Friday, 29 February 2008

Notes from Camp Dipso-Manee

My mother's remedy for sore throat consisted of equal parts lemon juice, honey, and whatever booze was in the house. I remember getting this in a baby bottle as a child, and later in a squeezee bottle (like for ketchup or mustard) to squirt it directly to the back of the throat. I don't know how medicinal this was, and how much of this was getting the child drunk enough to stop whining for five seconds (my mother raised six children, so I presume those respites while the child slept it off were quite precious).

My mother's solution to teething, I recall when watching her with my nephews at the appropriate moment in their lives, involved pouring some whisky over ice, dipping a finger into it and rubbing it on the child's gums. I never saw my mother take a sip from the glass in between gum massages, but I presume that was part of the deal.

Okay, so when I've gotten sick, I've taken to mixing up combinations of lemon and honey and some kind of booze (lately crown royal, just because a) I live in Canada now and b) it's what I had in the house that wasn't tequila), and taking it by whatever means seems appropriate--by the spoonful or two to take the edge off the sore throat, a squirt from a squeezee bottle for the same purpose, a couple of spoonfuls in some hot tea to keep everything loose and moving.

Since my current illness does not involve sore throat, so much as mobile congestion, I haven't dug out my squeezee bottles. On the other hand, I have been trying to force liquids, and my new thing is mint lemonade. This consists of a glug or two of lemon juice in the bottom of a 900 ml cup, a few spoons of sugar substitute to take the edge off the lemon. Fill the cup with water, and top with a glug (or two) of peppermint schnapps.


Sunday, 24 February 2008

The case of the mysterious toe

Well, not so mysterious. Just bloody. But I didn't want the title of this post to be 'The case of the bloody toe'.

Now, readers of this blog know that I've been suffering from some sensitivity problems, in the sense of not having much sensation, in my left little toe. So in spite of having recovered some of that sensation, or at least having gotten used to the lack of sensation, I try to be careful what happens to my toes. So imagine my surprise a while ago when I look down and see a) a lot of blood everywhere, and not all of it really fresh, and b) what looks like a serious wound on the tip of my right little toe.

It seems I took a clean slice off the very tip of my little toe. Doesn't hurt in the least, but getting it cleaned up was a chore, it being my toe and kind of far away, and then trying to get the bleeding to stop. Which took a long time.

I have no idea when or how I did this to my toe. I'd just gotten in from the drugstore, and I can't really tell if I bled all over the inside of my boot, but a nice clean slice like that looks like a cut from a blade rather than a scrape on sharp thing or something. Anyway, I'm not leaving puddles of blood everywhere I go now, so I suppose I'll survive.

Oh, so the reason I went to the drugstore was that I'm out of aspirin, expectorant, and cough suppressant. Being out of expectorant isn't so bad, because I think the need to keep things loose and moving in my lungs is now in abeyance, and now I just need to let it ciliate to the point where it's worth trying to cough it up. Hence the cough suppressant. Note to my students, if you ever want a crash review of your expiratory muscles (the ones that assist coughing)--well, I guess I wouldn't recommend bronchitis, but if you ever happen to have bronchitis otherwise, it wouldn't hurt to take the opportunity to review.

Friday, 22 February 2008

News from the sickbed

File this under 'too much information'.

I know it's good news when you finally start coughing up foul-tasting, yellowish chunks of stuff, because it means the inflection has cleared and your lungs are starting to expel(l) the detritus. But it doesn't make breathing, sitting, sleeping, or arguing with your dean any easier. Nor does the occasional but recurrent signs of fever--the feeling of being hot but shivering with clammy skin, followed by moderate comfort, then turning over and discovering a truly hot spot in your bed where some part of your body used to be.

So I've been lying low for a couple of days, taking long naps, drinking lemonade both hot and cold (sometimes laced with the aforementioned honey liqueur, or once some peppermint schnapps), trying to get well and avoiding unnecessary exposure to the elements.

So anyway, I'm still lying low, trying to avoid blowing out my vocal folds with all the coughing, staying hydrated (not to say a little schnockered(sp?)), and hoping to be well by Monday. Meantime, not a lot of laundry or housecleaning getting done. On the other hand, I've been making some killer soups and turkey sandwiches.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008


Okay, it's freakin' cold. The kind of cold it just never is. Not exactly killer cold, like last night, but wow. Skin freezing cold. Worrying about frostbite on your face and hands cold. Cold cold cold. So cold, it being a dry cold just doesn't matter any more. Cold.

