Without any Breeding

Needing to restock my wine shelf, I made the mistake of wandering into the Vintages section of the closest Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) outlet.

What is Vintages?

I’m glad you asked. Let’s let the LCBO website answer:

Vintages is your gateway to discovering
the world’s best and most interesting wines,
from icons crafted in top regions
to eclectic little gems starting at well under $20.
No experience required! ​​

Now, I’ve come to accept that I can’t keep up with popular culture, the kids’ slang, and technology, but I did not know until this very day that the Wine World has moved on without me. You don’t believe me? Herewith, the tasting notes for the LCBO’s Wine of the Month.

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Posted in Laughing Frequently | Tagged | 16 Comments

Great for Grignotage

Bad news, folks: There’s a new food-like substance on the market and it’s tasty.

My interest in products is often matched by my interest in the marketing thinking behind the taglines being used (as here, here, here, here, and here), and this bold claim caught my attention.

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How It Started . . .

. . . how it’s going.

You’ve seen the side-by-each comparisons, I expect. On social media it’s usually one of two juxtapositions:

  • Flagging hypocrisy – “These detestable people must be de-platformed because speech is violence” becomes “Gosh, everyone deserves a hearing” when the cause–but not the heat of the rhetoric–changes.
  • Indicting failed government policies – “You said you were going to do such-&-such for $yy” but “You haven’t done any such-&-such and you’ve spent 100 x $yy already.”

Fair enough, even funny enough, sometimes. But also tiring enough, in quantity. “Snipe, snipe” is a crummy basis for a society.

So that I don’t do the exact thing that’s making me tired, I herewith launch a new blog category: how-it-started (how-it’s-going). But this one is not for hypocrisy or policy failures. Instead, it will celebrate progress and achievement. To start us off, here’s a friend’s garden from last week. Stay tuned for the promised follow-on shot, later this summer.

How it started . . .

It will also celebrate sheer continuity. After all, it’s good to know that some things last: Not everything disappears or fades away. To start us off, here’s me with the same reaction to sunlight, about 72 years apart. Nope, some things don’t change, although the wrinkles and the hat are both new.

How it started . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . how it’s going.


Posted in Appreciating Deeply, How it started, Laughing Frequently, Photos of Flora, Photos of People | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

It’s an old riddle, unencumbered by a funny answer.

Why did the chicken cross the road?
To get to the other side.

It’s an anti-joke, even in its (too many) other formulations.

Why did the chicken run across the road?
To get to the other side faster.

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Posted in Laughing Frequently, New Perspectives, Thinking Broadly | Tagged | 6 Comments

The Lights are On (Sort Of)

It don’t mean a barkle
if it ain’t got that sparkle.
[Doo-wop, doo-wop, doo-wop, doo-wop, doo]
– Early draft of a song later made famous by
Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong

Sparkle. Catch light. Whatever you call it, its presence adds a lot to a close-up of a stationary bird. It might just be a reflection of sunlight off a wet cornea, but it can imbue a photo with life. Without it, the subject could be a stuffed bird–a dead parrot, perhaps. With it, suddenly there’s somebody home.

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Posted in Laughing Frequently, Photos of Fauna | Tagged | 12 Comments

You Can Use a Letter Again

I’m going to get it tattooed on the back of my hand.

You can use a letter again.

I’m going to put it on an endless-loop crawler on my laptop screen.

You can use a letter again.

I’m going to cross-stitch it and hang it on the wall straight ahead of me when I look up from the screen/keyboard.

You can use a letter again.

Several months ago I gave in to the no-longer-current craze for online word games: Wordle (in the New York Times) and Canuckle (the Canadian version). For those who haven’t played, the goal is to guess a five-letter word in just six tries. Using simple colour-coding, the game tracks which letters are right but in the wrong position, which letters are right and in the right position, and which letters you’ve already guessed wrongly, to keep you from using them again by mistake. With that much feedback and assistance, how hard can it be?

Not very hard, sometimes; impossible, others.

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As We Say These Days

This week’s little bonus? Tips for all the iced-coffee lovers out there.

Now, these come with a caveat: I do not drink coffee–not any kind of coffee–so I’m relying (like, completely) on this article. Its title sounds super authoritative, though, so we’re going to go with it: The Best Way to Make Iced Coffee (It Isn’t Cold Brew).

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Nope, not I, even though Ottawa’s nighttime skies have been overcast for the last two night times, completely obscuring the aurora display from an unusually strong solar storm. (I mean, come on: We had rain last night. Rain!) Considering the knowledge and the specialist equipment often needed to even see, much less fully appreciate, astronomical events, the auroras by contrast are an equal-opportunity event.

“For most people here on planet Earth, they won’t have to do anything,” said Rob Steenburgh, a scientist with NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center.

Yup, you basically just need to stay up, show up, and look up. And the sky needs to stay out of the way.

“That’s really the gift from space weather: the aurora,” Steenburgh said. He and his colleagues said the best views may come from phone cameras, which are better at capturing light than the naked eye.

Snap a picture of the sky, and “there might be actually a nice little treat there for you,” said Mike Bettwy, operations chief for the prediction center.

My phone camera is better at picking up light than my eye even just when photographing sunsets, so I guess this doesn’t surprise me, but it’s good to be reminded. Go ahead: Take your best shot, literally.

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Another Look

All I can see is the yellow that carpets the median for, well, as far as I can see. From this place in space I can’t see the scrubby, spready, jaggedy leaves that I know are certainly there. Likewise, from this moment in time, I can’t see the seed heads that I know are certainly coming; seed heads that can be lovely, briefly, and one by one . . .

Close-up of dandelion seed head, almost in cross-section.

. . . but that are ugly in abundance.

Dandelions in seed in early June

And an abundance of dandelions is what we have, pretty much everywhere, thanks in part to a 15-year-old provincial ban on using dandelion spray for “cosmetic purposes” in Ontario.  This ban has had limited effect in our house–my cosmetics routine rarely included dandelion spray–but the effect in our neighbourhood has been marked. Every year the medians and boulevards and sports fields and grassy verges beside walking paths and front lawns all get a little bit yellower. This shouldn’t come as a surprise.

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Posted in Appreciating Deeply, Feeling Clearly, Photos of Flora | Tagged , , | 8 Comments