Monday, September 29, 2003

Someone called me during the day today and left a hang-up on my voicemail. That's weird. Everyone IRL knows my work hours and my office phone number, and telemarketer machines always hang up before voicemail kicks in, or leave one of those stupid recorded messages

Sunday, September 28, 2003

FYI: If you're looking for short-term employment into November Toronto Election Services is also hiring. I assume the same thing might be true for other cities and municipalities that are having elections in November, but you'll have to search for those yourself.
I don't usually comment on this sort of thing but here it seems that all parties involved are missing the point. First of all, calling someone a disgrace, is not libel, and it isn't slander either which, unless I'm missing some subtle legal distinction, is what this case should be. Secondly, the issue SHOULD be that Mr. Derringer invoked the judge's child. He did so in a roundabout way "As much as I would like to see it, I could not bring myself to..." but he did invoke the judge's child. This is totally inappropriate, not only because the child is a child, but also because the child is an autonomous individual who has nothing to do with their father. The kid had nothing to do with the judge's ruling, but Mr. Derringer is basically saying to the kid (while remaining just barely hypothetical) "Someone should do unspeakable things to you because your father made a bad decision." This offends me simply because I am someone's kid and I don't want to be viewed as an extension of my parents, and no one is acting like there's anything wrong with the assumption that a kid is not an autonomous human being but merely an extension or even a chattel of their parents who could, even if in the hypothetical, rightfully be harmed to punish their parents. The lawsuit even seems to assume that since it's for damages to the judge and not to the kid. Mr. Derringer seemed to be trying to ask "How would you feel if this were your kid?" but the question he should have been asking is "How would you feel if this were you?" Kids have feelings too.
I dress girly out of rebellion. I wear a skirt and prissy blouse to work because when I was a kid my parents would rarely let me wear skirts because they were impractical, putting me in sweatpants instead. I wear heels because my parents would only buy me running shoes. My attention to hair removal comes from being a ten-year-old with hairy armpits and no idea that this was a natural part of puberty, and no idea how to go about rectifiying the situation. I maintain a fastidious manicure because I was always told it was a waste of time to do so. I've developed an intricate system of concealer and foundation to alter my skintone, because when I was younger I hated the dark skin around my eyes and when I complained about it I was told "You don't have dark skin around your eyes" (and then heard the grownups saying to each other in the background "Yep, she has that darkness around her eyes like insert relative here]"). I wear black eyeliner, curl my eyelashes, and wear heavy black mascara because I was forbidden from wearing mascara "because it will get in your eyes. Besides, you don't need it, you have long eyelashes already." I wear intricate-looking hairstyles because for the longest time I had to keep my hair in a braid if I wanted it long "so it doesn't get in the way".

They don't seem to mind that I dress this way. In fact, my mother helps me comparison shop for makeup and actually bought me my tall high-heeled boots. But dressing like a girl was prevented for so long, and then frowned upon when they couldn't actually stop me, that I strongly feel the need to do so now.

Makes me wonder if they did that on purpose so I'd turn out this way.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Why is being dull and boring considered a liability for a politician? Don't things get unpleasant whenever a politico gets TOO interesting?

Of course I might be biased because I'm boring and I LOVE it! Being boring is much better than having to be cool all the time.
My political policy wishlist:

