Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Things They Should Invent:

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

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

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

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

I think I'm going to cry.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, September 25, 2004

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

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

Friday, September 24, 2004

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

I am a geek because:

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

Sunday, September 19, 2004

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

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

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

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

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

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

When I was a child, I was taught that you write out a rough draft with a pencil and paper, and then type it up when you're done.

Now, on those increasingly rare occasions where etiquette requires a hand-written letter, I type up a rough draft in Word, edit it until I'm satisfied, and then copy out the final version by hand.
In the interest of general public safety, OHIP should cover eye exams for all drivers who are required to wear corrective lenses as a condition of their licence.
For my own reference, the books whose reviews I lost in the whole mail-to-blog debacle:

The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch: Good concept, would have been much better if it had focused on Eliza Lynch instead of that doctor guy.

Muriella Pent: I'm not the target audience of this novel and am unfamiliar with the culture that it is satiring (can satire be used as a verb?)

The Lucky Ones: Excellent tying together of the various threads of the story, but I'm not the best audience for vast reflections on parenthood.

The Ultras: Meh.

The Collected Stories of Carol Shields: Some excellent short stories, but most are rather meh. Less humour or irony than I'm used to in short stories. The best one is Absence.
FYI: Eye exams are covered by OHIP until Nov. 1, not July 1 as originally planned.
I just had a really bizarre dream. It started at my Babcia's house, where some of my cousins and I were trying to get rid of an infestation of Creatures (these Creatures had a name that corresponded with the name of a real life animal that might infest a house, but I forget what the name was). Although all these Creatures were apparently of the same species, no two looked alike. Some were large white gelatinous blobs, and some where small insects in a ludicrious shade of purple. You got rid of them by sprinking confetti on them, which made them disappear.

Then I turned into Bucky Katt from Get Fuzzy. Because of something stupid Bucky/I had said (Bucky said it before I became him), I had to climb up on this huge arch made of scaffold (it resembled the arch on top of the Skyway Bridge, except the scaffolding went all the way down to the water below) and jump off into the water. So I climbed to the very top of the bridge, held on with my hands and hung down, then let go. I plunged straight down into the water. As I sank, I remembered that I should make the vertical "footprint" of my body wider, so as to slow the sinking, but I couldn't. I tried to swim upwards, but vaguely remembered that you might lose your sense of orientation when underwater and you should open your eyes and swim towards the light. Unfortunately, I've lost my ability to open my eyes underwater. I suddenly found myself having to breathe, but still underwater. Then I woke up.

When I woke up, I was filled with doubt about whether I can still swim at all. It has been year's since I've gone swimming, and even longer since I've swum properly instead of just splashing around in a pool. I have no idea if I'd drown or not if forced to jump into the water. I wonder if my building's pool is still open?

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Sprechen Sie Deutschland?

At my previous job, I was once having a conversation in English with a francophone co-worker, and he mentioned something about "speaking Germany". I started laughing. Not at his mistake, but because I always do the same thing in French: I confuse the words "Allemand" (Germany) with "allemagne" (German). When I quickly reassured him that I wasn't laughing at him but at the apparent universality of this error, he just stared at me. "You mean there are two words?"

So the other day it occurred to me to Google the phrase "speak Germany" and see what came up. Turns out a lot of people seem to make that error. :)

If you arrived here at my blog trying to find a solution to this problem, Germany is the place, and German is the adjective and the language.

Pour les francophones, "Germany" est le pays, parce que l'on peut y aller.

Friday, September 17, 2004

If they put you under general anaesthetic, when you wake up do you feel like
you've slept?

Thursday, September 16, 2004

A poll:

Suppose you were buying a new computer today. Would you get one with a floppy disk drive?
The problem
With the Bloor line platform
Of St. George station
Is that
There are no arrows
In the direction
That the train is going.

One wants to know
Which way the train is going
So one can get on the front of the train
Or the back of the train
Or the second car in front of the DWA
Or whichever car is nearest
To the most convenient stairs
At one's destination station.

