Tuesday, February 28, 2006
I Want That in Writing
My glasses have been bothering me for a while. Objects in the distance are ridiculously hard to focus on. Damn, objects not in the distance require a certain amount of strain in and of themselves. Since my last pair of glasses were more than two years old (meaning I can put another pair on Jim's health plan), I decided to get a new pair of glasses. For its proximity and the plesant demeanour of the lady who answers their phone, I chose to go to Image Optical
in Park Royal Shopping Centre
While I'm in the optometrist's getting my eyes checked, he asks me if anyone has ever told me that I need prisms. As in whether I have eyes that are either poorly coordinated or that do not point straight ahead. I thought it was a lead in into a really bad pick up line but the reason he asked was because my glasses were configured for someone whose right eye turned inward and whose left eye turned outward - an unusual combination in and of itself (strabismus
typically occurs in one eye and only sometimes in both), a combination made more unusual by the fact that it didn't look like I had any form of strabismus (otherwise known as lazy eye - think about the last person you saw with lazy eye. It was damn obvious, wasn't it?). He then proceeded to ask for my previous records, called the last optometrist I saw and then started doing his thang.
After he concludes that I don't need prisms, the assistant knocks on the door with the results from my last optometrist - who didn't prescribe prisms for me. Turns out that Lenscrafters
screwed up when they made my glasses. Apparently this happens often with Lenscrafters. You see, they have this deal where you can get your glasses in 1hr, but they don't always have the lenses required, but instead of ordering them in and telling you that you have to wait a week for your glasses they just make it with the next best thing. My optometrist thinks that's what happened to me. How does he know? He used to work for Lenscrafters.
So my current optometrist says:
"Look, I would love to sell you a pair of glasses. But let's face it, Lenscrafters messed up on this one and if you call them, you're likely to have that mistake corrected. You can't just go in there and tell them they've made a mistake though, because as a business, they have to protect their interests, and you have been wearing these glasses for over two years. What you should do is give your last optometrist a call. Since he works for Lenscrafters, he should know how they work. Ask the optometrist to comfirm that your glasses are prismed in a way that they were not prescribed and help you approach the store."
Good advice. So I call the office of my last optometrist. The doctor who saw me last is on vacation until March 22nd but another doctor offered to talk to me. After explaining my situation, he told me that this was between me and Lenscrafters and that he would not take a look at my glasses because the onsite technicians at Lenscrafters could do it for me. (Just for reference, the Lenscrafter's optometrists' office is right next to the retail store, so it's not like I was asking him to go very far.) He also said that if the people at the store do find something wrong with my glasses, they would replace it with my new prescription, free of charge.
So from West Vancouver, I make my way to Burnaby to talk to someone at Lenscrafters. I called the store ahead of time and they assured me that if they found something wrong with the lenses I would get them replaced free of charge. Just to give you some idea of the distance between the malls located in West Van and Burnaby respectively, here is a map:
Lenscrafters claims that there was no prisming.
One person's word against another's. Let's face it, I'm more inclined to believe the guys in West Van because I was all ready to buy a pair of glasses from them but yet they sent me to Burnaby, potentially giving Lenscrafters business (I would have to buy a set of frames from Lenscrafters). So I went back to West Van
(in case you're wondering why I didn't just leave it and pick this up another day: my vision was really driving me crazy. I needed to be able to see and I needed to see NOW) where the guys checked my glasses again to see if they could possibly have made a mistake. According to them, no mistake. Exact same values they read the first time, the same values I repeated to the Lenscrafters "optician". I also told them what she told me when I recited the numbers to her.
"You see, because one eye is turned in and the other out, essentially they are pointing in the same direction, so you are fine - if there is prisming in your glasses, which there isn't."
The West Van guy's jaw drops
. If yours hasn't by now just think about that statement for a little while. In essence, it means that it's alright for them to alter the alignment of your eyes
as long as they are being misaligned
in the same direction. Great.
