Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bad photos of a finished skirt


Dear Anna Burda,

I will admit that I was skeptical when you said that I was a size 14 in American sizing. That's almost twice my regular size. 14 tends to be the beginning of the plus sizes and half the places in the mall don't stock stuff that big, or at least that's what it reminds me of.

I used to be that size and I have no desire to go back. I pondered this for a while and then I threw caution to the wind and decided to trust your German precision.

And it fits! I am amazed.

It's a little gimpy in spots, but that's all my doing. I will never doubt you again.




Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Recent times in which my relatives have unwittingly put me in awkward situations

Abby: Mom! Stop teabagging me!

Me: Mom, stop hitting my sister with a tea bag on a string. I don't want to explain that term.


Grandma: I wonder what it feels like to be in handcuffs.

The above is something that you don't want to speak to at all, not for grandma's sake, because she only associates handcuffs with crime, but because your immediate family is in the room and they will associate them with other things.

Not that we know about other things. My friend was training to be a police officer and that's the honest truth.

The scenic route


I have a thing about appointments. I don't like them. That goes for the standard kinds of appointments like visits to the dentist or job interviews, and others like meetings and parties. Once I'm there I'm fine and may be glad I've come, but it's the getting there that's hard.

I don't like the hours, days, weeks of anticipating whatever it is, of being obligated to appear sometime in the future. I don't like the crappy feeling that comes when I'm late to things that have been scheduled for a long time, even if it wasn't my fault. Knowing that I have to be somewhere weighs on me. I like to be on my own time.

Once I'm free of everything though, I couldn't care less about whether my bus is on time or not. I will ride the skytrain out to the last stop, just so that I get a seat on the way back. I will navigate home by direction only, with a complete disregard for bus schedules and routes.

This is good because it just so happens that today I looked up the bus schedule to get out to the west end, but it didn't occur to me to figure out how I was getting home until I was tying to do it.

As I was waiting out at a bus stop I stepped out to look for busses and inadvertently flagged one that I didn't want to take. The bus stopped and the driver sat there with the door open and refused to move. He was a Sikh with a big turban. "Howdy! Howdy!" he said, so I just had to get on.

I took the scenic route home.

My milk's a little off, which didn't really bother me until I got down to the last sip of my tea where all the chunky bits were hiding. As I swished that last little bit around it reminded me of the contents of the toilet when I'm sick so I think I'm going to pour it out.

Monday, April 28, 2008

61/365: Magistra Johrden

Magistra Johrden magistram meam in scolam erat. Multas linguas sciret et benigtatibus aestimavit. Cursus delectabant.

Magistra Johrden was my high school Latin teacher. She knows lots of languages and marked really easy. Her classes were fun.

Cambridge Latin Coursem monstravit. Caecilio, Metella, Grumio coquo amabilis, Cerberus cano legebamus.

She taught from the Cambridge Latin Course. We read about Caecilius, Metella, sexy Grumio the cook and Cerberus the dog.

Classiarius subsidiarius erat. Interdum exivit ut navem navigavisset et exercuisset. Ordo "mister" erat, et per merito emeruit.

She was in the naval reserves so sometimes she would leave to do target practice and ride around on a boat. She told us that she was in the rank "mister," something reserved for people who did not go to military college, but worked their way up the ranks instead.

Ante finem scolam decessit sed celebrationis sequit.

She left our school before we finished, but she came to our convocation to see us off.

Ehu, latinus meus malus est.

Damn my latin sucks.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

We're a comedy duo.

IMG_6892_1Gradually I've been cleaning up things. I kind of wanted to take some pictures of my apartment for posterity's sake. I hadn't really done it before because it was so messy, but along with cleaning I've been moving stuff out, so at this point, if I did it wouldn't look right. I won't.

I don't have many pictures of my old house either, even though I lived there for 14 years in the dark ages before digital photos. Though demolished, the house lives on as an aerial photograph in Google Earth. The picture there is more than four years old. I wonder when they'll change it.

There's a tree down the street from here that's dead and hollowed out with decay. Its grey limbs reach out horizontally, low to the ground. For almost ten years my dad has been telling me that I should take a picture of it, but it has never occurred to me to do it whenever I have had the chance. He'd remind me about it sometimes, usually with irritation at the spring growth on the shrubs nearby, or snow, or any other obstacle to picturing it in its entirety. "Next year," he'd say.

One of the tree's limbs has recently fallen off, so now I'm not sure if I want to photograph that either.

