Tuesday, April 28, 2009

reading funk over (I know you were worried)

A week ago, I was in a reading funk--I started a couple of books that I wasn't in the mood for at all and they left me non-plussed. Neither was bad, they just weren't great, and I was so into City of Ember and People of Sparks that I was disappointed in what followed. So I did what any self-respecting person would do under those circumstances: I read Gossip Girl. Gossip Girl is literary McDonald's: it'll do if you're desperate, and there's something satisfyingly greasy about it, but you have to brace yourself to be hungry again 45 minutes later. But! Everything is better now! I am having my mind blown by two new books. I've forgotten all about my pain and disappointment. Tomorrow is a new day. (Plus, there are so many Gossip Girl books I haven't read yet.)

Kevin Roose's The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University is amazing, nuanced and fascinating and sophisticated and not the least bit exploitative. It's about a Brown student (the author) who decides to spend a semester at Liberty University in Virginia (the college Jerry Falwell built), and I was sort of expecting some evangelical-bashing, but the author (who must be about 21) has a really smart and compassionate perspective, without losing sight of the genuinely distressing, surreal and downright ridiculous aspects of American evangelical Christianity. It's very engrossing, compelling non-fiction. I've been carrying it around and reading it whenever the world leaves me alone for a minute. You should do that too, Internet! How come you never read all the books I tell you to read?

I just started Shaun Tan's Tales from Outer Suburbia today and it's incredible. The stories are disarming and heart-warming and strange, which is an excellent combination, and as I read it in the bus station this afternoon I felt a powerful compulsion to write a book, which is quite an endorsement if you ask me. Tales From Outer Suburbia is the kind of book that makes me want to write a book, except I would be afraid to write a book in case it might not be as good as Tales From Outer Suburbia. There you go. You should read it. Get it from the library if you must, although I should confirm that, having borrowed the copy I'm currently reading, I'm going to buy my own as soon as I can. It's the kind of book you probably want to have your own copy of. Or, if you come to my wedding, a story from it might show up in the ceremony. It's the kind of book you want to incorporate into your wedding, or at least, you do if you are me.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Update on my mild cognitive impairment

It just took me approximately two minutes to remember the word "accommodate," and I was concentrating really hard. Not good.

top of the morning to ya, teh Internets!!11.

I'm working on my contract project again, so I'm at the U of A (my home computer doesn't have Publisher installed, so I come here to work). Classes are over and there are, no exaggeration, NO OTHER PEOPLE HERE. There are hundreds of computers available. I chose one whose monitor seemed to be at the correct height already. I feel like I should do a dance, running around the room and singing. But... what would I sing?

Maybe a song like this:
I went to the Tim Horton's in CAB
It had the shortest Tim Horton's line I have ever seen
But no debit and no credit
So, disappointed, I put my coffee cup back in my baggggggggg

Sorry no postie. I just got back yesterday from the Alberta Library Conference in Jasper, which was a surreal blur of a weekend--some conference sessions, but also meeting various Canadian writers and journalists (no name-dropping, I'm not that crass), drinking more beverages in 1 weekend than possibly ever before (which is still not that many), and (I wish I was kidding about this) walking around downtown Jasper searching for a Gossip Girl novel. Which I did not find. Not surprisingly. Oh, and most of the beverages were paid for by database vendors, which I find hilarious. They call me at work and try to sell me their database products, which I don't purchase, but damn right I'll drink their free drinks. I'm not made of stone.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My new favourite website is Postcards From Your Mama, which I actually had to stop reading because it was making me laugh at work in wayyyyy too obvious a way. Gots to keep it on the d-l.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Snarky Facebook status I haven't used yet because I don't want to make anyone cry

"Jocelyn took the 'What Annoying Facebook Quiz are You?' Quiz and the answer is: The One All 240 Of Your Friends Don't Want to Read About!"