So the guys in West Van cut me some slack and gave me an impossibly good deal - the details of which I won't post here, because it was an insane deal and I don't want them to be peppered with pestering people for it. The new glasses, with titanium frame and all, should be ready by this weekend.
While I'm glad that the people in Image Optical were so great, I'm really upset that I have to approach buying glasses as you would have to approach buying a used car off a second hand car lot. I mean these are frigging glasses man! I don't need to have an optometrist's knowledge to be able to trust that I'm not getting ripped off. Oh well. Better Business Bureau
here I come.
posted by Joie! at
Sunday, February 26, 2006
Regrettably not the type of hedonism that Jerry Springer has pay-per-view specials on, but pretty hedonistic nonetheless.
I've had two vacations in as many weekends. Perhaps I shouldn't use the word "vacation". I should say "weekend getaway" instead, just because the word "vacation" calls to mind sipping brightly coloured drinks with little wooden umbrellas and maraschino cherries and a slice of tropical fruit as a garnish on a beach in a sling chair underneath some palms watching the tide come in/out over fine white sand while looking over at your lover to determine whether he/she needs to reapply his/her sunscreen and to admire their fine physical form before turning your mind to other important matters like which local restaurant to try for dinner that night. *ahem*
Well, last weekend we went to Victoria and stayed at the best B&B you will ever be able to find anywhere. All meals are included upon request, the hosts are knowledgable about the local attractions that best suit your tastes, the bed is soft and clean and you don't pay a single red cent. You will never find this B&B in any travel guide to Victoria because unfortunately, this place caters only to a select, elite few and not to the general public. (Jim: shuddup Joie. Joie: ah shuddup yourself.)
Jim: We stayed at Colin & Roslind's - my grand uncle and aunt's place.
Joie: Well, it's still the best damn B&B in Victoria.
Jim: True dat.
So anyway, while we were there we made the requisite walk around the downtown core, vists to Spinnaker's Pub and the Bug Zoo (where I help a praying mantis and a giant millepede for the first time - I'm still upset from the experiences. I don't think I was ready for those bugs just yet). We also went to see an exhibit at the Royal BC Museum featuring the photography of Linda McCartney. I was there mostly for the Beatles stuff although there were photographs of just about every other major music icon of the times. It was an amazing exhibit and it's going to be there until the first week of March. Go see it before it leaves again.
This weekend, we went stateside and stayed at Jim's mom and her husband's place (which I have described before in this post
). Jim was registered in his first race - the Smelt Run in La Conner Washington. He placed first in his category (age(19-24) and gender). (Jim: shuddup Joie. Joie: Whaaaat...)
Jim: There was one other person in my category.
Joie: And you beat him. That means you finished first in your category in your first race. Pretty impressive if you ask me.
Jim: The one other person in my category was mentally handicapped.
Joie: Yes....but you still beat him....
To be fair though, Jim's knee was busted (while training for the run) and so he had to walk most of the way to try and avoid making the injury worse. Considering the injury, his time was not bad, although he didn't place as high as he potentially could've given his usual time and the times of the people who completed the race ahead of him.
So that's what I've been up to. But if anyone asks, say I was studying hard. I mean let's face it, I had a final last Tuesday so if my grandparents hear that instead of studying, I was looking at pictures of John and Yoko's bed-in for peace, well, let's just say that they wouldn't be too happy. Speaking of that final, I started studying for it less than 12 hours before I had to write it. I started panicking soon after. It wasn't an entirely unproductive night, though. I figured out how to make another kind of crochet flower and made one for Lise. At any rate, I got 91.5/104 for the final, giving me an overall grade of 92% in the course. So there. Still though, don't tell anyone I didn't study over the weekend.
posted by Joie! at
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Random Blog Things
Usually, I hate those stupid quiz result boxes that everyone nowadays (except us cool kids, of course) seem to be putting up on their blogs. (No offense, di - just I just think those things are so teenage and uncouth). But I found these awesome ones (yes, just so happens it was on your blog di....) that I -had- to do.