I was going somewhere with this when I wrote it down yesterday, but then I got a phone call from my mom and had to leave, and I can't quite figure out where I was going with this post. She needed me to come rescue her at a gala downtown, not so much from the gala, but from falling asleep on the drive home.

I think I'm a bad influence on her. The keynote speaker said somethng about people being posterboys and then a guy at our table said "and girls," to which I said "poster homo sapiens" and that made mom and I giggle uncontrollably. People say the two of us together are really funny.

I rather like this dress. I don't really like my photography of it.

60/365: Ellen

Ellen was one of the most down-to-earth people I'd met. "Just because we're married, doesn't mean we're joined at the hip," she'd say, which was her excuse to ditch the husband and spend time with the horse instead.

For a summer she was my ride to work, and the reason why I'd spend my mornings in a maroon BMW full of women plotting their significant others' deaths. She'd weave in and out of cars on the freeway. Neither her odometer or spedometer worked.

Then abruptly she lost her job and fell out of contact. I've tried to look her up since, but I haven't had luck, which is unfortunate because I'm pretty sure I owe her $60 and it's been bugging me for three years.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

59/365: Dr. Feenberg

I found his mannerisms strangely endearing, and I liked him even more when he brought in prints of his photography to illustrate what Benjamin was talking about in The Work Of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. He had a good eye. He also had a thing for the tragic Madame Bovary.

Friday, April 25, 2008




My mom used to have a big Christmas cookie tin full of buttons and I would run my hands through them because I loved the way it sounded when the buttons shifted against each other and hit the sides of the tin.

I like the colours and shapes of them and how like all the other unused art supplies I have amassed over the years, they represent a kind of unlimited potential. They could be any number of things if I wanted them to be, and a lot of the time I'd rather just think about that than actually make something. It's a habit I should break.

This pile is the result of a bit too much lunch time shopping at Dressew, where you can get half-pound bags of buttons for 99 cents.

I'm looking through them today to see if I can find a button to finish off the skirt I've been working on. I don't want to buy any more buttons if I can help it.

I found a couple that might work, but I haven't decided yet.

trying to pick a button for my new skirt

58/365: M.C.

He insisted that we use comic sans and only comic sans when we did the layout for the school yearbook, and we complied. We sent off all our pages to be printed, only to find that he'd filled all the white space on everyone's pages with his completely unrelated doodling. We were pretty angry at the time that a teacher would deface students' work.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

57/365: Jeremy

I had a girly crush on him because he was so friendly and nice to be around, but I couldn't get over the fact that he would readily shirk his responsibilities to spend all afternoon in a small room with a 20 pound tank of helium and a balloon. We had to drag him to where there was oxygen before he passed out.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

People I don't want sitting beside me on the bus

Jeffrey Yamaguchi of 52 Projects has put together a big list of people he doesn't want sitting beside him on the train and I thought I'd add a couple to the list.

The Compulsive Swearer
He takes so many different forms that it's hard to identify him when he gets on the bus, but once his phone rings, you know him. Every second word out of his mouth is fuck. You begin to wish that he had a larger vocabulary, but are not entirely sure how to explain it to him in words he understands. Since he's talking too loud for you to ignore, you begin to look at your watch to calculate his FPM.

The Claustrophobic Wheelchair Guy
He is in a wheelchair and gets the special wheelchair spot in the front, but believes he owns the entire front half of the bus. Whenever anyone tries to stand within three metres of him he emits a high pitched wail of agony and shoots them a dirty look, even though there's tons of empty space around him and none at the back of the bus.

The Death Metal Singer
He's wearing those giant headphones that cancel out all background noise and he has his eyes closed. As he sits down you hear the unmistakable sound of power chords which is annoying but alright until he begins to sing loudly and tone-deafly: "and the rivers will run with BLOOD!" and something about hellfire.

The Profuse Sweater
This person is really overweight and fills up their seat and part of yours. Aside from the obvious personal space issues that come from having someone's leg, arm and bulk pressed up against you, this is okay. But when this person gets up at their stop, you suddenly notice that the side of your leg is getting kind of cold... and it's really damp. You should have packed an extra pair of pants just in case.

The Angry Bicycle Courier
This guy has had a crappy day at work. He always has crappy days at work. He's angry and he's only going to get angrier because everything makes him angry. There is nothing on earth that can contain his anger and you can see it simmering there under the surface. Watch out.