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A cute story

The women in my department at work are all older than me (except for 1 person who is my age), and they're all extremely sweet--it's kind of like having an army of aunts. Since starting work there, I've gotten engaged and bought my first house, which makes them very happy and also a bit anxious. So they're always looking for updates on these two situations. I told them about our sewer problems, and I mentioned that we have a shortage of hot water because of our tiny, antiquated water heater. A few days ago one of my co-workers told me that she's talked to her husband about the water heater situation, and he'd suggested we might want to check our dip tube. "We thought we had to replace our water heater," she told me, "but it turned out it was just the dip tube." I was momentarily so distracted by the adorable-ness of my coworker discussing our water heater with her husband (plus the amusing term "dip tube") that I lost track of my purpose in life, which is to fix my house; but I quickly recovered and thanked her for the information, and faithfully related it to James.


Today we went to Home Depot, and bought a new dip tube ($10--and by the way this was our second Home Depot trip THIS WEEKEND), and with some help from our friend Wes we took out the old one and put in the new one. Here, for reference, is what a dip tube is supposed to look like. A little narrower than a garden hose, and about four or five feet long. Here's what ours looked like:

Yep, that's a pen in there for reference. The thing fell apart in our hands. Our water is now blessedly hot and presumably much more long-lasting. Sometimes you need librarians in your life, because they are the most pro-active information users and sharers around. This might sound cheezy. Maybe I'll spend some time thinking of a cooler way to express my appreciation while I'm taking a 20-minute shower.

Oh also: today James and I found an old card catalogue at an antique store, but we didn't buy it because it was $750. I ain't that desperate yet.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


ghah, all the famous people on twitter are freaking me out. and they all follow each other! it's like animals in the wilderness, you have to follow one back to its den and there are half a dozen more. i almost wish i could have twitter "channels" to keep separate from one another the three categories of people on twitter:

1. people i know, or know on the internet, but with my approximate level of famousness, such as my boyfriend (@forsoothed), my friend Internet Matt (@tederick), etc.
2. people who are kind of internet-famous, but who normal people have never heard of. some of these people are actually famous FOR twitter, which is weird, like a recursive kind of fame. you can tell who they are because they have 6,000 followers but their bio says, like, "blogger/stay-at-home-dad."
3. famous-famous people, who even normal people have heard of, you know, like @Oprah.
Maybe this is just me, letting my totally class-conscious hangups show through, but i kind of don't want to read James's updates right next to Ellen DeGeneres'. It makes it seem like these people are all part of a vast network, like, "People Jocelyn knows/is interested in," when in fact they have nothing to do with each other and are not, in fact, equally interesting to me. (By which I mean that James's updates are MORE interesting because he might, at any moment, mention me and how awesome I am and how I made the yummiest chowder and make the cutest sounds/concentrating-y face when i am playing super mario bros., whereas Ellen, funny and charming as she is, never mentions me. EVER.)

i guess you could argue that this is just the democratizing power of the internet. but i don't see it that way. it's almost like the famous people do not deserve to take over twitter; they already get to constantly express themselves publicly, in much more widely-acknowledged ways. You know, like the many interviews where they explain how they're so spiritual, and they feel like acting is really a process, or they love reading chick lit it's totally their secret shame, or (this is my favourite) they were such geeks in high school, or whatever. get off twitter! just say this stuff on tv like you usually do!

in spite of what i said about the famous people (you know, in the previous paragraph), @Timbaland's entries are hilarious. and @neilgaiman's are amazing, not to mention amazingly frequent, although he's a writer so he kind of straddles the line between category 2 and category 3. same with @hodgman. i mean, it's not like i'm going to unfollow them. i'll read their updates obsessively on my ipod on stolen wifi. but i'll continue to be freaked out.

Today I am very full of happy. At home, a batch of this corn and sausage chowder is cooking in my slow-cooker. The ingredients looked pretty good, and I bet the final result will be even better. I'm going to make another attempt at procuring locally baked bread from the Mill Creek Cafe on my way home to accompany said chowder. We had breakfast there on the weekend and I was over the moon about their whole-wheat bread. Thus far I haven't been able to buy any (although they do sell it by the loaf) because on the earlier nights in the week they close at 5. But tonight! Tonight is bread-night! The night I finally get my bread!

