Monday, May 31, 2004

I have 2 Gmail invitations. Here's a list of goods and services I'd consider
trading them for. (These aren't based on the value of the Gmail
invitations, but rather on the goods and services I need):

1. A Fido-capable cellphone, in good working order, under a year old.
Basically I want to be able to stick my smartcard in and it works, plug and
2. A new computer to my specifications. (not that I expect anyone to buy a
computer in exchange for a gmail account, but you never know)
3. Use of your full-time student status for my Globe and Mail subscription.
This would mean that you tell me your name, student number, and year of
graduation, and I receive my Globe and Mail in your name. If they ask,
you're my and mi cielito's roommate (because I currently receive it in his
name, but he's just graduated). This would also mean that you can't get a
student discount should you choose to subscribe to the Globe and Mail.
Problem is that my subscription doesn't expire until July.
4. A spider-proofed screening of ROTK. This would involve going through
the DVD that has just been released, and the extended edition when it comes
out, noting the chapter numbers that contain spider scenes, and noting at
what point the viewer should press the "skip chapter" button to avoid seeing
any spiders. You would also have to preview the DVD features and
documentaries, note if any of them contain spider images, and note at what
point to press "skip chapter". After you screen, you would present me with
written (or emailed) instructions on how to avoid every spider image on that
DVD. Problem is that I'd need both the current edition (so I can see the
movie - I haven't seen it yet) and the extended edition (which I intend to
buy) screened, and the extended edition doesn't come out for several months.

I might consider trading for these things, depending on who is willing to
trade with me. I might also ebay the invitations. I might also give them
away to people I love. I haven't decided yet.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

I finished two books recently:

1. Mr. Paradise by Elmore Leonard. I hated, loathed and detested every
minute of this book. I only finished it because I make a point of finishing
every book I start. Almost every character in this book uses hateful speech
and language almost all the time, in ways that are totally unnecessary and
utterly excessive. That just ruins the book for me. Perhaps such language
could be acceptable in what is otherwise a good book, but this book is
populated with shallow, one-dimensional characters trying to convince you
they're complex, and a plot that ranges from "meh" to "I cannot see how this
is either enjoyable to read or of any literary value other than the fact of
being words printed on a page." It claims to be a mystery, but you find out
"whodunnit" early in, and the rest of the book is "So what do all these
other secondary characters have to do with it?" And to top it all off the
cover art prevents reading this book in public. As a whole, the book is
trying way too hard to be all edgy and ghetto, like a late-blooming,
pre-pubescent suburban 14-year-old trying to emulate hiphop artists to
compensate for his insecurity in his manhood. Ugh.

2. That Old Ace in the Hole by Annie Proulx. This is not about plot, it's
about characters. The main character is taken firmly out of his element and
placed in the Texas Panhandle as a conceit to describe the life and times of
a town full of colourful characters, past and present. As such, the plot
sort of meanders, but by tacit agreement the plot is only there because a
novel needs a plot. It's all about the characters. I found the characters
rather unappealing so I did not enjoy the book that much, but I can fully
appreciate that Proulx accomplished what she set out to do, and did it very
well. Worth reading if you think you'd enjoy reading about colourful Texas
Panhandle characters. Contains brief, gratuitous, mildly disturbing,
slightly-but-not-too graphic spider scenes that induced cringing and loss of
appetite (they don't have anything to do with food, loss of appetite is just
one of my pre-panic symptoms), but did not cause panic.

Friday, May 28, 2004

on MASH they're playing checkers with shot glasses. Whenever you jump a
piece you get to drink the shot. That is possibly the greatest drinking
game I've ever seen!


How to trees know to produce a ring every year? Like how do they know when
a year has passed? Is it because of winter? If so, do trees in tropical
regions have rings?

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Once upon a time, our printer at work was out of order. When this happened,
someone put an "Out of Order" sign on the printer. When the printer was
repaired, the sign was removed and put on the table beside the printer,
where it sits to this day.