The Nasally-Challenged Parent
Her baby is fussy and when it squirms you can tell why. It's wearing one of those super amazing, expensive disposeable diapers that have so many chemicals in them that you never have to change them, or so parents think. Every time the kid moves you get a whiff of chemicals and poop. The kid is probably getting a nasty rash on his butt but the parent doesn't seem to notice, and the whole bus is stinking up.

56/365: Mr. Borthwick

He had an old, beaten up lab coat and a really kindly disposition. He taught us how to make urinal mints and artificial banana flavouring. He was the only person who asked me for a souvenir from Italy, and I brought him back some pumice from Pompeii for his geology class.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

55/365: Lisa

Lisa was my best friend in elementary school. She was half Chinese but she looked a lot like her father so you wouldn't have known it. She liked Cher, jelly shoes (those see-through plastic ballet flats) and catching ladybugs. I used to sleep over at her house quite a bit. One night over at her house I convinced her to write out a manuscript for a book in her best handwriting and then we mailed it to a reputable publishing house. We never heard back from them.

When I was in grade 5 her parents divorced and she moved away, and we lost touch because I suck at letter writing. I'm not entirely sure if we would have stayed close if she hadn't moved because she was older and would have moved on to the next school anyways. She was also starting to spend a lot of time at church and exploring the Bible away from her school friends, something that made me very uncomfortable at the time. Wouldn't as much today.

It's her birthday today. I think I'm going to be a complete facebook creep and message her. I'd kind of been considering doing it for a while now.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The perils of having long hair

the perils of having long hair

People look at me and tell me they wish they had long hair like me. I smile because it's technically a compliment but really what I'd like to say is:

No, no you don't.

The above is a picture of the head on my vacuum cleaner after one full sweep of my carpet. It is so clogged with hair, it will not pick up anything until I pick all the hair out with tweezers. If it doesn't get clogged there, it'll clog the bag instead.

Not to mention, I go through shampoo and conditioner by the bucket, and when I shower, my wet hair likes to squish itself between my butt cheeks, which I find extremely annoying.

It also gets wound up around my neck when I sleep so I wake up all nice and noosed.

So no, you don't want long hair. You just want to admire it on other people, that's all.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Save the CBC Orchestra

CBC Radio Orchestra Protest

CBC Radio Orchestra Protest

The CBC Radio Orchestra's concert today was more emotional than usual. In spite of a promising few seasons in the works, the funding for the orchestra was axed without warning a couple weeks ago in a closed-door meeting.

It is the latest in a series of developments that have seen the CBC's management in Ontario gut classical and orchestral music programming in favour of more mainstream fare. It has sparked a great deal of anger among CBC listeners, especially since this leaves people outside of Toronto and Montreal with few opportunities to listen to classical music.

During the orchestra's 70 year history it has shown a dedication to showcasing Canadian talent, commissioning new works from upcoming composers, experimenting with different styles and instruments, and bringing foreign performers to Canadian audiences. It produces music that is just not available anywhere else. Tickets to shows are inexpensive (which is why I go), recordings from concerts are played on the radio and available for free on demand on the Radio 2 website.

It is the last remaining radio orchestra in North America, and it provides a foundation for the development of new talent that does not get support from the commercial media. I think the decision to dismantle it is extremely short-sighted, especially since the development of new talent is and will always be an ongoing task.

Anyways, the concert today was pretty moving in spots, because it may possibly be the orchestra's last performance. It began and ended with standing ovations and went a lot longer than they usually run. There was an awkward moment at the end where the soloists realized that people were cheering more for the orchestra than them but that was alright.

I'm going to be writing a lot of angry letters this week. You can help out too, if you want. Signing the petition is easy and would make me happy. You can also visit:

Save the CBC
Stand On Guard for CBC Radio
Save Classical Music at the CBC Facebook Group
Save the CBC Radio Orchestra Facebook Group

CBC Radio Orchestra Rally

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Maybe I'm grotesque and deformed and I'm just not aware of it.


I have been out buying clothes for work today. Three guesses as to what my colours are. For as much as I complain about not being able to find anything in my size, I find stuff that's okay if I just look. It just takes long, painful hours of looking, that's all.

One thing is becoming increasingly clear to me though: there is hell on earth and it is called bra shopping.

Why does it have to be so damn hard? Why do I have to be such an uncommon size?

What I've learned is that the average store stocks two bras that are my size. The exception will be La Senza, which will stock 10. All told, there will be about 20 bras tagged with my size in an average mall.

