Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Disillusionment with the state of Western civilization; also, snack food.

I am not exactly a morning person, but I can usually muster enthusiasm to get out of bed with relative timeliness, locate and put on clothes, and even eat breakfast in the morning. I tend to wake up in my usual mood of apprehensive, cautious optimism, seasoned with amusing irony. But today I had one of those mornings when I would have given anything, almost, with the exception of my classic GameBoy and my firstborn, to just stay in bed. This led me to a depressive line of reasoning where I thought about what a great improvement it would be if our society had a little more tolerance for this kind of sloth. I am not talking about lazy, ne'er-do-wells here; I am talking about well-intentioned, contributing members of society who sometimes deserve to take a day off for no reason, Ferris-style. Can you imagine? Jocelyn's not coming to class today; she felt incredibly tired and depressed this morning for no reason. Achmed, can you take notes for her and then email them to her after class? Great. You know? Wouldn't that be something? I may sound like I'm being glib, but this is a serious question. If Western civilization is so great, then why do so many of its members spend pretty much every day doing things they don't really enjoy for no reason? Hmm?

It's definitely a "scooters" kind of day. I had cookies for breakfast because I could not summon the werewithal to thaw, toast, or cook anything. Then at 10 I had to go buy Coke, just to avoid falling asleep in my class. I don't know if caffeine really helps that much, but at least it makes me feel like I am being pro-active.

On this note I present to you: Why Work? This is a serious site whose ambition is to examine the titular question. (Ahem. Lifetime to do list item: Use the phrase "titular question" in a sentence. Check.)

A slightly less significant, but still puzzling, question is this: why do we (and by "we" I refer to myself and not, as in the previous paragraphs, to the West) have three partially eaten packages of pita bread in the freezer, plus one in the fridge? There is a cluster of neurons on my brain-- the "buy pita bread" neurons-- who persistently misfire every time I am in the grocery store. "Jocelyn!" these neurons tell me. "Buy pita bread! And maybe some hummous! Oooh, chocolate bars! I don't feel like getting out of bed tomorrow, do you?"

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

everything but beautiful

So, update on the wikipedia situation: 2 hours. That being the approximate amount of time I spent on that site today. A conversation I had at school:

Someone I go to school with, asking me to look at something: ... I mean, if you have time.
Me: Um? I am looking at a wikipedia page about the heavy metal umlaut. I would say I have time.
Note: according to the above-linked article, the heavy metal umlaut was once cleverly refered to in Spin as "the diacritical mark of the beast." That got a chuckle. I also greatly enjoyed metajoke.
"How many members of a certain demographic group does it take to perform a specified task?"
"A finite number: one to perform the task and an additional number to act in a manner stereotypical of the group in question."

Splink link

A list of Wikipedia's most unusual articles. Some of this stuff is pretty amazing-- check out Sealand. Which paragraphs are serious? Which are a joke? It's like a game!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Because it's Monday

I just feel like making mix CDs for people today.

Monday is a day for doing responsible things, so: get rich slowly.

Thanks to my dad, I have met one of my 43 things goals: collect all the Vesper Holly books.

I guess I should go to the university. Apparently I have a meeting in an hour.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Things I have had time to do because I have not played World of Warcraft since Sunday

  • Make lemon-roasted chicken

  • Listen to two great Canadian bands, Stars (who are famous enough that they do not need a link) and The Awkward Stage [note: clicking on that link will open an extremely obnoxious myspace page which will play music, overwhelming whatever you are already listening to and causing you to go, "argh!" I am telling this so you can turn down the sound on your computer]

    [Sub-point... have I ever mentioned how much I hate, hate, hate myspace? The main problem with it is that it looks like the internet, circa 1997. SERIOUSLY. Just because you can customize, doesn't mean you should. Haven't you ever heard the expression "Man's reach exceeds his grasp"? of coure, my bitterness is also partly explained by the fact that I was on MySpace for awhile, and no one wanted to be my friend. hrmph.]

  • Attempted to start using XHTML instead of HTML for coding my entries, simply out of perfectionism [even though it is in fact closing all my tags that is making this entry so spaced out]

  • Start watching Season 3 of Veronica Mars [I feel obliged to mention, for legal reasons, that I obtained these episodes mysteriously, yet legally, by means that have nothing to do with the internet] [I would also like to mention that in Season 3 of Veronica Mars, Veronica constantly swears by saying "Frack!" which apparently is "the swear of the future." This shoutout warms my rapidly beating fangirl heart.]

  • Do reading for school [!!!]

