Wednesday, December 8, 2010

These days...

I am blogging over at
Thank you and sorry.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I am bad at updating blogs.

Today on the Internet: FAKE SCIENCE!

Also: Save the Words. I do, in fact, like suffarcinate; its presence in that screenshot is not a co-incidence. I'm not sure I'm ready to commit to it, though.

I'm having some sad days.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

So photogenic, yet so consumed with ennui.

From the Bygone Bureau: Domestic Conflict, Explained by Stock Photos.

Conflicts are even more difficult when more than two people involved. Here, Ellen and Andrew argue about what to do with the small girl that wandered in their home.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

today my husband said something worthy of quotation

I think dog saliva is to mosquito bites what phoenix tears are to basilisk bites.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

one more about the books

So, as promised I bailed on my book-a-day project, although I think the only day I really missed was Saturday, and that was because [excuse alert] I had to work! So! One cannot possibly finish a book AND work in the same day. It just isn’t done.

BUT! Since then [and that was a whole week, or more, ago] I have finished a few more books so I might as well count ‘em, right?

All the other Scott Pilgrim books (ie., Vols 2-6) by Brian Lee O’Malley.
I loved these. 8-bit heart for Scott Pilgrim. I got my hair cut recently, and I almost told my hairstylist to give me Ramona Flowers hair. But two questions arise from that: 1, probably, what are you talking about and 2, which Ramona Flowers hair? (also, maybe, 3, can you HAVE hair like that and still work as a public librarian, although I think the answer to that is yes, at least in my case, since I already wear sparkly flip-flops, weird jewelry made of lego, and occasionally armwarmers to work.)

Anyway. I 8-bit heart these books, and you should read them too.

The Game of Sunken Places by M T Anderson.
MT Anderson is kind of an enigma to me. I know that his books (including the Octavian Nothing books, and Feed) are supposed to be these beloved, kind of cult favourites. This is the first book of his I’ve finished, having started Vol 1 of Octavian Nothing and never really getting into it. So, The Game Of Sunken Places is a creepy, old-fashioned children's story with moments of real levity and cleverness. I was genuinely creeped out by it, and I would read other things by him-- or its sequel, The Suburb Beyond the Stars. [Also, it helps that I read this book on my garden bench, and I took little breaks from reading to watch bees buzz around my tomatoes. I recommend that particular reading experience as much as the material. Please let me know before you come over though.]

Come, Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant.
My friend Becky recommended this book to me and I loved it. It's a very quirky, whimsical, touching novel about a young woman who goes home to Newfoundland to deal with a family emergency. I think the reason it struck my friend as the kind of book I would like is probably the punning, which is impressive. But there is also a real sweetness to this book-- and the immersive feeling of genuinely experiencing the world as another person sees it, which is one of my favourite types of book-reading-experiences.

And the two that are still on the go: Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter by Tom Bissell. [You can read an excerpt here at the NY Times Online.] As I told James, it's nice to read anything about video games where the author (a) loves video games and plays them himself and (b) still possesses the ability to think critically about them. Most people tend to have one or the other of these characteristics but not both, as in, I love video games and they are the best and people who criticize them don't know anything; or I have never played video games but I know they're the worst, here's why. I was sad to see him dismiss my time-sink of choice, WoW, in a single sentence and he hasn't mentioned it again since, but then, I'm not very hardc0re and I know it. Anyway, it's worth a look.


Bringing It To The Table by Wendell Berry. Will I ever finish this book? Or will I carry it around in my bag forever until I eventually succumb to the guilt and DIE? Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

links to writers smarter than I

At The Sexist: a fascinating interview with Courtney Stoker on Feminist Geek. [via TigerBeatdown]

In the narratives about Growing Up Geek, geeks often frame their geekiness as a disability; these narratives make it sound like the vast majority of geeks grow up without any institutional power, even when the geeks in question are white, straight, cis-gendered, abled, middle- to upper-class, and male. The responses to the oft-asked, "Why are geek communities so goddamn sexist all the time?" often begin with the special case of Growing Up (a Male) Geek. The narrative goes something like this: Geeks are smarter than everyone else, and ladies like hot, not smart, so geek men have almost no contact with women until they become adults. They’re socially stunted and bitter about their lifelong rejection by women, so they lash out at women to make themselves feel better. The cause of their sexism is their sexual frustration, not mainstream misogyny, even though many tellers of the Growing Up (a Male) Geek narrative will admit that male geeks often find the hypermasculine standard of our misogynist culture to be an obstacle to their social acceptance.
Brilliant. Absolutely effing brilliant. Sometimes the world makes me so depressed.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

And at sixpence, it's a good deal too

The Wondermark comic from the 23rd was awesome.

The Wondermark blog also pointed the way to These Are Their Stories [I can't hear those words without hearing the orchestral boh-boh-boh that accompanies them], an art show where artists illustrate the Law & Order synopses provided by the DirecTV program guide. Some of them are wonderful: The detectives look for a racist, Lawyer is secretly a stripper.

[my love affair with the Internet is thus rekindled.]

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

and by "ironic," i actually mean "depressing"

How deliciously ironic that Canadian author Yann Martel has been trying stubbornly and fruitlessly for YEARS to get Prime Minister Stephen Harper to think about literature via his project What Is Stephen Harper Reading? and meanwhile he received a very thoughtful handwritten note about his book Life of Pi from President Obama. One out of two heads of state isn't bad, I guess.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The world is a funny place, maybe the funniest.

So, I posted a link yesterday to that interview with Gary Shteyngart and I didn't consider myself to have ever have heard of him or anything. (That was quite the sentence, but stick with me.) Today I unfolded a note on my desk at work which was books I wanted to track down to take on my holidays (in other words, a note I made more than a week ago) (oh, and it's written in pink pen because I roll like a 14-year-old girl) that said:

Comeau - One Bloody Thing
Shteyngart - Absurdistan
B Lee O'Malley - Scott Pilgrim
Wendell Berry - Bringing It To The Table

That's so weird. That's weird, right? For an organ that supposedly loves patterns, my brain is sometimes super-bad at finding them.

