Wednesday, July 30, 2008

i'm dreaming of buying a new computer. the one i'm using at home is still James's, which is both bogus and sad. Dell now sells ones that have bamboo casing on the tower. Pretentious... and yet I feel a friendly, enviro-friendly glow. I wanted to figure out how much this would cost, but the Dell website doesn't seem to offer Canadian shipping. There is a box for "State/province," but the provinces it mentions are like Alabama and Wisconsin, in other words, the kinds of provinces that aren't.

This neat little utility will use your browser history to estimate your gender. It got me way wrong (87% male!), but then, that's my own fault for being obsessed with, and the Yahoo! sperm-count self-tester. (heh. if only they really had that. No seriously, the websites i visit that mark me as male: imdb, flickr, urbandictionary, salon, boingboing, wowwiki, consumerist...)

Also: what the hell is this?? I really hope it IS a monster, and not, say, some kind of viral marketing campaign. (It's really disappointing when seemingly exciting things turn out to be viral marketing campaigns.) A lot of gawker commenters suggest it's a dog that has lost its skin, which is both sad and gross. I actually want to KNOWWWWW. Montauk Monster News! It has its own blog!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

File under "wacky news"

Police: Man Stole Miami-Dade Buses, Drove Them On Routes. And yet! Arrested. Sad face.

....But why would i be the target of a Scientology conspiracy?


i found out about this new search engine called "Cuil" today. It's fairly cool, although based on the preliminary "investigating" I've done it's hard to say whether it really is superior to google. However, in an lolz moment, a search for my blog turns up this:

Appparently the one image that epitomizes this blog is a banner that says "My success in Scientology." Either that, or this is part of some larger Scientology conspiracy. Which I haven't ruled out.

Or it's sneaky advertising. I definitely haven't ruled THAT out.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Linky Monday, day off edition

Cake Wrecks--a blog of disastrous cakes. This is a more entertaining premise than you might think at first blush, although I find some of these cakes awesome rather than snark-worthy. For example, this one. I would be honoured if someone gave me that cake. And "Happy Birthday Dickhead" is awesome, not lame.

The Five Dollar Comparison--what can you get for $5? I'm obsessed with this question, actually.

Tomes and Talismans--BoingBoing linked to this PSA, circa 1985, which is designed to teach children how to use libraries- AFTER THE EVACUATION OF HUMANITY FROM EARTH! Lucky we have card catalogues to help us find anything we could possibly want. I cannot emphasize strongly enough how much you should watch this dumb movie. (The rest of the series is on YouTube.) (PS: Why do the library staff have to keep explaining to each other how to use the library? How did they even GET THOSE JOBS?) (Also: it's on Wikipedia! And not in microfiche!)

Lifetime, Wow!--This is another blog I just discovered. It's hilarious. The author evaluates Lifetime TV movies on the basis of "Actual awesomeness," "Ironic awesomeness," The presence of actual celebrities, and "Lifetimeness." Helpful.

Interchangeable flap messenger bag tutorial
in which I push Microsoft Paint to the limit

This tutorial explains how to make this messenger bag which I posted on Craftster. My apologies for the long post... I just wasn't sure where else to put this. I'm a very intuitive (read: no-planning! Measure twice and cut once... sure, if you're a sissy) sewer, so it's hard for me to describe exactly the process I went through. But I hope this is useful.

I'm happy to answer questions about this. Comments on this blog are emailed to me so feel free to reach me that way. I also have this available in a printer-friendly PDF version. I will be happy to send it to anyone who asks.

Pattern Pieces


I haven't given size instructions here--everyone should make everything whatever size they want :) But note that the body of the bag (piece 1) should have sides and a bottom at least 1.5" bigger than the large pocket (piece 2). This is so that your pieces will be the correct size in Step E.

Step H. shows how the bag body rectangles are transformed into a bag. If you're not sure how this will work, use paper to make a mock-up, and follow the instructions in Step H to see what size of bag this will result in. This process is so magical I can hardly begin to describe to you how it works, and I frequently have to make paper versions of it myself just to convince myself it still works.

