Sunday, November 30, 2003

This is a poll, please answer in the comment section.

Picture a spreadsheet that's intended to be a timesheet for an employee. On one axis, you have the days of the month. On the other axis, you have the various tasks you did that day. For each task, you enter the amount of time you spent on it that day. Every row and every column totals itself at the end, so you can quickly see how much time was spent on each task in a month, and how many hours were worked in a day.

Do the days go down the side and the tasks across the top, or vice versa?

Friday, November 28, 2003

It occurs to me that if it weren't for my arachnophobia I would probably be living off the grid. The vast majority of my lifestyle choices are, directly or indirectly, made either to avoid spiders or to help cope when I do encounter one.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

I'm looking for a jpg or gif of Strongbad's "Eating One Battery...Eating Five Batteries" diagram. Both diagrams in the same image. Preferably small - it's for my LJ icon. Just posting this in case anyone happens upon one before I get my lazy ass into Photoshop.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

With Advent almost upon us, I'd like to remind the world of the One True Plan for Improving the Universe:

IF you are in charge of a non-religious-affiliated public space, institution, or facility, or involved in the public relations of such an organization, AND

IF your public space, institution, or facility has decided to put up seasonal decorations on its physical plant and/or use seasonal themes in its public relations material, AND

IF someone, anyone, even one person complains that the seasonal theme in your decorations and/or public relations material is not religious enough,

THEN the proper course of action is not to have any seasonal themes whatsoever in anything having to do with your organization ever again in the future.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Ugh, bad bad bad reporting in the Toronto Star today. Even for a fluff section. In ID, the issue is "to have kids or not to have kids". They address people who have kids. They address people who don't have kids yet. They address people who don't want kids yet. They don't address people who can't have kids, or people who don't want kids ever! They make the whole thing out to be "Do you want kids when you're very young, or when you're a bit older?"

Then there's this crap. They start with the premise that women in their 20s, especially young 20s, are having fewer kids than they did in the past. Decent premise, backed up with statistical data. But the rest of the article is sloppy and lazy. "Talk to people in their 20s..." they begin, and proceed to interview a bunch of people who are 20, with the exception of one who's 21. Nothing wrong with being 20 or 21, but it's certainly not representative of "people in their 20s". Plus everyone they interview is a student. That's the reason for not having kids right there - it's not the people's age, it's the fact that they're students. They haven't had their first grownup job, their "permanent address" is likely still the parental home. Functionally, they haven't completely finished being children themselves. It has nothing to do with a paradigm shift or a cultural revolution, it's the fact that the U of T student who wrote this probably didn't even leave campus to do his interview (reflecting poorly on student journalists who can at least do decent research).

To further the poor impression of student journalists that this article must be giving the world, he makes statements like the following:

- "The break-up, get-together relationships that twentysomethings love, aren't really conducive to child-bearing, either". People LOVE serial monogamy and constant break-ups?

- "Now that women are rountinely able to have children into their 30s..." Women have always been able to have children into their 30s in modern history! I know doctors often encouraged people to stop at 35, but that's certainly "into their 30s"

Finally, after mentioning that in the 1950s women between 20 and 24 had babies at four times the current rate, they neglect to mention the two real causes of this!

1. In the 1950s, it was much easier to support a family on the money you could earn with a high school education! Now it is much harder to do that, so when people are finally able to support a family they are older.

2. Family planning is much easier and more widely available now. In the 1950s, people had more kids just because they likely had no mechanism in place to prevent them from producing a baby when they had intercourse. Now people have more choice.

Overall, as the target audience of this section, I'm disappointed and rather insulted. Do better next time!

Monday, November 24, 2003

A pet peeve: people who say you should learn Latin in order to understand basic grammatical theory and make it easier to learn other languages.

If you want to learn Latin for geek value, for fun, to be elite, for vaster academic purposes, that's fine. But if you want to understand basic verb tense theory in order to learn European languages, just studying any European language will do just fine! Latin does have the advantage of Romantic word origins (because I always forget if that's entymology or etymology, and the other one is very icky) in combination with Germanic/Slavic cases, but neither is that difficult to learn on its own, and if you're never going to speak a language that doesn't have cases and declension there's no point in learning one that does just to help you with your verb tenses.

The worst instance of this I've ever seen was someone asking a web community whether they should learn French or Latin. So many people advised them to study Latin, because then it would be much easier to learn other Romantic languages. Um hello, the same thing happens if you study French, plus you'll end up speaking a viable, living, European and world language!