I now remember going to the SHTEs in the stacks, pulling that book off the shelf, and thinking, I'm probably not going to have time to read this.

Friday, July 23, 2010

3 interviews, 1 incredible house, 1 link

I shall follow the structure described above.

i. Bill Murray @ GQ.

Okay. Well, how about Garfield? Can you explain that to me? Did you just do it for the dough?
No! I didn't make that for the dough! Well, not completely. I thought it would be kind of fun, because doing a voice is challenging, and I'd never done that. Plus, I looked at the script, and it said, "So-and-so and Joel Coen." And I thought: Christ, well, I love those Coens! They're funny. So I sorta read a few pages of it and thought, Yeah, I'd like to do that. I had these agents at the time, and I said, "What do they give you to do one of these things?" And they said, "Oh, they give you $50,000." So I said, "Okay, well, I don't even leave the fuckin' driveway for that kind of money."

And it's not like you're helping out an indie director by playing Garfield.
Exactly. He's in 3,000 newspapers every day; he's not hurtin'. Then this studio guy calls me up out of nowhere, and I had a nice conversation with him. No bullshit, no schmooze, none of that stuff. We just talked for a long time about the movie. And my agents called on Monday and said, "Well, they came back with another offer, and it was nowhere near $50,000." And I said, "That's more befitting of the work I expect to do!" So they went off and shot the movie, and I forgot all about it. Finally, I went out to L.A. to record my lines. And usually when you're looping a movie, if it takes two days, that's a lot. I don't know if I should even tell this story, because it's kind of mean. [beat] What the hell? It's interesting. So I worked all day and kept going, "That's the line? Well, I can't say that." And you sit there and go, What can I say that will make this funny? And make it make sense? And I worked. I was exhausted, soaked with sweat, and the lines got worse and worse. And I said, "Okay, you better show me the whole rest of the movie, so we can see what we're dealing with." So I sat down and watched the whole thing, and I kept saying, "Who the hell cut this thing? Who did this? What the fuck was Coen thinking?" And then they explained it to me: It wasn't written by that Joel Coen

ii. This is an oldie: director Nicole Holofcener @ truthdig. I just watched her film Please Give a few weeks ago and really liked it. She also directed Friends With Money which is one of my favourite movies.
Would you see these films as feminist or political?
Gosh, to me it just seems like I'm really self-involved. I write about what I go through, what my friends go through, what I find interesting, what movies I go see—isn't that sort of narcissistic?
Can you really be narcissistic and political at the same time?
iii. Novelist Gary Shteyngart @ the NY Times. Ok, I have never read any of this guy's books, but the trailer for the new one was funny enough to make me put it on hold at my library.
You were educated at Oberlin College.
I majored in myself, in Gary Studies. You’re allowed to do that.

On Freshome I loved this Fab Lab House:

It creates three times the energy it uses. It has incredible, fort-like interior spaces. Plus this particular picture made me grin like a dummy:

It has a plant-stoop!

Finally, 1 link: Know Your Meme. I read about this impromptu science fair to teach science to Insane Clown Posse fans on boingboing. And I didn't understand why that was funny. Know Your Meme to the rescue with F*cking Magnets, How Do They Work? This website can also explain to you about I Dunno LOL ¯\(°_o)/¯, You Have Died of Dysentery, and every other thing a digital immigrant (or n00b) might encounter in a forum.

I really want to develop a series of training sessions on memes for my staff meetings at work. It seems like as a "virtual services librarian" this is within my area of responsibility. It would be like, OK, adult services. Here's the deal with, like, that OK Go video where they're on treadmills. Here's what it means if someone painstakingly writes out "ROFLCOPTER" in ASCII text. And what is rickrolling? Hey, you hired me to explain the Internet! <3.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

bus haiku

all these billboards for
american apparel
fill me with despair

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

3 more books, 1 more haiku

I'm on holidays. My book-reading project continues.

Monday - Overqualified by Joey Comeau. Comeau is the co-author of the webcomic A Softer World. And (as we Canadians love to write) he's Canadian! I was actually looking for his new book, One Bloody Thing After Another, but the Chapters website lied when it said it was in stock. But it's for the best, because I learned that One Bloody Thing is about zombies (or something?!?), which I am tired of; whereas Overqualified is about grief and ridiculous letters, which I NEVER grow tired of. This is a really funny book, and it's a bit sad in places, and it's nice and short. And he's Canadian.

Tuesday - Shoplifting From American Apparel by Tao Lin. This review from Bookslut sums up my feelings about this book pretty succinctly. Especially this part: "Even in this short and spare work, it is fatiguing to read the commoditized so-called underground undeservedly claiming elevation over mainstream consumer and work choices." This puts it more articulately than I ever could. It's short too, but if you're only going to read one of these two short, at-times-uncomfortable books, make it the first one. All the yuppy vegan food and meaninglessness in this one are exhausting.

Wednesday - Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr. I don't know why this book has taken me so long to finish (All Consuming says: 14 weeks. Thanks, online chronicle of my failure!). It's not that it's not good, otherwise I would have given up on it long ago; it's something else. It's just not the book for me. I think I've grown weary of beautiful, sparkling, supernatural boys. Their sparkliness gives me migraines.

sure i've read these books
but i've watched some tv too
like jurassic park

Sunday, July 18, 2010

So, I'm on holidays this week, and I'm trying to finish a book a day. I don't expect to achieve this goal, because this is not one of those blogs where I make some kind of outrageous commitment to do something for a set period of time, then actually FOLLOW THROUGH, and blog about it in a consistently amusing yet thought-provoking way. This is the kind of blog where I write dumb haikus. [Not every day, though. I mean, I have other stuff to do.]

