Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pumpkin Patch Adventure

A weekend or so back, the family took a trip to a local pumpkin patch. This was the first outing with the NEW CAMERA, so I was totally stoked to try it out. Before even seeing the pictures, I was impressed with how much easier to use the DSLR is than my old digital (which would take several seconds between depressing the button and taking a damn picture). Better still, the pictures look lush and lovely. Happy Karla!!!

So my strategy is to get used to the camera in Auto-mode, and then eventually start branching out into the fancy-dancy settings. There's a while to go yet before I'm fully comfortable with even the automatic mode, but I'm enthusiastic about the process of gradually unveiling my Canon's mysteries. ;-)

In the meantime, as promised, enjoy the pictures! :-D

Will decides to kiss the pumpkins.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Methodology of a Name, Part Three!

Finally, after a ton of reflection and soul-searching, Dave and I have unearthed a select few names for our impending HelgaHume. (Though the list is, as always, still secret.)

As luck would have it, for girls, we both individually gravitated towards the same four names. We each liked a fifth, but after some discussion, Dave decided he liked my fifth better, so now we're fully agreed on these five names. Which to pick? Depends on who we meet in December!

Boy's names, on the other hand, we're having a bit more trouble with. We've centred on four first names that we both like, but each one has a big problem associated with it.

Indeed, no name is perfect; I resisted "William" for the longest time on the grounds of, "No child of MINE is getting a TOP TEN name!!! IN-CON-THEIVABLE!!!!" but the fact is, for a huge number of reasons, the name was a perfect choice. (But that's a whole other blog post.)

Still, though, which of the following issues are dealbreakers? Which are no big deal?
  • One (visually-similar) letter away from a very common name: Meaning, people quickly looking over this name on paper will probably assume it's the common name, not the actual name. Kid will possibly spend his whole life correcting people, which is annoying for him.
  • Stupid meaning: This name has everything going for it -- great sound, great association, unique but not off-the-wall -- except what it means. It has a stupid meaning. Not offensive, not bad, just... meaningless. Can he live with this?
  • Unimpressive counterparts: Another name we're considering has everything going for it (see above), except that when I've met the 2-3 guys with this name, I was not especially impressed. (As opposed to, say, Hugh, where every Hugh I meet is a pretty solid dude.) Will he break free of this company, or am I setting myself up to be unimpressed?
  • Gender-neutrality: Not a bad thing in and of itself, but aside from this one exception, gender-ambiguous names are not usually our taste. I've heard from some that it's inconvenient for two friends discussing you, such as in the following case: "Hey, dude, thanks for the party invite! Mind if I bring along (name)?" "Sure, bro! Is she hawt??!" "Uh, dude, (name)'s a guy." "Oh, that's too bad." Is this an acceptable fate to foist on someone?

Hmm... I've never personally dealt with any of those name woes, so I can't say whether they're problematic or not. Hence, I'm pretty stuck, and would love your input in the comment section. :-)

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Monday, October 17, 2011

New Camera: This time, it's gonna be different!

I am positively ecstatic to announce that I have finally caved and purchased a new camera! As such, you can expect more pictures to start appearing on this blog. I'm so stoked about this.

My tumultuous relationships with cameras goes back to the earliest digital point-and-shoots. My huge, heavy, battery-devouring, SLOW, unreliable Kodak misbehaved at the best of times, despite the best treatment and care. The next camera, a Sony, was marginally better, but then decided to randomly wash my pictures with psychedelia whenever the air was a little damp. After that, the Nikon ground to a halt when exposed to the tiniest quantity of sand, and then the last camera, my Olympus, incrementally embraced senility to the point of not even *taking pictures* when commanded.

Which makes me think, when it comes to digital cameras, I might be cursed.

So, eschewing the perpetually disappointing point-and-shoots, I decided instead to leap over to the digital SLR camp. (For those of you unfamiliar with the SLR term, it basically means a camera that looks old-school, with a big lens, but it's digital. And spiffy.)

