Wednesday, March 31, 2004

I think the TTC should market itself to drivers as a way to get Other People off the road. Tell them that every person on the TTC represents one less occupied parking space and one less idiot changing lanes to the offramp at the last minute. Show a picture of a bus turning left, and say "Here are forty cars that are NOT turning left in front of you today." This might help sway those who are adverse to tax dollars funding TTC expansion.
1. When I set my alarm for 5:30 a.m. (to exercise) I have no trouble getting right out of bed, even if it's just to go to the bathroom then skip exercising and go back to sleep. When I set my alarm for 7 a.m. (the time when I need to get up if I don't exercise) I literally cannot drag myself out of bed for another half hour and end up heading off to work with wet hair and no breakfast.

2. The problem with laundry is I have to figure out what to wear while doing laundry. I want a condo so I can have a washer and dryer in my suite and not have to worry about being decent and having pockets when it's time to do laundry! And also so I don't have to watch the clock lest someone take my stuff out of the machine.

3. Anyone know if U of T's 2004-2005 fall/winter course schedule is out yet, and if so where might I find it online? (Yes, I tried looking, but I could only find 2003/2004. I suck at navigating websites of universities I don't attend, but once I start classes at a particular uni I can suddenly navigate its website).

4. Some co-workers were having a discussion about how their kids are always chatting online and downloading and gaming, and they were talking about it as though it were the mysterious behaviour of the Other. I chose not to mention that I spend my evenings doing the very same things.

5. I've already mentioned in this space how there are four black lab guidedogs that I see walking around on a semi-regular basis. Today I saw ANOTHER black lab guide dog that was different from my first four!

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

When I visit my parents, I feel free to help myself to a glass of something from the fridge or fix a cup of tea or coffee if I feel so inclined. I do not take alcohol unless it's offered.

But when my parents visit their parents, they don't seem to have fridge privileges like that. They neither ask for beverages, nor take them if offered; nor have I seen them help themselves, even though both my grandmothers still live in the houses where my respective parents grew up.

But I feel free to help myself to something from the fridge chez one grandmother (although not to fix a cup of tea), and to ask if I'm inclined chez the other.

And when my parents visit me, they do on occasion ask for or accept something to drink, although they don't help themselves (mostly due to my personal boundary setting).

When in the home of a close friend who lives with their parents, I'll help myself to a drink from the fridge with a bit of an announcement ("I'm taking a Coke, okay?") if the parents aren't there, but wait for an offer or ask my friend if the parents are there. At the home of a non-close friend, or a close friend who does not live with their parents, I will wait for an offer. The parent differential is because parents have infinite money with which to stock their fridge full of an enticing variety of soft drinks, while students do not.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Is a fuzzy martini a drink you can order in a bar, or is it only found on the internet?
This entry is just pure introspection so I can talk it all out, so you can just ignore it. There are two things that I need to figure out. The first is how not to dread going to work each morning. It isn't the job or the work that I dread, my attitude towards my job itself ranges from meh to rather enjoyable, it's the going to work. It's the 8 hours a day five days a week that I have to be in a specific place doing a specific thing and being presentable instead of sitting at home in my bathrobe playing computer games or sleeping or doing whatever else I want to do at that time. Every morning I think longingly of lying in bed listening to the rest of the world go to work followed by the world's most leisurely breakfast and doing nothing for several hours. Once I actually get to work I'm fine, but there's a slight element of dread in my morning routine every day, and I need to figure out how to get rid of it. I try to look forward to my next day off, but that's tough on the Monday of a five-day week, plus it's all too like high school. I don't want to spend the next 30-40 years looking towards the weekend. I need there to be a certain treat for myself once I get out of the house. It would be very helpful if I could feel like "YAY I get to ride the subway!" or something like that, like the way I look forward to work-related travel because I get to take the train and stay in a hotel, but I'm afraid the subway is just not that exciting. Unfortunately, since it's my work email address, I can't get a daily Calvin and Hobbes or something in my inbox.