So anyway, here is what I've read so far:

Friday: Allegra Goodman's The Other Side of the Island. I liked this book-- it was spooky. It was suspenseful enough that while I was reading it I just wanted to find out what was going to happen, but now that it's done, I kind of wish I had savoured it more. Sometimes if you finish a book too fast you get that feeling -- like when you try to keep walking down a set of stairs that ends one step earlier than you expected, and there's something kind of jarring about it, the too-hard step onto the floor. This is as close as I can come to expressing how I feel about this book ending. This is Goodman's first YA novel, but she has written books for adults, and my library has them (which is good, because I can't afford to go on holidays every week, obviously).

Saturday: Maureen Johnson's The Key To The Golden Firebird. I love Maureen Johnson's books more than a 27-year-old should, really. I was crying at the end, and not just because I was tired from finishing a book in one day. This sad to say, though: I kind of like her twitter more.

Today: Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim Vol 1: Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life. It's awesome! It's as awesome as my comic-loving friends told me it would be! The only problem with this is that now I want to (a) read all the others and (b) go see the movie, but not before reading the other books, not all of which are out yet. Yeah. Problem! Oh yeah, I also kind of want to (c) be a really cool cartoon girl with a messenger bag and awesome hair.

I'm also reading bits and pieces of Wendell Berry's Bringing It To The Table, because it's long and I know I don't have a hope of actually finishing it all in one day. So he'll get a longer letter later, when I finish it. This is not cheating. This is being forward-thinking.

a book every day?
that seems pretty plausible
for a giant nerd

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sooo, what am I doing, both the empty Twitter and Facebook boxes are asking me?

a. Getting ready to go on holidays! This means, not that I am actually GOING anywhere, but that I am not going to work for at least six (6) consecutive days. And I am trying to pick out books to read. And some of these books are not in my library, so I am having to buy them from Chapters. I don't want to buy them. But I have to. Because of  holidays, you see?

b. Going to my garden. Except that it has been raining, like Noah-level raining, for days and days here so actually going outside is not fun, and when I tried it on Tuesday, I fell down my front stairs in my slippery flip-flops and ended up with these bright purple bumpy bruises on various parts of my body. It's like Edmonton was reminding me, Stay inside, or something even worse will happen. (This sounds funny, but actually it was terrible, because of the pain; and also, I'm well aware that limping around after claiming to have fallen down some stairs is basically a covert way to beg your co-workers to call social services. The fact that one of the bruises is the exact size of my porch railing is good evidence for the truth, though.) So instead I have been working my way through The Alberta Native Plants Council's Native Plants Source List and compiling my own garden wishlist and figuring out where I can get the plants on that list and where I should plant them. Surprisingly, my husband does not want to drive to Black Diamond, Alberta this weekend to pick up plants for me. I have no idea why. I thought he loved me.

c. Reading this essay from the New Yorker, Advanced Placement, about the Gossip Girl books, and it is kind of making me want to read them again, which is weird. I read the first six or seven books in the series and then grew kind of disgusted with myself and there were even a couple paperbacks I had bought (because I was not willing to wait for them to be returned to the library, shame on me) and I even donated those TO the library because I kind of didn't want the evidence of my compulsion to exist anymore. But now it seems like perhaps I was missing whole layers.

d. Thinking about fonts, because in addition to the Comic Sans shout-out I posted from McSweeney's a couple weeks ago, I recently encountered The Helvetica Killer, about Aktiv Grotesk, which (its designer hopes) could be the font to bring Helvetica down. (I know that on the Internet, this is equivalent to posting that you hate the iPhone or orphans or cute puppies, but I've never understood what all the fuss was about, Helvetica-wise.) And Papyrus Watch, which reports on Papyrus spottings in the wild. I used Papyrus once for some shirts I screenprinted (they read "I'll be in my bunk") and ever since then I see it EVERYWHERE. The hierarchy of fonts is complex, Internet. You never know who you might offend with your typeface. At this point, 30% of my original readers have jumped ship due to the verdana overload.

Man, seeing this blog entry you would think I was a total nerd, and you wouldn't know I'm actually, as Veronica Mars would say, 30% danger-loving girl-touching rock star.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

However this does NOT count as my cake vs pie vote

Jocelyn: This pie is delicious.
James: I KNOW. It's the first rhubarb thing I've ever liked.
Jocelyn: Maybe we should learn to make pie.
James: I don't know, this pie was only $4. Maybe we should just buy a million of them and eat them for breakfast.

Monday, July 12, 2010

We find the Google search predictions sad and hilarious.

James: Oh, man. He acts like... a jerk. He acts like a child. He acts like a girl.
Jocelyn: Men are the worst.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Internet, futility of the

If we could somehow design the perfect iphone charging station and be done with it, the total volume of new content being developed for the Internet on a daily basis could be reduced by 30%.

Just a suggestion.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

i can be a shark

I am really enjoying the photostream of flickr user Balokov. The shark image at right caught my eye today, but really they're all good. Legos! Living in the world!

I do love the Guardian's Digested Read.

Bret Easton Ellis' Imperial Bedrooms, digested:

"You're looking very thin Clay. I guess it didn't work out with Meghan," Blair says. I've no intention of ever explaining anything so I shrug in a cool sort of way and hope the critics will love the empty unreliability of my narration.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A TV Note

So, I (along with the rest of the world, it would seem) have been swept up by GLEE. The episode a few weeks ago with Neil Patrick Harris, and guest-directed by Joss Whedon, was amazing. Meanwhile, James and I borrowed the first season of Deadwood from some friends. I watched the first few episodes and I could not bring myself to keep watching. Like every HBO show, let's see, ever, it has good writing and amazing production values and real actors who are good at acting. But it's so bleak, and after a few episodes I felt like I had already absorbed all the crude language and women getting beaten up and men getting beaten up that I needed to see, and now James watches it alone.

