Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Awl right now


I'm glad the snow is finally going away. I'm tired of it.

I have the urge to carve some wood, a root or a burl, but I have neither right now and they're not really the sorts of things that hardware stores stock a lot of.

Another thing I've found is that hardware stores don't really stock awls either. We went to three before we found one. Maybe no one uses them anymore.

I hate asking for help in hardware stores. I prefer to find everything myself because I get treated by staff as if because I'm young and female I left my brain by the door on the way in.

They fall into two major categories. There are the incredulous guys who second guess your decisions because you are female and therefore you know nothing about tools, wood, mechanics or whatever you are looking for. They are the guys who ask you things like "Are you sure you need an awl?" Yes, I'm sure I need an awl. If I didn't need an awl, I wouldn't have asked for one, and if I wasn't sure what kind of tool I needed, I would have described what I was trying to do and asked for advice.

Then there are the somewhat nicer, but just as irritating paternal types, who feel they have to explain to you how to use the tool you just asked them to help you locate.

Inevitably the problem for them is that you have asked for something that they can not locate, so therefore you are asking for the wrong thing. The problem is never that they do not have a good enough knowledge of the stock in their department to be able to locate something specific.

I found an awl at Home Depot finally, after asking two staff members who couldn't find one themselves and questioned whether I needed it. The awls were hiding near the rubber hammers, nowhere near where the staff chose to look.

I want to go canoeing too, but mine's covered in snow.


I feel the need to qualify this post by stating that the staff in the local Rona are pretty awesome and good at cactus husbandry and that Abby at the front desk would most certainly know where the awls were if they stocked them.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

My family crosses a snowbank

"It's like the Kyber Pass. We need goats or elephants."

"I was thinking more like northern Afghanistan, with Kalashnikovs and pieces of dead bodies sticking out of the snowbanks."

"Okay, snow fantasy of your choice."

"Pretty slippery!"

"Watch your step!"

"Did you see me lose my footing? I almost didn't make it through there. I could have broken my leg and then you'd have to throw me off a cliff."

"No, we'd rescue you. We'd have a bottle of brandy and some St. Bernards."

"And I'd be laying there with my mangled leg telling you to just leave me to die. No, just throw me off a cliff so that the vultures won't get me while I'm still alive. It's not worth it."

"No, you'd be saying that because you'd had too much brandy and you had to vomit."

"Still, it was a close call."

Thursday, December 25, 2008

How to celebrate Maxmas


So this is how it goes. Santa comes, we wake up and open presents, stockings first and then after everything is open and has been presented to everyone else and photographed, there is a half hour of silence in which everyone sets to scratching lottery tickets.

When I was little I remember just having to scratch everything and see if the numbers matched. It was easy and it only took a couple minutes. Nowadays they make you work for your winnings or nonwinnings. No doubt they pay someone way too much to put together complicated puzzles that require excessive concentration and precision scratching in order to arrive at the realization that you are very close to winning something decent but not quite there.

Anyways, I win at lottery ticket scratching today. $32 on two tickets! I'm just chock full of awesome.

Then, because there's nothing to do on December 25, everyone runs out to watch a movie. Today someone decided that it would be a good idea to see Marley and Me a story about a dog that looked and acted almost exactly like our dead dog, in which THIS IS A SPOILER! the dog dies YOU PRETTY MUCH KNEW THAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN NOT VERY LONG INTO THE MOVIE ANYWAYS! when we have unresolved issues related to euthanizing the cat earlier this year, and the fact that the other two could go at any minute. We all cried a lot. A lot of people in the theatre did.

Then home for dinner. My mom's holiday specialty is turkey that reminds me of the National Lampoon Christmas.

Then afterward the cribbage tournament continues, and my seven game winning streak is finally over. Meh.

This year was a little different with the addition of Christmas crackers. Everyone had three each and silliness ensued when people got their stupid little prizes. A pencil, yay! A cell phone charm, yay! A golf abacus... um... yay! A spring on a keychain ring? WTF?


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I don't do fahrenheit.

Today was new furnace day. The old furnace was thirty-five years old, in addition to being really noisy and polluting a lot. The new one is smaller, quieter, more efficient and sticks out in the room more so that I'll probably bang into it in the middle of the night.

It took what felt like forever to install because they had to cut a hole through the wall to the outside and they hit a knot in the wood that their tools would not drill through.

More likely it felt like forever because the heat was off and the doors were open for several hours and the temperature was sub zero. During the crucial minutes while the house still had some heat in it I had been conscripted into doing yardwork outside, so by the time I re-entered the now freezing house I'd already caught a chill.

Eventually I retreated into the workshop where there's a wood stove and fell asleep on a chair. I was out there for quite a while because no one bothered to tell me that the furnace was installed and working.

In fact, it works great, except that the thermostat is in fahrenheit. How am I supposed to know what the temperature is?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Merry Maxmas

They said that the snow would be really bad today and that people should refrain from going outside, but when you have brand new snow tires and 300 lbs of kitty litter in your trunk driving in the snow isn't all that bad. The only thing you have to do is keep a healthy distance from all the people on the road who are driving in all season radials or engaging in other stupidity.

At a gas station I watched a guy back into a curb before he got out to clean off a small patch of the rear window, which until that point had been completely covered in snow. Once he had cleared off the minimum amount to be able to back in beside the pump, about a tenth of the total area of the window, he stopped and got back in the car. Who knows how long he drove before and after that without the use of his rear view mirror.

As luck would have it, my cousins were just in front of us in a very short line to see Santa at the mall. Garrett wanted to know why Mary and Joseph named their baby a swear word. Her mom tried to explain that it's only swearing in certain contexts and that it didn't have that meaning back then but she would have none of it. "They should have named him Max," she said.

Maxmas has a special ring to it, doesn't it? Henceforth Christmas will be called Maxmas in our house. It's a better name for what we celebrate anyways, because there's no Christ in Maxmas.

The Santa at Coquitlam Centre is a real beard Santa and he's been there for several years now. I see him every year. I don't care how old I am, sitting on Santa's lap makes me beam from ear to ear. He recognizes us so he was pretty chatty today.

Other than Santa, malls are not my favourite place to be, especially around this time of year. It's not just the artificial lighting, crowds, noise and recycled air. They're full of unhappy people burdened with a sense of obligation to spend and I hate counting myself among them. I don't think malls are really particularly good places to shop for gifts either. They're filled with a lot of bland, uninspiring choices, and the majority of the stores are for things I don't like buying for people, like clothes and glasses. In my experience, when you buy these things, whether or not people will actually like your choices is a complete crapshoot.

I had a bit of last minute shopping to do, but afterward I was glad to be home. This hasn't been the best holiday so far, but it certainly hasn't been the worst either. Sometimes it's tough to cling to the middle ground.

Friday, December 19, 2008



At 2 am this morning all of a sudden someone got into the shower. I thought that maybe it was my sister but she had gone to bed. Through my amazing deduction skills, I figured out that it was my father showering.

It defied all logic so I was confused. There was no reasonable explanation as to why my father was by then brushing his teeth and probably squinting at himself in the mirror.

I'm used to a certain amount of weirdness and clandestine behaviour around Christmas time each year because people are secretly coordinating and planning things, stashing, wrapping behind closed doors, coming home late after work, making mysterious trips and sneaking around when they think you don't notice them. That's probably why I didn't bother to ask dad why he was turning on the furnace, starting the car to warm it up, completely dressed and trying to get my mom out of bed.

He asked me if I'd emailed him something and I said I hadn't, but that I could do it right away before I forgot. I turned on my computer. Because it's such a dinosaur, I decided to go brush my teeth while it warmed up.

When I got out of the bathroom, all the lights in the house were out, which only served to confuse me more. "I misread my clock," he said in the darkness.

