Friday, December 31, 2004

For the past few years I've been uncomfortable about receiving cash gifts
from people who are retired when I have a perfectly good job. So this year
I donated the total amounts of all my cash gifts and gift certificates to
tsunami relief. I still feel guilty though. I'm not sure if it's about
accepting the gifts instead of giving them back, or about giving the gifts
to charity instead of using them to indulge myself like my relatives
intended, or if it's about making a donation that doesn't hurt at all. I'll
have to think about this a bit more.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

I stumbled upon a new self-revision technique today: after you have a full target-language draft, revise one page to completion, then do something else. Then revise the next page to completion, then do something else.

"Do something else" consists of a 5-10 minute distraction, like getting coffee, going to the bathroom, talking to someone, reading an article on the internet or taking care of a piece of administrative minutia (comme suite a la discussion concernant alumni/alumnae, I'm assuming that's the singular of minutiae?).

It's slow, it's not efficient, and if my boss knew I was working this way he'd give me a "reminder" about our quantitative objectives. But using this technique (and working with hard copy, not on-screen) I managed to get c.10,000 words of English draft copy all finalized except for proofreading (which needs to be done by someone else anyway) on a day when I hadn't done yoga, hadn't had breakfast, and was in a generally grumpy and non-revision mood.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

I also have another enlightenment this morning, but I'm not sure at the moment whether it's a good idea to blog about it.
The reality of the whole tsunami disaster thing hasn't sunk in for me yet. I haven't even started absorbing it emotionally. So I see it on the front page and my first subconscious thought is "Why is this on the front page?" I read every article about it straight through because intellectually I know it's important, but I'm reading with an "I should be reading this" attitude rather than a "This is of interest" attitude. I know it will sink in eventually (it took about a week for Sept. 11 to sink in, it took a couple of weeks for Darfur to sink in), perhaps it's taking so long because the scale is so large, but until it does sink in I just look like a horrid terrible callous cold person :/.
The yoga lady on TV says to passively watch your thoughts float by without getting involved. That sounds like a cool skill. But HOW do you do it?

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

I am finding it extremely difficult to feel anything but ennui about my job lately. Which wouldn't be a huge problem if my job were more mechanical, but it's purely intellectual and I need to give it my complete mental focus. I've just had five days off, and I'm not looking forward to going back at all even though I've got just a three day week ahead of me, followed by a three day weekend.

religion and fanfic

A few random scribbles on religion and fanfic:

The important thing to remember is that religion is not a positive
experience for everyone who experiences it. Some people feel negatively
about religion as a result of their own negative experiences with their own
religion. Therefore, when introduce religion into fanfic in a fandom where
canon is completely secular, there are going to be some negative reviews
simply because you have introduced a new element that is negative for some
people. It's like if you wrote a teacher-student romance, you'd get a
visceral negative reaction from readers who were led on or exploited by
someone in a position of authority. That doesn't mean that religion HAS to
be completely avoided, but just understand that there will be some negative
reaction whenever religion is used, simply because an element that does not
exist in canon and is
negative for some readers has been introduced.

When the presence of religion does not contribute to the plot, the reaction
will be even worse because the use of religion will seem completely
gratuitous. Canon doesn't need religion to work, so if you want to use
religion in a fic it would have to be for a particular plot reason. When it
doesn't contribute to the plot, it seems at best irrelevant and at worst
preachy. For me personally, it give the impression that the author lacks
the ability to get inside a character's head, and has to replace the missing
elements with bits of their own self. It feels like the author cannot
imagine a person who isn't actively religious, which is not a good thing in
a secular fandom. Authors who cannot get inside the head of a person who is
not actively religious should write their own characters who can be as
religious as they want rather than appropriating existing secular characters
and making them religious because they are not creative enough to do

I associate [place where I grew up] with having no control over my own life.
Because I spent my whole childhood there, with the perpetual confusion and
not understand the world that comes with childhood. Then I spent my
adolescence and the first couple years of my adulthood there, with all the
constraints of strict parents and being the suburbs without being able to
drive and having to coordinate my use of the internet and telephone and
television and bathroom and piano and kitchen with three other people. So I
have all kinds of negative associations with that place; just the look and
the smell make me feel out of control.

I think the trick is to think of myself as a houseguest in some strange
place. I don't live there, I'm just visiting. Then I can come back home
and be in total control of my life.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The issue with sharia-based arbitration is not about religion or equality or separation of church and state. The big question is: why are people who are not qualified to interpret law allowed to make legally binding arbitration rulings?

Everyone who wants to do arbitration should have to study enough law so they are qualified to interpret law. This would ensure that all their decisions are in accordance with federal, provincial and local laws. They can then make decisions in accordance with whatever other rules or standards they want, just as long as the standards are fully disclosed to all parties involved, and the decisions do not violate any existing laws.

If potential arbitrators do not want to go to the trouble of studying law, they can be free to become mediators instead, so they can still mediate disputes, but their decisions would not be legally binding.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

I woke up this morning to the sound of my cellphone freaking out - vibrating madly and playing Pachelbel's Canon at double speed and top volume. This could only mean one thing - HBP release date! There it was, right in my inbox: JULY 16! Thank you!

So after squeeing and blogging and emailing, I proceeded to have a shower. Just as I was finishing up my shower, I heard this HIDEOUS HIDEOUS noise. It was like the feedback you get when you point an open mike at a speaker, but a hundred times worse. Turns out this is my building's new fire alarm! I have to say it is the most effective fire alarm ever, because you want to get out of the building just to get away from the noise! So I threw on my pyjamas and coat and evacuated, my hair wet and tangled and dripping, no feminine hygiene products, no bra (down 14 flights of stairs - OUCH!), no socks, stupid slip-on shoes that kept falling off. I hung out in front of the building, alternately going inside to escape the cold and outside to escape the noise, until the firetrucks came. Turns out there was a broken sprinkler pipe in the basement. So I walked back up 14 flights of stairs (because the alarm was still going and the elevator doesn't work while the alarm is going). By this time it was 5 minutes until I had to leave for work, and there was all bedraggled and shivering in pjs and wet hair. So I called work and said I'd be a bit late (shouting over the alarm), got myself sorted out, and left, walking back down 14 flights of stairs because the elevators were still out of order.

More excitement before breakfast than I usually have in a whole day.
Harry Potter: July 16, 2005!
At my first job, we had two single-room washrooms. Each contained one
toilet and one sink; there were no stalls, just one locking door opening
onto the hallway. Although they were both identical, one was labelled men's
and one was labelled women's. Since both washrooms were completely
accessible, they both had that wheelchair icon on the door.

One day, a lady asked where the washroom was. I pointed her in the right
direction, then continued doing my work. She came back a few seconds later
all indignant. "But that's the HANDICAPPED washroom!" she huffed, sincerely
offended by the idea that she might have to use an accessible washroom.

It occurs to me that this story is a perfect metaphor for people who get all
offended when wished Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 20, 2004

In a dream I had last night, there was a gumball machine that sold sugar-covered slices of bread. They weren't fried or sticky or anything, it was just normal bread covered with normal sugar, and somehow the sugar just stayed attached to the bread. And I don't know how the gumball machine managed to dispense bread slices, but it worked.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Backstory: one of the books I'm currently reading is about Michelangelo painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo considered himself a sculptor and was not particularly skilled in the art of fresco, the medium in which the chapel ceiling was to be done. Therefore, he was less than thrilled about being assigned to fresco the ceiling when he would rather be working on his pet project, a large sculpture for the Pope's tomb.

Story: Last night I dreamed that mi cielito was driving me around so I could do some errands. (This is odd, since IRL he doesn't drive). All the time he was complaining about having to drive me places because he's a boyfriend, not a chauffeur, and he's much rather devote his time and attention to "boyfriend functions" than sitting in the car waiting for me to finish my errands. As I ran in to one more store, I told him that there's a book in my purse that he can look at if he gets bored waiting. (No, I don't know why I wasn't taking my purse into the store with me). Bitterly and sarcastically, he says "Is it about a man who is hijacked from his true calling and passioned and forced instead to carry out menial tasks that are not only beneath him but also that he's not even very good at?" I looked in my purse, saw the Michelangelo book, handed it to him, and said "Yes it is!"

Saturday, December 18, 2004

You know that Monty Python sketch where they're making an art house movie
with the two characters standing in a garbage dump, holding a cabbage, and
saying how they love each other? The Royal Tennenbaums reminds me of that.

The Master by Colm Toibin

It's a fictional biography of Henry James, which sounds promising, but the
book itself doesn't do much. It extrapolates from what's known about
James's life to tell anecdotes about his day-to-day thoughts and life, but
it doesn't really seem to have much point. Which I guess is perfectly
valid - why should our lives have to have a point? - but it was a bit
disappointing. Perfectly readable, but it could have been better.

I got to interact with a baby today, which is unusual for me since I don't
know any babies socially. One thing I noticed is that the baby would often
stare at people who were doing the most innocuous things, like eating or
chatting or walking around. While I was in a large group and there was
always at least one, often more, people interacting directly with the baby,
he would often stop and stare at other, unrelated goings-on.