So I'm whining about how cold it is. I intend to go home and drink hot tea laced with honey liqueur from Poland which I bought on the advice of a friend. This is in lieu of the peppermint schnapps-laced hot chocolate I've been drinking in the evenings. Don't tell my endocrinologist.

So descending into dispomania, if that's what I'm doing, although I'm thinking I'm just fending off this cold or wahtever it is I woke up with this morning, perhaps I should have titled this post 'Winopeg'.

Or maybe, since I've been glorying in breakfast foods lately, 'Whipanegg'.

But not 'Winterpeg', cuz it's just too cold for that to be funny.

Let the googling commence.

So much for my planned trip to Trader Joe's and IKEA tomorrow. Oh well. I have laundry to do anyway.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008


You are 100% Smarter than a fifth grader.

You are smarter than a fifth grader. no doubt. There is no need for you to retake school. Keep on doing your brain excersise like sudokus and crossword puzzles, and you'll soon be smarter than a sixth grader! Good work!

are you smarter than a fifth grader?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

To sleep, perchance to ... um, sleep.

Tuesday has become my MHGS day, as I have mentioned. So yesterday I sat down and discovered that not only have I not been working on my goals, I had actually forgotten a major task from last month. So I spent most of my useful waking hours dealing with that.

Here's the thing. I got to bed very late on Monday. After midnight. So even though I slept in until 9am, I was still tired. I got up, had some coffee and breakfast, sat down to accomplish something, got distracted, and let's just say that by noon I was ready for a nap again.

I didn't succumb immediately, which was probably a mistake. But by 3:30, I was about ready to go face first into the keyboard, so I went for a brief lie down. Which lasted until about 7pm. Not good.

So I went to bed last night around 12:30 again, and had a pretty good night, such that by 8am I was actually awake, out of bed, and functioning. So now I'm having breakfast and catching up with the MHGS.

So all the goals remain in place. The good news is that next week is 'mid term break', and Monday is an actual holiday (the first ever 'Louis Riel Day', which is just an excuse for a civic statutory holiday in Manitoba in February--in other provinces, there's "Family Day" which is even flimsier an excuse, as far as I can tell). So I'm expecting to have Monday and Tuesday to catch up with a lot of paperwork. On Wednesday, I have my big meeting with the Dean where I explain our timetabling needs and he tells me to come up with a new plan that doesn't cost any money (so I should give some thought to that before the meeting). Then, depending on road conditions, I might make a quick run to Trader Joes, in Maple Grove. Although having gotten that far it seems a shame not to hit IKEA in Bloomington, but that sounds like a lot of money in the long run.

So I still need to commit to 10 minutes a day of domestic activity, practicing my ASL has fallen by the wayside, the vacuum cleaner is still in the trunk of the car.

On the other hand, I'm awake and functioning and it's only 9:15am.

Friday, 8 February 2008

Best Theme Ever

Never heard of the 11-string bass before, but there you go. Jean Baudin also has a 9-string bass version of the Legend of Zelda theme, but the sound quality sux. This is great.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

How I spent my first MHGS Tuesday

Not how I wanted.

Had a decent breakfast. Made some killer chicken salad and a sandwich on chiabatta for lunch. Packed it carefully and then left it in the refrigerator when I came in to work. Spent most of the afternoon trying to move stuff from one office to another, wondering why, oh, why do we keep all this stuff, but not quite willing to take time to work out what's worth keeping or not. I guess that's why. Came up with a plan to get rid of stuff really nobody wants, which was roundly rejected by the person who I charged with doing it, but then somebody else came up with a better plan, so fine. Main thing, it's not my problem any more.

Then, towards the bottom of a pile of boxes to be moved, I hit a bankers box, you know the kind, with a stickie on it that says, get this, "SHRED". At the bottom of a pile of boxes in an office being used partly as an office and partly as a storage room. "SHRED".

So I spent about half an hour of my life shredding papers going back to *1993*. Honestly. a) what were these things doing in storage in the first place, and b) why was it my job to shred them? But I realized if I didn't, no one would, so I did. At least my colleagues, once they realized I was missing, took it upon themselves to move the rest of the stuff off the bookcases. But sheeshwhiz.