This over-enthusiasm for Latin is akin to encouraging someone study Harmony and Counterpoint before even picking up an instrument. Or learning how to balance chemical equations before mixing baking soda and vinegar to watch them explode.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

People talk about whether the arts or the sciences are harder (as subjects studied in uni), but I think the fine arts, particularly the performing arts, are hardest. Fine arts majors have to study academic subjects, AND rehearse for performances. You can bullshit an essay, you can even bullshit a lab writeup with a bit of research and ingenuity, but you can't bullshit a performance. If you haven't studied for an exam you can usually still squeeze out a passing grade with some logic and ingenuity, but you can't fake a performance you haven't rehearsed for.

I took everything in high school - english, maths, sciences, languages, social sciences, and music - and it was music that required the most effort and the most consistent effort on my part. I could usually do okay on a physics test by quickly memorizing the key formulae on someone else's study sheet in the last 10 minutes of lunch time, I could usually do okay on a French test by conjugating the verbs like similar verbs and going with the "it sounds right" rule for prepositions, but I simply could not get through a performance test in music without spending at least half an hour a day working on the sixteen notes and the tricky part and training myself not to have to breathe for twelve bars.
Monty Python randomness

John Cleese: "So in three years, you've spotted no camels."
Eric Idle: "That's right, in only three years!"

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Jimmy can tech support toilets over ICQ! Ten points!

Friday, November 21, 2003

I've heard a lot of people bitching about the fact that TTC drivers get paid $20-25 per hour. Don't the realize that, in the grand scheme of things, that isn't a lot of money? It's certainly not NOT a lot of money, but if you do the math and see what that comes out to per year, it's a reasonable income, especially considering Toronto housing costs. I earn on the low end of that scale and I have no financial problems with just myself alone, but if I had a child I'd have to be on a tight budget. This isn't unskilled labour they're doing - if you take transit or drive on a street where transit vehicles run, these people are responsible for your safety. They certainly deserve a reasonable salary for that responsibility. I know that salaries are currently the TTC's biggest operating expense, but I don't think that punishing the employees would improve the situation.

Just for laughs, the stupidest proposal I've heard to address the situation: "The TTC is inefficient. The drivers make way too much money! What they should do is hire a CEO, pay him a few million dollars, and have him run it like a business!"

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

So I get a flu shot for the first time since I was young enough that my mother could force me to, and what happens? It turns out this year's flu shot is for the wrong strain of flu! GAH!

On the brighter side, I managed to get my health card renewed on the first try and with only 30 minutes out of my life. They say it take 4 weeks to arrive, so I might even get it before the old one expires!

Hopefully this bureaucratic good fortune will extend to Friday when I try yet again to get my G1.

Monday, November 17, 2003

It just occurred to me that there's a serious logical flaw in Secret Keeper theory in the Harry Potter world. Why don't people just keep their Secret Keeper secret?

For example, James didn't want Voldemort to find his family so, before everything went to shit, he made Sirius his Secret Keeper. Now no one could find James or his family unless Sirius told them. Now a sensible precaution would have been for James to then be Secret Keeper to the Sirius. So no one could find Sirius unless James told them, and no one could find James unless Sirius told them. (Yes, it would be impractical to go about life without anyone being able to find you at all, but since both families in question were independently wealthy and talented wizards, this shouldn't pose too much of a problem in this case.)

Quelle geek suis-je.
I was at Radio Shack looking at some gizmos. I decided I wanted to purchase one of the gizmos. However, the gizmo I was looking at was a display model, taken out of the package and tied to the shelf with a security cable. I looked around, and I couldn't see these gizmos in packages available for purchasing anywhere. So I went home.

The moral of the story: If you want me to buy things in your store, make sure they are actually there.
They should invent sleeping pills that last for only 2-4 hours. For when you're closer to wake-up time than bedtime, still can't sleep, and are getting desperate.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

My LJ is now here. I'm in the process of switching over friends lists and shit.

Friday, November 14, 2003

If anyone reading this is interested in inventing chemicals that alter the way the human brain works, I've got an idea: an anti-rape drug.

Some rapes are triggered by lust/horniness, and others are triggered by anger or hatred. This drug targets the latter.

There is a part of the brain that behaves a certain way when a person feels anger or hatred. There is also a part of the brain that behaves a certain way when a man gets an erection. So what the anti-rape drug would do is prevent the erection part of the brain from working when the anger/hatred part of the brain is active.

How to get people to take this drug?