That's the problem with winter. 2am looks exactly the same as 7am. Dark.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008



Some days I don't really need to eat anything, but today was not one of those days. I've been cursed with a hollow leg today and have eaten my weight in food.

It must be the weather. It's too cold and it has been for a few days now. I decided I would walk to the bank and then run some other errands, but after depositing a cheque I hobbled home chilled to thaw out.

These days I seem to be completely incapable of keeping myself warm without swathing myself in a yurt.

It wasn't always this way. In elementary school my parents used to leave for work early so I would get to school at 7:15 am, long before most of the staff had arrived, and the only thing that was open with adult supervision was the Breakfast Program. Since we lived in a low-income neighbourhood, a good 20% or more of the school used to go there to eat because their parents couldn't or wouldn't feed them at home.

We weren't particularly hungry. We'd always arrive with stomachs full of breakfast from home, but we couldn't very well pass up the food that was there. It was offered, it was novel, and our consciences were clear because mom used to write a cheque to the program every month to be sure that we weren't taking food away from the welfare kids.

Besides, mom never let me have sugar sprinkled on my toast like Mrs. Garrison did. Or Nutella. These things were unheard of in our house. And she was generous with them too.

When she was down to the bottom of the Nutella jar, she used to offer it up to some students to scrape clean, and because I used to help clean up, I was always a star candidate. The jars never arrived empty. They usually had a good inch of Nutella stuck in the bottom, which meant more than enough to share.

All of this coupled with the fact that I was a pretty sedentary kid mean that I acquired a good layer of blubber that used to keep me warm. Used to. Now that it's cold, I kind of want that blubber back. Maybe that's why I'm so hungry.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The energy audit


More cool ice!

We had an energy audit today in which surprisingly enough, our house scored higher than average for its age and type. That's mainly because we've done a lot to improve it already, like replacing all the basement windows and insulation and insulating the attic. When we first moved in it was terrible. Sections of walls didn't have any insulation at all and the draughts were so bad it was almost windy inside.

Apparently, if we do all the retrofits that were recommended, our carbon emissions will decrease by 3.1 tonnes per year. Yay us! Most of it was stuff that will be done to the house eventually so really all the inspector did today was put a number on it that will help with getting a government rebate for our new furnace.

Sally was pretty upset. She was hungry but when she went into the kitchen the inspector was sitting at the table with his laptop and he said "Hi kitty," in a very friendly and non-threatening way which is scary so she had to mope around, looking awkward, and took to howling in the back bedroom near the end of his visit.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Kanaka Creek


While a huge part of the Lower Mainland got covered in snow, we got a powdered sugar dusting of the stuff. What we did get though was wind. The weather report tells me that they were expecting that with windchill the temperature out here would drop to -15 C though I have no way of knowing if it actually got that cold. In all likelihood it didn't drop below -3.

Still, that's pretty cold for here and usually when it's like that I'd just as soon not go outside. Of course that means that Abby and I went on a hike.


We'd had this date set for quite some time. Our plans to climb Alouette Mountain hit a bit of a snag when I realized that there probably isn't enough daylight in the day in the middle of December to finish the hike without freezing to death. Not to mention, there's probably snow there, and we know from experience that we just don't like snow on our trails.


There are many things about Maple Ridge that suck, but Kanaka Creek is not one of them. It's a pretty spot full of scenic, non-strenuous trails and picnic areas that's really popular with dog walkers. I'm always amazed at the number of birds and other interesting things I see when I'm there. I always end up seeing some thing new. Today it was a woodpecker and some cool looking white rosehip berries that I've never seen before. I don't have pictures of them because my fingers were frozen.


We also found some really cool looking ice on the ground. I'm not sure how it got that way. Physics!

Because it was cold, there weren't very many people around, which was great for geocaching because I didn't need to use my super ninja stealth skills. I found four today, which is pretty good for me because I suck at it.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Chicken number five

IMG_7897_1This chicken was my carry-on baggage when I went through the Calgary airport a few years ago. I wanted to see if they would let me take it on, and it turns out that they do allow such things on planes, though only in the overhead compartments. I got a lot of odd looks while I was going through security and they made me run it through the metal detector three times to make sure it wasn't a bomb.

Its name is Chicken Number 5 in memory of the best grad prank ever in which five live chickens mysteriously appeared in the cafeteria. Each had a ribbon with a number. The staff caught chickens one, two, three, four and six, and then spent hours looking for the nonexistent chicken number five.

Its nickname is Chick Vennera because one time in school Abby had to read The Pearl and as an assignment she had to pick actors to play the characters in a movie. I decided to help her with it and we spent a lot of time cruising IMDb looking up Spanish and Latino actors and then googling the results. Quite accidentally we made a typo in Chick Vennera's name that resulted in unexpected pornography, and then screaming, closing the browser and hysterical laughter. Nothing to do with him at all, but the name reminds me of that assignment.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The cheapest item is the one you put back on the shelf.

Grandma was in a reasonably good mood today, which made spending three hours in the mall with her relatively painless.

All the muscles in her back have atrophied so she has a lot of difficulty sitting up straight. Over time she begins to lean to her right and hang out of her chair at an odd, uncomfortable looking angle that causes random strangers to shoot you dirty looks because somehow it is your fault.

It is hard to say whether our efforts to shift her upright help or not. Though well-meaning, it seems to just make her more uncomfortable and sore. So she spent most of the time pitched over like she was drunk, and it just so happened that this and her driving style ran her head into collisions with the purses of innocent women who happened to be in the way.

As far as a shopping trip went though, it was reasonably successful. Grandma never approaches these things with any ideas as to what exactly she wants to get, so mostly you have to suggest things. There is a certain art to making the right suggestions that I think we did well today.

At one point in time she decided she wanted some perfume and glommed on to a box of Shania Twain fragrances. "Do you think this would be cheaper?" she asked, and I suggested that we go find out what it smelled like first. "But is it cheaper?" We found her a tester and decided that we didn't really like the smell. Regardless, it took a while before we could convince her that it would be cheaper still just to put it back on the shelf.

So sorry, Shania.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

If I don't return...

Tomorrow my aunt and I are taking my grandmother shopping. Against my better judgement I'm going to be optimistic about this, not because I have any reason to be but because because.

My grandmother is a chronically unpleasant woman who hates being confined to a hospital, but who hates being outside of it as well. Outside of it she is disoriented, miserable and uncomfortable and makes you feel horrible for torturing her by forcing her to go to the restaurant or store she begged you to take her to.

This is the woman who enjoys taunting the alzheimers patient next door to her, uses racial slurs in front of my non-Caucasian friends who volunteer at the hospital, hands you gifts with the words "I don't know what the hell this is!" and screws up her face in disgust when you bring her fresh fruit.

I don't know why I love her but I do.

My mom and sister took her for the annual shopping trip last year so it's my turn and besides, my aunt needs the moral support.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Today just wasn't very interesting, sorry.

laminaria blocking

For anyone who is remotely interested I finally finished the thing I was knitting earlier and you can see it blocking above. Laminaria in Louet Riverstone Chunky. It was a nice, easy little project that filled up the inevitable couple braindead days I have right at the end of the semester when I've finally handed in everything, as well as the couple of groggy days after I got my wisdom teeth out.

I think I may have overblocked it because the poor thing is kind of stiff, like I sprayed it with starch or something. I'm a little tempted to throw it into the dryer to soften it up, even though that can't be a good idea at all. It's prettier than it is cuddly, but maybe that will change.

Alright, enough about the knitting, eh?

The stitches in the roof of my mouth are gradually falling out but they're taking their sweet time doing it and brushing up against my tongue, which irritates me.