Out of these, three will be neon green. Four will ride up in the back, in spite of being the right size. Five will have a huge amount of padding, and in two of these there will be soooo much padding that I wonder where you go about sticking the breasts in them.

I will end up with something that will do but that I'm not super happy about but that I bought because the other ones are sagging and I need new ones now. Why is this so hard?

Friday, April 18, 2008


StevestonThe crows around here have an appetite for clams. They pick them up and smash them against any hard surfaces they can find, so you find bits of shells littering parking lots, rooves, sidewalks and peoples' balconies.

The gulls try this sometimes too, but it's mostly the crows.

One of them likes to tap them against my bathroom vent, which to my groggy half-asleep morning ears sounds like someone is rapping on my door with a key. I launch myself out of bed in a panic to find some clothes to put on to answer it and always find that there's no one at the door.

No, it's just the horrifically violent death of a bivalve mollusc on my roof.

Or breakfast. Whatever you want to call it.

Either way it does get me out of bed in the morning. It works almost as well as the cat tries to shove something up my nose.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Gratuitous Linkage

I keep meaning to fit my feed in here somewhere but I haven't gotten around to it yet, so here are some sites I've found lately, now that I don't have school to eat up my time.

My sister and I used to follow a blog called Threadbared, where two snarky women used made fun of the photos in old craft patterns and catalogues in a generally merciless and hilarious way. We were sad when they shut it down just under a year ago, but now we have something to fill the void: The Museum of Kitschy Stitches.

I really like Benjamin Goss' Urban strangeness set on Flickr. It's dark and high contrast and a little gritty in the way that only film can be. Makes me want to actually learn how to use my camera and get a backbone so that I could go out and find characters like that too. They seem to be a dying breed these days.

I also like Hope Gangloff's style of drawing - sketchy, limited palette of colours. The detail of patterns sometimes overwhelms the pictures and makes them flat, which kind of reminds me of Klimt. May not be completely safe for work (some bare breasts) just so you know.

Spearheaded by Nancy Pearl Wannabe, a group of bloggers created a Choose Your Own Blogventure. Remember those books? I used to love them so this is fun.

Learning to Love You More is a series of art projects and creative assignments and a collaborative gallery of peoples' results. I think that any of them would make for some interesting blog posts. Same goes for Keri Smith's 100 ideas (of which there are only slightly less than 100).

I read this article on using reading to be better at writing and downloaded Dark Room, a word processor that is text only, and nothing else. It blacks out your entire screen so that nothing distracts you and I like it already. If you're cooler than me, you'd be using Writeroom for Macs instead. Same program, pretty much.

And through all of this I've been getting some reading done through LibriVox, a volunteer-run site that seeks to provide free audiobooks of all works in the public domain. I'm listening to Balzac in daily podcasts right now, which is really cool and gives me hands for knitting.

Oh, and before this post ends, Elephants crossing the great divide made me giggle. Hard.

54/365: Kelly

Kelly and I went to high school together. I will always remember her as a very average, pleasant, friendly person. What she doesn't know is that we've known each other for a very long time.

She and I were born 14 hours apart at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, BC. Her mother and my mom shared a room for a couple loooong days. Her mother whined and complained about how much pain she was in from her cesarean, and how long she was in labour with all the noisy melodrama she could muster.

The telling of the tale took a painfully long amount of time, and was repeated every time a new relative entered the door. Kelly has a very, very large extended family.

This woman had a weird relationship with her mother that involved far more baby talk than is normal between two adults.

She was so noisy and inconsiderate that my mom didn't get any sleep while she was there, and was very glad when she finally went home. She was replaced by a mostly quiet woman who had just given birth to the ugliest baby on earth (her words, not anyone else's). The two hit it off immediately.

I have resolved to never tell Kelly any of this.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008



Move all of what I said I would do yesterday to today.

On the bridge near where I live, the sidewalk is pretty narrow. You could reach out of the passenger's side of your car and almost be able to touch the people walking there.

As I was crossing, someone reached out with an air horn and blasted me in my left ear.

It was a taupey-gold coloured car. That doesn't really matter because by the time I'd processed what had just happened, I missed the licence plate number.

I've been having problems with that ear for a few months now, and I don't think that helps it at all. Tonight I have some bad tinnitus.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Making up for sleeping in.


And it's morning again. Tonnes of things to do today.

I need to make a Dressew run to get some zippers and some other miscellaneous supplies like crochet cotton, and double pointed needles. Whether or not I will come home with these things is debatable. I tend to forget what I'm there for and then I get distracted by things like 99 cent boxes of chocolate and 99 cent bags of miscellaneous buttons.

