Monday, March 30, 2009

Stupid pirates

This news story really made me laugh: Pirates captured after firing on German naval ship. These pirates fired on what they thought was a commercial vessel, and instead...

The German sailors returned fire and pursued the skiff while also calling for support. Several naval ships — including a Greek and a Dutch frigate, a Spanish warship and the USS Boxer — rushed to the area while a Spanish marine aircraft and two U.S. Marine Cobra helicopters joined the pursuit.
Ha. That's what you get for being dumb: Marine Cobra helicopters chasing you.

Gadgetry and wifi wizardry and other things that end in "-ry"

James bought a new iPhone, which means I get his cast-off iPod touch. Up to this point, I've been sort of scornful of my friends who have one of either of these types of devices, but that was just because I was jealous. Now that I have one of my own I have become a disciple in less than 24 hours. Are you aware that you can get OREGON TRAIL for the iPod touch? And Bejeweled? And apps for updating Facebook and Twitter? This brings me almost untold satisfaction, as long as I am in a WiFi zone. I just want to climb through my monitor and disappear into the Internet. You know, like that X-Files episode.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Really, Edmonton?

You thought, "late-March, Jocelyn-moving weather," and you came up with, "snowstorm"?

Well, I guess you know what they say: March comes in like a lion, goes out like a lion that snows all the time and makes the sidewalks treacherous and icy and makes you want to kill yourself.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Some links I've collected for you

Added to my Amazon wishlist (along with a Nintendo DS charging station and the DS version of SPORE because what am I, some kind of high-culture wizard?): Samuel Beckett's letters, volume 1, based on Nicholas Lezard's review in the Guardian. Samuel Beckett and I have a troubled history, but I do appreciate his commitment to unhappiness, which I think went all the way to his core. Witness:

It was, he said, his long experience of failure that made him as a writer; here we see him under its first full cold blast. A friend of the Joyces, Nuala Costello, tells him that "you haven't a good word to say about anyone but the failures"; he notes that this is "quite the nicest thing anyone had said to me for a long time".
Also from the Guardian: I've really enjoyed all these Seen & Heard interviews with children. "When you die, you go to heaven, and you don't have to clean out boots."

Speaking of dying: DeadAtYourAge, which informs me that Otis Redding died when he was exactly my age (26 years, 91 days).

An interesting paper on single serving sites--you know, like or Barack Obama is your new bicycle.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Philanthropy win

Just a note to say: 2 of my Kiva loans--1 in Tanzania, 1 in Bolivia--are completely repaid now. I am well on my way to becoming the patroness of some tiny village. And having a statue made of me--completely out of mud.


And I re-invested my money in Samoa, in the business of a lady who sells fish. What a marvelous idea! I hate fish, and I will do anything I can to encourage people to eat them, including investing money in business that sell fish. The more fish we eat, the less likely it becomes that they will stage some kind of global revolt, like the cylons.

greetings and some news

Good morning, teh interwebs.

It has been a very eventful few days. How's that for an opening sentence? We got our keys on Friday, had a mammoth shopping day on Saturday, and yesterday got a good start on painting. The kitchen is now a bright green called "herbal garden." The living room is "poinsettia," which, I just learned today, is spelled with an "i" towards the end. Exciting times. There will be more details, and pictures, to come.

In the mornings, when I go to Tim Horton's (not every morning, despite what this blog may have you believing) I cross the street at the intersection with no pedestrian light, and then I hike across a little hill to the T-Ho's parking lot. It's not very far--maybe 20 feet--but it's still quite emotionally isolating for a pedestrian, as there's no sidewalk or anything, just a path beaten into the snow. And where this path meets the parking lot there's a steep, icy snow embankment, and inevitably there is a huge truck or SUV parked there, so one has to balance precariously so as not to fall on the vehicle. The whole ordeal is very trying, especially when you consider that at this point in the day I have been on the bus for an hour and, by definition, have not yet had coffee.

So. I'm always mad that people drive these huge trucks and park them so close to the edge so that I can't get through. But this morning--O morning of mornings!--there was a little smart car parked there, with feet to spare on either side, and I walked through easily, and it felt like a sign. And on the way out, with my coffee in hand, there was a Camry parked there--not quite as magnificent, but still. My luck is changing.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Also, Friday

Today is the day for stuff!
We got the keys for our house. We poked around in all the closets, the pleasant creaky hardwood under our feet, and then we sat down on the floor, homeowners unsure what to do next. (My dad's suggestion: get some furniture, even though that might be "so middle-class.")

