Monday, May 29, 2006

Things They Should Invent: don't consider others overpaid

The TTC strike has raised the usual complaints about TTC workers being overpaid. Personally I don't think they are, but that's not the point today. My point today is that almost all of us, with the exception of the independently wealthy, are workers. We all are or would be dependent on wages or salary to support ourselves. Therefore, it is not in our best interest to lobby for wages or salary to be lower anywhere, at all. In this economy where no one can expect to have a job for life, we should look upon all jobs in existence as potential employment opportunities for ourselves.

Do you think you could do a TTC job easily? If so, then it's a good thing that they exist and they are paid a decent wage, because when you lose your job, that's one more potential employer you can apply to. If you lobby for the TTC people to be paid less, that will simply result in more low-paying and fewer well-paying jobs available when you next need to look for work. Unable or unwilling to do a TTC job? Then you should still be glad they exist, because every TTC employee and would-be TTC employee is one person who isn't looking for work in the pool of jobs you are able and willing to do. If they suddenly started earning less, some of them might leave the TTC and wander onto your turf, making it more difficult for you to find work.

If you're thinking "Look what these TTC people are earning! I'm not earning nearly as much and my job is harder!" then you should be lobbying for your job to pay you more, not for the TTC people to be paid less. As workers, we should all be pushing for improved compensation in all jobs, not lesser compensation.

Not as bad as it could be

I wasn't closely following the news yesterday, and I woke up this morning at the latest hour possible because the heat was making it difficult to sleep, so I had no forewarning that the TTC was on strike. However, thanks to the leet organizational skills of our admin team head, as well as the fact that one of my fellow English translators lives close enough to walk to work, I am working from home today. Good thing too - the last time there was the threat of a TTC strike, I had the crazy idea of walking two hours to work, but given today's heat and the fact that my right foot has easily gotten cranky ever since I injured it last summer, it doesn't seem like such a good idea to walk four hours roundtrip today. I'm sure my parents would find that a failing of character, but that's their problem.

My air conditioning isn't on yet (hopefully the supers will have mercy and turn it on today, even though they aren't required to do so until June), but with a fan blowing at me and an icepack on my lap, it's certainly bearable.

As Poodle would say, life is good.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Brilliant Ideas that will Never Work: mandatory Nationstates for all politicans

Everyone in the world who is or wants to be a politican should be required to have a Nationstate that they run in accordance with their own politcial beliefs. The Nationstate should be named with the politician's own name, so people can find it easily, and then everyone could see what kind of country they want to run.


Sometimes people complain that other people are "moping around".

Seems a strange thing to complain about if you think about it. Moping is not deliberate. It is the result of being sad/pensive/upset about something. It seems weird to complain that someone else is sad, especially to complain like they're doing intentionally for the express purpose of making your life less pleasant.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

I don't like where For Better or For Worse is going

The latest arc in FBOFW has Liz uncertain about living in the North and wanting to move back down south into a nice suburban existence (it has been mentioned before that she'll be working in Mississauga in the summer, that's where I'm getting suburban from).

I don't like this. I'll be the first to admit that, as an individual, Liz totally has the right to be uncertain or change her life direcction whenever she wants. I would not hesitate to advise any of my peers that none of the career decisions they make now need to be permanent.

However, I've always perceived Elizabeth as an everywoman. She's my precise age and demographic - when I was little, I called the comic strip "Elizabeth" - so I've always taken her to be somewhat representative of me. My own life has been plagued with people treating my major life choices like they're "just a phase" [insert smiling knowingly over my head]. I strongly feel that what I do and where I live are perfectly right for me - and I have been striving to live and earn my living this way for the past almost 10 years - so it's very tiresome and even a wee bit dehumanizing when people assume that one day I'm going to wake up, find a nice engineer or MBA, move to a big house in the suburbs, and start squeezing out kids and spending my weekends doing home maintenance. Similarly, Elizabeth has always been passionate about teaching in the North, and by having her suddenly, apropos of nothing, want to go back to 905, it feels like Lynn Johnston is dismissing her passion for the North as "just a phase - she went off and had her little adventure and now she's back to normal life." And, by emotional extrapolation, it feels like she's being similarly dismissive of all my and my peers' life choices that don't follow the exact path she would have set out herself.

It feels almost judgemental of the fact that different people have different needs from their career and their lives, it feels like the author is sitting there with a smug, superior smile passing judgement on anyone who dares make different life choices than their parents. I grew up with this comic strip, it's always the first one I look at when I open the paper or go online, when I create SimPattersons I always play the Elizabeth character. I don't like getting these feelings from a comic strip that has always figured so strongly in my psyche.


