January 2011

Did you catch the commercial this week promoting the new season of Survivor? It’s Boston Rob versus Russell! And I guffawed out loud at Jeff Probst’s observation, “I’m gonna need a bigger torch!”

Apparently, there’s a new twist to the game in this 22nd iteration:

On Survivor: Redemption Island, which premieres Feb. 16 on CBS, when a contestant is voted off, he or she won’t leave the game completely but go instead to Redemption Island, where he or she will face off against the next person voted off in a duel. The winner lives on to face the next arrival at Redemption Island until one person left standing has a chance to return to the game.

(Historic moment, peeps — that may be the first time in six years of blogging that I’ve ever quoted from People magazine!)

Boston Rob is on his, what, fourth or fifth season now, but I’m still looking forward to this. I still think Russell was robbed in Survivor Samoa and totally should have won the million bucks.

I’ve also heard that they’ve adapted the rules to give discretionary power to send someone directly home rather than keeping them around for the jury, after NaOnka and Kelly S quit Survivor Nicaragua. They should not have been allowed to stay as jury members, IMHO.

I just wish they’d move Survivor back to Thursday night where it belongs. After 10 years of habit, it’s messing with the flow of my week to have it on Wednesday nights!

Yay, Survivor is (almost) back!

Edited to add: oooh, and this one is also good. It’s from the CBS website, though, and you have to sit through a 20 second commercial (sigh) first.


Project 365: One month done!

by DaniGirl on January 31, 2011 · 5 comments

in Photo of the Day

This week on my 365 project, I took a lot of iPhone pictures. I found an app called Diptic that lets you create diptychs (two panels creating one picture) as well as triptychs and up to five-panel images.

33:365 Crayon dippy

34:365 Tree dippy

Another easy iPhone capture, this one via Instagram:

32:365 Key to my heart

This was an iPhone capture simply because it was the only camera I had with me at the time. Remember how cold it was last weekend? It was near -25C (-15F) on Saturday morning when I headed out to the gym, and I noticed that even though it was relatively clear, it was so cold that the ice crystals in the air formed a rainbow around the rising sun. Stellar!

30:365 Ice crystal rainbow at sunrise

One of my favourite groups on Flickr is the “Through the Viewfinder” group, and they had a thread discussing “topless TtV”: TtV shots that aren’t cropped to the viewfinder and with no contraption, so you can clearly see the entire bottom camera. I liked the idea, and this is the result. Photogenic Miss Katie, who, by the way, is still in fine health.

29:365 Topless TtV

Every year I buy a potted hyacinth from the grocery store. The smell as they come into bloom is delicious and fills the house with the sweet scent of spring just when it seems that winter will never end. And each year I plant the leftover bulb in the garden. I’d cultivated a half a dozen or so of them at the old house, and am looking forward to peppering the new garden with them!

Lucas couldn’t even wait for this one to bloom, so intent was he on sucking in the scent last weekend! This, by the way, was not so much staged as captured. I was shooting the backlit hyacinth when Lucas popped up to “help”. The pose and the vigour with which he sniffed were entirely his own! Don’t you just love that cowlick? It’s *always* standing on end like that!

31:365 Lucas loves flowers

And, the hyacinth a few days later as it came into bloom, taken through the viewfinder of my Duaflex. The frame is in very soft focus because I used a close-up filter on my Nikon lens so I could get in close and fill the frame.

35:365 Hello hyacinth TtV

Here’s my brain-teaser of the day for you. In TtV, the Nikon lens focuses on the viewfinder glass, which is on the top of the Duaflex. The Nikon lens also has a minimum focusing distance, meaning you have to be at least X distance from your subject before it can autofocus. Part of the reason I use a “contraption” is to ensure that minimum distance is kept while blocking out extraneous light.

But! If I get too close to the hyacinth flower with the *Duaflex*, the Nikon won’t autofocus. It wants me to have the Duaflex that minimum distance away from the subject as well as the minimum distance from the Nikon to the viewfinder.

Weird, eh? One of the many wonderful quirks of TtV. 🙂


With five centimeters of fresh snow on the ground and temperatures near freezing, we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful morning to enjoy Shiverfest, Manotick’s annual winter carnival. See?