1. Expand the scope of universal health care to include everything - dental, drugs, corrective lenses, wigs for chemo patients...
2. End the culture of student debt by making a year's full time tuition less than the earning's of a summer's full-time work at minimum wage, and provide a subsidy for students who do not live within a reasonable commute of any post-secondary institution.
3. Take economic measures to encourage businesses to create full-time permanent positions in favour of contract and on-call positions.
Mmmmm...rain! I love rainy weekends! There's nothing quite as cozy as watching and listening to the cold wet weather while being safe and dry inside. I've got two big newspapers and all the food in the world, and I think I'm going to stay indoors all weekend.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Suddenly I feel like I don't have enough clothes. I just bought a bunch of clothes, but they aren't enough. You see, for the last three years I lived in an overheated res room and worked in an overheated office. I wore t-shirts to work in the dead of winter and long sleeve tops (not sweaters) for just hanging around. Now I work in a very cold office. I've been wearing long-sleeved blouses, but I'm still cold even with that. I own one wear-alone sweater and a series of very light throw-on sweaters. I have a couple of turtlenecks but I'd been hoping to retire them because they aren't flattering. So it seems I'll have to buy some sweaters. I vaguely remember feeling like I had all the sweaters in the world at one point in high school, so maybe they're still lurking in some closet somewhere in my parents' house. If not, I'll have to go shopping, which is a pity because after that last credit card bill I felt like I had all the clothes in the world.
You know how countries and stuff have debts? Who lends them the money? Why do they continue to lend them money when every political jurisdiction is billions if not trillions of dollars in debt? What would happen if they just didn't repay their debt? - you can't foreclose a country, can you? Are there any countries that are actually debt-free?
What's up with tiny little streets whose houses have huge numbers? I can think of at least three instances of a one-block dead-end street whose houses have four-digit numbers. What is up with that?
This is a picture of my DVD player sitting on top of the box that it came in.

This isn't a good quality picture (that's what happens when you have a Barbie digital camera), but the little square thing on top is my DVD player, and the big square thing on the bottom is the box that it was shipped in.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

I was having this dream last night. It was a lucid dream. In the dream I was at my parents' house holding my new schedule for my next year of school at Parkside. It my classes were Music, OAC Super-Math, Religion, and Self-Esteem. I was grumpy because I'd have to bring a clarinet AND a calculator to school every day, not to mention that Self-Esteem was scheduled way early in the morning and the Religion teacher was a bitch. Then I thought for a bit: "I think I already have enough courses to graduate from high school" Then I thought some more: "Also, I think I have a degree." Then I thought some more: "Yeah, now that you mention it, I'm pretty sure I have a job and an apartment in Toronto." So I decided Screw IT! and dropped out of high school and woke up.
Two issues in the news today of Muslim women having to fight to wear headscarfs in schools. One was of a Pakistani teacher somewhere in Britain who finally gained this right, and another was of a student at a private school in Montreal, who transferred after they wouldn't let her wear her scarf.

I just wish some people would consider that these women might not be wearing the scarves as religious symbols, or as head coverings in the western sense (which tends to imply "outdoor clothes"), but rather out of personal modesty. If they had gone their entire lives covering their heads, or perhaps were raised to believe that hair can function as a secondary sexual feature, they might not be comfortable exposing their hair in public. There is no rule against wearing short skirts in any of the circles I frequent, but I don't wear skirts that are above the knee simply because I feel exposed showing so much leg. It doesn't mean I'm Orthodox Jewish, it just means I'm not comfortable showing that much leg. It is legal here for women to go topless in public, but most women don't because breasts are still considered a secondary sexual feature and we don't necessarily want any random person to be able to see our breasts. If I went to some school as a student or a teacher and they required me to wear a short skirt or forbade me to wear a shirt, we'd all think there's something really creepy about that school. It's quite likely that these women who were raised to cover their heads feel the same way about their headscarves.
There was an article in the newspaper saying that, with the retiring baby boomers, companies are now at a loss as to how to attract and retain young workers, who believe that they will never have job security.

Um, how about giving them job security.


If you can offer your new recruit a job for life (barring unforseen circumstances) with the possibility of advancement and a modest raise on a regular basis, you will have a huge advantage over most other employers.

And make the employee feel valued, right from the start of the hiring process. They'll be more likely to stick with a place where they are considered an asset instead of a liability.