The other problem is that I get grumpy at work when I'm not super-busy, and when I'm super-busy I get stressed, obviously. Stressed I can deal with, but I need to come up with a way not to fester in ennui and grumpiness when I only have one item in my inbox and it's due in three months. I guess the lesson is that I do need a certain amount of stress to motivate me. But the question is how to keep myself motivated when there is no stress, so I don't get depressed and stir-crazy staring at the blue walls. Haven't the foggiest clue how to do that. I guess talking stuff out didn't work.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Drop City by T. Coraghessan Boyle. First of all, don't pick this book if you read mainly on the train and in waiting rooms. There's full rear-view nudity on the cover, which isn't terribly explicit but does make it somewhat inappropriate for reading in public. I'm rather baffled as to why they chose to put nudity on the cover, because considering that one subplot is a hippie commune and the other subplot is a newlywed couple, there's less sex than one would expect.

The premise of this novel is a hippie commune relocates from California to Alaska, where they find themselves faced with the challenges of the natural environment and the backwoods-plaid-shirt-type area residents. Unfortunately it doesn't do as much as it could with such a promising premise. We're halfway through the novel before we head for Alaska, so there's a lot more character development than necessary, and a lot less action. While I have no objection to character development, in this case we simply don't need so many characters, or we don't need to know so much abuot them. The commune's neighbours accept them rather too quickly, and while all the challenges of living in the harsh Alaska environment are mentioned, they are more enumerated than made into plot points. The ending isn't really much of an ending, the story sort of just stops and we have no idea what happens to most of the characters, although there is some lovely schadenfreude on some of the more unpleasant characters.

Overall it's a decent read, but could have been done much better.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

I'm tired.
My feet hurt.
Smells bother me today.
It's warmish outside.
I haven't felt more desperate to remove my makeup in months.
My glasses need adjusting.
It's colder in my office than it is outside, even though the thermostat says otherwise.
I have been reading very slowly lately.
I'm glad I have tomorrow off.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Because I'm too shy to join Sugarquill because everyone there is too smart and literary for me, here are some more thoughts from the Potterverse.

Lockhart must have a bigger, more important role in the upcoming books. Why? Every Defence Against the Dark Arts prof was very important in their own book and significant in the series as a whole, except for Lockhart. Quirrell introduced the threat of Voldemort. Lupin introduced us to Harry's father's generation, MWPP, and provided a vehicle for Sirius Black to be trusted and therefore for Harry to be hanging around the headquarter of the Order of the Phoenix. Crouch!Moody not only orchestrated the whole plot of GOF, but also enabled Harry to witness and be involved in the resurrection of Voldemort, and generally led to the dark tone of the series. Umbridge represented and enabled the Ministry's coverup of Voldemort's return and the resulting suppression of Harry, Dumbledore, the Order, et al.

But Lockhart didn't do anything. He was egotistical and inept, and unhelpful at appropriate times, but the plot of COS could easily have been carried out without him. And the fact that he had a cameo in OOTP shows that he was more than just comic relief. Besides, I refuse to believe that he was intended as comic relief because Wacky Character is the worst kind of comic relief and Ms. Rowling was able to include humour in all the other books without a Wacky Character. So what is Lockhart's Greater Purpose?

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Some concepts that people need to understand before they write letters to the editor:

1. Being opposed to a particular action or policy of a particular nation or political organization, or even being opposed to every action or policy of a particular nation or political organization, is NOT the same as hate speech against the individuals or ethocultural groups represented by that particular nation or organization.

2. Disagreeing with the policies, attitudes or beliefs of a particular religion, not wanting to be evangalized to, or not incorporating a particular religion into every aspect of everything is NOT the same as wishing jihad upon all the adherents of that particular religion.

3. Sexism is NOT the same thing as sexual harrassment. Sometimes there is a difference of opinion, a disagreement, or a conflict between two parties of different genders, and it is neither sexism nor sexual harrassment. Sometimes gender has absolutely nothing to do with anything.

4. In Toronto, rental properties pay 2-3 times the property tax rate that homeowners do. The renters pay for this as part of their monthly rent instead of writing a bigass cheque once per year, but they do pay it.

5. Before you send your letter, take 30 seconds to see if any of your facts can be refuted by Google.
I was standing in line at the library. A lady with a small boy, maybe 3 or 4 years old, gets in line behind me. The little boy keeps bumping into the backs of my legs, so I try to move out of his way.

But then his mother said "Johnny,* stop punching that lady!"