Sleigh ride

Shiverfest horse

Simon pulling

Shiverfest mascot sledding

Tristan at Shiverfest

Shiverfest Lucas

Tristan and Simon at Shiverfest

My only regret is that the intense quad workout I decided to do at the gym might have been a poor choice to go with hauling Lucas half a mile to the tobogganing hill and back, not to mention dragging him back up after every trip down the hill. I can’t feel my legs anymore!


I was in a committee meeting of the boys’ school council recently, and one of the other members presented a letter of some import that would be going home with each child in the school on behalf of school council. It was a very serious letter with a significant call to action (we’re raising funds to equip each classroom with a SmartBoard), and the author finished his presentation by saying he was open to the committee’s comments on the content, the layout and ‘even the font.’ At which point I pulled my tongue out from between my teeth and said rather timidly, “Well, since you asked? I hate Comic Sans font.”

It’s true. I’m a font snob. I could spend a day or three simply poking around in free font download sites, leaving the children to run feral. Fonts are like the icing on a cupcake — they can make it exquisite or awful. My personal preference runs to classics like Times New Roman and clean sans serif fonts like the Helvetica you’re currently reading, but I’m also a fan of a well-constructed and playful handwriting font. You’d think that since it more or less intersects all of the foregoing, I’d be a bigger fan of Comic Sans — but I’m not. In fact, it pains me to do this, but in the name of objective reporting I have looked up the necessary coding to turn a part of this paragraph into said Comic Sans font. Are you loving it? I’m not, I have to turn it off now!

I don’t know why people use Comic Sans. To me, it’s the font equivalent of turning every statement into a question. It undermines your credibility. It’s the open-fly and lipstick-on-your-teeth of the font world. In my very humble opinion, you should graduate beyond Comic Sans about the time you stop dotting the letter i with a heart or a star. And apparently, I’m not the only one.

To his credit, my co-committee member took my comments in good humour. In fact, he laughed that I carried such a burden of distaste for Comic Sans. And just a few days later, he e-mailed me this article from the Globe and Mail, which claims that Comic Sans will “will improve your memory retention, help your kids do better in school and make your wife love you more.”

There you go. Different keystrokes for different folks. And for all of my sweet friends who now think that I think poorly of them because of their font choice I will concede that for personal e-mail, it’s not a bad font choice — but it’s not a good one, either.

That’s exactly the sentiment that infuses this long and geek-a-licious article that had me at its title: “Why you hate Comic Sans.” It moves through a designer’s analysis of the stroke and weight of the font, goes on for quite a while using terms like stroke modulation, aperture and anti-aliasing, and then moves on to the bit that really intrigued me — the history of Comic Sans.

His conclusion:

So, the story of Comic Sans is not that of a really terrible font, but rather of a mediocre font, used incorrectly on a massive scale. Windows 95 was the first operating system to really hit it big. Just as computers were starting to pop up in nearly every home in America, Windows 95 was finding itself installed on all of those computers, and with it, the font Comic Sans. So now, nearly every man, woman, child, and bake sale organizer find themselves armed with publishing power unlike civilization had ever seen; and few of them really had any design sense.

He also notes:

So, you see, Comic Sans is an archetypal enemy of the Graphic Designer. Its not only an unattractive font, but it also represents the invisible, evil force that is making the “print” designer less and less relevant. A natural reaction to being threatened is violence, and the hatred for Comic Sans is arguably violent.

A good old-fashioned smackdown between classically trained graphic designers and sixty million DIY publishers — how can you not love this stuff? (I have to admit, I have a vested interest in this one. In my day job, I’m a Web manager but Beloved is not only trained in graphic arts but a teacher of them as well. Apparently we’re the Hatfields and the McCoys of the digital world!)

So where do you fit on the continuum? Need a little help to find out? Take five minutes to take this clever and entertaining quiz from Pentagram: What Type Are You?

Apparently, I am Archer Hairline – emotional, understated, progressive and disciplined. I love it!

And you?

Edited to add:
props and bellows of laughter to @sproudfoot on twitter, who sent me the link to one of the most hilarious pieces I’ve ever read on the web, “Short Imagined Monologues: I’m Comic Sans, Asshole

It opens with this:

Listen up. I know the shit you’ve been saying behind my back. You think I’m stupid. You think I’m immature. You think I’m a malformed, pathetic excuse for a font. Well think again, nerdhole, because I’m Comic Sans, and I’m the best thing to happen to typography since Johannes fucking Gutenberg.

and ends with this:

I’m not just a font. I am a force of motherfucking nature and I will not rest until every uptight armchair typographer cock-hat like you is surrounded by my lovable, comic-book inspired, sans-serif badassery. Enough of this bullshit. I’m gonna go get hammered with Papyrus.

