Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Some Intermiscnetillany

I'm a big fan of James Thurber, although he's one of those people we don't hear about much anymore, and his children's book "The 13 Clocks" has been one of my favourites since I was small. It's been out of print for awhile so I'm thrilled to see it's been reissued, with the original illustrations, in hardcover, with a new introduction by Neil Gaiman. I may buy a stack of these, save one for myself, and give the rest away as gifts to children of friends who haven't even been born yet.

A couple political-type articles that made me smile:
Margaret Atwood, always eloquent, argues in the Globe & Mail that Harper's arts funding cuts do damage ordinary people, and that ordinary people DO care about the arts. This election (note to non-Canadian readers: we elect a new federal government in 2 weeks) has been such a gong show. I'm not going to link to the articles about Harper plagiarizing speeches, or the Conservative party breaking copyright law; I'm far too depressed.
In Conversation: Gloria Steinem and Suheir Hammad. Gloria Steinem says, "There is no postfeminism—it’s like saying 'post-democracy'!"

This American Life released Another Frightening Show About the Economy, the follow-up to The Giant Pool of Money which aired earlier this year. I didn't understand the mortgage crisis at all until I listened to the first episode, and I'm looking forward to the second one.

Monday, September 29, 2008

How I've missed you


Gosh, it's been awhile. I'm a bad, bad blogger. Barely a blogger at all actually. My excuse is that I've been really busy, and it's fall, so every minute I spend blogging is a minute I can't spend crunching leaves with my feets.

I made a new jacket which I finished last week and it is pretty much the cutest thing ever sewn by a human with a sewing machine. Also it has a moose applique on it which I think makes it very fall-ish and appropriate. I get compliments on it wherever I go, including at least one from a complete stranger. Whenever I make something cool from cheap materials (in this case around $25 for fabric) I feel like I am totally subverting capitalism. Go me!

James and I have been slowly working our way through the BBC "Planet Earth" documentary. I'm totally absorbed by it. It has some of my favourite things including monkeys, baby muskox (I didn't even know those were one of my favourite things until recently) and funny salamanders that have no eyes and live in caves. We're about half-way done. The other night we were getting really up in arms about the stupid walruses that would not allow themselves to be eaten by a polar bear. The bear was very hungry! Animals can be so selfish. (Side-effect: I have sort of come to resent David Attenborough for always bringing us down with his negativity. He's obsessed with the deaths of cute baby animals!)

I slept for about 3 1/3 hours last night and today I'm checking out some books on insomnia from my library. The problem this presents is that while I love non-fiction books and genuinely believe they can help me solve my problems, I also really resent the self-helpy tone of most of them. My criteria for choosing a sleeping book: (a) the author had to have a PhD (b) the author could not be Deepak Chopra. I ended up with two so I'll take them home and get acquainted.

I was also thinking that I might download some sleepy-type sounds such as waves lapping against a shore. This might help me sleep--it worked for some boyfriend of Carrie's on Sex in the City (I think it was the dude from Office Space) so maybe it will work for me. One of my many problems is that I tend to get a song in my head while I'm trying to sleep, and it starts to drive me stark raving mad (last night it was the Ben Folds Five cover of Bitches Ain't Shit which becomes really sad and totally loses its charm after about the 100th repetition.) I'll try it tonight. I'm in problem-solving mode, or I would be if I had enough energy to solve problems.

Also on my to-borrow-from-the-library list: Paul Newman movies.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I think you will find that if you search the Massachusetts Bay Trading Co. website for "lobster" you will find 42 potential Christmas gifts for me. I am particularly intrigued by these gummi lobsters. You can also buy actual lobsters from them, although sending lobsters through the mail is not something I can endorse.

Last night James and I watched the first disc of Planet Earth, the BBC documentary about animals. It is now my favourite movie, and I was already on Amazon trying to figure out the best possible collector's-and-or-gift-set package in which to buy it. I took a controversial stance: "You know what I think are cute? Baby animals." You can count on me to make those tough judgement calls. About cuteness, and other issues.

I've been very very busy at work. It's fun, though. How many people get to have a job where they feel like a superhero every day? Yeah. I feel guilty.

Friday, September 19, 2008


I'm pretty sure there is some kind of amateur karaoke contest going on in the park near my house. You may be thinking that "amateur karaoke" is a redundant phrase, but actually in this case it's suitable. These people sound like they've never heard music, just had it described to them.

Oh, downtown people. You are sort of my people. And yet I look down on you.

Hi! So!

I had a day off today and I spent most of the day doing three things:

1. Going to Mill Woods.

2. Sewing.


3. Watching X-Files.

2 & 3 can be done simultaneously, conveniently.

