Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cabinet Shuffle.

It is 100% terrible that this is my first post of the month. It'll be my last, too, I suppose, unless I am utterly taken by inspiration in the next 24 hours.

I just want to put a new idea in print. I've been thinking...

For some time, my Husband List has been in no particular order excepting The Clooney, who trumped all others.

I didn't think I'd see the day that this might change, but quite moved.

The unembroidered fact is, if I was asked to choose between Clooney and Schwartman today, I think the long and short of it would come down to Schwartzman.

There are some family complications (a wife, a child, Nic Cage, etc), but for style and wit, I can't get past it - I've gotta follow my gut that Schwartzman is edging out Clooney. (And Clooney's no slouch in either department.)

This has all been percolating since I recently finished watching the third season of HBO's Bored to Death, a hilarious dark comedy about an ineffectual writer who becomes a freelance gumshoe to a) live out fantasies and b) to try to fill his coffers. I highly recommend this show if you think your comedy sensibilities lean toward the black. (Like Grosse Pointe Blank? M*A*S*H? You might like Bored to Death.)

In this season, it didn't hurt that early on, Schwartzman dresses like an airline pilot, fires a gun and rocks a brand new Mad Men haircut. Hey - I don't always like admitting primal stuff, but yes, his firing a gun makes the highlight reel for season three for me.

If an honoured HL Member Schwartzman isn't enough for you, you'll find Galifianakis and Danson rounding out the regular cast.

Soon: I'll discuss the situation with Community, it being put on hiatus, and me counseling NBC to remove its ass from its butt. (Actually, I get it, but I still think it's weak and should be reconsidered.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Auntie Fern!

So, I'm Auntie Fern again. But, leave it to my sister to make it more complicated than it needs to be. Wait... maybe she made it less complicated.

Well, she had an incredibly short labour this morning. So short, in fact, that there was no way there was enough time to get her to the hospital, and paramedics delivered my new niece on the bathroom floor.

Well, it seems everyone is good, but they're going to keep them both overnight at the hospital just in case. So, in December, I'll go see little Rilla (7lbs2) in Ottawa and help my sister bring both her girls home for Christmas.

Monday, October 24, 2011

I Saw Jupiter Last Week.

I'm sure a lot of people saw Jupiter last week. It's in the East sky right now, high and bright. It looks like "any other star."
I'm taking an Astronomy class right now, to fulfill the physics requirement to study Speech-Language Pathology in America. There's quite a bit of math involved, which worried me, but like statistics, the math is a necessary evil; a method of description.

UPEI has an observatory high atop the Memorial Building. It houses a 40cm telescope, which is about a foot-and-a-third across, for you empirical folks.

The first night of class, we went up and looked at the Moon. It was wonderful. With that kind of magnification, you can really see depth in the shadows that the sun casts over craters. Also, something that I didn't predict: it is moving at an incredible pace! It only took about a minute for it to traverse the sky covered by the telescope, so the tech constantly had to reposition it for us. I guess if you think about it, if the Moon only takes up 1/2 a degree in the sky and it travels about 180 degrees in a night, that's a lot of distance to put behind you in one night.

Well, Jupiter was perfectly positioned last week, with four of its largest moons visible. I was seeing what Galileo saw when he pointed his telescope to the sky. They were clear and bright and distinct. I tried to see them later that night with a pair of binoculars, but I didn't have enough power.

What really struck me was the beautiful bands of colour on the planet. It reminded me of a polished sandstone ball (pictured left). It was amazing to see that kind of detail, and kind of weird to think of it as anything but a solid. It is hard to imagine a planet so large it has dozens of moons, rings, and enough density to put out its own radiation, but it's only a swirling ball of gas. This week we're learning more about comparisons between Terrestrial planets (like Earth) and Jovian planets (like Jupiter). There's meant to be rain tomorrow night, so the sight of Jupiter will have to hold me over for a while. I think it will.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Another One For The List.