I have a theory about this. I think the baby is used to people looking at
him and making faces and saying "Hiiiiiii!" in that high-pitched voice
everyone uses to talk to babies. I think he stares at other things to see
what the grown-ups do when there's no baby around. This must be how kids
learn how life works, otherwise all everyone would know how to do is stare
people in the face and say "Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!"

I know that when you have several utensils at your place setting, you work
from the outside in. But when there are some utensils above your plate,
lying parallel to the edge of the table, are those ones intended to be used
first or last? I knew all this once and I've totally forgotten!

Friday, December 17, 2004

Lately I have been having this recurring dream where I am a
transcriptionist. It's strange, because this dream feels exactly like a
warning or informational dream, like it's trying to tell me something, and I
can't figure out what it's trying to tell me. Nothing much happens, I just
am a transcriptionist - that's my job. Usually it's obvious to me what a
dream is trying to tell me, but this one I can't tell.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

A week or so ago I discussed the problems that arise from having spent most of my life in the company of people who reacted to me in an irrational manner.

I have a follow-up half-formed theory. Let's suppose that the irrational reactions of people around me were simply a function of their having been children at the time. I'm sure we all remember how confusing it is to be a child and how you sometimes don't understand how things work. Let's suppose this is the main cause of their irrational reactions.

If this is true, we can posit that other people, in fact most other people, also had this situation of being surrounded by irrational reactions. Obviously different people react differently to a given situation so not everyone responded by becoming skittish like me, but it would have an effect of some kind on everyone's life.

Therefore, this is why people tend not to mature fully until they are around 30ish. That's the age when you will have spent the majority of your life in the presence of rational reactions, so the part of your mind that reacts like a kid in a schoolyard can finally go dormant.
My favourite red wine is now Sangiovese, and my favourite white wine is Pinot Grigio. That's unfortunate, because I seem to have developed a distinct taste for pretentious-sounding Italian wines. It would be so much more socially acceptable if my favourites were like Merlot and Chardonnay (which I certainly don't mind, but aren't my favourites).
A while back, I googled "Jeans that don't gap in the back" and turned up something called Lee One True Fit. Apparently they are specially designed so they don't gap in the back. Further research showed that they are available at The Bay. So today I went down to The Bay to try them on. They SO gap in the back! I could wear a fanny pack INSIDE those jeans! Now I'm sad and my zen is gone :(

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Civic officials won’t be forced to marry gays

A copy of my email to my MP re: this article:
I was surprised to see such a bizarre headline in the Toronto Star. While I can see the point of not forcing religious institutions to marry anyone they feel doesn't conform with their religious beliefs, I would like to know how exactly the government plans to go about implementing something similar for civic officials without trampling over the rights of citizens in the process. What will be done to ensure that an officiant is available whenever a same-sex couple wants to get married? Would this measure mean that civic officials are free to refuse to marry anyone whose marriage they find distasteful, no matter what the reason? The article says these things haven't been decided yet, but surely the federal government must have something in mind before boldly proclaiming something that seems so unfeasible!
My ROTK Extended Edition arrived today! I wasn't expecting it until at least the 16th! The shipping confirmation was emailed at 9:43am, and the package was at my door when I got home!

The only problem is that no one I know has gotten theirs yet, so I can't watch it until someone confirms the bad chapters for me...

Monday, December 13, 2004

I just saw the weirdest shadow outside my window. It looked like someone walking past the window. But that's impossible - I'm on the 14th floor.
Interesting new thing from Google. As you type into the search field, it autocompletes based on what common searches are. I typed in one or two rather obscure searches that I've done in the past, and they showed up! Scary!

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Some choice phrases from my new bottle of body wash:

"Feel the wild freshness of Fa Body Wash and turn your daily shower into an exciting ritual."

"...provides your skin with a perceivable unique freshness experience."

"Feel it, live it - directly on your skin."

"Work into a rich refreshing lather."

"Fa Body Wash is pH-skin-neutral. Dermatologically proven skin compatibility."

Saturday, December 11, 2004

I got promoted yesterday. So I decided as a reward to myself I get to stay home in comfy clothes all day today instead of going to the Eaton's Centre as originally planned. So I slept in, played Sims, and read Paul Quarrington's Galveston all the way through. Amazing book! Go read it! At first it's tempting to put it down because the characters are initially presented as rather unsympathetic, but as they are fleshed out further in depth the book becomes better and better and wow!
Because there is a certain degree of bizarreness and a certain degree of
insanity in what I do for a living, I am often tempted to do silly, childish
things at work. The vast majority of the time I resist this temptation - I
just giggle quietly to myself about the idea that occurred to me, then go on
working in a mature, responsible manner.

The problem is, I want credit for not doing the silly things that occur to
me. I want to go up to my co-workers and say "It occurred to me today to
replace the holiday ornaments on the intranet site with pictures of little
green aliens. It also occurred to me to cartwheel down that section full of
empty cubicles, rearrange the nameplates on the offices of the ladies who
are on maternity leave to see if they go to the wrong office when they get
back, move documents from cubicle to cubicle via paper airplane, and send an
office-wide email informing everyone 'IT'S SNOWING!!!!!!!!!1' But I didn't
do any of these things. Now give me a prize."

But of course I can't tell my co-workers that these ideas occurred to me or
they'll think I'm psycho.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Theory: anything in the world is intrinsically funny if you think about the
fact that someone invented it - someone thought it up at a time when no such
thing existed and proceeded to sell other people on the idea.

On the radio someone is commenting on the fact that videogames can be educational. This is new? We had educational videogames when I was a kid! Operation Neptune anyone?

Anyway, I'm blogging at this strange hour because I want to record two analogies I thought of in the shower.

1. Why I don't like being thought of as "someone who is on a diet", even though I have been watching my weight for the past few months: Dieting is a temporary unpleasant chore. I don't want it to define me. For example, suppose your kitchen floor is dirty, so you start scrubbing the floor. As you're doing this, the phone rings. You answer the phone, and your friend asks you what's up. You say "I'm just scrubbing the floor". From then on, you're thought of as a person who scrubs the floor. You're given a bucket and brushes for your birthday. When a fun activity is planned, they don't invite you because they thought you'd rather spend the time scrubbing the floor. Whenever they see you doing something else, they say "What are you doing? Why aren't you scrubbing the floor?"

2. Why I don't need a religion: Suppose that when you're a kid you have a dog. It belonged to your parents before you were born, and it's just a part of the household. It's rather surly and grumpy and keeps trying to frighten you. Your parents say it's just being friendly and playing, but it looks to you like it wants to hurt you. This isn't helped by the fact that your parents keep making you scoop the poop from the backyard even though you don't like this dog. Then you grow up and move out of your parents' house. You find that, living on your own, you're relieved to be free of that dog, and you don't feel that you're lacking anything not having a dog in your life. Would you assume that a) you just haven't found the right breed of dog for you yet, or b) you don't need a dog?

Thursday, December 09, 2004

According to a recent study, using a laptop on your lap causes low sperm
count in men. Blogger is being slow so I'm posting by email so I can't
provide a link, but go to Google News and type in "laptop".

So if you're a man and you want to have kids, use your laptop on your desk.
And if you're a man and you don't want to have kids, use your laptop on your

I overheard a conversation on the subway today where someone mentioned
giving their super a year-end tip. Is this a requirement (like tipping
waiters, hotel housekeeping, taxi drivers etc.) or just a nicety?

The Narrows by Michael Connelly is your standard detective story. Basically
film noir for the 21st century. Not bad, but not particularly exceptional.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

I love my library holds list, simply because I never know which book is going to come in next, or when it's going to arrive. I find randomness rather aesthetically pleasing, (when I was a kid, I would reach into my crayon box with my eyes closed and colour the next part of my picture with whichever colour I drew out) so books arriving randomly makes me happy.
Discussion topic of the moment:

Adult privileges, in the order in which I think of them: stay home alone,
babysit, drive, vote, drink, smoke, consent to sex, take legal
responsibility for yourself, gamble, get a job, see movies with various
levels of adult material, get body piercing and tattoos.

Suppose you didn't have these privileges yet, and you get to choose in what
order you get them. What order would you ask for them in? If I missed any,
feel free to add them in.

Enlightenment of the day: the root of most of my problems is that, for the
majority of my life, I was constantly exposed to people who would react in
an irrational manner to things I did. They would yell at me, criticize me,
mock me or attack me for things that were, objectively, not a transgression,
thus hindering my acquisition of the common social code. Not everyone
around me did this, but almost every day I was exposed to at least one
person who did. While I no longer experience this in my daily life, it was
the norm for most of my life. As a result being treated in a rational manner
is something of a novelty; it feels like a warm sunny spring day in March -
a recent exception, not the rule, not something you can count on.

So because I simply cannot make myself believe that people will react in a
rational manner, I'm shy about people. I don't like making requests of
people - not even to ask someone to do something that's their job, or to ask
a friend for a minor favour. I don't like exposing my habits or likes and
dislikes. I apologize in advance for my eccentricities. I don't like social
interaction with people who aren't trusted friends, because I have no idea
what they'll do.