But what doesn't irritate me is that tomorrow I will be downtown, and that means that maybe I will have something interesting to talk about.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Christmas in the park

IMG_7857_1Today I was witness to one of the least inspiring Christmas parades I think I've seen in real life. You see these things in movies all the time. A Santa sits in a sleigh and says "Ho ho," half-heartedly as if he's bored or has so many other better things to be doing rather than entertaining children. You're only really supposed to see that lack of enthusiasm in Christmas specials. It shouldn't actually happen. Though, to be fair, it was raining and the poor guy didn't have any shelter.

As he passed by the people began to leave in waves that turned the ground slick and mucky. I was heading out for gelato so of course I was going the opposite direction, through the crowd.

The gelato shop has one of those fibreglass boys that sits inside the ice cream cone eating the gelato. For some reason those things inspire the most morbid of thoughts in me. I think as I walk by them that maybe those greedy little ice-cream-eating children wouldn't look so smug and greedy if all the ice cream suddenly melted and they were drowning in it. Too much of a good thing.

Gelato happens to be the perfect cure for a sore mouth brought on by chewing on your dinner. It is also a good source of comic relief as it turns out people like to laugh at the fact that I shiver uncontrollably while eating it out in the rain.

As far as I know, the only real difference between the old Rogers Video and the new Rogers Plus other than the rebranding is that the lineups are longer and the service is slower. While we waited in line, we braced ourselves for the upcoming encounter. They'd want our card, then they'd begin checking out the movie, removing the security thing from the box, then they'd remind us that previously viewed dvds are on sale, had we heard about the special they have on right now? you can get a free chocolate bar if you buy two bottles of Coke, or you can get a free bag of Clodhoppers, if you want, then they'd remind you that if you're in the market for a new phone or are planning on switching providers they're there and they can set you up, then they'll tell you the name of the movie you're taking out, tell you when it's due back, ask you for money, tell you how many points you have and how many more you need before you get your free rental or dvd, ask you if you want a bag and then send you out the door.

We were bang on.

Tonight's movie was Death at a Funeral which I thought was hilarious because it's morbid and British and Brits are funny.

Friday, December 05, 2008

You didn't want to see a picture of my breakfast anyways.

I woke up this morning to a man's voice calling my name. I didn't recognize the voice at all and it turned out that there wasn't anyone calling for me. Either I was waking up from a dream that I don't really remember or it was the narcotics talking.

I spent most of today doing pretty much what I did last evening, only I was a little more groggy. Knitting, reading Charles Dickens and puttering about feeling groggy.

I kind of feel like a chipmunk right now. When I look in the mirror I don't look too terrible, but that doesn't stop me from thinking that my cheeks are puffed out halfway across the room. Definitely more swollen than yesterday.

The cat and I watched a documentary on Leni Riefenstahl, whose work I find pretty inspiring, fascist overtones and body fetishization aside. She had an incredible attention to detail and the ability to edit things together until they were just right, as well as the creativity to make up new techniques that are used in the film industry today.

When I started this post early this morning I had originally planned to write about what I ate for breakfast. I took pictures while I was cooking, specifically for this purpose. Then I remembered that I was making scrambled eggs and that that is not the least bit unusual or noteworthy.

Oh well.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Five teeth later.

IMG_7851_1All in all it's been a good day.

I got my wisdom teeth out, plus another one for good measure. That was the little piece of corn thing that suddenly started showing up in my x-rays about 3 years ago. A little baby tooth that has since grown roots and become impacted up underneath my nose without breaking through the gums. I told them they could cut that out too, and that one required going in through the front of my gums and through the roof of my mouth simultaneously.

So needless to say I'm quite chipper. No, seriously. It's been 12 hours and the freezing has only worn off on the side where the teeth weren't impacted. My left side: cheek, jaw, gums, tongue, lips, nose, are all still pretty frozen. My left nostril was frozen shut for a while but I'm fine.

They sent me home with a care package of extra gauze, a syringe I'm supposed to use, ice packs and some organic ginger ale that is pretty awesome stuff. It's spicy because it actually tastes like ginger.

The only thing that bugs me at this point is that it all feels mildly itchy and swollen, I can't chew and I have developed an aptitude for slopping everything I try to eat down the front of me.

My mom's been fussy. She went out and got a bunch of jello and juice for me, and made soup for dinner. The crockpot is full of different soup for tomorrow.

Aside from that I've had a relatively unstrenuous time knitting this thing (almost done!), winding a ball of Schaefer Anne by hand and ploughing through some more Dickens.

I've also been cruising Etsy and getting lots of cool ideas, not because I see things I want to rip off, but because I can't find what I wanted to ogle and consider purchasing.

I decided that I was in the mood to do some woodwork, like carving something with a lathe or chisels or something, but mom vetoed the idea. I walked away giggling. She asked me how much codeine I had consumed and I hadn't had any by that point. I'm just naturally giggly.

The form that I got at the surgeon's told me that I'm not supposed to drive, operate aircraft or sign legal contracts right now. It most certainly did not forbid me to use pointy things that could possibly remove my fingers. But meh, I'm a sucker for a rational argument.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Your questions answered, once again.

IMG_7853_1Google Analytics tells me that people arrive here all the time with questions, deep questions that need answering. Lucky for some of you random searchers who have landed on this site, I have some answers.

There was no alligator in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as far as I know, so I'm at a loss as to what to name this invisible alligator.

A filing cabinet is kind of big and clunky to be taking traveling with you, isn't it? I'd suggest getting a blackberry or a laptop instead, or if you're really into analog maybe a briefcase or a moleskine. They're easier to carry.

I don't personally know Leonard Cohen. I just think he's cool.

Unfortunately I can not supply you with free copies of Ukranian magazines.

Are you older than I think? How old did you think I thought you were?

The kitchen table in my apartment was a huge 50s arborite and chrome monster that was so kitschy and dated that I love it and refused to let it go when I moved. It's currently disassembled in the garage, and you can not have it.

No, I don't think Abby uses the vacuum cleaner much. Sometimes, but not much.

What is this alligator fungus you speak of? It sounds interesting!

Yes, I do have the recipe for the UBC Rise and Shine Muffins and they're nostalgically delicious. I may just share my version, but not today because I'm nasty and because their deliciousness deserves its own dedicated post. Maybe tomorrow?

If you ever find that picture of a beetle that looks like a stegosaurus you've got to show me. It sounds really cool.

My first job was as a janitor. I don't care what you say. Swilling out urinals will never be sexy, especially when a high proportion of guys seem to both miss the bowl and shed pubic hairs. Please take your "sexy cleaner" searches elsewhere. Thanks.

"Canadian forces polar fleece" must be more extreme and government-funded than regular polar fleece, eh?

Okay, here's how you get oxen to pull a cart:
1) Buy the oxen.
2) Press the button that says "Gruelling."
3) Ford the river.
4) Don't get dysentery.

I don't know how to stop a smoke alarm from tarping. Maybe you should try denying it access to a tarp.

Penicillin will kill me. It probably won't kill your cat if it's in a small, cat-appropriate dose, but you shouldn't be asking me about that. Talk to a vet.

I wasn't aware of a school policy against "holy jeans." But if your pants are too sacred, maybe you should try getting a priest to unbless them.

Yes, posse is an irregular verb.
Present: possum, potes, potest, possumus, potestis, possunt.
Imperfect: poteram, poteras, poterat, poteramus, poteratis, poterant
Future: potero, poteris, poterit, poterimus, poteritis, poterunt
Perfect: potui, potuisti, potuit, potuimus, potuistis, potuerunt
Pluperfect: potueram, potueras, potuerat, potueramus, potueratis, potuerant
Future Perfect: potuero, potueris, potuerit, potuerimus, potueritis, potuerint
Latin! I still have it!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

109/365: Dr. C

He did a nice job straightening out my teeth, and I liked him a lot better than my previous orthodontist. He had a huge cabinet of casts of people's teeth that fascinated me for the fact that they were white, clean and smooth while at the same time ugly and misshapen. The only thing I really didn't like about him was that he had very large hands. This wouldn't have been a problem except that I have a very small mouth, so I left every appointment with split lips. Not really his fault.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

We can't speak.