  • Paint my cupboards orange:


This orange paint is only the first step. I am going to stencil something on top with black and red, probably. Possibly "For tomorrow we die." With stencils I design myself, out of contact paper. As soon as I can find someone to drive me to the paint store. I feel this would be a good time to mention how much I adore James. So clever! So handsome! And talented, too. This is a man who sends me links to articles I will like, who gets incensed about things, and who knows how to drive. Not to mention being, in an alternate online universe, a badass level 56 warlock. I am truly the luckiest girl in the world.

Ahem. We will now return to your regularly scheduled programming.

For my children's lit class, I read this really interesting article about Philip Pullman, His Dark Materials, and the religious/philosophical content of children's books. [From The New Yorker.] I need to read that trilogy. I'm embarrassed that I haven't already. This article quotes him:

“There are some themes, some subjects, too large for adult fiction; they can only be dealt with adequately in a children’s book.”
From CBC news: an incredible story about a documentary that prompted charges in a 40-year-old American murder case.

Further adventures in suspension of disbelief

Dear producers of Veronica Mars:

In the Season 3 episode "My Big Fat Greek Rush Week," you expect me to believe that Logan and Wallace's Sociology professor has gotten a proposal to re-stage the famous and controversial Stanford Prison Experiment past an ethics board? Even though the experiment had to be cancelled the first time it happened, in 1971, when there were way fewer hoops for University research, because of the participants' extreme behaviour? And that he is allowed to recruit undergraduate students from his introductory class to participate? And reward them for doing so by EXCUSING THEM FROM THE FINAL PAPER, which could constitute a sort of pressure to participate?

I try, I really do. I want to believe. But sometimes you make it so difficult.

(At least Veronica always wears a shirt over her space-bra.)


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Dear women in space shows:

In the coming 44 minutes, you will be piloting and repairing space-ships, out-manoeuvering enemies, discharging firearms, dismantling explosives, and running energetically down echoey metallic hallways. You may be imprisoned or forced to defend yourself with violence. You may be exposed to extreme weather conditions, a lack of life-support systems, interrogation, exhaustion, and physical and/or emotional stress. Put on a shirt over your futuristic sports bra. Trust me, you'll be glad you did. In space, it never hurts to be prepared.


Last night James and I went to see Miss Potter, which was good. I guess. I mean, it was good, in the sense that I wasn't offended by it. I don't really like Renee Zellweger; her Zellwegeryness (Zellwegeriosity?) tends to take over everything she appears in. But more importantly, there was a trailer for Bridge to Terabithia. I got really excited for the first eight seconds of the trailer, until I realized Disney had turned the story into a "children in a magical world" CGI-a-thon: giants, talking trees, and a myriad of other Narnia-the-movie-esque creatures. It does have Zooey Deschanel, James's indie-movie-star-girlfriend, in it, so I can be reservedly hopeful. I'll go see it, but I won't be happy about it.

Deletia: trying to remain reservedly hopeful, in the face of reasonably overwhelming odds.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Inadvertent poetry

he'a a broke ass, dirty ass jail bird, that thinks he is the biggest pimp in the world. he will sell you dreams and leave you hot like fire.
-the profile on Delbert "yuk" James

I can't believe I lived this long without knowing about How did I live?

This site also features banner ads for, "the only dating site that screens for felons and married people." Now that inspires confidence!

There are two types of people I don't trust: felons, and married people.

The Way Things Work

So... James sent me this link to an article about someone who quit World of Warcraft after basically having their life ruined by it. This comes at an opportune time because just yesterday I had a really frustrating WOW-day and found myself grouchily flying around on gryphons, grumbling as if it was my job. (Now granted, I was really close to leveling up, but still.) Compulsion to engage in leisure activities even when you are not enjoying them? That's addiction. I'm taking a break.

During said break I will be reading Alberto Manguel's wonderful The Library at Night, catching up on school-reading, and cooking. (I bought a new cookbook which comes highly recommended to me: Donna Hay's Modern Classics. If anyone wants to come over, I will cook you something from it. Well, not anyone.) Trying to learn how to use my new sewing machine. And maybe watching Farscape, which is bizarrely appealing. When watching this show, I periodically think how dumb the things that happen are, and yet I keep trundling through Season 1. Something must be going on there. Pheromones.

Other notes on my mental state: I have been having these kind of social-commentary nightmares. Two nights ago I had a dream about a drugged-up woman dropping her baby on its head on the hard granite floor of Edmonton Centre. Last night I had a dream about capital punishment. Oh, and I was the one being executed. I would take a break from sleeping, too, if I could.

Today I became a member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. I have had them on my links page for awhile. They do advocacy and information work in protecting internet users' rights. And now, they are doing it with my money, but I think that's probably a good thing, because what was I doing with my money? Yeah. Nothing.