Because this time it's gonna be different. Surely, the curse won't follow me over to a totally different type of camera, right? . ...Right??

So after a ton of research, I settled on an entry-level Canon (Rebel XS), and am now setting about learning how to actually *use* it. My dream is to eventually post rich, beautiful pictures on this blog... but hey, one step at a time, right? ;-)

Anyhow, wish me luck! Feel free to leave me your camera tips/stories/woes in the comments, would love to hear em!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Methodology of a Name, Part Two!

Progress has been made in narrowing down the name lists even further, partly thanks to the great suggestions in the comments from the last post. If you have any ideas, keep em coming! ;-)

8. Real Life Pairings

Jenn was right -- certain pairs of names need to be avoided, at the risk of having other real-life personages curb the blossoming identity of our new addition. So despite my love for the name "Grace", having a Will and Grace in the house was not an option. Same for Will and Harry, Will and Kate, William and Trillium, and even Bill and Hilary.

Casualties: Grace, Hilary, Harry, Blake

9. War of the Words!

Both Dave and I have a penchant for word-names. They're easy to spell, easy to pronounce, and can invoke a meaningful totem to guide the child. That being said, we'd rather not have *two* word names, as a name like "Indigo Lily" feels a bit gimmicky to me.

Therefore, the words must all battle one another. There can only be one!

I grouped together all the word names for boys and girls, and then we thinned out the names we were less fond of. With girls, we were able to narrow by subject; we had A LOT of plant names and colour names to work with.

Plant Battle Casualties: Lily, Saffron, Sage

Colour Spectrum Casualties: Indigo, Scarlet, Clementine

Boy-Word-Casualties: Grant, Phoenix, Sterling

So, what's the next step? At 25 names, the girl's list still needs some paring down, which will likely happen by getting pairs of names to compete with another to eliminate weaker options. However, our boy's list is down to a manageable dozen options, so from here we can skip straight to examining the combinations for unfortunate initials and clunky sounds.

And of course, ideas are always welcome! :-D

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Methodology of a Name

As some of you may know, Dave and I are expecting our second child this winter. We're very excited to meet this new little person, albeit somewhat terrified about the prospect of chasing around not one, but TWO small children. I suppose the evolving/devolving coherence of this blog will be a testament to how we're managing. ;-)

Anyhoo, we are once again having to contemplate a name for this impending HelgaHume. And unlike our first time going through this process, we have less time and energy to sit and daydream about perfect name choices.

We have to be focused. We have to be decisive. And somewhere in there, we also have to listen carefully for the gentle, easily-missed messages from the universe... quiet messages guiding us towards the baby's true name.

No pressure.

So here's the method we are using, in all of its OCD-esque glory. To keep things interesting, I included name-casualties at each turn... the list of active names remains very secret, but perhaps you might be entertained in knowing which names have hit the chopping block, and for what exact reasons. ;-)

1. Buy a name book, preferably one slanted to your own naming sensibilities

Unsure of where to start, we purchased a baby name book specifically tailored to the kinds of names we are drawn to. The tongue-in-cheek book of choice was "Cool Names for Babies" by Satran and Rozencrantz, chosen for its emphasis on less common names, ranging from "a little different" to downright strange.

Casualties: Ultra-popular choices Jacob, John, Emma, Madison.

2. Secretly write down every name you don't hate

Dave and I independently went through the book, writing down every name that we were at least lukewarm about. We also added names we'd come across, or thought up, in the interests of having this list be as complete as possible.

Casualties: Names in the book that didn't resonate... Gable, Otis, Lola, Olivia

3. Combine lists, make notes of overlap

I then combined both lists into a single MEGA-LIST (in Excel), boldfacing the names that appeared on both lists. Note, there were no casualties at this point, as they happen next...