"There's an exhibit about early Russians at the Royal Ontario Museum. Maybe we should check it out, because it's old and Russian."

"I'm not surprised. There were early homonyms that have been found in Georgia."

"Did they find any cinnamons?"

"Evidently neither of us can speak."

Friday, November 28, 2008

End of semester blah


Today I slept in until 2:00. I figure that means I'm part way toward recouping the sleep I lost earlier this week.

I started a brand new project last night, the one you can see above in the crappy picture. It's a shawl in chunky yarn that will hopefully not take very long to knit because suddenly it got very cold out and that cobweb-weight shetland stole thing that was supposed to replace my bedraggled old cream coloured pashmina that I wear with everything? Not going to happen. At least not this week.

I've also picked up A Tale of Two Cities again, or rather listened to it. I can't really hold books open while I'm knitting so it's either audiobooks or back issues of The Economist for me.

While I was cooking dinner I burned myself with some hot oil. To look at this in the most positive way possible, it added excitement to my life. Also, the burns look like little red ghosts. Spooky!

I also vacuumed today.

I needed a day like this.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The other reason why I don't take my computer to school


I had to take my computer in to school today to work on a project in the lab, partially because they managed to enroll more people in the class than there were computers and partially because I was using a program that they didn't have in that lab.

I don't take my computer to school much anymore. I prefer to take my notes by hand because that way I'm far more likely to read them again. I find the people who play WoW and chat with friends during class really irritating and distracting. I also find professors' passive aggressive suggestions that people should put their laptops away because they're not paying attention irritating. On top of that, I find it irritating that people just go on using their computers in spite of being told to put them away are either not listening, don't have a good enough grasp of English to understand the sarcasm or are just stupid.

In a class that only has at max 12 people in attendance at a time, it's got to hurt your participation mark.

Anyways, I took my computer in today to work on because it was an open lab and having my computer at school tends to make me very self-conscious. Suddenly I become aware of the fact that my screen is dusty, like really dusty. The half-used kleenex from my pocket can't quite get all the dust off and it lingers in the corners to taunt me.

I also become aware of spatters on the screen, the origins of which are unclear to me. Was it something I ate? My grandmother possibly back from the dead? I suddenly find myself spitting into a new half-used kleenex from my other pocket so I can rub those off. You know like how your mom used to do with your face? Like that.

Then my messy desktop is suddenly at fault. There's nothing particularly embarassing on there. It's mostly photos with nondescript titles, some miscellaneous word and text documents and folders. I like to keep everything out there where I can see it, which is fine when it's only me who can see it. When others can see it it's like having people come over and sit on your couch only to realize that they've sat down on a pair of your underwear that just happens to be sitting there.

This results in a mad dash to clean up, one that is inevitably interrupted by a very helpful teaching assistant who is doing his rounds and wants to see how my design is coming along. This is when I fix him with my look of shock and horror because I've been caught shoveling files into my newly created "misc files" folder. He tells me to let him know if I need help with something and then moves on.

Usually I don't notice how slow my computer has become because I tend to start it up or open a bunch of programs and go make myself a snack while they load. No such option exists at school, so the time just seems to drag. It drags worse when someone's looking over my shoulder. I really hate how I feel like I have to make awkward small talk while I'm trying to show someone something.

"My computer's really slow!"

That's the other reason why I don't take my computer to school.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Fried fish

Well, I guess there goes nablopomo for me. Last night I had bigger fish to fry, like writing a paper.

And then editing that paper. And pressing save frequently regardless of if I'd made any changes.

And then suddenly getting a weird error message that claimed that it couldn't save because the drive was "disconnected". Did I want to retry? Well, of course!

And noticing that somehow in all of this the file name at the top of the window had changed from what I had named it to ~wrd20495.tmp which couldn't possibly have been good.

And after getting tired of clicking "retry" to no effect, clicking "cancel" instead, having the whole computer shudder for a minute and then having word randomly disappear.

And looking for the file I was working on and finding that the whole thing (not just the most recent edits) was completely gone from the computer. And checking the temp save folder and not finding it there either. Restarting the computer to see if that would help but it doesn't.

And calling your computer a bitch, as if that would help but it doesn't.

Then brewing some coffee, sitting down and rewriting the whole thing so that I could go to school with no sleep and hand it in on time.

Bigger fish.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Late night paper writing

For some reason today I thought it was next week. I was all ready to go downtown when I checked the date on my computer and then got back into my pyjamas to work on papers instead.

A couple of my friends decided that we should all exchange papers and that was probably a good idea except for the fact that it's meant that I've spent a lot of time going through theirs and not sending them mine because I have a chronic inability to write introductions or conclusions until about four hours before my papers are due.

I've been drawing pictures for one of my projects and I wanted to upload some but apparently my computer is blocking my ability to do so because it's dangerously low on virtual memory. What can I say? I like to live dangerously.

Or maybe it's just that my computer is four years old and only has a 40 gig hard drive, and that I'm running lots of big programs all at once.

I don't suppose it matters.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

108/365: Anthony

Anthony does lots of things people think he's not supposed to do. He wrestles, climbs mountains, rides bikes and drums in a band. When he wants to do something, he just tries it. Sometimes that works out well, and when it doesn't he just moves on to something else. In high school he was one of the few guys to take the time to be nice to me and treat me like I was pretty. He's blind.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I changed my mind.


I am going go to school for another semester, not really because I need to but because I need some dental work and I don't want to pay for it. That's as good a reason as any.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Standard power outage procedure

pistachio pudding ghostRemain calm.

Light hurricane lanterns.

Unplug major electronics.

Make tea on a propane stove.

Make pistachio pudding ghosties.

Play cribbage.

Sing made-up versions of Beatles songs.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

You never know when you'll need a hammer.

IMG_7670_1For some reason I'm reminded today of one time when we went camping with Girl Guides out at a campsite I can't remember the name of. It was next to a ravine and the trees there were full of tree forts and rope swings that due to official Girl Guide policy we probably weren't supposed to be playing in or even looking at without supervision and a first-aid attendant within arms-length.

But eventually we got bored and started wandering around the campsite. It was pretty large, if I remember correctly, and it didn't have a huge amount of people in it, which probably means that it wasn't in the Lower Mainland.

Anyways, eventually we ran into a couple with a baby who were having trouble putting up their tent. Being friendly Guides we decided that we would help them out.

They were from Quebec. They had flown out to BC, rented a car and purchased a tent and this was its first time out of the box. They had broken English and we had Broken French and we set about putting up this tent.

We didn't have much luck with it either, because we didn't realize at first that it was an odd kind of construction that required you to stake the whole thing down before you put it up, not like those spiffy dome tents we used all the time. Once we figured that out, we asked them if they had a hammer.

All of a sudden, the guy had the most ironic grin on his face and he said "I am a carpenter. I have nine hammer and I leave them all at home."

We lent them ours.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The 80s hurts my eyes

Is it just me or is this video really unintentionally hilarious?

No, I don't spend all day trawling the internet for this stuff. I found it through Ben's twitter.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Nose to the books

I've spent all night reading Donna Haraway's Cyborg Manifesto. When I grow up I want to write like her.

