Sunday, February 29, 2004

I didn't see the preshow and I'm going to stop watching at 11:30, so if anyone watches the whole thing, is Peter Jackson wearing shorts, or did he deign to wear proper pants today?
I finished two books this weekend. The first was Pattern Recognition. I already mentioned how much I love the language in this book, but I wrote that entry about 25 pages in, before I'd gotten into the plot. The problem is that the plot is not as good as the language. There's nothing wrong with the plot, it's a perfectly decent plot, but it drew me in (as a good plot should) and soon I found myself reading to find out what happens next instead of swimming around in the language. Which is how a novel is supposed to work, I suppose - the language is only a means to deliver the plot - but I didn't get out of it what I had hoped. But it is a good book, the female protagonist doesn't suffer at all from Male Author Syndrome, and she's cunningly ageless - I think anyone from 18 to 45 could identify with her as "she's my age". Very enjoyable, and I'd read it again. I'd also read it in translation, just to see how Gibson's language is handled in translation.

The other book I read was Black Bird - Oiseau noir by Michel Basilières. I loved this book! It's a story of an unpleasant family of thieves and shady characters in 1970s felquiste Montreal. The author manages to take a story completely populated with unpleasant, unsympathetic characters, and make it into something that's amusing to read for me, and not just from a schadenfreude perspective! Basically, this book succeeds at doing what Married with Children attempted. Usually I find these kinds of characters difficult and not fun to read, but I really enjoyed this!

But that's not all - it's also full of beautiful magical realism and gorgeously subtle irony, and helped me greatly to increase my fluency in Quebecois profanity! Huge fun, made me want to keep reading (finished the 300 page book in two halves of weekend days), probably the book I've enjoyed the most since I discovered Harry Potter.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

I was walking down the street, and there's this guy walking
two dogs. Behind him there's a little girl in a stroller.

"DOGGIES!" the little girl in the stroller announces.

"That's right," says her mother, "How many doggies are there?"

The little girl thinks about this for a moment, then decides "THREE!"

Friday, February 27, 2004

Helpful hint: remembering your Cyrillic isn't enough to look something up in a Russian dictionary. You also have to remember Cyrillic alphabetical order.
I saw in the newspaper an ad for a gay and lesbian wedding show. This is good, this is progress, especially since it's being advertised in a daily broadsheet.

However, it will be even more progress when same-sex marriages don't get their separate wedding show - when they are marketed to in the excessively-giant annual wedding show just like opposite sex marriages.

I propose that the deadline for this changeover be next June 10, which, if I remember correctly, will be the one-year anniversary of the legalization of same-sex marriages. On this date, newspapers stop making a note of what percentage of marriages conducted at city hall have been same-sex, wedding magazines make their language and photography inclusive (and not by doing a special article about same-sex weddings every once in a while), and the wedding shows amalgamate.

This is not an attempt to hide same-sex marriage or sweep it under a rug, but to normalize it. A same-sex wedding needs to be no more and no less noteworthy than an opposite-sex wedding. We need to get to the level where a same-sex wedding is no more worthy of commentary than a woman who happens to have a career, or a successful professional who happens to not be WASP.
I saw FOUR black lab guide dogs on the way home today!

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Yesterday I had a discussion about how yesterday was Mardi Gras. Today I saw in the newspaper pictures of crews cleaning up from Mardi Gras. I also noticed in passing an article about the pope doing Ash Wednesday.

And yet it took me until 5 pm today to realize why there seemed to be an inordinate number of people with these mysterious dark spots on their foreheads.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Things they should have in movies:

1. A movie in which every single character wears glasses, for no particular reason.

2. A movie in which the entire soundtrack is covers of well-known songs, sung with commonly misheard lyrics.

3. A movie in which each character speaks a different language, but they all seem to understand each other anyway. Fully subtitled.
I had to wear sunglasses on the way home from the subway! Winter is coming to an end!

In the mail today I got a flyer talking about a new residential property, advertising "No condo fees! No downpayments!" "Hmm," I thought, "whatever kind of new condo could this be?" I perused the flyer further, and found that there are no condo fees and no downpayments because it is a rental property!

