I miss homecooking

As a lazy bachelor, you might have noticed that I don’t cook much.  Read that as ‘cook at all’.

It amazes me how many delicious meals my Mom used to cook starting with a pound of ground beef as the start.  We were a meat and potatoes family and our meat was ground beef.  (And we ate 50% rice because Mom always preferred rice especially once she got a rice cooker and could get good rice in Grande Prairie.)

Spaghetti was my favorite.  How many more can I list:

  • Hamburgers
  • Chili
  • Tacos
  • Lasagna
  • Porcupine Balls
  • Ground Beef Stroganoff
  • Hot hamburger sandwiches
  • Meatloaf
  • Shepherd’s Pie
  • Tortierre
  • Sweet and Sour Meat balls

I’m sure I’m missing some more.  Mom’s marinated pork spare ribs and her pork tenderloin might have been my all time favorite meals, but like a roast chicken those were a good Sunday meal.  She certainly mixed up our diet through the week as well.  I don’t want to give the impression our diet was one note.  But the list above just looks awesome to me.

We were also lucky because Mom made everything from scratch.  The sauces and prep came from combining ingredients rather than from a jar or a can.  (Mostly.)

Garsh, I’m hungry now.

History – Don’t run away

I’ve been thinking about history this weekend.  The point I’ll try to make is that history isn’t just big events, but even more so it is a combined accumulation of tiny events.  Events that are happening all around us all the time.

I worked in the Peace River Centennial Museum for a year.  In certain ways the history of Peace River – of all of Alberta – is very short.  In many ways it is long.  The museum contained fossils.  The valley itself is a visible testament to the last ice age.  And long before we started recording happenings for the Peace River archives there were communities living in the valley.  Living, dying, loving.

But in the sense of recorded history, Fort Fork was founded in 1792 and Alexander Mackenzie was there in 1793.  So in the history of the province the history of Peace River is longer than most.  And most of it is recorded at the Peace River Museum.

Alexander Mackenzie’s search for a route across Canada to the Pacific is big history in the valley.  But the museum also contains artifacts about early doctors like Dr. Mary Percy Jackson, early aviators like Dr. William Greene and of course the town mascot, Henry Fuller ’12 foot’ Davis, a prospector who settled in the valley.

But that is not all.  Records of who served on the local welcome wagon, the people who ran the ferry, and the construction of bridges to span the local valleys and bring the rail through town.  Records of floods, and droughts and celebrations.  The artifacts come from the homes of people who lived in the valley.  Thousands and thousands of photographs showing every kind of moment – show life as the people living in the valley lived it.

I’ve been watching Downton Abbey lately.  My reward to finishing the blog will be the watch the final episode.  That family is rocked by the sinking of the Titanic, The Great War and the Spanish Flu.  It makes for great drama, but even that show is as much about the actions of every person – their jealousies and their sacrifices.  It is fictional of course, but shows how people can be changed by both the great and the small.

The birth of a child of the death of a loved one.  These may have greater effects on our lives than wars or depressions – they quite likely do.  It is hard to look at our own lives and think them grand enough to call history.  And the biggest archives and museums will show the great events in detail, but they all also capture the small events that show how people lived.  And how we lived and why we lived form the backbone of history.

Our everyday, from dawn to dusk to the next dawn.

Downtown Abbey

Typing on the iPad. Who knows how well this will work.

I love Downton Abbey. I mentioned it the weekly recap on Monday but I got the name wrong. How embarrassing. They are doing a profile of me at work. I need to fill out this survey thing and one of the questions is “Favorite Tv Show”. Normally this would be a toss up of either the Wire or Care Bears (one of those is fake and should be replaced with The West Wing). But after only four episodes I’m all about Downton Abbey.

But none of you care. Is anyone else watching this? Season three has just finished. Is you take the murder mystery and the Altman flourishes out of Gosford Park, Downton is what you have. But it isn’t just taking away elements. A series can push in closer on all the characters. And instead of a murder mystery, Downton exists as part of history.