4. Blackball!

This was fun. We'd independently look over the list, and cross out anything we hated. Again, anything that was at least lukewarm to both partners could stay. Still, it was fun to tease each other for "weird" selections. ;-)

Casualties: Elvis, Connor, Lydia, Isabella

5. Points system

We were left with a long list of names, and now needed a way to prioritize them by how much we liked them. I proposed a method involving allocating points, where:
  • 1 point = lukewarm
  • 2 points = kinda like it
  • 3 points = really like it!
Going through all the remaining names, we individually gave points to each according to how much we individually liked them. These scores were added to one another, for a total ranging from 2 to 6.

Then, we sorted the names by points, and removed anything scoring 2 or 3 points, as that meant that neither of us was especially keen on said name.

Casualties: Bigby, Kennedy, Tamsin, Sonata

6. Weird meanings?!

Given that name meanings are important, we looked up the meanings of the remaining names, and removed any with strange or uncomfortable meanings.

Tennyson = "Son of Dennis". Uhm, no, and Davidson/Karlason doesn't sound as cool, or relate back to awesome poets of yore.
Hudson = "Son of the hooded man". Sounds kinda rapey, dont'cha think? :-/
Caledonia = "From Scotland". Not really.
Ingrid = "Beauty of Froy, the mythical Norse horse". Pretty as a horse? No thanks.

...but the prize goes to Ripley, meaning "shouting man's meadow". Hee hee hee... "AUGH!! AUGH!!! I'm in a meadow!!! AUGH!!!" Yes, I'm finding that way too funny.

7. Stella Barbarella: Thinning the list by removing less desirable same-end-letter options

I noticed on our girls' names list that a stunning number all ended with the same letters. Granted, girls' names ending with "a" and "y"-sounds are both very common, but it pointed out to me that we could not indeed give a first and middle name that both ended in the same letter/sound without it sounding weird.

Hence, when grouping together eligible names by last letter (=LAST() function, for all you Excel junkies), I realized these groups were all in direct competition with one another. As such, it would be wise to thin each end-letter group to three or so entries, according to which we're showing a stronger preference for.

Casualties: Augustine, Sawyer, Isadora, Melody

... So what's step 8? Your guess is as good as mine! Our lists still need thinning, but at least they're prioritized. Will update you with further steps as they arise, but in the meantime, I hope this has minimally entertained you. ;-)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

HelgaHume Wine Tasting Party VI

A while back, the HelgaHumes had our sixth wine tasting party. Much has happened since, and in the tumult, I had forgotten to post the results. However, here they are in all their glory:

  • Pinot Noir has a patchy performance at our tastings, tending to get either first or last place. Here it was last again...
  • For the first time, the sparkler was NOT last place! Maybe I'm finally succeeding in my pro-sparkling propaganda... (or maybe people just REEEALLY didn't like the other two!) ;-)
  • Oz took first place (no surprise, the Victoria crowd seems to like full-bodied wines), but second place went to the not-often-considered Argentina! I must make a point of including them more in future wine tastings.
I also noted that the ordering effect is more pronounced here than usual, and as a result, I will be planning something diabolical to counter it in the next party. Enjoy!

Monday, February 28, 2011

HelgaHume Wine Tasting Party V

Two weeks ago, we held our FIFTH HelgaHume wine tasting party! There were some shocking results, so here be the highlights!

  • The cheapest wine (Paul Mas, $15) won! Not a first time, but still a rare occurrence.
  • The most expensive wine (Cremant de Bourgogne, $25) was LAST place! This has never happened before.
  • France had the first-place wine (Paul Mas) AND the last-place wine (Cremant de Bourgogne)!
  • HelgaHume wine tasting FIRST: A French wine won! Usually they don't do so well at our parties.
  • Sparkling Winner: Seaview from Australia, $17
  • CabSav Winner: J. Lohr from California, $23
  • Malbec Winner: Paul Mas from France $15
  • Wine sequence attrition was higher than usual (as in, more people rating A than G), and definitely skewed the results. If anyone has any ideas on how to curb this, I'm all ears. :-)

And now, for the detailed results: