Thursday, April 30, 2009

Let's be paranoid and take leave of our senses, shall we?


To mitigate the risk of swine flu SFU suggests that students should sneeze on their shirt sleeves instead of their hands.  

Seriously SFU?  Seriously?

You mean to tell me that this is preferable to say, washing your hands after you sneeze?

Do you have any idea how gross my shirt would be even two hours into the day?

Are you aware of the fact that the weather is warming up and shirt sleeves are rising?  Any idea how awkward it is to cough into your shoulder?


That's all I have to say about that.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009



I spent most of yesterday at Canstruction.  For those who aren't familiar with it, it's an annual sculpture competition.  Teams of people make sculptures out of cans and then the food is donated to the food bank.

I didn't take my camera because I had a lot of other things to carry around so the pictures in this post are from my sister.  Corinna at Gusgreeper has a bunch of photos from this year's competition here.  You can see other photos on flickr though it seems like it's mostly photos from last year right now.

Some people come up with some pretty cool stuff but I think the kids in the school programs came up with the most awesome, creative, insanely gravity-defying stuff:

Because so much more is possible when you aren't familiar with the laws of physics.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Smells like victory

pear blossoms

A victory garden that is!

I've resolved to start taking better notes about the garden this year, mostly because it ends up being such a big part of how I spend my time over the summer.  Well, also because I care so much about the environment and food security and local eating and stuff.  Okay, and also because I like to gloat about my spectacular victories at the fair last year (nine ribbons! seven firsts! best in show: fruits, vegetables and nuts!!!).

So indulge me - I'll probably only mention it once a week and probably on Saturdays when no one visits blogs anyways.

Today we got some new fruit trees, a cherry, plum and olive as well as some raspberry canes.  We probably won't get very much fruit off them this year.  I planted an entire stir-fry: pak choi, sui choi and green onions.  I'm excited about the pear tree because it's covered in blossoms this year and it has only ever produced one pear before.

While I was turning over the beds I found the skeletons of two dead rats sheltered together beneath the newspaper.  Aside from a bit of dried skin on their scaly tails, the bugs had picked them clean.  They were contorted in positions that suggested an agonizing death.  One day I hope they make a rat poison that just makes them go to sleep very peacefully.

I buried them in the lawn without taking a picture.  For quite a while afterward my shovel would scrape up against things - rocks, dried leaves - and make a high-pitched squeal that really creeped me out.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Warning: sometimes I can be introspective and self-aware


I had another job interview today.  I think this one went better than the last.  They asked good questions so it felt less like a multiple choice exam and more like a conversation, which was good for me.  One of them described me as "introspective and sel-aware."  We shall see.

After that I went to a lecture about the early history of Vancouver's architecture.  A lot of it was information I've already heard, but it's neat to look at it all with a different lens.  Good fodder for leading tours.

After a couple of nights of really good sleep I've hit another patch of insomnia, which is probably why I've been sitting here thinking that I probably have something worth saying, but that it's not coming out.  My brain is moving like molasses.

I have to take my cat to the vet tomorrow.  She's not well.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

When all else fails, make up a new project


As per tradition during this time of year, I become horribly dissatisfied with the state of my wardrobe and the options available through the usual channels.  I'm not going to go into my standard rant about the crappy options available for petite sized women because my blog is already peppered with it.

The one thing that bothers me most is the fact that I can't find a decent fitting dress shirt or blouse.  You can't really fake fit with a dress shirt.  Either it does or it doesn't.

Because I'm petite sized, the bust darts are usually too low, which means shirts bunch up and pull in a really unflattering way.  They also never seem to have enough room in the back or the bust because I'm so barrel chested.  It's almost guaranteed that if I have enough bust and shoulder room in a shirt it will hang off me like a tent and obscure the fact that I have a waist.

I also seem to have larger-than-normal biceps for someone my gender and size which also doesn't help much.  Damn rowing messes up everything.

So once again, I've decided that the best thing would be to do it myself.  I'm going to draft a pattern to my measurements.  It will be perfect because I made it myself.  It will be so awesome that I will etch it in brass and keep it in a glass case enshrined for everyone to see.  The heavens will open up and there will be perpetual sunlight in that very spot.  It will be that awesome.

But first I have to figure out how to make a pattern.  My search took me to the library where I found it very interesting that none of the new, trendy books I looked at really seemed to deal with a lot of technique.  I think one of the saddest things about the DIY trend is that for every good craft book out there there seems to be a lot of them that really lack substance and don't really teach anything.  The fact that it is trendy and cool and therefore sells seems to be good motivation to dumb down content.

I really don't need to spend $30 on a book that will teach me to thread a drawstring through some fabric to make a skirt that looks like a flour sack.  I can accomplish that on my own.  I also don't need a book that claims to teach me to customize my clothes and then contains such incredibly difficult and detailed instructions as to how to sew a patch of a contrasting colour onto something or how to tie a ribbon around your waist.

I finally found what I needed in an old, battered book from the 80s with horribly dated illustrations (seen above).  The moment I opened it up and saw the diagrams inside I knew that it was going to be an excellent resource.  

Speaking of old, battered and still awesome, I also found a copy of this on the shelf:


Non-knitters probably won't care about this at all, but this book has been out of print for some time and has acquired an almost mythical status as that book that is kind of hard to find, sells for buckets on ebay and like Mecca should be touched once in your lifetime.  I didn't even know that the FVRL had a copy of it.  It was just sitting there on the shelf, waiting for me.

Monday, April 20, 2009



Took a trip out into the valley over the weekend.  The weather was very patchy - lots of hail and fat raindrops but occasionally sunny.  You could always see it raining somewhere else though.  One moment a foggy cloud would descend into a valley and the next it would be clear.

We spent a bit of time out on the gravel bars on the Fraser River near Mission, looking for agates.  Seemed like there weren't very many out there to be found.  We need a good flood to shake some new stuff up to the surface.


I know part of that is that my attention span has changed because I use computers so much.  It takes a lot of walking very slowly, concentration and scanning.  It's like a kind of directed meditation, I guess.  If you're doing it right, they just appear in front of you like magic.  You know them when you see them.  They glow.

When I was little, there were agates everywhere and I could fill my pockets easily.  When my dad was little they were everywhere and they were big.  Now it's a lot of work because the sandbars have been pretty picked over.  I still like doing it though.  It's nice to slow down and spend some time outside.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Obligatory follow-up post


Re: job interview

I prepared well, dressed employably, showed up on time...

and completely failed to exude any personality whatsoever.  I was pretty wooden throughout.  I've always been a bit of a chameleon.  When dumped into situations where I'm with people I don't know, I tend to mirror them.  It's how I get along with so many different kinds of people.

I think one of the best things an interviewer can do is to start the interview with an innocuous comment as an icebreaker about the weather or something.  Then the second best thing they can do is ask an open-ended question that's fairly easy to answer - something like "what were your main tasks at your last job and what did you like about it?"  Everybody has an answer to that question but more importantly, it gives people an opportunity to talk.

The worst thing an interviewer can do after introducing themselves is read off a script in a very clinical voice and ask you to describe yourself with three adjectives.

They said they would be letting everyone know their decision by Friday or Monday.  It is entirely possible that the other candidates didn't do as well as me, or that my awesome references will counteract my boringness.  I'm definitely capable of doing the job.  I'm even convinced that it would be pretty ideal for the summer.

I've already rehearsed my rejection speech.

Re: new computer

I love my new MacBook Pro.  Love it.  Last time when I bought a computer I went cheap and that was a mistake.  It ran out of memory fairly quickly and didn't have enough RAM to run everything I needed open at once.  I was determined not to do that again so I probably spent too much.  No regrets so far.

This thing is fast, makes my photos look great, and I never thought I'd say this but I love the touchpad on it and use it a lot more than my mouse.  It took a while to get used to, and when I turned on the computer for the first time, somehow clicking wasn't enabled and I had to plug in a mouse to get through the startup.  

I have spent most of my evening customizing all the settings and it's fun.  I love the way you plug stuff in and it all seems to work without being installed.  I also love that it's integrated with flickr. Maybe I'll leave it at that. I could give you an entire boring list of the things I love, but that's what it would be - a long boring list.

I still need to get a bunch of software for it though.  

Friday, April 17, 2009

What I have learned about case-bearing clothes moths during the past two weeks.

case-bearing clothes moths


They look like a little tube of paper with some fuzz on the outside. Do not be fooled! There is a nasty little black and white wormy thing that will come out and eat your clothes. The worm will drag the little paper tube around. The whole process looks kind of bizarre.

When you squeeze them between your fingers, the wormy thing's guts will squish out the end of the tube in a gross yet satisfying way, much like squeezing a pimple. This process is not necessary to identify them. I just did it to see what would happen because I'm like a little boy sometimes.


They really like to eat dust and old hair and hate light. This means that you will most likely find them underneath furniture, inside closets, in corners, in the back of shelves, underneath area rugs, in your drawers...

You may also find them in inexplicably weird places, like on the ceiling or inside your shoes so be vigilant. Because they can climb, they could be anywhere. Most likely you won't find lots of them in any given place either. Be prepared to find one or two pretty much everywhere. There is no mother lode.

They like dust, but they also like to eat wool, silk, leather, feathers and some kinds of food. Anywhere where these things gather they probably will gather too.

Before I knew what these things were, I put a bunch in a jar so that I could observe and identify them. Left for a few days like that, they began to exhibit cannibalistic tendencies.


Your best defence is a good offence, which means vacuuming everything very thoroughly and inspecting stuff for damage and cocoons. If you can, throw anything that looks suspicious or infected into the freezer. 72 hours of sub-zero temperature will kill both the cocoons and their eggs. So will drycleaning.

Flushing a bunch of them down the toilet while laughing manically is fun but not nearly as effective as the above means of extermination.

Everything that I have read has said that moth balls, cedar, lavender... all those things you always associate with repelling moths are really not all that effective.

If your infestation is really bad you might need to call in professional help or use chemicals. I'm really not qualified to give you any kind of advice on that. I hope you don't end up in that situation.

case-bearing clothes moths

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Preview of my super important day

I shouldn't tell you all about this but I'm going for a job interview tomorrow. I took the important step of buying a new pair of pantyhose today so as not to repeat last year. I later decided that I will wear pants instead. You can't go wrong with pants.

After the interview I'm going to see about getting a new computer. This has proven to be difficult so far because though I have saved the money to buy the thing outright with all the software that I want, I seem to lack the ability to spend that much at one time. My credit limit is too low, the ammount exceeds my daily withdrawal limit for my debit card.

I don't have a chequing account because they send me annoying patronizing advertisement of their free chequing for young people which has a tone like:

Yo YOUNG PERSON! We're like a totally rad financial institution that wants to give you a sexy free chequing account dawg!

when really all they had to say was:

Dear valued customer, we are writing to offer you a free chequing account because you are between the ages of 18 and 24. Please visit one of our branches to set it up.

Whereas my reaction to the first is to pick apart the advertising style and wonder who put together the campaign and what kind of research into youth attitudes they did to come up with a watered-down quasi DIY inspired die-cut heavy cardstock collagey+grunge typefaces... and wonder why they've decided that that is the best way to appeal to me. If they'd just saved their money and sent me a letter telling me that I could get something that I would usually have to pay for for free I'd totally go for it.

So cheques are out. Paying cash is dumb. I'd get mugged or something. My only other option is to get the store to fax my mom a bill and get her to pay for it. Then I will pay her back. So much for looking all cool and financially independent. Being young sucks.

But the upside is that I'll be inducting myself into the shiny halls of mac ownership soonish. I will not turn pretentiously techie. I promise.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Clothes-eating moths: not cooler than Mothra

It's amazing. I don't post for so long and yet google analytics tells me that some of you lovely people still check fairly regularly for posts. I thought I'd let you know what I'm up to right now.

School's finally over. I have some sleep to catch up on but you have no idea how much I was looking forward to having some time off.

I have a bit of a moth infestation that demands my immediate attention. With any luck I'll have it under control soon and won't need any chemical sprays or to throw lots of stuff out, but the whole thing has had me kind of paranoid for a while now. Not easy to write papers when you're preoccupied with thinking about moths and all the cleaning that you need to do but don't have the time for.

I've also been experiencing some computer difficulties lately. My poor machine takes about 18 minutes to boot and sometimes when you turn it off, it hangs itself and stays on all night. It has about 85 MB of free space so I can't show you the pictures I've taken.

Most recently my wireless modem has died. The DSL port at the back seems also to be dead so accessing the internet is starting to get really difficult.

Next week I'll be getting a shiny new computer. Then I'll see about getting a shiny new blog.

But first I deal with the moths...

Would be so much cooler if they were Mothra instead.