I woke up this morning feeling strangely aware and sort of gloomy. Joining advocacy organizations sometimes can help to shake me out of this funk. If this fails, it will be more Etsy art for me. I feel tired, Universe. Just doing the things I always do seems to take more energy than usual. It is not a "scooters" kind of day.

Friday, January 19, 2007

I was just reading some of the posts on Malcolm Gladwell's blog. I read his book The Tipping Point for a marketing class last year and I have been reading his blog, periodically, since then. He seems to uncover the best studies and debates. I also like his crazy hair. His post Defining a Racist is interesting to me, not particularly because I agree or disagree with his definition, but because of the huge range of comments it provoked. (Some of them apparently quite ill-advised. Like the person who stood up for racist generalizations by pointing to a Wikipedia article about race-associated IQ discrepancies.) Seriously! Who are these crazy commenting people? Could some of them come and comment on my blog? Not the wikipedia-linking guy, but some of the others? Or would I have to post about serious issues first? Or would I have to write some bestselling books first? Sigh. It seems everyone wants Malcolm Gladwell to know whether they agree/disagree with him.

I then took the Harvard Implicit Association Test for race, which kind of stressed me out. Normally I like taking tests, but not when I am being timed. I was then going to take the Gender-Science/Liberal Arts one, but I have a strong anti-science bias and I was afraid the test might cause me to form a strong mental association, thus making me hate men as well.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

the third bar

I talked to Courtney on the phone, and she convinced me that buying things is the cure to many a bad day. All the stores except Mac's are closed, so I bought some robot/lasergun art from Etsy:

The one on the left is from John W. Golden. The one on the right is from Jimbot's Junkyard. I highly recommend buying art from Etsy. It's relatively cheap, and you get the nice feeling of supporting a living, breathing, part-time-job-having artist (probably). Plus you avoid joining the legions of people with Klimt or Munch posters. Enough with the Munch posters! Modernity makes you feel alienated and opressed, we get it! You know what would probably make you feel better? A LASERGUN!

OK, I cannot for the life of me centre those correctly. My apologies. Blogger and I are still in the early stages of our relationship-- afraid to hurt each other's feelings, afraid to correct our mistakes about each other's natures. Blogger is too nice to tell me to mind my own business. I am too polite to try to tinker with Blogger's HTML. I am going to bed soon, but first, Blogger and I will kiss each other awkwardly on the cheek.

When you compose in the Blogger post window, at the bottom it has a space for entry tags (which at this moment says "art, shopping, meta-blog"), but the examples they give are "scooters, vacation, fall." I really, really want to tag things with those tags. I mean, you know the person who is taggings things "scooters, vacation, fall" has everything in their life that I want: perfect happiness, meaningful jobs with 12 weeks of paid vacation a year, fun lifestyle-enhancing products, a digital camera with which they capture every perfect fulfiling thing that happens to them. I hate those scooter people. Because I want a little piece of that perfect happiness, I shall be tagging random future entries "scooters." At the same time, for me, "scooters" is bittersweet: it represents a sense of weltschmerz, the realization and reluctant acceptance of the fact that my life will never, ever, be accurately decribed by the tag "scooters." "Scooters" is ironic. It represents all that is not-scooters.

Or maybe they are referring to Scooter, the Muppet. But then I suppose it would be capitalized.

Walking softly and... well, you know.

My sink is allegedly fixed. I bargained its repair for the temporary use of my parking space, which, it turns out, was good leverage. I did it in a very sneaky, mercenary way which I am somewhat proud of. I could not state, outright, to my building manager, "I will temporarily allow you the use of my parking space in exchange for your expediting the sink-fixing process." You can't be that direct; this is diplomacy. Directness offends people. Instead you must be sly, and subtle. Much depends on intonation and inference. Inference like a fox! Anyway, I am a little afraid to actually test if the sink is fixed. For now I will just believe.

I will rate various aspects of my life today. (The scale may or may not be out of 10.)
Trying to compose pristine XHTML: 3
Picture books: 5.5
PowerPlant lunch buffet: 6
Getting package from amazon: 8
Getting my sink fixed: 11

I leveled up to 53 in Warcraft yesterday, but this is nothing compared to the first person to reach level 70 after the expansion, in 28 hours of playing time. There is this flash of white light that surrounds you... it's so beautiful. To someone who has never leveled, I can't even describe it. (Also, my blog will now have a "warcraft" tag.... after roughly two days, this new blog is no longer cool. That was like a record for me!) (Also, again: that link was courtesy of James.)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What will the internet come up with next?

