours who were gathered in the front hall of my building (including the owners of one of the cars that had been hit by the tree) was when I first heard about the tornadoes. Yes, tornadoes plural.

Apparently four tornadoes came through the Greater Toronto Area during that storm. Four. I can't remember the last time we had one tornado. It's not exactly an everyday occurrence around here. Looking over the news (once the power came back on today - it was off overnight), it looks like most of the serious damage was done in the suburbs, but I'm told one of the tornadoes touched down a block away from some friends of mine who live not far from me.

All pretty scary, even though as far as I know, everyone I know is OK. And it's got me wondering - what exactly are apartment dwellers supposed to do in the event of tornadoes? It's not like I have a basement to go to. High rise buildings usually have some kind of accessible basement, but a small building like mine really doesn't. Methinks I need to read up a little more on emergency preparedness...

And the last word goes to my upstairs neighbour, who as several of us were discussing the storm down in the front hall, and someone mentioned funnel clouds having been seen from Yonge and Bloor, the very centre of the city, said drily "But of course, we're not fucking with the climate or anything like that..."
misslynx: (With Kiska (on couch))
I really, really, really want to do something like THIS with all the pylons around the construction on St. Clair. So very, very badly.

Picture work-safe, except for possible mental scarring in sensitive individuals, and/or beverages spewed across your keyboard.

. . .

Real update coming one of those day. Promise.
misslynx: (Is it can be hugs tiem now plees?)
Today's project: ride my newly tuned-up bike to the Leslie Street Spit. A small group of friends was gathering there to learn about identifying edible wild plants and such, and given my recent stress levels, a long bike ride and an outdoor excursion seemed very appealing.

I did not, however, end up riding the whole way, because I wound up leaving late and needed to save time, so I rode to St. Clair West station, wrestled my bike down into the subway, came up at Union, and rode from there to the spit, having spent the subway ride wondering whether, given what a headache it was getting the bike onto and off of the subway, I'd actually saved any appreciable amount of time at all.

But once I set off riding along the lakeshore, all worries slipped away, because it was by far the finest place to ride a bike that I have yet experienced. Nice, smooth, flat trails, the lake to one side, a warm summery day, fresh breeze off the like and a nice wind from behind me cooling what might have otherwise been a too-hot ride, lots of other cyclists, and interesting scenery ranging from parks and beaches to intriguing urban decay. I was almost disappointed when I finally got to my destination, because I wanted to just keep going. Maybe sometime I will go on my own and ride all the way out to the end of the spit.

But the walk with friends, some of whom I had not seen in far too long, was nice, and I did learn some things. And then eventually it was time to head back.

And that was when things got... interesting.

As I mentioned, it was a blazingly sunny, unseasonably warm, very summery day, though out on the spit the wind was a bit chilly at times. But by the time I began the ride back, it was getting a little overcast, and the wind, which I was now riding into rather than having behind me, was picking up a bit. Still, didn't seem to be much of a problem at first.

But as I continued west, the wind got stronger, and was making riding a lot more challenging. It felt like I was going uphill even though the ground was completely level, just because of the force of the wind.

And then it seemed to be getting dark, and it took me a minute to realize that it shouldn't be doing that for another few hours yet. I looked up, and there was a bank of really, really dark clouds heading in from the west at a disturbingly rapid speed. I think that was when the phrase "I have a bad feeling about this" popped into my head.

I think it was somewhere around Cherry Beach that the wind began to really go crazy -- I looked ahead and could see clouds of dust and debris flying around, and picnickers scrambling to pack up all their stuff and get back to their vehicles, in between worried looks at the sky and bouts of trying to fan dustclouds away from their faces. As I rode into what looked like a mini-sandstorm, all I could do was try to keep my eyes as nearly closed as I could and still see the trail. As it was, I still got a bunch of dust and grit in my eyes (and under my contacts!), not to mention nearly hit in the face by someone's umbrella abruptly blowing inside out. Oh yes, and the first raindrops were beginning to fall then too.

