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.