Here is something fun I learned about in class (!) today. LibX runs as a Firefox extension, which takes information on any site you happen to be looking at, uses it as a search query, and checks the catalogue of your chosen library for holdings. I can find any book on Amazon and in two clicks, I know if my library at the U of A has it. I downloaded the U of A version. I think you do need a version tweaked to your own library, though, so if your library doesn't have one, send them an email and tell them to get off their Web 1.0 butts.

Why haven't I heard about this before?!? WHAT OTHER TECHNOLOGY SECRETS IS THE INTERNET KEEPING FROM US?!? Next you'll tell me that there is a firefox extension that does my dishes. (Ahem.... so, I almost wrote this extremely nerdy joke about the dish attribute "clean", because I was studying XML a few minutes ago. But I am trying, desperately, to cling to any vestiges of coolness I might have left, so... ROCK MUSIC! MAKEOUT PARTIES! And... uh, SUBSTANCE ABUSE!)

The relentless encroachment of... what was it again?

From The Onion: Nation's Gays Demand Right to Library Cards. About time, too.

Added 4:20 PM: I love this "Stop Staring at my Tote" bag, also from The Onion.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Well, here we are.

Blogger has provided a new home for my site. I have to say, I miss Pitas' familiar purple interface, but it got to the point where I needed site features that would actually work--apparently, functional websites are the future. I am still tinkering with this one. It's orange, though, so that's a start.

I hosted my website on pitas for 7 years. Isn't that nuts? In internet terms, that's forever. We will see what the future holds. Please let me know if there are things that are not working on your system or browser. Also, the comments work!

By the way, the name "legal despoiler" comes from a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude:

"...but in any case she had the right to expect a little more consideration from her husband because, for better or for worse, he was her consecrated spouse, her helpmate, her legal despoiler, who took upon himself of his own free and sovereign will the grave responsibility of taking her away from her paternal home, where she never wanted for or suffered from anything..."
I cannot reproduce the whole sentence in which this phrase appears because it is about half a page long. And I am only one woman!

All the things that disappear

"Because of all the things that disappear. Safety pins, for instance. Factories go on making safety pins, and every day people go on buying safety pins and yet, somehow, there never is a safety pin just when you want one..."

-Mary Norton, The Borrowers, 5

I had to read this book for my children's lit class, adding it to the huge sum of books I read and loved as a child and am now revisiting. Each time I cautiously open one of these books, it is with a combination of anxiety and excitement: what if it's not as good as I remember? What if it is as good as I remember? The Borrowers is as good, and better maybe: careful, artful, seamless, and utterly believable. And also amazingly timeless, since it was written in the early 1950s.

In addition to reading this book from cover to cover, I also made meatballs today, and put them in my freezer. As far as I am concerned this constitutes a very productive day. And it's for school, you see, so it's fine. Well, the meatballs are not for school. Although I could eat them at school. If I wanted.

Also on the subject of books, I finished the fourth Traveling Pants book yesterday as well. (I shudder to write this, but I feel I must: Forever In Blue. Dumb title, I know. Don't judge!) I liked this book somewhat less than the previous ones, but still more than, say, a kick in the head. (As my mother likes to say.) What I like about these young women is that they have real-ish lives and INNER LIVES even, not the stereotypical "Shoes! Boys! School is hard!" mentality of so much fiction aimed at young women. (Or even, for that matter, aimed at older women. ahem Sex in the City ahem.) They deal with the kinds of problems that real people deal with. They have boy problems, yes, but also intellectual and creative aspirations, troubled families, and recurring personality flaws or weaknesses. They travel and learn things and get depressed. Also, in the most recent one, they have sex, and sometimes it is a good thing, and sometimes not; also they sometimes don't have sex, and that is sometimes a good thing too. The books don't talk down to their characters, or to their readers. For writing relatively non-patronizing and sophisticated young adult fiction, Ann Brashares, I salute you.

An interesting kind of art/library/found poetry project, from Nina Katchadourian: sorted books. I wish you could order prints of these photos. I especially love:

On a linky note: The ladies (and gentleman) of knitta are like craft ninjas.

I am in the process of trying to set up a new version of this blog, using blogger. My problem is that the good URLs are taken (one of them by someone named Jocelyn--how weird is that?!?) so I am exploring hosting alternatives. I mention this only so that, if this blog moves in the near future, I don't have a lot of panicked, rioting readers (well, OK, five panicked, rioting readers) feeling alienated and confused. You have been warned. However, the technical obstacles may prove formidable, in which case, you have been warned well in advance. But wouldn't it be nice to have working comments? And tags for entries? And permanent links to individual entries that don't involve hand-tinkering with HTML before and after archiving the page? Gosh, we can dream...