Friday, October 30, 2009

i left my heart in san francisco

if by "my heart," you mean, "more money than I should have spent," and if by San Francisco, you specifically mean, "a surprisingly charming bookstore in the airport."

I'm home!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Internet Librarian resolutions

I'm at a conference in Monterey, CA. Yesterday I totally wrecked my feet walking about 4 miles in totally inappropriate ballet flats. (Note: how far is 4 miles? No one knows! Speak kilometres, people! I hope it's a lot.) A few resolutions:

1. Why don't I have a netbook? Why am I typing on my fiddly little iPhone screen and hunting around for good wifi? I am a bandwidth peasant.

2. Why don't I have a totally supercharged and impressive FireFox install on both my home and work computers? NEED MORE EXTENSIONS, clearly.

3. Why don't I have a pet otter? They are adorable and so good at diving. Actually I should probably get two, that way they can do that cute paddling-while-holding-fins thing.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I got some wedding pictures printed a few months ago (for some of my more old-timey relatives) and I was pleasantly surprised by the experience. I haven't had physical prints made in a long time. It turns out now you can upload them to something called "the Internet," and then the photo store near your work emails you to let you know when they are ready (less than 24 hours later) and then you can go pick them up on your break.

But this led me to a dangerous new compulsion: having fancy little prints made of EVERYTHING I THINK IS BEAUTIFUL. You can see how this is a dangerous road to head down. Because apparently you can print anything that's a digital image. And you know where you can find digital images? The aforementioned "Internet." And you can get these beautiful matte white-bordered prints made for $.39 or something! So in recent weeks I've gotten the following made into prints:

  • And a print of the image from this threadless tshirt: Now Panic and Freak Out [I didn't use the actual image from threadless but a slightly less-official, but also less t-shirty, one I found in google image search]
Plus some art from artists which I am too ashamed of myself to link to. Although to be fair to myself-- only artists who don't have an online store or an etsy shop. Why have your art portfolio online and nowhere to buy your art? Use your 2.0 brain!

Today I am thinking of printing some of the signs from the 826 Vallencia Pirate Store.

I decorate my whole house and desk area with them. I need some kind of tiny-art bulletin board for my desk at home because right now everything is just sitting around, waiting for me to be inspired with a good way to display them. People who are into scrapbooking, or renovating, or event-planning actually call these "inspiration boards." I prefer to think of them as "stuff I like," because I'm too cool to use the term "inspiration board." Although these things do inspire me. Especially Borges. Look at him! You can tell he knows everything, but he's not telling.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Amazing interview with Maurice Sendak, Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers.

But you have all the Disney characters on your mantel behind you.

Sendak: I adored Mickey Mouse when I was a child. He was the emblem of happiness and funniness. You went to the movies then, you saw two movies and a short. When Mickey Mouse came on the screen and there was his big head, my sister said she had to hold onto me. I went berserk. I stood on the chair screaming, "My hero! My hero!" He had a lot of guts when he was young. We're both about the same age; we're about a month apart. He was the little brother I always wanted.

Jonze: What was he like when he was young?

Sendak: He had teeth.

Jonze: Literally?

Sendak: He had literally teeth. I have toys in the other room.

Jonze: Was he more dangerous?

Sendak: Yes. He was more dangerous. He did things to Minnie that were not nice. I think what happened, was that he became so popular—this is my own theory—they gave his cruelty and his toughness to Donald Duck. And they made Mickey a fat nothing. He's too important for products. They want him to be placid and nice and adorable. He turned into a schmaltzer. I despised him after a point.

-Where the Wild Things Are

Monday, October 19, 2009

Over the weekend I made some very wholesome food.

Slow Cooker Pork Ribs. I've used this recipe before. I follow it more or less exactly, except for the fact that James and I don't like to measure, so we just put in whatever amount of things we want; and we add most of an onion and a bottle of beer, mainly so we can refer to them as Beer Basted Boar Ribs. This is a great recipe and it's so easy to start, then you get the delicious slow-cookery smell in the house all day.

Yesterday I also made homemade chicken stock using this recipe from Get Rich Slowly. I don't buy those Safeway rotisserie chickens that often since the amount of oil they come soaked in suggests they're probably not great for you. But I did buy one on a whim a couple days before so after cutting off most of the meat I threw the bones into my largest pot with some veggies and herbs. Not only did I put several containers of stock in the freezer, but my house smelled even more delicious all day and into the evening, so it was a double-win. (I guess the closest WOW-analogue would be Steaming Chicken Soup?)

In addition to my housewifely achievements, I also:

Went to see Where the Wild Things Are. It was weird and quite wonderful! I liked those Wild Things a lot-- they were just the right mix of weird, scary and funny. I don't have that much to say about it, though. I need to watch it again.