And this article from NPR explains exactly why: More Misery! More Death! More Cruelty! I felt like I was sort of vindicated in my desire to watch some photogenic, stereotypical people dancing rather than, I don't know, children becoming orphans or people dying of STDs. This is the Glee/Deadwood paradox. You can only watch one or the other. I have chosen Glee, and James has chosen Deadwood. Within a year, we'll probably be divorced. And I will still kind of feel like I need to apologize for liking something so cheery.

Art and correspondence

I loved this letter from William Steig about his fear of public speaking. The entry on Letters of Note also includes the text of the speech he ended up delivering when he won the Caldecott.

I love this in particular:
Art, including juvenile literature, has the power to make any spot on earth the living center of the universe, and unlike science, which often gives us the illusion of understanding things we really do not understand, it helps us to know life in a way that still keeps before us the mystery of things. It enhances the sense of wonder. And wonder is respect for life. Art also stimulates the adventurousness and the playfulness that keep us moving in a lively way and that lead us to useful discovery.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Is it true that you support the escalation of formality in everyday life?


So is the trend toward casualness an unfortunate event?

Yes, I would say. It makes me unhappy. To some extent, it's on purpose, so I don't know if I would call it unfortunate in the sense of unlucky. There's a casual agenda, and I think it's winning. The pros of formality are forethought put into word and action, spiffier clothing and fetishization of everyday occurrences.
-Daniel Handler (author of the Lemony Snicket books), in The Sunday Conversation interview

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I just want to make out with the Internet, or at least take it out for coffee.

Couch Cushion Architecture: A Critical Analysis on the Build blog.
Benefiting from the life work of structural engineer Heinz Isler, this lightweight roof shell structure creates a graceful span while fully sheltering the interiors. Massive counter-weights keep the structure taught while an entire fa├žade remains open to the exterior. 

From McSweeney's: I'm Comic Sans, Asshole.
You think I'm pedestrian and tacky? Guess the fuck what, Picasso. We don't all have seventy-three weights of stick-up-my-ass Helvetica sitting on our seventeen-inch MacBook Pros. Sorry the entire world can't all be done in stark Eurotrash Swiss type. Sorry some people like to have fun. Sorry I'm standing in the way of your minimalist Bauhaus-esque fascist snoozefest. Maybe sometime you should take off your black turtleneck, stop compulsively adjusting your Tumblr theme, and lighten the fuck up for once. 

From The Atlantic: Rent a White Guy. Totally surreal.

An interesting project: an eighteeen-year-old high school student tries to live according to Seventeen magazine at The Seventeen Magazine Project. Again, totally surreal.

And one more new blog, more of the crafty/DIY variety: The Art of Doing Stuff. This woman, seemingly, can do anything good.

In Jocelyn-world, I finally updated Dispatches from Zone 3a after only one month's absence. I mean, I can garden or I can blog about gardening. It's pretty easy to figure out which I am going to do.

Monday, June 14, 2010


I dip in and out of rss feeds all day at work, most of them (well, ok, some of them) related -- at least tangentially -- to my job. Today I did a Bloglines audit and added some new ones, including these five: 

1000 awesome things
the hypothetical library
information is beautiful
daily interesting photos
letters of note

in a new folder called "good for my brain." I'm not sure how you determine whether something is good for your brain. I'm looking for the answer. I feel like my neurons are not as sparkly as they once were. DO YOU THINK THE INTERNET CAN HELP?

I like adding new blogs I discover to my rss reader and trying them out for a few weeks. The best test of whether I am ACTUALLY interested in a blog's content is whether I stop to read it when it publishes a few items among hundreds. I'm prioritizing without intending to, which is kind of the point. For example, I subscribe to both MeFi and Slashdot but I very rarely read them. (However, they survived this audit, maybe because I don't want to compromise my nerd cred.) Other new additions on this round:

The Bygone Bureau
Lapham's Quarterly
Cheap Healthy Good
Tiger Beatdown (proving that a pithy title will get you at least one feed subscriber)
Toothpaste for Dinner

I declare June to be "rss audit month." Also "Eating the weird leftover food in your freezer month." Party ever-harder.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

See, I have done your work for you.

5 academic papers someone should write about the Muppets

"Animal" instincts: the politics of implied rape
The disapproving patriot: Sam Eagle as patriarch
Meta/text Puppet/eer: Cinema, body and narrative through the postmodern lens
Diva or chicken: the Muppets and the troubled state of female agency
"Working's for another day": Fraggle Rock in the shadows of the American Dream

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

May I suggest you buy this?

Sexy Librarian Glasses Showcase

Recently I decided I wanted a necklace with a pair of librarian glasses on it. That might seem like a fairly specific thing to want, but the assortment of such necklaces on Etsy suggests that I am not the only one.

l to r:
Mini Maude Necklace | $26 from Isette
Sexy Nerdy Pink Glasses Necklace | $6 from Michelle's Charm World
Studious Slate Necklace | $32 from How Fetching
I Heart Glasses Kitschy Necklace | $24 from SparklePeach
Flirty Nerdy Glasses | $12 from Saritas Jewelry Box

I bought the pink one, partly because it was pink and partly because it was only $6 and partly because the same shop had an awesome lego octopus necklace for sale which I also happened to be looking for. But they're all lovely, and so literary.


I feel guilty.

Two recent additions to the lexicon

Here are two things that I have recently begun saying.

I. "Oh, come on, Bible!" On 30 Rock, Liz Lemon is delivering a reading (the standard one from Corinthians) at Floyd's wedding. She has been forced to "stall" by Jack so she starts leafing through the Bible randomly looking for passages to read, and she keeps encountering ones about spilling seed on the ground, and things like that. She gets all annoyed and is like, "Oh, come on, Bible! Help a lady out!" "Oh, come on, Bible!" has become a standard indication of irritation for me, perfect for when nothing seems to be going right.

