Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Attention all Western Canadians, attention all Conservatives:

I am Torontonian.
I did not vote Conservative.
The fact that the Conservative Party's leader and origins are from the West had absolutely ZERO effect on my choice of whom to vote for.

Let me explain how I decided to vote for a party other than the Conservatives:
I went to the websites of all four parties running candidates in my riding, and I read each party's platform. I compared each party's policy on each issue to all the other parties' policies. For every issue, I decided which party had the best policy, that is the closest to my vision of how Canada should be addressing the issue.

There was not a single issue for which the Conservative Party had the best policy. My reaction when reading the platform ranged from "This is a reasonable policy, but all the other parties have better policies" to "This policy, if implemented, would result in a Canada that I would be ashamed to live in." Even if I did not disagree with a particular Conservative policy, one of the other parties always had a better policy on that particular issue.

As you can see, regionalism had NOTHING to do with my decision not to vote for the Conservatives. It was all about policy. In fact, until these letters started pouring into the nation's op-ed pages, I didn't realize that the Conservatives were considered purveyors of the Western Weltanschauung. I took the Conservative Party to be just that, a conservative party, purveyors of the conservative Weltanschauung. Regionalism was never even a factor.

It isn't about anti-Western sentiment.
It my vote was not intended to slight or spite the West.
It is about policy.
My vote was intended to go to the party whose policies are closest to my vision rather than the party whose policies are furthest from my vision.
My decision about whether to vote Conservative would have been the same if those policies had originated from Jonquiere or Iqualuit or Bonavista or my next door neighbour.

It's all about policies. It is not about regions at all.

PS: If you're going to consider every pronouncement about your party to be a pronouncement about the West, you might want to think about following the lead of your Quebec counterparts and restyling yourselves as the Western Block.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

I have an involuntary muscular twitch in my nose!!!!!!
When I went to bed, all was right with the world. Liberals had won a
sizeable minority, NDP held the balance of power. The country was safe, my
job was safe, best possible outcome. When I woke up, it was a bit more
uncertain. NDP was one seat away from balance of power! GAH! I honestly
thought it was all over, that's why I went to bed! At least I got to fall
asleep feeling the most content and satisfied I've ever felt when falling
asleep alone.

I'm still satisfied with the outcome. I think it accurately represents the
sentiments of Canada as a whole, I think the current voting system gave us
an appropriate balance of power this time (with the exception of the
over-represented Bloc), and I think this government will be able to govern
as long as they make a modicum of effort to build consensus and don't let
egos get in the way. I don't know if we can trust Martin to do that, but if
he does he'll be able to govern.

Campaign analysis:

- The Liberals did not run a good campaign at all. If this were a "make a
good election campaign" contest, they would not deserve to win. Because of
Martin's hubris and need to separate himself from Chretien, he did not run
on his record, and when a governing party does not run on their record, it
gives a bad impression. They could have won the swingable right by
emphasizing their economic record, but they didn't. Instead they decided to
run on "fix healthcare". But since they've been in power for the last 10
years, the fact that healthcare needs fixing implies that they broke it.
They could have damaged-controlled the sponsorship scandal by emphasizing it
as a paperwork problem, akin to someone losing a receipt, and promptly
pushed through new, more transparent policies to ensure that every dollar
ever spent is accounted for. But instead they just pinned it on Chretien
and let the public believe that the cost of an entire program landed in
someone's pocket.

- The Conservatives should have started from a more centrist position and
moved further right once they gained the trust of the public. (I hope no
Conservatives are reading this!) I think a Purple Tory (a phrase that badly
needs to be coined!) position that doesn't take much of a stance on social
issues would have won more Red Tory/centrist support without risking much of
the neocon support (who are neocons going to vote for anyway, the NDP?).
They also lost a lot of the "Not The Liberals" support by having candidates
publicly blurt out snippets of their underlying neocon agenda on a weekly

- The NDP had an excellent platform, but they should have written off Quebec
to the Bloc and kept their mouth shut about the Clarity Act. Many of their
supporters, for example those in areas like Hamilton, are a lot less likely
to dispassionately analyze the intricacies of Quebec politics, instead
thinking "Those guys want to break up Canada! And now the NDP wants to help
them!" I don't think the inheritance tax bought them any friends (and there
were several problems with that plan, but that's for another rant), but
mostly they should have better addressed the issue of strategic voting.
Telling people not to vote strategically would be fruitless, but they could
have pointed out that voting strategically if your riding is already safe is
truly throwing away your vote. If they really wanted to invest in this,
they could have commissioned a riding-by-riding poll, so people would know
if their riding was safe. This would have won them at least two more seats
in Toronto alone.