The kitchen sink has one of those flexible hose-faucets that you can remove from its fixture. As soon as discovered this, James said, "You are going to get sprayed with this SO MUCH." And I said, "You're going to get sprayed with it while you're ASLEEP."

And: no water in the basement so far.

I ordered Nintendo DSes, a black one for James and a pink one for me. We're going to lie on the floor of our new house and play Nintendo until our elbows are sore. I'm pretty sure that's what it means to be a grown up... right? Guys?

i make myself laugh


Thursday, March 19, 2009

the library is great for eavesdropping

Little 4-ish year old girl: Mommy, after this can we go get a slushee for me? [Thoughtful pause] And a coffee for you?
Mother, distracted and seemingly oblivious to her daughter's sensitivity: But I already have a coffee, sweetie.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The books!

It's been almost three years since I started keeping track of my reading over at Lists of Bests. In March of 2006 I was a grad student who had spent the past 5 years reading nothing but things for school, and I decided I needed to become a reader again, for fun--that if I didn't find a way to fit books into my life again, I would always regret it. I've read 185 books since then--about 1.2 books a week (many of them short children's/young adult books, although I haven't counted picture books, only novels). Because I like making lists of things, I've decided to compile a list of my top ten favourites in each of three categories: fiction, non-fiction, and YA/children's. In some cases I've counted multiple books as one, mainly as a way of cheating.


I don't read that much grown-up fiction, it would seem, as the pickings were a bit slim in this category. The #1 book, What is the What, is actually almost-nonfiction, but most libraries and bookstores put it in fiction so I've done the same. All of these were great. Everything is Illuminated blew me away. Neverwhere was incredible also--the kind of book that was so fun to read, I almost felt guilty carrying it around, like it was porn. And No One Belongs Here More Than You, like everything Miranda July produces, straddles the line between disclosure and discomfort perfectly. It's awkward and sweet and sad.

10. PopCo by Scarlett Thomas
9. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (this was a re-read)
8. At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances, The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs, and Portuguese Irregular Verbs all by Alexander McCall Smith
7. Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted by Elizabeth Berg (Stories)
6. Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
5. Pretending the Bed is a Raft by Nanci Kincaid (Stories)
4. Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
3. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
2. No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July (Stories)
1. What is the What by Dave Eggers

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle changed my life. I'm not exaggerating. It made me think about food in a whole new way. Amy Krouse Rosenthal's Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life was like this too, although in a different way--it's a book about completely mundane topics that manages to be completely engrossing and relatable. I just finished Chuck Klosterman's book of essays recently (having gotten it for Christmas from James!) and I couldn't believe how provocative and funny it is. I agree with almost nothing the man says, but that hardly matters, does it?
10. Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford (Biography)
9. George and Sam: Two Boys, One Family, and Autism by Charlotte Moore
8. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto by Chuck Klosterman (Essays)
7. Love is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song At a Time by Rob Sheffield (Memoir)
6. One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding by Rebecca Mead
5. With Borges & The Library at Night, both by Alberto Manguel (With Borges is a memoir)
4. World Without Us by Alan Weisman
3. Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
2. City of Falling Angels by John Berendt
1. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

This was the hardest list to compile because I read sooooo many great books over the past few years. I had to collapse Harry Potter into one, even though I read the last three during this time, but numbers 6 and 7 blew my mind. I was amazed by how Joanne Rowling grew into a very sophisticated writer over the course of the series. The Bears' Famous Invasion is a really funny, charming, weird little book translated from Italian, and I really suggest checking it out if you can find a copy anywhere. I've been on a John Green kick lately and of the three of his I've read Paper Towns is my favourite-- it's about suburbia, and identity, and what it means to be in love with someone without really knowing them.