And every once in a while, even now living as an adult surrounded by adults,
I do end up being exposed to someone who acts in an objectively irrational
manner. This doesn't happen too often, but it does occur frequently enough
that, combined with my personal history, empirical evidence suggests that
random or unfamiliar people will behave irrationally. And so the story

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

A half-formed theory, based solely on heresay, conjecture, and anecdotal

People with higher novelty-seeking get more pleasure out of physical
exercise. People with lower novelty-seeking get less pleasure out of
physical exercise. I haven't yet decided why, although it could be a result
of the effect of endorphins on an addictive personality. I have low
novelty-seeking, which is why I hate exercising.

Interesting detail from MASH: Major Houlihan usually wear her shirt tucked
in. But in the episode where her appendix is bugging her, she wears it
untucked. Because her appendix is bugging her so she doesn't want tight
stuff around her waist!

From the happy white wine files: Barossa Valley Spires chardonnay and Les Fumees Blanches sauvignon blanc. Both are a bit dry for my taste, but they're still highly drinkable - the kind where it's easy to drink more than you intended to. fumees Blanches has a screwtop lid, which is good for when you want a decent wine with the convenience of a screwtop.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Blah. That's all. Just blah.
Over the past couple of months, there have been some ads hanging in Yonge
Bloor station that contain a picture that causes me distress. I've noticed
recently that some, but not all, of the ads in the station have changed.
Obviously I avoid the part of the station where there are ads I don't want
to see, so I don't know if these ads have changed. Does anyone know if
they're gone yet?

Sunday, December 05, 2004

The great advantage to taking night classes is that when I don't have class it seems like I have so much more free time. After my last class on December 8th, I'm going to be feeling a glorious freedom at the oodles of time available to me each day. I'll still be working full-time five days a week, but the idea of finishing work, doing an errand, and still being home by 6:00 feels like unspeakable luxury.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

From the Stupid Things That Annoy Me file:

People who put their babies in carriers/strollers and then cover them up completely. Like they put a blanket over the whole stroller, or somehow close the carrier completely so the baby is in a little closed dark box. I know that when you're outdoors it's to keep out the wind, but you should really let your baby see the world! Actually, it's more for purely selfish reasons - if you're talking up a lot of space with a big stroller or something, I want the compensation of seeing a cute little baby.
The problem with being a translator is that people think I'm an interpreter. Translation is written, interpretation is verbal. They're different skills. Many, if not most, people who can do one can't do both. So then when people find out I can't interpret they get inordinately disappointed in me.
Random, quasi-inappropriate thought of the moment: Wouldn't it be funny if
the hijackers who were flying planes into the World Trade Center missed?
Like they tried to hit the building, but they couldn't steer very well or
something and just flew right in between the buildings? I have no idea if
that would be feasible, but it makes a funny mental image.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Anyone know of any products that can be used for exfoliating the skin around
your eyes and don't require much rubbing or friction?

The Bodybreak people seem to take as a given that "being active is fun". They're going for the wrong audience. They should really do Bodybreak with the given that people don't enjoy "being active", and work from there
Yesterday I learned that at U of T, a 4.0 (the highest mark on the grade point scale) corresponds with 86% to 100%. So if you get 86% in a class, it will show up on your transcript exactly the same as if you got 100% in that class.

This is not good for me.

You see, on my last test, I had more trouble than I had anticipated. I went into the test a bit cocky and was humbled by the number of questions I couldn't answer or had to guess at. I left the test thinking that I'd need to do some additional studying on top of my standard everyday studying.

It turn out I got 90% on that test.

I still got things wrong that I shouldn't have, but since this 90% is considered by the university to be exactly the same as 100%, what's my motiviationto perfect myself? I can just study on the subway on the way to class, and squeak through with guesswork!

Thursday, December 02, 2004

WARNING! Do not buy American grapes!!!
Things they should invent: What'

A website where you can enter two word and it will tell you the difference
between them. It will come pre-programmed with pairs of similar words (for
example, stuttering and stammering, or continuous and continual, or highway
and freeway) and will tell you the difference between those words. If you
enter words that aren't a pre-programmed pair, it will provide dictionary
definitions. If the dictionary definitions don't help, you can "submit"
that pair and trained terminologists will determine the difference and add
it to the database.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

My IP address currently starts with 70. For the entire 2-ish years I've been with this ISP, my IP address has always started with 65. Weird.
A comment by someone named Don Meredith, in today's Globe and Mail,
regarding the Jane bus incident:

"A child is shot and there's no outrage?"

Um, there is outrage. From all sides. Who do you know that isn't outraged?

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

I'm tired and had a bad day. I hate how I can't function as well if I don't exercise and eat breakfast. I HATE that. I LOATHE and DETEST having to take time to take care of myself properly.

Monday, November 29, 2004

According to a sticker on my pill package, oral contraceptives may make contact lenses difficult to wear. I've been on the pill for years and I had no idea!

Thought of the moment: are there little black mousies living under the tracks of the Sheppard subway line too? Or is the line too new?

Sunday, November 28, 2004

I've watched my POA DVD three times already since it first arrived on my doorstep last Thursday! It's definitely the best movie so far, which is good because it's definitely my favourite book so far. You can tell Cuaron is having fun with the material instead of just jumping from plot point to plot point.

However, there are a few changes I'd make. First, I'd shorten the following scenes:

1. Aunt Marge inflating and floating away (I'd make her inflate faster)
2. Harry flying around on Buckbeat
3. Harry and Hermione getting tossed around by the Whomping Willow

They're all fun CGI scenes and they do have their place, but I'd shorten them and use the space saved to communicate the following plot points:

1. Show the Wolfsbane Potion
2. Explicitly say that MWPP are Remus, Peter, Sirius and James
3. Tell the story of WHY WPP chose to become Animagi!
4. Explain that Harry's Patronus is, in fact, his father!

It's one thing to assume the viewer is familiar with the backstory of the first two books/movies, it's quite another to assume they're familiar with the backstory of the current story. It's more important to make everyone's motivation clear than to have cool CGI effects.

I'd have also enjoyed a longer Boggart scene, and the Gryffindor vs. Ravenclaw Quidditch match (which is one of my favourite scenes in the book).

And for any Canadian Potter fans reading this, am I the only one who is reminded of Wormtail every time I see the name of Minister of Foreign Affairs Pierre Pettigrew?

Friday, November 26, 2004

On MASH, they're all wearing their dress uniforms. Col. Potter has a sort
of cropped jacket that ends before the top of his hips, but the other
officers all have longer jackets that fall mid-hip. I wonder why?

Thought of the moment: what is the single most embarrassing purchase or combination of purchases that you can make at a drugstore without including items related to sex or sexual health (and the related body parts) or bodily waste (and the related body parts)?

And also, my left armpit has been sore since I got my flu shot. Same thing happened last year. WTF?
No rent increase for next year! YAY!

Thursday, November 25, 2004

I've said several times in the past that they should have weather forecasts that tell you what to wear. Well, now they do.
The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard

A story of Japan and Hong Kong shortly after World War II. A strange book,
kind of floaty and dream-like, in the way that what happens in a dream is
beyond one's control. It's like the characters feel that things are just
happening to them, which is quite likely given the muddled state of life
when everyone is recovering from a war. It's also a love story, but kind of
a strange love story. The characters seem to just suddenly and mutually
decide that they're in love with each other, but since the narrator doesn't
really talk about his feelings we don't actually see it happen. It also
seems to be trying to make some kind of commentary on age and youth, but
that's strange too. The male protagonist is in his late 20s/early 30s and
seems to feel that his youth is behind him, which is a strange thing to be
feeling because really he's still young. The woman he falls for is in her
late teens, and it seems like the book is trying to present this as a
midlife crisis thing, except he's too young to be having a midlife crisis,
and it's hardly the type of physical lust that one associates with a midlife
crisis. And it seem doubly strange since the author is in her 70s, so she
should certainly realize that 30 is not old. It's all slightly surreal
without intending to be so.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

The two candidates in Ukraine are named Viktor Yushchenko and Viktor

They need more variety there.


Tuesday, November 23, 2004

You know how some people give their babies formula instead of nursing them? When the baby starts crying for food and the formula needs to be prepared, what do they do with the baby while preparing the formula? I'd assume that parental instincts would tell you to pick up the crying baby and soothe it, but I'd also assume that the formula can be prepared faster when you don't have a crying baby in your arms...
In September I ordered an item from Amazon. It was a special-order item, so they said it would take 6-8 weeks to ship. I therefore decided to order it together with my Harry Potter DVD (which was released today) so I could use a coupon and get free shipping.

Today I got an email informing me that they could not obtain the special-order item for me. They then added:
Please note, if you took advantage of a promotional offer when placing this order, this cancellation can affect your order's eligibility for that offer.
That is not so very cool. If they're going to keep me waiting for two months expecting that I can get this particular item, they could at least have the decency to let me save a lousy $5 on my DVD! They were good enough not to charge me for shipping the DVD, but you'd think that good customer service requires that they let me use the promotional offers too...
This is me attempting to be optimistic about stuff a la Jimmy.

They've started showing my exercise shows on weekends too. This is good, because on a normal weekend day I can wake up early, exercise, then go back to sleep for as long as I need. This means that I'll get at least 2 days of exercise in no matter how bad my week is.