I live in a rental building! I don't have condo fees and downpayments! You can't sell me rental property that way! Do your research people! Read the "apartments for rent" sign out front!

Monday, February 23, 2004

I just started reading William Gibson's Pattern Recognition. I know I shouldn't write about books when I haven't finished them yet, but this is MY language. This is the English language if my cerebral synapses had total control over it. I'm welcomed into the novel with Google as a verb. Cleverly placed at the beginning of a sentence to avoid the debate over whether it should be capitalized. The fridge smells of long-chain monomers. I know what that means, but not everyone does. The character drags herself out of bed, sleepless, and goes to her favourite online forum. It's so natural, so real, so much like my life and so something I've never seen in a novel before. "No spoilers" she warns. Would my parents even know what that means?

Then, casually, idly, the most perfect verbing ever. The word could not possibly be more perfect for communicating the concept:

Zaprudered. Once again at the beginning of the sentence, to avoid capitalization issues. Zaprudered.

A sound that only mi cielito has heard escapes my lips.

I don't think the plot even matters any more.
Just finished reading I Should Be Extremely Happy in Your Company by Brian Hall. It's a novel about Lewis and Clark, where the author used all the existing documents and historical knowledge about them and filled in the gaps himself to make a historical novel. As a historical novel, it was quite well done. It was rich in detail and didn't gloss over the misconceptions or less glamourous aspects of the era. (One of my pet peeves is historical novels that don't even mention the fact that everyone had dysentry and rarely bathed). However, it was very easy to put down. This is probably because it had to conform to known historical facts, which prevented it from having a compelling plot line. This is a good choice on the author's part - he gave the reader some credit by assuming they already knew the story (I didn't already know the story, but that's due to my own ignorance, and I knew I could have found it in 10 seconds on Google) so he focused on the process rather than forcing a phoney Hollywood movie treatment on it to give it a compelling plotline. It was the correct choice, but it did make the book easy to put down.

I was disappointed with the portrayal of Sacagawea. She suffered from "male authors who can't write women" syndrome, and the chapters written from her viewpoint showed a disappointing lack of abstract thought skills. I know she's supposed to be "savage", but I think her intellect, just based on the fact that she's a human being and has the ability to learn bits of other languages, was rather patronizingly underestimated. Her chapters were interesting though, because the author took what was known of her native language and used it to construct her way of thinking. This was extremely interesting from a linguistics perspective, but I doubt he got it right. You see, he also tried to do the same thing with Charbonneau's chapters, but instead of representing the French train of thought, he came up with a stereotyped Pythonesque caricature of a Frenchman. I suppose I'm particularly sensitive to this as a French to English translator, but French does agree its verbs and nouns and you can't represent French thought just by messing up the grammar. It would have been much better to use abstract verbs, eliminate verbed nouns, and, if that wasn't enough, use "he" and "she" instead of "it". The author's inability to carry off the Other Language train of thought in French make me doubt his ability to do so in Sacagawea's language, which made me disappointed in what I had originally thought was the most interesting part of the novel.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

If anyone is watching the Simpsons right now, what's the music they're playing as Lisa wanders through the museum?
I've been making a point of consuming as little American media as possible over the past few months, but yesterday I decided to watch a movie on US network television. The cultural difference is quite apparent when you compare commercials! I can't quite put my finger on it, but the commercials on the US stations seem to be intentionally alienating me. Sometimes on Canadian networks there are commercials where I'm not the target audience, but I get the impression that they don't mind if I sit in. But the US commercials make me feel like they actively don't want me there. Maybe it's because the American commercials seem to assume more strongly that the viewer is suburban and has a family of their own, I'm not quite sure yet. Also, they are positively infested with patronizing anti-drug commercials that trivialize the complexity of the problem.

Friday, February 20, 2004

What's the opposite of a dry martini? It can't be a wet martini...
Fun with the English language!