Among the top three I had a lot of trouble choosing because I love all of them almost equally. Neil Gaiman is one of my favourite writers and both The Graveyard Book and Coraline are incredible--although if I had to choose, of the two I prefer Coraline. Lamplighter is the second in a planned trilogy, and although I found the first book intriguing but ultimately kind of unfulfilling, I carried the second one around with me like it was my religion until I finished it, which took all of about two days. And finally, Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World is by one of my all-time favourite writers, someone I have loved since I was a child, and it's an incredibly sophisticated and good-hearted children's story about Nazis and the meaning of art. If that sounds to you like a tall order for a kids' book, then that's all the more reason why you should read it, you fool!
10. Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
9. Bears' Famous Invasion of Sicily by Dino Buzzati
8. Skellig by David Almond
7. Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
6. Several Lives of Orphan Jack by Sarah Ellis
5. Harry Potter (5, 6, 7) by J. K. Rowling
4. Paper Towns by John Green
3. Graveyard Book & Coraline both by Neil Gaiman
2. Lamplighter by D. M. Cornish
1. Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World by E. L. Konigsburg
Ta da! I'll get back to you in 2012 with over 350 books under my belt, hopefully. (Although by then the Internet won't exist anymore, except as a set of signals we beam directly into our brains, and books will kind of still exist, except we'll call them "hovercars.")

This morning we found a book-mystery. Someone returned the cover for TRACK OF THE GRIZZLY, the 1979 classic by bear expert FRANK C CRAIGHEAD JR., complete with barcodes, etc., but containing the actual book THE DA VINCI CODE, which apparently happened to be the same size.


Monday, March 16, 2009

even this blog wastes resources

LibraryThing informs me that today I bought my 550th book. Way to go, Moron Jocelyn. That's one more thing to move.

Yesterday I did a Closet Audit (Claudit) and threw away two garbage bags full of clothes, with another two garbage bags for the charity bin. It's pretty crazy. I'm such a resource-waster. No wonder there are no clothes left for any of the other people in the world.

Today I hooked up the water and power for our new house. Still to come: gas! We're going to be able to cook and shower and everything. It's going to be so much better than my current place.*

*Where I can also cook and shower

Saturday, March 14, 2009

or so i must tell myself

I am prepared to accept that others may have a lovely black sharpie like the one I have for packing. I know others must have a tape gun for efficient box-taping. But does anyone else have THIS?:

the ultimate packing tool

That is, a tape gun with built-in pen storage, MADE OF TAPE? I think not. Note the pen's angle of repose, so it neither falls out nor interferes with taping. It is something that could have been conceived by only one mind.

Boxes packed: 22

Friday, March 13, 2009

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The bed that I've been sleeping on since I left my parents' house is being picked up from my apartment tonight, after I found someone who wants it on freecycle. My mom told me in an email today that they bought it when I was about 1, which means that its cost has been amortized over 25 years. I'm weirdly nostalgic about seeing it go. It's like an heirloom, except not in the sense of being useful or valuable. I'll sleep on my futon until I move, which is fine--I need the extra space in my bedroom to SORT MY COLOSSAL QUANTITIES OF LAUNDRY.

As I get ready to move I'm also giving away a few other things, including my TV (technically James's TV) and my VCR and my toaster oven, although all of these are only going to my sister, so they remain in the family. I am already the third person to own the TV, I believe, and the VCR was a gift, although it DID come from a super-discount store in the vein of XS CARGO. I am at least the toaster oven's second owner, and I am proud to say that I have never cleaned it, nor am I ever going to (not even for my sister--I told her, "You can have my toaster oven, but I am not going to clean it for you." She agreed!) I'll get rid of the usual bag of clothes, I've already donated a handful of books and a bunch of CDs to the library where I work (where they'll likely be sold and the profits will help pay my salary, which makes sense, at least to me) and I think at least one of the old computer towers sitting in my storage room will have to go (after being cannibalized for parts of course).


There remains the problem that in the two and a half years I have lived in my apartment, I have accumulated SO MUCH STUFF. I own almost 550 books and about 100 movies. I have 4 bookshelves they go on. I bought a Christmas tree! And a futon! And I somehow obtained a set of five oak dining chairs, all of which are falling apart, but which I am sort of weirdly attached to, even though I think my parents bought them from a garage sale. I have a crock pot and a collection of vintage buttons and a side-table that I found in a dumpster and painted. I have real, matching dishes. I have a picnic cooler and a tiny barbeque. You get the idea. Once I move into my house I am NEVER LEAVING. When I die, my kids can clear out this stuff. Maybe the guy who wants my mattress will take it.