It seems they no longer make blades for my razor (which I guess is to be expected, since I've been using the same one for almost 15 years). So now I need a new one.

My choices are Schick Quattro and Gilette Venus. The Quattro has four blades, but has protective wires over the blades. In my experience, protective wires result in a lower-quality shave, although I have no way of knowing if the extra blade will make up for that. Venus has three blades and no protective wires.

I'm looking for a good-quality shave that will last as long as possible, but also for blades that last as long as possible.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Pope joke

An old joke:

The Pope and one of his top cardinals were taking a long train ride one day. The Pope was doing a crossword puzzle, and the cardinal was reading the Bible. Suddenly the Pope asked the cardinal, "What's a four letter word for `woman' ending in ..u..n..t?"

The startled cardinal stammered for a bit, then said, "Uh.. er.. aunt! Yes, aunt!"

"Oh, of course. Got an eraser?"

Now: is this joke funnier when you picture Ratzinger in the Pope role, or was it funnier with Pan Wojtyla?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Half-Formed Theory: Child social development

Let's think for a moment about the social life of children. Think back to your school days, and remember what it was like to have a bunch of three/six/nine/twelve/fifteen-year-olds all in one room. Now think about the social life of adults. In fact, think about an ideal version of the social life of adults - an office where everyone is perfectly professional in their interpersonal dealings, a cocktail party full of sparkling conversation, a mutually-supportive friendship, a healthly romantic relationship.

There are so many aspects of the social life of children that do not seem to lead to any of the skills necessary for a healthy adult social life. I think the main problem is that children's brains are generally not fully developed, so they generally are not able to perform interpersonal interaction at an adult level. And when you get a bunch of children together in the room, they all have the same flaws in their interpersonal interaction, so the society they create is going to include components that are simply not present in a mature adult society (c.f. the middle-school cafeteria).

Now imagine if a child somehow emerged from the womb with adult social skills, but no knowledge of child development. They show up at school and attempt to interact with their peers like you or I would attempt to interact with our classmates at night school.

That wouldn't work so well, would it?

Therefore, my half-formed theory is that children do not necessarily need to be able to socialize well with their peers to become fully competent at adult socialization. Certainly the inability to get along with one's peers could be indicative of problems, but it isn't that difficult to imagine how a person could be unable to navigate nine-year-olds' recess cliques or enjoy twelve year olds' school-bus antics, but could still get along perfectly well in adult society.

Pet Peeve of the Moment: "You'll survive"/"You survived"

Sometimes people trivialize other people's concerns about an upcoming situation, or their baggage about a past situation, by saying "You'll survive" or "You survived" respectively.

That's silly. The fact that a person is physically alive does not negate the fact that a situation was or would be traumatic or emotionally devastating or extremely unpleasant or whatever.

I've also seen the fact that a person has survived something more difficult used to counter their desire not to do something less difficult.
"I don't want to [get in a certain situation]. The potential benefits aren't worth the unpleasantness involved."
"So? You were [in a far more unpleasant situation] and you survived! This is nothing!"

That doesn't even make sense. "Let's not repaint the livingroom. Moving all the furniture and dealing with the smell of paint isn't worth it just to get rid of this ugly colour." "So? You survived being lost in the woods for three days! This is nothing!" Just because a person survived a completely unrelated, more difficult situation doesn't mean that this other, less difficult situation is worth doing.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Analogy for natalist culture

Suppose you're in decent, functional, serviceable physical condition. You have full use of both your arms and both your legs, and your body does what you need it to do in everyday life. However, you don't particularly enjoy pushing yourself physically. Sure, you don't mind the occasional casual swim or bike ride, but you have no interest in working out every day - you'd much rather be at home with a good book or enjoying the bounties of the internet.

But everyone in the world assumes that you're going to do a triathlon one day.

Sure, you think triathlon is a decent sporting event. You'll watch it when the Olympics are on TV and you appreciate the athleticism involved, but you have no interest in doing it yourself.

However, elderly relatives and nosey acquaintances keep asking you when you're going to do a triathlon, and when you say you're not, they smile smugly and mutter knowingly among themselves that it's just a phase - soon you'll grow up and start doing a triathlon every couple of years.

Random people that who run into, who know nothing about your physical condition - even people you've met in passing on the internet who have know way of knowing if you even have legs - tell you that you should totally do a triathlon because you would make SUCH a good triathlete!

Even though you have mentioned at work that you have no interest in doing a triathlon, your boss's long term HR planning takes into account that you'll need some time off to train for a triathlon or two within the next five or ten years.

While your doctor is quite willing to treat you in a way that allows you to sit at home with a good book or spend time on the computer right now, she insists upon a long-term treatment plan that will ensure that you are in prime condition to do a triathlon any time you want to. When you undergo a minor medical procedures that requires that you don't exert yourself, she keeps emphasizing to you that it's VERY VERY IMPORTANT that you don't do any triathlons within the next month, completely disregarding the fact that you have told her you don't want to do any at all ever, and the fact that you've already decided that if you ever happen to wander into a triathlon course, you would just leave the area rather than completing the race.

Wouldn't that get annoying after a while? Well, that's how I feel when people assume that I'm going to be a mother some day.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Things They Should Invent: Uppercase Numbers

When I'm IMing, I'm use capital letters to show emphasis and stress. For example: "OMG, I SO want to do THAT!" Also when I'm IMing, I use numerals to designate numbers rather than writing them out in words, due to the nature of the medium.

However, this is problematic when I want to emphasize or stress number. "Oh, you meant 4:30, not 5:30." The way I said in my head is "Oh, you meant FOUR thirty, not FIVE thirty." But realistically, I'm not going to type out all those letters in a rapid-fire conversation.

Therefore, I propose that we use the shift key plus the number in question to designate capital numbers used to emphasize or stress. "Oh, you meant $:30, not %:30!" It will take some getting used to, but we all have keyboards in front of us with the appropriate shift keys, so we can all look down and see what is meant by $ or %. And, being intelligent people, I'm sure we can all take responsibility for making sure not to use capital numbers in a context where they can be mixed up with symbols and punctuation.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


The current census raises many issues about privacy and equality and other important things.

But I didn't notice.

I was too excited about filling out forms.

You see, when I was a little girl, I liked to play at filling out forms. My parents would give me the subscription cards from their magazines, and I'd have fun writing in my name and address and telephone number. Sometimes I'd even get one of those product registration cards that asks for all your demographic information, and that would keep me amused for a terribly long time.

It turns out the part of my brain that was satisfied by filling out those subscription cards is still there and active, and it was made very happy when I got the long form census. So yeah, there are issues, but I just can't deny my inner little girl who's all excited about this great big form to fill out.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

"What if?" of the moment

What if you were offered a sufficient salary for life - enough that you never have to worry about money - on the condition that you never contribute productively to society again? You can do what is necessary to take care of yourself and your household, and indulge yourself hedonistically as much as you want, but you cannot, at all, ever contribute to society or the economy or the greater good. Would you take the offer?

My first thought is that I would, because I don't have any grand abstract need to contribute to society. But then I think of the specific things I wouldn't be able to do. Would that mean I couldn't walk dogs at the Human Society? Would that mean I can't engage in political activism? Would that mean I couldn't do little informational translations for family and friends?

Would giving up these things be worth lifetime financial security? Maybe, maybe not. I don't know.

All statements can be interpreted as accurate, except "silver". Silver? WTF?

Your Birthdate: December 22

You tend to be understated and under appreciated.
You have a hidden force to do amazing things, doing them your own way.
People may see you as strange and shy, but they know little.
Your unconventional ways have more power than they (and even you) know.

Your strength: Standing up for what you know is true

Your weakness: You tend to be picky and rigid

Your power color: Silver

Your power symbol: Square

Your power month: April


The following rules are effective immediately:

1. Anyone who says anything to the effect of "Wassa matter, you scared?" in a political debate (in the broadest sense of the term) automatically and instantly loses the debate.

2. Anyone who uses a reference to participation in a sex act as an insult or a synonym or metaphor for humiliation is henceforth forbidden to receive pleasure from said sex act.

3. Anyone who says anything to the effect of "Can't you take a joke?" is henceforth deemed to have no sense of humour. Those present also have the option of interpreting any joke the offender makes from that moment forth as being intended as serious, with all the appropraite consequences.

4. Anyone who utters the phrase "No offence, but..." is henceforth deemed to have no communication skills, and should therefore not be trusted with communicating anything important, the reasoning being that anyone with communication skills should be able to present any necessary statement in a non-offensive manner. Those present also have the option of interpreting any statement the offender makes from that moment forth in the most offensive manner possible.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Movie scene bunny, free for the taking

In big movie musicals, people often burst into song in a busy city street, and dance through the street in perfectly choreographed precision.