II. "I can do anything good." Embedded below is my favourite Internet video, maybe of all time. I quote a lot of things from it, including making disjointed but enthusiastic lists of things I like (which vary from one moment to the next but usually include, "I like my husband. I like my dog. I like my garden. I like my Glee DVDs. I like my coffee.") But "I can do anything good" is my favourite. I think this little girl probably means "I can do anything well," ie., I can do a good job of anything; but I prefer the actual meaning, which is that there are good things around, and I can do all of them. I also like going, "yeah. yeah. yeah. yeah" while doing a jumpy little dance. Oh man, I need to watch it again right now.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Lately progression

Kristin Cashore's Graceling (one of the best books I've ever read, full stop, I couldn't put it down but I was also intentionally reading it slowly because I didn't want it to be over)
> Kristin Cashore's Fire (companion novel, slow getting going but in its own way just as engrossing and good)
> in a funk because I don't feel like reading anything that is not the two books mentioned above
> lots of non-fiction (gardening books!) and a complete re-read of all 7 Harry Potter books since I know precisely what to expect from it. When will I be ready to accept new fiction? Who knows. Maybe NEVER. In the meantime I am on HP2. The Chamber of Secrets has been opened again. Spoiler alert.

Happened to notice that episodes of Law & Order: Criminal Intent available for download on xbox
> suddenly obsessed with Vincent D'Onofrio again. Yesterday I said to a co-worker that I love his character because he's so cerebral, and she looked at me like I had just told her I was an alien. (I said, "Have you ever noticed that Goren never shoots anyone? Eames shoots people all the time. Goren can't operate a gun because he's too cerebral.") Watched about 5 episodes of L&O:CI before I remembered that everything about it other than the two main actors in it is THE WORST.
> Rented (from a video store! like in the 90s!) some discs of Bones to watch since they didn't have the newer CSI seasons.
> Also a bit obsessed with Bones. Composed a short essay in my brain the other day about why I am fascinated with that show. It has nothing to do with the crime-plots, which are ludicrous, or the sexual tension (after X-Files, no other show will ever make me interested in sexual tension between partners, sorry) but rather just with Brennan herself. When has American TV ever produced a female protagonist whose main, defining characteristic is her brilliant and strange mind? It boggles. In a good way. A show with Brennan and Goren solving crimes would be ideal, although clearly the two of them could never have a productive conversation. Or maybe they would be soul mates.
> This would also be a good premise for awesome, nerdy fanfiction. Or porn.
> Ooh! Or a comic. In which there is a super-squad of TV's smartest people solving crimes. Who would this super-team be composed of? Goren, Brennan, Gil Grissom, Scully, maybe the dude from Numbers (I have never watched that show so I would have to watch a few episodes of it before offering him a spot), and the Mandy Patinkin character from Criminal Minds (or that tall dark-haired guy whose name I forget). And Nero Wolfe! And then they would need one practical, organized sort of person to keep things on-track. Probably Pepper Potts.
> My brain is weird, but the brain wants what it wants.

I'm at work, but I'm too tired to work at work. I was here until 9 last night and then it took me AN HOUR AND FORTY MINUTES TO GET HOME ON THE BUS. And that was before I had come up with my meta-crime-solving idea, so I had nothing to think about other than how tired and cold I was.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Holy cow, I love the Guardian's Digested read. This week: Christopher Hitchens' Hitch-22.

I find I have written nothing of my wives, save that they are fortunate to have been married to me, and nothing of my emotional life. That is because I don't have one. The only feeling I have is of being right, and that has been with me all my life. I would also like to point out that drinking half a bottle of scotch and a bottle of wine a day does not make me an alcoholic. I drink to make other people seem less tedious; something you might consider when reading this.

Of my pathetic brother Peter, whom I adore, I say only this. I admire the persistence with which he maintains his ignorance. And as I leave you with the conceit of my non-Jewish Jewishness, I retire to converse with Richard Dawkins and read Yellow Dog, the finest work of my brilliant friend Martin.
I find Christopher Hitchens pretty despicable, so I guess it's not surprisingly that I enjoy a good chuckle at his expense.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Abandon ship!

I know I'm lame, but lately all I feel like writing about is my garden. So I decided to try one of those specialty blogs I keep hearing about. I know, right? Apaprently people like reading blogs all about a single topic! So: Dispatches From Zone 3a. I'll still be here, maybe, from time to time, if I have anything non-gardening-related to contribute.

Friday, April 30, 2010

"Oh, I'm not doing this for the money. I'm just happy knowing that future generations will enjoy unspoiled median strips and pristine highway embankments." -Lisa Simpson

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

sometimes i think things

i. sometimes i think that my plants might have been planted a bit too early since they are basically already giant and i have run out of room for them under the lights again and the zucchini are taking over my basement just like they always take over the garden when you plant them outside. safe transplant date still 3 weeks away! but on the other hand, when i am at work i think about them all the time and it makes me feel like i can keep working. so, that's something.

ii. sometimes i think the universe is showing me things just because they make pretty colour combinations and for no other reason. "yellow, orange, red... you know who would appreciate that? Jocelyn." hmmm.

iii. sometimes i think maybe i don't need to have a blog anymore.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

not for eating

photo.jpg, originally uploaded by jocelynb.

I am making my own organic fertilizer... this is the bucket. I decorated it.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Holy courgettes, batman!

I planted these costata romanesco zucchini seeds on Sunday. 72 hours from planting to sprouts-- that's a new record for me! I'm already contemplating what spot in the garden will be ideal for such a vigorous plant.

I've been pretty much planting 2 seeds to a cell for larger seeds, and 3 or more seeds to a cell for smaller seeds. This is because I wasn't sure what my germination rates would be like, and I didn't want to deal with the heartbreak of empty pots. What I have instead is the heartbreak of pulling slightly smaller, less robust plants. It goes against all my instincts. I'm rooting (heh) for the underdog! If Hollywood movies have taught us anything, it's that!

Gardening: it's the opposite of a Hollywood movie.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Follow Tuesday - that's a thing, right?

I enjoy YA author Maureen Johnson's twitter updates.