James: ...chris is trying to round up a group for the Trap tomorrow (i know you hate the trap but thought i'd let you know anyway).

Jocelyn: i will go to the trap tomorrow, yes i will. because they have the fish and chips there, yes they do. AND FOR NO OTHER REASON.

[it's true that I really don't like The Trap, and i need to get re-iterating that, even in private email, because I don't want The Trap to start thinking it's winning this war of attrition.]

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

faux-deep thought, driving home from downtown

Where does Staples buy the copy paper they use in their print centre?

the white man also doesn't care about the environment

This morning at Tim Horton's there was a weird thuggy-looking guy in front of me in line who (a) told the woman in front of us, waiting for her coffee, about his idea for a porn franchise featuring Wonder Woman and the Incredible Hulk (tagline: "Don't make me angry") and then (b) told the woman working at T-Ho's that we were in our current state because of "the white man" (he himself was pretty white) and then added, "It's because we've lost the faith. Everyone but me." She gave him his coffee and said, "Have a nice day, sweetie!" with the kind of relentless customer-service optimism that you do not see at the big-city Tim Hortonses, only in the suburbs.

Then he got into his Hummer (!) and drove away.

Maybe I was just having a philosophical morning, but I was thinking about how tiring it would be to believe that everyone around you had lost the faith, that you alone were responsible for upholding humanity's value. But on the other hand, no one who drives a Hummer can really be feeling responsible for much.

These days it's still bone-chillingly cold, and the amount of time we spend talking about the weather has increased exponentially as March wears on with no signs of tiring. If you were to graph Edmontonians' interest in the weather, it would look like this:

Around December/January, no one is surprised by the cold, because it seems natural, and plus we haven't seen the sun in weeks and we're busy being sick and depressed. But by the time March rolls around we're starting to feel entitled to some nice weather, and the -33 business seems particularly cruel.

So after I left Tim Horton's I trekked across the barren parking lot, and I felt like an Arctic explorer, except not in a fun way. I felt isolated, and also like I might get scurvy. It doesn't help that the traffic lights at this one particular intersection are really pedestrian-unfriendly and often take several cycles to actually give you a walk light, so you feel like you'll likely be stranded out there forever, a lone cold explorer on a little traffic island, blinded by snow--and then some weird dude will tell you not to lose faith, and then run over you with his Hummer.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Q: Is it leather? A: No, it is PVC

Last night we went to see Watchmen. Let me tell you some things about this movie, Internet. Not having read the graphic novel, and therefore basing my analysis purely on the movie itself:

  • It is very long. TOO LONG.
  • It had a lot of ads at the beginning because my friends wanted to go to a dumb, busy, capitalist theatre. (instead of the one I usually go to downtown where there are never lines and also no visible signs that they ever make any money)
  • There is a guy in it who looks exactly like Robert Downey Jr. BUT WHO IS NOT ROBERT DOWNEY JR!
  • I may be stating the obvious here, but I was pretty disappointed in the calibre of superhero outfits. Just once I would like to see a female superhero with a viable outfit for actual crime-fighting. Because you know that woman has problems with (a) chafing, and probably increased numbers of yeast infections; (b) getting killed by supervillains because she HAS NO PERIPHERAL VISION.
  • 10% of it made me feel physically sick, or it would have if I did not have my hood pulled up over my face. The other 90% made me feel bored.
  • It reminded me of the recent Keanu Reeves remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. AND NOT IN A GOOD WAY. Like Philosophy Lite TM.
I have seriously had about enough of these comic book/graphic novel movie adaptations. I do not like any of them. I should just accept that they are not for me, and stop paying money to see them, instead of watching them and getting upset. But I don't. It's like I have no long-term memory.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Boxes packed: 15.
There is something so frightening about the process of packing boxes, especially if you're someone with a lot of stuff, like I am. 15 boxes have not made a dent in my stuff. The only noticeable thing is that about 2/3rds of my books are in liquor boxes, and the shelves are bare, but other than that.... my living room just looks slightly cleaner. Sigh.

As James and I were leaving my sister's building, there were some guys moving in, and I stage-whispered: "That's the shelf I want! EXPEDIT!" James: "Cool." It was like a very lame commercial.