More hints for employers, from the point of view of a recent job searcher who is now loyal to her employer:

- Do your own hiring. Agencies might be more convenient, but they are very annoying and tricky and employees are more likely to trust a company they can deal with directly.
- When interviewing a potential employee, act like you want to hire them and you think they'll be a great asset to the company. If they feel like you think the interview is a waste of time, and then you do end up hiring them, they probably won't take their resume off Workopolis. Besides, if you don't want to hire them and you don't think they'd be a great asset to the company, why did they get as far as the interview?
- Pay a reasonable salary - reasonable from the employee's perspective! Performance incentives are a great motivator, but the base salary before performance incentives should be perfectly reasonable itself.
- Provide enough benefits that they'll never have to worry. Drug, dental, disability, life insurance, pension, parental. This should be the minimum - anything above and beyond that is a true benefit.
- Team up new employees with a mentor who has been with the organization for a long time and can be their go-to person. The mentor-protege relationship should be confidential enough that the mentor can honestly answer questions such as "You know that thing where you get 3 hours off to vote? Do they really mean 3 hours or do they mean only as much time as you need?"
- "Fun" events like company picnics are cool, but the workplace environment should be such that no one's career would suffer if they never attended the company picnic.
- Only create contract positions if you truly foresee no possible need for someone in this position after the end of the contract term. If you will need someone in the position for the foreseeable future, make it a permanent position.
FYI: If anyone is looking to make a few bucks in the short term, I hear Elections Ontario is hiring

Monday, September 22, 2003

1. I saw this makeup advertised on TV and the thing about it was that it goes on like airbrushing. Anyone remember what it's called and who makes it?

2. Older men who do the "ladies first" thing are weird. Especially when we're all in an elevator - just everyone get out of the small confined space and then we can classify ourselves into a suitable hierarchy! Today an older man went way out of his way to hold the door open for me - like I was 6 paces away from the door! I don't like that - it obligates me to smile at him and say thank you, and I don't want any social obligations, no matter how small, to a creepy old man.

3. Walking home today was worse than in the hurricane. Go figure.

4. This is definitely a fall rain, by which I mean an autumn rain. Do you call it fall or autumn?

Sunday, September 21, 2003

I have to go all the way to Jane & Steeles tomorrow after work during rush hour. Not looking forward to it.
Do be careful if you get any emails claiming to be from Microsoft or claiming to be undelivered mail. I've received 2 messages infected with this already and I very rarely receive any attempts at viruses.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Anyone know a really good cover of Build Me Up Buttercup? I'm looking for something that rocks as much as possible while eliminating as much of the pastel cheesiness of the original as possible. But feel free to suggest really good covers that don't fit this description
An open letter to all Canadian newspapers and to a certain Government of Canada department or agency:

Fear of insects is one of the most common phobias. Some people, like myself, suffer from a rather severe version of this phobia, where even a picture or graphic description of insects can trigger a panic attack.

Lately I've noticed several newspaper articles, as well as an advertisement from a Government of Canada department or agency, that were illustrated with very large pictures of a very grotesque insect. These pictures were enough to bring me near a panic attack. My heart rate increased, I started hyperventilating, fight-or-flight instincts started kicking in, and I had to slam the paper shut and throw it away to keep from completely freaking out. Sometimes I get nightmares the night following one of these incidents, every time I have needed to have a drink to calm down, and it always has a severe negative effect on the rest of my day.

Obviously it is somehow important that the general public be able to identify this insect. At first I had thought that the newspapers were only printing sensational pictures to attract the reader's attention, but I know that a large illustration would not appear in a government ad unless it were important. However, these extremely large illustrations are not helping. I am unable to read the information in question, learn what action I need to take, and take said action because I am too busy having a panic attack. I don't even know what this bug is called or which government department or agency is responsible for these ads because I have to slam the newspaper closed as soon as I see the picture.