It occurs to me that the source of the main structural differences between English and French is that English verbs more willingly.
I have lost nine socks since I moved in here last April. That doesn't include any complete pairs I might have lost.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

They should invent window blinds that are also solar panels.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

I fucked up today. My boss was talking to me, and I misinterpreted a tonal modulation and thought she was asking me a question when she was in fact giving me a compliment. So I answered with a rather apathetic affirmative acknowledgement (nodding head, half-hearted "mm-hmm" equivalent) when I should have answered with my trademark slightly embarrassed, brief-modest-lowering-of-eyes thank you.
Last night I had a dream that I was at my university graduation (BA) and in my package of stuff there was an acceptance to the MA program. Interesting.
There were some people on TV trying on wedding dresses. Some of these dresses were of the type that most people couldn't try on without good supportive undergarments selected with that particular dress in mind. But I doubt most people would buy their undergarments before they buy their dress. So do they sell lingerie at bridal stores too? Or is that why everyone on that show was incredibly skinny (by which I mean incredibly skinny, not just smaller than me).

On a side note, am I the only person in the world who thinks that there is no garment in the world that is more flattering strapless than it would be with straps?
Went to bed way early last night because I was exhausted and got 10 hours of sleep. Now I feel like I'm coming down with something - I'm thirstier than usual, and not as well-rested as I should feel after 10 hours. Time to OD on supplements and hydrate the whole day - I'm so lucky I have a job that lets me do that at work! All I have to do is hold out until Friday, then I get a nice long weekend since I'm taking Monday off.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

I was reading a thing about the quotative "like" that is prevalent in youth speech (e.g.: He was like "Oh my god, EW!") and I realized that when I use "like" this way, it takes on certain characteristics that other synonyms of "said" do not.

First the obvious one, it is only used in speech. I would never write a quotative like (unless for the purpose of emulating a certain register of speech).

Secondly, while it is quotative in function, it implies that what I'm about to quote is not necessarily a direct quote, but may be my own wording of the speaker's intent. So when he was like "Oh my god, EW!", he might not have actually said "Oh my god, EW!" he might have said something else or just made a face of disgust.

Finally, when I use the quotative like, I am, if only to some small extent, acting out the role of the speaker. I might modulate my voice, wave my arms about, make faces, etc. I'll often do this rather subtly because not all the places I have conversations are conducive to acting out every character, but the implication is that from the time I utter the word "like" to the time I finish quoting, I "become" the person I'm quoting.

Since a lot of people reading this are of similar demographic and probably use the quotative like themselves, I'm wondering if it has the same characteritics and connotations when you use it, or is this just something personal to me?
Any Human Heart by William Boyd is the first book I've ever read in which I had no sympathy or empathy whatsoever for the protagonist. This is particularly interesting since the conceit is that this book is the protagonist's collected journals. The character is a writer, he got to tell his own story in his own words, and he still came across as completely unsympathetic. I wonder if the author did this on purpose?

Sunday, February 15, 2004

My latest wine is Talus Zinfandel. It's very complex, possibly the most complex one I've had so far. Initially it tastes almost creamy, like chocolate or vanilla (picture the taste element that chocolate and vanilla have in common), and then it tastes spicy. Very much an acquired taste - it was almost overwhelming at first, but after a few separate tries it got less noticeable. I still don't know if I like it or not. I wouldn't take it to someone as a gift because it's not quite what people would expect.
Extremely bizarre dream. This occurred as I was waiting to fall back asleep after an early-morning trip to the loo. I was lying in shavasna (no, I don't know how to spell any yoga positions), and fell into a lucid dream. My dream-self was also lying in bed in shavasna, waiting for sleep to overtake her, when she heard a key in the door. Since there's only one person who has a key to my apartment, my dream-self tried to call mi cielito's name, but she couldn't. She tried to open her eyes to see him, but she couldn't. Then she realized that it wasn't mi cielito and tried to see who it was, but she couldn't get her eyes all the way open. My conscious self realized it was a dream, and forced me to wake up. It was extremely bizarre because when I woke up the room looked exactly like it did in my dream, only it was like someone had adjusted the tint setting on a TV - the colours were a bit off.

So then, satisfied that there was no one in the apartment, I closed my eyes and went back to sleep. Same thing happened again. Dream-self heard a key in the door. Tried to call out, but couldn't. Tried to force her eyes open, but this time my sister was standing there beside my bed. Conscious self said "This is ridiculous!" and forced me awake.