- If you don't get out of bed on the same side you got in, you will have Joie for the rest of the day!
- Grapes explode if you put them inside Joie.
- Joie is the only bird that can swim but not fly.
- If you cut Joie in half and count the number of seeds inside, you will know how many children you are going to have!
- If your ear itches, this means that someone is talking about Joie.
- Joie was first grown in America by the grandmother Maria Ann Smith, from whom her name comes.
- Astronauts get taller when they are in Joie!
- Every day in the UK, four people die putting Joie on.
- A lump of Joie the size of a matchbox can be flattened into a sheet the size of a tennis court.
- The fingerprints of Joie are virtually indistinguishable from those of humans, so much so that they could be confused at a crime scene.
And this one is just wicked awesome. Recall that this
posted by Joie! at
Monday, February 06, 2006
Fire and a Ledge 16 Storeys Up
Tonight I almost burned down our apartment building and killed Gato. Well, I guess she would've died if the fire took hold, but no, I almost killed her another way.
I was browning a pork shoulder roast that I was planning on serving with grilled corn on the cob, apple sauce, a rich white wine gravy and steamed broccoli. This pork had a healthy layer of fat on either side and much of it was rendering out of the meat as I seared it against my trusty cast-iron pan. Rendering out the fat would mean a somewhat leaner roast and nice crispy crackling. As I turned the roast to brown another surface, the oil in the pan caught fire. A small fire, about 3-4 inches high. Instantly, the smoke alarm goes off. A sharp, insistent beeping, intended to alert the resident of smoke. Uhh, yeah, thanks. I know there's smoke. That's because there's a fire. On my stove.
Quickly moving the roast to a ready plate, my thoughts turned to the smoke alarm. Left alone it could trigger the fire alarms on the floor (and then the whole building). The worst case scenario is that the sprinklers would go off causing water damage to everything within its range. Which would be everything on the 16th floor, minimally. Not to mention water on a grease fire would cause the fire to spread. This is because oil, being lighter than water, would float to the top of the water thrown on it and flow with the water (as well as attach itself to the water splatter) and spread. Unlike the smoke alarm in my previous apartment (which could easily be disconnected) this smoke alarm required that you stand under it with a pliable object (say, a magazine) and fan the smoke away from it. It cannot be disconnected for safety reasons.
I could not address the smoke alarm, however, because in the time it took to transfer the roast from the flaming pan to a plate on the kitchen counter behind me the flames grew to over a foot in height. It had not stopped growing. Two feet above the surface of the stove was the microwave cum cooker hood. Already thin tongues of flame were licking at the plastic and hungrily eyeing the flanking cabinets. Lesson one of 'O' level Food and Nutrition: You cannot put out a grease fire with water. You must use sand or, ideally, a fire extinguisher.
Now my favourite TV cook Alton Brown
tirelessly advocates keeping a fire extinguisher close at hand in the kitchen. Had I listened, I would not have been in the predicament I had found myself in earlier tonight.
The only sand-like substance I had on hand was cat litter, which is usually made of clay. The only problem is that we use cat litter made of pine
. As in wood. As in flammable. Congratulations, the fire is now 2 feet tall. Congratulations, the smoke alarm is still threatening to tell the sprinkler system that there is a fire, loudly, hampering your ability to think clearly. Congratulations, the phone is ringing. It's probably the concierge calling to ask if everything's alright.
"Not now Jim."
Impressively able to not degenerate into a panicking mess, I came to terms with the fact that the only fire retardant I had on hand, regrettably, was water. Picking up the first towel I could find (amongst the trodden piles of dirty laundry in our hallway - I could almost hear my grandmother saying, "this is why you should keep things neat") I drenched it in water, prayed that water in this form would not encourage the already very enthusiastic flames, and threw it over the pan.