So from that point on, I couldn't see very well and my eyes were stinging, in addition to everything else that followed. The wind got stronger and stronger -- it seemed like the Great Lakes were jealous of the hurricanes the oceans get to have and trying to do their best to replicate one. There were times when I had to get off and walk my bike because the wind was so strong I couldn't ride into it, or when it was coming from the side and felt like it was going to push me right off the trail or off my bike entirely.

Partway up Cherry Street, the floodgates really opened, and suddenly I was being bombarded with torrential rain and fucking HAIL, as well as gale-force winds. I alternated riding and walking depending on how hard the wind was blowing and how tired my legs were. I nearly got hit by other cyclists at least three times while walking my bike, because pretty much anyone who still could was riding like a bat out of hell and visibility was minimal, especially for anyone who'd ridden through the dust clouds before the rain kicked in.

The lightning started while I was walking my bike over a large metal bridge in a really open area. On a scale of all places you really don't want to be in a lightning storm, that ranks pretty damn high, I would say.

Oh, and did I mention that this whole area, apart from the park at Cherry Beach, is pretty much an industrial wasteland, with no coffee shops, stores or even so much as a gas station or bus shelter where one might be able to take shelter from a storm? There was absolutely nowhere to go except onward, and I was still about 2.5km or thereabouts from Union Station when the rain hit. I was also, at some points, totally unsure of where I was, because I the trail markings seemed to have disappeared and I couldn't see well enough any more to read any street signs.

Eventually, I saw a wondrous site up ahead of me -- a TTC bus! I had no idea what bus it was or where it was going; the only thing that mattered to me was that it was going somewhere and that it would not be raining inside the bus. I didn't know if I'd be able to catch up to it, though, or if they'd let me on with my bike if I did. But then I was passed by two other cyclists, who headed straight for the bus, and as I slogged forward as best I could (this was during a walking phase, not a riding phase), I saw them get on the bus with their bikes! So I hurried forward hoping to join them -- only to have the bus take off just before I got to the door. I think that was the point where I actually lost it and started crying. But not for too long, as my desire to get the hell out of the storm somehow, somewhere was stronger than my desire to just have a nice satisfying emotional meltdown.

I finally made it onto Queen's Quay, the second-last leg of the route back to Union Station, which was how I figured out that I had pretty much stuck to the correct route on the way back despite being half-blind and not knowing where the hell I was. When I spotted the legendary Queen's Quay LCBO store, it took me all of about 5 seconds to decide to cut in, lock up my bike, and go inside -- mainly for a respite from the rain, but also partly because I'd been hearing for years that it was one of the largest LCBO stores (note to non-Ontarians: that would be liquor store) in Toronto and had an awesome selection, and particularly because I had by this point a strong desire to have something alcoholic waiting for me after I got home and into a hot shower. I took about as long as I thought I could reasonably get away with making a selection (Young's Double Chocolate Stout, for the record), and then reluctantly went back out to continue on.

By the time I finally got to Union, the storm was actually easing up a bit, but I was so exhausted I couldn't even think straight, and ended up going back and forth several times between two sets of turnstyles trying to figure out how to get my bike through (and nearly having another emotional meltdown) before I finally remembered how I'd gotten it out earlier. Also, carrying a bike up and down various stairs and escalators is much harder when you and the bike are soaking wet and plastered with mud and dirt.

Finally I made it home, where a very long, very hot shower, the aforementioned chocolate stout (which was phenomenally good, by the way), and dog cuddles made everything better.

Well, I wanted a serious bike workout today, and I got one -- rather more of one than I'd counted on! I have aching muscles everywhere, plus many little bruises and abrasions of unknown origin. A combination of random bike parts, flying debris and being hammered with ice pellets during the hail phase of the storm, I suppose. I think I should get some kind of special award for cycling endurance or something. But I would settle for another chocolate stout. If only I had bought more than one...
misslynx: (needs must)
If anyone has not yet discovered the greatness that is [livejournal.com profile] thrifthorror, this post is a truly stellar example of its offerings, particularly the commentary.