Update from Zone 3A

It is getting to be-- well, not spring, that's too strong a word; but warmer outside, and the perennials in my raised beds are showing signs of life. I started seeds from scratch this year, which I have never done before, and as a pretty n00b gardener it might have been overambitious. But ever since I read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle I've been a bit obsessed with heirloom vegetables, and starting with seed is the only real way to get them. Plus it extends the gardening season a bit earlier, which is great. By March I am inevitably stir-crazy and depressed, and this year the seeds have been a really lovely distraction from waiting for the outdoors to warm up. I go check on them several times a day, which I guess is goofy, but I do feel a very strong sense of ownership and responsibility for them. It feels like Spring in my basement grow-op, even though outside is still pretty miserable.

So anyway, I've had good luck given my already-mentioned n00b-ness, with almost everything I planted coming up. The first peppers to sprout were wiped out in a mini-drought, and the strawberries I planted showed no signs whatsoever of being alive or, in fact, given their tininess, of even existing after I had planted them. But everything else has sprouted, and I do not allow myself to become downtrodden, for now I have 30-ish little sprouts including peppers, three kinds of tomatoes, and Armenian cucumbers (!). This past weekend I planted zucchini, and that is the last of the indoor starts, I think. In my outside beds I will plant snow peas, snap peas and regular peas; asparagus (don't know if those will grow, but we'll give it a try!), onions, some herbs, and numerous flowers. This means, if course, that I will also be building more raised beds. When we bought our house, I wonder if my husband ever thought we might have an actual yard-- or if he knew that, inevitably, the whole space would be turned into garden? Oh well. At least I haven't torn down the garage. (Yet-- I'm not saying I never will, because it actually occupies far-and-away the best part of the property, sun-wise.)

I ordered heirloom seeds from:
West Coast Seeds (in BC)
Heritage Harvest Seeds (Manitoba)
Casey's Heirloom Tomatoes (Airdrie, AB)
I am also growing lots of plants from seeds I got at the local Bedrock Seed Bank. I ordered some from their website, but I've also picked up seeds from their booth at the Strathcona Farmers' Market, and I pre-ordered a flat of their alpine strawberries which will be ready in June (after my own failure to sprout anything).

I like ordering from Canadian companies-- partly to support Canadian businesses, but also (let's face it) because I don't want to mess around with plants that won't grow here. Even the BC one made me a bit suspicious. The colder and more miserable it is in these plants' province of origin, the better. And! The seed catalogues! They're wonderful. Seed catalogues are like the future, in the sense that they are so beautifully full of promise and romance.

Because I am thrifty to the point of cheapness, I have been saving plastic food containers of all kinds over the past few months, and so in the photo above you can see the sprouts growing under roast-chicken and ice-cream-cake greenhouses. This has become a kind of running joke in our house-- you never know when I am going to want to claim something destined for the recycling for my garden. James will hold up a random piece of near-garbage and say dubiously, "do you want this for your garden?"

Yes. Yes I do.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mom ≠ Google

Backstory: My mother emails me often to ask questions that can easily be answered by going to Google.

Well fine! If you never want to help me ever again with anything then just tell me! Maybe GOOGLE put diapers on you and stayed up all night to make sure you were breathing!

-postcards from yo mamma

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Also known as, an update on what I have been reading.

The Mortal Instruments trilogy [beginning with Book I, City of Bones]- Cassandra Clare
These books are a bit ubiquitous, in that they are sitting in big stacks on an awful lot of bookstore tables, and you've probably walked by them yourself and maybe been put off by their shininess and/or the Stephenie Meyer endorsement on the cover. But I've been meaning to read them for awhile and the planets aligned for me, in the sense that I picked up a copy off one of those piles and took it home and started it even though it seemed intimidatingly long and, well, shiny. INTERNET! This book is astonishing! It has funny dialogue and demon-hunting and star-crossed love and fairies and protagonists with secret destinies. In other words, it is the best book ever. And then there are two more. And another one to be released next year. Altogether, the trilogy is already, like, Tolkien-length, and I finished it in about, uh, a week?

The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York - Deborah Blum
I have only read the first 60 pages of this so far but I already feel confident in my assertion that it is excellent. [I think I heard about it from the BookSlut blog? Maybe?] Starting it last night, there were lots of passages that I felt compelled to read aloud to James strictly because I found them so interesting. Like all great non-fiction, this book makes you feel like you are not even learning anything because it's so compelling. (This is how it should be. Reality IS compelling!) In this case, the subject is two men-- a medical examiner, Charles Norris, and a chemist, Alexander Gettler-- who rose out of a corrupted and ridiculous system of investigating deaths in New York circa the 1910s and 1920s and basically invented forensic science. They are cool and committed and badass, like Grissom but real.

In March, 2006, I started keeping track of my reading. Since then I have read 243 books. Sometimes I review them on here, usually only if I really like them.

you know, because i'm a girl

oh, the tricky, delicate business that is modern life.
1. i am offended by the assumption that, as a woman, i will like any product if it is pink and sparkly, and that in order to make a product relevant and appealing to me, it should be manufactured in a pink and sparkly way.
2. i want these pink and sparkly data cables.

when, oh when, will they build fry's in Canada?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Happy Ada Lovelace Day!

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, when bloggers all around teh Interwebs commit to writing about the achievements of women in technology and science. Isn't that lovely? I found out about this months ago and wrote it in my calendar, with a warm feeling in my heart, thinking, oh, I'll do that, not that it will ever be March 24 2010, tralalalala! Well. You have beaten me again, world.

The female scientist I have chosen to write about is Mary Roberts, the 19th century amateur biologist and natural historian who wrote The Conchologist's Companion, among other books. I first encountered her when I was curating an exhibition of women's writing in a rare books library and one of the librarians reverently brought me the little blue volume and lovingly placed it on the table. It was a magnificent little book, bound in blue cloth with lovely, delicate colour illustrations (which seemingly haven't survived the Google books digitization process, so sad!). Because I was also writing the little blurbs that accompanied the books in the final exhibition, I ended up researching Roberts and annotating that tiny book, and in the process I discovered just how little has been written about her.