"He's punching me?" I think, "How bizarre!" It felt like he was just bumping into the backs of my legs, or perhaps flailing an arm about. The so-called punching continues.

"Johnny," his mother says again, "Stop hitting that lady! Why do you keep hitting her?"

"I HATE HER!" is his answer.

I wonder what I did to make him so angry?

*not the real name

Monday, March 22, 2004

My ears are really red, but I can't feel anything wrong with them. I haven't been wearing headphones or talking on the phone (except for like 10 minutes this morning) anything involving ears. They aren't itchy or warm or uncomfortable or infected-feeling. WTF?
"It's not rocket science!"

Why rocket science? Surely rocket science can't be the hardest science! Something like nanobiotechnology or mapping the human genome must be harder!

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Am I the only person who finds dress pants (like you'd wear to an office or as part of a suit) more comfortable than jeans?

Friday, March 19, 2004

The wine of the moment is Banrock Station Shiraz, but I've nothing to say about it. It's Shiraz. It looks like Shiraz, it smells like Shiraz, it tastes like Shiraz. It's between Merlot and Cab. Sauv., with a bit of a spicy zip.

However, while supplies last the LCBO is selling 1L for the price of 750mL, so that's a plus.
Want something fun to listen to? "Do You Miss Me?" by Lyne Tremblay.
Picture the Easter Bunny:

Is it a little hopping-around bunny like you'd find in a backyard or as someone's pet? Or is it a bipedal anthropomorphic cartoon rabbit? Is it male, female, or gender-non-specific? Is it wearing clothes, and if so what? Is it an adult rabbit, a child rabbit, or age-non-specific?

Thursday, March 18, 2004

I was reading up on Asperger again today. If North America had been aware of it ten years earlier, and if my parents had noticed that something was wrong with me (they might have, I don't remember), I would have definitely been diagnosed with it around age 4. But I don't know if I could get a diagnosis now, because I can hide it. My public face comes through rote learning and imitating others and method acting, but it is impenetrable to anyone who doesn't see me in my private moments. A doctor diagnosing me would see me as a normal, well-adjusted, if somewhat shy, young woman who is sitting in the office rattling off the textbooks symptoms of AS. But it's all an act. Smile, eye contact, perfect handshake, nod of the head, eyebrow thing. Sit up straight, cross legs, smiley voice (a former co-worker answering the phone), articulate speech (grad student defending a thesis), those hand gestures practiced in front of the mirror. Can't think of anything to say? Lower eyes modestly, fold hands, shy and sweet (generic sheltered Victorian heroine). She's a bit shy, but she's wonderful once you get to know her.

Unfortunately, I've perfected my public face to the extent that I can't turn it off for a stranger long enough to get a diagnosis. Not that it matters, there's no treatment and it isn't a disability, but you can't quite go around saying you're Aspie based on self-diagnosis.
I never thought I had privacy issues. I mean, I keep my PIN numbers secret and lock my door and close my curtains and keep certain aspects of my private life private, but I've never objected to cameras in public places or hesitated to have personal conversations on a cordless phone and my real name is in my primary personal email address.

But today I found a privacy issue I never knew I had. It all started when I went to Second Cup. They had a promotion today where if you buy a maple latte they'd donate a dollar to Tree Canada. It's a good cause and I'd been wanting to try the maple latte, so I went to buy one today. But as I waited in line, I noticed that on the maple latte poster they'd put stickers with the names of all the people who'd bought a maple latte today and thus donated a dollar to Tree Canada. I didn't want my name on the poster! I felt shy about everyone in the world knowing I'd bought a maple latte! Why should my co-workers and every random passer-by get to know that I'd bought a maple latte there today? So I left without buying anything and went to another Second Cup that let me buy my latte anonymously.

(And the maple latte tastes like a latte, but not like maple).
Guide horses!
Best spam subject line ever: "Archdiocese disruptive"

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Can a doctor be a nurse? Like are there things that nurses are trained to do that doctors aren't? Or could a doctor just take over a nurse's job no problem?
You know how in polar regions the sun stays out all day on the solstice? Does it still move across the sky from east to west?
I had a dream that I made a still (like to brew moonshine in) inside of a table lamp. The lamp was full of water, and the bottom of the lightbulb was lined with stuff*. There was another lightbulb on a cord, and when you waved it near the lamp, the water that it passed would start to boil, and then it would jump up through the stuff* and briefly pass through the lightbulb like the top thingy in a percolater. This would somehow produce alcohol, although there was no device to remove the alcohol from the still or prevent it from being mixed with water.