I want to see a musical where people burst into song in the typical cliched manner, perhaps sing the first verse without dancing, sing the first chorus dancing in place, then attempt to dance down the street. However, all the street traffic keeps getting in their way, and their valiant efforts to complete their song and dance are increasingly hindered by pedestrians and dogs and streetcars and hot dog carts.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Thoughts for today

1. The deli where I buy my breakfast was giving out candies to its female customers for Mother's Day. They offered me one, and I said "No thanks, I'm not a mother." The deli manager said "Oh, you don't have kids yet?" I couldn't think of anything to say, so I just took my breakfast and went back to work.

Obviously the problem with his statement is the "yet". I'm childfree, so there is no yet. Of course, the deli manager clearly has no way of knowing that. However, by not finding a way to politely clarify that I'm childfree, I missed an opportunity to correct the common misconception that all women intend to have children.

Given that the manager knew nothing about my private life, the offer of candy was not inappropriate, but the "yet" was. I wish I'd found some way to politely address that.

2. Fun fact: the word ptak is an epithet in Klingon, but it means "bird" in Polish.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Signs I've been working too hard

Last night I dreamed that I was charged with a violation of the Official Languages Act because the brand name on my running shoes was in English only.

Then I went to Radio Shack to buy something, and I handed over enough cash to pay for it, but then the cashier (who may have been Klingon) insisted that I tell her my account number. I asked her which account - bank? credit card? Air Miles? - but she refused to tell me, just insisting more and more forcefully that I tell her the account number.

Then the universe exploded, and I woke up.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Look at me, I'm a human!

A long time ago - I think it was almost five years ago, based on where I was living at the time - mi cielito thought up this scenario of aliens who are spying on Earth doing a mocking imitation of the planet's inhabitant's. "Look at me! I'm a human! I'm walking aroud! I'm wearing a hat!" It doesn't translate very well to this medium, but it was hilarious.

So naturally, I was very amused when I stumbled upon this Pooch Cafe:

Pooch Cafe 4/23

Changes I would make to Sims 2

1. I would like the option of giving all my Sims full autonomy, including major life events. I want them, when left to their own devices, to be able to find and quit jobs, move in and out of household, marry, divorce, have children, buy things etc. whenever they are so inclined.

2. I want to be able to make non-nuclear families in the family creator. For example, a married couple who each has children from their first marriage, or adult siblings living in different households. I know you can make this happen by playing the game, but it's time consuming. I want to be able to define as a given that one adult in household A and one adult in household B are siblings, rather than having to go through all the steps of creating the parental family, moving the adult children out, and having them each form their own nuclear families all BEFORE I can start playing the scenario I want to play.

3. When creating a family, I want to be able to precisely define each Sim's age. Right now you can define them as toddler, child, teen, adult or elder. If I have a household with three teens, I want to be able to make them all different ages instead of having them all be in the first year of the teen stage.

Friday, May 05, 2006

I'm going to be all gauche and talk about my google hits

Apparently someone got here by googling "How to convince your parents to let you be in a band". That's odd, because when I google that phrase I get no results whatsoever. I cannot recall writing about bands, so I have no idea how that search brought someone to my blog.

In any case, if you actually want to convince your parents to let you be in a band, it's my sister you want to talk to for advice, not me. If she's reading this, she's welcome to post her advice on convincing your parents to let you be in a band in the comments. GAH! Too many prepositions.

In other TMI news, it's quite possible that triphasic pills affect my mood, but I'm not entirely sure. So if I'm unbelievably cranky exactly four weeks from now, please bear with me and placate me with puppies and funny stories, and I will definitely get a prescription change.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

My inner adolescent just won't die

I get nervous around people who are cooler than me. But not cooler than me by adult standards - most people I know are cooler than me by adult standards and I get along with them just fine. No, I get nervous around adults who are cooler than me by adolescent standards. Someone who comes across as the kind of person who would have been terribly cool and confident in high school - the kind of person on whom my adolescent self would have had a distant crush (even though my adult self doesn't really develop crushes, having a consistent outlet for those energies). And the thing is, when I get into this weird mental place where I'm assessing other adults by adolescent standards, I'm comparing them with my adolescent self. Any cool points that I may have gained in the past seven or so years simply don't count in this bizarre exercise. I'm essentially feeling nervous or intimidated by the lady in the store or the guy who works at the LCBO because I perceive that they were cool adolescents, and their adult selves are cooler than my adolescent self was.

This is so not cool.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Lookit me, I'm famous

The Unorthodox Tips for Riding the TTC printed two, or possibly three, of my submissions. (One of them was the same idea, but worded differently. I can't tell if they edited it or if someone else just submitted something similar). I submitted anonymously, so don't bother looking for me, I'm just amused that they actually accepted my stuff. I'm also amused to see several submissions by this random guy I went to elementary and high school with.