By the late twentieth century, our time, a mythic time, we are all chimeras, theorized and fabricated hybrids of machine and organism; in short, we are cyborgs. Thus cyborg is our ontology; it gives us our politics. The cyborg is a condensed image of both imagination and material reality, the two joined centres structuring any possibility of historical transformation. In the traditions of 'Western' science and politics--the tradition of racist, male-dominant capitalism; the tradition of progress; the tradition of the appropriation of nature as resource for the productions of culture; the tradition of reproduction of the self from the reflections of the other - the relation between organism and machine has been a border war. The stakes in the border war have been the territories of production, reproduction, and imagination. This chapter is an argument for pleasure in the confusion of boundaries and for responsibility in their construction. It is also an effort to contribute to socialist-feminist culture and theory in a postmodernist, non-naturalist mode and in the utopian tradition of imagining a world without gender, which is perhaps a world without genesis, but maybe also a world without end. The cyborg incarnation is outside salvation history. Nor does it mark time on an oedipal calendar, attempting to heal the terrible cleavages of gender in an oral symbiotic utopia or post-oedipal apocalypse.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Mysteriously appearing architectural pop-up book


These pictures are pretty horrible but I found this cool pop-up book on the kitchen table the other day and I think it's pretty awesome. Eventually I'm going to have to take some more pictures so that you can fully appreciate its awesomeness.

It's got all sorts of things you can assemble and pull apart and tug on which amused me for quite a long time, first because I had to see what everything did and try it all, and then second because I had to look at the whole thing again and think wait... someone designed that!


It also required the use of 3D glasses. Pretty awesome if you ask me.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Busy today

IMG_7673_1Today I was at the last concert for the CBC Radio Orchestra which saw its funding axed earlier this year, ostensibly due to a change in funding priorities, but more likely because the Conservative Party doesn't particularly like the CBC and is trying to bleed it dry.

I have more thoughts to share about this but they'll have to wait because tonight I don't really have the time. If you're the least bit interested in the loss of North America's last radio orchestra or the recent downhill slide in the programming on CBC Radio 2, or even if you just think it's wrong that Stephen Harper thinks that the only people who care about art are rich, bitchy artists who live off government grants, please consider signing the petition, getting involved or joining some facebook groups: Save Classical Music at the CBC and Save the CBC Radio Orchestra.

I also went to some craft fairs today and have thoughts about that too. Better put that on my list of things to post about.

I don't like this not having any time thing.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Leonard Cohen can have coffee with me any time.

Just think, wouldn't it be cool if you could climb onto Leonard Cohen's balcony and have coffee?

I think so.

Friday, November 14, 2008

There's always 2012


Tomorrow is municipal election day and I'm at a loss as to who to vote for. The news covers the Vancouver election, but pretty much ignores the suburbs, so as a new voter in this community and a relatively new resident it's confusing as hell.

It seems like everybody and their dog is running. That means 30+ candidates, none of which seem to be affiliated with any sort of party or eachother in any sort of way. I'm all for democracy, but that's too many candidates. I just can't process it.

Because of the lack of media coverage, I decided I would try and read up on who's running so that I could make an informed decision. I checked the local newspaper's website and this is what I found. Scroll through that for a bit. Can you read it? Me neither. I suspect that it's deliberately unformatted so as to make it as difficult as possible to read.

That's just the school trustees. The document for the council candidates was obviously too huge and unwieldy for them to even bother posting.

It also bugs me that the most important issue to all of these potential politicians is shopping. Each and every one seems to think we need more shopping. Big box shopping. The debate between them seems to be a matter of what kind of big box shopping the community most needs. Some say Wal*Mart. Others say Future Shop. A couple fringe candidates say Rietmans or Home Depot.

It's clear, though. Everyone seems to think that more soul-sucking big box stores would be an asset to Maple Ridge, and everyone seems to think that this is the issue that will make or break their campaigns. Not, you know, the fact that Maple Ridge just isn't a very good place to live in pretty much every single way I can think of.

All of that being said, I'm starting to kick myself that I'm not running. Not because I think I could do anything better or anything. Just these reasons:

They pay money and I need money. That seems like a good fit.

Statistically, people with names at the beginning of the alphabet do better in municipal elections. My name is at the beginning of the alphabet.

People with easy to remember, unusual names do better too. Mine stands out.

I would have a union endorsement. Union endorsements are gold.

I would actually know who to vote for.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I'm very tired.


There was sun today! I'm really glad I carved out some time to go walking in it before I returned to the darkness of the lab to somehow regibble my wrist from using the mouse too much.

Some mysterious someone has posted a whole lot of signs all over campus. An artistic intervention of some sort. Each has two pictures on one side and a short poem about them on the other. They're intriguing, if nothing else.

Thursdays really aren't good blogging days for me. They're the end of my week, and the longest day of classes for me. Not to mention I got three hours of sleep last night.

The bus driver had to help me off the bus at the station, I was so out of it. He was very kind. By the time I hit the cold air, I was awake enough to thank him.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I think I'm done.

I was talking to a friend this morning and I decided mid-conversation that I don't want to go back to school next semester. I don't really have a reason to.

I went to register for classes last night and I couldn't bring myself to do it. Technically I finished my degree two semesters ago. Another semester would just cost more money, that's all.

Right now I don't have much more to say. I'm working on a school project of ultimate coolness. Maybe I'll post a picture of it later after it gets ripped to shreds in design assessment in class tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My family's contribution to the War

honourable discharge from the WarWhen the War started, Canada got pulled in, just like that.

For some, it was an opportunity to act out fantasies of glory on the battlefield, to travel and see the world, to kill the nasty, evil Hun. For Vic, it was a free trip home to Wales. One day he announced to his family that he was leaving and within a week he was gone, dragging his underaged brother, Harry along with him.

And with that, the family who was already living semi-regularly on handouts lost its only source of occasional income. At the time, Winnifred had five children and another on the way. They lived in a house in the forest of North Burnaby that lacked running water and electricity and having only arrived in Canada two years earlier, had no other family to fall back upon. Unable to find a job and unable to feed the kids she had, she drove to Seattle where she had an abortion.

Meanwhile, Vic had been deployed to France with the Sappers and wasn't enjoying himself very much. Coincidentally, he just happened to suffer from an ear ache, which might possibly have been an infection. Then afterward, his teeth started bothering him and his eyes, because he needed glasses, and once he had glasses he was completely unsuitable for trench warfare and had to drive a truck in the back instead. Then he got the flu. Then he got gonnorhea. Then he suffered from some sort of stomach ailment. And another ear infection. Then he went AWOL. Then he spent some more time in hospital, and then was disciplined for theft of public property and then he got a mysterious concussion while he wasn't even fighting...

From what I can tell from his records it's likely he didn't spend more than about 28 days at the front during the duration of the War, after which the War ended and he was honourably discharged by King George. Harry returned a drug addict with permanent psychological and emotional damage.

The government only loves the working class when it needs to and dropped the patriotic slogans shortly after the Armistice. A lot of veterans came home to little or no support from the government for their lack of employment, disabilities and mental issues. Harry and Vic were both unemployed, Harry, because he was too shellshocked, and Vic... well, I don't know about Vic.

He used to find temporary employment strikebreaking in construction and in the dockyards. Life's dangerous for scabs, and eventually it got him killed. The details on this are fuzzy. You could blame the cold weather or the lack of safety regulations for the fact that he fell to his death into a ship's hold, but it's entirely possible that he was pushed.

Faced with the prospect of raising seven kids and a drug addict on a widow's pension of one dollar per child per month, Winnifred gathered everyone into the back of a 1912 McLaughlan-Buick and took them for a "holiday" in the interior where she abandoned three children by the side of the road.

It's the most powerful part of my grandfather's autobiography. Something that comes across in the written version, more so than when he used to tell it, was how terrified he was that he would be the next to be left behind, loathing and hatred for both his parents and the trauma of events that have left permanent rifts in my family. That chapter is the only one in the entire book that brings me to tears.

Monday, November 10, 2008

107/365: Stephen

I could tell you that Stephen is a friendly, nice looking guy who plays hockey, gets good grades and raises money for social causes, but no, I want to tell you about his laugh. He has a deep, booming belly laugh that carries really far. You can hear him from the other end of the building. When people ask me to describe him to them this is always something that I mention. Then I get odd looks.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Stories from the 701

I don't like this living two plus hours away from things. I miss things. I lose a lot of time on my way to missing things.