So I was working on my goals, while I was standing at the shredder which for some reason always makes my back hurt after a while, but what I came up with was the themes for my administration as acting head:

  1. get rid of stuff no one in range has an earthly use for
  2. get rid of stuff that someone in range *might* have an earthly use for, but is easily and inexpensively replaced when and if such a use is discovered
  3. of the remainder, find a way to arrange for individuals to

    1. liberate things to their own private collections
    2. nominate stuff for public use, like intro textbooks, workbooks, stuff like that
    3. nominate stuff that could usefully have a home elsewhere, like the language departments, anthropology, etc.
    4. for anything that remains, arrange for them to go to the library, where they can decide whether they're worth keeping or not
    and finally
  4. get rid of stuff no one in range has an earthly use for

Part of me really wants to find a way to apply this to my personal life. For instance the elliptical trainer I have which is still too hard on my knees, and basically just sits collecting dust and getting in the way; the gazelle trainer which I like but basically just sits holding laundry until I come up with something else to do with, and anyway could be moved out and give me space to do yoga at home; the dead TV and ancient computer sitting in storage waiting for me to take them to the e-dump. That sort of thing.

I haven't been keeping up with my 10 minutes of stuff, although I have been better about throwing stuff out and getting or keeping stuff in useful piles, but I really have to get off the stick, 10 minute-wise. So here's my goals.

15! minutes of domestic activity a day;
30 minutes of domestic activity at least once in the next week;
and getting the tray of my humidifier into the dishwasher sometime this week, and clearing the tabletop of my bistro table to the point where I could actually wipe it off and serve a meal on it. Haven't see the whole surface of that table in years. Oh, and get my new vacuum cleaner out of the trunk of my car and into the apartment. Not that I have enough floor to vacuum yet, but maybe having it staring at me will be incentive. Certainly can't be less incentive than sitting in the trunk of the car.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

I should probably mention

I avoid this sort of thing because of the bring-down factor, but my dear Auntie Grace passed away last week, and I'm missing the memorial even as I type this. Obit available here.

While of course I'm saddened by the loss, I'm most disturbed by that list of grandchildren. I seem to have missed a couple somewhere along the way. Which makes me feel bad because it means I'm totally uninvolved in my family's lives. Which is true, but I rarely am confronted with the evidence.

Love to all.

Canadian words

I've got a new word to add to my list of official words that everybody up here knows but I've never heard before. These don't include words on 'everyone else''s list of Canadianisms, and in fact I've looked all these up in the Canadian Oxford Dictionary (edited by my very good friend--in the sense that we've eaten a social meal together and I have her e-mail and she actually responds to things I send her--Katherine Barber) and each is listed as 'Can & Br'. So technically these aren't Canadiansims so much as non-Amer.-isms. But here we go.

The new one: "scrutineer" Apparently some kind of officer overseeing elections. Just got a thing saying that X Y and Z were elected to whatever committees for terms ending, and by the way, the scrutineers for this election were A B and C. I'm told that in provincial elections, every party is entitled to place a 'scrutineer' at the ballot count. As ballots are pulled, they're displayed to the scrutineers who jointly decide whether the ballot is valid or defective, and who was voted for. I think in these commitee/union things the scrutineers also stand over the ballot boxes making sure no one tampers with the ballots as they go in, travel with the ballot boxes making sure no one tampers with them until they get to the place where they will be counted, and then, I suppose, they scrutinize the ballots as they come out of the box.

So that's my new word. Previous words on this list include 'personation' (which where I come from is "impersonation", although I've never heard of female 'personator', in the sense of a 'female impersonator'. Personation is, well, fraud by impersonation, I guess. Also 'invigilator', which is basically a scrutineer for examination rooms, what I would call a 'proctor'. As in 'I need a couple of proctors to watch the room during my final exam'. Which I guess in Canada would be 'I need a couple of invigilators to invigilate (for) my final exam, eh?'

I only have one such word from Wisconsin, which is 'employe'. Which is Wisconsin for "employee". Every official document I ever saw in Wisconsin talked about 'employes'. Apparently either a) someone thought the 'ee' suffix was sexist, or b) somebody realised the cents per year that could be saved by not typing or printing extraneous 'e's. Presumable offset by the cost of having to go through everything removing extraneous e's, which aren't really extraneous, but whatever.

Oh, Mental Health and Goal Setting Thursdays are now going to be Mental Health and Goal Setting Tuesdays. Which means that mid-week updates will occur on Fridays or Saturdays, which is when I seem to be getting around to doing them anyway.