Tuesday, September 28, 2010

edited for Canadification

TV programs and ads in Canada are often subtly tweaked from their original U.S. content.
On the Simpsons, Bart and Lisa learn Canadian history in school:
Bart: Quiet nerds burp only near school.
Lisa: Bart, I'm doing my geography homework.
Bart: I know. That's how you remember the 4 original provinces of Canada. Quebec, New Brunswick, Ontario, Nova Scotia; quiet nerds burp only near school. And here's how you remember the principle exports; dogs eat barf only on Wednesday, Mable.
Lisa: Stop! I want to learn on my own.
(Bart walks out of the room)
Bart (hanging from a vent): Canada's govener's general; clowns love haircuts, so should Lee Marvin's valle.
Lisa: Get out! (attempts to hit Bart with her book)

Also, in a case of clever wind-turbine migration, "Iowa Lakes" seem to have moved to somewhere in Canada because the Canadian version of a Duracell ad claims that Iowa Lakes College students help Canadian wind turbines.

And of course, noodle ads say "paysta" instead of "pasta."

Canadian Aviation and Space Museum

Ottawa has an awesome museum of aviation! As opposed to all of the other (many!) airplane musea that we have visited, Canada Aviation and Space Museum is completely indoors and is immaculate. Also as opposed to most U.S. aviation museums that tend to focus on war planes, this one focused mainly on the history and diversity of those small airplanes with pontoons that Canadians use to get into the areas of Canada with no roads.

There were some excellent flight simulators. Both kids got a turn. Sam did very well.

Joseph managed to crash his plane 10 times in 5 minutes--several times before even leaving the runway.

There was also a gallery on the Canadian Space Agency. As near as I could glean from the display, the Canadian Space Agency consists of about 16 astronauts, one of whom is actually a Greenlander and half of whom have never been in space.

Monday, September 27, 2010


The kids and I took the bus to ByWard Market and they sampled their first Canadian beavertail. They had a traditional cinnamon sugar and pronounced it delicious!

Wee Watley

Check out the new link to "Wee Watley" to see some satirical articles by the kids.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pasta imposter

OK, once and for all, its paaaaasta, not paysta. Just saying.

Science and Pirates

Because Ottawa is the capitol, there are plenty of museums. The kids loved the Canada Museum of Science and Technology.

Old tech: the kids loved the outdoor exhibits, including the rockets and trains.

Apparently it is pretty hard to ride an old-timey bike.

The seizure-inducing internet demo.

We have also been to the "beach." at Mooney Bay. Not too bad! The sand is nice, and there is enough of it to pretend that it is an actual beach.

The kids excavated holes and waterways. I eventually went in and swam laps. It was not too bad--low visibility and lots of algae, though.

Also, there were pirates. Inexplicably, someone runs a pirate ship up and down the river. A ship full of 10-year-olds enacted an elaborate scenario in which they used water cannons to battle a lone pirate in a rowboat.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Needs no introduction

And why doesn't anyone introduce themselves around here? When I first arrived, I was perplexed by the fact that when I would meet someone, they would say hello, and then move on without telling me their name. I have no names for @1/3 of the people that I know. I privately ask other people to name the nameless, and, indeed, often they don't know either.

This week I was on a scavenger hunt to borrow chemicals from other labs. I reflexively started by telling people my name and my lab affiliation. It was clear by the alarmed expression on their faces that I was providing "too much information" about myself.

The people that have introduced themselves to me include: my labmates, my immediate neighbors, the kids' principal and the mailman. My working hypothesis is that introduction etiquette goes along with people here being polite but rather standoffish. I guess that names are on a need-to-know basis only.

The cottage channel

Yes, there is something called "The cottage channel" in our cable package. Frankly, before I moved here, the only "cottages" that I was aware of are in "cottage cheese," "cottage industries," and in fairy tales. But I have heard the word "cottage" more times in the last 30 days than in the last 30 years. It would appear that a "cottage" is a Canadian's summer home in the woods. And if you don't have a cottage, you can always make do with watching "The cottage channel" which replicates the view from the window of your cottage.

And here it is:

You have to imagine the sound, though. And yes, there is a loon.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Thanks everyone!

First, I want to thank everyone for sending such lovely birthday letters! Danny and the kids made them into an album (complete with illustrations). It was a really nice surprise and helped me feel less friend-less on my birthday!

On the topic of being old:
A few days ago I saw "The Graduate" for the first time since I saw it as an undergrad at Oberlin. My former impression was that Benjamin was a nice kid who kept trying to engage Mrs. Robinson in conversation and a meaningful relationship, yet crabby Mrs. Robinson kept trying to get him to shut up and take his clothes off.
This viewing, however, I totally identified with how much it would suck to be Mrs. Robinson. The poor woman had needs but few options. And having to listen to this dumb kid talk about nothing just added insult to injury.

I was also impressed by how well-preserved Mrs. Robinson was, so I looked her up on IMDB. Anne Bancroft was 4 YEARS YOUNGER THAN ME when she played this role. AAarrrgghh.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Black squirrels freak me out--there is just something so wrong about them. The squirrels around Ottawa are not cute, fat, fluffy and gray. Instead they are skinny, black and smooth. They have skinny ratty little tails, too. Whenever I see one I recoil because they look like roof rats. NOT charming.

Black squirrel. Note the mean little eyes.

Roof rat. Not so bad. Except for the verminous infestation and disease vector parts.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Our new rental is gianormous! I am not willing to buy extra furniture to fill this house, so we have been trying to use the spare rooms creatively.
There is a large empty front room which we use to play "Ottapaddle" (as in "...up a creek with ottapaddle")--basically full-court table tennis. The kids are having a great time and play quite a bit.

Our small living room furniture fits nicely into the central dining room.

The kitchen is stupidly large and inefficiently laid out--there is actually way more cabinet storage space than we have stuff to fill it. However, for the first time ever we have a dishwasher!!!!

There is a huge room off of the kitchen which we are using for eating and Legos (of course).

The office is big enough for Danny's work station, as well as my desk and the kids' computer area.

Our bedroom. We picked the room with the least scabby walls. Also, the only room that doesn't have closet doors that look like they came from an 80's-era airplane.

The kids' room. When we moved in, there was inexplicably no door for this room. However, we found a dirty old door in the basement which seemed to fit the door frame. Before the moving van arrived, I put up the shower curtain, but the kids like it so much that they won't let me replace it with proper curtains.

My big dream in life is not to have to share a bathroom with the kids. I have not yet achieved this dream, though.

I also would like to add that this house has AN ENTIRE OTHER FLOOR. The basement is fully finished. There is a bedroom, a "bar", many closets and a full bathroom. So far, we have absolutely no furniture to put there, but I promise that we will find something if anyone wants to come visit us!