- The Green Party is not nearly as left-wing as people think. They actually
have some very conservative (note my choice of capitalization) economic
policies. If people actually knew that, they might have gotten more votes.

- Just for fun, the Bloc should pick up some extra cash by running
candidates outside of Quebec. They wouldn't have to campaign or anything
outside of Quebec, just get a name on a ballot. You know it will pick up a
couple of joke/protest votes, and hey, it's $1.75 per vote!


- The timing of the poll closures, leaving us with 10% of the ridings
declared and an hour and a half until more results come in. They should
close Newfoundland at 9:30, Maritimes at 9:00, and the rest of the country
at 8:00 local time. Then everything up to Ontario would come in at once,
and we'd have lots of numbers to keep us amused while the rest of the
country finishes. Alternatively, close everything at, say, 8:00 local time.
It seems to take about half an hour to count enough of the Maritime votes,
then they'd have half an hour for speculation and punditry before the big
numbers come in.

- The side-effects of no media blackouts. I have no problem with lack of
media blackouts, but it does get problematic when Maritime winners use their
"You won and you have name recognition" interview to try to get out the vote
in BC.

- The idea that people didn't vote Conservative because of "fear of the
unknown". I'm sure that many people didn't vote Conservative because of
fear of what they DID know about them. Similarly, any sort of "Wassa
matter, you chicken?" rhetoric surrounding the decision of whom to vote for.
This isn't the appropriate outlet for senseless acts of recklessness, and
there's nothing shameful about voting for what's safest for the country.

- Pundits who equate not being right-wing with anti-West sentiment. Where
does that come from? Do they really think someone hates Alberta just because
they think a national daycare program is a good idea? Would you say a person
is anti-Toronto just because they aren't left-wing? It just comes across as
rhetoric intended to make the West hate the rest of the country.

- The omnipresent idea that the most important thing is that a party does
what they say they're going to do, no matter what it is they say they're
going to do. If someone says they're going to outlaw shoes and they go and
outlaw shoes, that doesn't mean it's a good thing that shoes have been
outlawed, and it doesn't mean that you should vote for them again when they
say they're going to outlaw pants.

- The fact that the English media has not managed to properly communicate to
anglo Canadians that people might vote Bloc for reasons other than being

- The seemingly random order in which CBC showed riding results. That must
have been very annoying for those who weren't simultaneously tracking their
favourite ridings online! They should have just cycled through every riding

Best moments:

- Being congratulated on my l33t ballot-folding skills, and playing with a
cool black and white doggie while its owner went to vote. I always seem to
meet cool doggies whenever I vote.

- Rick Mercer! "Hockey night in Canada for nerds" "It's very important that
the greatest evil DOES NOT win!" "I've never seen a rhinoceros, I think it
would be neat."

- That brief, shining moment when the Marxist-Leninist Party led Mississauga

Monday, June 28, 2004

**smokes a metaphorical cigarette**

Damn, that was a good election!
I did it. I read the platforms, pored over seat projections, analyzed my riding, and went and voted for the party whose vision is closest to mine. I just hope everyone else did the same. I did consider a strategic vote, but every seat projection has my riding safe, so I decided to send a message and $1.75 instead.

Incidently, I did receive a reply from my Liberal candidate, but it came too late. She sent the email at half past midnight last night (bonus points for staying up so late to answer voter emails!) but I was already in bed by then. I didn't get a chance to look at my email before work this morning, and I voted on my way home from work. Delaying answering the email so you have time to give a good answer is totally cool, she's not getting docked any points for that, but it just arrived a couple of hours too late. Luckily, by this point, nothing she could have said would have changed my vote.

Now go vote if you haven't already!

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Since election day is tomorrow, a quick reprise of How to Vote (the more detailed version can be found in my May archives):

1. Determine which party you would most like to win in the nation as a whole (The Best Party) and which party you would least like to win in the nation as a whole (The Worst Party).

