Friday, May 30, 2014

Thanks for the movie review, John Gray

John Gray, over at Going Gently often writes reviews on movies he's seen (or films, if you're on the other side of the Pond)and recently wrote one about "The Lunch Box," which you can read about here.

We have a cinema nearby that shows a number of independent films, and i was hoping to see "The Grand Budapest Hotel," but i got busy with work stuff and realized with some sadness that last night was the last night it was showing there, so i missed it. I can rent it when it goes to DVD, so all's not lost. The paper schedule i have for the cinema had tonight's entertainment as TBA so at the time of publishing the schedule, they hadn't secured anything. I went on-line, hoping to see that they extended "The Grand Budapest Hotel" by a day. They hadn't. What they did do was show a limited run of "The Lunch Box," and based on John's review, i went to see it.

I was not disappointed in the least. A wonderful film. I'd even be willing to pay to see it on the big screen again, and i don't say that often about films i've seen.

If you have the chance, go see it. Go. see. it.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Red eye

SFB was helping me with a small boat project the other day. He was drilling a bit of Starboard®, which is a hard plastic material that can take the place of plywood in many a marine application. We were fitting new supports for the stays as one of the plywood ones original to the boat had rotted and split. He had used the old ones as templates and cut them to size over winter. Once the weather warmed up, we could install them and drill holes for the screws to secure them.

I had thought to get eye protection, but forgot to say, "hold on a sec," when SFB, already in the cabin, asked me to come help him for a moment. He drilled the first hole as i held the piece of Starboard® in place, and something landed in my eye. Hard to tell if it were dust, dirt, a bit of Starboard® or what, but it itched like mad, so naturally, i rubbed it, so it itched and burned, and i kept thinking i could blink away whatever the problem was.

After we were done, i checked in the mirror and couldn't see anything in my eye. It was red, but that was all. After a good night's sleep, i was sure it'd be fine next day.

And it was, sort of. Still a little irritated and red, but nothing screamed at me to run to the doctor's. I spent most of the day inside and treated myself for a walk along the breakwater when i ran errands in the afternoon. That was yesterday.

Today, i awoke with a feeling of gunk in my eye that had worked itself out. Eye was a little red, nothing to worry about. And, i got on with my day. SFB came back to help me move the boat onto the driveway and to wire the two lights that were removed when we removed the original stay supports. I got into the boat, this time with eye protection, and my eyes started to burn. And itch. So i rubbed and realized i was making things worse. I went inside the house to wash them out with water, and they teared a little bit and felt better. I'm not one who's known for having spring allergies, but this felt like the itchy eyes some people have described to me.

We ended up having to run to the hardware store to get different wire from what SFB had pulled from his stash, so i went with him. We chatted easily, i got back home, and went to put my purse in the house. After doing so, i caught a look at myself in the mirror. My eyes were as red as any stoner's in the seventies, and i knew i had to do something. SFB had commented how he used to have a great cache of all kinds of boating stuff, but since he had sold his boat and then a few years after helped his daughter and her boyfriend with preparing their boat so they could be full-time cruisers, most of his stash was gone.

Apparently, i'm the same way with drugs, because last week i had a headache, and grabbed the bottle of aspirin. Expired 2010. Now, here i was with red, itchy eyes, and nothing on hand to help.

I told SFB i was going to go get some eye drops, did he need anything? Nope, he'd work on rewiring the lights, and as the cabin space is really small, there wasn't anything i could do to help, other than give him all the space.

I drove to the drugstore and realized the last time i had bought eye drops, i had been a stoner in the seventies. I smiled to myself, thankful that i found a parking spot immediately in front of the drugstore, and went in. It took me a few minutes to locate where the eye drops were, and once there, i'm sure my mouth fell open. I had expected to find a name brand box and store brand box. But, no, this wasn't 1974, this was 2014. There were easily six different kinds of eye drops. Some removed only redness, some redness and soothed, some for allergies. Each one had Drug Facts on the side panel. A few were on sale, the store brands were buy one box and get a second 50% off. I decided the redness and itchy eyes kind was probably best for my needs, completely denying that any of this could be allergy related.

