Monday, December 31, 2007

I just get so excited about new products

[At Sea-Tac airport]
Jocelyn: They have cinnamon Tic-Tacs here [in the United States]!
James: They have them at home, too.
Jocelyn: REALLY?

in which I learn interesting things on the Internet

Today, I learned on the Internet that infertile North American and European couples' pregnancies are being outsourced to India. This is like something that would happen on Futurama, only real.

I also learned from the Internet that Bret McKenzie, of Flight of the Conchords, was in The Lord of the Rings. He was basically an extra, but his character has been lovingly named by the fans: Figwit, which stands for "Frodo is great... who IS that?" because of the way his appearance distracts from the heroic moment when Frodo agrees to carry the ring into Mordor. Heh. I love LOTR, the Internet, Wikipedia, fandorks, and the whole world really.

James and I just finished watching the first season of Flight of the Conchords' HBO show yesterday (I gave it to him for Christmas) and I have to say that it is AWESOME. It's a deadpan, hilarious, hipster gem with funny animal sweatshirts and musical interludes. You should rent it, if you can, or better yet, you should BUY it. And you should buy one for me. Because James has one, but it's at his house, and we don't live together, so I can only watch it at his house, or if I borrow it, instead of all the time as would be ideal.

I also saw some other things that were not as good as Flight of the Conchords: season 9 of The X-Files, which I finished yesterday, was good but the finale was disappointing, too epic in some ways and not epic enough in others; Battlestar Galactica: Razor, which was OK, but sort of like a longer version of one of the crappier episodes in the second season; No Country for Old Men, which baffled me because I've seen it in/at the top of so many film critics' Top 10 of 2007 lists and I didn't really get what all the fuss was about; and I Am Legend, which was pretty good in the sense that it fulfilled all my post-apocalyptic New York needs.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

File under: projects

I already have a large number of those ubiquitous plywood drawer units from IKEA to keep my craft supplies (mostly) sorted on my desktop, and they're serving their purpose well, although they're pretty much at capacity. However, I'm thinking that with the addition of these classy looking brass frame pulls from Lee Valley, you could make those same boxes resemble little card catalogue drawers. To a woman with a drill, everything looks like a potential library furniture item. Or so I've heard said. Perhaps this project will be my new year's resolution. (I like to make my new year's resolutions easily achieveable, or not at all. It keeps me honest.) (Also: I love Lee Valley. It's weird. I almost never buy things there, as I am not a gardener or a woodworker or anyone's grandpa, but going there reminds me of my dad and his enthusiasm for small, obscure, well-made items. Plus, obviously, they have things like drawer pulls and clock hardware kits that periodically come in handy for the weird things I like to make.)

On another note, my computer is so sick now that Firefox can't even keep up with my typing. I am getting a little seasick as I write this. This week I hope to back up all my files onto the external hard drive James and I bought (we like to call it "Our Love Hard Drive," because like everything we purchase together it represents our love, and unlike our crappy Love Barbeque, it represents that love well) and wipe the Compy. Reinstall everything! If this doesn't work, well, then I may have to cut a hole out of a cardboard shoebox and insert a series of colourful cards behind the hole. I will call each of these cards a "window," and some of them will say things like, "E-mail!" or "THE INTERNET" or "Warcraft." The "Warcraft" one will have a little picture of my paladin, drawn in crayon.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

I bet you're thinking, "I haven't seen a picture of Jocelyn's cute dog lately"!

"I don't believe in tiny Jewish Santa anymore." -Buffy

I'm back.

Our travel was hilariously disastrous, going to Washington and coming home. In each case, our first flight was delayed, causing us to miss our second flight. Coming home yesterday, door to door, took 10 1/2 hours--and it felt like 11 1/2 because we lost an hour through time-zone time-kidnapping. In the Vancouver airport, slouched like a delinquent across two seats, I felt like a woman without a country, or a home--the idea of my apartment seemed like something I had seen in a movie, that didn't belong to me. Anyway, we came home and now we're home and I don't know about you, but I'm happy to be home. I was getting pretty tired of the nonstop Washington drizzle.

I read four books and half of a fifth while at my parents'. One of these was Amy Krouse Rosenthal's Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, which I really enjoyed. My dad picked out this book for me, apparently on the basis that if I wrote a book, that's what it would be like. (According to him.) This book inspired me quite a bit, mainly in the sense that I want to write encyclopedic entries about things that do not belong in an encyclopedia. Such as:

My parents', visiting.
My parents moved into a new house a year and a half ago. Their new house is a weird combination of not-home and home, as I have never lived there and it is located in a country where I have also never lived, but it is full of familiar things, such as VHS tapes and towels and my dog. Every time I encounter something from my old life in my parents' new house, I am a bit astonished and taken aback, and I will say something to myself like: "that's weird, they still have these mugs?" In my mind, they have a completely different life, a completely different house, and completely different stuff, and evidence to the contrary baffles me.
If I were ambitious, there would be more of these, but as it is I think there may just be one.

Anyway, I highly recommend you read this book if you like non-reference-book type information arranged into reference books.

The other books I finished were Alberto Manguel's The City of Words, The Perks of Being a Wallflower (one of those YA books that's always getting banned/challenges/raved about, and I was kind of disappointed in it to be honest, and now having written that I'm probably going to get lots of angry email from Perks of Being a Wallflower fans telling me I just don't get it), and The Burned Children of America [edited by Zadie Smith]. The one that I am half-way done is Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which is making me hungry for the farmer's market. Too bad it won't be open for, oh, right, five more months.

I put the new books I got for Christmas and my birthday into librarything, and it informs me I now own 498 books. 2 more to 500! And I have gift certificates! The 500th book should be something monumental, something that represents my whole reading life thus far. Maybe something Anastasia-related.

I'm feeling kind of glum, and I was hoping that my red-hot typing would somehow propel me ahead of my glumness, but it didn't work. I am going to spend the rest of the day watching the last 9 episodes of The X-Files, probably. Even though I know that in the long run that will make me more glum, because then I will have all my original glum-ness, plus a sense of lostness that results from finishing one's long-term DVD-watching goal.

I'm really in for it, Internet.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Hi, blog.
I'm in Washington. Yesterday was my birthday. Today is Christmas Eve. Tomorrow is Christmas. I have Muppet movies to watch, and McSweeney's books to read. See you in the future.

Friday, December 21, 2007

*She immediately changes the subject*

Merry Christmas, Internet! Remember a few minutes ago, when I posted about the banning of His Dark Materials and how sad I was about it? Well, that's all in the past! It's the last day of work before Christmas holidays, I'm eating little Toblerone triangles for breakfast, and everything's coming up Jocelyn!

Everyone in my office is hilarious today. I'm wouldn't be surprised if there was kahlua in the metaphorical office coffee. (I say metaphorical because my office doesn't HAVE coffee of our own--instead we have Tim Horton's contingents and Starbucks contingents and people like me, who are coffee sluts and will go on any coffee trip.) People are wearing goofy fur-lined hats and talking about Torchwood and forwarding endless funny Christmas-related emails and basically doing everything but working. Me included--I'm not one to ignore the importance of corporate culture.

Seriously, I had my dear friends Courtney and Meghan over last night for some pre-Christmas Bridget Jones's Diary and pizza, and I got some presents because it is almost my birthday! It was very exciting! I don't think I'm a hard person to buy presents for, but I'm always touched by the things people find for me that I love.

Tomorrow I am going to Tacoma to visit all the mail that has been arriving there for me. Oh, and my family. I'm taking a giant MEC duffel bag full of presents. I feel like Santa! Only, as Willow would say, "Smaller. And female. And Jewish."

In the spirit of the holiday, a link to holiday cocktails inspired by Charles Dickens novels. [via bookslut]

Some news that hurts my heart

To follow up on earlier reports about His Dark Materials, it has now been banned indefinitely by the Halton Catholic School Board. This is the first time a book has ever been banned in the board. And--this is my favourite part--"The three titles will not be made available to students upon request and will be 'stored at the central board office for the time being.'" Better pile them up--it's easier to burn them that way.

(Actually, I learned from Matthew Battles' Library: An Unquiet History that books don't burn as well as you might think--they're too dense. So instead of piling them randomly, they should probably be stacked in a kind of house-of-cards structure, with the pages splayed apart for maximum oxygen exposure. Maybe if I have time later I'll build an example out of MY books and post pictures online for reference. Probably not, though, since that would go against pretty much everything I believe about the world.)

To quote the article linked above:

"The trouble is that all too often in human history, churches and priesthoods have set themselves up to rule people's lives in the name of some invisible god (and they're all invisible, because they don't exist) -- and done terrible damage," Pullman writes on his website.

"In the name of their god, they have burned, hanged, tortured, maimed, robbed, violated, and enslaved millions of their fellow creatures, and done so with the happy conviction that they were doing the will of God, and they would go to Heaven for it."
I'm not claiming to have a monopoly on the interpretation of this book or any other, but I think this is the crux of the issue: Philip Pullman may be an atheist, but I don't think his books are actually about religion at all, they're about the dysfunction that can result from letting religion (or any other social force) drive us to be intolerant or hateful or controlling of other people. His books are about the corruption of power, and I think the fact that it's religious power is almost incidential. I don't think books should ever be banned, but it's worse when a book is banned based on what (I think) is a misinterpretation of its message. I promise not to go on about this endlessly, but I do think we have to remember that we don't live in a world without censorship, and we can't afford to grow complacent about what we are allowed to read.

The end. I'm going to immediately change the subject.

Earlier: And not all Christians do

Like falling out of bed

This one's a little on the obvious side, but it's been a long week and I'm turning 25 on Sunday, so my mental prime is clearly over. So anyway: 7 medical myths examined, including the idea that we should drink 2 litres of water a day, and that we only use 10% of our brains. THERE WILL BE DEBUNKING. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

If wishes were horses, we'd all be eating steak

I wish I had more time before Christmas so I could use these vintage Soviet Christmas cards for something. They're delightfully puzzling and retro--anything with Santa on a rocket ship is fine by me. I guess I could still make some gift tags...

Previously linked: the square America Christmas Spectacular

Come here, poufy dog

A really tall guy just walked by my cubicle! That dog has a poufy tail!

Because WETNESS is the essence of BEAUTY.

One of my biggest advertising pet peeves is the completely fake science that is always used in ads for moisturizers, shampoos, etc. (Or I should say, it used to be one of my greatest advertising pet peeves, until I stopped watching TV more than a year ago! I'M FREE!) They show these totally hokey "diagrams" of the "cells" being "regenerated," but the whole schtick has about as much scientific accuracy as any other cartoon you see on TV. I buy shampoo and moisturizer based on the same criteria as everyone else: 1. does it make my hair/skin look OK? 2. does it smell like something delicious that you would want to eat? I don't want my decision-making clouded by false or irrelevant information. So I was happy to read this article in the UK's Times: "Skin cream science is branded as ‘waffle’".

Leading cosmetics companies are making claims about the rejuvenating properties of their best-selling products that are scientifically incomprehensible and insult customers’ intelligence, pharmacists say.
Debunking fake advertising science: Hot. Using the word "Waffle" in a headline: even hotter.

Also from the "ridiculous advertising campaigns" department, anti-fur organizations are warning consumers that major retailers are incorrectly labeling real fur as 'faux.' This is not only sneaky and ironic, it's also illegal. Oh, and stupid. So, just to recap: Sneaky, ironic, illegal, and stupid.

A trip! A book! A Christmas miracle! (again)

Last night I had a chance to re-read Barbara Robinson's The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, and I'd forgotten what a wonderful book (novella? short story?) it is. I read this book with my family when I was a kid, and it's funny and simple and sweet and also published in the 1970s, so it has a bizarrely traditional-nuclear-family kind of bent. Children's books from the 1970s are weird. The moms (even the "wacky" ones) always cook and clean, and the dads never do anything. On the other hand, you are allowed to have a family of utterly neglected, horribly behaved children who are abusive to each other and keep their baby sister in a drawer, and it's funny instead of controversial. I don't really get it. Anyway, I read it quick like a bunny last night, and I highly recommend it, if you are the kind of person who is even remotely interested in the religious aspect of Christmas. If you're the kind of person who's offended by the religious aspect of Christmas, well, lucky you. I'm sure there's a mall somewhere that can give the holiday some meaning for you.

I'm also in the midst of the Massey Lectures book this year which is Alberto Manguel's The City of Words. It's good, if somewhat daunting. I've read a number of Manguel's other books, and I think he's a terrific, obviously widely-read, writer. But sometimes I have trouble following exactly what his argument is, because his writing is so dense and cerebral and littered with allusions to other books. In an average paragraph in one of his books, if you've read Gilgamesh, Thurber, Joyce's Ulysses, and some obscure French author neither you nor I has ever heard of, you'll catch his meaning. Otherwise you may flounder a little. And since of those four I only have Thurber covered (and then, only because his books always have pictures), you can see my problem. It took me a long time to get going on City of Words but it's a short book and I'm halfway through it now, and I've even dog-eared a few pages. Hooray for progress. I may finish it before I leave for Washington, which would be good, because cerebral books about ethnic hatred do not really spell "Christmas," to me.

The next three books I need to read over Christmas are the short story anthology The Burned Children of America (which I just bought today because I realized I am not going to have time in between now and when I leave on Saturday to go pick up the copy that's on hold for me at the public library, bad Jocelyn), Weisman's The World Without Us and Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. In other words, the usual blend of pretentious fiction and guilt-inducing non-fiction. Hooray for that, too. I'm feeling a little too secure and high-spirited for my own good, today.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

In case you don't have the firelog channel, or are at work

cheap hi-balls and karaoke at the end of the world.

Since I'm back at work full-time, I'm back to drilling the 245 countries in 10 minutes. Unfortunately, I can't remember how far I had progressed when I stopped doing this last summer, but my goal (again) is to eventually be able to name them all. I'm a little rusty after months of slacking, so I got all but 90 of them today, and among those 90 were a few obvious misses: Argentina, Chad (CHAD!), Ecuador, Laos... there's work to be done, obviously.

So, the obscure country of the day today is Svalbard, which is a little island archipelago north of Norway which actually belongs to Norway and is not a country. (The 245 includes quite a few of these territories that are not technically independent, but it's OK. Better to know about them than not know about them.) The fun fact about Svalbard is that, aside from sounding like something from The Golden Compass, it is home to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, an underground "doomsday" vault of seeds that will come in handy after the end of the world.

Previously: Prisnestrovie is the Obscure European Country of the Day, Mauritius

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


When I got to work, my desk was covered with dust. Is it actually Dec. 18, 2008?

The other 3 reasons I sometimes wish I was American

1. Being able to be more confidently patriotic. Not because the US has more to be patriotic about, but because Canadian patriotism is an inherently neurotic phenomenon.
2. History with more violence and divisiveness and bloodshed. Canadian history is disturbingly civil, except for the occasional Louis Riel-style anomaly.
3. Outlet malls.

As my dad likes to say: "We've upped our standards. Up yours."

I know I've said it a million times before, but I heart This American Life. I can only think of about four reasons I wish I was American, and one of them is so I could listen to public radio. So today, feeling Christmassy, I donated some money to them to help pay for the $150,000 bill they had for bandwidth last year--a result of the fact that you can listen to every episode online for free or subscribe to the free podcast on iTunes. I really like giving away money. It makes me feel like I am subverting capitalism. Like, yeah, I'll work for money, but then I'll just GIVE IT AWAY. Ha! Put that in your free-market pipe and smoke it!

I'm having some friends over for dinner tonight, and I'm cooking beer-basted boar ribs. For real. In my slow-cooker. I got up super-early and put all the "mats" into the slow-cooker, and hopefully when I get home dinner will be there, like a Christmas miracle. I found the recipe online, but I added a bottle of beer so I could say they were "beer-basted." An endless series of jokes about my cooking skill (330, baby!) and the "well fed" bonus will ensue. I'm looking forward to it. Studies suggest gamers like hanging out with other gamers--it makes them feel less awkward.

I've just discovered summize, a website that acts as a kind of meta-reviewer, consolidating reviews from across the blogipelago. So, for example, I type in "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" (the new Barbara Kingsolver book about food that I bought in hardcover and I am saving to read over Christmas holidays) and it produces this handy little graphic:

That little colour graph suggests that this book is going to be as exciting and fabulous as I think it is! The only problem with this mode of evaluating potential entertainment products is that, based on my experience with all consuming, other people are not nearly critical enough for my tastes. The internet needs to raise the bar.

PS. I have a surprisingly large number of posts tagged capitalism.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Sunday, December 16, 2007


The Square America Christmas Spectacular is an astonishing collection of family photos, custom Christmas cards, and other ephemera memorializing square Christmasses past. SO AWESOME.

And while we're talking about Christmas: No, Virginia, there is no Santa, but if there was, it would be spelled "Santa Claus." Spelling it "Clause" manifests a dumb Tim Allen movie. If that's what you want, go ahead, but you're dumb, and Virginia agrees with me, and we're going to put hot sauce in your egg nog.

I just wish I had something to eat besides shortbread cookies

Good afternoon, Internet! Are you having a nice weekend? I sure am! I already cleaned my kitchen, ironed a shirt, and made some "hot apple cider" (heated up apple juice, 9 months past its best-before date, with a cinnamon stick) and it's not even 2 oclock yet! And yesterday was a craft-, movie-, butter-chicken-, christmas-shopping-a-thon. In a good way. Tonight I am going to a Non-Denominational Potluck (NDP). I have to pack as much activity, and as much non-activity, into my weekends as possible.

I finally went to see The Golden Compass last night. I have to tell you, Internet, it sucks. Here are a few things I thought of while I was watching the movie, which I would write in my film review if I were a film reviewer for an arts weekly:
"The movie seemed like one long trailer for itself"
"Every scene contained only enough dialogue to establish the basic plot and characterization, with no thought given to depth, nuance or naturalness"
"Lots of ingredients for a good movie--epic music, good casting, pretty sweeping shots of geography, and talking animals--somehow fail to add up to a good movie"
"I liked the GandalfBear"

It wasn't like The Golden Compass had no redeeming qualities. I liked the acting for the most part, but it's probably hard for even good actors to act when their material is some kind of MadLibs-style kids' movie script. A number of the actors who I was really looking forward to, and who I thought had been perfectly cast--Eva Green, Daniel Craig, and Sam Elliott--have such tiny roles it seems deceptive to list them as stars. I liked the kind of steampunk aesthetic that the sets and props seemed to have, and I would have liked to see more of it. The bear was a strong point, in my mind, although even there the CGI was ludicrously clumsy in a few places. I didn't mind the changes to the story, or I wouldn't have minded them if they had made a good movie, but they didn't. What was maybe the most annoying about this adaptation is how damn inspirational it was--the non-stop epic music, the reeling aerial shots, and the characters saying things like "We have to fight for freedom!" (well, ok, not really, but I'm only exaggerating a little.) Those messages are in the book, but they're not written in 20-point font, which would be the stylistic equivalent of their prevalence in this film.

What with this dismal adaptation showing at the box office, and my sick compy, it's a one-two punch of pathetic. I'm going to watch X-Files. Oh, and next week I'm so going to see I am Legend, because I loves me some post-apocalyptic ANYTHING. I even liked The Day After Tomorrow, and that movie was TERRIBLE.

Holiday countdown: 5 days. I can make it, even if 30 boxes tells me I have a million things to do in those 5 days. Oh, and uh, I turn 25 in 1 week. Yep. That's not freaking me out at all. As my mom cheerfully said, "One-third of your life could already be over!" Thanks, mom!

Poor compy.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I wouldn't say I've been missing it, Bob

It's weird that in my work life, I've somehow progressed (progressed? whatever) from a "wearing 15 pieces of flair" type job to a "i've got a meeting with the Bobs in a few minutes" job. I actually kind of LIKE working in a cubicle, because it makes me feel like I could be a character in a Douglas Coupland novel. (I guess that's a sad situation, actually, but I've said it before: it's the books' world, I just live in it.) So, via Wired: The "Winners" of the Saddest-Cubicle Contest, and the antidote, Fantastic Fixes to Help Your Sad, Pathetic Cubicle. I'm actually a pretty happy little cube monkey, but if I were facing an indefinite 40-year career* here instead of 6 more weeks of contract work, I might feel differently. I like the idea of having some suspended paper lanterns in my cube, though. Fluorescent lighting might be the saddest thing about working here, especially in winter when it's dark at 8:15 (or, more accurately, 8:21) when I arrive and dark at 4:30 (or, more accurately, 4:27) when I leave.

*I don't get to retire for 40 more years? WTF?

A Christmas Miracle, III.

From ABC news: Not Sure of His Size? Try A Shoppenboy. [via jezebel] A French store has a bunch of men of all different sizes who stand around in case a woman needs help shopping for the men in her life. It seems they're not even employees but volunteers. The article is sublimely puzzling.

The group now has produced a dance routine, a calendar and has even spun off a few celebrities, like 19-year-old Shoppenboy Hugo, who can be seen posing as Spiderman online in the signature red undies.

Although the men do not want to be taken seriously, some think the gentleman are having an important impact on the male psyche. It's not all about looks. Size matters, too.
I think the main reason I am linking to this is the word "shoppenboy," which is fantastic.

OK: clothes, coffee, work! Back on track, people!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Christmas miracle, II.

I'm fascinated by that looped burning fire log that shows up on TV every year at Christmas-time. Slate has a video about its inception. So meta!

A Christmas Miracle.

You know what would be really, really convenient? If I could bring my sewing machine to work and complete my Christmas crafting at my desk. I am probably not going to get a stitch (is that an accurate measure of work? A stitch?) of work done today anyway, so why not let me use my time more effectively? Especially since my desk at work is GIANT and EMPTY, and would be perfect for crafting.

Since I'm NOT allowed to bring my sewing machine to work, because my office is full of fascists, I'm just going to read the Best of Craigslist. I enjoyed these: It's me! Every girl ever, RARE left-hand strung piano, Why we should hang out: a mathematical proof, my coke for your pot.

I know I goof off a lot, but I actually spent a good chunk of yesterday working and got a bunch done. I was checking off Outlook's tasks like CRAZY. And I really have nothing more to do this week, or next week, or ever. Please, if you have a few spare minutes today, send me an email. I'm going to be SO BORED. Send an email to the poor, bored children of Canada.

Oh, my siser flew to Tacoma, where my parents live, on Tuesday. I know they're all probably doing boring things, but in my mind, my parents and my sister and my adorable dog are gathered around the fire, drinking hot chocolate with appropriately tiny marshmallow and playing board games and laughing at each other's hilarious jokes. And Toby is running around, barking joyously. And I'm at work, like a chump.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

From author and blogger Barbara Ehrenreich: Bonfire of the Disney Princesses.

Disney likes to think of the Princesses as role models, but what a sorry bunch of wusses they are. Typically, they spend much of their time in captivity or a coma, waking up only when a Prince comes along and kisses them. The most striking exception is Mulan, who dresses as a boy to fight in the army, but--like the other Princess of color, Pocahontas--she lacks full Princess status and does not warrant a line of tiaras and gowns. Otherwise the Princesses have no ambitions and no marketable skills, although both Snow White and Cinderella are good at housecleaning.


It's such a beautiful day, Internets. Seriously. I know I live in Edmonton, and Edmonton + winter ≠ beautiful day, but I'm serious. According to the google desktop, it's 1 degree. PLUS one degree. Take that! The walk to work was lovely, and long enough to listen to "In Our Bedroom After the War" 3 times.

I went to West Edmonton Mall last night, and although the Mall put up a good fight, I emerged the victor. I didn't even go Christmas shopping, I just needed some new clothes and toothpaste and sewing thread and weird things like that. By the time I hiked out the door and across a grassy knoll to the bus stop, though, I felt like I had been hit by a truck. A mall-truck.

They're filming a movie in my neighbourhood, and there are catering trucks parked on my street. I'm thinking later I might try to bluff my way into some free food. YESSSSS. The benefit of living near historical buildings.

Finally, I started watching Season 9 of X-Files last night. This represents another great victory for me, as it means I am almost done my mammoth entertainment undertaking that was begun so many months ago. (I don't remember how many.) Around 150 hours of TV! So far, I like season 9 a lot. The season premiere had Cary Elwes--be still my 7th-grade heart! And Lucy Lawless, who was a villain of some kind, of course. (Don't people know not to trust her? She's a cylon!) In honour of her appearance, I made a new mix CD for my sister entitled "Christmas for Cylons."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A continuation

Things i like about my job, continued:

4. Today I totally looted the stationery supplies, and I now have 5 pretty new highlighter colours in addition to the one I already had. I integrated these highlighters, along with some index cards and metal clips, into a giant report-analyzing system that is approximately 3.5 times more complicated than was warranted by the reports needing to be analyzed. I could probably do all this on the computer, but I like having lots of crap spread out on my desk--it makes me look busy. As Peter from Office Space would say, "I just stare at my desk. It looks like I'm working."

5. I also made up a whole bunch of new colour-coding categories in Outlook, and then I categorized EVERY SINGLE EMAIL IN MY INBOX. And the colours correspond to folders. Oh yes, that's how things are now.

So basically, what I'm saying is that I am embracing the meaninglessness of my job, and from that meaninglessness, constructing my own meaning. By colour-coding. (Heh. Have you guys ever noticed that as long as your pens and pencils don't move around on your desk, they're stationary stationery?)

Plus people keep giving me truffles.

High-functioning insomniac, with "high-functioning" in quotation marks

I couldn't sleep at 6 this morning--because who's asleep at 6? CHUMPS!--so I logically got up and finished all my Christmas shopping on the Internets. I'm going to my parents' in Tacoma for Christmas, so I have had no less than 14 parcels shipped there. I'm going to get there, and then I'm going to get to open SO MANY PACKAGES. And wrap them! Sometimes I think my fascination with mail, and the postal system, leads to overspending and bad life choices (example: working at not one but two dumb Canada Post outlets. Although I did develop the awesome ability to hold an envelope in my hand and guess its weight to within 10 grams). Nonetheless, my obsessions are your learning opportunity, so, the Christmas-shopping sum-up:

  • Best shipping rates and speeds: Amazon, as always. Part of the reason they own the internets is that they know how to do this stuff.
  • Worst shipping speed: I just got a confirmation email from them letting me know that my purchase will ship on Dec. 25th. And of course there was no indication of this when I ordered it. I hope you're happy,! My dad might cry!
  • Weirdest shipping rate/speed combination: thinkgeek. Their shipping is fast like a ninja but costs a small fortune, even within the US. Although to be fair I did buy something big and weird.
  • Best shopping cart interface: etsy. I love a million things about etsy, and of course craft is #1 of those things, but their site is also really well-designed and intuitive. Having different shipping and billing addresses is a hassle with some sites, but etsy handles it in stride. Etsy is like, "oh, what's that? You want to ship your stuff somewhere else? That's totally fine, dude."

Anyone want a Christmas card, or a handmade iPod/cellphone cozy? I will send you one, and I am not even kidding. I need something to keep me occupied between now and Dec. 22nd.

Monday, December 10, 2007

May I suggest you buy this? er, these?

One of my favourite accessories of all time is my vinyl airplane bag I bought from collettes1pillbox on etsy. This is also, probably, the item of mine that I get the most compliments on from strangers--including, once someone I didn't know from a meeting who tracked me down through inter-departmental email to my supervisor, all to find out where I got it. She has another airplane bag on sale right now plus a number of other awesome vinyl creations. I can't describe how awesome and well-made they are. SHOUT-OUT! They're on the expensive side but totally worth it in my opinion. She also takes custom orders.