MASH is now on at 8 pm, so I get some nice comfort food television to relax me before bed. Plus I can do my dishes painlessly during the commercial breaks, and I'm fully justified in playing computer games for an hour in the evening (because I can't POSSIBLY be expected to study/read/do complicated housework while watching TV!) I'm particularly happy since the current MASH episodes feature the Potter/Hunnicutt/Burns line-up, which is my favourite.

And once I get one short annoying text out of the way, my work is good and happy. As long as I don't think too far in the future.

Monday, November 22, 2004

I just had an enlightenment:

The reason why it's so valuable to me to sleep until I wake up naturally is because it calms me down. When I wake up naturally after a complete sleep, my mind is blank and I'm not worrying about anything that does not need to be addressed immediately. When I have not had enough sleep, I find myself fretting about things that are beyond my immediate control and/or inevitable. So the reason I often wake up mornings craving more sleep is not so much because I'm tired, but because I want to be calmed.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Look at the paintings on the outside walls of this Sim house. They don't rotate properly! On the left wall, the yellow square is on the bottom right and the red fruit is on the bottom left. On the right wall, the yellow square is on the bottom left and the red fruit is on the bottom right!
One thing I've always found terribly annoying in every language class I've
ever taken is the whole asking for/giving directions unit. I'm not sure
why, but it really annoys me. Maybe because it's so repetitive. Maybe
because it requires more creativity (I have to think of places to give
directions to and think of how to get there). Maybe it's because I so
rarely ask for or give directions IRL. At any rate, it annoys me in any

Half-formed theory:

We have to expect (not accept, expect) a certain degree of
corruption/hypocrisy from any political leader, because the personal
characteristics that make a person inclined to want to be leader of their
country are also the characteristics that make a person inclined to be
corrupt or a hypocrite. Slytherin qualities.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

I had a dream last night that I was in class asking my classmates what I missed last Thursday. It seems we covered the life of Glenn Gould. As I was copying a classmate's notes, I mentioned that Glenn Gould was dead. They all gasped, got mad at me for ruining the story, then started to mock me for having read ahead in the book.
For future reference, good shirazes:

1. Vendange
2. Goundrey Homestead
3. Domaine Paul Mas Que Sera Sirah Syrah
In the tunnel that goes under the street to Eglinton Station, there was a large piece of black tissue paper lying on the floor. The peculiar wind currents in the tunnel were causing the paper to glide along the floor like a hovercraft. It was perfectly flat and moving along the floor instead of blowing through the air, but it was gliding along quite quickly and smoothly.

It reminded me of a Lethifold.
Update on the doctor situation:

I called today, and they were able to get me an appointment to renew my prescription for a week Monday. The question just remains of whether the doctor will be willing to actually do so.

The next mystery is why on earth they want me to fast for 12 hours before I have my physical???

Friday, November 19, 2004

In the Globe and Mail today I happened to get an advertisement for one of the condos I was considering buying at some point in the future. It included a layout for the two bedroom plus den suite, which is the size I have in mind for matrimonial life, so we can each have an office.

I HATE the layout! The one den isn't really a den, it's just a random corner wide in the open, the livingroom is crouwded, there's a lot of wasted floor space that isn't conducive to furniture, and apparently all the 2+den units face north! I am not going to pay nearly $300,000 to spend the rest of my life without any direct sunlight through my windows! (Although, interestingly enough, they've drawn the layout with generous quantities of sunlight flooding through the windows).

I hope they'll build some better 2+den units in this neighbourhood!
This morning I inadvertently shaved only one armpit. Unfortunately, I didn't notice until I had already put deo on that armpit, (aside: why do we put deo only on our armpits?) and I was already running late so I didn't have time to de-deo myself, shave that armpit, re-deo, and continue getting dressed. It's amazing how much it can throw off your day just KNOWING your armpits don't match!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

I realized today I don't actively like coffee. I find it hot, comforting,
caffeinated, and socially convenient, but the desiccating, diuretic effect
isn't my very favourite thing in the world (except on those very rare
occasions when I'm constipated). I can appreciate good coffee over bad, and
I actively enjoy the taste of some lattes and other fancy coffee beverages,
but I would never classify a cup of coffee as "refreshing", which is a label
I would put on most other beverages (even tea, under some circumstances.)

However, I will continue to drink coffee because there's nothing like a cup
of Second Cup Early Edition to chase away the morning gallicisms.

The Shadow of the Wind (La sombra del viento) by Carlos Ruiz Zafón is one of
the best books I've ever read! I can't believe it didn't make's
"Best of 2004". (And I can't believe Muriella Pent of all things was #1!)
The Shadow of the Wind one of the few mysteries (it's not a traditional
mystery in the sense of detectives and stuff, but it's definitely a
mystery!) I've read recently where you actually don't know "whodunit" until
the end. And even if you do manage to guess who, there's the whole tragic
tale of why.

I ended up reading this in English because the library didn't appear to have
the Spanish version (which is surprising, considering how popular the
Spanish version is). However, I'm glad I did read it in English because it
was such a page turner - I wanted to badly to know what happened next - and
I read faster in English than in Spanish. I will definitely be reading it
again, and maybe even in Spanish.

Highly recommended!

Monday, November 15, 2004

What does "I resemble that remark" mean?
I saw the BEST DOGGIE EVER! It was a little wiener dog puppy - only 11 months old. Its body (minus head and tail) was about the size of my foot, and the whole dog was shorter than my boot (ankle boots with 2-inch heels). It got all excited and tried to jump up on me, but it couldn't even make it to my knee. And because it was only a baby, its floppy ears and waggily tail were disproportionately large. SO CUTE!!!

In other news, there's a sign on 7-Eleven saying "1300+ hot drink creations". 1300+? How? Do they count a double double and a double double with milk as different drinks?

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Some blogs have a "next blog" button at the top. Sometimes a random passer-by clicks on this button and ends up at my blog. My Sitemeter tells me what page they came from. Sometimes I go back and look at those pages just out of curiosity.

I've noticed that in these pages, there are quite a few blogs with a title like "John Doe's Blog" and an address like "". But instead of being a proper blog, the content appears to be links to every page that appears as search engine results for a particular keyword, like the name of a city or a disease. Every page that is like this has that template with pale green dots in the background.

I wonder what they're trying to achieve?
I'm not looking forward to work tomorrow. I hate the part of my job that requires me to impose on my co-workers. And I'm not looking forward to being promoted because then that aspect of my job will feel like even more of an imposition. Logically I know I should just be a grown-up about this, but I just can't flick that switch and make that happen.

And I just realized something else that I can't blog here.

Things They Should Do A Study On: Which religion produces the greatest
proportion of atheists?

Study children who are born into each religion and are raised to be actively
religious, and look at how many of them end up being atheist, how many end
up being agnostic, how many end up lapsing, and how many end up converting.

They could also find out which religion causes the most crises in faith, and
in which religion the most people have crises in faith and ultimately decide
to go back to the religion.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

One thing I really do not understand is the "technical quality uber alles" approach to media. I read a review of a DVD, and they go on and on about sound and picture quality. But how's the movie itself? People rave about the quality of graphics in videogames. That can certainly be interesting, but is the game itself fun? I even once heard someone say that he decides which radio stations to listen to based on the signal quality. While I know it can be annoying to listen to poor reception, doesn't he care about the content?

I just have no interest in watching a movie that I don't enjoy in impeccable surround sound, playing a boring or too-complex-to-relax videogame with amazing graphics, or listening to dull or infuriating radio with a crystal clear signal. I'd much rather watch a great movie with mediocre picture quality, play a fun, relaxable DOS game, or listen to informative or entertaining radio in mono. I just can't understand why some people would rather do the opposite.
I wonder how often people who want to commit suicide by jumping think to
jump headfirst? It never would have occurred to me until I recently heard
about a case where the guy must have jumped headfirst.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Kitchen Stuff Plus has a shotglass checkers game! It's a checkerboard with as many shotglasses as you have checkers pieces, and when you jump a piece you get to drink the shot - just like on MASH! I am highly impressed.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Did the US actually declare war on Iraq, or did they just wander in with a
bunch of soldier and tanks and stuff?

Seen in Dominion:

An older couple, both in electric wheelchairs with baskets on the front, with two small dogs in the basket of each wheelchair.
In re: a person's chance of being struck by lightning:

Is the number they use when comparing it ("You'd have a better chance of
being struck by lightning") like your chance of it happening at all during
your life, or your chance of it happening while standing outside in a

MASH today was the one where Col. Blake died.

I wonder if that's for Remembrance Day, or if it's just because that was the
next one scheduled to play in the series.

I've noticed that since I started working full-time I never take naps any more. The only exceptions are on days when I don't have to work, when I wake up early to exercise then go back to bed (but that's more a deliberate sleep plan), and the occassional day when I nod off on the subway on the way to class. But I never get grumpy and cold, snuggle up in a cocoon of my covers, and sleep until I'm not grumpy any more like I used to do in university.
One of the strangest (as in "most foreign to me") attitudes that I've seen
among adolescents (i.e.. my younger classmates and people online) is the
thought that people are unattractive unless they are tanned. I mean
actively tanned - like it is essential to regularly spend time in a tanning
bed. I've never seen people impose that attitude on other people before.
Among people my age, I have occasionally seen someone make disparaging
comments about the pallor of their own skin, but never about other people -
everyone just seemed to accept that people come in different degrees of tan.
One of my grandmothers has this attitude (and she seems to think I'm wasting
my potential by not tanning), but I never thought I'd see it among young
people in the 21st century.