There are sooooo many puppies on teh interwebs, and I want all of them.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

I meant to tell you

Last night I made some of these freezer breakfast burritos after seeing the idea on The Simple Dollar. I froze them last night and then defrosted one this morning for breakfast. [Obviously, I could have just left one in the fridge overnight, but I wanted to see how the egg would survive the freezing and thawing. I was doing science.] DELICIOUS! Seriously! I feel like my whole life is 3% better, and my breakfast problems are 39% better. That's a significant improvement. Tim Horton's will be getting slightly less of my money in the future. And that means more of my money for me! And by "me," I mean "Etsy"!

I was going to take some pictures of the burrito-making process, but then as it turned out I was too lazy (who would have thought?) so you'll have to take my word for it that they look, and taste, great. I didn't use beans (I hate them!) and I threw in some turkey bacon, since meat in the morning is one of my favourite things in the world. I also added some red pepper along with the red onion, because vegetables are good for you. Anyway, this recipe is an epic win and I highly suggest it.

Also last night, I got to level 80 in WOW (FINALLY) and packed some boxes and watched some CSI. Unlike the last time I moved, I have some boxes labeled "art." Thanks Etsy, for taking so much of my money and making me pack more stuff!

Oh, and I impatiently thought about my tax refund for awhile. I'm getting more $$ back than I had originally thought, so (in addition to paying off a WHOLE CREDIT CARD, and buying a sewing table from IKEA) I'm going to sponsor a kid through WorldVision. I keep shopping for kids on their website, and then I feel guilty, like I'm being superficial. Does a slightly less-cute kid deserve my money less? I've decided that what I am going to do, instead, is sponsor one of the kids without photos. That way I know I'm not being a jerk.

James and I have been doing the same thing with dogs on rescue society websites, actually. After we move (March 28th!) I'm getting a rescue dog, and you can't stop me, Internet. What with the shopping for orphans and rescue dogs on the Internet like they were jewelry or housewares, I think I am the worst good person ever.

Boxes packed: 5

Now playing: Melissa McClelland - Passenger 24
via FoxyTunes

Monday, March 2, 2009

a few thoughts on Twilight, and also princesses

There is a store in the mall where I work that sells a bunch of Twilight-themed shirts that say things like "Sorry, I only date vampires" and "Forget princess, I want to be a vampire." Every time I walk by I have a sort of crisis of feminist conscience. As a librarian, I'm not really allowed to be a snob about popular fiction, but on my own personal blog I am allowed to say things like, "Twilight is almost insultingly insipid" and hopefully there won't be any repercussions. It makes me so sad that the book that has apparently captured the heart and heaving bosoms of a nation has such a weak-minded, vapid, empty-vessel heroine at its centre. And yet! There is nothing we can do! Twilight fever will engulf us all. Drink our blood, Edward! Just do it! No worries! We had no long-term plans for our own lives!

[And the "Forget Princess, I want to be a vampire" shirt is the most troubling of all. "Princess" items drive me absolutely up the wall, and every time an adorable little girl comes to my desk looking for princess books, a little part of me dies (and, depending on her age, recommends something by Shannon Hale). So Princess is a pretty low starting point, as far as I'm concerned. Aside from wearing those pointy hats with swirly fabric attached, which I will admit are extremely cool, what do princesses DO? And is vampire even better? The first time I saw the shirt, I was like, "Well, at least vampires have some agency," like in the sense that they can bite people and turn them into more vampires. But still, what an aspiration. I want to be neither a vampire nor a princess. I want to be an empress, a pirate, a cowgirl, an astronaut, a goddamned librarian, but no one is making shirts for me.]

Further Twilight fever: I was at the Coles near my house last week (buying John Green's Looking for Alaska, but that's a women-in-fiction blog entry for another day) and they had stickers next to the till that said "Team Edward." I asked the cashier, "What if I don't want to be on Team Edward?" which I meant in a kind of ontological way, sort of as if I had asked, "Can you tell me how to opt out of capitalism?" but he took it very literally and replied, hesitantly, "Well... we used to have Team Jacob ones. But I guess we don't anymore." Indeed. We are all on Team Edward, whether we want to be or not.

The best solution to my problems with popular culture might actually already exist in button format, as so many solutions do: From Etsy seller Geekdetails: And then Buffy staked Edward. The end. I'm going to keep living in that world, even if (a) the show was canceled years ago and (b) I live there alone.