It has an ensemble cast of at least 18 primary characters. It is a period piece set in 1912 for the first season. It is about a noble British family, their servants and their estate, Downton Abbey. It is funny, kind, mean, serious, and mostly awesome. But I don’t know anyone else who would like it.

I finish this now to go watch another episode. Let me know if anyone else is watching.

Internet Security

A cousin asked me last week if his service provider could monitor his e-mail and internet usage.  The answer is yes.  Yes they can.

Two aspects of this are interesting to me – although neither are new and you’ve likely heard similar thoughts covered ad nauseam in the media.

The first is that the Internet is innately insecure.  It seems funny that this is true since the initial development occurred in a U.S. military related project, but it is.  Not that their design wasn’t secure, but the implementation of the Internet as a ubiquitous presence on every device with links and destinations controlled by people with whom you have no trust relationship.

Now since then plenty of security has been layered on top of the Internet.  The Internet can be secure, but it isn’t innately so.  The responsibility for ensuring that you are secure has moved from the developer to you.  Every use needs to be analyzed to be sure security is maintained.  Corporations and government hire people like me to ensure that their employees have to think about this as little as possible. But we cannot absolve the end user of this responsibility.  And for the home user?  It is entirely their responsibility.

Unfortunately. the attackers are far better trained than the end users.

The second is the commercialization of the Internet.  Money is made on the Internet by tracking what you look at.  Especially the biggest sites: google, facebook, youtube – they make money on selling you ads.  Everyone watches what you look at on the Internet.  Not only is it not secure, but that security lack is essential to its success.

That is a little scary.

Of course, I post personal details about my whole life on a public site for all to see.  So take what I have to say with a grain of salt.

Weekly Shenanigans

In short – none.  Mom was gone for a week.  Off in the warmer but rainier climes of the U.S. desert.  Sounds as though a grand time was had.

Family Day I’ve spent at home watching Downtown Abbey – which is marvelous.  I pause every holiday and wonder if I will miss Dad on that day, but we had no particular Family Day ritual so I only miss him the normal amount.

Tomorrow a new employee starts.  I love new employee start day.  Unfortunately there have been too many staff endings lately.  But we edge closer to the full staff complement.

I’ve read little – nothing of note.  I’ve watched some movies, but in general they’ve sucked.  Safehouse was only a bit not great, but Twilight was horrendous.  I don’t understand why I’ve watched them all.  Part wanting to be in touch with a cultural thing and part of a misplaced desire to embrace fantasy in all forms.  But I spent the movie mocking every scene or playing two games of sudoku.

There was gaming on Friday.  The first game had Robin play a strange strategy that very nearly worked.  He held a commanding lead the whole game while knowing that he needed a giant lead to make up for not having any points at end of game scoring.  Second place caught up to him at that point and it came down to tie breakers.  The second game played also ended in a tie.  A three way tie.  It too was about to go to a tie-breaker when my brother saw he had miscounted and moved from last place (two points back) to first place by a single point.  There was drama I tell you – drama!

Way back a week ago today, I took the day off.  The same happened today.  A four day work week suits me just fine, but unfortunately they still seem to come with five days of work.  I hope tomorrow disproves that theory.

And that was that.  Take care y’all.  My prayers go out to all the sick and saddened.

A miracle?

This will be an un-Todd-like post.  I was going to tell the folks after church today, but it didn’t sound like me so the words froze in my gullet.  I chickened out.

I think the word miracle is overused.  When you notice the grandeur of creation in a sunset or the northern lights.  When things work out in your favour or better than hoped for.  When there is unexpected fortune.  The horrible evangelist show I watch every morning calls getting enough donations a miracle.

I like to reserve the word for some multiplying of loaves and fishes.  The curing of a leper.  Walking on water.  The hand of God is present in the other as well.  But God’s grace is omnipresent throughout creation and if we use the word miracle to refer to everything it loses it impact.

This morning it certainly seemed as though the hand of God had a direct impact on my life in a small way.  Now, it was mostly good drugs, but God works in mysterious ways it is said.

I didn’t feel well this morning when I awoke.  My tummy ached.  You probably see where this is going already.  I was a bit dimmer.  I overate the night before and went to sleep without fully digesting my meal.  I thought that finishing digestion and drinking some water would cure me.  But of course it was a kidney stone.