On Tuesday night, I finished the latest of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's Saint Germain books (A Dangerous Climate), which was good but also quite long and wordy and the pacing was a bit weird, and I needed something interesting and meaty and easy to read. Jeanne DuPrau's City of Ember was exactly what I was looking for, even if I could not have quite articulated why I was looking for it. I finished it in less than 24 hours, and ran to Chapters on my lunch break yesterday to pick up the second and third books in the series. I'm about 100 pages into The People of Sparks (book 2) and it's got quite a different feeling, but I'm enjoying it also. I could not get over how great City of Ember was--both simple and sophisticated, post-apocalyptic without being too dreary, full of very simple but very effective metaphor. The ideas in it will be familiar to anyone who's read other children's books, but that somehow makes it richer instead of boring, which is one of the signs of a great book, in my opinion. You should read it, Internet, but have book 2 ready before you finish it because if you don't you'll just resent me.

At Shopper's Drug Mart yesterday they had these very simple canvas messenger bags on sale for less than $10. I bought one and I'm going back today to get at least one more. James and I are dicsussing all the nerdy ways we can craft them up. He wants "FTW" on his. I'm thinking of print-screening pictures of some iconic-designer chairs (Eames, etc) on mine. I have lots of other crafty things I'm thinking about too, although no means to actually do them yet as all my stuff is still packed. Plus most of them are secret secret things related to secrets that I am not allowed to talk about, and I don't know why I even mentioned it. Forget it! Forget about the secrets!

Other, more minor but still significant sources of happiness: my new computer, which is all set up and running (quietly, but powerfully) at home; the giant external hard drive James' and my home computers share, and the fact that I make James perform all tasks related to it because he is our network administrator; Etsy, and pretty cherry-blossom jewelry purchased therefrom; work--specifically my ability to find a broken link, fix it, and then go back and check it and it works. No one else even knows that this process has happened, and no one cares. Autonomy! As well, I have successfully completed the tasks on a number of little pieces of paper, and now I get the satisfaction of recycling said pieces of paper. What a day this is.

Monday, April 13, 2009


  1. I adopted a World Vision foster child in Cambodia. She is very cute. I put a picture of her up on my desk bulletin board, to remind myself that the amount of money I send her village every month is equivalent to what I make working for just over an hour. The world is a screwed-up place sometimes.
  2. I thought I had invented the term "T-Ho's" for Tim Horton's but the UrbanDictionary says "Sorry, Jocelyn, you're not as clever as you think you are." Slang-coinage heartbreak! This is just like when that other guy invented the telephone at basically exactly the same time as Alexander Graham Bell but didn't patent it quickly enough and was forgotten by the annals of science.
  3. Tee hee, annals.
  4. Speaking of telephones, I have a home phone now for the first time in several years, and we bought a cordless phone with 3 HANDSETS. 3 handsets, people! To my foster child in Cambodia, this would undoubtedly appear to be an insane level of luxury. However, to us it means we can actually PHONE EACH OTHER FROM DIFFERENT ROOMS IN THE HOUSE.
  5. Oh right, also, I'm very enamoured of my new neighbourhood. On Saturday we went exploring a bit and discovered that the Mill Creek Cafe has excellent omelettes and sells bread they bake themselves which I am going to buy some of today, and there is a used bookstore just 'round the corner from my house that had all kinds of interesting things. We met our neighbour on one side and she told us that ours is a "hippie neighbourhood." Bread! Books! Hippies! These are a few of my favourite things. <3 Ritchie
  6. When our friend Chris told someone old (his uncle? His grandpa?) who used to be a school teacher/principal we were moving to Ritchie, he (the uncle/grandpa), said that the boys from Ritchie were tough. "They're good boys," he said, "But they're tough." James and I say this to each other on a weekly basis, especially when we see boys wandering around who look like they could be from Ritchie. Also, like the boys from Ritchie, we are good, but tough.


#1,298. When online marketers try to convince you that they're collecting your opinion in a free survey as some kind of gift to you-- "Your chance to be heard! Your opinion matters!" What they should say is, "Normally we have to pay for this kind of information!"