At first I didn't know if that sound was good or bad. It was the kind of sound that you hear in movies when they light a gas barbecue, or when you turn on your gas fireplace. Thankfully, it was good. The flames were out. The towel was steaming and smoking and I couldn't tell between the two. Now to take care of the smoke.
I was able to stop the screaming less than a minute after I had begun fanning it. I was just turning to open the windows when the smoke alarm started up again. The apartment was so smoke-filled by now that I had to fan it constantly to keep the smoke particles away from deflecting those weak radioactive particles that told the detector that everything was still a-okay. I was trapped. I had to keep fanning. I must've been quite a sight in nothing but my bra and undies, arm outstretched toward the ceiling, fanning and coughing, throat sore, eyes watering.
Ten minutes later I was able to leave the alarm long enough for me to open all three windows in our apartment. The windows are located near the floor of our apartment as opposed to the middle or top. This meant that the smoke (which rises) did not disperse as quickly as it could've otherwise. Five more minutes of fanning and I could stop.
Leaving the windows open to allow the rest of the smoke to disperse naturally, I plopped the roast onto one of my spare oven dishes, haphazardly threw in some white wine and chicken stock and shoved it in the oven. Then I picked up the phone and called take-out. I wasn't about to do more cooking.
Dinner arrived, it was good. We got it from this mediterranean place on Robson street that sells Hot Wings (the place is called Sammy's Hot Wings) and mediterranean food. Like sharwamas and gyros and really tasty roast lamb. Oh, they also sell two kinds of Philly cheese steak (or chicken, if you prefer) sandwiches.
After dinner, I'm gazing out the window and see Gato.
Thinking that it's merely a reflection of Gato in the window, I look to the corresponding point in my living room. She's not there. Gato is walking along a 3-inch wide ledge outside my window. The same windows I had opened to let out the smoke. The ledge is about a foot from the glass, between the ledge and the glass is a grating with 3-inch gaps. The grating is merely pencil-wide metal pieces set perpendicular to the ledge. Every two feet or so there is a wider piece. As we watch her pace, we see her back leg slip. She recovers, but Jim and I still haven't.
Jim starts calling to her. As usual, she completely ignores him. Forefront in both our minds is that she might not be as lucky on her next slip. It's cold metal out there, possibly slippery with condensation, or the last rainfall. It was dry all day, but Vancouver is relatively humid. Chances are good that the ledge is at least moist
Jim started to place my textbooks on the grating, hoping to make it easier to come back into the apartment. She had approached both the bedroom window and the living room window twice, sniffing into the apartment and then leaving. It crossed our minds that the difficulty of launching off those pencil-thin grates into the apartment might render her unable to come back in (the grating is about 6 inches below the lower edge of our windows). Just our hearts are about to explode, she saunters into the living room (across the grating, no less) and walks to her food bowl for a quick snack. We quickly shut the windows.
Jim and I polished off a bottle of Southern Comfort
in an effort to calm our nerves. Didn't help.
I'm going to look for some vodka. Fucking eh.
posted by Joie! at
Saturday, February 04, 2006
The "an ADD post is better than no post" Post
Usually when I sit down to write a post I have something to write about in mind. Lately I have had things to write about, but nothing that would justify me sitting down and dedicating an entire entry to. I'll level with you. I don't like short posts. I don't like one paragraph posts. Not that I don't like reading them when they're on other people's blogs, it's just that I like the posts I make to be substantial. I feel that I have to keep to some sort of theme on my blog, even if the only things my entries have in common with each other is the length of the scroll bar cursor in my post entry window. With that preamble, this is the everything that's been on my mind for the last 30+ days in no particular order.