I rolled my eyes at the stupidity of this dream, then closed my eyes and fell back into my dream state. Same thing. Key in door. Can't call out. Try to pry eyes open. This time my dream-self can't pry my eyes open at all, but I know that it's A Bad Guy. Conscious self says "That's why you can't open your eyes, you can never see Bad Guys in your dreams." Conscious self then promptly ends the dream.

I wake up, look around (no Bad Guys), and ponder why I keep having these dreams. Since I'm still in shavasna and my dream-self was in shavasna, I decide to roll over onto my side. I then slept three more hours undisturbed by bad dreams.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Helpful hint: glitter nailpolish is extremely hard to remove.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

A very interesting idea from Tony Clement, of all people!

I am certainly not qualified to evaluate whether this is economically feasible or a good idea, but a couple of thoughts occur to me.

First, there needs to be some contingency for sudden reductions in income. Suppose a person works at a reasonably-paying professional job for many years, then gets suddenly downsized in their late 40s or early 50s, just as their kids are about to head off to university. People that age often have more difficulty finding jobs, and even though their old pension plan would give them some coverage, this likely wouldn't kick in for another ten years or so. So they likely cash out a few investments to give them some money to get by with, or perhaps they have a small income fund set up at this point, but this money, of which they desperately need every cent, is being taxed at the highest tax rate just because they managed to earn a sum total of one million dollars over their lifetime. The higher taxation rate wouldn't be that much of a burden when they're working, but it could be downright punitive to a family trying to live off their savings.

There's also the issue of whether pension income would be taxed at the highest rate just because the pensioner worked their whole life. I find that idea rather distasteful.

The other problem is that I don't think this plan would accomplish what Mr. Clement is trying to accomplish. It's no secret that he's proposing this to make a Conservative party under his leadership more attractive to younger voters. Notwithstanding the fact that anyone who could vote for this couldn't benefit from it because it would only apply to people who are currently underage, young people don't pay that much tax to start with. Before I graduated from university, I paid about $50 in income tax that wasn't refunded to me, and that was due to a surfeit of scholarship that wouldn't be taxed as much under current tax law. Every other dollar of income tax, and most sales tax, that I paid as a student was refunded to me because of my low income. Even now, income tax doesn't present any burden whatsoever. If someone walked in here right now and handed me a cheque for all the tax I've ever paid that hasn't been refunded yet, it would not improve my lifestyle in any way whatsoever. The money would probably go into the condo fund, but it wouldn't bring me any more than a few months closer to condo ownership (and the ETA for the condo fund is 8-10 years). Being tax-free over many years would make a more significant contribution to the condo fund of course, but it simply isn't enough to make me change my voting patterns. And since most Conservative voters are older and have more years of work behind them, therefore being subject to the highest tax rate, I doubt this would appeal to the party's core.

Still, it is a very interesting idea!

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Poll: at what age did you first start having sex ed in school?

I ask because G&M had this article about how they're starting to teach sex ed at a younger age, like grade 6, or even, *gasp* grade 4! At my school we started sex ed in grade 5 (this was in 1990), so I'm wondering if this was a fluke.
One of the biggest problems I have in French is reading things that are misspelled, handwritten poorly, or where the writer mixes up homophones. I was taught perfect, academic, textbook French, and never developed the ability to handle such mistakes as a francophone would make (although I can easily process anglo mistakes, for obvious reasons).

It occurs to me that netspeak might be solving this problem for future generations. If kids spend time in online communities where a language other than their first is spoken (frequent with European kids hanging out in English-language communities, or using English as a lingua franca), and if netspeak is used in these communities, even if only occasionally, it might help them develop whatever mental abilities are necessary to process bad spelling.
Sample questions from the grade 10 literacy test (PDF).

The first reason I object to this test is because I don't think standardized testing is an effective evaluation tool. The second reason is that it's redundant - a person needs basic literacy to get as far as grade 10, and if people are reaching grade 10 without basic literacy there are bigger problems that need a better solution than throwing a standardized test at it.

But all that notwithstanding, there are some flaws in this test.