1. Require sex offenders to take it on a regular basis as a condition of parole.
2. If you don't want your army raping people, require your army to take it. (Plausible for some armies, not for others)
3. Put a sniffable version in pepper spray.
4. Require it to be added to viagra.
5. Require it to be added to steroids.
6. When a version is perfected without side effects, dump it in the world's drinking water!

This doesn't address lust-related rape, but it could at least cut down on rape as hate crime.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

So I went to get a flu shot like a good girl. I was prepared: I knew that they gave you the shot in the upper arm, so I wore a blouse whose sleeves could roll up past my bicep and tricep, and I wore a strappy tank-top underneath just in case.

So I get to the flu shot place. I was surprised to see that they were giving people shots out in the open. I'd thought it you would at least behind a screen! But I bravely sat down in the chair and started rolling up my sleeve.

The nurse looked dubiously at my long-sleeved blouse, but I said "Don't worry, it will roll up far enough" as I worked the sleeve up my arm. "How high up do you need to be able to reach?" I asked as my French cuff passed my elbow. "I need to get your deltoid" she said.

Deltoid. Oh. My cuffs can't get past the bottom of my deltoid. Damn weight training!

I look around. Behind me in line there are three frat-boy asshole types and a gaggle of 12-year-old boys. I'm in plain view of all of them.

It's one thing to unbutton three buttons of your blouse and slip your shoulder out revealing a spaghetti strap, the satiny trim of your bra, and perhaps a glimpse of cleavage when you're behind a screen with a medical professional. It's quite another thing to do this in front of that three frat-boy-asshole types and a gaggle of 12-year-old boys.

I quickly pulled down my sleeve, gathered my things, and scurried off, apologizing for having waster her time.

Moral of the story: wear a fucking t-shirt!

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Cecilia Zhang is still missing. The last time she was in the news was one week ago.

This probably means they have no reason to believe that she isn't still alive, but it's tragic that she's no longer in the forefront of everyone's minds.
In the second-last paragraph, it says that Lee Boyd Malvo told a judge that he could read and write.

Interesting, very telling, that either an 18 year old felt it necessary to elaborate that he can, in fact, read and write, or that a judge felt it necessary to specifically ask an 18 year old if he can read and write. You'd think that tous les intervenants would assume that an 18 year old can read and write, and assume that everyone else thinks and 18 year old can read and write. I realize that some people don't have a lot of education, but reading and writing are taught rather early on, no?
Reasons why I am not opposed to the Minto towers:

1. I like living in this neighbourhood, and I want to buy a condo when I have the money. Therefore more condos in this neighbourhood = good thing.
2. This is a transit hub. It is good urban planning to focus development around transit hubs.
3. For me, what makes this neighbourhood a neighbourhood is the fact that it is highly developed and not just a collection of houses. I feel safe on the streets because there are always people walking around, at all hours of the day and night. More residents will only make it better.
People always give Paul Martin credit for getting rid of the federal deficit, but I wonder how much of that he actually did?

It is possible that Mr. Martin sat up all night with a calculator and did it all himself, but it's also possible that he just walked into a room full of accountants and said "Okay people, we need to get rid of this deficit", and then read the results in the House. It's possible that he came up with this "let's reduce the deficit!" idea all by himself, but it's also possible that he was simply told that that's his job for the moment.

Since they're always having "cabinet shuffles", I find it hard to believe that all cabinet ministers are necessarily specialists in the areas in which they are ministers. There can't be THAT many rennaissance men and women! And yet the ministers always seem to get all the credit.

Monday, November 10, 2003

There's this whole thing in the Globe and Mail, starting in Facts & Arguments and spilling over into Letters to the Editor, where women are angsting (or their husbands are angsting on their behalf) about the first time they were ever called Ma'am.

The first time I was ever called Ma'am was when I was 15. Get over yourselves!

Seriously though, I like Ma'am better than Miss. Miss gets carded, and gets her perfectly legal ID over-scrutinized because her hairstyle and makeup have changed slightly since she turned 16. Miss gets followed around by store employees who think she's going to steal something, and then they swoop in for the kill when she has the audacity to pick out a greeting card and carry it with her as she purchases some wrapping paper instead of promptly taking it to the cash register, because Miss OBVIOUSLY wouldn't have enough money for anything more than a simple greeting card. Miss is denied apartments unless her parents sign for her, because the fact that Miss is currently a student means she's OBVIOUSLY going to blow all her money and not make rent. Being Miss is not fun.