AirPlanes, RetroTime, ViewMaster, $65-$98

Linky monday, wacky news edition is trying to trademark the phrase "not safe for work".

Heh. The US House of Representatives is banned from editing certain Wikipedia articles.

Some nerd got Neil Gaiman to propose to his girlfriend for him.

Tiny copyright update, feel free to skip

I just had to point out that 12,000 people have joined the Facebook group "Fair Copyright for Canada," in less than a week, including 11 of my Facebook friends. Good job, Facebook friends! The new law is getting some bad PR in the globe and mail. I feel proud to be part of something larger. Like being swallowed... by something larger.

Working working working. Or at least, sitting at my desk sitting at my desk sitting at my desk. I'm actually not working so much as thinking about products I might like to purchase.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

we won, or we think we did...

The music of my unconscious right now is Stars' In Our Bedroom After the War:

All the living are dead
And the dead are all living
The war is over
And we are beginning...
I develop these crushes on songs that last hours, days, weeks.

I wrote my Prime Minister and Member of Parliament letters today. I also went to IKEA and purchased some awesome, nuclear-esque fabric. I love the promise of a little bundle of fabric with no set purpose. I love, also, in no particular order: the organic smoothness of new bamboo knitting needles, waking up in a warm bed in a cold room, the view of falling snow and Christmas lights out my window, and Bollywood music.

I put up my Christmas decoration, singular, this week:


It is approximately 200% more festive in my apartment than it was before.

"OK, but if you leave me here, I'll do something evil... like burning something... or... gluing things together." -Andrew

Saturday, December 8, 2007

And by "sir" I mean... well, never mind.

Hey, internet,
So, longer letter later, but here's the e-mail I just sent to Canadian Minister of Industry (and Calgary MP) Jim Prentice (who is holding a "Fair Copyright" open house today in Calgary, organized on Facebook!):

Dear Sir,

As an Albertan, I very much appreciate your decision to solicit opinions on forthcoming copyright reform from your constitutents today at your "Fair Copyright" open house. Unfortunately, I was not able to make the drive to Calgary, but I hope that you can take a few minutes to read my response to recent developments in Canadian copyright reform.

I am a Canadian who cares about Canada's cultural policy, and I am writing in regard to legislative proposals for "copyright reform." I am also a librarian, and I believe very strongly that Canada's legislation on copyright needs to reflect the rights and needs of users. Following the United States' lead by setting draconian copyright legislation that makes information users into criminals will not benefit the government, the country, or its citizens in the long run. In particular, I do not believe that "digital rights management" (DRM) technologies should stop the public from making lawful uses of their legitimately acquired media. Publishers using DRM push aside the delicate balance between copyright and the rights of the public - a balance set according to an assessment of the public interest by legislators - and replace it with one-sided rules that reflect publishers' economic interests. Technology should not take the place of law in controlling who has access to information, or how information can be used. New copyright reform legislation should not make it illegal to circumvent DRM for lawful purposes.

These concerns are shared by a substantial and growing number of informed Canadian citizens. I hope that you will take them into account when considering any changes to Canadian copyright law. Thanks very much for your time.

I cribbed this letter partly from Online Rights Canada. Jim Prentice's email address is

I almost put in a sentence about End User License Agreements (the dreaded EULA!) but decided I wanted to come off as non-crazy as possible. And did you see how I was polite? Diplomacy!

Friday, December 7, 2007

And strawberries are on the list, when everyone knows that strawberries are made of candy

I thought negative calorie foods were a myth, but today lifehacker has a list of fifteen of them and a link to the wikipedia article that contains an even longer list. Is this for reals?

I heart writers. And librarians. Oh, and coffee.

I love this thoughtful essay on The Golden Compass and censorship by fantasy author Brandon Sanderson. In fact, I think because of it I will read his book, Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians, because based on this essay I think he understands what fiction does. And it's about evil librarians, and I love evil librarians almost as much as I love sexy librarians. I found out about him from whatever, the blog of writer John Scalzi. Every day this month he's featuring guest posts from writers, in honour of the writers' strike.

[I don't get to go to the Golden Compass movie until next weekend, so everyone please avoid discussing it in my presence until then. I wish to remain untainted by spoilers, fanboy/fangirl gushing, and Comic-Book-Guy style "Worst. Adaptation. Ever." bile.]

Whew. Typing that made me tired.

It's Friday, Internet. Tomorrow Canadian Minister of Industry Jim Prentice is holding an open house on the Canadian copyright issue at his headquarters in Calgary. Not many of us are prepared to make that trip (3 hours each way, for me) but I plan to send him an email tomorrow letting him know how sorry I am I couldn't be there. And telling him he's a dumbass.

It's going to be another crazy weekend. IKEA! sushi! Christmas party! Wal-mart! Not all at the same time though.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

I'm totally downloading a bunch of Christmas music. Yep. That just happened. Standard-response cynicism be damned!

Wait, am I even cynical? I wrote that and then hit "publish" and then I realized I might not even be. Sometimes I'm the downright opposite of cynical. Hmm.

Bottled water, fort-building, and meaninglessness

It's kind of a nice-ish day outside, clear and cold. I spend a good portion of every day with my chair swivelled partly around, gazing longingly outside. My cubby-cle is in the inside row of the floor, but down the cubicle-alley is a window, and through it I can see some high-rises and parking lots and a donair place and my favourite bookstore. I look out there and can't really deduce what I'm doing in here.

I know I've probably linked to it before, but this exploding dog drawing summarizes perfectly how I feel about my work. I don't really mind being in this little room with 5' high walls and endless laminate surfaces. In fact, it kind of reminds me of a place you could build a really good fort, and sometimes when I'm staring at my monitor, totally zoned out, I'm thinking about the ways you could add elements to my cubicle to make it more fort-like. Netting or blankets draped over the top would be a big one. Pillows, hidden under the desk. A mini-fridge, right next to my empty file cabinet! Pieces of pretty fabric, attached to the neutral grey baffle walls with pins. A string of Christmas lights looped around the metal bar that holds my phone and my inbox. My little iPod dock with speakers. A flap of cardboard over the door, with a hole so you have to crawl through, and written on it in charming, backwards letters: "Alleged Writer/Editor. Keep Out!"

Anyway, as I was saying, it's not like I resent being here, really. I'm apathetic about it. I don't hate my job, I just don't really understand my job. The knowledge that I could not be here, and things would proceed EXACTLY the way they are now, is a little unsettling. Does the whole working world feel this way? Someone must be actually doing something, right? Through the window, I can tell that the work of the world is proceeding. There's a disconnect there, I guess. Other people must be accomplishing more than I am.

My throat really hurts, and I have these hall's cough candies, but they're so thick and sugary that every time I eat one I get the feeling my blood is being partially replaced with black cherry syrup. You know? And not in a good way. I keep sneezing, and every sneeze is like agony. And yet I have to keep sitting at this desk, as if everything is fine. This is how it always happens: I get sick, I'm really sick for a couple of days, I get partly better, and then I am partly sick FOREVER. It occurred to me the other day that if I lived in the 19th century, and was rich, I would be an invalid. If I lived in the 19th century, and was poor, I would probably die in childbirth at the age of, let's say, 25-minus-two-weeks.

I've been getting lots of email today from people I know. That's good! Keep it up, everyone! Here I am now, entertain me!

space heater haiku

oh, my space heater
heating all of outer space
would not be too hard

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

I'm reading Jonathan Safran Foer's rather splendid short story About the Typefaces Not Used In This Edition. I've always thought those little blurbs at the end of books were wonderfully romantic and begging for a narrative re-invention.

I heart Jonathan Safran Foer. He's fanciful.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Christmas 2007: USB EVERYTHING

Out of all the Christmas gift guides I've seen this year, this one has the most genuinely cool things I would actually want to give to people I like: core 77's 77 Design gifts Under $77. (Don't worry, many of them are well under $77, including some that are $5!) I particularly like this alphabet poster, this viking ship mobile and these USB rechargable batteries. Merry consumption.

I'm still sick. I'm still at work. Everything sucks. Continue.

Monday, December 3, 2007


From National Geographic: a mummified dinosaur was found in North Dakota. The body was naturally mummified, and includes intact skin and other tissue. The skin has lost its colour, but its texture is still visible.

Full of energy, but not necessarily full of meaning

Apparently, I posted the 500th post on these 'ere blog and didn't even notice. Sigh. Well, this is post #501, and we can just pretend that whichever post I've written over the past 11 months that was the worst doesn't exist. Ok? Good. I'm glad you agree.

I'm sorry I've been such a bad blogger. I'm working again, full-time plus a little bit, so I really don't feel like doing much in my off-hours. I know it will take months for me to build up the stamina to be able to work AND also run the rest of my life in anything resembling an effective way. And this weekend I was busy! I went to look after my friend Caleb, and we watched Harry Potter, and because he was in a grouchy mood I even consented to read him a Scooby-Doo book (even though Scooby-Do books, for those of you not in the know, are probably the lowest quality children's literature commercially available! The only thing worse would be a piece of paper you found on the ground with someone's grocery list on it!*) I went out for diner breakfast, and to a craft sale, and I bought a brooch made out of the shift key of an old keyboard as well as various secret Christmas items! And James won a giant painting of storm troopers shooting that car from The Dukes of Hazzard in a silent auction! I went to work at the children's library (thus the "full-time plus a little bit") and it was fun! I helped children find various books and also, sometimes, items of winter clothing they had jettisoned in the stacks! I went to Superstore and they didn't have any carts left because ALL THE CARTS WERE IN LINE FULL OF GIANT BAGS OF EVERYTHING and James and I had to shop with baskets and it was very inconvenient! Oh, Internet, if only you could have been there.

And I'm still sick, which is why everything takes on this epic quality. I keep blowing my nose and finding blood. Everything is dramatic when you have TB. (I'm not kidding about the blood!)

This morning, not only was it still dark when I left my house, it was still dark when I GOT TO WORK. In fact it is still kind of dark. Edmonton in wintertime is an experiment in deprivation.

*PS. This reminds me: for a long time, I had a post-it grocery list on my fridge with the following items on it:
Cold tylenol
I thought that expressed something poignant about the human condition, so I left it there for a long time, but eventually I had to add "bread crumbs" and some other stuff I don't remember.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Gift idea PS.

Someone please buy me this clock. It's orange, it's vaguely reminiscent of the nuclear age, and I want it. In fact, I want EVERYTHING that is orange and also vaguely reminiscent of the nuclear age.

A gift idea

What do you get the person who has everything? How about a sample of Uranium Ore, available from for only $23? And the user comments are hilarious. (And free!)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

she doesn't make it easy

My World of Warcraft paladin is level 61 tonight, Internet. I can't remember exactly when I started playing again, but it must have been a month ago, so let's just say it took a month. At this rate I will reach 70 by August, 2008, by which time the next expansion will surely be out. Still, at this moment I feel like I could DO ANYTHING!

[James and I recently wrote a song about my paladin (sung to the tune of the Plain White Ts' Delilah of course) that goes like this: Hey there Dehlilah, what's it like in Stormwind city?/I know that you are tough as nails but I still find you pretty, don't you see?/No one can Holy Wrath like you... Actually, we did write that song, but I don't remember the words. I made those new ones up. Holy Wrath is my paladin's second-favourite spell, after Hammer of Justice. And you can bet there is an MC-Hammer-esque song that goes with that one too.]

I've been sick all day, as I believe I mentioned, and I am holding this giant glass mug of juice, and that is awesome. It's the beer of juice. I am getting beer-sized vitamins from this juice. And if it doesn't make me feel better, I may have to mix in some peach schnapps, and then I will be getting cocktail-sized alcohol from it, as well. And then I will take some NyQuil, and we'll see if I can get up in the morning. SCIENCE!

That is all.

Deletia: the condom friend ever useful to you.TM

This public-service-type announcement from India makes the very good point that you will live a happier live without AIDS. The catchy song, Bollywood-style dancing, and guys dressed up as giant condoms are awesome. I also like how all the bystanders in every scene just look mildly puzzled--they probably couldn't afford to cast real extras.

Actually I watched Deepa Mehta's Water this morning so this is kind of a nice reminder that Indian culture is not all pain, suffering, and prejudice. They should probably include a version of this video on the Water DVD, in fact. Because that movie made me cry big time. (It doesn't help that I'm sick either. I am far more predisposed to burst into tears when I'm sick, because I basically lose my will to live.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

scams that are not scams

OMG, so this is from the archives of and it's so funny I couldn't stop laughing: Mama Crazy.

I wrote my first book review for publication yesterday, and now I can't find the book I had to write it on. My first thought was that it vaporized the minute I submitted my review, like DRM-ware or something. The logical part of my brain knows this is not the case, that a physical book does not disappear from a physical apartment, but I still am having trouble mustering the energy to look for it when its disappearance could be so aptly and poetically explained.

Getting free books in exchange for writing 250-word reviews of them is the BEST SCAM EVER. And it's NOT EVEN A SCAM.

I'm home sick from work today, and I got two new X-Files discs in the mail as if Zip and Canada Post KNEW I would need them. I can hardly leave my couch, and I've been taking a steady stream of tylenol, vitamins, and zinc.

And not just sick with lazy-itis

I'm obsessed with the end of the world, so both the idea of Alan Weisman's book The World Without Us and his cool interactive website feature fascinate me.

I'm sick today, and I have very little work to do. Thus all the blog updates. I wish I had my lozenges with anesthetic and my Dristan. Or, better yet, my couch and my remote.

O Hai

A hilarious and bittersweet essay from nerve called "Personal Inventory: The Erotic Appeal of the Land's End Catalogue." "These are images more invasive than any Victoria's Secret spread, because they don't inspire lust. This is a pornography of regret, and the longer you stare, the more seductive it becomes. These sixty pages are a self-pity trap; any sane lonely man would do well to avoid them."

Wednesdays are the worst

In his blog, Canadian copyright activist and scholar and all-around cool guy Michael Geist says that the new, soon-to-be-announced Canadian copyright legislation will beat even the American Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the extent of its draconian, uh, bullshit. (Sorry, normally I can come up with better words but not when I'm angry.) The first thing all users'-rights-loving Canadian citizens should do is write to their Member of Parliament, the Prime Minister, and the Ministers of Industry and Culture. You can find out right here, from Online Rights Canada, who your MP is and how to contact them. (That site will even write a letter for you, but said letter has the wrong Ministers listed for some reason.) (My MP is conservative jerk Laurie Hawn, but since I've read enough of his dumb communiques about "family values," he owes me at least one reading of a letter about copyright reform.) Michael Geist also has a list of 30 things you can do to help steer copyright reform back into the realm of the reasonable and sustainable.

Here is how to contact our Prime Minister, his address is:
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
K1A 0A2

The Minister of Industry:
Hon. Jim Prentice
C.D. Howe Building
235 Queen Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H5

The Minister of Culture:
Hon. Josée Verner
Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

The Canadian Copyright Policy Branch is also a good place to send your letters:
275 Slater Street
7th Floor
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0M5

Letters mailed in Canada to a federal politician do not require a stamp, and are that much sweeter if composed while at work.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

In which I congratulate myself on my own adorableness

Jocelyn: The things I want on cute socks are, in order of priority: 1: robots; 2: monkeys; 3: pirates; and 4: all other animals.
James: That is the cutest thing you've said in quite awhile.

3 Things I like about my job

1. I have a tiny space heater under my desk. It has been there since I started working here, but today I decided to check if it works and it DOES and now I will never be cold at the office again.

2. My boss is obsessed with Office Space, and at a meeting yesterday she mentioned that we should all wear "flair" to an upcoming event. She also laughed when I did my "Hey, Peter, what's happening" routine. No office where the person in charge understands why Office Space is funny can ever be really evil.

3. I constantly push the boundaries of work-appropriate clothing and no one seems to care. I regularly wear ironic Internet t-shirts to work (usually with nice pants or a skirt), I wear armwarmers, I wear my airwalks or my vans, I wear my pirate hat (well, not at work so much as to work) and no one says anything or looks as me pointedly. I think this is because I am a member of Generation Y and everyone knows we have no regard for society's values anyway, so the bar has been lowered.

1 Thing I don't like about my job

I have to go there every weekday and it makes me tired and I don't want to be here and I want to go home and glue things with Liquid Nails and go see Love in the Time of Cholera. And have a club soda with lime juice. And go on Facebook without having to feverishly tab out of my browser window everytime someone walks by.

Links I stole from BoingBoing

From the Wacky News desk: Homeless man found living in elaborate underground home. This guy dug a 200-square-foot underground residence beneath Fresno. I can't even begin to explain to you how awesome that is. There is a slideshow of pictures.

According to Metafilter, the woman who does the announcements on the London Undergound has been fired for her blog in which she made up snarky fake Tube announcements. (Thanks to the news furor around this, the website is temporarily unavailable--bandwidth issues no doubt.) I like "Passengers are reminded that a smile is actually a friendship signal and not a sign of weakness," personally.

Morning work schedule.

Every morning, I have to read the education-related news and send some of it out to my colleagues (if it's related to the work our branch does, which is technology stuff). This is called "environmental scanning" since "morning news checking and reading and sending" sounds silly. This means that approximately 3.5 times a week on average, I read an editorial about how ALBERTA TEACHERS ARE AN EXPLOITATIVE, WHINY BURDEN ON TAXPAYERS and THEY ONLY WORK 50 HOURS A YEAR and THEY ALREADY GET PAID MORE THAN EVERYONE ELSE IN THE WORLD and TEACHING CHILDREN IS EASY DON'T YOU KNOW THAT and YOU KNOW WHAT'S EVEN WORSE THAN UNIONS? TEACHERS' UNIONS! and so on in the EDMONTON SUN. And then I spend the next ten minutes fuming at my desk and WRITING THINGS IN ALL-CAPS.

No job should make you read the Edmonton Sun. It's inhumane. It is an affront to my liberal democratic values and a painful reminder that the province where I live is not the place I imagine it to be.