Just think about it - you need that bag of buttons. There are almost 500 grams of buttons in there. You never know when you're going to need buttons. You don't want to get caught without them. In fact, you need two bags of buttons. You need an entire kilo of buttons, just to be safe.

This is what Dressew does to me.

The fact that Opus is opening a store just down the street from there won't make it any easier. Of course I need those camel hair brushes, and that new molskine notebook and a stack of cartridge paper to go with the stack that I already have at home. One can never have enough gold leaf or pencils.

I also need to get some clothes for work which may necessetate a trip to the mall. It's a well known fact that I hate malls. Not only is there a decided lack of stuff there that I'm actually interested in, they're always crowded and the air's always dry.

I see things there and they're not quite what I wanted to find and then I wonder whether I should get them and then I think that maybe I'll think on it because I don't know if I need it and then maybe if I come back in a week it'll still be there. Then I walk out empty handed.

That's what malls do to me.

I kind of lost steam while I was cleaning out the fridge yesterday. I pulled everything out, washed and disinfected the shelves and now it doesn't smell bad anymore, but I didn't make it to the vegetable or cheese drawers so they're sitting out on my kitchen floor right now.

And after that there are always more boxes to fill. Yay.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Being a brain in a jar is still on the table.

I'm the sort of person who would take a cold cup of tea to the microwave only to find another cold cup of tea inside and another full cold cup of tea on the counter beside I'd already been through the same ritual earlier in the day. If my head wasn't screwed on I'd lose it.

I like to put on a silk dress and heels, play the post-rock really loud and dance alone in my livingroom late at night because most of the time it beats doing stuff with real people. I'm a bit of a misanthrope at heart. It's not that I don't like people, I just don't find them all that interesting.

This post brought to you by the wastelands of Craigslist personal ads. I go there sometimes to remind myself why I quite enjoy staying home by myself, and it never fails.

This post also brought to you by well intentioned friends who keep trying to get me to come out to do things when really I'm not in the mood, have not been for about six weeks and may not be for a while to come.

Just not that interested.

I need to get some sleep.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

My bees

mason bee house

A few weeks ago we went to West Coast Seeds to get some organic heirloom seeds for our garden and while we were there we bought some mason bees.

Our neighbour Chris had tonnes of them that he used to take around to local farms and our garden definitely benefited from having them next door. He had a stroke at the end of last year and his family has since moved away, so now we need some of our own.

Mason bees are not like other bees. They're all black and look kind of like flies. They don't live in a hive with a queen. They don't sting and don't swarm. They don't make honey. All they do is pollinate stuff, and apparently they're super efficient at it.

From what I've been able to read, they fly around, pollinate lots of stuff and then lay eggs inside cocoons. You buy them inside the cocoons, which look a lot like rabbit poop. You have to keep the cocoons in the fridge all winter to keep them from hatching out and then put them out when the time is right for them to wake up.

The apple and pear trees have buds right now so we put them out today. I'm not entirely sure how long they take to wake up. I'm getting that feeling that I get with any sort of gardening, that too-long nervous wait for something to happen.

Maybe they'll come out tomorrow. I hope I haven't killed them yet.

we put our bees out today

53/365: Larry

Larry worked in the park, doing maintenance and cleaning. He often was the conduit for local news and he'd come over to talk while he was doing his rounds. He had tons of fading, sagging tatoos that he wore proudly. In his spare time he used to ride his motorcycle for charitites.

One day when I was 10 or 11 I was home alone working in the workshop downstairs and he came to the door. I left the machines running and answered the door wearing a giant apron and dirty hands. He freaked out and called my parents, who said it was fine. Always looking out for you. That's just the kind of guy he was.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Music: Canadiana

I'm a sucker for songs that mention places in Canada, even if they're places I've never been or don't know where to place them.

The Guess Who - Running Back to Saskatoon

The Tragically Hip - Bobcaygeon

Final Fantasy - The CN Tower Belongs to the Dead

There are so many more.

One thing I've noticed though is that there are very few about places in BC. Someone needs to write a song about Lytton or Boston Bar or Sandspit or Revelstoke. Just think, wouldn't a love song that mentions the asbestos mines in Cassiar be so awesome?

52/365: Vi

When we took posession of our house, the previous owners told us that it magically got free cable, that they didn't know how that happened and that we shouldn't bother asking questions about it. We didn't.