I am so relaxed today. I was kind of resentful about being on call on a holiday, but I like it because being on call makes me not feel obligated to do anything else. If this were just a normal day off, I'd feel obligated to do certain errands and household chores and studying right now. But instead I'm just like "I'm on call. See, I'm being productive!" and I don't feel obligated to do anything else.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Why I am pissed off: I called my doctor this morning to schedule my annual physical.

They aren't booking any appointments until January.

In what world is that acceptable? I'm on my last pack of pills, and I never thought to call earlier because I have never, not even for busy clinics, had to wait more than three weeks for an appointment.

Tomorrow I am calling them back and emphasizing the time-sensitivity of the whole thing. If they can't come up with some way for me to have a prescription in hand by the end of the month, then I will have to look for a new doctor. This completely defeats the purpose of having a family doctor.

And if they can't come up with some way for me to have a prescription in hand by the end of the month, I am blogging my doctor's name so other people can be warned away.
Seen in Bloor station: a little 5-year-old girl, gleefully dancing to the music played by a nearby busker, oblivious to the rush of commuters all around her.

If my life were a movie, that would be a significant symbol of something.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Ethical dilemma: should I get a flu shot?

There aren't enough flu shots in North America. There are enough in
Ontario, somewhere, in my doctor's office or at Toronto Public Health, there
is a flu shot with my name on it. Later on in the flu season, leftover flu
shots may be donated to other jurisdictions that have a shortage, but I have
no way of knowing for certain that my flu shot will be donated if I don't
use it.

For several years didn't get a flu shot and didn't have the flu. I am not
in contact with high-risk people myself, but I am in contact with many
people who are in contact with high-risk people. The powers that be are
marketing it as being my duty to get a flu shot. If I did get the flu, it
wouldn't be too severe for me, comparatively speaking - I am healthy and
strong and could afford the time off work and school, and can plausibly
quarantine myself without too much difficulty.

So I don't absolutely need it, I am being instructed to get it, I am
entitled to get it, there are other people who need it more than me, and if
I forgo it my dose may go to someone who needs it more than me, but I don't
know that for sure.

I've noticed quite a few articles lately to the effect that the Left is alienating people (this isn't the best article ever because it's from ID, but it gives the general gist of the argument).

The bit I don't understand is that the Right is doing all the things mentioned in this article too, just reverse some things, change some names and places. So why isn't it a problem for them?

Monday, November 08, 2004

On MASH, why is going to the stockade undesireable? It would get them out of the war, and the conditions can't be worse than their camp. So why not just desert or something so they can get court-martialed?

Sunday, November 07, 2004

you know how in Britain they evacuated all the children from the cities while they were being bombed? Has that ever been done before, since or elsewhere? It does kind of make sense, but I've never heard of another instance of evacuating children and it seems that it would be done more often.
Nuvole Pinot Grigio is one of the best whites I've ever tasted. It's fruity
and smooth and sexy, and I could totally drink it every day. It's
everything a white wine should be, and definitely one of my first choices if
I ever have to get wine as a gift.

Adventures in pan-Asian cuisine:

Now I don't really eat a lot of Asian food, mostly because when I tried it as a child I didn't like it, and I'm hesitant to experiment with foods I know nothing about. I don't want to spend money (and my limited lunch time) on something I might not like.

However, a couple of weeks ago I was having lunch with some co-workers, and one of them ordered this soup from this generic Asian place called Noodles. The soup had vegetables and noodles and broth and looked really healthy and tasty. So a couple of days later, I decided to try this stuff myself. I really enjoyed it, it was tasty and comforting, but there was rather a lot of it and it filled me up so I couldn't finish it all. However, a lot of it was water, so I found myself hungry again before I even finished work (which isn't good because I have class after work, so my lunch has to keep me full until I get home at 8).

Then a couple of days ago, due to various circumstances,I wasn't able to take my lunch until 3 pm, and I would have to eat at my desk. So I went down to Noodles and got some of this soup to go, as the thought hot soup in my cold office was comforting, and I would surely be able to finish the whole thing in the two hours of work left. I noticed that their takeout containers were these tall styrofoam things, about as wide as a normal takeout soup bowl but twice as tall. This made me happy, because just that morning I had been thinking that takeout soup should be available in large cups, so you can sip it if you want. But when I went to pick up my order, I found that they had given me two containers! There were people behind me in line so I didn't stop to ask, but it turned out that one container had broth and vegetables, and the other held the noodles. What am I supposed to do with that? I couldn't just dump the noodles into the broth because the broth container was full, and it's not like i have a bowl in my office to mix them in. So I ended up eating half of the veggies and broth, then putting the noodles in the rest of the mixture. But does anyone know the correct thing to do in that situation?

My other story is about sushi. I'd never had sushi before - initially because I thought all sushi contained raw fish, and then because I didn't know if I'd like it and, as a student, I didn't want to spend money on something that I didn't know if I'd like. But today I decided to try sushi for the first time, so I bought a thing of 8 little vegetarian rolls from Loblaw's.

I don't like it. I can't stand wasabi and whatever that pink stuff is, and the rolls themselves are just meh. I could eat them if there was nothing else, but I don't really like them. I ate 2, then decided to have a peanut butter sandwich instead.

I'm so plebian!
I want a t-shirt that says, in Mandarin or Japanese or some other language I don't speak that has an attractive foreign script: "I don't understand what this says."
Ontario to require students to stay in school until age 18 (If it asks you to log in, you can also go to BugMeNot.)

But what about students who graduate from high school at 17?
Mackerel Sky by Natalee Caple. A man returns home to Quebec to meet his
adult daughter for the first time, only to find that she, her mother, and
her mother's younger lover are all embroiled in a crime ring. Bittersweet
melodrama ensues.

The good: descriptions! Beautiful, lush-without-going-overboard
descriptions of everything. You know what people's skin feels like, what
places smell like, what food looks like, it's like you're right there.

The bad: the plot could be more compelling, and I'm not too impressed with
the crime writing aspect of it. In parts of the book, the criminal element
is underrepresented, and in other parts it's overdone. I think more balance
is needed in this area. Also, the cover borders on possibly inappropriate
for reading in public. It has a picture of a woman's body, clad in what may
be lingerie or may be a skimpy dress, posed in a way that suggests a state
of dishevelled undress. Nothing explicit, but very suggestive. It's okay
for public reading if you don't care what passers-by think of you, but if
you prefer to come off as dignified and respectable in public this might not
be the best choice.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

I woke up this morning with two inch-long cuts on the back of my right hand and wrist, and I have no idea how they got there.

Friday, November 05, 2004

I wonder, if you take an older baby, like 10 months old, and show it a newborn baby, does it think "Yeah, there's a little kid".
So what should be next for Canada in light of Bush's re-election?

I think the most important thing Canada can do for its citizens, and for defining its own unique place in the world, is not attempt to placate the US any matters that do not directly involve the US. Our domestic policy should be set without any consideration for what effect it will have on the US. For example, when deciding whether marijuana should be decriminalized, Canada should take into consideration what is best for Canada, and what is best for Canadians. If the US brings up something about how decriminalization in Canada could increase the flow of drugs to the US, we should dismiss it with some mention of how they aren't controling their firearms enough to decrease the flow of firearms to Canada.

Our foreign policy for all countries other than the US should take into consideration things like the UN, NATO, and other organizations to which Canada belongs, but not the US as its own entity. If the US wants to convince Canada of something, it should have to convince the UN. Otherwise, Canada's relations with other countries will be between Canada and the country in question, with no US influence whatsoever - like our current relations with Cuba.

As for US citizens in search of Canadian vaccinations and medications, they should be treated like any other foreign national who comes to Canada and attempts to obtain prescription medication. I don't know what happens when a foreign national attempts to obtain Canadian medication, but it would behoove us at this point not to treat Americans any differently.

We should not, especially not now, be getting involved in missile defence. I'm not saying this because I'm a pacifist, I'm saying it out of pure pragmatism. It's like that episode of MASH where the hospital was getting bombed because there was a tank parked nearby. Militarily, the US is far more aggressive than we want to be as a country, and we don't want to give the impression that we are an accessory to this behaviour.

And that's it for US politics for me!

Thursday, November 04, 2004

A survey, based on a real-life occurrence:

You get a message from a trusted friend warning you NOT to look at a particular page of that day's newspaper.

What do you do, and why? What do you think is in the newspaper?
This post is going to be a roundup of miscellany from the US election. My next post is going to be about what Canada's next step should be. Then I'm going to get off the topic of US politics for a while, because I've given it far too much attention.

1. Apparently, the US fulfills all 14 points and seven warning signs of fascism. I'll leave it to you to decide how much value to give this, but it's interesting.

2. A fascinating discussion from Metro Morning this morning about the gap between Canadian and American values. (Direct link to a Realaudio file).