Also, this may seem obvious, but if you don't know how long to make your strap, measure the strap of a bag you really like.

Phase 1: Make the Pockets

Because of the way this bag is constructed, the pockets should be made first. The size of the pockets (piece 2 in the pattern diagram above) will be the approximate size of the body of the finished bag.

A. Take piece 3 - the small pocket

Place the outer fabric and the lining, right sides together, and pin the two long sides. Sew these two long seams.


Note: the distance between the two seams (indicated with arrows) will be the depth of the small pocket.

Turn this piece inside out. Press the seams you just sewed, and then sew them again (right-side out this time.)

You should now have a strip of fabric with finished seams on the top and bottom, and ragged edges.

B. Take piece 2- the large pocket (1 of main fabric only)

Place 1 piece of mf, right side out. Place the small pocket on top, also right side out. Sew along the bottom with a zig zag stitch. Then sew the small pocket into three compartments (or however many you want) with a straight stitch. These stitches are shown in red on the diagram below. You could make these pockets the right size for whatever small stuff you want accessible in the front of the bag--pens, lipstick, cellphone, ipod, etc.


C. Place the large pocket you just made and 1 lining piece, right sides together, and pin around all four edges.


Sew around the four sides, leaving a gap of 4" or so at the bottom.

Turn this piece inside out, being sure to poke out all the corners. (I use the pokey end of a wooden spoon for this.) Sew around the ouside again, with it right side out. When you do this, make sure the gap (the hole through which you turned the piece inside out) is pinned and sitting flat.

Result: A large pocket, with the small pocket attached, with nice finished edges. Like this, but probably not neon green:


D. Prepare the back pocket.

Place the remaining main fabric and lining pieces of the large pocket (2) and pin them together, right sides together. Repeat the pinning and sewing in step C above, turn inside out, and sew around the outside again.

At this point you should have two nice pockets with all finished edges, one with a smaller pocket attached. The fussiest part is done!

Phase 2: Attach the Pockets

E. Take 1 piece of the bag body, piece 1, in the main fabric. Attach the front pocket (the one with the smaller pocket already attached) around the sides and bottom with a zig zag stitch.


Note: the attached front pocket should not reach the bottom or top of of piece 1, nor should the corners of the pocket touch the cut-out corners of the rectangle. You need some space around it on all sides for seaming. If the pocket is too big at this point, you need to make either a smaller pocket or a larger bag body.

F. Attach the back pocket to the other bag body piece of main fabric (1), following the same steps.

You should now have the two bag body pieces in the main fabric, each with a pocket attached.

Phase 3: Assemble the Bag

G. Take the two pieces from Phase 2 above and place them RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER. You should not be able to see the pockets.

Pin and sew the three sides as shown:


DO NOT SEW THE CORNERS. There should be gaps.

H. This is the magic part! Take the two sides and pull them apart, then pin and sew the corners of the bag, as shown in this super-professional photo.

corner comp

This seam makes the corners on the bottom of the bag. It can take a little practice making bags this way, so you may want to practice on some scrap fabric before making the proper bag.

I. Repeat step H with the other corner. You should now have a bag shape, but with an unfinished top.

Phase 4: Make the Lining

J. Repeat steps G-I with the two pieces of lining fabric (piece 1). This part can be a bit finnicky, as you want the resulting "bag" (made of lining fabric) to be ever-so-slightly smaller than the main fabric bag.

The good part is, the lining won't show, so if you have to fudge it a bit no one will know. :)

Phase 5: Assembly

K. Turn the bag proper inside out, so the pockets are on the outside. Place the lining "bag" inside the bag proper. All the seams should be between the two layers, so they won't show when you open the bag.

If you can see seams, you need to take the lining out, reverse it, and then put it back in.

L. Take the unfinished edges around the top of the bag and turn them inward, pinning as you go. Do this to both the main fabric and the lining, to make a smooth, even join around the top.