Played a lot of WOW. Like, A LOT. I go through these phases where that is all I feel like doing. James and I decided to play through some of the old content (from the original game, a couple expansions ago) which we are now way overpowered for. We played through Scholomance and Stratholme (multiple times on each, because we needed the reputation [ps, go read that linked article, or at least the Socrates quote at the beginning of it]), both dungeons designed for 5 level-60 players. Either of us (at level 80) could probably have cleared them alone, but as a team it was even more fun-- we would run through a room grabbing all the monsters, then kill them all at once. We were taking on probably 30 or 40 or more guys at a time and still couldn't really cast spells because things were dying too fast. Very violent! This cancels out the wholesomeness of the chicken stock that was cooking while we were clearing trash mobs.

Anyway, the mini project we were working on-- getting to Exalted reputation with the Argent Dawn-- was accomplished and now we might go play through the rest of the old-world dungeons just for fun.

Sometimes I remind myself of everyone else in the world because I wish I could afford to not have a job so I could do these things-- playing Warcraft, cooking-- all day. Except I know I would get tired of that after 1 week.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Letters of Note is an amazing new blog I (and everyone else with an RSS reader) just discovered. Many of them are just fascinating-- do start with the ones in the sidebar (Elvis's Federal Agent at Large and JFK's I Will Not Sign This Letter are great) but many of the letters by non-famous people are just as good.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Work angst

How is it possible that some of these things have been sitting on my desk since JULY? Why haven't they just disintegrated? Doesn't work BIODEGRADE?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

if we liked those out of print books, we should have put a ring on them.*

Normally I try to keep my uber-nerdy professional interests away from this blog (I don't want to compromise my really hip, trendy image, haha) but I had to link this one. A Library to Last Forever - one of the founders of Google defends the Google Books project. In particular this:

Others have questioned the impact of the agreement on competition, or asserted that it would limit consumer choice with respect to out-of-print books. In reality, nothing in this agreement precludes any other company or organization from pursuing their own similar effort. The agreement limits consumer choice in out-of-print books about as much as it limits consumer choice in unicorns. Today, if you want to access a typical out-of-print book, you have only one choice — fly to one of a handful of leading libraries in the country and hope to find it in the stacks.
1. True as far as it goes. 2. Doesn't mean we should willingly hand over these really priceless cultural resources to what is still, ultimately, a company. with shareholders! 3. haha, consumer choice in unicorns. That's clever!

*Will this song ever be gone from my head? Not likely!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I have started a project over at Books are Weapons in the War of Ideas - I doubt I'll be blogging much (what can you really say? "Oct. 13th. Looked on ebay."?) but I've put up a list of my collection (which my family wants for ease of gift-giving) and some information and links. I'll keep working on it. When I started researching this topic I found-- nothing. I don't want there to be nothing. I want there to be something.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

so you see, this story has a happy ending.

James and I were in Las Vegas last weekend with some friends to celebrate a year of 30th birthdays (not mine!). I was there once before, last December, and I enjoyed it in a surreal sort of way, but this time the city left me feeling really cold.

It's hard to put my finger on what gave me this skeezed-out feeling, but one night we were walking along the strip from one hotel to another, past a construction zone, so the pedestrian path was created with huge plastic barriers. There are all these people standing next to the barriers handing out shiny cards with pictures of prostitutes on them, and these cards are being dropped and carried in the wind and they are swept up against the plastic barriers like snow and getting ground underfoot. I know I have always probably seemed like the type of person who would enjoy having "GIRLS!" delivered to their room in 20 minutes, but I was shocked to find out that I am, in fact, not. The whole experience gave me this overwhelming sense of sadness. I get this feeling sometimes that I am experiencing my life in a meta-way, as if I were watching a film of my experiences and having the reaction an audience member would have. As Meta-Jocelyn watched Real-Jocelyn walk through the drifts of hooker cards, the song playing would be Just Like Honey by the Jesus and Mary Chain, or maybe something by Air. You know? Not a happy moment. My life is not something I really want to get away from, and if I did want to get away from it, Vegas is not the place I would choose. Everyone else's problems seem much closer there, this maudlin sense of loneliness--or perhaps this is just what the voiceover would say.

Plus the whole city seemed to smell like cigarette smoke and there were these pretentious bars everywhere and I think both James and I felt like it would be nice to be able to order a reasonably-priced drink in a normal bar not full of 97-pound silicone-pumped women in tiny cocktail dresses, teetering on 6-inch heels and being flirted with by guys in backwards baseball hats. (Before the silicone they presumably weighed 94 pounds, for the record.) The bar in our hotel, for example, featured this band that played an extraordinary medley of only the hooks from Top-40 pop songs, and as a result I walked around with the Beyonce song "Single Ladies" in my head for 5 days afterward, and the Long Island Iced Tea I ordered was $14. The whole experience was bizarre.

