Sunday, October 31, 2004

Polish mnemonics:

tani = cheap because people with tans look cheap
drogi = expensive because drugs are expensive
maz = husband because of the French word it sounds like
smutny = sad because smut is just sad
chory = sick because it sounds like coughing something up
zielony = green because jello is green
Okay, it's been a while and I don't remember. Anyone remember how long it
usually takes to determine the winner of a US election under normal

Saturday, October 30, 2004

As I'm walking down the stairs into Museum subway station, I see this little
dog walking down the other stairs across from me. Then I see two more
little dogs following it. Then there's this guy carrying another little
dog, then three more little dogs after him.

They all walk into the station, and a few of the dogs walk right under the
turnstiles. I thought for a second they were escaping, so I grab my
metropass and swipe my way into the station, prepared to catch them if
necessary. But the owner just casually makes his way to the booth and
fumbles through his pocket for change while the rest of the dogs
nonchalantly walk under the turnstile. Then they all make their way down
the stairs together. The stairs look a bit difficult for such little dogs,
but they all manage just fine.

The guy sits down on a bench on the platform, and all the dogs just mill
around him, casually sniffing stuff. They aren't on leashes or anything,
but they're really well-trained - they don't run away or wander too close to
the tracks or bark or even pay any attention to all the other people on the
platform, most of whom are fascinated by this big clump of dogginess.

Unfortunately, my train came at that point. I guess the dogs were going in
the other direction because they didn't get on the same train as me, so I
didn't get to see how they all managed that. In retrospect I should have
followed them to see what happened.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

There's an ad on the subway advertising Mark's Work Wearhouse. It gleefully
announces that the store is conveniently located "halfway between Leslie and
Bessarion subway stations!"

Um, that's not helpful. To be helpful to subway riders, you need to be AT a
subway station. In fact, that's as unhelpful as you can be while still
being on a subway line.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

The mnemonic for a Quebec and au Quebec:

Au contains a
The province of Quebec contains Quebec City
Therefore, au Quebec is the province, and a Quebec is the city.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Wynns Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon is a very yummy cab. sauv.! It's smooth
and creamy and fruity and berry-y, and not at all tannic (which should be a
word if it isn't already). This one definitely goes on the "to try again"

Monday, October 25, 2004

Suppose you had a piece of toilet paper that didn't have waste matter on it,
but needed to be disposed of. Maybe you'd used it to blow your nose or wipe
up some stray water droplets. Would it be better for the environment to put
it in the toilet (and not flush the toilet until the next time you needed to
flush), or to put it in the garbage?

This is the city we could have.
I solved a tech problem for a co-worker today - by knowing the answer, not
by guessing. And I got the highest mark in the class on our first test.

I'm glad that a year spent sitting in a cubicle hasn't eroded my
non-major-related skills from uni!

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Wondrous Strange: The Life and Art of Glenn Gould by Kevin Bazzana

This is a very long, detailed biography of Glenn Gould. I've never been a huge Gould fan - I have some of his recordings in my MP3 player, but I'm too young to really know why he's a phenomenon - but this book was still very interesting to me. It describes his childhood, the development of his career as a concert pianist and recording artist and his later ventures into various media, as well as his lifestyle, interpersonal relationships, health problems, and numerous eccentricities.

It was fascinating to read about why exactly Gould was a shock to the classical music establishment, although it sounds kind of funny on paper from a 21st century mindset (he changed tempos! **gasp!**). What was particularly cool for me was to see connections between Glenn Gould's world and my own world. I have some of the same eccentricities as he does so I could see where he was coming from, and most of the Toronto geography in the book deals with places I've been to at one time or another. Turns out I've passed his apartment several times! It was also interesting to read about his other projects in addition to classical music, the most interesting of which is the whole concept of contrapuntal radio.

The only potential problem with this book is that the author writes as if you know what he's talking about. He uses French-language quotations without providing translations, name-drops Toronto streets without providing a map, and assumes the reader knows such music theory and history concepts as the difference between Baroque and Romantic, twelve-tone harmony, and fugue and counterpoint. This did not present a problem for me, but it might present a problem for a reader who isn't already familiar with these things.

I look in the mirror, and I notice that there is enough extra room in the
back of my jeans that an onlooker can no longer tell precisely where, how,
and at what sort of curve or angle my buttocks merge with my thighs.

Last April these jeans were so tight that I couldn't sit in them

I feel accomplished.

The one thing I understand least about anti-bilingualism is the people who say that requiring bilingualism for certain government jobs is discrimination against people who don't come from bilingual cultural backgrounds. I know that language is closely associated with culture and one's cultural background has a definite influence on one's first language, but the way some people are making a fuss you'd think that it is humanly impossible to learn a language. I wonder why they don't view it as just another skill to be learned in the classroom?

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Como Sur Merlot is very complex - fruity and chocolaty and some other things
I can't describe. Unfortunately, there's also a hint of what tastes like
tannin. I'm not sure if there actually can be tannin in merlot, but that's
what I'm tasting, and the wine could be a lot better without it.