M. Once you have pinned the bag and lining together, with the edges of both turned in, sew them together--BUT ONLY ABOVE THE FRONT AND BACK POCKETS. Leave the sides open (to insert the strap).

Phase 6: Make the Strap

N. Take piece 4-the strap fabric. Fold it in half lengthwise, good side in. Pin along the long side. Sew this long seam. You should now have a long tube, open at both ends.

O. Turn this tube inside out (this can be tough--the wooden spoon again!) and press it flat. Pin along both long sides, and sew each long side. You should now have a long flat strap with stitching on both sides, and open, unfinished ends.

Phase 7: Attach the Strap

P. Place the unfinished ends of the strap into the gaps left on the sides of the bag. Insert 1" to 1.5" of strap on each side. Pin in place, and then sew a rectangle to attach, like this:

velcrobag 007

"Hem" the bag, sewing around the top of it completely, to firmly attach the straps and the bag shell and lining.

Phase 8: Velcro!

Q. Cut a strip of velcro just slightly shorter than the length of the back pocket. Attach it to the back of the bag, between the bag body and the back pocket.

velcrobag 008

Cut a small 1.5" strip of velcro and attach it to the inside of the back pocket.

The bag is now done!

Phase 9: Flaps

R. Measure the length of your velcro strip from step Q. This will be measurement i.

Measure the depth + height of your bag, as shown:

velcrobag 009

This will be measurement ii. (The bag in the illustration is around 11" depth + height)

These measurements will be the size of your flaps, and correspond to the measurements on the next diagram.

S. Take the flap pieces 5 and place them, right sides together. Pin around the outside of this rectangle, leaving a 4" gap along one of the sides.


NOTE: Make sure the area inside the pins matches the measurements you took in step R. The size of the fabric doesn't really matter; the distances between the seams will determine the exact size of your flaps.

T. Through the gap, turn the flap inside out. Pin and sew around the outside on all 4 edges.

U. Attach the velcro. A strip the same length as the one on the back of your bag goes on the top of the flap, lining side. a 1.5" piece goes on the main fabric side. If you are having trouble figuring out where the velcro should go, insert the flap between the back of the bag and the back pocket, to see how the flaps will fit in.

V. Pat yourself on the back, you're done! Time to make 1,000,000 more flaps!

Note: Making bags by cutting corners out of rectangles is a trick I learned from another tutorial on Craftster. I've lost the original link, but if anyone has it, I would love to post it. It's a really clever way of making very elegant bags, with less sewing--and less of my nemesis, cutting.


Creative Commons License

This tutorial is licenced under a
Creative Commons Licence!

This means it can be freely reproduced, changed and distributed without permission, for non-commercial purposes, and with attribution. Questions? Please contact me.

Friday, July 25, 2008

more pretentious, please!

On How About Orange I saw this neat little tool: museumr. It creates a fake museum scene with one of your flickr photos in the background. This young couple is falling in love in front of my pathetic balcony garden, for example. (Note: This is an old photo. These days my balcony garden is robust and bloom-y. The sugar snap peas have little white blossoms! There are tiny, tiny green tomatoes!) Anyway, this tool has very limited usefulness, mainly you can use it to create images such as this one and post them on your blog. If you don't have a blog, well, then I don't know what you are supposed to do. Write down your inane thoughts in a notebook perhaps. Send postcards to your loved ones, and mail them with the correct postage.

I don't know about you, Internet, but I am about ready for it to be the weekend now. Like: What am I doing here? Why is it sooooo cold? Why doesn't someone put something in my mail box so I can amuse myself by reading it? Where are all my co-workers? Would anyone notice if I took another coffee break?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Customer service, with a side of mockery

Haha, OK, there are these twelve-year-old boys who spend all day every day at my library playing Runescape. I created an account on the site just to see what it's like. Now I feel doubly disdainful of them because (a) they spend all day at the public library, trying to con the library staff into giving them more computer time; (b) they do that in order to play a game that is on the lame, so-cheezy-you-can't-play-it-without-crackers (albeit free) side. So next time I have to kick them off the computers I might also make fun of them. Or just be like, "Look, I play a real MMO, and I have a Hammer of Destiny so... get off the computers."

