Change in commenting policy

I didn't bother mentioning this when I wasn't posting, but I've set the comments in this journal to friends-only in the wake of a truly impressive level of spam over the past few months. I always used to screen non-friend comments and then let through anything obviously human, but the spam was such a hassle I gave up. I plan to leave it this way for a few months and then change it back to see what happens.

Sorry to anyone who might see an old Flashpoint entry or something and want to comment. :(

2018 Collections Planning

In 2018, the Dalhousie Libraries will continue the process of re-evaluating the journals we purchase in bundles or “big deals”.

What's the Big Deal? on Biteable.


First storm in the new digs

Atlantic Canada wasn't forecast to get the snowpocalypse that was supposed to hit the eastern US (I have the impression it wasn't as bad down there as expected either, at least not universally) but we were still supposed to get blizzard conditions that would make driving dangerous, so there were mass closures. My university sent out a text announcing we were closed at about 5:45 am, which I found when the alarm went off at six. I sang the Snow Day Song (a little ditty my dad composed many years ago) and went back to bed.

As a snow event I've certainly seen a lot worse, but the winds were high in less sheltered parts of the city. And after I shoveled the driveway, of course the freezing rain started and I spent the afternoon listening to it tap-tapping on the windows at the back of the house. Power stayed on, though, so I made this pasta sauce. I had frozen prepped vegetables, used Italian sausage instead of hamburger--which worked well, next time I'll try hotter sausage--and used a little cayenne because I forgot to get hot pepper flakes. It worked out pretty well, although the first taste was a little acidic, possibly as a result of all the tomato paste. Anyway, I've been meaning to make pasta sauce from scratch instead of always starting with a container of prepared sauce, so this was a good exercise.

As was shoveling the driveway. As noted, though, the freezing rain started after I'd shoveled, with the result things were pretty icy when I left the house this morning to walk to the bus stop. (I live in a neighbourhood with excellent bus coverage for my needs. Which is of course one of the reasons I live there. In fact, I moved out of one neighbourhood with good bus routes and everything conveniently within walking distance and moved to another with similar characteristics. Huzzah!)

Finished the night with the latest episode of Agent Carter, which was fun. Really, the only thing the storm spoiled for me was a plan for my brother and his cabinet-making friend to come out and look at the living room of my place (where I want bookshelves installed for oh-god-all-these-books) and the stairwell (which is open on one side and I want a banister both for looks and peace of mind.) They're intrepid and might have come anyway, but when the freezing rain started I texted them both to cancel. I have no idea whether they had to work despite the storm, but there was no need to make them come back out on a non-essential trip. We'll arrange something else one day soon.

And that was that.


Over the weekend a friend and I saw Paddington, which was pretty delightful. Nicole Kidman, as the villain, looked more natural than I'd seen her in years (not a snarky comment, her face looked all human and pliable!) and the actress who played Mrs. Brown was adorable. Really fun!

My friend and I were sitting directly behind a birthday party, which took up two rows-- small kids in the middle and adults at the ends of the rows. It seemed like a small number of adults to wrangle so many children. Truly, parents develop superpowers. And the idea of taking the kids out to an event, as opposed to having them all in your house, seems genius to me especially in the winter. I remember birthday parties of my childhood-- you either had a very small number of best friends (in which case you delivered the invitations on the sly or your mother phoned around) or THE WHOLE CLASS was invited, which even in those days might be thirty children. I have no idea how mothers (it was the seventies, so it was the mother running everything-- I don't think I ever even met the dad) managed it.

Incidentally, Valentine's Day was the same way when I was a kid, and maybe still is despite sad-Charlie-Brown-getting-no-Valentines cartoons: a week or so before the day you got a list of all the kids in your class, and you were expected to get one or two boxes of cheap little valentines and give one to EVERYONE. And then you had cookies and fruit punch at your desk. When I was a teacher, in a very small school, we had a period at the beginning of the party where everyone could roam the school delivering valentines to their friends and siblings and cousins in other classes, but you had to provide one valentine to each kid in your class, and if you forgot someone the teacher (who also gave everyone a valentine) had a stash. That seems so reasonable that I'm never sure what to make of stories that include the idea of one kid never getting a valentine. Was the practice less widespread than I assumed?

Anyway. We're coming up on Valentine's Day, which tends to result in a lot of posts on Facebook by people loudly proclaiming it a fake holiday they proudly do not care about. Personally, it always makes me think of tiny, cheap paper cards ("To My Teacher!") and sugar cookies with pink icing. So I never have a date, but I also never think of it as a date kind of day, either.

The Imitation Game and other movies

This appears to be the winter I see ALL the British Films-- at any rate, there are three (maybe four) on my list that I really want to see. Well, there were, last night I finally got to see The Imitation Game. I may be adding some books about Bletchley Park to my collection, right next to the ones about Bentley Priory. (Conveniently alphabetized and everything!)

As is common in stories of this kind (and as I noted during the Battle Of Britain rampage last fall) the women were at the fringes of this story, but should have starring roles in a story of their own. I found myself really interested in the Keira Knightley character, Joan Clarke, a senior cryptanalyst in her own right. When I look up those books about Bletchley, I'll have to check and make sure the women are included.

Incidentally, although the film begins with a funny little interaction between Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing and the always-terrifying Charles Dance as a senior naval officer-- it's not an uplifting movie in the normal sense, and the relationship between the two characters pretty much goes downhill from the first interaction. It's a story about frustration, secrecy, and loneliness on a number of levels and if you've read anything about Turing's life you'll know not to hope for happy endings. Just saying.

On the other hand it's a very well-made picture with excellent performances and certainly enough to pique anyone's interest in the codebreakers. To say nothing of causing one to cringe at the "morality laws" of not so very long ago. (Turing was gay, which was illegal in Britain at the time of the story, and it turns out being a war hero does you no good at all if your work is top secret.)

In Other British Films news, Paddington (yes, about the bear) is getting better reviews than I ever thought possible, which pleases me since I saw an advance trailer some months ago that made me laugh myself silly. It opens tomorrow and I already have tentative plans with a friend to see it very soon. Ben Whishaw is the voice of Paddington. Richard II is the voice of Paddington!

And then there's Kingsman, a spy spoof starring Colin Firth in glasses and a natty suit, and I don't think I need to know any more than that to want to see it.

Also, Mr. Turner, about the painter, is supposed to show up at some point and I'm interested in that, if only to try and make myself envision Timothy Spall as anything aside from Wormtail!

And in non-British pictures there's Blackhat, which looks dumb but stars Chris Hemsworth, and that might be worth a look.

So, yeah. It's been a while since there were this many movies floating around that I want to see, which is kind of exciting!