If it is really important that I be able to identify this bug, please print only a life-size illustration. That might freak me out less so I will be able to read the necessary information, plus it will assist the general public in identifying the bug because then we'll know how big it's supposed to be. If it is not important that I be able to identify the bug, please stop putting pictures of it in the newspaper. I'm sure that even some non-phobics don't enjoy big icky bugs with their morning coffee.
The great luxury of living alone is that you can be fixing the bathroom caulking with no pants on while singing along to Aerosmith at the top of your lungs, and no one can do a damn thing about it. Or even know about it, unless you're stupid enough to blog about it.
I had a busy week this week. Half our team was away, so work was coming fast and furious. At one point I had 6 different projects on my desk, which is quite a lot considering I usually have no more than 2. But I just stacked them all on my desk in order of due date and worked through steadily, and I finished them all before they were due. For some reason it gives me a lot of satisfaction to come up with a system, work steadily, and keep all the due dates at bay. I've been doing this ever since high school, when I'd take all my due dates for the year, write them in my planner, and spend a designated amount of time every day on whatever assignment was next. This system worked in uni too. Sometimes I'd be a month ahead in my projects, sometimes I'd be working on what was due the next day, but it always worked as long as I stuck with the system. What a geek I am.

Friday, September 19, 2003

I know I talk about Harry Potter too much, but it's my blog dammit, so here are some things that irk me when I find them in Harry Potter fanfic:

- Witches and wizards invoking a xian god and showing overt xianity.
- Love -> marriage -> baby in rapid succession, no matter how inconvenient and unrealistic. A nice love story is enough, we'll believe they're in love even if they don't get married and breed within the fic.
- Attitudes towards traditional gender roles that are significantly more old-fashioned than anythig that appears in canon.
That was a boring hurricane. If I hadn't known it was a hurricane, I wouldn't have noticed anything strange about it. It was a slightly windier than usual rainy day.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

This is supposed to be my mindset

2. I remember being aware of the fact that Reagan was president.
3. Not true, but I was an early bloomer
4. Had never heard of Black Monday 1987 until much later, still not entirely sure I can explain what it is.
5. I remember Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush.
6. I remember being aware of the Cold War.
7. I briefly feared a nuclear war for a few weeks in grade 5.
8. I don't remember, but my best friend from grade 6 did because she knew the teacher who was on it.
10. I've never had a polio shot, but my mother has a scar from hers so I know what it is.
12, 13, 14. We had an Atari, and I listened to Sharon, Lois & Bram and Raffi on vinyl.
15. I played Pacman, and I have heard of and played Pong, although not as a child.
17. I remember beige M&Ms, and I might remember the blue ones being new, or that might be Smarties.
18. Heard of, never seen, never knowingly heard
19. I vaguely remember our first CD
21. I was in middle school when we got our first answering machine
22, 23. I was like 8 when we got our first colour TV and cable.
24. We had Betas at school.
25. We didn't have a remote until our first colour TV.
27. I remember rollerblades being new, and I have skated on old-style roller skates.
28. I was too young to watch the Tonight Show, but I remember a Cosby Show reference to Johnny Carson hosting the Tonight Show.
29. I once had a t-shirt that said Jordache
30. We used to cook popcorn on the stove, then we got an air-popper.
31. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a football player???
34. I knew that, but I learned it from Doonesbury and SNL.
35. I've heard of hard contacts, but I don't know enough about contacts in general.
36. I have watched Mork & Mindy, but in reruns
38. I had heard of who shot JR, but I don't know who did it.
42. I remember I once had this environmentalist book that told you how to protest if your local McDonalds had styrofoam containers.

This is the mindset of this year's froshies

#12: I remember when they got rid of leaded gas
#19: Our first comp had a "return" key
#28: I vaguely remember checkout scanners being special
#32: I remember debit cards being new
#41: I have never been able to make photocopies at home and it didn't really occur to me that that was a standard thing to do
#46: I just learned there was a Strawberry Fields in NY a couple of years ago
There's the most gorgeous sunset ever right now. bluepurplepinkorange glowing morphing. You wouldn't guess by watching it that a hurricane is coming, but you can feel it when you're outside. I've never been in a hurricane before so I'm very excited, even though this is just the tail end. Happy hurricane everyone!

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Check here to see how your MP voted and then email them appropriately.

