Monthly Archives: February 2010

Anything You Can Do…

I have a needy bladder. Maybe too much information but true, nonetheless. Long car trips are exercises in dehydration and that is within a glorious nation filled with Tim Hortons and gas station washrooms scattered along the way. Traveling where washroom facilities are less accessible can be trying for me and I often have to plan my day/meals/beverages around my washroom needs. Even when they are available the toilet is often out of service or too nasty to actually go near. Going beside a tree can be messy without the right technique (and I can’t say that I’ve perfected it as of yet). Here is a potentially revolutionary device that I am considering test-driving for when I spend 2.5 months in a developing country in 2011. If men can pee standing up without disrobing, why can’t women? I present to you: The SheWee.

It even comes in pink! And NATO green! And Brilliant Blue! And Clear! And who could forget, DESERT SAND!?

Are you with me ladies?


Crossing off Something Nerdy

After many months of planning and waiting I was able to cross something off of my life to-do list. Something quite nerdy. I started a book club 🙂 It is a sporadic one since its members are busy grad students but, nonetheless, we have read one book, discussed it and are in the plans for a second. That counts as a book club. I believe I mentioned the selection process on here back in November. Yes, it took until last week to be accomplished and there was a high attrition rate BUT there were 5 members in attendance and we talked about Margaret Atwood’s Oryx & Crake.

We discussed themes and how the story paralleled our current society and what we thought Snowman would do at the end and what Crake really was planning and why. We ate lots of candy. Afterward we celebrated with a swim, a soak in the hot tub and a fry in the sauna.

The club hopes to hold another session in May when we all return from our first placements across Ontario. We need some book suggestions so I think i’ll go do my research.

Commercially-Sanctioned Love Day

Last weekend was many things:
Not long enough.
Family Day.
A bridal shower for a friend from high school.
Valentine’s Day.
The first time I had seen ‘the man’ in 6 weeks.
The start of the Vancouver Olympics.
Chinese New Year (although this one [unfortunately] did not come into play).

The bridal shower and bachelorette parties took place in Sudbury so I trekked 5 hours north for the weekend. Valentine’s Day was spent at SCIENCE NORTH! While most patrons were families with children I think we may have had the most fun there. Go nerdy-science-love day!

First floor: rocks. Ok, not the best opener.

Next floor: BUGS! The knowledgable ‘bluecoats’ answered all of my questions and let me hold the following fauna: Madagasgar Hissing Cockroach. Giant Millipede (it felt like a toothbrush!). Atlas beetle. The typical lifespan of an Atlas Beetle is 4 months. Now you know. I’m basically fearless.
The insect/arachnid floor included a butterfly…house (?). Off to a not so great start, we let a butterfly out while we were entering the room! Woops! Good thing some attentive 10-yr-olds corrected our folly. Mark then waited patiently while I stared down a butterfly trying to molt its coccoon. Alas, mr. butterfly waited until I left to make his grand entrance.

Next floor: Animals Native to Ontario! Go turtles! Plus a fat, formerly-frost-bitten beaver, and tree-dwelling porcupine and secret Norwegian rats. The staff takes some of the animals out at select times during the day for teaching and touching purposes. We missed the flying squirrel, but, gosh darn it, I wasn’t going to miss the skunk. We may have been the first people at the skunk pen and waited patiently while the attendant roused Rosise the descented skunk with promises of dog treats. She was adorable and extremely sociable. For Valentine’s Day I pet a SKUNK! TAKE THAT!

Next floor: various athletic time trial games. I’ll let you guess which of us enjoyed that part of the excursion most. Oh, racing up stairs! Jumping as high as you can! Grip strength!

After an eventful time at Science North our minds were full but our tummies were empty. This is where we faltered: driving around an unfamiliar city for quick food we caved and bought at the first fastfood place we could find. For our big Valentine’s dinner I had apple juice and cookies as we watched the Olympics between runs to the corner store for Tylenol. We were both sick but it was one of my favourite times 🙂

Sign of Asperger’s: Perseverating on one Topic

A few weeks ago I creeped a friend’s blog and learned about a fabulous band from the UK: Mumford & Sons. It took me a while to remember that I live in Toronto where bands actually visit and play shows. So I looked them up and there was a sold out show this past Monday at Lee’s Palace. A good friend and I grabbed two tickets on creeplist (read: Craigslist) and dutifully stood in line on Family Day to see them play. Oh yeah, the band. Mumford & Sons. We found ourselves standing about three rows (ie. 5 feet) from the stage and settled in for a good night.

The Opener: Sunparlour Players.
A two man/10 instrument act. Honestly, the lead singer also played guitar, bass and drums. The other member sang, played guitar, bass, drums, bell, xylophone, accordian, and one (both?) of them played banjo. Not-the-lead-singer guy (who looked like he may be an invesment banker by day) often played two instruments at one time. Oh look, no need for another band member, I’ll just play bass AND xylophone AT ONE TIME. The music was folky rock and kinda gritty. Not sold enough to buy a CD but worth a listen.

The Main Attraction: Mumford & Sons. 4 young guys from the UK who also rotated instruments like crazy. They sang and played with every ounce of what they had and clearly loved performing together. Plus all 4 are very attractive. The lead singer has a strong and raw sounding voice that is, at first, unexpected but soon very familiar. It was their first show in Canada as the headliner so they were surprised that so many audience members knew all of the words to the songs (even though the album hasn’t been released in Canada). All four laughed and joked with the crowd, although the young looking one on the guitar (Winston) was a mumbler and I never had any idea what he was trying to say. The band interspersed a few new songs in the show and all had the same folk style with enigmatic lyrics that characterizes the band. In the encore they surprised us with a sans-technology version of one of their older songs which just further highlighted their musicianship. It was a great show. I could easily go every week.

My current fave by Mumford & Sons. The Cave.

[ETA: somehow I double-posted the same video but I can’t seem to edit one out. Woops!]

My Clothes-mate

Until now I had never had a friend that I could share clothing with. I was always taller, shorter, bigger or smaller than friends or had an entirely different style. Hi-C, however, has been showing me how to adorn myself with quality clothes for less expensive prices. Her secret: try it on in the store and then buy it on ebay for half the price.* She has also lent me some quality jeans to feel the difference and, blogosphere, I don’t think I can ever go back!

About a month ago we spied a lovely dress on the main floor (read: not on sale) of Anthrologie. She promptly found one on ebay and it arrived last week while we were making apple & cheese scones! It looked gorgeous on her so I gave it a whirl and fell in love. This weekend I made my very first purchase on ebay and will soon be in possession of an “In-A-Moment” dress. I’m so lucky that Hi-C is such a good sport.

*You may already be privvy to this information but it was new to me.

Thanks Internet

For all the great things that the internet makes possible it also keeps a record of failures.

Feeling ambitious today after a great jog outside (so glad to be back outside! See ya later, treadmill!) I have been perusing training programs for running 10km. I’ll be back up north soon for placement and no longer be forced by my own cheapness to walk at least an hour every day, therefore, I need a more intense exercise routine. While discussing this lofty plan with my (oh so sensitive 😉 librariMan I let slip that I had run a 5km race before.

Oh, and that I came in last. Completely dead last. My time was 33 minutes but it was only the second time I had ever even made it that far without stopping (the first was two days before in an effort to not die). I was in grade 10, had only been running for a month and, let’s be honest, had (and still have) never been athletic.

What does an ever-sensitive librariMan do in a situation like this? Offer comfort? Maybe some encouragement? He googles my race! And thank you internet: there is a record of me finishing dead last in a community fundraising race 10 YEARS AGO! That’s right, October 9th, 2000 I came in last. Next time I ever attempt anything competitive I’m going to be certain to come in at least second last.

Food of the gods

SLP 2011 was granted a day off school today (from our fairy godmother). My good friend Hi-C hosted a homework group/baking session all afternoon.

First on the menu: Ginger cookies. We got this recipe from the good ol’net and highly recommend it (if you like your ginger cookies tasty and chewy). Another recommendation: double the spices.

Next (interspersed with some articulation assessment scoring), and the namesake for this post:
GOAT CHEESE & PEAR PIZZA. I don’t care what time of day you are reading this, just go make this right now! So easy and a beautiful mix of sweet and savoury.

1. Buy some of that premade pizza dough (don’t be lazy, the dough not the already baked crust).
2. Flatten onto floured pan (you know, pizza style).
3. Smother with pesto sauce (the tasty green stuff).
4. Carmelize onions and put on top*. Be generous.
5. Thinly slice pear and put on top. Keep up the generosity.
6. Sprinkle (inundate? Depending on your personal tastes) with GOAT CHEESE.
7. Bake (follow baking instructions on dough bag).
8. Savour.
9. Thank me (or actually Hi-C).

*You may actually want to do this as #2 and shift all other steps down one.

DAF: Delayed Auditory Feedback

Some of you may have heard about a ‘miracle cure’ that came out a few years ago for stuttering. One of the brand names is Speech Easy. Here is a heartwarming video demonstrating just how amazing the device is: a person can go from a severe stutter to fluent speech by simply inserting what looks like a hearing aid into the ear and turning it on. Immediate effects. (skip to about 5min in to see the actual heart-wrenching).

The principle behind the device is Delayed Auditory Feedback. The speaker’s voice is echoed back in their ear with a delay of about 50ms (give or take). The hypothesis of why it works is that it creates a situation like choral speech that typically increases fluency (ie. it is like someone is speaking with you). Being an SLP student I get to learn about these amazing things, in fact, I take a whole class (6 hours a week!) in just stuttering. There is, of course, a catch because there always is. The effects of the device tend to wear off after some time as the brain gets used to the echo. It isn’t a replacement for treatment and actual control of stuttering but may be a wonderful option for someone who is desperate, who stutters severely and who has tried everything.

The science behind it is interesting. Technology that causes stutterers to become more fluent can cause disfluent speech in nonstutterers. In class I volunteered to read a passage aloud while wearing headphones and the professor would switch on DAF at random intervals. My speech became slow, disfluent, repeating syllables, prolonging sounds. I didn’t stutter exactly but I stumbled over my words much more than I normally would. Someone tried it before I did and, not wanting to be shown up, I tried to read even faster. Impossible! Every time I would try to speed up I would just start stringing together almost unintelligible syllables.

You can try it yourself. Do it with a friend because you may not realize just how different you sound. Download this software (it is free as a trial). Crank up the delay to approx 150-200ms (although try a range to see what causes the biggest effect). Wear some headphones and turn up the volume. Now read a passage. Try speeding up. Slow down. What happens?

Science rules. Ps. You’ll need to have a microphone /built-in mic in order to do this activity.