The fangirl in me is geeking out over not one but TWO articles in the blogipelago today, on the awesomeness that is Scully: Scully have I loved [at Salon], and Feminism and the X-Files (My Ode to Dana Scully) [on Feministing]. Squeeeee. Even if the movie sucks, I've been collecting all the DVDs so I can just start again at the pilot. I watch to forget.

it IS civilized to queue.

Banned in Beijing: a really interesting list of things China is banning/doing to get ready for the Olympics. Some of them are downright absurd, like this:

"The Chinese have been known to elbow their way into stores and onto buses, instead of lining up. But last year, city officials launched a 'civilized behaviour' campaign to teach Beijing's 15 million people to form a queue.

The 11th of every month - picked because the two digits in the number 11 resemble two people lining up - has been designated a Queuing Day, during which time thousands of volunteers flood Beijing's streets to help residents practise lining up.

The campaign slogan reminds people that 'It's civilized to queue, it's glorious to be polite.'"
And some of them are actually quite sad, like the street team eliminating bad English on signs. I think Westerners LOVE bad English--it makes us feel amused, and superior.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I am a big fan of my job today. Mainly because I am wearing jeans and Airwalks, and no one seems to care; and also because after work I am going to be fitted for a mouth guard (to keep me from grinding my teeth while I'm asleep) and my dental insurance is paying for 90% of it. Yesssssss.

This is probably the kind of thing that adults get excited about and children within hearing distance think, I hope that is never my life. Well, whatever, sassy children. You're not the ones paying for dental care.

Also, I'm hoping that after this dentist visit I can stop having dental nightmares. In the one I had last night my molars were growing the wrong way, backwards into my jaw.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

So pretty!

I used the mosaic maker from BigHugeLabs to make this. It was fun to play with. The photos are:

1. Jocelyn Square, 2. Del's Pizza, 3. Stony Stratford Market Square, 4. 132/365 orange you glad?, 5. Colin Firth having coffee dumped on him, 6. Coffee can wait, 7. White Sands 1/15, 8. red whorl, 9. beinecke, 10. How many years have I hated you?, 11. green sea of chairs, 12. Water Lily

It's a meme I saw on Wisdom of the moon. I followed these rules:
1. Search flickr for the answer to the following questions.
2. You have to choose a photo from the first page of results.

What is your first name?
What is your favorite food?
What high school did you go to?
What is your favorite color? (Orange, AND this picture was taken in Edmonton! I walk by the old Orange Hall all the time. Exciting.)
Who is your celebrity crush? (yeah, Colin Firth. It has been for so many years too. All of the pictures of him were SO DREAMY but at least in this one he's pouring coffee on himself, in what I think is meant to be a socially conscious way.)
Favorite drink?
Dream vacation? (this is New Mexico believe it or not)
Favorite dessert? (not cupcakes, but the picture is so pretty!)
What do you want to be when you grow up?
What do you love most in life? (I said "time." Cryptic, no?)
One word to describe you. ("Tall.")
Your Flickr name. (there were no hits for my flickr name, so I used my first name again, like a cheater)

Plus, bonus points for use of the phrase "fish cam"

Recently I've been hearing a lot about these salon treatments where little Turkish flesh-eating fish peck at your feet. Jezebel has a clip of Diane Sawyer undergoing this treatment on national TV. Since this is something I actually have regular nightmares about, I can't really imagine paying money for it, but OK. I guess in late-stage capitalism we have to amuse ourselves somehow.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Talking about the bruise I got at the theatre where I went to see BATMAN

Jocelyn: It's big, and it's grey around the edges, but in the middle it's blue and orange and red...
James: Maybe it's a map to earth!
Not even my Batman-esque superpowers could save me from falling down and seriously injuring myself on the floor. And this was actually only the first of a series of increasingly ludicrous and disappointing events over the past 24 hours (although the Batman movie itself was not one of them). Back later.