A student needs to pass this test to graduate. It is not tied to any specific English course. This should mean that it tests the most basic literacy needed to function in the adult world; if a student doesn't pass this test, they are too illiterate to function in the adult world and should be forceably educated until their literacy improves. Now most questions on this test evaluate this basic literacy, but some do not. For example:

1. In the first story about camping, there are two questions that ask about characters' motivations (7 & 8) and a third (5) that could also be interpreted as being about motivation. Now understanding motivation is very important for English and literature studies, and contributes greatly to the thorough appreciation of any plot-based literature or media. However, it is NOT part of basic literacy. A person can function in society as an adult and not be able to imagine what fictional characters might be thinking. (Their people skills might be a bit off, but that isn't literacy). A high school student should have a basic understanding of character motivation, but if they don't it should be reflected in their English mark, not in a test that determines if they can read well enough to finish high school.

2. In the second reading selection about the train, students are asked if this paragraph makes them want to take this train, and why or why not. This does not test reading comprehension so much as it tests whether the student has formulated an opinion. One would generally assume that after a person reads something they would formulate an opinion about it, but a person could conceivably read and understand the whole thing and not care either way. While the question does have a reading comprehension element to it, there are better ways to test reading comprehension without penalizing people who really don't care either way about this stupid train and aren't up on their BS skills.

3. The museum pamphlet has two question (4 & 6) about graphics and visual design. This has nothing to do with literacy either! It is important in some areas of life and should reflect in a student's mark in Art or Design or whatever they call the class that's responsible for the yearbook and the school newspaper, but it is quite possible for a person to be able to read perfectly well and have a poor sense of design.

4. In the selection about trial by jury, question 5 asks the student to incorporate their own ideas. While applying one's own thoughts to an article is important, it is not an element of basic literacy. The student may have never thought about trial by jury before or may have no opinion, and again they should not be judged as having substandard literacy because of it. If the student is unable to apply their own thoughts to a text, this should be reflected in their English mark, not here.

5. The writing section asks for a precis of the article, (although they call it a summary). I don't know if the people who are marking this want a formal precis, but if they do, this would only be appropriate if a formal precis was taught in grade 9. When I was in high school it was taught in OAC (and not all schools did so). If this has changed and it's now taught in grade 9, this exercise is appropriate. If not, they'd better not be expecting a formal precis!

I might sound rather picky with these issues, but my experience with this kind of standardized test is that people can be marked too low for reasons that have nothing to do with the purported reason for the test. For example, I took a similar test in grade 9. Now in grade 9 my reading ability was the same as it is now, but I was marked as 2/5 or 2/6 on my reading ability because test assessed reading ability by asking students to write a letter to the main character in the short story. Now this was problematic for me because the story was simple, straightforward, and self-explanatory, so there was nothing in there that was worthy of comment; I had nothing to say to the main character at any point in the story, and if they were someone I knew in real life and we were discussing the story face to face, I would still have very little of substance to say. Also, when I write letters, I'm either answering questions in the other person's letter, or telling them stuff from my end. I don't really go around commenting extensively on their lives unless they have specifically asked for advice or something, so if this character was actually my friend, a letter to her would not deal with the event in the story at all! This might be a good writing exercise, but it is certainly not a way to test a student's reading comprehension!I fear that students taking this grade 10 test might have their reading comprehension underevaluated simply because in a high-pressure test situation they can't think of anything to say about the permanence of t-shirts!

Since this test is so important, determining whether students can graduate from high school, the reading part should strictly judge basic reading comprehension. Can this student read and understand English text? That's all. Deficiencies in analyzing and deriving personal opinions should be addressed in the relevant classes, but they certainly aren't a reason to keep a person from finishing high school!

Monday, February 09, 2004

From the Brilliant Ideas that will Never Work file: Suicide Place

This place is kind of like a hospital or mental institution, except people go there to commit suicide. It provides a controlled environment where they make sure the suicide goes as smoothly as possible for all involved, so we don't have people jumping off bridges and messing up perfectly good ravines, or landlords finding their tenants hanged and half-rotted when the rent is late.