2. Decide whether it's more important to you that The Best Party win, or that The Worst Party not win.

3. If it's more important that The Best Party win, go vote for The Best Party. If it's more important that The Worst Party not win, read on.

4. Assess voter sentiment in your riding and determine how much of a chance The Worst Party has of taking your riding.

5. If you are comfortable that The Worst Party's chance of taking your riding is sufficiently slim, go vote for The Best Party. If you feel that the risk of The Worst Party taking your riding is too high, read on.

6. Determine which party is most likely to defeat The Worst Party in your riding. Reread their platform, and ask yourself if you can, in good conscience, support them. If you can, in good conscience, support the party most likely to defeat The Worst Party in your riding, go vote for them. If you cannot in good conscience support this party's platform, go vote for the best party.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

The Romantic by Barbara Gowdy is the book I would write if I were to write a novel. The only difference would be my characters would have a sense of consequence. It's eerie to pick up a book that's so close to the book that you'd write yourself!

Friday, June 25, 2004

A poll: do you know what the word "attrition" means? (Without looking it
up). Answer in the comments please. I don't need to know what it means,
just if you know what it means.

Irrational petty selfish desire of the day:

I want to be given prizes and treated like I'm special because on Monday I
will be voting in my sixth election and I've only been old enough to vote
for five years.

From the brilliant ideas that will never work file: mortgages where you can
revert to any previous amortization schedule.

Suppose you have a mortgage. Suppose you unexpectedly come into a
significant amount of money, and you promptly to pour it all straight into
the mortgage. Then suppose that shortly after this occurs you lose your job,
and don't have enough money to make your mortgage payments. Under the
current system, I think you can reamortize, or you might be able to
negotiate skipping a payment, but interest would still accrue.

Under the proposed system, you would have the option to return to any of
your previous amortization schedules. You could look at a previous schedule
and say "According to this schedule, I should have paid $75,000 by now. In
reality, I have paid $85,000. According to this schedule, I'm not expected
to have paid $85,000 until five months from now. Therefore, I'm going to
stop making payments for five months." No further interest would accrue over
these five months (because you're all paid up, right on schedule), and after
the five months have passed (giving you time to get a job and get back on
your feet) you'd resume paying according to the previous amortization
schedule as though nothing had happened.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

The Globe and Mail has an interesting tool to help you decide whom to vote for.

The only problem with this tool is that each choice represents one party's entire platform on the issue, so it contains several different policy items. When I was doing the quiz, I found that in each platform I agreed with some policy items and disagreed with others. Because of the way the quiz is designed, I had to choose only one platform, even if I disagreed with some of the items therein.

It would better serve the voters if each policy item was listed separately, and you could mark each item as "Agree", "Disagree", "Neutral", "Deal-breaker" or "Deal-maker". Each party would get plus one point for agree and minus one for disagree. Parties that earn a "deal-breaker" are eliminated (unless all parties earn one) and parties that earn a "deal-maker" get your vote (unless more than one party earns one, in which case the number of points will be used to decide). At the end of the quiz you'd see which party deserves your vote, as well as how each party scored on each issue.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

The elevator was freshly painted this morning. The smell of paint makes me feel nauseous, so I held my nose as I rode up to my floor. When I got out of the elevator, it occured to me that I should have made it clear to the gentleman who was in the elevator with me that I was holding my nose because of the paint, not because of him.

Monday, June 21, 2004

In honour of one-week-til-election day, my top ten election-related pet peeves:

1. People who vote based on appearances (Oh, he speaks well/Oh, he looks well-groomed) without giving though to matters of policy.

2. A system that does not allow candidates to go off-message, even if it's to answer a voter's questions.

3. The fact that debates are unwatchable. If only they could NOT all talk at once.

4. People who base their strategic votes on national polls instead of riding polls.

5. People who only vote for the candidate that's leading in the polls, regardless of what they stand for, because they think their vote is wasted if it doesn't go to the person who wins.

6. People who vote for the local candidate that they like without even taking into consideration that candidate's party affiliation.

7. Every editorialist and letter-writer who has called me lazy/selfish/self-absorbed/childish/spoiled because members of my peer group don't vote. Yes, I am lazy, selfish, self-absorbed, childish and spoiled, but not because of the voting habits of my peer group! Hell, it isn't even my own voting habits that make me lazy, selfish, self-absorbed, childish and spoiled, or reflect those aspects of my personality.