Next to the printer there is a pillar, whose job, I assume, is to hold up
the roof and provide general structural integrity. As I stood by the printer
today waiting for my document to print, I briefly pondered sticking the "Out
of Order" sign to the pillar - just a bit of surrealist humour. If I was
still working at my previous job I would have, but here we have procedures
for everything, and I'm sure if I moved the sign, someone would implement
the Emergency Pillar Out of Order Procedure.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

According to the href=
target=_blank>Toronto Fire Department Active Incidents page, my building
is on fire right now.

Whatever it is, it doesn't seem too urgent. The alarm isn't going off, and
the firefighters aren't so much rushing in and out of the building as

GIVEN that there is a doctor shortage in many areas, and
GIVEN that, for whatever reason, they are hesitant to let foreign-trained
physicians practise without further training/certification/something...

They should have a system whereby foreign-trained physicians work in
walk-in-type clinics in underserviced communities in exchange for
queue-jumping on the certification process. The public could know the
foreign-trained physicians' credentials so they could decide for themselves
whether to go to that clinic or do whatever they were doing before the
clinic arrived (waiting a long time, going to another town, whatever). I
can see why you perhaps might not want a doctor whose qualifications may not
be up to Canadian standards to, say, manage your regimen of psychiatric
medication or perform delicate surgery to repair your nervous system, but
that's no reason why they can't prescribe penicillin and give flu shots.

Today all the women in my office except for two were wearing red shirts and
black pants. Weird.

Totally Impractical April Fools Jokes:

1. Switch the directions of the subway, so southbound subways travel on
what are normally northbound tracks, and vice versa.
2. Get a Magical HTML Editing Search & Replace Bot to replace all
occurrences of "about" in Canadian websites with "aboot".
3. Everyone in the world writes their April rent cheque for one cent less
than the amount of their rent. See how that affects the economy.

You have to give John Lennon and Yoko Ono credit: a bed-in is a damn good
protest! You don't get blisters on your feet, you don't have to worry about
the weather, the police have no reason to assault you because you're just
lying there in bed, and you can catch a nap whenever you want.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Things They Should Invent: make DVD players so they can recognize a disc,
and you can program them to do certain things with certain discs. For
example, go straight to this chapter, or automatically Play All, or skip a
certain chapter. (Yes, my ulterior motive is to avoid phobia-inducing

Or, even better, the individual chapters on the disc are rated based on the
traditional movie rating system, and are also rated for other things:
violent, sex, language, innuendo, fart jokes, boring non-funny exposition,
and all manner of phobia-inducing creatures. So then you can set your DVD
player to automatically skip all chapters that you deem unsuitable. Comes
with an access code so parents can restrict their children's viewing.

I was thinking, as I often do early mornings, about the simple pleasures of
being home sick. Being sick is not fun, of course, but there is a certain
satisfaction to lying in bed, zoning in and out of sleep, listening to the
rest of the world go to work and school, and knowing that this is the single
best thing you can be doing for yourself and for society.

It then occurred to me that being sick is also somewhat pleasant because
Maslow's hierarchy of needs kicks in, so you stop caring about anything
except the fact that you're sick. Your concerns about your purpose in the
universe and the current political situation and that project at work and
the poor quality of cable television programming and various dysfunctional
interpersonal relationships are all put on hold, and all you care about is
Getting Better. Not that I'd want to be sick all the time, but it is
somewhat refreshing not to care about anything more than staying warm,
hydrating, sleeping, and taking my medication on time.

Perhaps this is why some people use alcohol and drugs to excess, well beyond
what they can comfortably handle. While they are drunk/high, and while they
are recovering, their body is essentially sick. It has been invaded by an
uncomfortable quantity of foreign substance and now it must survive this
invasion. So for as long as the substance is affecting them, they don't
need to worry about anything else.

Monday, May 24, 2004

I wonder if there have been any scientific or academic studies about the
optimal size and composition of a sitcome ensemble cast?

How to vote in a Canadian federal election:

1. Find out what parties are running in your riding. You can find this from the Elections Canada website. Type in your postal code and click OK, then click on "Who are the candidates running in my riding?" The list will be finalized by June 9, so don't panic if there are no candidates there today.