Friday, July 18, 2008

"Oh, hi, pigeons. I'm definitely not going to shoot you with my water gun, so don't worry about that." -Me, muttering to myself as I made my way sneakily toward the balcony

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Linking with buttons

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is awesome. It's available for free streaming until the 20th of July. I watched the first two episodes last night and I have to say, the concept is inspired. [Also: I read this interview with Joss Whedon, which is good too. He loves BSG, of course. Damn that crazy, nerdy man, who gets to live my dreams.]

Also I added a button in the right-hand column to Michael Geist's 30 things you can do list. I know everyone is probably really tired of hearing me talk about this, but I also know a few people personally who have written to their MPs because of my haranguing. Because that constitutes a kind of success for me, I'm going to keep it up. (Ha! Positive reinforcement!) Bill C-61 is not going anywhere until the Fall, when Parliament re-starts. That means we have at least six more weeks in which to agitate. If you haven't done so already please, please write to your MP and/or the Minister of Industry. You could also join a Facebook group and/or your local Fair Copyright for Canada chapter, or record a video opposing Bill C-61. If you've already done those things, you in turn should harangue at least one other person and get them to write a letter to THEIR MP. That's how harrassment democracy works. It's a beautiful, irritating process.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

On boyfriends

"When I go on a lecture and I’m reading in a theatre often there’ll be like, it sounds goofy, but there’ll be a security guy near me. It’s not that I need it or anything; it’s embarrassing. But people will often say, 'Is that Hugh?' Like he doesn’t have anything better to do with his life to stand behind me as I read out loud." -David Sedaris in this CBC interview

2 links

The first installment of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along-Blog is available. Apparently the popularity of the site caused it to crash on the day it was released, Tuesday. I haven't watched it yet because I don't have my own office.

From Alt Text: Grading Batman's Gear. Nerd alert in effect for the comments though--what is with nerd trolls? They can never just let things be. I always think of Comic Book Guy: "I was on the Internet within minutes, registering my discontent throughout the world."


Via BoingBoing: this restaurant sounds delicious. I have heard the "DRAM too tightly burger" in particular is worth the trip.

Someone just returned a book to our library that belongs to a library in Georgia. As in, the state.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Fun "About the author" fact of the day:

I do not believe in pre-heating ovens.

when is a weekend not a weekend?

I spent most of yesterday reading D. M. Cornish's Lamplighter. It's book two of a planned trilogy--the first book, Foundling, came out in 2006. I liked the first book, but the second one is way better. I started reading it on Saturday night, read it for most of Sunday, and am now on page 450-ish. I tried to do some other things, but it didn't really work out. For example, I watched the first ten minutes of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence. But I didn't even get past Old Jimmy Stewart because I kept thinking, you know, I'd rather be reading.

I find work so disorienting sometimes. I mean, I get here, and it seems to take so long for me to remember what I am supposed to be doing. As in, Aaaaah! What is my job? Does that happen to everyone? Especially after weekends. The only thing I am really intellectually equipped to be doing this morning is making photocopies, and I already made all the photocopies that need to be made.

Also, I like it here, but I would kind of rather be at home so I would be there when the mail arrives.

Everyone whose twitter stream I subscribe to seems to be talking about the iPhone. I should knit a fake one and then use it to check my fake email on the bus.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

What teh interwebs has been up to lately:

I know this has been making the rounds lately, so my apologies if you've already seen it: Where the Hell is Matt? In this crazy video, a guy travels all over the world and does a silly dance. People dance with him. It is more astonishing than it sounds.

Satisfying my gaming lust and my handbag lust: a 12-sided dice handbag [or d12 Handbag (of Holding)].