We cannot do this
Without arrows.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

I think school is good for me. The whole "sitting through classes and doing homework" thing satisfies some Aspie need for order. Plus, forcibly delaying my arrival home for another two hours puts me at an optimal level of tiredness come bedtime.
Crazy poll of the moment:

How long has it been since you last vomited? I haven't vomited in 10
years. Can anyone beat that?

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

I had to make a personal phone call that I didn't want my co-workers to overhear. So before class, I went to the park part of Queen's Park, found an isolated bench, and made my call. Then I left Queen's Park promptly and went to class.

And my arms and legs are covered in bug bites! I was there for under 15 minutes! And, to add insult to injury, the party I called wasn't even there!

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Attention prank phone call people: I don't know from personal experience, but I'm sure the people who are responsible for making arrangement for the delivery of porn don't refer to it as "porn" when talking to their customers. Especially when the supposed customer is male and the person who answers the phone is female. Get a plausible situation already!
All the patron saints in the world! Catholicism must be terribly interesting to those who have never had the misfortune to be bound by it.

I think I am going to adoptSt. Dominic of Silos, patron saint against insects.
A poll! In all cases, this is for people a) who do not live with the person in question, b) who are not estranged from the person in question, and, of course, c) for whom the person in question is still alive:

How often do you talk to:

1. Your parents
2. Your siblings
3. Your grandparents
4. Your aunts, uncles, and cousins
I got free cat food with my morning paper. So what do I do with it? Leave it in the lobby with a note: "Cat owners: help yourselves"

ETA: Further problem: My newspaper smells like cat food

Saturday, September 11, 2004

I've lost like three blog entries. And I have a zit under the nosepad of my glasses.
I tend to comma heavily. The person who edits most of my work at work tends to comma lightly. Since he is responsible for editing my work, he tends to remove any commas that are not strictly necessary. As a result, I'm starting to find myself inclined to remove any commas that are not strictly necessary when revising my own work! GAH! My commaing habits have been corrupted!

Friday, September 10, 2004

I wonder if there have been any attempts at airplane terrorism since Sept. 11?
On MASH, they got some newspaper's and it's a big deal. Everyone is swarming the newspapers asking for the sections they want. One guy says "Give me the classifieds, I need a job!"

Um, you're in the army, you have a job...
Malheureusement, I find myself thinking about US politics again. Three points:

1. I find it strange that quite a few political critics point at US politicians and say "I don't see your kids in the military!" as though having kids in the military is a demonstration of the politician's virtue. Now, I realize that someone whose kids are in the military is likely to be less frivolous about military deployment, but the fact remains that a politician's children are completely separate people from the politician. They are not some artificial extension of their parents. An adult child's career path is in no way a manifestation of their parent's virtue or lack thereof. What the critics should be focusing on instead is the politician's own career path. "I don't see you on the front lines!" I wish they'd stop making an issue of politicians' children's lives, so that the poor kids can live their lives on their own terms instead of being pressured to live in a way that's politically appealing.

2. Canadians: I'm sure you've noticed by now that any time anyone publicly utters anything that's anything less than audulatory of any US policy, someone writes a letter to the editor screaming "ANTI-AMERICANISM!" Have you ever noticed that the vast majority of these things that are being decried as anti-American are things that we'd just laugh at if they came out of the US?

3. Bloggers have probably alread seen it, but this article is particularly interesting. You'd think that if someone was going to forge a document as typewritten, they'd either a) use a typewriter, or b) use a font where all the letters have equal spacing (and I know there's a cool word for that, but I forget). More valuable commentary here.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004


My feet hurt.

I got these lovely comfy new shoes. There was a bit of extra space, so I
thought I needed insoles (it's one of those things that my parents drilled
got lovely comfy gel insoles. I put the insoles in my shoes and set off to

As I walked down the street, I noticed that my feet hurt. It seems the
insoles had made the space inside my shoes too short, vertically speaking,
so the tops of my feet were pressed against the "roof" of the shoe. It was
raining so I couldn't sit down on a bench, and you don't just take your
shoes off on the subway, so I couldn't take the insoles out until I got to
work. And by the time I got to work blisters had formed on the top of my
toes, and then burst open.