A few excerpts to whet your appetite:
"This is what happens when you scramble duck eggs that were nearly ready to hatch. Imagine standing over the stove, compulsively poking at your eggs with a spatula, when a little yellow head pops up from the congealing mass of rapidly denaturing proteins. Then another little head. Then another. You soon realize that you are living in a surrealist horror story that takes place in a universe where a) ducks can survive stupidly high temperatures, b) Fowl do not develop as other embryos do, but rather form at random in clotted eggs, and c) the average person not only keeps duck eggs around, but regularly eats five of them at a time."

"The twelve days of... STUPID CRAP. Actually, only ten days of stupid crap. Twelve and three are missing, probably purchased by people who only liked one of the days of Christmas. What the fuck is with the gifts in that song, anyway? What the hell do people want with so many lords-a-leaping? I mean, it's all fine and well until they start jumping around and breaking your shit. Do they sleep at all, or do they just keep leaping, leaping, LEAPING all night, thudding against the floor and the walls and that couch you haven't paid off yet while you're trying to sleep?"
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: (Oh R'lyeh?)
OK, this (found via [livejournal.com profile] deepseanews, whence come all things creepy and ocean-related but not penned specifically by H.P.Lovecraft): Oceana, an ocean conservation organization, are running a "freakiest fish contest" where you can vote on which of 13 brain-bendingly bizarre undersea creatures (not all of them fish, actually) is your favourite:


Fanfin SeadevilThey'll announce the winner on Halloween, and then everyone who voted for that particular beastie gets entered in a draw to win a pair of free tickets to an IMAX screening of "Deep Sea 3D!" or a copy of Claire Nouvian's book The Deep (the latter of which has been high on my Amazon wish list for quite a while, so that was a good motivator for me).

Note: I strongly suspect that voting gets you put on Oceana's "wavemakers" e-mail list. I was already on the list, so I didn't care, but others might. It's not a terribly high-traffic list -- just occasional announcements or action alerts on marine environmental issues, and I like that sort of thing anyway. And to my knowledge they don't share their mailing list with anyone else. But it's something to be aware of, anyway...

My pick, cut so as not to bias anyone else's vote, assuming anyone else on my flist finds this sort of thing interesting enough to vote in the first place )
misslynx: (Default)
Today I am going to do something I very, very rarely do: attempt baking.

The reason for this is that last week I for some reason succumbed to the desire to buy a very small bunch of organic bananas from Loblaws. As I've mentioned elsewhere (with regard to my mosquito woes) I rarely eat bananas, but in this case figured I might as well because I could not possibly be any more attractive to mosquitoes than I already am. But they were not altogether ripe when I bought them, and ended up just starting to ripen when I left town -- and of course, being overripe when I got back.

It didn't seem right to just compost them, and there is only one other thing to do with overripe bananas: bake.

I found a recipe online for a fairly healthy-sounding banana bread* that did not use anything I did not already have, apart from flour which I really ought to have, so I got some flour yesterday. The bananas are in the fridge, in an effort to stop them from getting any more overripe than they already are. I do not have anything like a bread pan, though, so I will have to use my square pan and maybe just bake them for less time.

Now, baking and I have not always gotten along well. I attempt it rarely, and when I do, it doesn't always work out. I have, for example, attempted to make my grandmother's blonde brownie recipe several times and it has never worked -- they always seem to get overdone at the outer edges before getting anywhere near done in the middle. But we shall see... I am in general more domestically-inclined these days than I used to be, partly as a result of shifting my grocery-buying habits toward more fresh veggies and less convenience food, so I suppose baking is the next logical frontier.

And if it doesn't work out, I can always make an entertaining story our of it for [livejournal.com profile] failed_recipe.

* That site that recipe is on, Post-Punk Kitchen, seems pretty cool. I really need to get the cookbook they're flogging, The Veganomicon, if only for the name and the claim that it will swallow your soul. Who couldn't fall for a marketing pitch like that?


misslynx: (Default)

April 2011

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