So, Zachary Quinto recently came out of the closet. He held off for a long time to prove a point about actor's sexual orientation and the roles they play, but decided there were more good reasons to be a role model than an enigma. Good on him, trying to make people have conversations deeper than idle gossip.

Anyhow, him being gay doesn't change the fact that I still want to do him. It only changes the probability that he would want to do me. (Who says I'm anything but optimistic?)

Thanks to B. Lefebvre for the link & think.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Hola, Mormons!

I've been studying pretty hard today. I finished my Astronomy homework early this morning, then I did a Psychology jag, and now I'm poring over my GRE prep book.

I was about 30 minutes into a practice math test when the doorbell rang. Mormons!

I love when Mormon missionaries come to the door. We chatted for some time, and I let them fill in some gaps in my knowledge of their faith, shook their hands and sent them on their way. It was a little naughty, because it distracted me for about a half-hour from my books.

Walking back to the dining room table, where I have stacks of books and ever-growing heaps of spent scrap paper, I thought about Elder Bowen, who told be he would return to Wyoming after his journey and study mechanical engineering. I told him to learn how to write a good paper, because, as a grad student, a lot of the papers I marked written by engineers lacked a certain amount of communicative skill. (Yes, I'm being kind.) I told him to take a composition course, because he was exceptional at communicating verbally and should cultivate that on paper.

Walking back to the table, I thought, "Why didn't I tell him to get an elective in Comparative Religions?" I said the phrase in my head: "Take a great course in Hinduism, or pagan religions, or pilgrimage!"

Pilgrimage. Damn. Why didn't I ever think of Mormon missionary journeys as a pilgrimage? A pilgrimage where a specific destination wasn't specified? That could have been a killer chapter in my Master's thesis.

Finding new facets of my thesis has happened many times in the last 6 years. I suppose we never stop learning. Thinking of all there is to learn out there, I have moments of, "Oh, darn, why didn't I pursue my PhD?" But then I tell myself that I would be studying a much narrower field of knowledge. I would have only been comparing, say, Graceland to Medjugorje, or graveyard pilgrimages to Ephesus, and maybe not been comparing broad selections of pilgrimages (and Pilgrimages) with broad theories of those journeys.

AND: I'd probably still be just as jobless.

Right. Back to the books. This was a nice distraction. I'll let you know how the GRE goes.

PS: I'm pretty proud that I didn't mention The Book of Mormon, which I desperately want to see, or this.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

As If I Have Moths.

Feeling the first chills of the season, I got into my boxes of sweaters that I have recently moved back from Ontario. They were all crushed and musty, so I put them all through the wash. It was only then that I found that three of them had been eaten by moths.

Moths were a problem I had up in Toronto. They absolutely destroyed a winter coat of mine, and, like an idiot, I ignored the blonde flies that were on the wall of my Toronto room. They didn't bite and they weren't drawn to the light in my computer, so I ignored them.

Now, back on PEI with holey sweaters, when I saw those same gd flies again and finally cottoned on to the fact that these phenomena may be connected.

Late on Sunday night, I thought, "Oh. I have a box of yarn in my closet. One hundred per cent wool yarn." I flipped over a small nylon bag holding knitting notions, and yes, I saw cocoon tunnels, squirming larvae, and holey skeins of yarn.

I lost 2 skeins of an alpaca/wool blend for socks, another couple pure wool DK from MacAusland's for mitts, and about 6 hours of sleep.

I was pissed because I saw the flies and didn't make the connections, and that I waited so long to check. Also, the thought of flies procreating in my closet and letting their babies feed on my woolens sicked me right out. I'm POed about the waste of money (even though I tend to be a bit of a bargain hunter) and also POed about the loss of potential in the yarn.