2. Of the parties running in your riding (not the candidates, the parties they represent), decide which party you would like most to win (hereafter "the best party"), and which party you would like least to win (hereafter "the worst party"). If you do not already have the best party and worst party in mind, you can find out about their platforms by Googling the party names, and by following analysis in news media. (Just keep in mind the editorial stance of the media you follow). Please note, this is very important, your determination of the best party and the worst party has NOTHING to do with their likelihood of winning at this stage of the process. At this point you are simply choosing the party with the best and worst platforms. Don't worry, strategy will be addressed later.

3. Look at the best party's platform and record, and look at the worst party's platform and record. Decide if it is more important to you that the best party wins, or that the worst party does not win. Again, at this point it has nothing to do with their likelihood of being elected. Just decide whether it is more important for you to use your vote to help elect the best party, or to help defeat the worst party.

4. If it is more important to you to help elect the best party, vote for the best party. If this applies to you, you can stop reading here. If it is more important to you to help defeat the worst party, read on.

5. Assess the worst party's chances of winning in your riding. This has nothing to do with their chances of winning across the country, because your vote is only counted against other votes in your riding. You can work out their chances of winning by keeping an eye on riding polls in your local news media (try typing your riding name into Google News every few days) and by looking at previous results in your riding. This is not a straight mathematical assessment - what you need to do here is look at the risk of the worst party winning, and decide whether the risk is small enough for you to be comfortable with it (acceptable risk), or large enough for you to be uncomfortable with it (unacceptable risk). It might be that all signs point to the worst party coming in second in your riding, but it's enough of a risk that you're uncomfortable with it. This is entirely about your personal comfort level.

6. If the risk of the worst party winning in your riding is low enough to be acceptable to you, then vote for the best party. If this is the case, you can stop reading here. If this risk is unacceptable, read on.

7. If you think there's an unacceptable chance of the worst party winning in your riding, determine (the same way you determined the worst party's chances) which party is most likely to be able to beat the worst party in your riding. Examine the platform and record of the party most likely to defeat the worst party. If you can in good conscience vote for them, do so.

8. If you are in a situation where there is unacceptable risk of the worst party winning, and you cannot in good conscience vote for the party most likely to defeat the worst party, vote for the best party. In this case, your riding thinks that there are very few people with your politics in the riding. By voting for the best party, you are standing up and being counted. If enough people do this, it may change the riding's (and the incumbent's) perception of the politics of its voters, and it's better ethically than not voting at all, or voting for someone you cannot vote for in good conscience.

If, at any point, you are lacking the information you need to make any of these decisions, your local reference librarian will be able to help you. (Torontonians can contact a reference librarian for free here.) All the necessary information is available from non-partisan sources, it just isn't always easy to find. Elections Canada is non-partisan despite being a government organization.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

From the Things I Don't Understand file: shot-by-shot remakes of movies.
Isn't that like paying tribute to your favourite author by rewriting your
favourite book work-for-work?

Since I moved here, just blocks away from both a fire station and a police
station, I've noticed that a thunderclap is almost always followed
immediately by the sound of siren.

I'm planning to write my MA thesis on the translation of proper names in Harry Potter, using French, Spanish, and German translations (in that order of priority - I'll only use as many translations as my thesis advisor feels necessary). I will be doing this retrospectively, after book 7 comes out, from the point of view of "Do the elements of the names that were and were not translated accurately represent the importance of those names?"

I'm just blogging this for the benefit of anyone Googling for research on the subject.

Friday, May 21, 2004

When I was in high school and we studied Shakespeare, the teachers would
always note that all the references to mythology and religion etc. in his
plays were common knowledge in those days, so it would have been much easier
for Shakespearian audiences to "get it" than it was for us. They'd always
tell us this with a sort of eye-rolling sigh, as if they were saying "kids
these days, they don't know their mythology, they're so culturally inept."

It occurs to me that we don't know our mythology because that function of
mythology has been thoroughly replaced by the Simpsons. I'm sure a
moderately talented 21st century playwright could infuse a play with
Simpsons references in the same way that Shakespeare used mythology.

