The Doodle Pad

Remembering Ruthie

Tonight I'm going to a celebration of someone's life. A wake, really. One of the organizers is making a book of memories and asked for contributions. It seemed appropriate to post it here.

I didn't know Ruthie very well. I wish I'd known her better. I wanted to, but somehow we never made that move from casual talk to simpatico conversation.

I loved listening to her gentle Scottish brogue and turn of phrase. I was often lost in the musicality of her voice until I realized she'd just let loose a zinger! Ruthie had the spark. The shock of red hair was your first clue. Her quiet demeanor masked quite a sense of humour and no small amount of clever. When I first met her I took her for twenty something, after talking with her I thought the wisdom bespoke someone older. I'm still not entirely sure how old she was, only that she died far too soon.

Ruthie was on a extended visit to Vancouver and taking in all of the sites she could with her travel buddy Jo. She and I met when her and Jo started coming to the Friday sci-fi/fantasy meetups. They were big, I mean gigantically huge, Stargate fans.

One of my favourite places to take visitors is the train tunnels at Hope, and Ruthie was interested. I was working night shift at the time, so one morning after finishing work at 6am, Ruthie, Jo, someone's UK cousin, and yours truly made the drive to Hope. The early morning didn't phase her at all.

I don't have any great pictures of Ruthie, but I have these. For some reason we started talking about "The Monkees", and I got these photographs of the inevitable outcome:

Monkees Walk Monkees Walk

And the trip produced a bonus. Ruthie and Jo has been location spotting Stargate episodes. There was a particular river they were looking for, and they unexpectedly found it that day.

Good bye, Ruthie. You are remembered fondly.

Coffee Good, Reporting Not So Much

Coffee MakerOne of big news items yesterday was a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine stating the coffee habit wasn't going to prematurely kill your average coffee drinker. Good news, to be sure. But how much can we trust the information?

I've been long skeptical of news reports on medical studies. The information typically comes out of a press release from the study authors with no independent scrutiny, but you're almost never told this. If the topic is something I'm interested in, I like to do a little digging.

Here's a sample of some of the Canadian Internet news coverage:
CBC: Coffee drinking not harmful and may help against heart disease: study Coffee not a killer - and may protect women: study Coffee not a killer - and may protect women: study (Yup, same article as

The article is better than CBC's. CBC's is actually a little bizarre. They chose to highlight "No cancer correlation" in a sub-heading and followed up with precisely one line of text on the topic. It's not the way I was taught to organize with headings.

I thought one of the more interesting bits of information was caffeine not being a factor. Both "leaded" and "unleaded" coffee gave the same results. Given it's a key consumption choice I thought it odd the fact was buried or not mentioned in most reporting.

In spite of my wariness of press releases, the one for this study actually has the best presentation of the information:

Continue reading Coffee Good, Reporting Not So Much

Does A Waffle Iron Equal Waffly Goodness?

After posting pictures of my waffle iron plugged in there comes the inevitable question of: How good are the waffles?!

I regret to say the tool exceeds the chef's ability to use it. In fairness, I've only tried maybe 10 times since I inherited it, and 2 of those times were last week. And although my waffles aren't great, they're better than some restaurant waffles I had!

Here are some pictures from my most recent venture. Still working on that batter distribution thing.

Laying down the batter Waffles ready for eating

My waffles definitely are not of the light and crispy variety, which is how I like them. I suspect I'm either using too much batter or don't have enough air in the batter (is that over mixing, or under mixing?). Or maybe I'm just not cooking them long enough. I thing I have found: a homemade batter recipe (compliments of Greg) better than the store bought mix I was using.

One very cool thing I discovered on the last go around is the waffles are awesome reheated in the toaster! They're actually almost better than fresh, they're crisper! Even frozen, they reheat great. Here I thought there was something special about those pre-frozen toaster waffles. Nope!

Waffle Cooking Results Toaster Waffles

I see more research and experimentation in my future. Waffle Quest: Search for Crispiness.

And no, I'm not quitting my day job to become a food photographer!

My Oldest Appliance Waffles in a Good Way

What's the oldest appliance in your kitchen? Mine is this Sunbeam waffle maker. It's at least 40 years old, and quite possiblely older. One of my earliest memories is Dad making waffles on this bad boy. We lived in Surrey till I was 9, and it was a kind of golden age of waffle making in the McGladdery household. I don't remember a lot of use after we moved.

Sunbeam CG Waffle Maker

One of the things going for its longevity might be light use. Waffles weren't an every day, every weekend, or even every month occurrence. But I think this was simply a good time to buy Sunbeam appliances. My parents also had this cool Sunbeam toaster - when you put the bread in, it lowered automatically! - of the same vintage that got almost daily use. That puppy lasted something like 25 years. Regardless of whether it's luck or workmanship, I'm impressed this waffle iron lasted.