In fact, since Metro came to Edmonton (one of those free daily papers that is funded by advertising and contains news items such as "PARIS HILTON LIKES KITTENS, SAYS INSIDE SOURCE"), the Edmonton Sun has been giving out free papers downtown as an effort to compete, I think, and gain new readers. Except these attempts always backfire with me. Not only will I not read the Edmonton Sun for free, I would not read it if THEY PAID ME $5. I would read it for $10 though, I'm not crazy. But then I would make fun of it on my blog.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Things My Dad Is not Very Interested In, In Spite of The Fact That Every Christmas Gift Guide Aimed At Dads Seems To Think He Should Be

  1. Cars
  2. Baseball
  3. Beer
  4. Aviation
  5. Barbequing
  6. Hunting
  7. Ties/Cosby sweaters
I can't make a list of the things he IS interested in, because he reads my blog, and he will then know what direction my gift-buying is going. [I'll give you a hint, though: he likes 19th-century philosophers, club soda with lime, small desktop cannons that shoot elastics, chocolate-covered peanuts, looking up word origins, and appropriate reference books for looking up word origins. And actually, I think he probably is at least mildly interested in aviation. Hi, dad! I love you!]


I have developed a (bad) habit of not sleeping well on Sunday nights as the spectre of work looms over me. I wake up on Monday mornings with a kind of insomnia hangover. Last night, I woke up so many times during the night, but somehow in between I kept having the same epic dream in which I went to Las Vegas to participate in some kind of World of Warcraft event. Yeah. I'm tired today.

I feel pretty strongly that the solution is Tim Horton's.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Holy animal conflict, batman!

It starts kinda slow, but don't give up on it. There are buffalo throwing lions in the air, and I am not even kidding.

4:04 pm on Friday afternoon? Are you frakkin kidding me, Internet? NO ONE is working. As far as I can tell, 1/3 of my office is currently talking about Dr. Who. I wish there was a "let's all just go home instead of pretending to work for 25 more minutes" alarm that would suddenly go off, and we could all file out instead of ashamedly watching YouTube videos and instant-messaging our friends.

Earlier: For best results, hum "The Circle of Life" from The Lion King while you watch

A man built a floating personal island with a frame of bamboo and recycled plastic bottles. This is an absolutely amazing project in and of itself (and the fact that it is reminiscent of the Disney Swiss Family Robinson treehouse doesn't hurt), but it also seems like it could be a precursor of the future. The more people there are on the planet, and the less land there is, the more likely it will become that we will be living in Waterworld. Only, hopefully, without Kevin Costner. Everyone living on little floating islands = sounds OK. Having to live in an overwrought, badly written movie = nightmare. (Also, having an adorable family dog on the island = Cool. Brawling with pirates = cooler.)

I am totally ziplisting Swiss Family Robinson.

I had Swiss Chalet for lunch, which I deeply, deeply regret. Doesn't Swiss Chalet seem like one of those franchises that should have gone out of business a long time ago? Now I feel both still hungry and vaguely ill.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A typical assortment of non-sequiturs

James [quoting Flight of the Conchords]: "You're kind of weedy and shy... but some girls must be needy for a weedy shy guy." I love some of their lyrics.
Jocelyn: I'm needy for a weedy shy guy.
James: Good, because I'm a weedy shy guy!
Jocelyn: You're not particularly weedy. Or shy.
James: I don't know what weedy means.
Jocelyn: It means, like... I don't know what it means.
James: I'm more barley.
Jocelyn: You're burly. Barley is a grain.
James: So is wheat!

Oh, yeah:

I'm convocating today, thus symbolizing The End Of my Illustrious Library School Adventure. I had to style my hair in such a way that it would look work-appropriate, but not interfere with my silly cardboard hat later in the day. I am going out for one last SugarBowl lunch with three friends who are also convocating today. Also, it seems that a few people close to me have gotten me presents for the occasion. Presents! Oh boy! I kind of forgot that graduation was a presents-thing, as Anya would say.

I'm confused about whether I should be excited. I didn't go to my undergrad convocation, so this will be my first graduation since high school (CLASS OF 2000! WOOOO! AND SO ON!). I don't feel excited, but I also don't feel completely not-excited; that could be the presents-thing thing, though, or the notion of Indian buffet for dinner. And I don't feel particularly proud--not going-out-and-framing-my-degree-tomorrow proud--but I also don't feel completely not-proud. I'm a little adrift. And later I will be wearing a silly cardboard hat with a tassel.

And not all Christians do

I was wondering how long it would take for the kinds of Christians who like to ban books to set their sights on The Golden Compass. And now it's happened, albeit in a Catholic jurisdiction. (Although it hasn't been banned, just temporarily removed from shelves while it's under review.) (As adamantly anti-book-banning as I am, I have to admit that when you're talking about religious schools, the waters get murkier. Although why they bought the book in the first place is a bit of a mystery. But making kids ask librarians for books--like PORN? Why bother?)

It's so ironic that the movie, which apparently dispenses with a lot of the anti-religious material from the series, is what is raising the books' profile enough for them to get banned.

I understand the sentiment behind wanting not to have a book like The Golden Compass in a Catholic school library. What I will never understand is the notion that people (children?) are so flexible and vulnerable in their beliefs that being exposed to something they don't agree with will--what? convert them? cause them to break down in tears? Destroy their lives? Exposure to what we don't believe in helps us to understand what we do believe in. And if a book can change your mind, then maybe you didn't really believe it in the first place. I firmly believe that reading a book that infuriates you is a helpful and illustrative exercise. In fact, there were things about His Dark Materials that infuriated me, but it would never occur to me that because of that, I should try to prevent others from reading it. I guess that's because I'm at ease in the post-modern world.

[PS. I love the part of the article that goes, "Two other books in the trilogy by British author Philip Pullman have also been removed as a precaution." Good move! I think while you're getting rid of the first book, you should also consider the third one, in which humanity declares war on God. Just as a precaution.]

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The day has not lived up to the snow, at all. If I start to cry, do you think they will let me go home?

Proprietary software headache

Except for the ubiquitous Windows, I don't use any Microsoft products at home. This is partly because I am cheap, and partly because I really believe that the future of information and ethical computing lies in open-source. But work is another matter, of course, and today Internet Explorer and Word 2007 are both giving me sass. I should get to take a personal day because I have a headache because I can't figure out how to make a new bookmarks folder in Internet Explorer. Or work from home, where Open Office and Firefox do exactly what I want them to do, all the time, right down to telling me I'm pretty every time I turn on my computer. (OK, not really.)

I thought posting this would make me feel better, but it really doesn't.

You are about to read what is, maybe, the longest run-on sentence ever!

Morning, Internets!

It's only 9:02 AM and already I have checked off two of the things on my to-do-at-work post-it. That means it's time for a little illicit blog-posting, thus (probably) disobeying the work computing agreement I agree with every time I log onto the network and possibly ensuring THE TERMINATION OF MY CONTRACT. On the other hand, I think they're going to be pretty hesitant to dismiss someone as professionally dressed as I am, so I should be safe.

(Re: the post-it. Most of the people I work with have Crackberries, and we use Microsoft Outlook for everything. People have laptops and tablet laptops and, I don't know, robot butlers. It's a very high-tech office, which makes sense since I work for the tech consulting branch of the ministry of education. I'm the only one who insists on kickin' it old skool by writing things in a notebook I carry around. Although I would undoubtedly get addicted to the portable e-mail too, if only I were funded for it. However, I know I'm the only person in the world to say so, but I kind of like Outlook. Every time I get a meeting request I'm touched: me? You want little old me at your meeting? Well, sure, honey! And any computer program that lets me colour-code things is guaranteed to go over well.)

I woke up this morning and it was still dark outside and snow was falling and the streetlamps were lit up like cheezy streetlamps are lit up in cheezy paintings. I've lived on the Canadian prairies for most of my life, and you'd think that by now I would be disenchanted with winter. And I am, for the most part. But the first big snow of every year looks like Christmas and Narnia and my childhood and, I don't know, Little House on the Prairie, and it wins me over. There is something ineffably romantic about the world being covered with new snow. And this is particularly true on the street where I live now, which being a Historical Area has cast-iron streetlamps and brick buildings and lovely trees. I wished I could stand there in my slippers and bathrobe drinking coffee and watching the loveliness of the scene, but unfortunately I don't own a bathrobe and I don't wear slippers because I hate having things on my feet (true fact!) and I am incapable of making my own coffee because I am coffee-retarded and, also, because I believe very strongly that I play an important role in keeping expensive but necessary coffee places in business, because I remember the Time Before Starbucks, and it was a cold, cold time. (In my fantasy, I AM Starbucks' business plan. Their business plan just says "Jocelyn's bizarre attachment to evil corporate coffee," and then has a bunch of appendices with graphs and charts.) Anyway, it was pretty much the nicest thing a dewey-eyed romantic like me can wake up to. I shall try to make the rest of the day live up to that precedent.

Monday, November 19, 2007

May I suggest you buy this? #15

Hello comrade mini-notes with buttons [set of 4] / $11.50 from Pressa Russa
[i just ordered a set of these in another style, and I wish I could have bought these ones too...]

Friday, November 16, 2007

May I suggest you DIY this?