When you want to commit suicide, you check into the Suicide Place. First there's an initial interview, where they ask you why you're committing suicide. They aren't judgemental, they don't try to talk you out of it, but if it's a resolvable problem they'll take that information and see if they can fix the situation for you. After the interview, they show you to your room. There's a waiting period of one week (or whatever would be a reasonable period) between when you check in and when you can commit suicide. In the meantime, clients stay in a hotel/resort like environment with nice rooms and amentities and activities.

Mostly you can do whatever you want (except kill yourself) during the waiting period, but there is one rule: you have to put your affairs in order. Suicide Place has some lawyers and trained experts on staff to help you do this. You have access to psychiatric care if you feel like it, and you can have visitors during your waiting period if you want, and they will also keep visitors away if you don't want to see anyone.

Basically they go out of their way to do whatever is needed to make your last few days pleasant, as well as to resolve whatever problems are driving you to suicide (all while not judging your right and choice to commit suicide). After a week if you still want to die, they provide you with some pills that will give you a quick painless death, put you in a special Dying Room, and off you go. If at any point you decide you don't want to die any more, you are free to leave.
Today, as I walked home from the subway, I was carrying the dullest shopping bag in the world. It contained three pairs of plain black cotton socks and two bottles of dandruff shampoo.

It then occurred to me that that image would be an awesome way to start a novel or a short story! In the right hands, it could be excellent characterization!

So anyone is able to use that image well, feel free to take it.
I moved to Toronto in Sept. 2000. I moved back to Hamilton for summer 2001, and then back to Toronto for good in Sept. 2001. Here are some ways in which I have become A Torontonian in that time:

1. I no longer blink at the ideas of $1000 per month rent, $100 per month transit pass, or $300 per month condo fees.

2. I find it odd when I see promotional material with all white people on it.

3. I get shocked and offended when policies are made with the assumption that everyone has a car.

4. I don't find it weird that I shop at Dominion.

5. I'm always surprised when reminded that there are places where a person can, in fact, live on minimum wage.

6. I fully expect to see local news in national newspapers.

7. I always recite phone numbers with 10 digits.

8. I only go to Tim Horton's when there isn't a Second Cup, and I haven't rolled up a rim in ages.

9. Putting a sweater and boots on your dog seems increasingly reasonable.

10. I haven't walked across a parking lot, not even once, in 2004.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

I have a split end that isn't at the end of my hair. The bottom of my hair is normal, stuck together, and it stays like that for about 1cm, then it splits in 2 for a bit, then about 1 cm higher it goes normal again. The result is a sort of loop in the middle of my hair.

I also had a dream that told me I made the right decision leaving McMaster three/four years ago. I've never questioned my decision to do so, but I'd always had this idea that I could have had a different, but just as good, life there. After all, McMaster is a "good school." But I never would have challenged myself there, would have just worked in fast food for four years, never would have looked for (or even had opportunities for) an internship. I simply would have stagnated deeper and deeper into academics and mediocrity.

It's always nice to wake up in the morning with the enlightenment that one of your major life decisions was irrefutably correct.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

As I write this, I'm sipping on Spinelli Quartana Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. I hope I spelled that right. First wine I've ever bought where I didn't know which words were the brand name and which words were the wine type without Google. This wine reminds me of why I like red wine. It's only about $7, but it's neither too tannic nor too young, as I've found is often the problem with inexpensive reds. If you asked me what it tastes like, I'd have to answer red grapes. Which is a strange answer (albeit an eminently reasonable thing for red wine to taste like), but I've never felt inclined to say that a wine tastes like grapes before. It's rich and subdued, with different flavours coming into the foreground depending on what you're eating. It makes me want to eat cheese, which again is eminently reasonable. Quite enjoyable with none of the disappointments of my recent red wine forays, and quite a nice price!
Lately I've seen an awful lot of media pieces about various things that would incline more protective parents to forbid their kids to ever leave the house again, and these pieces tend to be based on surveys of young teenagers.

So I'd just like to remind everyone: KIDS LIE ON SURVEYS! I'd say on the typical survey jr. high students, half of them are lying, either portraying themselves as they wish they were, or portraying themselves as they think they should be.