I found a box of gauze on sale and thought that might be good for the boat's boo-boo kit, so picked that up as well.

There were two cashiers, and i stood in line where i'd be the next customer waited on. Only, he had a to return an item. Something about a phone accessory he got that didn't fit, wasn't quite right. No, he didn't know what straight talk was, he had a data plan, only 30 bucks a month, and that was great. The chit chat part gave him only 100 minutes per month, but that was all right. Yeah, i thought to myself, it's all right because you're spending all your chit chat time right now while my eyes are burning, and while you were blathering on cashier #2 has waited on the customers who were in line when i walked up and now there's a new customer who has since walked up who is being waited on. Meanwhile, here i am, waiting, waiting, waiting....

Cashier #2 was done ringing up the latest customer, so i went over to her register. Good thing because she rang me up while phone accessory return man was still asking questions.

I nearly squirted drops in my eyes as soon as i got in the truck, but i decided to wait until i got home. It's been so long since i'd used these drops, i didn't want anything to go wrong and then be stranded, unable to drive. Sounds silly, but it's been nearly 40 years since i used the stuff. Who knows what's new and different?

As soon as i got home, i took the bottle out of the box, hacked through the "do not use this product unless the incredibly infuriating plastic wrap is securely in place because we want to keep you safe while raising your blood pressure," and squirted a few drops. Shades of the seventies, as my eye wouldn't stay open and i wore more of the drops on my shirt. A second squirt was more successful, and i felt nearly instantaneous relief.

An hour later, i squirted a two drops in my left eye, the one with the original irritation. Felt loads better, and the whites of my eyes returned to being white. The half-ounce (15 mL) bottle i have ought to last well until its expiry date sometime in 2015.

I looked in my medicine cabinet. Very few meds. Some nighttime cold relief medicine. Some Vicks® vaporub. The new bottle of aspirin i bought last week for the headache. A bulbous syringe for ear wax removal. A box of Sudafed®, the version of pseudophedrine meth addicts use because that stuff works better than the PE version. Some ointment that i can put on before i go out into poison ivy land that's supposed to keep the poison ivy from penetrating my skin. Rubbing alcohol. Hydrogen peroxide. Bandaids (plasters). And now the eye drops.

I guess that's the downside of being medically boring. You just don't keep loads of stuff on hand because there's not much call for it.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Next time, somebody please pull me away

I've mentioned before that i am on facebook and find it can be entertaining. And a timesuck. And some things i read make my blood boil or make me smile and say, "Awww."

Tonight, as i read something inane, i broke the rule i made for myself some time back, and i read the comments. Now, there are times where reading comments can be helpful because someone will provide an explanation, or as in one person i follow who's a US English grammarian, the comments explain how we are separated by a common language at times with other English speakers. Most of the banter is good-natured.

All too often, however, if someone shares on their wall something they find cute or funny, if i click to look at whatever it is and go on to read the comments, i nearly always wish i hadn't. The comments are chock-a-block full of trolls and people who must lead very small lives.

Anyhow, in a weak moment this evening, i responded to a comment. The comment did irk me, but at the same time i realised the person making the comment failed to understand the principal difference in what he knew as usual and ordinary and what was meant by the graphic shown.

It was an innocent enough graphic, one depicting a chart for (US) gallons, quarts, pints, tablespoons, teaspoons, and cups, and showing equivalent amounts. As i tend to be a bit more left brained about things like this, i work better with a list rather than a pie chart with arrows pointing this way and that. But, it was clever to show it all on something that could be easily printed off and used in the kitchen.

And here's where the problem lay. The top commenter (what does that mean? He has the most numerous on that particular site, or that he's the most popular at the moment because he has more likes and replies than others? but i digress...) as i was saying, the top commenter (TC) asked why wouldn't the US just grow up and go to metric.