The weird thing about this dream is that, as you can tell by my description, I have no idea how a still actually works or the theory of creating alcohol. But in the dream I knew all the theory of still-building and could explain in great scientific and technical terms exactly how it worked. And when I woke up from the dream, I floated around in a lucid dream for a while before awakening completely, and in the lucid dream I looked back on my still dream, perfectly aware that it had been a dream, and thought through the logic and said "Yes, that would obviously be impossible to build inside a table lamp, but the science behind how it would have produced alcohol is sound," when IRL I don't know the science!

*"stuff" being the food product or yeast or whatever it is that you put in the still to ferment or be a source of sugar or whatever. I don't know what it actually is, but I know you have to put something in there.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

So apparently medical residents' 24-hour shifts may be compromising patient care.

Question: Why the hell are they doing 24-hour shifts in the first place? Whose brilliant idea was that?
The weather forecast at the moment? SNOWSNOWSNOW!!!!

Surprisingly, the CablePulse 24 website hasn't started freaking out about it yet.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Right now I'm drinking Fetzer Chardonnay-Viognier. I'd never heard of Viognier before, and I think it falls into the category of "an acquired taste". There is an aspect in this wine that is more complex than Chardonnay (that would be the Viognier, says the peanut gallery). I didn't like it initially, but I'm getting used to it. However, I wouldn't go out of my way to acquire it. I guess it's a bit off-putting because I have this expectation that white wines be "light", and this is not light. It sort of requires spicy food to go with it. The best way I can describe it is Viognier is to Chardonnay like Zinfandel is to Merlot.
Last book read = Tropic of Night by Michael Gruber. This book is badly in need of an editor. It is apparently supposed to be a mystery, but the jacket flap tells you whodunnit, and the entire book is about tracking the guy down. I suppose this makes it a thriller, which isn't exactly my favourite genre.

At any rate, the book is four hundred something pages long, and it takes until page three hundred something to get as far into the plot as the blurb on the jacket flap takes you, so most of it isn't exactly compelling, although it picks up at the end.

I should also warn that this book contains passing mentions of just about everything that anyone might consider icky. It isn't overly graphic, but it isn't exactly understated either. I could read it while eating, but I wouldn't read it if I was sitting home with the stomach flu, or if I had had a panic attack recently. Admittedly, the vast majority of the ickiness is important to the plot, and if it wasn't there the book would come across as overly sanitized. But it should carry a warning label that pregnant women shouldn't read this book.

However, there are a few things that are very well done. The many many deus ex machinas (I'm sorry, I don't have the Latin to pluralize that phrase) fit in well enough - you don't find yourself rolling your eyes or feeling cheated, and they're easy enough to believe if you want to. The author gives us an opportunity for some lovely schadenfreude about an unsympathetic protagonist, which makes him decidedly easier to swallow. But overall, this book, and the blurb on the jacket flap, both badly need to be brutally edited so that we aren't 75% of the way through before we come upon new plot information, and so that about a third of the exposition in the beginning isn't totally unnecessary.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

I just impulse purchased some shoes that I'm never going to wear because they were only $15. They're reasonable shoes - black maryjane style with closed toes and a bit of a heel - and they fill the "black shoes that aren't boots or sandals and can be worn with skirts and pants" whole in my wardrobe, but they aren't the best shoes in the world for my foot problems. They don't provide enough support and they might exacerbate my calluses. (Because I'm sure you all want to hear about my calluses). But $15 is a reasonable price for a pair of shoes whose job is to sit in my closet until I find myself in some hypothetical situation where I need black dress shoes that aren't sandals or boots. So I currently have a shoe situation where I'll never have to do emergency last minute shoe shopping (which is extraordinarily difficult when you're a size 11 with narrow width but wide toes and fucked-up pronation).
oooh, the poor widdle baby duckie fell down!

Friday, March 12, 2004

Reading this makes me wonder if men or women are more likely to perceive themselves as "grown-up", and which gender is more likely to start perceiving themselves as grown-up first.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

A poll! A poll that is going to wreak havoc with my GoogleAds up top!