Some people say that blogs are ruining Google, but personally I think that
commerce is ruining Google more. For example, I recently read somewhere
that they can do drug tests with strands of people's hair. I was curious
about how that worked, so I Googled it. The first few pages of results were
all trying to sell me some method to beat hair-based drug tests, when I
wasn't looking to buy anything, I was just curious about the science behind

Then today in the G&M (Roy MacGregor's column if you're looking for it, I'm
updating by email so I can't link) there was an anecdote about Queen
Victoria and green tea. I was curious about how urban legend this was so I
Googled it, but all the results were sites trying to sell me tea.
Apparently there's a Queen Victoria brand tea or Queen Victoria's favourite
tea or something.

Sometimes when I am Googling something I do get all blogs, but most bloggers
(not me because I suck that way, but most bloggers) do link to things they
are referencing, so I can get there. Blogs are more useful than 25
identical sites all trying to sell me something I'm curious about but have
no intention of buying!

In French, the Sorting Hat is "le choixpeau". That just made my day :)

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem

This book is saturated with magical realism so realistic that one initially
wonders if the magical aspects are just drug-induced hallucinations. Lethem
describes with such vividness the intricacies of navigating one's way
through growing up in Brooklyn that the reader feels almost qualified to
handle a schoolyard encounter themselves. His portrayal of the metamorphosis
of a small boy playing stickball into an adult crack addict is so
matter-of-fact that it seems more like a natural progression than a
downfall. The perpetual confusion of childhood is accurately portrayed
without ever being overtly acknowledged from the omniscient adult narrator's
perspective. A brilliant work - read it not for the plot, but just to watch
the author practise his art.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

My initial thoughts on the Ontario budget:

- On the concept of health premiums: once I got over the initial sticker shock (my premiums would be more than the health care services I require are worth, although I can easily afford it) I think it's a reasonable action. It isn't a burden to me, funding health care is extremely important, and I don't hold McGuinty to not raising taxes. (I think it was irresponsible for him to sign that pledge in the first place, but I totally see why he did it in an electoral context).

- On the branding of "health premiums": This branding could go either way. The fact that it's labelled as for healthcare could make people more supportive of health premiums, or it could increase opposition to public health care. The word "premiums" could remind people that this is insurance, which might ease the sticker shock, or it could make it look like the government is trying to avoid using the word "taxes". Myself, I would rather have it be part of the income tax, so as to avoid bringing about any new opposition to public health care, but perhaps the "health" label will ensure that it gets spent on healthcare rather than going into a collective pot.

- On the amounts of the health premiums: Some people have said they are a burden. Any new tax will be a burden for people living without enough leeway in their budget, which I know happens at all income levels and at all money management skill levels, for a myriad of reasons. My only problem with the amounts of the premiums is that they constitute a larger percentage of low incomes than of high incomes. It was better to stagger the amounts than to say "Okay, $400 per earner across the board", but it should either be X% of income, no matter what, or have tax brackets with percentages increasing as incomes increase.

- On delisting services: This is SO not cool! They had my support right up to this point. You want to improve the health care system, improve the health care system, but health care is not about a balance sheet, and cannot be improved by delisting services. I would rather pay higher premiums than have services delisted.

- Vitriol du jour: The people who are saying that a nominal fee should be charged for all health services "to remind people that health care costs taxpayers' money". This is health care! I seriously doubt that, with the possible exception of a few cases of Munchausen syndrome, people are haphazardly receiving health care for the fun of it! People should not be avoiding receiving needed health care for the purpose of saving money - their own or the taxpayer's. That's why public health care was introduced in the first place!

A note to news media: Please stop referring to the provincial and federal governments as "the Liberals". That makes it unclear which level of government you are referring to.
If this works, I'm publishing to my blog by email. I was just recently
thinking "There should be a way to send email to your blog and it
automatically posts". And guess what, with the last blogger revamp I think
they did!

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

From the Brilliant Ideas That Will Never Work file:

There are many adult privileges that people earn during their adolescence, such as the right to drive, vote, drink, smoke, gamble, have sex, take legal responsibility for oneself etc. However, under our current system, these privileges tend to be earned arbitrarily based on a person's age. I propose a system under which you earn adult privileges based on good behaviour.