8. People who don't bother to read parties' platforms and instead vote based on what they assume the platforms are.

9. People who don't consider "Can I, in good conscience, support this party I'm voting for" when casting a strategic vote.

10. The fact that most landlords don't let their tenants put up election signs. Not that I want to put up a sign myself, but it would certainly help evaluate the riding's sentiment.
In GoF, Mrs. Weasley has them eat in the backyard because there just isn't
room for 11 people in their kitchen/dining room. But there are nine people
in the family already! Don't tell me they eat their everyday meals around a
table that's so cramped they can't squeeze an extra two in!

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Helpful hint: attempting complicated hair-removal procedures while all your towels are in the wash is not among the greatest ideas in the history of humanity.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Helpful hint: if the Globe and Mail website insists that you register, dump your cookies and your cache and try again. Worked for me.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

In the bathrooms at work there are these huge-ass rolls of toilet paper. We've been at this location for eight months, and I've never once seen a toilet paper roll that was less than 1/3 full. This would imply that they change the rolls before they near empty. I wonder what they do with all those part-full toilet paper rolls?

I saw a gentleman on the subway who appeared to have a rather severe facial cancer, which deformed his face. I looked at him. Then I looked away so I wouldn't be staring. Then I glanced briefly in his general direction so I wouldn't appear to be avoiding looking at him. I completely forgot how to not-stare-at-someone-but-not-avoid-looking-at-them!
One problem with debates is that there is a certain segment of the population that is inclined to vote based on which leader presents themselves best on TV, rather than on matters of policy. I'm not saying debates are completely without merit, but it is terribly irksome to hear someone say "I'm going to vote for this guy because he speaks well" with no mention whatsoever of his policies.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Project X by Jim Shepard takes us back into that living hell we're all
trying to forget: grade 8. He shows us, in brutal, life-like detail, the
reality of the poor kids at the bottom of the hierarchy. And he takes this,
with a progression that isn't quite logical (it's grade 8 after all) but
that you can totally see how it happens, to a school shooting. Thankfully,
the shooting isn't shown in much great detail.

It has a first-person narration that lacks complete self-awareness, which is
very interesting, and it's painfully realistic. My only complaint is that
the author has not mastered idiomatic use of the quotative "go". He
overuses it and puts it at the end of quotations instead of the beginning
("I'm tired," he goes.). But apart from this terribly distracting habit,
it's an excellent book (and quick too - under 200 pages)

Every summer up until the summer after grade 9, I wore running shoes and
socks during the summer and got a hideous sock tan. I couldn't do anything
about the sock tan, however, because it was too hideous for me to brave
exposing my feet to the general public.

The summer after grade 10, I finally got brave enough to wear sandals in
public, and I've been wearing sandals all summer every summer ever since.
The last time I wore socks outside in the summer was in 1995. So why do I
still have the damn sock tan????

On an unrelated note, every couple of weeks I am accosted on the street by
someone trying to sell me a discount spa package. Do I look like I need a
spa or something? I'd go if it was free, but it isn't something I'd pay

Note to the spa guy at Yonge & Sheppard today: to make your pitch more
effective, you need to:
1) say "Excuse me, ma'am," instead of just "Excuse me" (just excuse me makes
you sound like a lost tourist);
2) have a brochure or some literature in hand, or at least a nametag that
clearly identifies you as a spa employee. Having some random civilian guy
walk up to me and start talking about spa treatments is kind of creepy;
3) be (or at least act) gayer. If I must have a discussion about spa
treatments with a strange man (discussion with a strange man, not spa
treatments with a strange man), it's much more comfortable if he's
reasonably gay. But then that just might be my (politically incorrect,
borderline-objectifying) preference for gay men as customer service

Monday, June 14, 2004

Why does the smell of popcorn stick around in the microwave for longer than
the smell of anything else?

Heard back from the Green candidate. Asked me to call him to discuss the issues I wrote about. Fair enough, but not quite what I was looking for - it seems to me that good public relations would include communicating with the public in the medium of their choice.

However, he loses points for spelling my name with a single letter where there should be a double letter. I hate it when people do that!