Mary Roberts was an amateur botanist and natural historian, as well as an author. She was also a very religious woman and her scientific writings were published alongside her religious ones, as was very typical of Victorian scientists. She was born in London in 1788, and her parents were Quakers. From 1790 the Roberts lived in Gloustershire, and her interest in the natural world developed as she spent her childhood there. After her father died, she and her mother moved back to London. Besides Conchologist's Companion (which is not her most famous book, just the one that introduced me to her), she is the author of 14 other books, including a number of other science-related books, some of them for children; The Annals of my Village, which is about the seasonal changes that occur in her hometown, with a chapter for each month of the year; Select Female Biography, Comprising Memoirs of Eminent British Ladies, which is exactly what the title says; The Wonders of the Vegetable Kingdom Displayed, published the year before Conchologist and with a similar bent; and A Popular History of the Mollusca (1855). She died in 1864, again in London, never having married or had any children. These biographical facts are relatively easy to find, and repeated everywhere-- but where are her papers, her correspondence, her manuscripts? I have no idea, and neither, it seems, does anyone else. For that matter, where's the squinty ink drawing of her that should inevitably accompany a post like this one? IT DOES NOT EXIST.

"Such, then, are a few of the localitie of the shell tribe; of those deposits of the ocean which make the heart beat with delight in discovering, and possessing them. How vividly that bright moment recurs to my remembrance, when the deep, proud sea, first rose upon my sight,--when I first heard the loud cry of the returning sea-gull; and saw the dancing breakers bound upwards, as if in proud defiance of the rocks that repelled them."

I think about Victorian female scientists often, which may seem like a strange statement, but they fascinate me-- not just because the idea of a petite woman in an enormous hat bent low over a bunsen burner has enormous romantic appeal (although it DOES, especially if she happens to be wearing elbow-length gloves, although that's beside the point) but because I can easily extrapolate myself into their position. I hope this metaphor doesn't seem obnoxious, but to me they're like plants growing up cautiously between the stones of a sidewalk. It's easy to devalue their achievements or see them as insignificant (and in the case of Roberts, the frequent religious exultations and flowery prose will certainly be a turn off to most modern readers), but you can't go that route. Instead: it's a miracle that they are there at all. It's easy to dismiss the work of Mary Roberts and others like her as derivative and conventional. But instead, I try to live in a parallel world where 19th century women like her were well-educated and encouraged, where their natural passion and inquisitiveness was fostered instead of ignored, where it was a boon instead of a liability to be a woman with a sense of curiosity and a desire to share knowledge. Women like her had the forcefulness, the self-possession, to see that life for themselves too, and they aimed for it even though it must have seemed, at times, desperately out of reach. I will freely admit that my perception of the situation has almost nothing to do with Mary Roberts herself, or with her work, but rather with the promise of a person like her.

In this regard maybe I share Roberts' sentiments, as she writes in the preface to Select Female Biography:

Happy shall I deem myself, if the bright examples of suffering virtue, of exalted piety, of active benevolence, and of talents chastened and improved by the noblest principles, should cherish in the bosom of the reader, any of those valuable qualities, which, even in the bleak and churlish atmosphere of this world, bring forth abundant fruits of refreshment and consolation.
There you go. Bleak and churlish atmosphere of the world, check. I would say that's something that hasn't changed as much as it could, actually. And refreshment and consolation, check. We cannot forget that women of her talents ("chastened and improved by the noblest principles," almost certainly!) existed, that they studied the natural world and shared their knowledge with us, by whatever means were available.


Stephen Jay Gould wrote an essay about Roberts, The Invisible Woman, which appears in his book Dinosaur in a Haystack, and I suggest you take a look at it if you are interested in Mary Roberts. Although I encountered Gould's essay after I finished my own research in 2007 (sadly, because it would have been a good source), he has an interesting and valuable perspective on her life and work. He also talks quite a bit about 19th-century botany in general and the reasons why it was an "acceptable" science for ladies to pursue. My favourite quotation from this article: "...[I was] acknowledging her utter submission to conventional expectations, but refusing to judge her too harshly--for the urge to create can be so overpowering, and the pain of self-imposed silence so overwhelming, that we sometimes kowtow to the most iniquitous of limitations." Well said!

She was also the subject of (part of?) an episode of Engines of Our Ingenuity.

Biography appears in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

G. Lindsay, ‘Mary Roberts: a neglected naturalist’, Antiquarian Book Monthly, 23 (1996). I haven't gotten my hands on this article yet, actually, but I mention it because it is on its way to me already, requested on my husband's university library card, and someday I am going to read it.

Ada Lovelace was the daughter of Lord Byron and worked with Charles Babbage on the Difference and Analytical Engines (very early computing machines). She was a computer programmer and mathematician. See the list of women who have been written about so far this year. Amazing and shaming, since I have only heard of a handful of them. What a wonderful idea!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

but you don't need to tell emma this. she already knows.

I loooooooove you, puppy! because you are soooooo cute!
- a little girl on the sidewalk, as emma and i walked by

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

in which in congratulate myself for being a responsibility champion, and admit my love of the internet

Did you know that I am obsessed with the idea of five bucks? It's true. Five dollars is the magic amount that determines whether something is cheap or expensive. I will buy almost anything if it costs less than $5. So I was delighted to discover Fiverr, where people post projects or tasks they are willing to undertake for $5. Getting any photo turned into ASCII art, for example, seems like a pretty awesome way to spend $5.

Earlier, on the subject of $5: Safety first, link to the five dollar comparison.