You start earning points at age 13 (all numbers and ages in this example are arbitrary). You earn points through such good behaviour as school attendance, good grades, gainful employment, volunteer work, extracurricular participation, etc. Whenever you earn enough points, you are entitled to a new privilege. The points are coordinated in such a way that an average person who keeps their nose clean but doesn't do anything spectacular would earn full adult privileges by the time they are 20, but it could take as little as three years for a wunderkind adolescent, or it could take forever for someone who keeps getting in trouble. All privileges could be earned within a year of living independently, responsibly and self-sufficiently and not doing anything that's anti-social (in the criminology sense of the word), no matter what the person's age. So if you can function as an adult for a year, regardless of your age, you get to be an adult.

Each privilege has a certain number of points assigned to it depending on how big a responsibility it is. For example, being allowed to buy lottery tickets might be worth 40 points, but driving a car might be worth 100. You can cash in your points right away to pick up a number of smaller privileges, or you can save them up for a big privilege. When you earn a privilege, you get a card (like a driver's licence) that you keep in your wallet saying you are entitled to that privilege.

Points can be lost for law-breaking, for abuse of the privileges to which one is entitled, or for attempting to use privileges to which one is not entitled. Points cannot be lost for general bad behaviour that is not illegal (for example, bad grades or unemployment) - this just prevents you from earning more points or makes you earn points slower. If you lose enough points to take you below a privilege threshold, you lose one or more privileges. For example, suppose you currently have 120 points, and 100 points worth of privileges. If you lose 5 points your privileges are not affected, but if you lose 30 points you lose a privilege.

In addition to earning points for good behaviour, points can be earned for responsible use of one's existing privileges - for example, you can get points for driving for a year without any tickets or accidents. Positive behaviours that are more valuable, and accomplishments that are more difficult, earn more points. For example, getting straight A's in university is worth more points than getting straight A's in high school; having a full-time job where you earn enough money to completely support yourself is worth more points than working part-time at Tim Horton's. Once you earn all your privileges, you get a one-year final probationary period. You continue to earn and lose points as appropriate during this one-year period. If your points level never slips down below the cumulative level required for all adult privileges, you are officially an adult and get to stay in adult status for the rest of your life.

Monday, May 17, 2004

When there's something wet and it's dripping dry, why is it that the drips come at even intervals?
Attention Harry Potter fans: The "Lorem ipsum..." text IS NOT A CLUE! Yes, it has semantic meaning if you translate it from Latin, but it is standard space filler used by designers and typesetters to see what a particular layout will look like once there's text there. That's why there was a "Do not disturb" sign on the door - because the content isn't finished yet. So please stop wasting perfectly good discussion space trying to figure out how a literal translation of lorem ipsum applies to the Potterverse!

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Question: Why do people spit on the sidewalk? I don't understand this. I have never, not once in my life, been walking down the street and suddenly felt greviously overburdened by my saliva. And even if people do feel overburdened by their saliva, why would spitting it be easier than swallowing it?
Some random products I've tried lately:

1. Rimmel Gentle Eye Make Up Remover: When I use this to remove waterproof mascara, it appears to have removed it all, but it doesn't actually remove everything. Then I wake up in the morning with racoon circles under my eyes. It is very gentle, but Simply Basic eye makeup remove from Walmart is better.

2. Beringer Stone Cellars Chardonnay: This is very good, smooth and buttery, one of the best chardonnays I've had.

3. Country Harvest Source One whole wheat bread: I tried this because it comes in one of those "stay fresh until the last slice" wrappers. And it does work, the bread stays really fresh for a long time. It comes in a shiny orange wrapper, and is available at Loblaw's but not at Dominion.

4. Kraft Fat Free Italian dressing: This is actually the best Italian dressing I've had so far, and it's fat free! Again, available at Loblaw's but not at Dominion.

Friday, May 14, 2004

It's 11 pm and the humidity still hasn't broken. So I open my windows and hope that the overnight weather forecast is accurate.

My tummy hurts.