This list will only be up for like a week. There's also a copy somewhere in the A section of today's Star.
If Muggles can't get into Diagon Alley, how did Hermione and all the other Muggle-born first-years get their books and stuff before first year?

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

That was much too close. If you haven't contacted your MP yet, now would be a really really really good time to do so! I'm looking into how to find voting records so we'll know whom to thank and whom to scold, but for now a quick email stating your position on the issue should be sufficient.
On the front page of the Globe and Mail: "Debating Class Size"

Why is there even a debate? If you don't know that smaller classes are better, you don't remember being a kid. Yes, there are university lectures with hundreds of people in them, but a) those students still aren't learning as well as the students in senior seminar of 20, and b) by the time they hit university, they should have the skills to read and analyze the textbook, look stuff up online, find a TA, start a study group. In elementary and secondary, they are in that classroom to learn those skills, so by definition it would be less effective with a larger group.

And to those frightening people who argue that tax dollars are, on paper, more efficiently spend on larger classrooms, do you think the kids in the classroom understand that when the teacher doesn't have time to answer their questions? If they do, what does this make them think of you? And do you really think the fact that the money look more efficient on paper is going to make them learn better?

Monday, September 15, 2003

A group of nine people. Some members of this group are going off on harsh, crude, judgemental rants against women, immigrants, single mothers, poor people.

This group of nine people include 6 women, 1 immigrant, 3 single mothers, and at least 6 people who have lived in poverty at some point in their life.

No one seems to see anything at all wrong with this and when I point out that perhaps these aren't the best topics of conversation they act like I'm crazy.

I so don't get it.

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Once upon a time in high school there was this boy. I had a bit of a crush on him. In retrospect he wasn't my type - a bit too much religion and not quite enough of a twisted sense of humour, among other things - but he was harmless and cute, which makes for a good crush when you're 16.

One day this boy and I were sitting together on a long bus ride. We both fell asleep. I woke up to find his head asleep on my shoulder. (How anyone can sleep on my bony little shoulders is a mystery to me, but there he was). Groggy and with an over-full bladder, I reacted instinctively, visercally, without realizing who was next to me. I knocked him off my shoulder and shrieked "Get off of me!" Everyone turned around and stared. I came to my senses and apologized right away, but we were both terribly embarrassed and it probably ruined any possibility of our becoming real friends, crush or no crush.

Sometimes I'm still sorry about that.
For my entire adult life, I've been able to circle my thumb and middle finger around my ankle. That's more commentary on how long my fingers are than on how skinny my ankles are, but it's just been something I've always been able to do.

I'd thought I might be gaining weight for a while, but I wasn't sure. I honestly couldn't tell if I had gained weight or if my jeans had shrunk because the dryers here are rather finicky. Then one day I happened to wrap my hand around my ankle, and my thumb and middle finger didn't touch. They were about 1 cm apart. I know that isn't a lot, but it was the first tangible sign that I had gained weight. Visions of thick-ankled old ladies floated in my head, and on August 1 I started working out and watching what I eat. I didn't manage to work out every day, but I did most days. I wasn't terribly cautious about what I ate, but I tried to avoid potato chips and have a salad every day. But I wasn't noticing any differences so I didn't know if it was actually working.

Then today I happened to wrap my hand around my ankle. My thumb and middle finger were only half a centimetre apart. Then I realized some other differences - I can do a full set of pushups if I do them fast enough to have momentum, I can touch my toes with straight legs, I can get into full lotus even though it feels like I'm going to sprain my feet, I can flex my tricep and you can see signs of actual muscle. They're little things, but they make me feel good.
So the Globe and Mail has printed the text of the Evil Reptilian Kitten-Eater from Another Planet memo. I do see what they are trying to do here and it makes some sense in context, but the memo was still a stupid idea because:

a) It breaks with the tone of the Tory campaign, which makes it much less effective.
b) There is a difference between using this sort of criticism of another party's leader when talking and actually producing TV commercials and press releases that do nothing but criticize another party's leader.
c) I don't know if the average voter is following things closely enough to get it.
d) It doesn't say anything about policy at all. I'm not sure if the Tories see this as a problem, but the fact remains that here we have a press release that contains absolutely nothing newsworthy except the "evil reptilian kitten-eater from another planet" line.