But Vi did. The moment she moved in upstairs, she contacted the cable company so that she could pay for the exact same cable package, and all of a sudden ours was disconnected.

She didn't like taking her garbage the five metres to the street so she began to fill the back yard and balcony with it instead.

She had a lot of money for things. Cable television was one of them. Magazine subscriptions was another. She had tons of money to spend on cigarettes (even though she was adamant that she was a non-smoker). She supported two adult children who were not working because they just weren't.

One thing she didn't have money four though was rent. How dare we hold her to a contract that she signed! We are such assholes.

Friday, April 11, 2008

51/365: Monique

Monique works in the department office at my school. She has a secret stash of free passes to Vancouver premieres for movies.

She's the person you run crying to when you can't get into your last class of the semester to hand in your final paper because they're filming jPod just outside the door and you're going to FAIL EVERYTHING. Monique makes it all better. That's just what she does.

My DIY wardrobe

will soon be part of my office wardrobe

I really badly need some new work clothes. I've lost a substantial amount of weight the past couple years, and add that to the fact that I really haven't bought much new stuff since I started losing that weight, I haven't really liked much of the styles that have come out lately, and all petite-sized clothing is made for fat, 50something women. Right now I'm down to a turtleneck and a skirt.

I decided that I would give the malls the finger and make my own. For Christmas I got a sewing machine and the week after that Dressew had a massive 50% off sale and I went a little crazy and everything's just been sitting around since then, pretty much, but finally I have some time to work on it all.

There was a time when I would have steered clear from Burda patterns because they had no seam allowances, that section of the pattern that covers the area between the seam and the edge of the fabric where you cut. You see, they're designed by Germans, and Germans are so amazingly intelligent and perfect that they don't need seam allowances. Their innate German-ness enables them to just figure it out.

But eventually they figured out that we here in North America are just too stupid to be able to add in our own seam allowances. No, we'll just cut on the dotted line and then wonder why the damn thing doesn't fit. Nowadays, they've fixed that so I can buy them again.

There's something else that I've noticed though, and it only came to mind when I started trying to piece a skirt together.

They have no darts.

Now, I don't mean darts in the correct sense, I mean those stickey-inney or stickey-outey bits on the edges of sewing patterns that help you figure out which pieces go together. It's kind of like a puzzle. You match the double triangle to the other double triangle, and the square thing with the other square and then yay, you haven't screwed up yet!

So I'm sitting here with a bunch of fabric pieces and I'm having the hardest time figuring out where they're all supposed to be stuck together. Grargh! Something tells me that leaving them out in the middle of the floor for a week or two will make it better.

destined to become a blazer with leather patches on the elbows

It's herringbone tweed!!!! It's mildly itchy!!!! You have no idea how much it amuses me!!! I'm going to turn it into a blazer with leather elbow patches!!!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I'm done for the semester!


Holy fatigue, Batman! I've been tired all day.

I went to hand in my exam and got lost in the rabbit warren that is the third floor of Harbour Centre. I saw someone from my class and he gave me directions, which happened to be the wrong directions, and I only found my prof because I could hear him talking on the phone somewhere.

I ran some errands downtown, and took some things out at the library. I was famished by that point but I'm cheap so I decided that I could wait an hour to get home, not that I have any food.

Shortly after I got home my family arrived without warning to congratulate me on being finished this semester. I thought that it was perfect timing and lovely that they were taking me out for dinner but then they just left. Oh well.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


They say that the majority of household dust is shedded skin, and that you shed it all every 27 days or so. Given the amount I vacuum, that means that quite a bit of me is lying around here.

I'm moving at the end of May. I'll vacuum and dust before then, but no doubt I'll miss spots. I imagine that I'll end up leaving a hand's worth underneath the fridge that I won't bother to clean.

The thought of a severed hand made of my reconstituted dead skin crawling out from underneath the fridge and tapping the new tenants on the noses in the middle of the night amuses me to no end.

My friends ask me who they will find to live here and put up with all this crap but that's not my problem and I don't care.

I just think it would be cool if all the dead skin lying around here could reconstitute itself into sentient, animated body parts, that's all.

I need to go to bed. I have a takehome exam to finish in the morning.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Power's out

power's outWhen I got home from the library today I noticed a high pitched noise coming from the television. I tried flipping it on and off but it didn't do anything. When it was plugged in, the noise was there, but when it was unplugged the noise disappeared.

Then I noticed that the dvd player was dead too. I figured that the plug must just be dead suddenly so I found an extension cord and plugged them in somewhere else, which also didn't work.