In re: the Princess Diaries:

If she has naturally frizzy hair, shouldn't it all frizz up in the rain no
matter how many straightening products are applied to it?

I saw a lady try to take a urine sample of a doggie! She took the doggie
for walkies, and when he went to pee she had this specimen container and was
trying to catch the pee in the container! That was the funniest thing I've
seen in a while.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Things they should invent: a word for people who only eat meat that a human
can kill with their bare hands.

I don't know if this exists as a nutritional philosophy, but it should.


There seems to be a sort of archetype/cultural construct that your teen
years are supposed to be "the best years of your life", and they're just
full of non-stop fun.

However, in real life, I've never heard of anyone who thought their teen
years were their best years of their life. Everyone I've discussed this
topic with seems to agree that their teen years ranged from purgatory to
hell, and the freedom of adulthood is in all ways preferable.

My theory is that whoever started this rumour that teen years are the best
years of your life was trying to hide the fact that their adolescence was a
living hell. Perhaps they never saw what became of their peers, and
therefore believed (as we tend to do in our adolescent insecurity) that
everyone else was having a wonderful time. So then this mysterious
rumour-originator had children of their own, or perhaps was exposed to
children another way (perhaps even became a high-school teacher?) They
didn't want the kids to know they hadn't been cool in high school, so they
told the story that they believed that the "cool kids" had experienced: that
these are the best years of your life. Somehow it oozed its way into
culture, resulting in this dubious adage that makes adolescents even more

Monday, October 18, 2004

I came very very close to buying a bright red cloche hat at a ludicrious price today. (Un)fortunately, it was too small. However, I still need a hat.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler is a very pleasant book, generally positive (although not all flowers and sunshine and perkiness), engaging and easy to read. I quite enjoyed it. However, I don't think I got the full benefit because, sloth that I am, I've never quite gotten around to reading Austen. I'm sure there was subtext lurking around for those who have read Austen, and I'm sure I completely missed it.
I honestly have no idea if this person is serious or not.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

I was in the subway, sitting in the seat closest to the door. Two cops get on and stand on either side of the door I was sitting next to, leaning against the plexiglass. The cop closest to me was wearing a gun on his belt, so there was nothing but a layer of plexiglass between me and a gun! I have never been that close to a firearm before in my life, nor do I ever want to again. And no, I have no idea why these cops were taking the subway.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

I often talk about incorporating into my bathroom such luxuries as a fireplace, internet access, or a bathtub big enough for two, but a more practical small luxury that I would really enjoy is a heated towel rack. They have them everywhere in the UK (or at least did like 10 years ago), but I've never seen one in Canada. I'm sure they aren't the best thing for the environment, but on a chilly grumpy morning the idea of stepping out of the shower into a hot towel is the stuff of fantasy.
I wonder why on MASH Margaret always wears her mask with the strings
crossed, but Hawkeye always wears the top string on the top and the bottom
string on the bottom

Monday, October 11, 2004

Last week, we got an email notice at work reminding everyone to wear their security badges and saying that security would be checking our badges on a random basis. I also noticed that they had a guard stationed near the tunnel from the building to the subway.

I wonder if there's some security threat I don't know about?
The Best Thing For You by Annabelle Lyons

This book consists of three novellas. The first one - the story of parents dealing with their adolescent son, who has been charged with the cruel beating of a disabled man - is very well done, realistic and poignant. However, the other two novellas are rather forgettable - I didn't find myself eager to read more. Get it from the library if it seems interesting, but it's not worth buying.
Stupid conspiracy theory of the moment:

During the last US election, many people were repeating an old urban legend
that there is a curse on all presidents elected in a year ending in 0. All
these presidents have died in office or have had an attempt on their life.

This has not yet happened to George W. Bush. Therefore, if he does not die
and no attempt is made on his life before the US election, he will be
re-elected so that curse can be fulfilled.

Disclaimer: this blog does not advocate attempting to influence the outcome
of elections through the use of violence.

Things They Should Invent (or perhaps they already have but I don't know
about it): A website where people register things they would buy if they
were available on eBay.

I have occasionally considered selling something on eBay. Whenever this
occurs to me, I search eBay for the item that I'm selling to see how much it
goes for. What usually happens is I don't see the item I'm thinking of
selling, so I assume that no one is buying it. However, it's quite possible
that there are willing buyers, it's just that no one happens to be selling
that particular item at the moment. If the website I propose existed, I
could just check that site and see if anyone was interested in buying that
item even if there weren't any of said item for sale on eBay at the moment.

When I decide to post my item for sale, I could click on something that
would alert the people who said they would buy it to the existence of my
auction. If this site were directly affiliated with eBay, the potential
buyers could be automatically alerted when an auction they're interested in
appears (even if the seller doesn't look at the potential buyer site), and
unsuccessful bidders could choose to be automatically listed as interested
in buying that item next time one comes on sale.