3. I took the US Presidential Candidate Selector while watching the election. Here are my results:
1. Your ideal theoretical candidate. (100%)
2. Cobb, David - Green Party (99%)
3. Brown, Walt - Socialist Party (92%)
4. Nader, Ralph - Independent (91%)
5. Kerry, Senator John, MA - Democrat (70%)
6. Badnarik, Michael - Libertarian (20%)
7. Peroutka, Michael - Constitution Party (13%)
8. Bush, President George W. - Republican (2%)

I find two things rather interesting about this:

a) There are three candidates who are so very close to my ideal theoretical candidate. I don't know if any of the Canadian parties are that close.

b) Bush and Kerry are so far apart. When I look at their platforms together, they seem much closer.
Approximately how many voters vote at one US polling place? If you can't
answer that, how close is a polling place generally to one's home? Can
everyone usually walk there? Or is there one per small/medium town? I'm
curious because I read about there being line-ups. I'm hardly an
experienced voters, but in the six elections I've voted in, I've never had
to wait in line to vote.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The American public seems to be very particular about its irst ladies. I've noticed that, while the first lady is expected to be a public figure and sometimes speak out on certain issues, too much outspokeness or independence seems to be frowned upon.

I wonder how accepting they would be of a noticeably shy first lady - someone who does her job, but you can tell that she feels kind of nervous or awkward?
The strangest thing about the whole US election is that they kept getting people on TV who would say "I voted for Bush because..." and then proceed to list a personal circumstance that, from my perspective as an outsider, would make Bush the least desirable candidate.

I've never seen that in a Canadian election. I've seen people say "I voted for this candidate because of this policy" and proceed to name a policy that I disagree with, but I've never seen "I voted for this candidate because of this personal circumstance" and mention the candidate who I would find least helpful if I were in that particular circumstance.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

I'm going to bed. I call it for Bush, since I don't know what I'm talking about and I'm of no influence whatsoever.

Incidently, to be a born-again xian, do you have to have not been xian at some point in your life? Can it be hereditary? Like if your parents are born-again xians are you automatically one too?
Reasons why I am grumpy:

1. I have to be on call on Remembrance Day, so I quasi-lose my day off and don't get paid overtime unless I'm actually given work.

2. My mommy doesn't want to bake for xmas, which is doubly distressing since I had scheduled my diet to end on xmas.

3. One of my pairs of good black office pants (the most flattering pair) has an unfortunate seam rip, and I can't fix it because a) I can't figure out which seam it is from the inside, and b) I can't figure out how to get the white thread out of the fucking sewing machine! There are instructions for threading it, but not for taking the thread out! (And yes, I tried doing threading instructions backwards, but that doesn't quite work).

I get to see a baby tomorrow. Maybe that will make me feel better.
So when either Bush or Kerry wins a state, do they get ALL the electoral votes in that state, or do the electoral votes get divided between the two based on the percentage of votes they got in that state?
St. George station. I get off the Yonge line train and head towards the stairs to go down to the Bloor line. There's a huge wave of people coming up the stairs, blocking my access down. I see a big bulky guy who looks like a football player also trying to head down the stairs, so I move behind him, hoping he would clear a path for me. Dude turns around, catches my eye, and gives a grandiose "Ladies first!" gesture. Gee, thanks.
I wonder if it's considered false advertising to say that something is on
sale at a reduced price when it's not - when it's really the same price it
has always been.

Spinelli Quartana Chardonnay is rather dry, so it would be good with some
creamyish food, but it's a bit too sharp by itself. It's very inexpensive
though, so worth buying for a dinner or something.

Monday, November 01, 2004


For my entire post-pubescent life, I have been able to pull out hairs of any kind with little to no pain. Basically all I felt would be a tiny prick of acknowledgement. "Hi, this is just to let you know that a hair has been removed right here."

Today I attempted various types of hair removal that involved pulling out hairs at the root, and it HURT. Like it was actually PAINFUL, and I have no idea why. I hope this isn't permanent.
I probably am going to end up watching the US election tomorrow. I don't feel 100% good about this course of action - I put myself on a US news media blackout over a year ago and it made me a better person, so I really shouldn't be breaking it. The correct thing to do would be go to bed nice and early and catch all the analysis in the newspapers the next day, but I know I'm going to end up staying up late and watching it on TV. (Stupid, I know, to fret about doing something harmless in the privacy of my own home that all my friends and family and neighbours and co-workers are probably doing too, but what are blogs for if not excessive personal introspection?)

However, I have made several concessions to the fact that I should not be watching this at all:

1. I will watch only CBC Newsworld. No US stations.
2. If I turn on my TV from 8-9, I can only watch MASH.
3. If I turn on my TV from 10-11, I can only watch the Daily Show.
4. If they haven't decided who won by 11, I have to go to sleep.
5. NO EATING CAKE! Cake is reserved for elections in which I can vote myself.
How come when there are security guys running alongside a car, they always
have to have one hand on the car?

An English Gentleman by Sky Gilbert is one of those books (like What Was She
Thinking? by Zoe Heller) where the narrator ends up saying more about
himself than the topic he is discussing. The main character (narrator) is
given some letters from J.M. Barrie to his adopted son, and sets about
debunking some of the scholarship on the topic. Meanwhile, his own life
parallels what's going on in the letters, and he ends up revealing more
about himself than insight into the letters.

The letters aren't real - I had to google to find this out, which is
testament either to the author's skill or my own ignorance. Other than

Apparently my supers aren't allowed to come to a tenant's apartment unless the tenant fills out a work order. Even if the tenant is home and specifically requests that the super come by. I find that strange. I understand the rule for when the tenant isn't home, but you'd think it would be okay if the tenant is home.
I don't understand why Global Vote 2004 inspires such anger. I can totally see why an American might not care what the rest of the world thinks. What I don't understand is why, instead of shrugging it off or laughing at it, they would take the time to send an email full of spluttering vitriol. It really sounds like some of those commenters feel that their manhood has been threatened or something, and I don't understand how what is essentially an internet poll would inspire that sort of reaction. Or, if those people get that angry about something as innocuous as an internet poll, why they haven't died of a heart attack yet.

ETA: I wonder how this demographic would react if the message was just "Vote." Would they choose not to vote because they don't want any foreigners telling them what to do?

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Polish mnemonics:

tani = cheap because people with tans look cheap
drogi = expensive because drugs are expensive
maz = husband because of the French word it sounds like
smutny = sad because smut is just sad
chory = sick because it sounds like coughing something up
zielony = green because jello is green
Okay, it's been a while and I don't remember. Anyone remember how long it
usually takes to determine the winner of a US election under normal

Saturday, October 30, 2004

As I'm walking down the stairs into Museum subway station, I see this little
dog walking down the other stairs across from me. Then I see two more
little dogs following it. Then there's this guy carrying another little
dog, then three more little dogs after him.

They all walk into the station, and a few of the dogs walk right under the
turnstiles. I thought for a second they were escaping, so I grab my
metropass and swipe my way into the station, prepared to catch them if
necessary. But the owner just casually makes his way to the booth and
fumbles through his pocket for change while the rest of the dogs
nonchalantly walk under the turnstile. Then they all make their way down
the stairs together. The stairs look a bit difficult for such little dogs,
but they all manage just fine.

The guy sits down on a bench on the platform, and all the dogs just mill
around him, casually sniffing stuff. They aren't on leashes or anything,
but they're really well-trained - they don't run away or wander too close to
the tracks or bark or even pay any attention to all the other people on the
platform, most of whom are fascinated by this big clump of dogginess.

Unfortunately, my train came at that point. I guess the dogs were going in
the other direction because they didn't get on the same train as me, so I
didn't get to see how they all managed that. In retrospect I should have
followed them to see what happened.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

There's an ad on the subway advertising Mark's Work Wearhouse. It gleefully
announces that the store is conveniently located "halfway between Leslie and
Bessarion subway stations!"

Um, that's not helpful. To be helpful to subway riders, you need to be AT a
subway station. In fact, that's as unhelpful as you can be while still
being on a subway line.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

The mnemonic for a Quebec and au Quebec:

Au contains a
The province of Quebec contains Quebec City
Therefore, au Quebec is the province, and a Quebec is the city.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Wynns Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon is a very yummy cab. sauv.! It's smooth
and creamy and fruity and berry-y, and not at all tannic (which should be a
word if it isn't already). This one definitely goes on the "to try again"

Monday, October 25, 2004

Suppose you had a piece of toilet paper that didn't have waste matter on it,
but needed to be disposed of. Maybe you'd used it to blow your nose or wipe
up some stray water droplets. Would it be better for the environment to put
it in the toilet (and not flush the toilet until the next time you needed to
flush), or to put it in the garbage?

This is the city we could have.
I solved a tech problem for a co-worker today - by knowing the answer, not
by guessing. And I got the highest mark in the class on our first test.

I'm glad that a year spent sitting in a cubicle hasn't eroded my
non-major-related skills from uni!

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Wondrous Strange: The Life and Art of Glenn Gould by Kevin Bazzana

This is a very long, detailed biography of Glenn Gould. I've never been a huge Gould fan - I have some of his recordings in my MP3 player, but I'm too young to really know why he's a phenomenon - but this book was still very interesting to me. It describes his childhood, the development of his career as a concert pianist and recording artist and his later ventures into various media, as well as his lifestyle, interpersonal relationships, health problems, and numerous eccentricities.

