Time filler

Have you got some time you need filling? Have a hankering for some humour? A story was printed in the Surrey Comet recently and received many, many comments from readers. Apparently, Kingston, England, has a plague of pigeons and the city council opted for a Final Solution: they hired a marksman to shoot pigeons over the next year in an effort to reduce their numbers. The story is brief and succint; it's the readers' comments that make it worth your time.

Here are some exerpts:

Posted by: Fancy Coo-Coo on 12:57pm Thu 30 Nov 06
I'm horrified at the very idea anyone might want to harm these gentle creatures. I myself was raised by pigeons after being abandoned in Trafalgar Square as a young nipper. Therefore I know how noble and generous a species they really are. If anyone were to kill a pigeon in this way, it would be as though they are slaughtering one of my own family. It's murder, I say!
Posted by: Free Willy on 3:24pm Thu 30 Nov 06
I know what you mean, reader. I was raised by yaks but I'm sure the experience was similar. How about a council worker cull instead.

Posted by: Danny Delgado on 7:04pm Thu 30 Nov 06
I myself have never been attacked by a pigeon, nor indeed defecated upon by such a feathered being, but I feel it is my duty to point out to certain contributors to this discussion that it is no laughing matter to be on the receiving end of pests and vermin. Just the other day, for example, I was held prisoner in my own home by a violent squirrel who demanded I perform certain "acts" in order to regain my freedom. I was shamed. But the most shameful thing is, I secretly enjoyed it. How wrong is that?

Posted by: Percy Killen on 8:59pm Thu 30 Nov 06
I defecated on a pigeon once.

Posted by: Segley Farnsworth on 6:36pm Fri 1 Dec 06

I think it's disgraceful, the way that people are abusing the privilege to post replies to this article.

When I was young, my father would have given me the strap for behaving with so little respect.

Youngsters nowadays have no respect and cannot see that they are wasting hard working taxpayers' money.

I am going to write to the Daily Mail at once. You have been warned.



First attempt

I'm experimenting with my new Macbook (yes, you read that correctly!) and finally got a moment to play with iMovie. We only have a digital camera, no camcorder, so the image quality is not super, but I had a great time playing with the footage. Personally, I'm super excited!

I took a lot of pains with the timing, hopefully that comes through when you watch the compressed-for-web version. Sorry it gets fuzzy for a minute there - the cat just moves too fast. What do you think?

Best holiday treats ever

Our family has a bunch of recipes for squares, cookies, etc that we tend to make around the holidays. The best one by far is the almond caramel square. I don't know a specific name for these delicious goodies but we had a guest over last night who was convinced they are known by a particular name. If you know it, pass it on.

Almond caramel square thingies

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 box graham cracker squares
1 cup sliced almonds

Line a 9x13 cookie pan with parchment paper. Lay out graham crackers in the pan tightly so no room is left around or between squares. Sprinkle almonds evenly over squares. In a small saucepan melt the butter. Add the brown sugar and vanilla and stir constantly over medium heat until the mixture is smooth and the butter is all incorporated. Be careful not to burn it at this stage. Pour the caramel evenly over the almond squares. You have a little wiggle room to push the caramel around after pouring but try not to move the almonds around as well. All the squares should be covered. Bake in a 350 C oven for 8 to 10 minutes. They will be gooey and bubbly when they come out. Let cool for ten minutes then pull the parchment and the squares off the pan onto a flat surface. Using a knife or a pizza cutter, cut into squares (along the graham squares if you can see them or arbitrarily works too.

Oh. so. good!


Forget the casbah, rock the committee!

I had my first PhD committee meeting today - and it was grrrrreat! I was excited to introduce committee member Randy (not the randy committee member) to committee member Stephen and it turns out they also think they have things in common and overlapping research areas. I was nervous, because you should be nervous about these meetings, and the discussion did go further than I intended, but good things were decided and it was very productive. We met for about an hour and a half and this meeting has decided my next three to four months of work. Funny how that happens, eh?

Anyway, I can breathe a sigh of relief that the first one is over. I owe the committee some more thinking and some decisions communicated in an e-mail within a week, and the next time we will all sit down together will probably be February or March. Before then I have to get a reading list organised and approved (by e-mail) and most of the list read. I'm stoked because it's been months now of spinning my wheels but finally I'm excited again about the work, the exams, the ideas...everything! As I exclaimed to Rocco on our way home from a debriefing beer at Caffe Barney, "I'm actually going to finish this PhD!" Yay!


Odd politics

First Stephane Dion wins the Liberal leadership race, then Ed Stelmach wins the Provincial Conservative leadership race in Alberta. Both of these candidates were third or fourth in the races when the polls opened, and I would say that the majority of voters did not think either of these guys would win. They are both only mildly charismatic, have mostly middle-of-the-road policy promises (within their parties' ideologies), and are generally unimpressive. I suppose they're the lesser of two or three evils in the race, respectively. Can Canadian politics possibly become more tepid, and should I be complaining that the more dangerous, more charismatic players didn't get in. No way! Morton, in Alberta, and Ignatieff, in the federal race, are both frightening options. I hope you see what I'm getting at though, that lukewarm has won out over hot or cold. We'll just have to wait and see what will change with these election results.

(PS. See what I did there with the images on the left and the right? Clever, huh?)


sad fact

It's 8:44pm PST and I'm at my desk, in my pod, on the 4th floor, in the Aquatic Ecosystems Research Laboratories building, on campus, completely alone. Just me, the electric kettle, and a disarray of journal articles. Please tell me you are doing something more exciting with your Saturday evening.