Sunday, June 13, 2004

I read all the party platforms, and found that none of them answered all my
specific questions. Yes, they did have general information about how much
money they're going to throw at which programs, but I'm concerned about
issues within issues. For example, rather than how many jobs you're going
to create, I want to know what specific measures you'll take to encourage
businesses to create secure full-time permanent jobs with reasonable pay and
benefits instead of insecure contract positions. None of the party platforms
entirely addressed the specific aspects of the issues I care about the most.

So what I did was I sent an email to each of the four candidates running in
my riding. In this email I made it clear that I had read the platforms and
they didn't provide me the answers I was looking for. Then I asked five
specific questions that I couldn't find the answers to in the platforms. I
sent the same five questions to all the candidates, mentioned that all the
candidates were getting the same questions, and politely asked them to take
a moment out of their campaign to answer my questions.

It did occur to me that I might not get answers from all the candidates,
that I might not get answers from the candidates themselves but rather a
campaign worker, and that this might be irritating the candidates because
some of my questions were off-message. But I thought it important to define
my issues myself rather than letting the parties and the media do it for me,
and also I wanted to see what would happen.

I just got my first response back, from the NDP candidate. He gets points
for being the first to reply, for replying on a Sunday, and for under
24-hour turnaround time. However, all those points are swiftly taken away
because his response consisted of politely suggesting that I read the
platform. GAH! I did read the platform! I told him that! That is not so
very cool.

A lot of people find my blog by googling for "strumpet". Strange thing to google for. They're probably disappointed by what's here.
I hate how newspapers always publish polls indicating "X percent of
Canadians intend to vote for this party." That isn't what matters! What
matters is the number of ridings that are going to elect each party, so what
we need is riding by riding polls. I realize that the popular vote is often
a useful guideline, but it is of no importance whatsoever in situations like
ce que nous vivons, where there is a difference of only a couple of
percentage points between the two leading parties.

Ideally they should publish polls for each riding, if only to remind voters
that their vote only has an effect within their own riding. I'm concerned
front of every newspaper might encourage, for example, voters in Toronto to
vote Liberal so the Tories don't win, which would be a wasted vote if they
live in a riding that would never elect a Tory anyway.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Anyone know which current xian denomination Puritanism evolved into?
What Was She Thinking?: Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller. This book is a
fictional scandal where a high school teacher has an affair with a student,
as documented through the eyes of another teacher, who identifies herself as
the woman's best friend. What is fascinating about the book is that it has
the most unreliable narrator I've ever read, so it doesn't tell us as much
about the teacher who's having the affair as it does about the narrator.
It's all very psychological and handles the squicky subject matter with
excellent discretion. Worth reading even if just to appreciate the literary

Things they should invent: an F to M peeing device. It would be like a
strap-on dildo except the "penis" would be flaccid, and it would also
incorporate a non-invasive funnel-like thing that would cover the female
wearer's urethra. The female wearer would be able to stand up, unzip her
fly, take out the "penis", release her urine normally, and the urine would
come out the end of the "penis". It could also be made of just tubing, with
no attempt to make it physically resemble a penis, for women who want it to
be easier to pee outdoors but have no desire to walk around with male

My computer starts to get sluggish and need rebooting about every 10 days. It doesn't freeze or crash until day 15, but on day 10 I start to notice that its performance is lagging.

Whenever this happens, I get grumpy. Oh, grumble grumble, stupid lazy 5-year-old computer, I should replace it, grumble grumble always needs rebooting grumble grumble.

After a bit of grumbling, I heave a world-weary sigh and start closing all the programs to reboot. When I get to the point where I'm disconnecting my DSL, I finally remember that it has been running for 10 days. Then I get all proud of my computer. Ten days, frequent multi-tasking, running games while Outlook is still checking email once per minute, resource-draining DSL connection software, constantly running a distributed computing program, and it doesn't show any signs of weariness until it's been running for 10 days straight. Not bad for a five-year-old computer!

Friday, June 11, 2004

Last Thursday, June 10, was the one year anniversary of same-sex marriage in
Ontario. While it is important that we continue to lobby for the
legalization of same-sex marriage in parts of the world where it has not yet
been legalized, and while it is important that, when voting in the upcoming
election, we keep in mind the need to get it legalized federally, under the
name marriage, for once and for all, the time has come to stop calling
same-sex marriages "same-sex marriages" and start calling them "marriages".
This is the final step in full equality, to indicate through our use of
language, that a same-sex marriage is just as much of a marriage as an
opposite-sex marriage. It's the same line of thinking that has eliminated
"lady doctor" and "male nurse" from the language.