It was fascinating to read about why exactly Gould was a shock to the classical music establishment, although it sounds kind of funny on paper from a 21st century mindset (he changed tempos! **gasp!**). What was particularly cool for me was to see connections between Glenn Gould's world and my own world. I have some of the same eccentricities as he does so I could see where he was coming from, and most of the Toronto geography in the book deals with places I've been to at one time or another. Turns out I've passed his apartment several times! It was also interesting to read about his other projects in addition to classical music, the most interesting of which is the whole concept of contrapuntal radio.

The only potential problem with this book is that the author writes as if you know what he's talking about. He uses French-language quotations without providing translations, name-drops Toronto streets without providing a map, and assumes the reader knows such music theory and history concepts as the difference between Baroque and Romantic, twelve-tone harmony, and fugue and counterpoint. This did not present a problem for me, but it might present a problem for a reader who isn't already familiar with these things.

I look in the mirror, and I notice that there is enough extra room in the
back of my jeans that an onlooker can no longer tell precisely where, how,
and at what sort of curve or angle my buttocks merge with my thighs.

Last April these jeans were so tight that I couldn't sit in them

I feel accomplished.

The one thing I understand least about anti-bilingualism is the people who say that requiring bilingualism for certain government jobs is discrimination against people who don't come from bilingual cultural backgrounds. I know that language is closely associated with culture and one's cultural background has a definite influence on one's first language, but the way some people are making a fuss you'd think that it is humanly impossible to learn a language. I wonder why they don't view it as just another skill to be learned in the classroom?

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Como Sur Merlot is very complex - fruity and chocolaty and some other things
I can't describe. Unfortunately, there's also a hint of what tastes like
tannin. I'm not sure if there actually can be tannin in merlot, but that's
what I'm tasting, and the wine could be a lot better without it.

In re: the Princess Diaries:

If she has naturally frizzy hair, shouldn't it all frizz up in the rain no
matter how many straightening products are applied to it?

I saw a lady try to take a urine sample of a doggie! She took the doggie
for walkies, and when he went to pee she had this specimen container and was
trying to catch the pee in the container! That was the funniest thing I've
seen in a while.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Things they should invent: a word for people who only eat meat that a human
can kill with their bare hands.

I don't know if this exists as a nutritional philosophy, but it should.


There seems to be a sort of archetype/cultural construct that your teen
years are supposed to be "the best years of your life", and they're just
full of non-stop fun.

However, in real life, I've never heard of anyone who thought their teen
years were their best years of their life. Everyone I've discussed this
topic with seems to agree that their teen years ranged from purgatory to
hell, and the freedom of adulthood is in all ways preferable.

My theory is that whoever started this rumour that teen years are the best
years of your life was trying to hide the fact that their adolescence was a
living hell. Perhaps they never saw what became of their peers, and
therefore believed (as we tend to do in our adolescent insecurity) that
everyone else was having a wonderful time. So then this mysterious
rumour-originator had children of their own, or perhaps was exposed to
children another way (perhaps even became a high-school teacher?) They
didn't want the kids to know they hadn't been cool in high school, so they
told the story that they believed that the "cool kids" had experienced: that
these are the best years of your life. Somehow it oozed its way into
culture, resulting in this dubious adage that makes adolescents even more

Monday, October 18, 2004

I came very very close to buying a bright red cloche hat at a ludicrious price today. (Un)fortunately, it was too small. However, I still need a hat.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler is a very pleasant book, generally positive (although not all flowers and sunshine and perkiness), engaging and easy to read. I quite enjoyed it. However, I don't think I got the full benefit because, sloth that I am, I've never quite gotten around to reading Austen. I'm sure there was subtext lurking around for those who have read Austen, and I'm sure I completely missed it.
I honestly have no idea if this person is serious or not.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

I was in the subway, sitting in the seat closest to the door. Two cops get on and stand on either side of the door I was sitting next to, leaning against the plexiglass. The cop closest to me was wearing a gun on his belt, so there was nothing but a layer of plexiglass between me and a gun! I have never been that close to a firearm before in my life, nor do I ever want to again. And no, I have no idea why these cops were taking the subway.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

I often talk about incorporating into my bathroom such luxuries as a fireplace, internet access, or a bathtub big enough for two, but a more practical small luxury that I would really enjoy is a heated towel rack. They have them everywhere in the UK (or at least did like 10 years ago), but I've never seen one in Canada. I'm sure they aren't the best thing for the environment, but on a chilly grumpy morning the idea of stepping out of the shower into a hot towel is the stuff of fantasy.
I wonder why on MASH Margaret always wears her mask with the strings
crossed, but Hawkeye always wears the top string on the top and the bottom
string on the bottom

Monday, October 11, 2004

Last week, we got an email notice at work reminding everyone to wear their security badges and saying that security would be checking our badges on a random basis. I also noticed that they had a guard stationed near the tunnel from the building to the subway.

I wonder if there's some security threat I don't know about?
The Best Thing For You by Annabelle Lyons

This book consists of three novellas. The first one - the story of parents dealing with their adolescent son, who has been charged with the cruel beating of a disabled man - is very well done, realistic and poignant. However, the other two novellas are rather forgettable - I didn't find myself eager to read more. Get it from the library if it seems interesting, but it's not worth buying.
Stupid conspiracy theory of the moment:

During the last US election, many people were repeating an old urban legend
that there is a curse on all presidents elected in a year ending in 0. All
these presidents have died in office or have had an attempt on their life.

This has not yet happened to George W. Bush. Therefore, if he does not die
and no attempt is made on his life before the US election, he will be
re-elected so that curse can be fulfilled.

Disclaimer: this blog does not advocate attempting to influence the outcome
of elections through the use of violence.

Things They Should Invent (or perhaps they already have but I don't know
about it): A website where people register things they would buy if they
were available on eBay.

I have occasionally considered selling something on eBay. Whenever this
occurs to me, I search eBay for the item that I'm selling to see how much it
goes for. What usually happens is I don't see the item I'm thinking of
selling, so I assume that no one is buying it. However, it's quite possible
that there are willing buyers, it's just that no one happens to be selling
that particular item at the moment. If the website I propose existed, I
could just check that site and see if anyone was interested in buying that
item even if there weren't any of said item for sale on eBay at the moment.

When I decide to post my item for sale, I could click on something that
would alert the people who said they would buy it to the existence of my
auction. If this site were directly affiliated with eBay, the potential
buyers could be automatically alerted when an auction they're interested in
appears (even if the seller doesn't look at the potential buyer site), and
unsuccessful bidders could choose to be automatically listed as interested
in buying that item next time one comes on sale.

You know how there used to be (or maybe still are - I don't watch a lot of
television) commercials saying that Credit Card X is accepted at more places
than any other card?

Why would it be at all preferable for a business to NOT accept all three
major credit cards? Wouldn't they lose customers that way? I know I
recently stumbled upon an online store that only accepted American Express,
and if they had had something I wanted to buy, no matter how badly I wanted
to buy it, I would not have been able to do so because I don't have an
American Express card. How is this in any way a good business practice?

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Attention salespeople: it is generally more tactful to wait until the customer has left the store before you start gloating about the big-ass commission you're going to be getting from that sale.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Things They Should Invent: Urban landscaping based on leaf colour

I grew up right under the Niagara Escarpment, and every fall around this time we'd get a full blast of various different colours of trees. Now I'm in Toronto, and when I look out my window the only colour I see is yellow. No beautiful reds and oranges, no giant flame-like progression.

So I propose that when planning what kinds of trees to plan in urban areas, they should take into account the need for an attractive variety of fall colours.
Attention news media:

J.K. Rowling did not say that someone is going to die in Half Blood Prince. The question was worded as follows:
Q: Are you going to kill any more characters?

A: Yes, sorry

It said nothing about Book 6. All this says is that there will be at least one more death in the series.

And this isn't even news. It was clearly established in Order of the Phoenix that Harry must either kill Voldemort or be killed by him. Since it would be incredibly stupid to write seven books and not wrap up the main plot, we can reasonably assume that this will happen before the end of Book 7. So we already know that there has to be another death!

Friday, October 08, 2004


Why WordPerfect annoys me: if you have some text highlighted, you can't
toggle between typeover/non-typeover with the insert key. It just doesn't
do anything


I'm not all that fond of k.d. lang
I'm not all that fond of Leonard Cohen
I'm not all that fond of religious connotations

But I am surprisingly impressed by k.d. lang's cover of Leonard Cohen's

It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, the major lift,
the baffled king composing Hallelujah...


I am extremely happy with my prof's teaching methods. I find that her tests
are reasonable and she makes a good transition from topic to topic that
seems like logical building on what we know. We learn vocabulary in natural
theme-related sets (numbers, colours, foods, days of the week), and she
focuses on case endings and typical natural sentences using those cases, so
that if need be I can take the sentences she teaches us and plug in my own
words from the dictionary.

However, I seem to be the only one in the class who is happy with her
teaching. Other people complain that she teaches too much written and not
enough conversation (I thought the class was heavy on conversation and light
on writing - we don't even need to be able to spell yet!), and they fault
her for her imperfect spoken English, even though she understands us
perfectly and can explain concepts in English.