Then I thought, "Oh, no!" I remembered my Turkish rug. My Turkish rug I bought in Turkey. It's a small thing, only a little floor mat, but it's hand-tied wool. It cost me quite a bit, although it took about an hour of haggling with two savvy Turks and about 3 tulip glasses of apple tea to get that price.  I went down first thing Monday and looked in the storage area. I opened the box and saw cocoons, droppings, and still live larvae.

On recommendation of the interwebs, I cooked the lot of it (well, not the sweaters - the damage was done on those) at 175 Fahrenheit for half an hour. It didn't smell as bad as I thought it would.

The squirmies stopped squirming, but now I have to brush over everything and see how chewed things are. For the yarn, it means checking for damage by balling skeins, re-balling balls; for the sweaters, it means some mending and a shabby chic winter [shudder]; and the rug may be a lost cause - I have to wait until the dry cleaners give me their prognosis. Still, worn rugs have a charm, right? Don't they gain the value the more worn they are? Can I extend "worn" to "threadbare" and profit? =sigh=

Friday, September 23, 2011

8/365.

It's been two months since Amy Winehouse died. I'm surprised by how my mourning isn't over. It catches me off guard and I slow... down... for a moment.

I won't say anything that hasn't been already said, but I think this may be the first celebrity death that has affected me so deeply. Michael Jackson came and went. I was fourteen years old and didn't understand how important Cobain was when he died. The only musician's death I might think of who would make me so profoundly sad is John Lennon, and I was a toddler.

I suppose I also don't have to re-iterate that there are much bigger problems in the world right now. I have some perspective, but I'm trying to wallow right now and it feels good; it's cathartic.



"Amy, Amy, Amy/Outro" is from Winehouse's first LP, Frank. It wasn't until her second album (where she embraced a great Motown sound), Back to Black, she really rose to fame, but all the signs of a mature jazz vocalist were there on Frank. That muted trumpet and the sexuality of this song is a perfect example of Winehouse's mix of old and new - the woman was unafraid of putting in simple terms how a man can turn on a woman.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

7/365.

My tenure as a resident of England happily coincided with the release of Travis' hit album The Man Who. It was one of the first albums I bought in the UK, and it is fantastic. It has four huge songs, including "Why Does It Always Rain On Me?"

I would wake up at 5am to get to work for 6am, and the top 40 radio would play its limited number of hits of the day. Happily, "Why Does It Always Rain On Me?" was at the top of the charts for some time and I got to hear it several times a week.



Catchy and sweet, "Why Does It Always Rain On Me?" reminds me of Coldplay in its mellow rockiness, probably owing to Fran Healy's clean vocals.

I hadn't seen the video before I looked it up to embed in this post. I'm sorry I hadn't. I have a real thing for men who wear kilts casually. I have to research Speech-Language Pathology programs in Scotland, clearly...

Friday, August 26, 2011

JCrew In Canada.

So, with the opening of the first Canadian JCrew store, JCrew launched a Canadian site, and, much to my glee, a flat $9.95 shipping rate. That's pretty sweet.

Much to my chagrin, there was a hike in prices. In some cases, a huge hike. Like, for example, a skirt that was $118 on the US site was $144 (USD) on the Canadian site.

Because of the backlash, uproar, furor, etc., JCrew has backtracked and dropped the "duty" part of the pricing, but they're still as much as 15% higher than the US site. Not as bad, I guess, especially combined with the shipping rate. 

#firstworldproblems

Sunday, August 07, 2011

6/356.

Oh, John Legend. Do it again and again.

John Legend has a knack for going 180° from one track to another. One song can be the sweetest love song and the next a filthy philanderer's exhortation. Actually, I should say the songs swing 120°, because they can easily swing from love to filth to lofty gospel. 

I had a hard time choosing a song. I might have to revisit Mr. Legend at a later date. 

This song is a choice from the killer album Legend recorded with the Roots Crew. It's a long track, but put it on in the background and let it play. This is a cover of a Bill Withers track. I am, almost universally, disappointed by covers, but I think this song benefits from the unparalleled backing band and Legend's vocals (not to disparage Withers').