Should I watch Princess Bride, which I own, and love, and have seen many times? Or should I rent Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, which I have never seen, and contains some upsetting scenes (although I should be able to skip them) but is part of a franchise I love?

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Comfort requires that I wear a skirt and bare legs in this heat.
Professionalism requires that I wear a blouse to the office.
Etiquette requires that I wear closed-toed shoes at this time of year.

This morning, getting dressed, tired, grumpy, smelling the smog alert coming on, I said screw it all! My only closed-toed shoes that don't need socks have rather high heels, and I simply did not feel like walking the high heels walk all day, pretending I was unaware of the film noir look of my high heels and knee-length skirt and tailored blouse, pretending I was perfectly comfortable. So I opted for a bigass long wrap skirt. With flat sandals - open toes despite my leftover winter pedicure (which happens to be sparkly red). And a top that is essentially a t-shirt with a white collar sewn onto it. Comfortable, perfect for such a grumpy day, more flower child than young professional.

I call this fashion exhaustion - just waking up one morning unable to tolerate whatever one should be wearing that day, and putting one what one wants to wear. What's funny is almost everyone in my office did that today. We don't have a dress code, but everyone has their own sort of personal standards that they maintain. Today everyone let it slip a bit. I wore open-toed shoes with the corresponding dressing down of my outfit. People who had been walking around in new spring shoes and bandaids finally succumbed to running shoes. Those who had struggled to find the balance between the heat outside and the too-cold inside gave up on clever layering and just wrapped themselves in large blanket-like shawls. The pregnant succumbed to large shapeless dresses. Wearers of ties and pantihose freed themselves from those self-imposed shackles for the day. Dress shirts were replaced by plaid shirts, dress pants by khakis, and khakis by cargo shorts. Younger women wore outfits more appropriate for their mothers, and older women wore outfits more appropriate to their daughters. In an astounding act of synchronicity, three dozen people let their self-imposed standards slip down one notch, just for the day.

Why? We don't know. Because it was the fourth hot day in a row? Because the air conditioning in older apartments won't be turned on for another two weeks? Because work is slowing down and all we have is dull work? Who knows. But today was Fashion Exhaustion Day.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Attention weather: please do NOT get so fucking hot and humid before June 1, when they turn on the air conditioning in my building!

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

All over the media today is the fact that 1/3 of girls in grades 6-8 are dieting or concerned about their weight. Of course, the news media attribute* this to unrealistic body images portrayed in magazines and movies and celebrities etc. etc. However, it occurs to me that it might also be due in part to the saturation of media stories about how EVERYONE IN THE WORLD IS GETTING FATTER and it's a HEALTH EPIDEMIC and OBESITY IS THE NEW CANCER and whatnot. I could see some girls that age noticing a few extra pounds around their middle and figuring they'd better diet not so they can look like [insert whatever celebrity girls that age look up to], but so they can avoid being one of those obesity epidemic people.

Then we have articles like this one, which notes (based on questionable information) that 11 year old girls now have a larger waistline on average than grown women did in the 1940s, and spins it to mean OMG OUR KIDS ARE GETTING FAT!!!!!!

There are a few problems with that article, and with the conclusion they draw from it. The first problem is that height isn't taken into account. People now are taller than they were 60 years ago, particularly considering that the time period in question is war-torn Europe when rationing was in effect. They allege that the average woman in 1940s England was 33-21-33, but she was probably about 5'2" tall. (A cautious estimate based on the fact that, according to the all about puberty book I had as a kid, the average woman in 1990s England was 5'4"). Myself, I'm 5'7". A tad above average, but certainly nothing to write home about. Even if I were in perfect physical condition, even if I had the absolute minimum body fat required to function, I doubt I would be capable of being 33-21-33. For example, I have no fat on my ribs under my breasts, just skin and bones, and the circumference of my bra band is 31". If you add to that the minimum pecs needed to function normally, and the minimum mammary glands needed to be a fertile woman (even if I had no breasts to speak of), my chest would certainly be more than 33". So for a 21st century woman to be a few inches larger than 33-21-33 certainly does not mean that she's fat.