It's on days like this that the bus gets caught on the wrong side of the train tracks and you sit. Sit. Now, go.

One guy says he's waiting to join the army but he's fifteen. His friend nods, older, wiser? This guy had a girlfriend but she cheated on him, which was apparently expected. He turns toward voicing his fantasy of getting a MILF and her daughter hammered and pounding her in the ass...

"Ma'am?" he's turned to me. "Excuse me, ma'am, but do you know how long they've been doing construction on this bridge?"

I am all of three years older than him and he calls me ma'am. His sudden old skool politeness catches me offguard and I fumble my way through an answer. In a strange way, I feel old.

It is not just me. The bus ride has taken forever: an hour and twenty-five minutes. Long enough for me to miss my connection and make it pointless to continue any further.

I catch the next bus back the way I came. No matter how far you go, there's always the ride home.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Boy-girl party


Some time around 11:30 at night I get caught in a time warp that magically transports me to 2am and I don't know where the time went or if I got something accomplished at all. It just disappears.

I was out leading a tour in the rain today. Ironically enough, this was for a group of single people sent out by a dating/matchmaking service, which has made me the butt of jokes by everyone I've told this too. Pfft. They were a decent group full of some pretty astute people who were engaged and listening to what I had to say.

I'm not sure why I feel I have to say they were a good group. All the groups I've ever taken out have been good, yet completely different from each other.

I found it funny that while once in a while people would cross the floor, the genders kind of clustered together. It reminded me a little of a middle school dance. Everyone's so shy.

Friday, November 07, 2008


I had been waiting for the rain to come. Not wishing for it or willing it, but wondering when it was about to start. Up until now it seemed like we'd had a very unusually dry fall and something odd had been tugging at me, waiting for the rain to come back. This is not because I wanted it, but more because it just feels wrong this time of year to not have it around.

I don't know if I can really describe it to people who don't know it. If you're from Seattle, you've probably experienced it. I've heard on good authority that they have the same in Prince Rupert and Halifax too. It falls in teaspoon-sized drops that come down so fast, in such close proximity and with such regularity that there is no way to escape them. It cuts through your clothing and leaves you soaked. It cuts through umbrellas too. I don't think anyone's immune.

The world becomes grey and perpetually damp for weeks and it seems rarely, if ever to let up. It leaves me cold, with itchy, damp toes and wrists and a constant craving for home because home is warm and dry and nothing else is.

Yesterday on my way to school the bus driver changed the name of the bus from "SFU" to "SUNSHINE HILLS", which had a lot of people confused. "Hop on!" he said, "The sun is shining, the birds are singing on Burnaby Mountain!"

He got my hopes up, which made me that much more disappointed to find that school was the same old award-winning architectural grey dungeon, only flooded. How it can win awards and international acclaim and be so profoundly unsuited to the climate it is located in is beyond me.

I waded through the courtyards and pathways to class.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Less talk, more puppies

These little guys remind me of rowers between races, only cuter and less prone to sunburn.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Because I have to have thoughts about the election too

I was pretty reluctant to jump on the Obama train, but I'm glad he was elected, not so much because of him as a person or because it's a Democrat in power, but because I like the positive energy around his campaign.

I like the feeling of hope and desire for change and I like the way that spirit is infectious and has gotten a lot of people active and involved in their communities.

For all my cynical America bashing I don't dislike America or Americans. I dislike the fact that a country that was founded on such beautiful ideals continually falls short of them. I think this is an opportunity for people to realize some of the ideals that they pay lip service to.

This is not something that the president can do for people. He is one man who is inheriting a whole host of problems and fuckups from previous administrations. It is also a country where corporate lobby groups and concentrated media seek to undermine a lot of positive change, and where the ugly spectres of racism and religious fundamentalism are still issues. Obama has a tough road ahead if he wants to accomplish anything good.

But I think change comes from people. If you want anything good to happen you have to make it happen yourself. That's the American way, isn't it? Don't let the optimism die. Harness it and channel it into doing something good for your community, for your country, for other people. I'm talking to you, too, McCain/Palin supporters.

It's going to take a lot of effort to turn your loud-mouthed, jingoistic freighter of a country around. This is a chance to promote the peace, prosperity, democracy, freedom and opportunity you keep telling us you do.

I wish you the best of luck.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

106/365: Peter

He's got a Chinese name which can cause some confusion until you realize that he's such a hardcore feminist that he took his wife's name when he got married. He's a great prof to take classes with. He often starts his lectures by asking how everyone's weekends were and a discussion about the most recent episode of Battlestar Galactica, and then the next thing you know you're all talking about database logic, data mining and protection of privacy. I'm not sure how that happens but it's great.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Klutzy in the kitchen today


I hate how the packaging on spatulas always says that they're good up until a certain very high temperature but that never applies to their handles. So while the flipping part won't get melted into your food, you rest the thing on the side of the frying pan and then the handle begins to melt onto the edge and you just know that you'll never ever be able to get it off.


I also hate how while you're cutting onions sometimes the layers split off and they all fall apart into a big mess rather than staying together and being easy to cut. I don't like how sometimes this causes me to accidentally chop into my finger.

I do however like having fingernails, because they're harder to cut through, and sharp knives get stuck in them so that they don't slice right through the end of my finger. Yep, I love my fingernails.


Sunday, November 02, 2008

Happy November!


It's time for all the crazy things that people do in November - writing novels, blogging every day, knitting an entire sweater start to finish.

Since it's November you can count on me posting at least once a day here. I will most definitely not be writing the next great Canadian novel. I cast on for a sweater today but I'm not holding myself to finishing it any time soon because this is week 10 of a 13 week semester and my papers and projects are vortices that suck time.

I don't actually have the right circular needles for this sweater yet, but I swatched anyways. I had meant to drop by Dressew to pick some up last week but the place was swamped with Halloween shoppers and had a line out the door and down the block. Actually, now that my swatch is all dry, I think I'm going to go down a needle size anyways, so it's just as well I didn't buy any before.

Today we went to Hope to visit a plaque that was installed in memory of my grandparents. On our way out we stopped at Farm House Cheeses, where we picked up some cheese curds and some other stuff. I can not emphasize enough how much I love some of their cheeses. I love sticking Alpine Gold in my sandwiches. I think the smell of it is what does it for me. I also like their Castle Blue. It's kind of like a cambozola. Think blue cheese that's creamy, mild and has a rind.

We also stopped and bought hazelnuts and had pie at the Chilliwack Airport. This is now debated in the blogosphere but I still think they have really good pie.

We did not end up getting dinosaur cookies in Hope though. The bakery was closed. I'm not entirely sure if they're actually good cookies or not, or if I have been blinded by nostalgia into thinking that they are incredibly good, but either way a trip to Hope seems kind of lacking without them.


Saturday, November 01, 2008

This year's pumpkin masterpiece


Before we get too far into November I'd better post a picture of this year's pumpkin masterpieces. Pictured above is "Duck in the style of explodingdog" by Abby and "Horse from Picasso's Guernica" by myself. I was going to do the entire mural but I ran out of time. Mine got a lot of horrified looks from Maple Ridgians because modern art is scary.

My pumpkin ended up being about two and a half inches thick, so I'm kind of sad that I can't cook it. It would have made a lovely addition to the jars of last year's pumpkin that are sitting in the freezer in anticipation of acute vitamin A deficiency or the apocalypse. Whichever comes first.

Friday, October 31, 2008

I clap bilingually

I had a dream the other night that I met a hobbit that looked like O'Brian from Star Trek. He had a face tattoo that I didn't like so I scrubbed it off with rubbing alcohol. I'm not sure why but it set the tone for the rest of the day in a really indescribable way.