I'm wondering why I feel differently about her teaching. Perhaps it's
because I'm the only one with a background in linguistic theory? Perhaps
it's because I came into this class with the least prior knowledge? Perhaps
it's because I have spent more time studying languages than most people and
am acutely aware of what kind of information I need, and therefore am aware
that she is giving me exactly the right information?

Thursday, October 07, 2004

1. Sometimes when I walk through the subway station and a busker is playing danceable music, I feel the urge to dance my way through the concourse. But that works much better if you have a dance partner, and I've yet to experience the convergence of a suitable dance partner and a danceable busker.

2. They should invent a Trillian for file-sharing programs.

3. Overheard: "That dog is so 80s!" I didn't see the dog in question.
Brinksmanship = not cool.

Really, I'd like to see a little more consensus building so we don't have to worry about government falling every time there's a disagreement. The Liberals should have actively tried to reach a compromise rather than screaming "CONFIDENCE VOTE! CONFIDENCE VOTE!" And the Tories and Bloc shouldn't be amending the throne speech just to throw their weight around.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

At work today, I encountered the term "carottes purees".

My first thought was pureed carrots. So I googled "pureed carrots" to see if there was such a thing. I got about 700 results. However, I noticed that most of them had to do with baby food. Since my text wasn't about baby food, I decided to google "pureed carrots" -baby to see what there was about pureed carrots for grownups. Surprisingly, I got over 5,000 results.

Logically that doesn't seem right, does it?

Saturday, October 02, 2004

A Carnivore's Inquiry by Sabina Murray is a total waste of time. Read the dust jacket, read the first 12 pages, and it becomes completely obvious what's going to happen for the rest of the book. It's poorly organized, the reader doesn't react to things the way the author intends, and the plot is utterly transparent from the outset. Don't bother.
People are always talking about how renewable energy is important because we're going to run out of fossil fuels for energy sources.

It occurred to me yesterday that renewable energy is also important because we need oil to make plastics out of. I don't think we have an alternative to plastics yet, but we do have alternatives to fossil fuels. Therefore, we should be preserving our oil for plastics. is selling LOTR:ROTK extended edition for $38.47. On, orders under $39 ship for free. So I get this "Add 53 cents to your order for free shipping!" message. I swear, they priced it just under $39 on purpose, so they could collect the shipping fees from everyone!

Friday, October 01, 2004

What's up with U of T having all its washrooms in basements?

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Things They Should Invent:

A phone number that you call to get an ice cream truck to come to your location!

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

I have to keep reminding myself that I have some money now, enough that money doesn't matter. Not for important things. And glasses are important. So, because the idea of never wearing these frames again makes me weep, the correct thing to do is take them to Lenscrafter's or Shorney's or whomever can do one-hour frames the cheapest, and get new lenses put in them. Then I will have my lovely frames and they will correct my astigmatism and all will be right with the world. And then if all the paint falls off or I feel like new frames, I can acquire them at my leisure.

Yeah, so if I ever start angsting about something that can be solved by throwing less than a week's pay at it, someone just smack me and remind me that I do have positive cash flow.
The very first glasses I've ever liked, and the frames have been discontinued. So I had the idea of getting new lenses in the current frames, but today I just noticed that the paint on the frames is chipping (I didn't even know there was paint on the frames!)

I think I'm going to cry.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

I wish there was a way to make my cellphone beep when it was done recharging.
Concepts that exist in every language I've studied but don't exist in English (with examples in French):

- a single verb for "to do" and "to make" (faire)
- two verbs for "to know", one representing concrete knowledge of a fact or a skill (savoir) and one representing familiarity with a person, location, subject or concept (connaitre)
- two verbs for "to live", one representing being alive (vivre) and the other representing living in a particular location (habiter)

I know there are more, and I'll add them as they occur to me.
Imagine you can't talk but can still vocalize - your mouth is full, or you're at the dentist's or something. You want to express "yes", "no" or "I don't know". You would express "yes" by nodding your head and saying "mmm-hmmm" with an ascending pitch. You would express "no" by shaking your head and saying "nnnn-nnn" with a descending pitch. You would express "I don't know" by shrugging your shoulders and saying "mmm-mmm-nnn" with an ascending pitch followed by a descending pitch, the same pitch pattern that you woud use to say "I don't know."

Now take the body language, leaving only the vocalizations. Those vocalizations still communicate the concepts of "yes", "no", and "I don't know" to English speakers. What I'm wondering is whether they translate. I don't think the "I don't know" vocalization translates as well, because it's "Je ne sais pas" or "Ich weiss nicht" or "No se", all of which have different pitch patterns. But would "mmm-hmm" and "nnn-nnn" translate?
From the Brilliant Ideas that will Never Work file:

We know that there are waiting lists for some health care services. Some people have proposed permitting privatized health care as a solution to this. However, there is a great deal of concern that, since the waiting lists are generally a result of a lack of available health care professionals, any private health care service would just end up poaching professionals from the public sector, resulting in even less care being available for those who cannot afford to pay out-of-pocket.

We also know that there are quite a few immigrant medical professionals in Canada who are not qualified to work in Canada, but are perfectly qualified in other parts of the world.

Solution: allow privatized health care, but it can be staffed only by health care professionals who are not qualified in Canada but are qualified elsewhere in the world. Their credentials would be available and people who opt for privatized care could assess the risk for themselves. It would be regulated in such a way that working for the public sector is more desireable and beneficial than working for the private sector, but working as a private sector health care provider is more beneficial and desireable than, say, driving a taxi. Private-sector work would count as "Canadian experience" and help qualify the workers to work in Canada.
For my own reference, elements that were introduced in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets that I don't think have yet been used to their full potential in the series:

- House Elves (have had their uses, but don't feel fully used)
- Parseltongue (useful in the book itself, but not in the series)
- Gilderoy Lockhart
- Acromantulas (although I hope I hope I hope I'm wrong about this!)
- The Polyjuice incident, and the fact that Hermione got turned into a cat (Polyjuice itself has been used, but could have been introduced another way)
- The concept of regrowing bones
- The fact that the Sorting Hat can be used for purposes other than Sorting
- The Sword of Gryffindor
- The fact that Voldemort resembles Harry
- Colin Creevey and his camera (although the camera did have a function in that book)
- Penelope Clearwater
- The fact that Filch is a Squib
Un by Dennis Lee

It's hard to believe that this is the same man who gave us such childhood pleasures as Alligator Pie. At first glance, it seems like an almost computer-generated grouping of random words into somewhat syntactically correct poem-like arrangements - colourless green ideas sleeping furiously. But when you read it, you see that it has a plot, although it's like you're looking at the plot through a dirty window without your glasses on. And when you read it out loud, you discover an aural playground. There's a story being told and there are recurring themes as the poems reference each other, but it's all rather beyond me.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

My optometrist recommends anti-reflective coating on my glasses to prevent glare when I'm working with a computer.

Problem: I don't know if I have glare problems, because I don't know what glare is for a computer monitor. I know what it is when driving, but I can't extrapolate that to a computer. Can anyone explain glare?

Friday, September 24, 2004

Every single person in my class resembles someone I've met previously. I can go around the room and say "He looks like my cousin, she looks like my parents' friends' daughter, she looks like this girl from my second year English class, she looks like the head of Student Advising from my alma mater."

Perhaps this means that I have already met my quota of people in this world, and we're now into reruns.
A lot of the time, when someone is convicted of rape/murder/general psychopathy, they interview his friends and neighbours on the news, and they say "I can't believe he's a rapist/murderer/psychopath! He was always so charming!"

It's also a characteristic of abusers. They're always very charming, and then become abusive in a domestic situation. And once people find out, they're always like "I had no idea! He was always so charming!"

Question: So why is "charming" still considered a positive personality trait?

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

I am a geek because:

- I special-ordered a dictionary from the UK because I wasn't happy with the selection available in Toronto.
- When the prof was going around the class asking people how old they were, I intentionally raised my hand because I'm the only one in the room whose age is declined in the genitive case, and I knew that she needed an opening to introduce that concept.
- I already knew how to decline my age because I had read ahead in the textbook.
- But I gave an incorrect, undeclined answer anyway so the prof would have a chance to correct me and write the right answer on the board.
- And then I proceeded to get bored because the rest of the hour was spent introducing the rest of the class to case theory.
- And I found myself thinking "What's wrong with these people? Didn't any of them study German?"
- And it was possibly the first time in as many as eight years that I'd been in an academic setting where no one had studied German.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Things that were not successfully taught to me in elementary and high school:

- The purpose of having multiple drafts of a text isn't just to correct spelling mistakes, it's also to perfect the wording of the text. (I figured this out in 3rd year uni)

- Literary analysis is a specific skill that people need to be taught. It doesn't just pop into people's minds naturally. (This occured to me well after I'd finished university)

- When writing an essay, you need to address or pre-emptively nullify possible objections to your arguments. (This was taught to me in 2nd year uni)

- Criticism of one's essay is not an ad hominem attack (This came to me when I became involved in Sugarquill. In my defence, I had a teacher who had a knack for making everything feel like an ad hominem attack)

- In language classes, it doesn't matter if what you say is true or not. The prof just wants to see if you've mastered the accusative case. (This occured to me today)