I've had occasion to convert recipes, and Mr TC missed the point. It's not just a matter of using metric. Most US recipies don't measure things by weight, but by volume. Well, the meat or fish is usually measured by weight. But the flour, sugar, salt, pepper, and spices are aren't. They're measured by volume. So, if something calls for three cups of flour and one cup of sugar, it's not a matter of saying 1 cup=8 ounces, therefore 3 c=24 oz, or 908 g. Because the US measuring cups measure volume and disregard weight. A cup of cake flour weighs less than a cup of sugar, but you use the same measuring cup in a US recipe; whereas in a metric recipe, it might call for 900 g of flour and 75 g of sugar because it's making the assumption that you're weighing the ingredients.

And, i got sucked in and tried to explain. Volume vs. weighing. Another snarky commenter said, Oh, so you can't use a metric measuring cup then, is that so hard, Megan?

Completely missing the point. I replied the the second commenter that he misunderstood what i had written. Recipes in the US or in older UK and Canadian cookbooks for that matter, don't weigh every ingredient. They use volume instead, a cup of this to three cups of that, and as long as the ratios stay the same, the recipe works. Nothing is weighed, only measured by volume.

And then i could feel the centrifugal force starting to suck me in. It was at the critical moment. I could wait and see what the follow-up was, or say, "Enough!" and move on. I chose the latter and am rather rueing that i said anything at all. Because it seems that people are more interested in beating their chests and saying something inane than they are about learning anything.

I did hesitate for moment, though, and wondered if i ought to relate when i lived in France and had to think in metric. I was somewhat successful, but not really. I needed benchmarks to have things make sense. Height in metric made no sense to me whatever, but in French, someone would say something like, "He's one and a half metres tall." It took me awhile to realize why it was so hard for me to grasp that. After all, one meter is 39 inches, just a tad over 3 feet. Or a yard. And that's when the lightbulb dimmed. We never use yards for vertical measurement. Why, i don't know. We just don't. A man can be six feet tall, but we'd never say he's two yards tall. So saying he's nearly 2 metres tall just doesn't compute in my brain.

I had to cook for myself when i lived there, and would go to a butcher shop and convert the ounces of meat i wanted into grams. I'd ask for 250 grams, and the butcher would say, "oh, this is 248," or "It's 256," and it was always close enough for my needs. After a few months, the butcher asked me why i always asked for a specific amount and then when he'd tell me something that was close but not exact, i always said it was all right?

I explained that in the US, we didn't use metric, but the English system of pounds and ounces. He and a few other butchers who i guess were also curious and paused in their work nodded that they understood that. I said that in the States, i'd ask the butcher for a half pound of meat or quarter pound of meat, and he's weigh it out for me. It wasn't always exact but close enough.

"Ah!" the butcher said, and the other butchers looked at him as recognition came across his face. "So, you must order the weight you want, and they give that to you. More or less."

I nodded, and a few of the other butchers started to smile as if sharing an inside joke.

"So, you don't ask for a specific weight here?" And here i had been so proud of myself for using the metric system. sigh.

"No, you just tell me how many people you're cooking for, and we give you what you need."

"Really?" i asked. This was a new idea to me.

All of the other butchers nodded solemnly. "Okay, i'll do that next time," i said. And i noticed the next time i was in there, sure enough, the customers were ordering for two people, or four people. So, i ordered for one person. Most of the time. On occasion, i'd order "for two people." And here, the butcher would smile with a twinkle in his eye and say, "Oh, do we have a date? Are you cooking for a new beau?"

When i returned to the US, i was glad to get back to pounds and ounces. People were measured in feet, not yards/metres. I could ask for a quarter pound of meat and not have questions about my love life. But some of that eyeing portions stayed with me, and there are times where i ask for a specific piece of meat or fish, knowing it'll be enough for my needs. The deli person dutifully weighs it and tells me the weight. I say it's fine, because it is. I know by looking at it, it's the perfect size, regardless of weight.

In the end, i decided that reliving that pleasant moment in France where finding genunine interest in something mundane we do without thinking can be done in a completely different way someplace else with results every bit as fabulous was reward enough, and didn't need to be marred by silly commenters who only wanted to beat their chests and crow rather than learn anything.