I was at a concert that evening. It was not the Madonna concert that tied up traffic and filled all the restaurants and parking in the immediate vicinity, though I could certainly hear it while I was walking on the street outside.

No, it was a bilingual taping of a concert for the CBC, which is pretty much the same as a regular taping for the CBC, except that there's a lot more explaining and cheering to be done.

The hosts will stand on stage and explain in English and in French that this show is being taped for the CBC and will be broadcast whenever it will be broadcast. Then they will explain in both languages that they'll announce the band in French, and that we'll all have to cheer for a while. Then they'll announce the band again in English and we'll all have to cheer again before the band can come out. Some time afterward the CBC editing staff will be able to magically transform us all into a Francophone audience for Radio-Canada, because that's what TV is: magic.

I like going to these CBC things because they're free, which works well with my student budget and I never know what exactly I've signed up to see before I go so it's a surprise and surprises are fun.

This time the band was Pacifika, a Latin band that is apparently making some waves. I liked their music. It seemed like it took a while for them to hit that good groove where the audience gets into the performance, but it can be hard playing for a bunch of people who haven't really heard of you before and may not be familiar with your genre at all. The talking between songs was a little on the odd side though. My favourite line of the performance was "The next song has glockenspiel in it. It's a word I can say many times. Glockenspiel."

I saw Ian Hanomansing in the lobby while I was there. If Abby had sent her toyvoyagers with me like she'd suggested earlier I might have been the weirdo who asked him to pose with a bunch of stuffed animals for some pictures. Somehow I'm not horribly upset about that.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Finally some photos!

I'm speechless, so here are some photos from the weekend.






Just what was this all about? Net neutrality andmedia reform.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The go go don't stop

I printed out a project for school and it turns out that I made a huge mistake...

that turned out awesome! Yep, I totally meant for it to come out on tabloid sized sheets instead of 8 1/2x11, of course I did. I'm now busy ammending my thumbnails so that when I hand it in it will look very planned.

I had a meeting to go to near Dunbar this evening and I missed the bus that I should have taken to get to it. I didn't rememember which number that bus was or when it was supposed to come but I was certain that I had definitely missed it so I hopped on another one.

The thing about transit downtown is that I don't really know where all the routes go, but I get around just fine because there's enough transit coverage frequently enough that I just pick something that goes the direction that I want to go and transfer as needed if the bus starts going in the wrong direction for too long. If I have any problems with transit, I get out and navigate on foot.

Unfortunately, my choice of bus routes was sub-optimal today, and I ended up getting off on Quenesl near 27th, which really isn't anywhere close to Dunbar and it took me half an hour to walk to where I was actually supposed to go.

That's okay, though, because I like walking. I don't play sports anymore so it keeps me skinny.

I have also had slices of cake from three separate birthday cakes today. I think that was probably too much sugar.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

School work trumps all, it seems

I know I said I would have lots of cool photos to show today but school takes priority over everything and that's how I've spent most of my evening. Yay for school projects!

In all this, one thing has become clear to me: I hate stock photography. I hate how it looks like stock photography. I hate how they are always so deliberately posed. I hate how all the people are always white, and where they're not white, they're a specific minority group that was placed there to achieve a very calculated "diverse" look. I hate how they're always beaming from ear to ear, happily using their computers, happily demonstrating a point, happily having meetings, happily doing everything with perfect lighting and bland, nondescript surroundings.

But mostly I hate that the image I have in mind never seems to exist.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pictures tomorrow

I think I'm going to sleep well tonight.

I've been out running around all day, getting help with a project for one of my classes, helping with Media Democracy Day and taking pictures. I haven't put the pictures on my computer yet because I doubt I have the space for all of them right now. Bah, technology.

But I enjoyed myself. Met a lot of interesting people, heard a lot of interesting speeches, picked up a whack of pamphlets and things that hopefully I'll read.

I now have that sort of achey, vaguely sore feeling in my legs that comes from spending too much time on my feet on concrete floors. I'm sure I'll have a lot more to say tomorrow once I'm more awake, and that it will probably be more interesting that way.

I mean, I could throw in a lot of things that are only moderately related to the above, like how the Westjet commercials on tv are reminding me that I love ginger ale and that I haven't had any for a very long time, or that the cat is staring at me right now or that I'm searching for the perfect pattern to make fingerless mitts for my sister to wear at work.

But I won't.

It's time to go to bed.

Thursday, October 23, 2008



Sitting and staring blankly at the computer seems to be my Thursday ritual these days. Something about the structure of my week this semester makes me progressively more tired until Friday comes and I can relax.

It's worse if I have errands to run on Monday, if I have to stay late to get some help with a project on Wednesday, and have something due on Thursday. All of these were the case this week.

It's even worse when little unexpected things happen, like a stall on the bridge that adds an hour to your commute home.

The night before last the cat woke me up at about 3:30 am because she was having a seizure on my bed. She wet herself and I spent the next half hour cleaning and doing laundry so that I could go back to sleep.

I'm really tired, which is probably the reason why I can't sleep.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

105/365: M.S.

She was so excited that she'd made a friend and little did I know at the time that she would become indellibly stuck to me for the rest of the semester. After our course together she had nothing for the rest of the day and I had a huge break, but on the first day after three hours with this person I had only just met I wanted a bit of alone time to study or sleep. I had been trying to explain this in a polite and inoffensive way for about an hour already and finally as an act of desperation I declared that I had to go to a class and stepped into a lecture hall.

It was a third year kineseology class and it was just starting. I sat down and ended up staying there for an hour. A guy asked me if I didn't understand the assignment either and I said no, I didn't. The class was super interesting though. Something about metabolizing proteins or something. Fascinating stuff.

She was waiting for me when I left the lecture hall. I never bothered to go to that fake class again, and she seemed to think that was really cool and typically caucasian and rebellious.

We ended up spending a lot of time together that semester, and I warmed up to her.

Monday, October 20, 2008

104/365: S.S.

I did her filing because her work space looked like it was out of A Beautiful Mind. One minute she'd be proudly showing you pictures of her grandkids, the next she'd be muttering that she wanted to throw herself off a bridge and the next she'd be asking if your shirt was new. As much as this sounds like a chaotic and completely unworkable arrangement, I actually quite liked working with her because she was really a nice person. "Erin, you're like valium," she said to me one day "I see you and then I calm down."

Sunday, October 19, 2008



At the Apple Festival three things prevented me from taking lots of pictures:

  • The blechy cloudy light.
  • The coldness of the air and my subsequent mitten wearage. They're awesome mittens but they really don't lend themselves well to easy camera operation.
  • The realization after the Apple Festival last year that all my photos were like carbon copies of all the photos I'd taken the year before.
So no pictures of the sixty kinds of apples I tried today and no more pictures of the minotaur. One thing that I did take a picture of though was my sister and her favourite hobby. I also got some advice about how to take care of my bees over the winter.

We had dinner at The Naam, which is a vegetarian restaurant in Kits. The food was delicious, especially their salad dressings and carrot cake and I should add that they make a decent cup of tea there too. Good restaurant tea is nearly impossible to find.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

This is a post about food

I found out today that the bucket of dates I had have been recalled and that I should return them to the store for full refund. Half of them have been eaten already to no noticeable ill effect.

Part of me is kicking myself for knowing better than to buy food from California because it's not local and local is best. Got to keep my food miles down, especially since I wrote an article for the newspaper about it that will be published within the next couple weeks.

The other part of me is thinking I should just finish off the bucket before I go in and get the refund. Am I weird?

It's been getting really cold overnight lately so today was a mad rush to harvest stuff from the garden. We have a heap of carrots, green tomatoes, some beets and I made emergency pesto. Surprisingly enough it tastes like pesto, and not, you know, like something else.