I've been finding lots of great stuff on etsy lately, but I can't do a "May I Suggest You Buy This", because I need to keep the great stuff a secret--it's present-buying time! However, here are a couple of crafty projects I'm definitely going to try in the next few weeks: from A Little Hut, fabric + paper gift tags; and from jmday, a ribbon storage box. I go crazy about Christmas crafting, although hopefully not in a creepy, Stepford way. I've been looking for an excuse to start using grommets, and I think I've found it: gift tags. And this year I am trying to make something for everyone on my list, and it can't just be 10 identical striped scarves (although now that I think about it, that might be cool... I could make everyone wear them in one picture... it would be like an older, dowdier United Colors of Benetton ad). Anyway, to sum up, as good final sentences do: I'm obsessive.

It's Casual Friday here at Jocelyn Work HQ, which means that I am wearing jeans, albeit fairly nice ones, and not one but two dressy shirts, and the scarf I made. Still, I am happiest in my Casual Friday Jeans. There's a parcel waiting for me at the post office, and holds at the library. I bought a coffee for a homeless guy on my way to work today, that's just the kind of day I am having. If you were here, Internet, I would kiss you on your little button nose. And then I would make you wear a stripy scarf and pose for a picture.

PS. I'm so star-struck since David Lloyd George commented on my blog yesterday! I regret my apathy about the League of Nations. I see the error of my ways now. And if Woodrow Wilson has a blogger account (or William Lyon Mackenzie King, be still my heart), I'm going to look even more foolish.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sarcasm, the lowest form of wit.

Since you, Internet, do not spend time every day reading education-related news as part of your job, I can't imagine you've heard about this: An Alberta MLA introduces a private members' bill stating that in high school social studies, Canadian history should constitute 75% of the curriculum.


I'm interested in encouraging patriotism as much as the next person, and like a lot of other Canadians I marvel at the way Americans can recite facts about their country. But 75%?!? This is going to mean cutting other material out of the curriculum, of course. So here, based on my sketchy rememberings of what I learned in high school social, is a list of topics we could probably eliminate...

  1. World War II. World War I is more significant from a Canadian perspective because it led to negotiations about Canadian sovereignty. II may have some historical significance, but with our new Canadian focus, we don't need it.
  2. The League of Nations. I think we should keep the UN, because Canada's role as a peacekeeping nation is an important part of our national identity. But the League doesn't matter to us at all. Ditto with Woodrow Wilson and his fourteen points, spheres of influence, manifest destiny, and fledgling European nations' journeys to independence. Gone.
  3. Communism, socialism, and Marxism; the Russian Revolution. In fact, since this is Alberta, let's eliminate any teaching about any political ideology to the left of, uh, the provincial Conservatives.
  4. The Cold War. Actually, we should probably do a little unit on the Cold War now that I think about it, because of NORAD and Lester Pearson. He won the Nobel Prize, right? A Canadian! We can spend a day on that.
Ta da! Pedagogically sound, right? I should write this in letter form to the MLA who suggested it, except before I would be allowed to do that, I would have to answer a quiz. The more members of the Famous Five I can name, the more minutes of his time I get. Ready? Here we go! IRENE PARLBY! Ha, didn't think she'd be first, did you? Well, there's more where that came from!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

work fridge haiku series

san pellegrino
stolen food, we're watching you
i wish you were mine

consider myself
a woman of principle
except days like this

(When I worked at the public library, all the work fridges had signs that said: "STOLEN FOOD - We're watching you." I always thought that was weird. I mean, it's not the food's fault it's being stolen. They should be watching the FOOD-STEALERS. Unless it's talking Muppet food: "Help! Help! I'm being stolen!" It also seemed like kind of an empty threat. I mean, if someone were really watching the stolen food, then it wouldn't be stolen any more would it?)

Writers' strike hilarity

From The Morning News: A letter from Hollywood by Josh A. Cagan. "Won’t the cast of Lost be surprised when they realize they’re not lost on an island, but at TARGET! Watch as they discover a hatch-load of savings!" Heh.

More on

It just occurred to me what while writers are on strike, it might be a writer's strike, since all we're left with is a bunch of people who don't know how to use apostrophes.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Possible signs my workplace is living in the past

Training material contains these instructions: "Open up your internet browser (Internet Explorer or Netscape)..."

Work dispatch # 1,092

The little sign on my cubicle still says "TBA," and I'm thinking it would be awesome if those were my initials. From now on, you can call me "Theresa Bethany Albanese." Or anything else that creates the initials "TBA." Unless it's mean. Like, uh, Tiny-Brained Alcoholic.

I think I need a little plant for my cubicle (the plant would also have the initials TBA), and some toys. It just doesn't feel like TBA's home. Although, in a minor victory, I reprogrammed my voicemail so that my message doesn't say that someone named Kevin can't take your call. I think this is a step in the right direction. Baby steps. I may also inquire about whether it is OK for me to install Firefox. Internet Explorer makes me enraged, or at least, mildly annoyed.

Another baby step: I am wearing a pretty scarf I made out of fabric I got from Wal-Mart for $2. That makes me feel pretty good, and in fact, is the only thing that makes me feel pretty good at this particular moment. It's an important scarf. In fact, I think I would say it's very necessary.

I barely slept last night and woke up feeling weirdly alert. It was crazily windy--end of the world weather--and now it's snowing. All night, the wind was whistling around my high-rise, and it felt like I was in Wuthering Heights, so I couldn't sleep because I was stressed out about whether I have TB. Wouldn't that be ironic? TBA with TB!

I'm tired, obviously. I need (a) more coffee and (b) to channel this enthusiasm for the English language into my actual job. Jocelyn! Edit something! OK! I will!

Monday, November 12, 2007

The problem with going to Mac's to buy milk right after you wake up is that "Sparks Eggs Farm" may appear as "Sparkles Egg Fantasy." Which is confusing, to say the least.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Hot love on the hot love highway

James and I watched The Office Special (the Christmas episodes) tonight. I have now watched the whole British Office and I am ready to start on the American version--fortunately, since my ignorance about this show is alienating me from my peers. As such, I am humming "Freelove Freeway" until further notice. (This is the song David Brent plays on his guitar in one of the most excrutiatingly embarrassing episodes of The Office. It goes, "Free love on the freelove freeway, where the love is free and the freeway's long." And then it gets better.)

It's Canadian Finals Rodeo week (weeks?) here in Edmonton. This is such a weird time of year because there are people in cowboy hats EVERYWHERE, and as James pointed out, "not in an ironic way." I kind of like this, however. It reminds me that where I live is only one of several Albertas. I don't really like visiting the others, let alone living there, but I like being reminded of their existence. It's refreshing to remember that others construct reality differently from us. Also, I think if I pay $5 to the United Way, I get to wear jeans to work for the whole week.

Just around the corner from me is a beautiful old school building that was built back when Edmonton was a wee city in arms. It's one of those utterly charming, traditional red brick schools that looks like somewhere you would go to learn about The War, or get caned. People book weddings and/or wedding photos there all the time, and yesterday as I was walking home from lunch on the South side, a whole bridal party was standing outside the side door, smoking, even the bride in her white dress and a scarlet cape. I loved the juxtaposition of formal attire and informal standing-around-smoking and had to remind myself to keep moving so as not to appear weird.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Same bat-channel

Facebook turns its users into endorsers [NY Times]. I'm not sure if this new Facebook advertising scheme is going to be completely evil or, uh, less than completely evil. It launches tonight, so we'll see what happens, one way or the other. I am so, so opposed to the pervasiveness of advertising, and yet I always get almost-won-over by these arguments about it: "We're just telling you about things you will really want to know! It's not advertising if you can use the information!" Well, yes, it is. And yet.

Speaking of things that are less than completely evil, this week I discovered Better World Books, which sells new and used books. You know what I love even more than normal bookstores? Bookstores with carbon-neutral shipping that donate some of their money to literacy non-profits. That's profits for non-profits--I haven't given up on capitalism completely, yet.

Saving the world is tiring. On Thursday, I am going to serve dinner to homeless people at the Mustard Seed Street Church. This is something I don't do very often, and last night I remembered why: because carrying 6 kg each of frozen mixed veggies and perogies, a giant box of Oreo cookies, and a 5-kg toupie ham (plus, to be fair, some groceries for myself) home on the LRT is exhausting and sore-making. I woke up at 6 am, took some Tylenol and turned on my heating pad, and went back to sleep. Then I woke up again at 7:25 and realized I still had to go to work, even if I WAS still tired and in pain. There's nothing worse than waking up, feeling like you want to die, and realizing that no one else cares.

I'm having a crazy day at work. My supervisor is ill, so I seem to be basically running the whole province of Alberta. Fortunately, I am doing a pretty good job, so it's unlikely you'll notice any service disruptions.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Whereas normally I am not influenced by world events

Today, to celebrate the highest Canadian dollar in something like a hundred years (US$1.0869), I am buying things on the internet. From American stores. Hah!

Thanks, Canada. Thanks, price of oil. Thanks, crappy American economy. Cheers.

Yet we have extensive trade with them

The Alberta Education site acknowledges the Canadians and Newfoundlanders who gave their lives for their country. I know this is because at the end of WWII Newfoundland hadn't joined Canada yet, but I still find it hilarious. Lolz.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Try to ignore the clumsiness of how these two photos were combined (I couldn't get my camera back far enough to squeeze it into one photo), and witness the enormity of my dishes. I washed all my dirty dishes, Internet. It took all my dishcloths and a whole episode of This American Life and ALL MY COUNTER SPACE.