So now I have open weeping sores on the tops of my toes, and all my shoes
cover that particular part of my toes, so I'll have to be in pain for a few
days, unless I decide to drop out of society and stay home with my feet up,
which is becoming increasingly tempting by the moment. And I'm seriously
considering dropping my class just to avoid the pain of walking the block
and a half from the nearest subway station to the building where my class
is. That's one advantage of taking classes - four days a week, the amount
of walking and stair-climbing I do daily is increased by 50%, which is a
good thing unless your feet are in constant pain.

This is probably the most pain I've been in as a result of shoe problems,
which is ironic considering that these shoes are perfectly flat, made of
leather, and have good supportive straps. I would have been more
comfortable if I had worn my 4-inch heels.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

A poll: you're wearing khaki pants and black shoes. Your socks might show when you sit down. What colour socks do you wear?

Monday, September 06, 2004

I'll be back when the day is new
And I will have more ideas for you
And you'll have things you'll want to talk about
I will too
- the closing song of Mr. Rogers
Odd, we always ended up talking about the things he wanted to talk about, we never got to talk about the things I wanted to talk about.
Too hot. Too too hot. Shouldn't the humidity have had the decency to break by this hour?

Sunday, September 05, 2004

A discovery: turning on the fan above the stove (which is located right by the ceiling) helps cool the apartment, presumably by sucking out some of the hot air.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Things I don't understand about American politics:

1. Why do presidential candidates' families need to be so visible? Why are
people entitled, or even required, to give a speech at a party convention
just because they happen to be related to a candidate?

2. A lot of the commentary I'm seeing about the Republican convention says
they're trying to shift to the centre, but there's concern that the more
right-wing neocons will feel alienated. Why are they concerned about that?
Who else do they think the neocons are going to vote for? It seems to me
that if all the parties are to the left of you, you don't really have any
choice but to vote for the right-most party.

3. There seem to be some people saying that John Kerry was not entitled to
protest the Vietnam war. But it's a fact of public record that he was in
the Vietnam war. If fighting in combat in a war doesn't give a person the
right to protest that war, by those people's standards, what does?

A Tourist's Guide to Glengarry by Ian Mcgillis.

A nine-year-old boy tries to write a book by writing down everything that happens in one day. However, the day he chooses turns out to be one of the most eventful days of his life. I love this book because everything that happens is perfectly realistic and captures the perpetual confusion of being nine. Quite often, books where children have adventures give the protagonists an excessive amount of freedom and insight. This book does not fall into that trap, and is the better for it. The only thing the protagonist can do that I couldn't at age nine is wander freely around his neighbourhood at any time of the day or night, but that's perfectly plausible for his era and his location. A really sweet story, and a quick read at just over 200 pages.
If you threw a party, and invited everyone you knew, you would see the biggest gift would be from me and the card attached would say "Thank you for being a friend."

- Theme from The Golden Girls

When I was a kid, I thought this was a plausible situation. But as an adult I look at it and wonder under what circumstances a grown adult would be giving a party for themselves where everyone brings gifts. Birthdays, maybe, maybe not. Strange

Friday, September 03, 2004

It's too hot and my air conditioning is broken! (Fun fact: every possible way you can reasonably typo the word broken ends up looking Scandinavian). I've been diligently cooling my apartment the best I can using The Power of Science! (TM), but the people downstairs don't seem to be doing the same thing. I can feel the heat radiating up from the floor! GAH, stupid convection!

Thursday, September 02, 2004

This morning, I heard parts of that American Republican Convention thing on the radio. Maybe it's just me, maybe it's because I've never been to a party convention, maybe it's because I was hearing the audio without seeing the images, but it sounded an awful lot like what I'd imagine frat boys at a football game sound like.

Is that really what people want in a political party?

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

From the Brilliant Ideas That Will Never Work file:

People who intentionally infect others with HIV should, as part of their punishment, be required to get I AM HIV POSITIVE tattooed on or near their genitals, in such a way that it can easily be read and is not obscured by body hair.