Tonight--because there are hours of Day Off left, people!--I play to (a) finish the second Benedict Society book which I am reading and (b) go for a swim.

So here is a thought related to #1. Let's say you--yes, you, Internet!--are having a baby. Ask yourself this question: how are you going to be transporting this baby? Are you going to be putting it in a carseat in a huge Lincoln SUV and then into the baby-compartment of a Costco shopping cart so you can buy everything in giant flats? If this is the case, well. OK. I mean, I don't approve of your disregard for the environment, Internet. But at least you know here is going to be room in said SUV for your giant stroller. In fact, buy the largest stroller you can find! Maybe Lincoln makes one that will attach to your SUV like a motorcycle sidecar!

But if you are going to be transporting said baby on public transit, maybe you should consider buying a stroller smaller than a compact car. And here is a surefire way to know if you are going to be driving an SUV: Are you old enough to drive?

Because on the way home from Mill Woods today we had an old man in a mechanized scooter PLUS three babies in giant strollers. It was Bus Stroller Tetris. And it was absurd. It leads to all kinds of other problems including old people who don't get seats (and it drives me CRAZY when young people don't give theirs up, and lots don't, and it makes me want to cuff them around the ears like a kind of old person myself) and me having to kind of leap over my seat to get off the bus, in a very undignified (albeit graceful) way.

In relation to point number 1, again: I met some old ladies at the fabric store (which was the reason I went to Mill Woods--it's the only fabric store I know how to get to on the bus), and they told me stories about the Great Depression. I'm not kidding. When I go shopping at fabric stores, the old ladies (staff and customers) there respond in one of two ways. (a) Distrust. They look at me as if they expect me to hold up the fabric store, and can think of no other reason I would be there. (b) Disproportionate excitement. They are happy that I am there. They are happy that I am acquiring their skills--that perhaps I will, in turn, make quilts for Santas Anonymous when I am old. Hopefully--and I may be filling in the blanks here, a little--I give them hope for the future of our civilization.

And finally, in relation to point #2: I made a weird shirt and a weird jacket. Neither of them is awesome, but once I've made something once, later iterations are always an improvement. I don't like using patterns--I'm far too impatient--so every time I try to make something, there is a fair amount of visualizing, and reconstructing, and half-assed measuring, and so on. This weird jacket notion is a good one--there are many more weird jackets in my future, I'm sure.

Tomorrow I'm going to a wedding. I may wear my weird jacket, in which case you will get a picture. Hopefully there will be some old people there who will tell me about the Great Depression. Or at least a twoonie bar.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

etsy is making me sad today, for the first time ever. so i am far too depressed to update my blog.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

blah blah blah.

My home Internet is really flaky, and since my modem is also a wireless modem, when my cable-y Internet breaks, it starts trying to find a wireless network. This happened yesterday, and my computer found 29 WIRELESS NETWORKS. All of them either secured or weak and crappy. What's the deal, yuppie highrise neighbours? Too good to share your wifi?

Last night I went to the free Shout Out Out Out Out show in Churchill Square. There were sooooo many hipsters there. I felt like I was the only person whose jeans fit over their shoes with anything resembling adequate space.

I was at the farmer's market this morning, and the produce was so beautiful. I blame Barbara Kingsolver for making me so sentimental about food. I actually choked up at the sight of some eggplant. I wish I could say I was kidding.

Friday, September 12, 2008

i love

Used car ads that describe the car being advertised as "lady driven."
This would also be a good name for a band.

This is what I'm working on from home today: PAGES conference. I'm mostly linking it here so google will spider it. Mercenary!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

When I wait for the bus in the morning, the smell of sausages and other labour-intensive breakfast foods drifts across the street from the fancy restaurant in the Hotel MacDonald. In the evening, as I wait for my connecting bus, I get the delicious deep-fried grease smell of McDonald's wafting across the parking lot. It's agonizing, Internet. I feel like the whole world of restaurants is conniving to make me hungry when all I want to do is catch the bus.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Best Blog Entry.

In the mail yesterday I received the "2008 Holiday Preview" catalogue from Hammacher Schlemmer. We'll set aside the whole notion of holiday shopping in early September and save it for a later post. And get this out of the way right off the bat: Hammacher Schlemmer. Hammacher Schlemmer. Hammacher Schlemmer! HammacherSchlemmerHammacherSchlemmer! Heh. So funny to say.

If you are not familiar with Hammacher Schlemmer, let me explain. This is a company that sells gadgets. These gadgets range from the reasonably cheap and useful (rechargeable wireless speakers for $30) to the outrageous (the world's only "complete" Swiss army knife, weighing 2 1/2lbs and going for $1,400). What all these gadgets have in common is that they are ridiculous. They fill gaps of need so specific as to be absurd.