When you were a kid, the youngest age you can remember, what words did your parents teach you to refer to bodily fluids and bodily functions, ie: urine/urination, feces/defecation, gaseous emmissions of various sorts, vomit, anything else you can think of. Comment in the comment box!

For me:

urine/urination = pee/pee-pee
feces/defecation = poo/poo-poo
burp = burp (I don't even know if burp is the technical name or not)
fart (for which I don't know the technical name) = poopy air
vomit = upchuck
diahrrea (sp?) = the runs
1. It's a timeline of the history of Usenet, complete with links to significant posts!

2. They should put garbage cans on all TTC vehicles. And a sort of envelope/rack thing to leave your newspapers in, so you can leave them behind for others, but you don't have to litter or leave them on seats and then other people will end up throwing them on the wet floor and making them unreadable.

Monday, March 08, 2004

There was mentino in the papers today of how people aren't using encyclopedias any more because they have Google. It occurred to me that I haven't used an encyclopedia since elementary school, because they contain the wrong scope of information.

I do three types of research: academic research, work-related research, and personal research. For all the academic research I've had to do since the beginning of high school, encyclopedia articles have been too much of an overview without enough details. They would be helpful if I knew nothing about the subject, yes, but when I'm assigned an essay or a project I already know the basics of the subject and need more in-depth and specialized material than one would find in an encyclopedia. For these projects I use a mix of internet, books, and academic journals.

In my work-related research, I'm usually looking for something extremely specific, or extremely specialized. For example, I'm looking for a particular clause of a particular law, which I wouldn't find in an encyclopedia but on the internet (or in a law book). Or I'm looking for the title of a specific individual, which obviously wouldn't be in an encyclopedia. Or I'm trying to figure out what a "CU time-out sequence" is, which is far too specialized to be in an encyclopedia (and even if it were, I couldn't look it up without context). I use specialized terminology banks for most of this stuff, but if those don't help, Google will get me closer to what I need than an encyclopedia ever will.

My personal research is very diverse, about any little thing I happen to be wondering at the time. "What's that song I heard that keeps repeating 'Wo bist du? Wo bist du?'" "What was the name of that cop show sendoff on Square One when I was a kid?" "When's Easter in 2007?" While an encyclopedia might be able to tell me that Easter is the Sunday after the full moon after the spring equinox, it won't be able to give me the specific answers I need. My questions are too small, and they fall through the cracks of an encyclopedia.

Encyclopedias are useful if you need to write 500 words on the main causes of World War I, or you need to write a paragraph about trees, or you want to look at the retro 60s pictures in your parents' old World Book (which is thinly disguised US propoganda), but they are inherently finite and can't address the day to day research needs of the 21st century.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Helpful hint of the day: When reheating pizza, sprinkle a bit of shredded cheese on top before reheating. This a) freshens up the pizza a bit, and b) help you know when it's sufficently reheated - it's done when the cheese is melted.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Two thoughts:

1. The problem with the word "feisty" is that it's never used to apply to men

2. For most of my life, I thought that if you were falling, but you were on a surface that was also falling (for example, standing in a free-falling elevator) you couldn't get hurt. I just realized the reason for this was the scene in the Wizard of Oz where the house lands from the tornado but Dorothy is okay because she was on her bed.

Friday, March 05, 2004

On the subway to work this morning, the train started honking and slowing down. I looked out the window, and saw a group of workers in hard hats standing against the wall of the tunnel so the train could pass. I don't know what they were doing, but imagine if that were your job! The trains come by every 2 minutes during rush hour, so their work gets interrupted every 2 minutes, and they have to drop everything and get out of the way!

Thursday, March 04, 2004

They should invent a substance that you can put into caffeinated coffee and it will make it into decaf. Without affecting the flavour. Or having intoxicating or narcotic side-effects.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Helpful hint: even if the second pizza is only $2 extra, and even if you're so hungry you could eat all the pizza in the world, it's not a good idea to order two pizzas if the two-pizza box is too big to fit in your fridge.
Canadian women under 30, click here. Sign if you agree, and pass it on.

I'm not 100% sure of the point of this, but I'll support anything that reminds the politicos that my demographic is politically active.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

I just found out that "bemused" doesn't mean what I thought it meant!