I watched Wedding Crashers
last night. It was really funny in ways that I didn't expect a blockbuster romantic comedy to be. Initially it looked as though it was going to turn formulaic and while it was, sort of, I wasn't able to predict how the story was going to turn. I'd say it's the most entertaining big-name comedy I've ever seen come out of Hollywood. Of course, this is with the exception of Johnny English
which is an entirely different brand of humour altogether. Now that I've written this though, I'm sure I'm going to think of a dozen more comedies with big names that I really enjoyed, perhaps even more than Wedding Crashers. For now though, I'm going to stick with my assessment of the movie.
Speaking of movies, Crash
is a phenomenal piece. Plenty of mainstream actors in what is certainly not a typical mainstream offering. Most startling role was a small part played by Sandra Bullock
, best known for her popcorn and cotton candy roles. In this movie she plays an angry, prejudiced suburban wife of a public official. Really interesting to watch. The intertwining stories are riveting and profound. Incredibly hard to watch at times, but equally impossible to look away from, this is a film I'd strongly recommend, but certainly not for light entertainment. If my recommendation is not enough, just look toward the academy. This film has been nominated for a bevy of awards, including Best Original Screenplay.
Surprisingly falling into the category of "light entertainment"
for me is The Constant Gardener
. Despite the fact that the subject matter broached in this film is heavy and full of consequence, especially in today's increasingly aware-of-the-pressing-issues-in-Africa society (with Bono leading the charge, no less!), this film is really just a twisty thriller with an ending that sits well if not exactly perfectly with the viewer. Plus, Rachel Weisz
(right) is just incredibly hot. Ralph Fiennes
is really weird in this role. Had I not seen his incredible turn as Lord Voldemort in the latest Harry Potter movie, I would think that he has all the acting ability of Fort
. Ebert & Roeper
commented that Fiennes did a superbly subtle acting job in this film. Uhh. Just a little to subtle. This guy displayed as many different expressions as does my doorknob.
The new season of Survivor
has begun with the tantalizing moniker "Exile Island". I like how they're still trying new things into their 12th season. Makes for a slightly different game each time, with the same strategic foundations. Lots of people out there say that Survivor has jumped the shark, but I beg to disagree. Rather, I would point out that Survivor has on and off seasons. When talking about a show like Survivor, people have to realise that the only constant is Jeff Probst
, the best TV show host ever and ever will be, and that everyone else is revolving. Just as you would expect from the randomness inherent in life, the universe and everything, there will be some seasons where the survivors and the situations make for good TV and there will be some seasons where they don't. I keep watching (even though I've sworn off the show several times when people I loathe to see become millionaires win) for the drama. Real or not, someone wins a million big ones at the end, which is way more dramatic than something churned out by a team of writers with weekly deadlines.
The strangest thing happened to me the other day. I was sitting in my 8am class (Neuroanatomy, which I have a 100% average for at this point, but that I'm not getting complacent about because the prof has promised that things will get dramatically harder on the final, which is worth 60%) and I felt that my bra was too tight. Way too tight. There was constriction in my chest and pain in my shoulders and upper back. Considering I was wearing the most comfortable bra that has ever existed, this struck me as a little strange. Still, it's not like I could reach up behind myself and adjust my bra in the live presence of all my classmates. Not to mention, it was close enough to the bell that I didn't want to excuse myself. Walking out, the pain/ache got worse, confirming that it couldn't possibly have anything to do with my bra (besides, it was off by this time). Taking this as a sign that I should skip the rest of the school day to take it easy at home, I headed for the bus loop where the discomfort progressed to the point that I was actually nauseous. Honest to God. I got home, slept for a long time, took it slow the rest of the day and I was fine. When I relate this story to people, they ask if I went to see a doctor about it. Well, had I seen a doctor, what the hell would I say? "Hey doc, my bra's too tight even when it's off"? Besides, we're approaching mid-term season and I don't want to look as though I'm inventing excuses to get out of it.