For example, take the foot mat activated night light. The premise of this, in case it is not clear, is that you put this mat beside your bed, and when you get out of bed in the dark, you step on the mat and the night light lights up to show you the way to the bathroom.

Now, where I come from, if you get out of bed in the dark you take your life in your hands--and we liked it that way. Night lights are for sissies, as far as I'm concerned. And yet! Perhaps this is just a perspective problem--someone so deeply mired in their own paradigm of failure that they cannot see the way to a brighter (in this case, literally) future. Perhaps I think I am seeing the world, when really I am seeing the play of shadows on the wall of my cave.

And almost every product in this catalogue is like this: they speak of the possibility of a problem solved, a life made slightly more efficient or less uncomfortable. There is a tiny part of me--the problem-solving part, the perfectionist part--that thinks, hmm. maybe this would really make things better. That's how they get you! That little voice! The noblest human instincts--those that make us try to improve the world around us, to solve problems not because they are destroying us but simply because they are problems, and they are there--are also humanity's greatest weakness, as far as Hammacher Schlemmer are concerned. Before you know it, there is no room to move around in your apartment because of the dvd/cd labelling machines, the wireless blood pressure monitors, and the toothbrush sanitizers. But your nose hairs will be the best-groomed they have ever been, I suppose.

What I admire about Hammacher Schlemmer as a company, though, is their commitment. They are not content to sell just any LP-to-CD recording system, or the first telescope walking stick they happened to find. They are committed--nay, honour-bound!--to provide their customers with the best such device available. And this brings me to my point. How do they find out which products are the best? They test them. With science.

At the Hammacher Schlemmer Institute.

I know this sounds like something I would make up, but it's so much sweeter because it's true. They are talking about the Institute all the time in their product descriptions. They test everything there! As I'm scanning this catalogue, this Institute grows accordingly ever-more impressive and comprehensive in my imagination. So, based on the Holiday Preview catalogue, a list of facilities in the Hammacher Schlemmer Institute:

  • A wireless-telephone-testing range, with plenty of teenagers and Indian call centre employees staffing it
  • A nursery full of toddlers, insomniacs, and those with guilty consciences, each sleeping under a Queen Sized Electric Blanket
  • A giant machine that uses 1,000 AA batteries--just so they can be recharged using the Alkaline Battery Charger (It could have a tv or microwave or something built in to it, just to waste more power)
  • A swimming pool, hopefully Olympic size, for testing swim goggles
  • A Marble-Works-style construction of gutters of various sizes, all filled with rotting leaves and golf balls, in which the Gutter Cleaning Robots are pitted against each other
  • A model 1950's style beauty parlour, including a panel of judges who will help determine which are really The Best Hair Rollers--and also some sassy women with beehives, just for atmosphere
  • A wind tunnel in which Christmas trees, in a variety of stands, are subjected to climbing pets, gale-force winds, and uneven ornamentation to see which is the last standing
  • A 200-foot-tall tree, suspended over a deep pool, constantly being assaulted by a race of super-intelligent squirrels--for finding out which bird-feeder is really the most squirrel-proof
And that's just for starters. I could literally go on FOREVER.

All I want for Christmas is to visit the Hammacher Schlemmer institute, and help test the World's Best Book-Cataloguing Machine, or the Only 100% Accurate Barcode Scanner, or the Potato-Peeling iPod Charger. So, Santa, if you're reading this: Hammacher Schlemmer. Hammacher Schlemmer. Hammacher Schlemmer!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

i can has jellybeans?

(a) if you borrowed my copy of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, internet, could you please give it back? or just email me and let me know you have it?
(b) i'm thinking i need to sew two little beanbags to prop my wrist up on my work and home computers. i am seriously getting pain and soreness on the heel of my hand ("heel of my hand"? is that a thing?) from bad mousing.

James is starting his new university program this week, and is actually taking at least one class (this term) from the library school. I hadn't given this issue much thought until the bus ride home yesterday when I realized that he is stealing my life.

Jocelyn: It's like if I started an SEO company.
James and Jocelyn, together: I'm watching you.
anyone know of a good twitter feed i should subscribe to? It seems like lately I'm just subscribing to the feeds of people I don't know, and it's just making me feel lonely. I have lots of real friends, but why don't they have twitter accounts? hmm?

Haha. This is totally me.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

And I would be a Slum Lady, as opposed to a slumlord

If I owned an apartment building, I would name it The Up In Arms.



So. I forget to update my blog for awhile and suddenly it's been a week and then it's like, well, why bother ever updating my blog ever again? and the answer is, um... force of habit?