Why do they lie? To answer this, we have to take ourselves back to that unfortunate phase in our own lives and remember the brutal, cruel, culture that is jr. high. This is a world where people would get spat on for wearing jeans that were the wrong shade of blue. This is a world where if you confessed some weakness, even to your closest friend, the rest of the class would be exploiting that weakness within a weak. It's a world where no one wanted to be seen with you, not even sitting next to you, if you admitted that you liked something that wasn't cool, or weren't familiar with something that was cool.

Now not all kids would give into this massive peer pressure. A great many didn't want to give into peer pressure simply because the grownups were always saying that kids give into peer pressure and WE AREN'T STEREOTYPES DAMMIT! But there's only so much a person can take, so a common coping mechanism would be to lie about stuff. First this would be done in self-defence, then preemptively, then out of habit. For example, I would do things like casually mention that marijuana was so BORING so people would never find out that I didn't even know where to get drugs and had no desire to use them. I would pick some relatively unknown musician, buy one CD by them and learn one song, so that people wouldn't know that I preferred listening to the Beatles ueber alles. Then I'd be justified in not being familiar with what was on MuchMusic because I was too indie for MuchMusic. It was just a survival strategy in a world where people would put spiders in my hair because they'd found out I was afraid of them, and steal and vandalize my possessions because I watched Star Trek. I had no desire to conform whatsoever, but there's only so much a person can take, so a few pre-emptive lies prevented me from having to sell out.

So why would this make them lie on surveys? Two reasons. The first is that if the surveys are done in school, some kids would look at others' surveys. If someone saw that you had portrayed yourself in a manner that was unfavourable on your survey, whether or not it was true, they would take it to be true and torture you for it. But if they wanted you to be a target and you portrayed yourself in a manner that was favourable, they would torture you for having been so lame as to lie on the survey.

The second reason is that within your peer group, everything you'd say or do in front of a peer, no matter how private the situation, it would get back to your peer group. I went through hell because I once wore a nightgown to a sleepover, unaware that the dress code for a sleepover was gym shorts and t-shirts. Once my sister forced open the (locked) bathroom door while I was taking a dump and while she had friends over, and the fact that I had been caught with my pants down was all around the school by morning. In an environment like this, you don't always realize that what's on the survey won't get back to your peers, that telling the truth will give the world a more accurate impression of what kids your age are REALLY like (as opposed to what they pretend to be). You are simply trying to give these people what you think they might want to hear, or what will reflect the least badly on you, and maybe make your life a touch less hellish.

So the moral of the story is don't deny your child a normal social life because of the impression that a sampling of kids thought they wanted to give their surveyors.
LO-GEY! My eyes are tired but the rest of me isn't since I slept 12 hours last night. I should be doing housework that I've been putting off all week, but I want to put it off some more. I'm in my bathrobe and don't feel like getting dressed. I've been putting off my Harmony studies because the book is currently dealing with cadences and I've always found cadences dreadfully dull for some reason.

I'm going to procrastinate a bit more by painting my toenails a colour called SHAZAM! in order to alleviate February.
It's a long story why, but yesterday I saw a couple of pieces of baby clothes. I immediately made my puppy noise (for those who've never had the unique experience of hearing this, it's the noice I make when I see a particularly adorable puppy) and starting oohing and aahing over how TINY they were. Then I was discreetly informed that these are clothes for a six month old baby.

Moral of the story: Holy SHIT newborns must be tiny!

Friday, February 06, 2004

I just wrote 200-300 words by hand. It took the better part of an hour and my hand hurts. I haven't written by hand since April 30.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Oh, and also mad props to Massachussetts
You know it's February when I wake up every morning envying people who get to stay home sick. The cool thing about staying home sick is that not only do you get to lie in bed, drifting in and out of absurd dreams, while the whole neighbourhood heads off to work, but you also get the satisfaction of knowing that your lovely lie-in is the best possible thing you could be doing for yourself and for society in general at that particular moment.

Of course, when we're legitimately home sick we're always too miserable to care.
A story of how screwed-up my moral standards are:

As I opened the door to the tunnel, a lady approached from the opposite direction. With one hand she held the harness of a guide dog, with the other she steadied herself on a walking cane. She seemed to be blind. I evaluated the situation, and held the door open for her as she passed through.