I inherited the waffle iron around 10 years ago. With my Dad's loss of waffle interest after Surrey I tried my hand every now and then growing up. Apparently of all the sibs I was only one who had showed any interest; I suspect I was only one to remember my Dad's waffle prowess. Anyway, with a gleam in their eyes my folks arrived, 11 pounds of waffle iron in tow, stating the waffle iron had adopted me.

This is a beast of an appliance, definitely not apartment friendly! They didn't have your typical apartment counter top in mind when they designed it. 'Ware the cupboards when opening, and ensure nothing else is on the counter!

Watch the Cupboards! Sunbeam CG Waffle Maker opened

As I was writing this I got curious and decided to see what I could find in a quick Google search. I'm the proud owner of a Sunbeam CG Waffle Iron. It has its own, albeit very short, Wikpedia entry: Sunbeam CG. There's even a place selling reconditioned models: Toaster Central It was introduced in 1955, no mention of when production stopped. Looks like I have a classic!

I feel strangely compelled to name it, now . . .

Video Dale

Video DaleHave you ever bought something for the dream of what you could do with it but never followed through? I'm guilty. I'm thinking specifically of my first video camera and the Firewire non-linear editor card I bought so I could do real video production. I shot some video and took a course but never really went anywhere with it.

Happily my second video camera is getting some real use and I have the photo and video stream to prove it! Tonight's Vancouver League of Drupallers was streamed live thanks to my camera and microphones and Roland's UStream TV prowess. We had some issues with electrical noise but got things worked out. It was a good technology night! Not perfect, but our game is improving.

Or maybe I'm in a good mood because of the Guinness at the Irish Heather afterwards . . .

And if you're interested in a really great presentation on email newsletters, take the time to watch Boxcar Marketing's Monique Trottier give some awesome advice on email newsletters. Skip over the part when I say um way too much. The player is a bit weird, click the spiral button thing (Spiral Button) to start.

Monique Trottier on Email Newsletters

Photo by roland

New Plush Toy

PHP MascotJust got home, more or less, from the two day Open Web Vancouver 2008 conference. I was an Organizer, and among other things took on organizing the recording of the conference. I have a picture of some of the media we recorded in a Group42 blog post: Pachyderms, PHP and Podcasts

Volunteering usually gets you at least a t-shirt, and sometimes more. No exception here. In fact, although the last thing I need is another plush toy I couldn't resist this fellow, the PHP mascot!

xkcd - The Webcomic

There were a number of online cartoons I checked out daily in my pre-RSS days. After moving to a RSS reader, they all dropped by the wayside. Hitting individual sites in a browser is just too tedious. Then I found xkcd, mostly because the bloggers I read kept referring to it. They have a RSS feed and I'm a daily reader.

xkcd has a high tech geek factor, so it won't be for everyone. But occasionally, like yesterday and today, there's strips that anyone can appreciate.


xkcd comic: Over Qualified

Cheap GPS

xkcd comic: Cheap GPS

Blast Door Art

Blast Door ArtArt has a way of sneaking into unlikely places. Via, a really interesting read on nuclear missile launch facility blast door art: Blast-Door Art: Cave Paintings of the Nuclear Era

An American Air Force major got a grant from the American Department of Defense to photograph missile bunker art! The article pontificates on reasons and circumstances and throws in some interesting historical tidbits. But the art speaks for itself. Even if you're not interested in the article there's a slide show with 12 more images.

Though many of the images are black humour or jingoistic I find it comforting that the missile crews felt compelled to express themselves rather than conform to an olive drab world.

Alamo Draft House Theatre - Tres Cool

Alamo Draft House Theatre SlashFilm recently ran a piece on the Alamo Draft House Theatre titled, The Alamo Drafthouse - The Best Movie Theater EVER. A pretty bold claim, but this theatre does look pretty amazing! They serve real food in the theatre and have some cool theme events.

There's some movies I'd definitely prefer to see without the food distraction (In fact, I'd love to find a movie theatre that got medieval on idiots talking during the film). However, there's a large class of totally fun movies where this venue would rock! If only Vancouver was as enlightened as Austin.

Photo by fuzuoko

Easter 2008 Addendum

Tia in make upIn my Easter 2008 post I talked about my niece's dance competition. My sister posted some pictures from the competition. I've stolen a thumbnail of Tia glamed up for one of the numbers.

For the full set check out my sisters blog post: Spring Break . . . over too soon!.

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