 "I Can't Write Left Handed"


I also have to throw a shout-out to randy Yenni, my long lost roommate, who introduced me to the man('s music).

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Making It Up As I Go.

As if I weren't thoroughly ensconced in Nerd Culture, this past winter, I decided to educate myself as to the ways of the last living Timelord.

I am now all caught up on the new series of Doctor Who, and am in that excruciating break before this season resumes in September.*

Please start watching it. I will watch it with you!

I'll serve popcorn! And tea! And fish fingers and custard!

I won't go too far into this fantastic show, but I will say I ran around for hours trying to figure out how to procure a discontinued colour of nail polish that the most recent companion wore in an episode this season. At least I wasn't alone. (I found a dusty bottle in a Mongolian manicure salon in Toronto.) The stories find their ways into my everyday, an experience not new to most nerdy nerlingers.

(Thank you, Whatyawant for the pic - nice work!)

*Correction: it starts up again August 27th, at least on BBC America.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

5/365.

High quality. Clever. Geeky. Beardy.

Jonathan Coulton.

Coulton was the man who quit his soul-sucking code monkey job (while his wife was pregnant with their first child, might I add) and challenged himself to write, record, and release a song a week for 52 weeks. He succeeded, and called the 4-album compilation "Thing a Week." Some songs are hittier than missier but the good ones are oh so good.

He leans on geek culture, from video games to zombies, and from robot wars to bacteria. On top of that subject matter, he's a fantastic writer who uses clever lyrics and complex (certainly complex for pop, anyway,) music, backed up with his ex-Whiffenpoof pipes.

He writes his silly songs, but also writes sweet songs about his family and, in the case of today's choice, the dark realities of life in the suburbs.



I've seen Coulton play live twice now, and I hope to see him again soon. He usually tours with Paul and Storm, a nerdy and talented duo with killer harmonies. If you get a chance, drop the ca. $30 in order to see a wall of nerds singing along to the theme song of the first Portal, of course, penned by Coulton.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sad Days.

I reeled for a moment when I heard that Amy Winehouse had died. It took my breath away. I can't say I'm surprised; I did fear this would happen. A lot of us did. (And to be fair, it's early yet - I haven't heard if this was drug- or mental health-related. It may not have been.)

This is a day after the nightmare stories started pouring in from Norway. I spent quite a bit of time this morning reading about that terror, my over-developed empathetic instinct making me well up time and time again.

I got home, sad on top of sad (on my sister's birthday, no less) and my brother-in-law cited someone on Facebook, saying, "a day after massacres in Norway, all everyone's talking about is Amy Winehouse," and the like. Schnarr, schnarr.

This is a bullshit, hater thing to say. Making someone feel guilty over their grief is a horrible thing to do. Grief is not rational - it's a natural reaction to a personal loss. Because I feel sad because a huge musical talent is dead doesn't make it less sad that a madman went on a spree in Scandinavia.

Maybe it's an apples and oranges situation, or maybe it's simply not. I don't want to think about it right now.

Friday, July 22, 2011

4/365.

I don't care. I like it.

Ke$ha (and yes, I hate writing her GD name that way) may be a vapid club tramp, but damn, she has put out some catchy music in the last couple of years. Plus, using Van der Beek as a prop in a video is always killer in my books.

I kinda liked "Tik Tok" because of that catchiness, but it was because of this kick-ass ASL interpretation that I really fell hard.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Anachronism Submissions?

I recently completed a long solo road trip and at the top of every hour I would pause my ipod to listen to the CBC news on Radio One. Hour by hour, I got the updates on the whole phone-hacking debacle in the UK. When I heard that News of the World was shut, I uttered a little, "woah," to myself.

Ruminating on the closure made me think of the Beatles, of course. If you remember back to Abbey Road and the wicked side-B medley of shorter songs, "Polythene Pam" is an up-tempo song about a kinky girl in kinky garb. "She's the kind of a girl that makes the News of the World," John tells us. Not anymore, Pam - you'll have to settle for being a Sunshine Girl.