I thought it was a power outage as I looked to the microwave to tell me the time, and then realized that the microwave was on, so it was just the plugs that were out. I started an inventory:

all ceiling lights
all living room plugs (includes several lamps, television, dvd player, radio)
oven (but not stove)

It doesn't seem like a very long list but it covers the vast majority of my apartment, since I tend not to spend very much time in the bathroom or bedroom.

I checked the breakers to see if any were switched off but they weren't. I flicked a bunch of them but nothing happened.

The circuit my computer was on was still working so it wasn't a big deal. I had half an hour before the rest of the power flickered off, and this time it affected the people across the street too so it wasn't as weird.

All the fire alarms went off but there wasn't any fire anywhere. I went down to the electrical room, deactivated the alarms for the whole building and then my flashlight died.

Now I'm at my parents' house melting stinky cheese in the toaster.

Tweet tweet!

Burrard Inlet

Did I tell you I got a Twitter account? Follow me, if you feel so inclined, and receive scintillating updates like:

I think there's too much milk in my tea. I could top it up with more tea but I don't. I'm complicated that way.

Note to self: the combination of two good things is not always a good thing. Cheese sushi is a case in point.

The cat's been crying because the food dish in the bathroom is empty. Evidently a full food dish in the kitchen isn't good enough.

Joining freecycle and resisting the temptation of free Burt Bacharach and Willie Nelson records.
You know you want to.

While you're at it, you should check out Rachel's blog. It's a very good read and she has the distinction of being my only follower at the moment.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Shake it.

My camera's an SLR so it doesn't do video, but I just found out that my parents' does. It's about time I filled this blog with inane home videos.

It has been brought to my attention that the world has yet to be introduced to my parents' dancing printer. I tell you, this is a future star. That and my father's hand is a perfect candidate for the fire log channel on TV.

It kind of sounds like a washing machine. What you don't see in this video is me with my hand stuffed in my mouth, trying not to laugh.

Sorry it's so dark.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Two pancakes

Rocky Point Park

"There are two pancakes left. No matter how many we make there are always two pancakes left."

"We should stick them in the freezer and-"

"-Forget about them?"

"Yeah, exactly. Then one day we can make a tower of frozen pancakes."

50/365: Mr. E

He had a thing about Elvis and movie soundtracks from the 80s. These are the things that we had to play in music class, on guitars and glockenspiel as he accompanied on piano. For the longest time I thought he was the best piano player on earth.

He had a certificate for everything. When you got enough certificates you got a prize - a cool pencil. I had a desk full of these pencils and kept them in a pristine condition. Such pencils were not made to actually be used.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Big blob o' black

big blob o' black

I've been working on this a lot today because it has to be finished by Cinco de Mayo, the international celebration of my mother's birthday. Unfortunately it doesn't really look like much in that or any picture. It's just a big blob of black right now.

I think I had a dream last night about whether or not it was possible to find knitting yarn in mustard yellow. My sister doubted it, but in my dream I had an encyclopedic knowledge of all the yarn brands that carried wool in mustard yellow colours.

My grade 6 teacher, Mr. E was trying to interest me in some plastic tubs of costume jewelry but it wasn't Sherman so I wasn't all that interested.

Friday, April 04, 2008

The sustainable community development cohort


Yesterday was my last class with a lot of Sustainable Community Development people who are graduating soon. We ended up at Steamworks after class and discussed keeping in touch over drinks. It's a hard thing, keeping in touch.

I've been taking my time getting through the program and nearly every step of the way I've been pretty indecisive about whether I'll finish it. It's good and worthwhile and there are things about it that I certainly enjoy, but on the other hand it pulls down my gpa and I'm still not sure if it's really for me.

I feel like I can't afford to get Bs in my classes anymore and in SCD there seems to be a barrier there that I have yet to chip through. I think too that though I think it's all useful stuff to learn, I'm really more of a thinker than a doer. My friends will attest to the fact that I'm often all talk and no action. I think of much but bring little to fruition.

Given that fact it's a little weird that I'm in a program where it's nonstop field research, preparing feasibility reports, business plans, grant writing and research proposals. These are very useful skills to have, the sorts of things that I can mention that I do to managers at work just to see their eyes light up. No doubt my ability to do these things, and the fact that I've done some of these things for non-profits around the city makes me more employable. I don't mind doing this stuff and I'm reasonably competent (though I could probably use more practice) but it's just not something I feel particularly passionate about.