The second point that they seem to be neglecting in this article is that a significant number of 11-year-old girls have gone through their growth spurts, and almost all 13-year-old girls have, so they would be closer to the size of a grown woman than the size of a child. Using myself as an example again, I was 5'0" at the age of 10, and had reached my current height of 5'7" by the time I started high school at the age of 13. Again this is a bit taller than usual and a bit more of an early bloomer than usual, but when I was 11 years old I was probably about the same size as the average 1940s woman. The article spins it to give the impression that there are these oversized monster children stomping around, twice the size of their grandmothers. What it actually comes down to is that a group of people that includes a significant number of (physically) grown females now is slightly bigger than one ideal of a female figure 60 years ago. That is not a problem!

The third problem, which they don't even mention, is that women wore girdles in the 1940s, and the dress pattern from which they derive the 33-21-33 measurements would have taken this into account. Plug in whatever numbers you want, the 7:11 waist:hip ratio rarely if ever exists in nature. That would be 38.5-24.5-38.5 or 44-28-44. Also, when sewing a dress from a pattern, a seamstress with a moderate amount of skill can adjust it to accommodate different sizes or variations of shape such as wide hips and small chest. I'm sure it would be possible to make a dozen dresses from a single pattern all in different sizes, none of which are tailored to a 33-21-33 woman. Using a dress pattern to represent the actual sizes of actual women is simply bad science!

Perhaps the research in this article is moderately interesting, but it is more indicative of the fact that people are taller, puberty is earlier, and fashions are different than of an obesity crisis. It was irresponsible for them to have spun it that way. And they wonder why young girls are dieting!

(Edited to add: The article also mentions that skirt waist sizes have gone up. Male readers should be aware that skirt waist sizes don't always represent a woman's actual waist size, as they often have to be bought larger to accomodate the hips, or the normal expansion of the stomach through eating, sitting, and berathing. As a diaphragm-breather who spends the whole day sitting, I habitually by clothing with a number at least seven inches more than my actual waist circumference.)

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Based on the few Americans I've spoken with, it seems that it has not yet been widely disseminated south of the border that the US military contracts out interrogation activities. (An American media outlet would probably have been more appropriate, but on a sensitive topic like this I didn't want to link to an outlet whose editorial stance I'm unfamiliar with. CTV is affiliated with Globe and Mail, which is centre-right in Canada. You can Google to see what your media outlet of choice does or doesn't say.)

I'm posting this not to comment on it - I do have opinions, but nothing that isn't obvious and hasn't already be said, and it isn't my place to comment on what activities another country's government chooses to outsource - I'm posting this just so any Americans who stumble upon my blog will be aware of it.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Salon asked its readers when and why they stopped watching Friends. My reply:
When Friends started airing, I was 13 years old and just starting high school. When I watched an episode of Friends, I would thing, "I want a life like that when I grow up." I don't remember when exactly I stopped watching the show, but I know that it was because I got to the point where I would watch an episode of friends and think, "When are they going to get a life and grow up?"

The final episode reminded me of why I loved the show and why I hated the show. There were those annoying moments of awkwardness and stupidity that make me mute the TV (Chandler trying to make small talk with Erica) and moments that made me laugh out loud (Joey trying to find the duckling and the chick, the presentation of the twins). I will admit to crying when Rachel got off the plane, even though Ross is surprisingly stupid for a scientist. At satisfying ending all around.

I just realized why I thought newborn babies don't move or do anything - because on TV they often have the actors just holding a bundle of blankets, with the occasional close-up of a real baby.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

I'm sure you've all seen the recent study showing that divorce is most likelyto occur within the fouth year of marriage, so the fifth anniversary is golden. That is an extremely interesting statistic, but here are some more statistics they need to work out to help us get the complete picture:

- Divorce rate based on number of years of co-habitation (ie. can the same effect be achieved by cohabiting for five years?)
- Divorce rate based on number of years of dating, years of dating before co-habitation, years of dating and co-habitation before marriage
- Break-up rate of co-habitation relationships
- Divorce rate based on age, education, income, etc. at time of marriage
- Divorce rate based on difference in age, education, income etc. at time of marriage and throughout marriage.
- Divorce rate based on number and ages of children and how many years of marriage they waited before having children
- Divorce rate based on square footage per person in the home
- In what percentage of divorces was the main contributing factor to the divorce a problem that was identified by the couple as a potential problem before they entered into marriage? (ie. given that hindsight is 20/20, should they have seen it coming?)