Thursday, April 9, 2009


It's weird how elements that seem to be freely floating in the universe sometimes converge. Within 24 hours I read unrelated fascinating articles on the seedy underbelly of Dubai [from The Independent] and the complete economic meltdown of Iceland [from Vanity Fair]. They complement each other almost uncannily well, both being about the effects of bubbles and living within them, as well as the surreal devastation that accompanies the dissolution of said bubbles. (Side-note: I hate this term, "bubble," as in "real estate bubble." I know it's an apt description, but why would the term "bubble" ever be used to describe something bad? Bubbles are fun!)

(I actually bought the print version of Vanity Fair, which I almost never do, except it had cover articles about PIRATES and also Paul Rudd/Seth Rogen/Jason Siegel/That dude from Superbad. Wearing barrels! For some reason!)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Jocelyn: I moved your Q-Tips into the bathroom cupboard, just to protect them from the pee mist.
James: The pee mist?
Jocelyn: it's the mist that covers everything in the bathroom every time you flush the toilet. They did a study. Apparently if your toothbrush is less than 10 feet from the toilet, you're getting pee mist on it every time you flush.
James: They? Who they?
Jocelyn: The Pee Mist Research Association.
James: Oh, the PMRA. [Pause] Our toothbrushes are less than 10 feet from the toilet.

[Note: this was also the subject of an episode of Mythbusters. Status: TRUE and NOT MADE UP BY ME]

Things I have recently decided to start collecting

1. Playmobil
2. Paintings of orange chairs

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The most interesting blog I've read in quite awhile: ...by Henry Sene Yee Designs. It's written by a book designer who writes about the process of designing the covers for books. It's fascinating to see the type of very intentional thought that goes into a cover design.

Morale: middling

After approximately two weeks of home ownership, we have already dealt with a backed up sewer overflowing into the basement bathroom, a washing machine leaking (apparently just a pipe we bumped--it seems ok now) and a dishwasher leaking on the floor (due, i think, to the aforementioned backed-up sewer--since it also seems ok now). Given this, I used this handy thread on Ask Metafilter to choose a home improvement guide. I ordered the Reader's Digest one that several people mentioned--got it at Better World Books for $4. I always deal with sources of stress by finding the appropriate non-fiction reference book.

Ask Metafilter is USEFUL! Information win!

James and I are a bit run down by the trials of home ownership, at this point. It seems like all we do is laundry, shoveling, and trips to Home Depot. Oh, and painting--I put the last coat of paint on our living room last night. However, we keep reminding ourselves at some point the number of jobs to be done has to dwindle. Right? Guys? And then we can finally play with our Nintendo DSes, which is what this whole house-buying operation was about, anyway.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Just clearing some things up

Walking from the staff room to my desk this morning, carrying a mug of coffee and a bottle of water and feeling like Kronk from The Emperor's New Groove. Shoulder coffee/devil: "Just drink some coffee, Jocelyn!" Shoulder water/angel: "But water is so good for you!"

Grasping at straws?

I'm having the most insanely productive week so far. It's weird because in every other area of my life I feel exhausted and burnt out and also physically sore, like from cleaning and moving and painting and carrying. But I get to work and I'm like, Yeah, I'll do everything on this to-do list, no big deal. I've been cleaning out my inbox and training people and answering questions and putting up displays and ordering books like a mofo.

Other life-trends: I am on a gadget streak. Aside from being obsessed with my new iPod touch (Viktor--this one is definitely a boy for some reason), I also got a Nintendo DS recently which is sparkly and pink. Mostly all I do is play Brain Age Sudoku on it, but that's only because Tetris hasn't gotten here yet. What with all this wireless/gaming connectivity, I never turn on my home computer anymore, which is weird. If they invented Desktop Tower Defence for either iPhone or DS it would ALL BE OVER. In fact, during my lunch break I might have to brave the weird dudes who work in the video game store in the mall just so I can check out what they've got for me. Sometimes when I'm taking a little break from installing cupboard doors I just sit down on the kitchen floor and check Twitter on my iPod which is MAGIC. I love almost nothing is unpacked in our new house but our wireless network is robust and operational. WHEN NERDS DATE NERDS!

I have only succeeded at teaching my Computer Club attendees one thing, but that one thing is valuable. We're thinking of having shirts made: Try right-clicking: Nothing bad will happen.