And the middle bits are even funnier than that. Really, go read it!!


You know what’s great about blogging? The network of friends who know me and my bloggy style well enough to send me links to really quirky articles like this one about — are you ready for it? — human cheese.

Yes, you read that right. People are taking human milk, mixing it with goat or cow milk, and turning it into cheese for human consumption.

*pause while you all wince and shift uncomfortably in your chair*

I know, major ick factor, right? Me too. Until you start to think about it. On a biological level, it’s way more weird that we drink the milk of other animals — really, cows are disgusting, slobbery, unpleasant animals, and goats give me the willies — so why do we shudder at the idea of consuming human milk? The Globe and Mail article gets right to the crux of it with a quote from Miriam Simun, who is offering her human milk cheese online. “Many people feel uncomfortable because they don’t know the woman, or what she is eating – but how often do you know the cows of your cheese, and what they are eating?”

It’s funny, a couple of years back I blogged about the Lactation Station Breast Milk Bar, an art installation in Toronto that welcomed passers-by to consume 3 oz of the breast milk of strangers, and my reaction at the time landed somewhere between distaste and disturbed. Maybe I’ve mellowed over the years, or maybe another year and a half of nursing softened me up, but I think this is a kind of neat idea.

But as much as I’m trying to be open-minded, I have to admit that this bit also made me squirm:

Ms. Sumin mixed the women’s milk with cow’s or goat’s milk, and offers several spirited reviews on her website: “This spreadable deliciousness is a human-goat blend, made from two wonderful milks. A playful Vermont mountain goat herd milk tangos with the milk of a sweet lawyer’s assistant who hails from Wisconsin and is excited to become part of what she considers a ‘more acceptable and personal’ cheese. Her mostly organic diet full of meat is rich in flavor and spices – and boy does it come through in this darling little cheese!”

Too much information, methinks. (Although I did snicker at the fact that the milk supplier was from Wisconsin. They really are cheese people out there, aren’t they?) I think I’d be open to the idea of cheese made from *my* milk, but — and please don’t take this personally — I think I’d pass on yours.

Of course, you know I wrote this whole post just so I could ask you: what do you think? Would you eat human cheese?


One of the many things I’m loving about Manotick is that there’s a community festival of some sort about every six weeks or so. This Friday and Saturday, it’s Shiverfest!

24:365 Skates

There’s all sorts of family fun, including a bonfire, public skating, a chili cook-off and even a photography contest. There’s a pancake breakfast followed by a special kids’ program featuring face painting, tattoos and a visit by a truck from Ottawa Fire Services at the Manotick Arena. Later in the day on Saturday, there’s a show by Dino’s Reptiles, and a late afternoon teeny-bopper dance. There’s also horse-drawn sleigh rides and tobogganing in the park. Doesn’t that sound like an awesome winter day?

For more information, including lots of specials from local vendors, see this Shiverfest pdf from the Manotick Village and Community Association.


Five reasons I’m looking forward to spring

24 January 2011 5 things

Here in Ottawa, it’s the coldest day of the winter so far, and the mercury has clawed its way up to -24C. But the sun is brilliant, and it’s making me twitchy. Now that the days are starting to get incrementally longer, I can feel summer calling my name. Unfortunately, it’s still a long-distance call! […]

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Project 365: Week 3

22 January 2011 Photo of the Day

Maybe it’s the cold temperatures or maybe it’s the short days and low light, but I liked the idea of taking pictures a lot more than I liked actually taking pictures this past week. I wanted to take beautiful, thoughtful, meaningful pictures. I actually took, well, these. I fear that I’m relying to heavily on […]

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Photography and post-processing

19 January 2011 The Family Photographer

When I started my first 365 project back — hey, it was two years ago tomorrow! I didn’t realize that until I was half way through the sentence!! Ahem, anyway, when I started my first 365 back in January 2009, I posted almost every shot straight out of the camera (SOOC). I had it in […]

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Some thoughts on comments and comment spam

18 January 2011 Meta-blogging

I‘ve been thinking about comments lately. It was Delurking Day the other day, and I got an interesting e-mail from a reader. She asked me why bloggers think comments are so important. She noted that we as site owners can plainly see the traffic, so why do we want people to comment? I thought it […]

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