You know how there used to be (or maybe still are - I don't watch a lot of
television) commercials saying that Credit Card X is accepted at more places
than any other card?

Why would it be at all preferable for a business to NOT accept all three
major credit cards? Wouldn't they lose customers that way? I know I
recently stumbled upon an online store that only accepted American Express,
and if they had had something I wanted to buy, no matter how badly I wanted
to buy it, I would not have been able to do so because I don't have an
American Express card. How is this in any way a good business practice?

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Attention salespeople: it is generally more tactful to wait until the customer has left the store before you start gloating about the big-ass commission you're going to be getting from that sale.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Things They Should Invent: Urban landscaping based on leaf colour

I grew up right under the Niagara Escarpment, and every fall around this time we'd get a full blast of various different colours of trees. Now I'm in Toronto, and when I look out my window the only colour I see is yellow. No beautiful reds and oranges, no giant flame-like progression.

So I propose that when planning what kinds of trees to plan in urban areas, they should take into account the need for an attractive variety of fall colours.
Attention news media:

J.K. Rowling did not say that someone is going to die in Half Blood Prince. The question was worded as follows:
Q: Are you going to kill any more characters?

A: Yes, sorry

It said nothing about Book 6. All this says is that there will be at least one more death in the series.

And this isn't even news. It was clearly established in Order of the Phoenix that Harry must either kill Voldemort or be killed by him. Since it would be incredibly stupid to write seven books and not wrap up the main plot, we can reasonably assume that this will happen before the end of Book 7. So we already know that there has to be another death!

Friday, October 08, 2004


Why WordPerfect annoys me: if you have some text highlighted, you can't
toggle between typeover/non-typeover with the insert key. It just doesn't
do anything


I'm not all that fond of k.d. lang
I'm not all that fond of Leonard Cohen
I'm not all that fond of religious connotations

But I am surprisingly impressed by k.d. lang's cover of Leonard Cohen's

It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, the major lift,
the baffled king composing Hallelujah...


I am extremely happy with my prof's teaching methods. I find that her tests
are reasonable and she makes a good transition from topic to topic that
seems like logical building on what we know. We learn vocabulary in natural
theme-related sets (numbers, colours, foods, days of the week), and she
focuses on case endings and typical natural sentences using those cases, so
that if need be I can take the sentences she teaches us and plug in my own
words from the dictionary.

However, I seem to be the only one in the class who is happy with her
teaching. Other people complain that she teaches too much written and not
enough conversation (I thought the class was heavy on conversation and light
on writing - we don't even need to be able to spell yet!), and they fault
her for her imperfect spoken English, even though she understands us
perfectly and can explain concepts in English.

I'm wondering why I feel differently about her teaching. Perhaps it's
because I'm the only one with a background in linguistic theory? Perhaps
it's because I came into this class with the least prior knowledge? Perhaps
it's because I have spent more time studying languages than most people and
am acutely aware of what kind of information I need, and therefore am aware
that she is giving me exactly the right information?

Thursday, October 07, 2004

1. Sometimes when I walk through the subway station and a busker is playing danceable music, I feel the urge to dance my way through the concourse. But that works much better if you have a dance partner, and I've yet to experience the convergence of a suitable dance partner and a danceable busker.

2. They should invent a Trillian for file-sharing programs.

3. Overheard: "That dog is so 80s!" I didn't see the dog in question.
Brinksmanship = not cool.

Really, I'd like to see a little more consensus building so we don't have to worry about government falling every time there's a disagreement. The Liberals should have actively tried to reach a compromise rather than screaming "CONFIDENCE VOTE! CONFIDENCE VOTE!" And the Tories and Bloc shouldn't be amending the throne speech just to throw their weight around.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

At work today, I encountered the term "carottes purees".

My first thought was pureed carrots. So I googled "pureed carrots" to see if there was such a thing. I got about 700 results. However, I noticed that most of them had to do with baby food. Since my text wasn't about baby food, I decided to google "pureed carrots" -baby to see what there was about pureed carrots for grownups. Surprisingly, I got over 5,000 results.

Logically that doesn't seem right, does it?

Saturday, October 02, 2004

A Carnivore's Inquiry by Sabina Murray is a total waste of time. Read the dust jacket, read the first 12 pages, and it becomes completely obvious what's going to happen for the rest of the book. It's poorly organized, the reader doesn't react to things the way the author intends, and the plot is utterly transparent from the outset. Don't bother.
People are always talking about how renewable energy is important because we're going to run out of fossil fuels for energy sources.

It occurred to me yesterday that renewable energy is also important because we need oil to make plastics out of. I don't think we have an alternative to plastics yet, but we do have alternatives to fossil fuels. Therefore, we should be preserving our oil for plastics. is selling LOTR:ROTK extended edition for $38.47. On, orders under $39 ship for free. So I get this "Add 53 cents to your order for free shipping!" message. I swear, they priced it just under $39 on purpose, so they could collect the shipping fees from everyone!

Friday, October 01, 2004

What's up with U of T having all its washrooms in basements?