Ma'am, on the other hand, is treated with basic adult respect. No one questions her right to browse as she pleases, conduct business transactions, and if someone does card her the pretense is that they are terribly sorry, but Ma'am surely understands that there these bothersome card under 30 laws and we do have to go through certain motions and yes this all looks in order.

Perhaps the true sign of age is not being called Ma'am, but rather forgetting how unpleasant it is to be Miss.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

I just read this article that said that pulling up your socks, fixing your hair, and touching your neck and arms are all signs of flirting.

Those are also all my nervous tics! GAH! After working curing my more unpleasant nervous tics like squeezing my zits and fiddling with my necklace (broke a LOT of necklaces), I though I was left with more respectable nervous tics, but it turns out I'm left with signs of flirting!

Attention world: I AM NOT flirting with you! At all! Ever!

Thursday, November 06, 2003

From the Cool Ideas that would be Impossible to Implement file:

Let's have no sex industry in Toronto. We won't outlaw it, we'll just be too cool for it and stop using the existing sex industry until there's no demand. Then when tourists come looking for the sex industry, our collective pretense is that WE don't need a sex industry because WE can get laid whenever we want without paying for it. "So what do I do now?" says the tourist, aghast and agog. We briefly look at them like they're stupid, and then, as though it's the most obvious thing in the world, say "Go seduce someone, of course!" We'll become internationally known as the city that's Too Cool for Stripclubs.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Attention world: If you ever need to send a document to a translator, make sure it's written in complete sentences. If it isn't written in complete sentences, make the person who wrote it originally rewrite it in complete sentences.

This has been a public service announcement.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

I now have an LJ Nothing there yet though.
Nyquil made me sleep for seven hours, wake up to go pee, and then sleep for another five hours. Which almost completely cured my cold, but made me late for work. All that's left is a headache - I feel like my head is going to fall off! I'm pondering going to bed early, but the second half of that documentary on string theory is on tonight and I've been looking forward to it, and I don't have a VCR so I can't just tape it.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Adventures in drugs!

DayQuil is interesting. It blasts almost all the symptoms (although my right nostril persisted a bit) and leaves the part of my brain that I need for my work at about 90% of its normal function (which is more than I'd have with this cold uncontrolled) but it sends most of the rest of my brain floating off somewhere. The positive side is that the part of my brain that usually whines about being bored while I'm working was contentedly floating around in happyland, but the negative side is that the part of my brain that allows me to quickly identify what language a person is speaking to me in was also off in happyland. So while I was surprisingly productive for having such a brutal code, whenever someone talked to me I'd just stare at them stupidly.

I took Tylenol Cold&Flu Night last night because it usually gets me to sleep quickly. I think it did get me to sleep, but I'm pretty sure that I was lying in bed asleep dreaming that I was lying in bed awake, tossing and turning, unable to fall asleep. I think it was a dream because in th dream I decided to get out of bed and pay my phone bill, and IRL I haven't received my phone bill for the month yet and I would never pay a phone bill on the 3rd anyway. Then I dreamed that the camp from M*A*S*H was set up in the little park near my parents' house (it's basically a playground, smaller than a soccer field) and I was trying to sneak off with Radar (who was up to my armpit) to go make out somewhere, but we kept being interrupted by nurses with gift certificates.

This morning I noticed that the Tylenol I took last night had expired. Maybe that's why I had such funky dreams. But I got some nice new NyQuil to take tonight, and my plan is to take it at 7:30 so I'll get plenty of sleep, which hopefully means I'll end up taking it by 8:30.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Blerg, still sick. No infection I don't think, but one mother of a cold just out of nowhere. I think I've mastered drugging it into submission though, so I should be able to go to work tomorrow. Reminds me of high school. A perpetual cold for almost the entire year. Five days a week, getting through the week by staring at the weekends. Fantasizing about sleep. So far work hasn't been quite that bad, but I'll confirm or deny that once I've managed work with a cold.

It occured to me in the shower this morning that I want to do grad school for all the wrong reasons. It also occured to me that it would be more responsible put grad school off until I've managed to save up enough money for a down payment on a condo. Then it occured to me that maybe that's just an excuse. Now it occurs to me that maybe it would be better to logic this out when I'm in full control of my faculties.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Feeling better today. It's amazing what two nights of As Much Sleep As You Want will do! I know I have an ear/throat infection though, but it seems to be going away by itself (these things sometimes do if I tough them out). So I won't be accomplishing anything wonderful today, I'll just be staying home and taking care of me, but hopefully I'll get over this without having to go on antibiotics. Antibiotics really fuck me up.