My sister sent me a link to the blog Hyperbole and a Half, with the correct prediction that I would enjoy it. It's very funny--I had to send the entry I Find. to James since it pretty much describes our very lives--but what really pushes it into the awesomeness stratosphere are the MS-Paint-esque illustrations (see RESPONSIBILITY CHAMPION, above). Almost any website can be made better by low-budget art. Like this:

My blog just got more awesome, right? like, how much more? 50%? Yep. I KNOW. And that only took me about 15 seconds to make.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

he acts like he doesn't care, but he does

on porn, and the uncanny valley:

Tracy: Tell it to me in Star Wars.
Frank: Alright. We like R2-D2. And C-3PO.
Tracy: They're nice.
Frank: And up here (points to pinnacle of graph), we have a real person, like Han Solo.
Tracy: He acts like he doesn't care, but he does.
Frank: But down here (points to base of graph) we have a CGI Storm Trooper... or Tom Hanks in The Polar Express.
Tracy: I'm scared! Get me outta there!
Frank: And that's the problem. You're in The Valley now and it's impossible to get out.
[note: Titan AE was like that for me. I didn't like their hair, or their feet.]

Monday, March 8, 2010

linky monday!

Types of Bitches. I know this has travelled all around the Internet by now and I can't imagine it's new to anyone. But it's just so amazing that I had to re-post it. I loved seeing how many of these categories I fit into (the answer: a lot, but especially "pajamas outside bitch". (And one day I aspire to be an "instigating bitch," although I can't really say I consider myself one now.) James and I have been adapting this to everyday use. For example, a WoW application: look out for that coming-up-behind-you bitch.

I know I've seen them before, but I kind of forgot about the Home Inspection Nightmares galleries on the This Old House website. Here is the handy MeFi link that led me back to them. Some of them are amazing. The MeFi thread is aptly named "Yes, that potato is being used as a cap for an active gas line." Every safety-oriented bone in my body quivers at these.

This has also been making the rounds: a trailer for every Academy Award winning movie []. So funny. Catchphrase! [I used to be really into the Oscars, but I got to the point where all they did was make me mad. Now I'm almost at the point where I can ignore them completely. I live in my own little world in many ways. It's great over here! We have brownies!]

Last: The Book Seer. This site just retrieves LibraryThing and Amazon recommendations for a title, as in, you just finished (and enjoyed) this, try that. It's handy. I like testing these things with my own wanton reading habits.

Plus it kind of looks like you're getting a book recommendation from Freud or Nietzsche or something, which is cool! The idea appeals to me-- possibly mostly because I think neither Freud nor Nietzsche had any interest whatsoever in women's reading, so it seems a bit revisionist. Revisionist IN MY FAVOUR.

Friday, March 5, 2010

oh, also

this made me un-grumpy. i was complaining to my dad on the phone about how irritated i get trying to explain to people about why my library doesn't have e-books (yet). he sent this infographic to help with this conversation.

In the word version, the red text was animated. awesome.

just a gratuitous picture of my dog basically

It's my day off, but I'm working, because I had one of those weeks when the week sort of ran out before the work did. Emma is helping me. Well, more napping than helping really.

I have been terrifically grumpy for the past week or so. So, I'm not going to update my blog because it'll probably just be a grumpy update. You know? What's the point of that?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

i was kind of surprised he got that

Jocelyn: Hey, what's that Liam Neeson guy's name?
James: Qui-Gon Jinn?
Jocelyn: Yeah!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

a worried mind

framed prints for the bathroom. I'm not sure if I should count this, but I'm going to.

Friday, February 26, 2010

re-watching dollhouse

Topher: You know what I like? Brown sauce. What's it made of? Science doesn't know!
Adelle: It's made of brown.
Topher: Brown. Mined from the earth by the hardscrabble brown miners of North Brownderton.
Adelle: Oh, my God. I find lentils completely incomprehensible.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Where are the Daily Things of yesteryear?

I swear, I'm just holding it for a friend
I was at IKEA again last night and I was pretty excited to find this PS FEJO plant pot (with an umlaut, which I am too lazy to locate on the character map). I bought one so I could put it together and judge whether I thought it would work; now that I believe it would, I might go back and buy another one. It was $30, which is kind of expensive for a pot (especially from IKEA, where sofas are in the $75-$80 range), but it seems to have a pretty intelligent design and I like that it has integrated wheels. I bought seeds for several pot-friendly varieties of peppers and tomatoes so I have high hopes for this enterprise.

The problem that remains is that it is February, and it is weeks before I can even start the inside plants, still.

The other problem is that I was supposed to be doing thing-a-day, but I got a bit busy and distracted and now it seems almost dumb to try to get back into it for, what, three days? although I have tomorrow and then the weekend off so perhaps it is a possibility.

The last problem is that I started reading City of Bones, which is book one of Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments Trilogy, and (although I'm aware of being a bit late to the party here) it's really, really good. So mainly I just want to read that, and ignore everything else, except plant pots of course.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

strictly legal plants.

I have been meaning to buy a new plant light for awhile. The week (marked in my calendar with green!) when I can start the earliest of the inside seeds is approaching. So today I finally got it ready. James and I went to Home Depot for the fixture, and then I attached it to a piece of wood I already had hanging around and added hooks to the corners so I can suspend it from pieces of chain (which I haven't gotten yet). This should make it easy to move it up as the seedlings get higher.

I also have a heat mat. I'm hoping that these two together will make up for the dismal cold in my basement (which is the only place where there is enough space for starting seeds). In about five weeks I can start with the peppers.

This has also been quite a productive weekend for chores and other boring things, and I got to see one of my favourite babies (as well as his favourite parents), and I finished a very good book (Robyn Okrant's Living Oprah), so I guess I can't complain. On Friday night James and I went to see A Single Man, which I rather enjoyed, although (spoiler alert!) it totally American Beauty-ed us in the end. Colin Firth was in it, looking handsome, as usual.

I'm going to look for some chocolate chips.

Now playing: Tegan and Sara - My Number
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Somehow it became Day 20. Finished the orange quilt block. I think my sewing machine needs a tune-up, it keeps chewing up my thread.