With these thoughts in mind, I think they produced it on purpose, not as an inside joke, and either this was a draft accidently released before it was finalized, or it was released on purpose with remarkably poor judgement.

Friday, September 12, 2003

Evil reptilian kitten-eater from another planet? What evil reptilian kitten-eater from another planet?

I don't know if the people who came up with that are painfully stupid or if they desperately threw that into the media to distract from something else?
I find it weird that certain people attempt to use "tax and spend" as a slur. That's like saying "Oh, you don't want to associate with him! He earns money and then uses it to purchase goods and services!"

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

This is the best Harry Potter fanfic ever. Unfortunately it is also the very first Harry Potter fanfic I ever read, so it gave me a taste for fanfic that no other fic can satisfy.

Monday, September 08, 2003

Tomorrow is my very first performance review. Eep!

Saturday, September 06, 2003

Just a note to the Ontarians reading this who have two addresses: when you go to vote on Oct. 2, look at the polls in both the ridings where you might be able to vote, and vote in whichever riding seems less likely to elect the party you support. Your vote will be more effective this way. If you aren't physically in that riding on Oct. 2, there are several ways to vote in advance (I think you can do this without even going to the riding) which I'm sure can be found on the Elections Ontario website.

Friday, September 05, 2003

As we all know, kids are cruel to other kids for a wide variety of extraordinarily stupid reasons. So let's have some light-hearted nostalgia this weekend! Think back to those dark days, and in the comments box share with us all the stupidest thing you've ever been teased, mocked, or tormented for.

For me it's a tie between two things:

1. Sitting up straight at a particular moment. This wasn't a mockery of my usual habit of maintaining good posture, it wasn't a moment when it was any less appropriate to sit up straight than usual, it was just the fact that I was sitting up straight at the time the commenter chose to comment.

2. The fact that my last name resembles the word from which it is derived. For those who don't know my last name, neither it nor the word from which it was derived have any implications of any sort in any of the languages involved. It was just "Ha ha, the etymology of your surname is clear to anyone who gives it a moment's thought!"

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Random memory: when I was a kid, whenever I was into something new, my mother would ask the parents of my contemporaries "So are your kids into N?" This would cause a lot of grief for me because I didn't follow the crowd, so when I was at certain delicate ages my life would become a living hell because everyone would find out that I liked Star Trek/Bjork/saving the lowland gorillas/whatever.

In retrospect it was also insulting, because it shows that my mother thought my tastes weren't my own and I must be copying someone else.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Help me out here. I'm looking for a good, analytical, nonpartisan account of what went wrong with the Rae NDP government in the early 90s and why. I wasn't fully politically aware then, and all I reliably remember is something called "Rae days" and an underlying sentiment of "NDP BAD!", and I'd really like to go into the current election with an indepth understanding of more than just the current mandate.

Also, the Ontario Liberals need to get "...or graduate" into their "Keep kids in school until they turn 18" soundbite. It is in their education plan, but it never makes it into the soundbite, with the loss of grade 13 half the kids will be graduating at 17, and the thought makes those of us born in the second half of the year bristle with indignation.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

So it seems we're in election month. A few things to keep in mind:

1. Consider each party's overall record, not just their most very recent actions
2. A vote for a candidate is also a vote for their party, and the balance of power between the parties in the legislature will have more effect on the province over the next five years than the presence or absence of any particular candidate
3. In some cases voting strategically is the best option, but a vote is not necessarily wasted just because a candidate doesn't win. Conversely, there is no prize for having voted for the winning candidate.

Monday, September 01, 2003

Spike TV is good for STTNG reruns, but the commercials on that channel make me feel dirty.