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!)