Now normally when a person approaches a door I've just opened, I open it all the way and hold it open for as long as my arm will reach the door, but I don't break stride. If they reach the door in time, fine. If not, they can still interrupt its swing shut with a good bodycheck, and I have done my duty as a good citizen by giving them an opportunity to pass through a door without dealing with the handle themselves.

Now for this blind, disabled lady with the guidedog, I held the door open. But I didn't hold it open because she was blind - blind people can generally manage doors, and I'd seen her pass this way before. I didn't hold it open because she was disabled - she had walking troubles but she wasn't frail (a frail person would probably have gotten a slightly longer door hold than a non-frail person). I didn't hold it open because her hands were full - it was a push door on her side.

No, I held it open because the guide dog was between her and the door, and I didn't know if the guide dog could bodycheck a door open, and I didn't want the beautiful doggie to get hurt. Ladies and gentlemen, my fucked up morals!
Incidently, here are the lyrics to that song Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson were singing. Certainly not the most graphic song in the world, but there are definitely a couple of lines that I don't think should be in there if you want your broadcast to be appropriate for young children.
Latest book read: The Bug by Ellen Ullman. What am I doing reading a book called The Bug? Well, it isn't entymological (sp????), it's about a software bug. (Although the icon/motif thing to introduce a new chapter is an ascii insect, so people more phobic than me might be bothered).

It's a mystery/thriller about software testing and debugging, which works better than it sounds like. This book was particularly interesting to me because I can identify very strongly with both of the main characters. Each of them is about 75% me. The story works well and they incorporate a lot of actual code to explain the bug, but through the narration you can get a sufficient understanding of what's going on even if you can't read C.

However, I didn't like the way this book handled relationships/romance/sex. It simply did not contribute anything. Only one relationship had the slightest significance ever to the overall plot. It felt like the author was putting relationships in because she thought there should be relationship stuff in a book.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

You know that big LCD board at Yonge & Eg? Today I saw some guys in a truck performing maintenance on it. And the licence plate on the truck was "PXLFXR"
Blerg. The wind is whistling outside and it makes me want to go back to bed. Just lie down under the covers in what the yoga lady on tv calls "sponge positions" (although I'm sure it must have a better name) and zone out for an indefinite period of time. And it's only Wednesday.

Fuck February.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Attention world: find your token or pass BEFORE entering the turnstile! Don't walk into the turnstile, stand right in front of the little bar, and THEN start rummaging through your purse!
Yesterday I was really tense and stressed, so I was happy when my body and mind reached a kind of meditative calm during my last dream of last night. The dream itself was very odd (it involved a shower on my balcony that worked only when certain TV shows were on, and it also involved the kids from Roseanne immigrating) but physically and mentally I was very very calm and happily floating along. So I was very disappointed when I woke up, because I wanted to stay asleep in happy floaty land.

Many years ago, when I was in grade 5, we had a snow day because of freezing rain. The freezing rain left a coat of ice over everything, strong enough that we could sometimes walk on top of it without crunching through into the underlying snow, and we passed a happy day sledding in our extra-slippery backyard. Ever since then, "freezing rain" has meant "snow day" to me, and whenever the weather seems mildly conducive to freezing rain, as it is right now, a part of me feels entitled to stay home in bed. But of course the world doesn't work that way, so I will have to wait until tonight to get back to my happy place.

Monday, February 02, 2004

My watch has a leather band. There's this one bit of the band where the leather is folded over, and this fold is instrumental in holding the buckle together. Originally it was probably glued together, but now it has come undone, which makes it difficult for me to do up my watch.

Anyone know what kind of glue can be used on a leather watchband and where you would acquire said glue?

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Just finished Property by Valerie Martin. It's basically the story of an antebellum female slaveowner, whom the author manages to portray sympathetically, showing that she's a product of her environment rather than pure evil personified. I enjoy the author's understated writing style - this book could easily have been made sensationalistic and unpleasant. I don't think the story itself was anything particularly profound, but it was an easy enough world to be drawn into and I did find myself caring about the characters. I didn't have to force myself to read, but I could put the book down easily enough. I finished the 193 page book in two weekend days. Overall, worth reading but I don't know if I'll read it again.