We should take our cue from the Toronto Star's treatment, several months
back, of the first same-sex marriage involving a member of the Canadian
military. Several other newspapers ran small blurbish articles indicating
that John Doe [I forget his real name], a cadet at RMC, has made history by
marrying Pierre Untel. The Star instead wrote a small article to accompany
a larger article about some concert. They showed a picture of the happy
couple with a caption something like "Newlyweds John Doe, a cadet at RMC,
and Pierre Untel, a whatever his job is, attended whatever this concert is
while on their honeymoon." It looked exactly like one of those "here's
pictures of random people being moderately interesting" pictures. Brilliant

I tried two new wines recently, and, surprisingly, I have teh same thing to say about both of them. The wines are Peter Lehmann Barossa Shiraz and Sumac Ridge Cabernet Merlot. Both of them taste mostly typical for their respective varieties, and they both start with a little "tangy zip" of something that I don't like very much. Unfortunately I don't know the word for the aspect I don't like, but you do become accustomed to that aspect after a few sips and then they are both perfectly serviceable reds. The unpleasant aspect may be cancelled out with appropriate food pairings, but I don't know how to do that.
I would just like to remind everyone involved in public discourse: there is
a world of difference between using referenda and free votes to make
decisions that either could give people further rights and freedoms or would
have no effect on rights and freedoms, and using free votes and referenda to
make decisions that could take away existing rights and freedoms.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

If your address book contains my home email address and the email address of
someone named Cindy who works for the Toronto District School Board, you
have a virus on your computer. This has been a public service announcement.

Note to self: next time you think you've lost the foil things for the stove
burners, try looking in the cupboard above the stove.

I suppose you know the world really considers you a grownup when your alma
mater starts sending you fundraising solicitations.

An unfortunately-named right-wing organization recently came out in support of the idea of legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana, which is surprising considering this organization's usual stance on things.

Now I have no problem with the idea, it seems like the kind of thing that could make everyone happy. However, they're going to have quite a challenge creating a regulation and taxation system that is easy and convenient enough both for suppliers and for users that they decide to come out from underground. We already have a very effective system for underground distribution of marijuana, but if there's too much red tape or regulated prices are too high, people might just continue to use the black market. I'm sure some people would use legal channels just because they are legal, but one might reasonably assume that most current users and suppliers consider the questionable legality of their activities to be an acceptable risk. Any new regulation system would have to be worth their while.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Proof that politics has taken a sharp swing to the right?

I did the 2004 Vote Selector, and it gave me, among other things, 38% for the Liberal party. Then I did the 2000 Vote Selector, using the knowledge and opinions that I have today, and it gave me, among other things, 50% for the TORIES! This would imply that the 2000 Tories are further left than today's Liberals! GAH!

I'd be interested in knowing if it does the same thing for anyone else, if you take both quizzes today using the knowledge and opinions that you have today.
I'm in a petty, bitchy mood, so here's a list of random things piss me off:

1. The weather. It does not need to be above 30 degrees, at all, ever.

2. Sporadic floaters in my eyes. I keep thinking I see something small moving out of the corner of my eye. Not a good thing when you have insect phobia.

3. Blog/LJ entries where the writer namedrops every person they know, usually all written in one big long paragraph. You don't need to name every person who was there last night, it just comes across as "OMG, look at me, I know so many people!" There's really no excuse for using more than five names to tell a story.

4. Unfocused writing in general. Especially when it crosses my desk for translation.

5. Grownups who get pissed off at their kids because they (the kids) demonstrate intelligence. Like their kid is an activist and cares passionately about their cause of choice, and the parents say disapprovingly "Well, when I was your age, the most important thing I worried about was whether I'd have a date for Saturday night."

6. Adults who claim that they would rather be a teenager than an adult. The first sign of aging is that you look back on your highschool self and don't shudder.

7. The fact that subway stations were designed without consideration for people who might be walking up the stairs wearing a skirt.