Friday, October 17, 2008

103/365: Abby

Abby is my sister. I've known her since she was born. Well, maybe not quite because I wasn't there, so technically I've known her since I climbed into Mom's hospital bed and ate her hospital dinner. Abby was born in the middle of the Three Stooges Film Festival on TV. Then she was almost born on the porch, in the car and in emerg. She was purple for about three weeks after that, but I'm happy to say her complexion has improved since then. I also thought she smelled kind of funny at the time but that has also improved. One thing that I've noticed though is that she seems to have gained a lot of weight - a hundred pounds or so! Mom set a new record for post-natal hospital discharge because she needed to go home and finish my Halloween costume. The hospital staff thought she was insane but clearly my mother has her priorities in order.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

That was my morning

I had two pages to print. With my head fully saturated with mucus I realized at about 2am that my printer was out of ink so I decided to sleep on it.

In the morning I put them on a flash drive and gave them to my sister to print out on her printer. Her printer ran out of ink during the first page and jammed during the second which threw her into a pissy mood and eventually resulted in her having all the new printer cartridges and me having an inkless printer and my flash drive back.

Eventually we sorted that out. While that was happening I was also making breakfast. I went to the fridge to find that we were suddenly out of eggs. Not a problem because I decided that I wanted some hot cereal instead. You know the kind that has flax, cracked wheat, rye, cornmeal and lots of other super fibrous goodness? Well, actually we have several kinds because I happen to like that stuff, especially with a hefty dollop of peanut butter mixed in.

But the cereal was nowhere to be found in the pantry. Someone had reorganized it and neglected to invite me to the orientation session.

Finally I found some but it was not a kind that lends itself well to microwaving, and probably would have been better if it had been cooked on the stove. I wish to emphasize at this point that I'm a very lazy person in the morning, and that I have timed out my movements for maximum efficiency so I can sleep in as long as possible. I don't have time to be screwing around with all of this stuff.

So, into the microwave it would go, if only I could find the right dish for it. Where the hell was the dish? I make my hot, grainy cereal in a pyrex measuring cup because it combines lines that help me get my proportion of grain to water right, and tall, steep sides that don't allow my breakfast to boil over and make a mess.

It just so happened that my pyrex measuring cup was filled with leftover gravy from Thanksgiving dinner because certain members of my family have come down with some sort of gastrointestinal bug and have not been meeting their leftover consumption quotas. I used another bowl and left everything to fate.

Meanwhile I'd acquired a print cartridge and loaded it into my printer. The thing then went through the dumb process of expelling half its contents onto a test page. Grargh.

But finally I got to print! The whole thing came out with lines all over it which meant I then had to clean the print heads, the printer had to then waste more ink on another dumb test page and then I printed it again. The second time it had lines but they weren't as bad and I didn't have more time to waste on it.

I returned to the microwave to find that the cereal had boiled over and coated the inside of the microwave, the outside of the bowl, the tea towel I used to remove the hot bowl and the kitchen counter that I set the thing on. I closed the microwave because I didn't have time to deal with the mess and I hoped that none of it would become baked on while I was gone.

I ate the remainder of the cereal that was in the bowl and gulped down some fluids because I was still a faucet of mucus, whacked my elbow into the bathroom door while I was doing my hair, missed my bus and got a ride to school where I was locked out of the lab where I needed to do the finishing touches for a project that was due today.

And that was my morning.

Monday, October 13, 2008

102/365: Rachelle

Rachelle was our cool Guide leader. She had radical ideas for planning camps and events that involved large tracts of unstructured free time, cool crafts like friendship bracelets that you could work on whenever and letting us choose what we wanted to eat. So through consensus-based decision making we always decided that we'd have stuff like tortellini and cardboard box cupcakes.

Eventually the legal firm she worked with offered her a better job in Calgary and she jumped at the chance to be able to flaunt her love of country music out in the open. All of us who had been in her group moved to another group that was run in the old-fashioned paramilitary British way, which was hell compared to what we had been used to.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!


Thanksgiving kind of snuck up on me this year. I sent off an email to someone on Wednesday telling them that I'd see them on Monday and they replied that they'd see me the following Monday because this coming one is a holiday.

Good thing I didn't have any major plans that I'd forgotten. I have plans for Christmas, but Christmas never sneaks up on anyone. Christmas stuff has been in stores for a couple weeks now. But Thanksgiving? Super stealth!

We usually pre-order a turkey from an organic free-range turkey farm, which is kind of fun because once it's time to pick the thing up you never quite know how big it's going to be. Turkey surprise! This year it was just shy of eighteen pounds.

After dinner there was a lot of bird leftover so dad decided that maybe it would fit in the refrigerator better if he disassembled it and then piled it back on the platter. It was a complicated procedure that involved several plates and knives and then a careful reassembling of the meat and bones back on the platter.

The whole thing ended up being the exact same size it had been previously, only less appetizing. As he said "I'm glad I'm not God because if I had to put together a turkey from scratch it would look pretty fucking weird."

101/365: Franklin

One moment a group of young Spanish tourists were horsing around outside the Doges Palace in Venice, and then the next moment they had disappeared completely, leaving in their wake a twenty euro bill on the ground. I was the only one who noticed it, and not knowing who exactly had lost it or how to contact them, it was fair game.

I made the mistake of declaring aloud that there was money on the ground and Franklin was in like a shot. It turned out to be a wad of bills. He took a forty euro cut and gave me the remaining twenty. That night he bought a round of drinks for his table at dinner, taking great care to let everyone know that he was being generous.

Later on he was to make a big deal about how he was going to do his undergrad studies at Yale because Canadian schools aren't good enough, further solidifying my impression that the majority of people who study at expensive, big named schools are assholes. If you are genuinely good at research, academics or sports you shouldn't need to use your school's name as a crutch.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

100/365: Wesley

Wesley has a kind of quiet awkwardness about him that is really endearing. He kind of speaks better through music than he does with words. After high school he left to do volunteer work all over the place and eventually returned with a really sweet Quebecois girlfriend and substantially better musical taste.

Friday, October 10, 2008

If I have interests does that make me interesting?


Today's weather forecast: gorgeous. That means another trip to the roof.

I spent much of today on the hill running errands, doing stuff for my student union and finding more books for a paper I'm writing.

The paper part is a long, drawn-out process because I have a bad habit of picking topics that really haven't been done very much before so it's not like I can just go out and pick up some summaries or readers to start with. I've been to four different libraries to get books for this, and most of them won't give me more than a few quotes or a couple little ideas to use. Sometimes I think glory sucks.

I think one of the coolest things about knit club is that it pulls in a lot of really different people who are interesting to talk to because they're really different. That's one of the reasons why I decided to go to meetings. I know lots of people in my major but not many outside of that. It also gives me a chance to be a complete geek and take part in a discussion about the direction you wrap your yarn.


After that I wandered around campus because it was oddly empty and the weather was still beautiful. I ran into someone who was jogging around in spandex. Since spandex is kind of in right now I wouldn't normally turn my head but it had a particular pattern and I recognized that it was Row West spandex which meant that this person was probably a rower. I asked her and yes, indeed, she was. Geekiness of another sort ensued.

Then, while I was running around campus with my camera someone came up behind me and said "hey! we have the same camera bag!" We stopped and compared cameras and she said that she was glad that she wasn't the only one who was geeky enough to carry around a big SLR.

So many random interests in one day! Just think - if I'd tap danced with bloggers about federal politics, ate gourmet cheese and purple tomatoes that I grew in the back yard, watched Red Dwarf, hid a food security themed geocache and read non-fiction books about the environment or economics or something...

My head just might have exploded from so many random interests coming into contact with each other at once. On second thought, that would probably be cool. Not the head explosion, but you know.

more roof, more Robert C. Brown