I had a Day Off from work today, and it was disconcerting. I feel kind of lost, like there is something (or five things) I should be doing. I went to have lunch with my Man Friend, and on my way home through downtown I wandered to the Legislature grounds and sat on a little concrete promontory that stuck out into one of the fountains and just baked in the sun. Then I came home and watched Candy. Wisdom garnered from watching this movie: No, you do not want to be a heroin addict. You might think you do, but you don't.

My zucchini fritters are perilously close to the pile of papers on my desk. I do live on the edge.

Now playing: Calexico - Deep Down
via FoxyTunes

The first zucchini blossom


Monday, July 7, 2008

2 haikus I wrote for my new travel mug

eco travel mug
mountain equipment co-op
lovely stainless steel

no more garbaged cups
your reusable glory
baristas hate me

A bit broken

The internet at my work is a bit broken today, and I can't really get on with what I should be working on. That's how I'm justifying this particular update. (Certain pages will load, but sloooooowly. Others will not load at all. Wikipedia is working, so I'm using it to answer all my virtual reference questions, in spite of its dodgy reputeable-ness.)

I've seen so many movies in the past two weeks! From worst to best:

Ed- In case you are not familiar with this movie, it is about a beautiful friendship that develops between Matt LeBlanc, of Friends, and a chimpanzee. I did not watch it of my own free will, but rather, because my friend Caleb insisted. (Spiderman was the other thing on offer, and I realllllly wish I'd insisted.)

Jocelyn: Why does the monkey have to play baseball? I don't understand this movie. Why is the monkey wearing jeans?
Caleb: Because that is what he needs for playing baseball!
The very concept is ludicrous. I hate the entire wacky-monkey-adventure subgenre.

Hancock- This movie seemed kind of good at first, and then it turned out to be stupid. Will Smith is very charming, but he is not going to be able to get away with dumb stuff forever just on that basis.

Cloverfield- This one is right on the line between "good" and "bad." (All movies appearing further down the list are firmly in the "good" category.) I admired the death rate--I like suspense movies that don't screw around with trying to save the likeable people. Also, I spotted a guy from Veronica Mars in the background. Oh, and there's a monster, or something.

Michael Clayton- I watched this movie last night. Confusingly, "Cate Blanchett" is a common tag on AllConsuming in spite of the fact that she is not in this movie. I tried to combat this tagging misinformation by tagging it "Cate Blanchett is not in this movie." Anyway, it is pretty good, and perhaps by "Cate Blanchett" people actually mean "Tilda Swinton."

Waydowntown- This movie is kind of like the Canadian version of Office Space, only a bit weirder. James and I identified the main actor as the guy who played Scott Hope on Buffy, and I was thus a bit angry at him throughout the whole movie for having broken Buffy's heart in Season 3. Anyway, this movie is surprisingly slick for a Canadian production, it was filmed in Calgary, and it is about the Canadian prairies obsession/compulsion of STAYING INSIDE.

Atonement- I haven't read this book, but I liked the movie a lot and I probably will get to the book. Keira Knightly is so hot in this movie. In a perfect world, she would have been actually born between 1916-1923 so she could be an ACTUAL PERSON THAT AGE IN THE TIME PERIOD IN WHICH THE MOVIE WAS SET.

War, Inc- This was my favourite of all the movies I saw in the past couple weeks. It's nice to see John Cusack in something interesting that doesn't involve contrived romantic dalliances. This movie is weird and mean-spirited and surreal and Hilary Duff is (and I never thought I would say this) AWESOME in it. I am not even kidding.

I also made some delicious zucchini fritters, and played some World of Warcraft, and volunteered at the Shakespeare festival. I went to the farmer's market! I did all my dishes! It was reallllly hot here last week and I've been swimming a lot of laps.

I wish the interwebs would be fixed. I'm bored of this.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

in which I perpetuate the liberal media bias

I'm really proud that abortion rights activist Dr. Henry Morgentaler has been given the Order of Canada. Yay Canada. Now let's make some smart copyright-related decisions, shall we?