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

What frightens me the most about the recent pictures of Iraqi prisoners being maltreated by American soldiers is the fact that it occurred to the soldiers to have the prisoners do those things. I highly doubt that soldiers are explicitly taught anywhere "Okay, when you have some POWs, make them take off all their clothes and do pyramids with bags over their heads." The culture and mentality that would lead them to think of something like that would be enough to make me avoid all military people at all forever if I weren't doing so already for completely different reasons.

Americans should also be frightened that there are people responsible for their national security who are stupid enough to take pictures of themselves doing these things.
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood is the next Brave New World. Atwood does a damn fine dystopia! The moment I finished the book my first instinct was to read it again (unfortunately I couldn't, since I have six more books in my library pile). What's particularly interesting is the narrator is male, and as I was reading I kept getting the impression that the author was male. Perhaps this means that Atwood does an effective male narrator, but I'm not really qualified to decide that. At any rate, she must be a very talented author to be able to produce both a convincing male narrator and a work like Cat's Eye. (Essay topic: both Oryx and Crake and Cat's Eye are dystopias).

The only negative is that the book contains passing references to, and descriptions of, child pornography. It's done in a sufficiently vague, detached, technical way, but it does make the book less palatable (although I do realize dystopias aren't exactly supposed to be palatable), and it isn't strictly necessary to the story. It establishes character, but I don't think that aspect of the characters is necessary for the plot to work. Nonetheless, it isn't enough to make me say the novel is not worth reading. If you do read it, read it vertically with the cover facing outwards, so people will see Booker Prize-nominated Canlit rather than reading over your shoulder and stumbling upon mentions of child pornography.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Just in case anyone is looking back to their OAC year and laughing about how stressed they were over university applications:

OUAC says:
[U of T] does not contact applicants individually with respect to the required documentation. It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that the documentation requested in the application package instructions is received by the University by the deadline stipulated.

The U of T application says:
Once we receive your completed application from [OUAC], we will send you information about the required documentation and document deadlines.

Of course I don't care, I've been through this process twice before and I know that OUAC doesn't really matter, but imagine the stress upon encountering this sort of mess for the first time.

It should be interesting (provided I get into the course I want) to see university from a completely stress-free perspective amid a classroom full of stressed-out froshies.
I find myself wondering what percentage of all products are available to me. For example, there are maybe three brands of milk at Dominion, and another brand at my neighbourhood Hasty Market. Seems like a decent selection of milk. But what if there are really, say, 27 brands of milk available in Ontario? And why can I only get 5% coffee cream at Hasty Market, not at Dominion or Loblaw's?
Attention yoga lady: okay, so you want me to contort my legs into the appropriate position, wrap my left arm around the outside of my left leg, put my right arm through the space between my legs, clasp my hands together on the other side and interlace my fingers.

Therefore, "interlace your fingers" should NOT be the FIRST instruction you give!
I dare anyone, anyone at all, to write a PhD dissertation that does not contain a colon (:) anywhere in the title.

(Yes, I have insomnia.)

Sunday, May 02, 2004

It's a rainy Sunday. I'm not going anywhere more important than Dominion or Home Hardware. I'm at home, in my bathrobe, zit cream and moisturizer soaking into my face, no where near ready for public presentability. I decide that my hair needs to be pulled back out of the way. I give it a cursory once-through with my brush, distractedly pull it back from my face, twist it a couple of times more out of habit than anything else, and clamp the first clip I find over it.

The result: the smoothest, most graceful, most subtle, most casually elegant French twist ponytail I've ever produced.

Why does it never turn out this well when people are actually going to see it?
For some reason I can't write the letter O today. When I'm writing by hand (archaic, I know) and I go to do a lowercase cursive O, it ends up closing in on itself and looking like a diagonal line. And I have no idea why.