I have, however, dropped a course. I need that course to graduate, so I'm trying right now to replace it with another, comparable course. The only question now is whether Arts Advising
will allow me to add a course to their course listings and register for it. It's a long story about how I came to this point (starting with a course in Acquisition of Syntax which, frankly, I don't believe in) but there's a very good chance (Carden puts it at 90% and he's the last person to overestimate anything) that I will be able to pull this off and graduate on time. The course that I will be proposing (and will be writing the proposal for shortly after I complete this entry) is a directed readings course designed to further my understanding of prosody and boundary effects. I've already been doing readings on the topic so it's not like I've been slacking too hard.
I should be doing more work than I am currently though. I've officially lost motivation for anything academic. I have my honours thesis (I have finally collected usable data) which I should be more excited about working on. I've dropped a course (see above) and whether apathy was a factor I can't say for certain, but I'm pretty sure it was. I'm sitting here writing a long rambling entry as a way to avoid starting to study for an upcoming midterm. Other ways I have avoided fufilling academic obligations include Craftster
Speaking of Craftster, I have engaged in my very first swap. I am proud to say that although I am not the organizer of this swap, the idea of the theme (I can't knit/crochet/sew but I can crochet/sew/knit!) was mine. It was so strongly supported that it became a "Hot Topic" within its first week (or so. Maybe first fortnight. Who's counting anyway?). What I do know is that sign up spots filled up in a matter
of days. I've already completed the main item that was requested by my partner (a pair of black and red striped crocheted socks
) and am now working on the bonus item (a panta (left, photo from this thread
on Craftster) made using Tunisian crochet
, which I learnt by watching stunningly clear and well shot *free* instructional videos on Nexstitch
in less than an hour). Those items have been a welcome diversion from actual duties although I have decided to shelve my panta at least until reading week (Feb 13-17). I'm not worried about completion because I crochet quickly and send-outs are not until the end of the month. For those of you who are wondering what the hell I'm blathering on about, a swap is an event where people are paired up with each other and exchange items. I'm receiving a Zaftig
which is an item I would've made a long time ago, had I the knitting skills.
The nice/atrocious (depending on your perspective and amount of disposable income)thing about eBay is that you can find things you didn't know you wanted. Like antique bone/ivory crochet hooks (if it's a tunisian crochet hook, all the better). Also thanks to my first forays on eBay, I've had an obsession with vintage pyrex bowls for a while now. I've bid on two auctions but I hope I only win one. If I win both, it won't be the end of the world, but I will have spent $50 on mixing bowls, which is just this side of excessive by my accounting. Still, I will be the owner of 6 vintage pyrex bowls which are items that I've coveted for a long time. As of now, I have no space to store any of them but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.
I keep talking about Spinnakers
, that pub that perches in Victoria's inner harbour which serves the best beer in the world (and the best fries). Just after Christmas, Jim managed to find Spinnakers' beer in the liquor store half a block from our place. There weren't many bottles on the shelf but we focused on the positive: that our liquor store was now stocking Spinnakers' beer! As the weeks passed and the number of bottles of beer on the wall quickly dwindled (no doubt greatly aided by our frequent purchases) without being replenished I started to be slightly concerned, mainly because the promised compensation for being my subject as part of data collection for my honours thesis is Spinnakers' beer. When the shelf was bare, I asked a liquor store employee for help. He informed me that Spinnakers usually calls them when they have excess stock, they do not place orders with Spinnakers. He also said that Spinnakers rarely sends them stock as their sales are usually so robust that they don't typically have any beer to spare. It was almost an ah fuck moment (especially since my subject had already sat in for the data collection and I had spent days lauding the beer in his presence) until the employee told me to look online.
Behold my new favourite online store: Spinnakers Spirit Merchants
. I haven't even begun to look through their stock but what I did notice was that I could purchase my favourite beers directly from Spinnakers and have them sent to my doorstep. Heaven. In 2-3 business days, I will be with my Nut Brown Ale (label right).
posted by Joie! at