8. Radio commercials

9. People who incorporate religion into HP fanfic for no good reason. Particularly when they have religion in every single aspect of every single scene! To me, that shows a serious lack of imagination, if you can't write even one scene of a secular fictional universe without viewing it through a xian filter!

10. Did I mention the weather?

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Because I had no internet with me in Quebec, I had time to finish three

1. Brick Lane by Monica Ali: a rich, brilliant, detailed story of a
Bangladesh woman in an arranged marriage sent to live in England, and the
resulting culture clash. The author is incredibly observant, giving us a
setting so thick with detail that we can practically smell it! The plot and
characterization are realistic, the ending is satisfying, and I felt myself
still caring about the characters after the book ended, and wondering what
happens to them next. (Aside: I wonder if authors know what happens to
their characters after books end?)

2. Cosmopolis by Don Delillo: a witty satire/allegory of the dot com boom
and bust. All the action takes place during one drive across New York City,
all the characters are insane, and the whole thing feels unintentionally
hilarious, as though the author thinks he's serious. Very quick and easy to

3. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon:
brilliant, definitely lives up to the hype. Portrays Asperger's quite
realistically for an author who claims to have done no research. The plot
is compelling, the point of view is enlightening, the characters are all
realistic, and it is often sweet and often hilarious. The only problem is
that the jacket flap blurb gives away a key clue to solving the mystery, and
it would be much more interesting to read the book without that piece of
information and see how quickly you can solve it. Read this book if you
haven't already, but don't read the jacket flap. I just have one question:
how did he know to pick that particular right-angle triangle?

My U of T student number starts with 99. Is that because I finished high
school in 99, or does it mean something else, or is it just a coincidence?
I'm asking because I find it very odd that they'd number me as though I
started at U of T out of high school.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

On VIA 1, (which, by the way, is god), there are attendants at the entrance
to each train car to help you lug your baggage up the stairs onto the train.
Generally these attendants are men in suits, but on my train ride home the
attendant at the entrance of my car was a woman wearing a skirt and heels.

I am quite capable of lugging my own suitcase, but generally I let the
attendant do the tricky part of getting it up the stairs because that's what
they're there for and I'm lazy. However, since this attendant was wearing a
skirt and I was wearing pants, I told her I didn't need help. This is just
the way I do things - I relieve other people of heavy lifting and other
awkward physical labour if they are wearing a skirt or other cumbersome
clothing in the hopes that this karma will come back to me when I'm in a
skirt and heels.

So after I've dealt with my suitcase and settled into my seat, this
attendant comes up to me and asks me to follow her to the front of the car
so she can show me how to work the emergency exits. It turns out that on
trains there needs to be a passenger who knows how to open each emergency
door, just like on airplanes the passengers next to the doors need to know
how to open them. So I go along and learn how to open the door. However, I
found it odd that she had asked me. With my high-maintenance appearance,
scrawny little arms and dumpy middle, I hardly come across as the type you'd
want to go charging to the rescue in an emergency situation. "Well," she
explained, "As you see, it takes some physical strength to open this door
manually, and you're the only passenger on the train right now who is able
to carry their own suitcase."

Moral of the story: pretend to be weak and helpless on VIA rail.

I am back, I do have stories, I'm just too lazy to type them all out now.

I'm just posting to let anyone looking for work know that there's employment to be had with Elections Canada.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

There's a school of thought that if there is a crisis, and there is nothing
you can do personally to help with the crisis, your course of action should
be to redouble your efforts to do whatever it is you normally do to
contribute to society, with the idea being that at least that one aspect of
the universe will run smoothly.

I think my digestive system subscribes to this policy. It can sense that
I'm nervous, it can't do anything about it, so it responds by increasing
productivity. Unfortunately, that is not helpful at all.

On that note, I'm off. Wish me luck!

I'm not doing so well. I'm nervous because I'm leaving tomorrow. I hate
travelling. I'll be fine once I'm on the train. Then I'll either be fine
or nervous once I'm in the hotel. Then I'll be nervous as hell all the next
morning until I've met my contact person (whose name they haven't yet
deigned to tell me!). Then I'll be fine. Then I'll be briefly nervous until
I make my train home. Then I'll be content. Malheureusement, despite my
awareness of the process, I can't turn it off. Mergle. I should go to bed.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

"And I nodded because that didn't count as being a detective" - the curious
incident of the dog in the night-time

I love this book!