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Random neat stuff from RSS feeds – Fri Mar 27, 2009
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So it is.

Quotation of the Day for March 8, 2009

“If a million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.”

- Anatole France.

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Random neat stuff from RSS feeds – Fri Mar 20, 2009
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Random advice to at least six cyclists in Chinatown last Thursday


That is all.

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It’s a good thing there aren’t many in a package

For some years now various people who’ve spent time in Australia have been telling me about Tim Tams, which are a sort of chocolate-covered cream-filled cookie.

Tim Tams

It’s not their cookie-ness (although they are fine cookies) that makes people pursue them across oceans, though, it’s what you can do with them. The thing to do is to bite off two opposite corners, dip one into a hot drink, use it as a straw as long as possible and then just at the instant it falls to bits, slurp it into your mouth. This is a Tim Tam Slam.

Since Tim Tams aren’t widely available in Canada I decided I’d avoid them. The last thing I need is another junk-food addiction.

Bailey's CaramelBut recently someone mentioned the specific name of a store which carries Tim Tams, and the other day I ended up walking past it and thought I’d pick some up and give them a try. Melle had mentioned something about melty mouthfuls of chewy caramel, and who can resist that?

And so I offer the following recipe:

Take a mug of hot coffee.
Add 1 oz Bailey’s Caramel and mix well.
Open package of Chewy Caramel Tim Tams.
Perform Tim Tam Slam.
Die happy.

Winter may not last forever after all

No idea what these are. Crocuses or irises seem most likely, but they look rather like tulips, although it’s way too early for those. Guess we’ll find out…

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Grace in Small Things

1. Extra sour dill pickles.
2. Double-chocolate cherry stout on a cold night.
3. That our local purveyor of yummy food and excellent beer is packed, absolutely packed, every night of the week after 6pm. Despite the recession.
4. Snuggly cats.
5. The whole bed to myself. This is only fun for one night, and tends to be aggressively ruined by the aforementioned snuggly cats, but every so often it is nice to really stretch out (displacing cats as necessary).

(I’m not doing the full every-day-for-a-year version of Grace in Small Things, but I do like the idea.)

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Random neat stuff from RSS feeds – Thu Mar 05, 2009
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Because winter’s not over yet

Despite the above-zero temps and rather brave appearance of two spring bulbs poking above the soil in the warmest bit of our front garden, I know winter’s just teasing us and isn’t about to go away just yet. So: I recommend these reusable instant hand warmers from Lee Valley (of course).

It is, as it says, a pouch of clear liquid containing a small metal disk. When you flex the disk it creates an exothermic reaction that turns the whole pouch into a big blogck of salt which stays warm for half an hour or so. You recharge it by boiling it for a few minutes*. I have found they’re quite sensitive and have set mine off by accident a couple of times, but aside from that quirk they’re an extremely handy thing to have in an inside jacket pocket on a cold day.

* “Do not microwave”, says the package. Yeah, that would be a mess.

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Random neat stuff from RSS feeds – Thu Feb 26, 2009
I am now determined to live to at least 83

…purely so I can use “Kiss my 83-year-old ass” as the title of a blog post.

Although anything over seventy or so works with reasonable credibility, really.

(h/t to Jan)

Ninety. A context-free number.

File under “not enough information to draw the conclusion they’ve drawn”:

Why did 90 children die?
Ontario’s child advocate was appalled to learn how many in the province’s welfare system die each year and is equally shocked at how difficult it is to get answers

First, I think we can all agree that the province’s unwillingness to cough up any useful information about the relevant cases to the child advocate’s office is inexcusable whatever the number of deaths or other issues. It’s hard to advocate effectively when you’re being stonewalled by those ostensibly working toward the same ends and I don’t blame the child advocate’s office for one second for using whatever numbers will get them the attention and cooperation they may need.

I think — hope — we can all also agree that any greater than zero number of deaths of children is very sad and horrible and such deaths are most urgently to be avoided.

What is not in this article or — just so it doesn’t look like I’m picking on this one piece, which I’m not — in any of the coverage I’ve seen, is any information that puts 90 child deaths in context for proper comparison and evaluation. How many children are there in Ontario? How many die each year, in what age groups, for what reasons? How do those population-level numbers and rates relate to the numbers and rates of deaths of children in care? Is it disproportionately high (or low, although that seems wildly unlikely), or are the rates not significantly different from rates in the population as a whole? Do the rates vary between groups — are, say, babies in care more (or less) likely to die than babies in the population in general? Small children? Teenagers? Disabled children?

I haven’t read the whole report yet so this may merely be a complaint about its media coverage. Still, if I were the child advocate’s office, I would be speaking loudly in my initial press releases about both the raw numbers and, if it’s relevant and useful, the rates. Ninety instinctively seems like a big number (awful thought, to think of ninety children dying) but it needs context to have real meaning. Perhaps something like this: “90 children in care or within a year of being in care died in 2007. This is n times the rate of death for all children in Ontario. This is inexcusable; children in our care deserve better. Wouldn’t it be nice if the government shared more information about at-risk children with the Child Advocate’s office so we could help bring down this rate?” etc.

I don’t mean to disparage the great work the advocates are doing in this case. I do regret that there are numbers being thrown around for shock value with no way to assess their real meaning.

Finished doll quilt

Finished doll quilt

Originally uploaded by morecoffeeplease.

Don’t be too impressed; this quilt is only about the size of a large placemat and it’s made mostly from small scraps pilfered from my mom’s stash.

Still, it’s the first one I made all by my lonesome — my previous experience consisted solely of embroidering squares and then handing them over to my mom to do all the hard sewing parts — so I am pleased with myself. M’s doll Alice Rebecca is apparently very pleased with it too.

I used the Sew Mama Sew doll quilt sew-along tutorial plus a nice little book Visual Quick Tips Quilting, which had less inspirational but more practical photos of how to do some of the more confusing bits. Even so I totally made up a way of joining the ends of the binding, because all written and photographic instructions were completely cryptic. Maybe next time.

Random neat stuff from RSS feeds – Wed Feb 18, 2009
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Happy 1234567890 Day

How glad I am that we don’t normally have to think in Unix time. Still, any excuse for a celebration…

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Random neat stuff from RSS feeds – Wed Feb 11, 2009
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Originally uploaded by morecoffeeplease.

There was really a lot of falling down and giggling, but she did get pretty good at getting back up by herself. I may dig the stroller out so she can have something to lean on a bit.

Also, I award myself about five billion Parental Brownie Points for standing outside on the ice for twenty minutes without complaint — well, without voicing any complaint, anyway — while it was -20C and I’d already been outside five times that day.

We finally got home (after MORE outings) around 6:30pm and I think I finally warmed up around 11, despite carrying a hot water bottle inside the front of my bathrobe for the intervening hours. Brrrrrrrr.

Happy birthday!

At this very moment M is at a birthday party for one of her little friends. I boggle at this, because:

1. It’s Friday, when the kids are their most tired and fractious
2. And it was the 100th day of school, so they’re already jacked up on sugar from their class party
3. And it’s in the evening — arsenic hour!
4. And they invited all the girls in the class
5. And it’s at their house, not some facility made to tolerate the excited shrieking and bouncing of a dozen smallish girls
6. AND it’s three hours long.

Just the thought of it makes me want to lie down with a cold cloth on my head.

But instead D and I are heading out for a nice quiet dinner and a beer. Happy birthday A.!

Random neat stuff from RSS feeds – Wed Feb 04, 2009
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Random neat stuff from RSS feeds – Wed Jan 28, 2009

Vicious herbivores! I am amused.

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