I'm gross.

Currently listening to: Amy Winehouse - Back to Black
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, November 3, 2007

These are the times that try men's souls

At the end of July, 2007, it was James's and my six-year anniversary and we had a BBQ, like the sick, self-congratulating couple we are. We brought a package of lentil and bean patties* because we couldn't remember if any of our friends were vegetarians (they weren't). I kept the unopened box of frozen patties, put it in my freezer, because I know something about myself: I am LAZY. I tell you this as a friend. I knew that it would inevitably come to this: I would be so out of groceries, so bereft of food options, that those lentil patties would start to sound pretty good. I knew it was only a matter of time until Future Jocelyn started asking questions like: Well, how bad can they really be? Vegetarians eat them! I wasn't looking forward to the day when I would have to eat them, but I knew it was coming, as certainly as I know my own death is coming. And I knew better than to throw them away, because no matter how gross they were, I by definition would not eat them until there was nothing better around, so in that sense, they would actually be beneficial. Every time I opened my freezer, for four months, I glanced at that box and thought, no, not today.

Until today.

Today I had to eat one of the bean and lentil patties, Internet. I had to eat it with a Lipton's Sidekicks concoction called "Singapore Curry Noodles," but that's a story for another day (suffice it to say, I actually really like the freeze-dried vegetables. They're like little VITAMIN SPRINKLES!) I took it out of the box dubiously. It was shaped like a hamburger, with little coloured vegetable chunks in it. The box strongly recommended frying it, which bode well, I thought. How bad could something fried be? Especially something that claimed to contain Basmati rice? After I had fried it, it had a nice crispyness to it, and I put it on a plate with my camping noodles, and I took the plate into my living room, where I was watching Buffy and sewing.

It was not very good, Internet. I mean, I knew it wouldn't be, but I sort of held out an obscure hope I barely dared to admit to myself: maybe it would be so good I would buy MORE! Maybe I would discover a delicious vegetarian alternative to burgers! Maybe I would add something to the ever-shrinking list of foods I like to eat! No such luck. It was not ludicrously bad, but it was certainly not good. And not only that, but it represented my capitulation, the depth of my failure, and also, my own conviction that that capitulation was coming--a foregone conclusion. I fully believed, beforehand, that I would fail--KNEW that I would fail. And then I failed. How pathetic.

Universe 1, Jocelyn 0.

I'm going to a potluck party tonight, and I'm showing up late, and I'm not bringing anything, but I really hope there's some good food there.

* What is the difference between a lentil and a bean, anyway?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Three recent but otherwise unrelated things I am feeling great about at this moment

i. self-possession Last night I was coming up the driveway to my building after walking to my sister's for dinner (and Bring It On) and this weird guy started talking to me. I know I've written before about how uncomfortable these awkward hitting-on situations make me, and how badly I traditionally handle them. And I was listening to my iPod, so the first assessment is always, Do I take my headphones off for this person? I unwisely chose to, and I got this:

Guy: Hey, do I know you? I thought I recognized you from somewhere.
Jocelyn: No, I don't think so.
Guy: Hey, do you live around here? I thought I knew you. Can I ask you your name?
Jocelyn: No.
And then I took out my keys, and I went into my building, and I pulled the door shut after me, and he wandered off. It was AWESOME. I might have been kind of mean, except I didn't feel guilty; I felt assertive, like I had managed, for the first time in my life, to avoid being made uncomfortable by a weird guy.

ii. bus-adventure I had to get a Criminal Records Check done today before I can start my new job. In order to do this, I had to go to the RCMP headquarters, which is actually not that far from my house. So I rode a bus I had never ridden before, the 8, and I got there and saw a bunny in the parking lot, and then it turns out I have never been convicted of any crimes! Score!

The 8, this new bus I just discovered, actually goes all the way from Kingsway Mall to Mill Woods Town Centre, and if you are from Edmonton you know that that actually represents a great distance. Since I was already riding the bus to go home, I decided to just stay on it to go to Mill Woods. It was exciting, Internet! It turns out that it is actually a really long bus ride! In Mill Woods, I went to the fabric store, and then I came home. Altogether, it took 4 hours.

I told James about my trip and he emailed me back: "You're such an explorer." Like Coraline!

iii. unrestrained fangirl gushing I don't mind admitting to you, Internet, that I want to be Sarah Vowell when I grow up. Not only is she the author of several great books, but she is also on National Public Radio, AND she was interviewed in a documentary I saw about the band They Might be Giants, AND she wrote the forward to the book I have about bomb shelters (Waiting for the End of the World). Basically, she gets to do everything I want to do, to write about everything I want to write about, and also to be in animated movies that I am less than crazy about. And she apparently pals around with people like David Sedaris, Dave Eggers, and Nick Hornby.

Anyway, I am currently reading her book of essays The Partly Cloudy Patriot, and it's great. I'm not that interested in American politics, except in a sort of bewildered outsidery way, but Sarah Vowell makes me understand how smart Americans can still believe in their country. There is one essay in this book, "The Nerd Voice," which you absolutely, absolutely need to read, Internet. It manages to articulate something that I have never been able to state as clearly as she can, although I've pondered it many times: that George Bush somehow managed to become president instead of Al Gore, in spite of the fact that he is, clearly, a moron. (The reason I have always insisted on, which also accounts for the popularity of Ralph Klein here in Alberta, is this: people, illogically, DO NOT WANT A POLITICAL LEADER WHO IS SMARTER THAN THEM.) Not only that, but it also manages to explain what this fact has to do with Revenge of the Nerds, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Internet, and Abraham Lincoln paper dolls.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Did you know that from the time the first Poltergeist movie was released until the third one (six years), four cast members died? Apparently, lots of weird things happened while the movies were being filmed as well. This constitutes the Poltergeist Curse.

I guess today is Hallowe'en. I'm not dressing up, nor do I have anything to dress up for. Hawllowe'en does not interest me. I do kind of wish I had some of those tiny chocolate bars, though... and some skim milk.

Dear Crazy Upstairs Screaming Guy,

You don't know me, but I feel like I know you all too well. Your voice is often the first thing I hear when I wake up in the morning, and the last thing I hear before I fall asleep--although not in a romantic way. What's your problem, Screaming Guy? It's not that I don't understand the impulse. I think we all feel like screaming, sometimes. The world can be an intense, frustrating, bleak place. I guess the difference between you and the rest of us, though, is that we went through that all-important childhood phase when you realize that your actions have an impact on other people, and that if you concentrate real hard, you can actually IMAGINE HOW THEY MUST FEEL. This is called empathy, Screaming Guy. And if I could give it to you in a bottle, or for that matter in a huge hypodermic needle--or in the spikes on a large, iron mace!--I would.

I used to think you were a real psycho. In fact, the first time I heard your screaming, I was so afraid you were going to kill someone that I called the police. But since then, I've begun to suspect that (a) you are not actually screaming AT anyone, and thus, are not an immediate danger; and that (b) given the frequency of your screaming, it is probably brought on by things the rest of us take in stride. As such, I don't even respect your angst any more. Run out of milk, Screaming Guy? Go to Mac's! Miss your favourite TV show? It'll be on next week! Forget to go to the bank before it closes? Don't worry, there's an ATM! See what I'm doing here, Screaming Guy? I'm taking things that can be frustrating, that can induce the feeling you want to scream, and dealing with them in a constructive way, by suggesting SOLUTIONS AND WORK-AROUNDS to problems. This is a skill you could afford to develop, Screaming Guy. Maybe then your neighbours wouldn't all think you are a sociopath, and report you to the condo building manager/police, or contemplate putting up passive-aggressive signs in your hallway. (Mine would say: "Dear Screaming Guy: Do you realize that EVERYONE ON ALL SIDES CAN HEAR YOU? Shut up, seriously.")

It's not too late, Screaming Guy. Just think, if you stopped screaming, what you could accomplish! You could make friends, or get a job, or sleep through the night! Hell, I could sleep through the night, too! Wouldn't that be nice? Plus, I bet anyone who spends at least an hour a week screaming, "FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU!" at the tops of his lungs can't be that happy. So it might have a positive effect on you too.

You should think on it, or scream on it, or whatever.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Talking about the Tom Petty DVD

"And you can buy it at Best Buy... or whatever the Canadian equivalent of Best Buy is. [Hesitates] Which is probably Best Buy. You can probably buy it here, at this mall... because you can buy everything at this mall."
-Bright Eyes, at the Edmonton Event Centre show (West Edmonton Mall)

Safety first.

Matthew Baldwin, over at Defective Yeti, has come up with an ingenious concept: clone code. The idea, here, is that you have a secret tidbit of information that only you and your close friends and family know. Thus, if James suspects he is not dealing with a real Jocelyn, but rather a clone, he would ask me for my "clone code," and only the real Jocelyn would know. So if it WAS a clone, he could dispatch her apace (and if I know James, this would be accompanied by light sabre noises, but those are optional). In the TV shows I watch, body-switching is actually more of a problem than clones. Fortunately, this little trick makes you switched-body-impersonator proof as well as clone-proof.

Version: CCv1.0

Identity: Jocelyn

Challenge: "What is the magic number that determines whether something is cheap or expensive?"

Response: "5"

-----END CLONE CODE-----