And yet I keep signing up for the classes. It's the people, I think. You'd be hard pressed to find a nicer, friendlier group of people than the ones that are in SCD at SFU. Everyone genuinely wants to be there, really open to ideas and everyone listens really well so classes are the source of all manner of good discussion. I come home feeling really, really happy.

That makes it sad that yesterday was my last class with a lot of them. They're graduating and off to bigger and better things, changing government policy, working the Obama campaign, designing green technology, planning cities, infecting NGOs and non-profits with their energy and enthusiasm.

Sometimes I think the future's in good hands.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Walking in the parkade again

It's a place I know fairly well because I've been there before. The old entrance has been boarded up, and beside it they're building an addition to the parkade.

Where the old and the new structures meet one of the columns is crumbling at the edge so you can see the steel rebar in some places. Someone has cut a hole in the chain link fence beside it, and bent the edges of the wire away.

I slip through and down the wall until I can enter the old side of the parkade. It's showing a lot of wear. I'm not sure how old it is but it hasn't been well maintained. The lines between the stalls are well worn. Here and there there are tags and stickers, and cracks with mineral deposits all around them from the water that's seeped through.

A group of elderly tourists are being led by two shady characters toward the stairwell. I have a bad feeling in my gut about them but I'm heading the same direction. They go up and I go down. I don't see them again.

The stairwell smells vaguely like old urine. Two storeys down I stop. I can hear someone vomiting further down and I change directions.

Then I woke up.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

All I'm thinking right now

is that when I write something like

Hi all,
I've condensed everyone's thoughts into essay form, and centred them all around three themes: film, surveillance and morality. It needs to be edited for flow and pared down a bit.
I did not mean add 900 words of random crap and broken English that is now interspersed with the good stuff throughout the paper.

Just sayin'.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

That's the sound of my street cred shooting itself in the corner.

Oh,, how you amuse me. works on the principle of the long tail, similar to the way that Amazon works. The idea is that you track absolutely all your users' behaviour on your site, and then use that information to make recommendations. Users' reactions to the recommendations get recorded as well, and eventually referrals become more accurate, or supposedly.

But we have to remember that it is some sort of computer algorithm that makes these decisions, so when it says "this band is similar to these other bands" that may not actually be true. What is true is that the people who listen to that band also listen to these other bands. Do they sound similar? Not necessarily.

Take Beirut for example. The band's sound has a lot of Eastern European and folk influences but judging by its similar artists you'd never guess that. It's a mixed bag of indie music there, mostly. 'Balkan' and 'gypsy' music that may sound more similar doesn't show up there because the majority of the people who listen to Beirut don't know about or don't listen to it.

I find that often for more obscure music, bands tend to be grouped geographically or by 'scene' more than by things that sound the same. Say a band that you've never heard of is from Chicago. If they have a limited number of listeners, a large portion of their similar artists will be from the Chicago indie music scene.

Time period seems to make a difference too. I think this is most obvious with bands that have a 'retro' sound. You'd think that if a band was trying to sound similar to another style of music or group of bands that this older music would show up as similar artists, but it often doesn't. This is most apparent with tribute bands. You'd think that Bjorn Again would have ABBA somewhere near the top of its similar artists but no.

I've noticed this through my recommendations too. A lot of stuff shows up there not necessarily because I'll like it but because say, it was on the radio at the same time that some other band I listen to was on the radio a lot. That's why they think that I'll like Edwin so much. He kind of fits into the category of "Canadian alternative rock that got overplayed on major radio stations in the 90s."

Don't get me wrong. I love and I've found tonnes of great stuff through it, but sometimes the computers just get it... wrong. Case in point? This week in my recommendations one of the most unlikely things showed up. Prozzak. Prozzak? I had to do a double take and then I started screaming.

Prozzak is an animated pseudo brit dance pop band that sing songs with whiny lyrics that are almost exclusively about being depressed and having no luck with women. It's one of those sorts of bands that you really, really love when you're between the ages of 10 and 12 and then abruptly you start to become embarassed that you ever liked them when you realize that it's overhyped, overplayed on the radio and really not all that good.

Top of the pop charts, 1998.

Don't lie. You all have at least one of these albums. Most likely it took you a long time to get rid of because you don't want to admit that you even have it or because you told your parents that you really, really wanted it and wouldn't stop bugging them until they bought it for you and you don't want them to know that you're tired of it already.

Thank you, for bringing back a bunch of suppressed memories.