We went to see the famous fountains at the Bellagio and the song they were synchronized to, on this particular night, was Proud to Be An American. On any other occasion this might have seemed funny, but maybe the hooker cards had left a bad taste in my mouth--because the six of us stood there feeling, I don't think it's an exaggeration to say, profoundly uncomfortable. The reason why is a topic for another blog entry (and also something I can't say I understand completely myself), but suffice it to say that this added to the surreal sense of the whole day. Afterwards we were contemplating how much we would have appreciated, say, some Beethoven or Vivaldi, under the circumstances.

Oh, and then on Saturday I became very ill, with a viral cocktail of some or all of the following elements: exhaustion, sunstroke, flu. And I spent that night in a kind of panic because I had terrible pain in my left arm, like the normal kind of muscle pain you get from the flu only magnified and only in one part of my body and also in a hotel room, with only Tylenol obtained from the store in the lobby (and soup from room service) to make me feel better. It was scary the way mystery illnesses are always scary, but with an extra side-serving of scariness due to being in a foreign country and our flight home being scheduled for the next day and I was thinking thoughts like, how am I going to carry my luggage? and what if I have to go to the hospital? (Ironically, Canadians also fear American hospitals. I think it must be the absence of death panels, it makes us feel uncomfortable. Or perhaps we're afraid of having to pay for something, you suckers.) And we were on the 16th floor and the wind whistling by our room sounded like a wind tunnel. (It was very strange! At one point a security guard came to tell us to close our window, and it wasn't even open. Such was the noise. It felt like the end of the world--in fact, much like the last time we were in Vegas.) So anyway, it wasn't a pleasant night and I woke up feeling exhausted and ready to leave Las Vegas and never come back.

Whenever I come back to the Edmonton airport, the free luggage carts erase all misgivings I might have had about coming home. Edmonton is not a glamorous city. It's not sexy. Its appeals are substantial but not obvious. And of course the weather is a disaster. (Approximately half the Facebook and Twitter updates I've read today from Edmonton are observations about last night's snowfall.) As a beginning gardener, few things depress me more than Zone 3A. I think when most Edmontonians go away they probably feel some version of this panic on return, the sense that now I am going to be stuck here again. But in spite of all that, being able to take my luggage to the car without swiping a credit card inevitably warms my heart. I may not "know I'm free," but I know the effin luggage carts are free-- and I'll probably take option b, actually, thanks.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Evil corporate bag

I bought this bag from WalMart for $20 several weeks ago and it has been waiting for embellishment from me. Last night I finally got around to it. I was sort of going for a retro-bowling-bag combined with evil-scifi-corporation vibe. Like, if you worked for the Blue Sun corporation this is the bag you would get when you were chosen as employee of the month (after successfully re-apprehending some very troublesome escaped prisoners). If your boss was crafty.

First I cut out the Blue Sun logo (using a stencil--which I now cannot find, but I have it saved on my computer so if someone wants it let me know) from vinyl. Then I attached it to the bag with some fabric adhesive I bought that claims to work on vinyl. Only time will tell whether the vinyl will stay stuck but for right now I think it looks pretty cunning. This was also a really quick project-- it took me less than 1 full screening of The Lost World: Jurassic Park [it's research] to cut out the vinyl and stick it on. Fun!

Monday, October 5, 2009


lisa!, originally uploaded by jocelynb.

Will I pay $3 for a little Lisa Simpson toy from KFC? Oh yes, I will. She is one of my intellectual heroes. Now if only they had a Jorge Luis Borges toy I would be in luck. (It would come with the Surrealist Librarian Meal.)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Books are weapons in the war of ideas, Pt II

Yep, I read that editorial in the Wall Street Journal about how we don't need Banned Books Week anymore, and yes, it made me depressed (and there is quite a good rebuttal on the Huffington Post). Also, here in the True North Strong and Free we celebrate Freedom to Read week in February, so I kind of consider discussing such matters in September/October to be very gauche. Around here, we like to save our talkin' energy for discussing how cold it is outside.

That said, if there's one thing I have read recently that really touched me, that made me value my own freedom to read and that of the patrons of my library, it's this librarian's letter to a patron responding to a book challenge. Yep, we do still need to remember--once a year, if not more often--that books do get challenged in libraries and schools, and that when books are actually removed from those places, it improverishes a whole community. But I guess the flip side of that equation is that it would be wonderful if we could all respond to challenges with as much sensitivity, thoughtfulness and passion as this librarian does.

(I first saw this in the twitterstream of @neilhimself, author Neil Gaiman.)