I got ready for church as normal and by the time I was ready to go I knew what was going on.  I popped some pain killers and anti-inflammatories at 8:05 as I was waiting for the bus to head to church.  The last time I tried that it didn’t work and I ended up going to the hospital for the day.  The bus came early and we went straight to church.  8:22 I rolled into the entrance the pain killers were just kicking in and I felt relief as I entered the church for the first time that morning.

But there was still significant discomfort.  I could feel the stone blocking things up.  For the next ten minutes it continued to lessen as the pain killers did their thing and it settled at an uncomfortable, but easily bearable level.

During the next half hour I lied about four or five time.  I felt bad about lying in a church.  People would come in and pass my seating place.  “Good morning,” they’d great me.  “How are you today?”  “Fine and yourself,” I’d lie in response.  Saying, “I’ve had better days.  In the middle of a kidney stone attack here,” would have caused undue concern.

As I waited for church to begin I sat and prayed.  This is pretty normal.  But I spent most of the time praying for myself which is not.  I also wondered if I was going to switch my planned afternoon at the movies for a visit to the ER.

Church started, the first chords of the opening hymn came forth and the priest began to move down the aisle towards the altar.  Just behind the priest some friends came in.  Their middle child saw me at the back.  Sweet kid.  he smiles whenever he sees me, calls “Uncle Todd” and comes over for a hug.  Today was no different.

What was different today was the reaction I had.  As I released the child from a brief hug, my pain vanished suddenly.  I literally felt a rush into my bladder as the blockage inside let go.  It was as though God answered my prayers and used the hands of a child to heal me.  Really it was incredibly awesome.

Now what happened was the anti-inflammatory did its job.  The pain disappearing suddenly is common in my experience.  The pain grows quickly but gradually as pressure build up against the stone.  But once it lets go, the pain just goes away.  But the timing is pretty nifty.  The pain lessened as I entered the church and vanished as mass began and a child wrapped his arms around my sore belly.

The readings at mas today were about what God can do in our lives.  The Gospel was about Jesus healing a paralyzed man.  They seemed particularly synchronous today.

In other news, a friend is struggling with a family illness today.  I certainly do not deserve the relief I got this morning.  I pray that they similarly receive God’s grace this weekend.

Discrete Energy Level and Station Wagon

Fortunately M.D. “Doc” Bright and Christopher “not the British Sci-Fi writer” Priest went with the catchier sobriquets of Quantum and Woody for the title characters of the eponymous comic.

1996.  I was starting to read Usenet and comic reviews on the RAC* forums.  The forums were abuzz with praise for Quantum and Woody.  Actually even pre-buzz.  I was onboard with issue #1.

The first issue was notable for two aspects.  It was wildly funny.  And it was told on a non-sequential manner.  However, the craftmanship of the creators, the hints of an interesting plot and intriguing characters were equally present beneath the flashier aspects.  Priest and Bright had previously worked together – notably on a run on Marvel’s Power Man & Iron Fist.  They fell right into a tight partnership already.

Ideas from PM&IF were visible in Quantum and Woody.  The main characters in both are a partnership of wildly different “Odd Couple” type characters also distinguished by their race.

Jeepers what a horrible blog entry.  I’m senselessly using big words, but yet not explaining at all why Quantum and Woody was so awesome.  It was so good that after buying the single issues, I also bought the trades to continue to support the creators.  It was so good that when the major entertainment company (maybe not quite major) that published it folded, I was a little upset.

Later issues didn’t always work as well as the early issues.  The humour overwhelmed the plot and the out of order storytelling was mostly a crutch.  Sigh.  Nothing is perfect.  Priest went on to use the same storytelling gimmicks in Black Panther.  Which I also loved.

I came across an article online pointing out that the humour in Q&W is juvenile and the odd couple character setup is hackneyed.  Both are probably fair criticisms, but I found it wildly entertaining.  The same criticisms can likely be leveled at the Big Bang Theory television show…

Ah.  I miss it.  Fortunately I have all the issues and trades around here somewhere.  🙂