It also made me think of another Beatles' lyric rendered outdated by, well, the passage of time. "Back in the USSR" is riddled with anachronisms now. No, people still play balalaikas, but Ukraine and Georgia are now independent countries, and, of course, the USSR is no more, no thanks to Ukraine and Georgia... Pfft!

Can we think of anymore? Other than references to names like Messrs Wilson and Heath and so on?

At least "Her Majesty" is still current!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

3/365.

My best memories of Adele are lying lazily on the floor of my good friend T's family summer cottage on a lake in Ontario while the album 19 plays. This year, her aptly-titled 21 was released and it continues to awe me. She said in interviews that the American South inspired a lot of arrangements on this newest album, and today's choice for 3/365 is a great example of what she does with that influence.


"Rumour Has It" has so much going for it: powerful, dead-on vocals that navigate intricate intervals; hand claps with a brutal drum beat; dense, harmonized backup singers; and an out-of-nowhere haunting bridge, complete with "we're not worthy" acrobatics. (Every time I hear the bridge, I'm still not sure that I like it because of the incongruous loss of that driving beat, but when it connects back to the song with cascading piano and a capella backup vocals, I'm back on board.)

Listen to Adele and you'll thank me.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

2/365.

I suspect songs that I will discuss in this series will be intimately attached to my ukulele. I played Joel Plaskett's "Through and Through and Through" with a friend at my uke jam last summer, and it was a highlight of my time with the group.

This song plays like a stripped-down rocker. An almost-acoustic version of a much shreddier song.



The line, "You're a wrecking ball in a summer dress" is genius, genius, genius. We all want to write lyrics like that. Plaskett has an amazing ability to elicit breathless "oh, my!" moments from his lyrics, and instils a healthy dose of playfulness.

I also love Plaskett's use of his backup singers. These ladies are headliners in their own rights, and you can hear in their voices that they match Plaskett very well - that is, they don't sound like all the other singers out there. I love that he uses these ladies a lot on this entire triple album, and a lot of the time, they sing in unison, a very unique choice for two female backup artists.

A friend once suggested that Plaskett doesn't have a very good singing voice. She said it sounded like he was straining to sing higher than he should. I think that's just the quality of his voice. He's got amazing tonality, or whatever is the proper terminology for one who is able to sing in tune. Even the sweetest songs sorta sound like screamin' rockers; "Natural Disaster," for example.

Friday, July 15, 2011

1/365.

Shall I introduce a series? Sure.

I want to discuss music. Songs. Mostly pop, probably.

My sister says she doesn't really listen to music, and when she does, she sticks to the 80s. I rarely stop listening to music. (I must admit that my music listening has dropped drastically since moving to PEI from Toronto. In TO, I could easily spend 2-3 hours a day walking or on transit with time and ear-holes to fill, but on PEI one rarely walks for anything but exercise, unless you live downtown.)

Anyhow, I just think there's too much good music to stop listening. I'm not bloodthirsty for new music. I'm happy to hear the same old gems over and over.

Hence my choice for 1/365: "Wings of a Dove" by Madness, parenthetically titled (A Celebratory Song). How can you go wrong with a parenthetical title like that?


"Look up at the rooftops, when you're walking 'round/Don't think for a moment of looking down," while steel pans pling away? Choirs? Yes, please.

Why can't more bands today use steel pans?

Madness was a killer band that found success in the early 80s. They had a lot of personnel, a lot of back-beats and brass. I love their extreme musicality which can be almost forgotten behind their flippin' cheeriness. I encourage you to explore their catalogue. You will recognize at least two of their big hits: Our House, and One Step Beyond.

In my fantasy ukulele orchestra, we come up with a wicked arrangement of Wings of a Dove to shock the pants off our stadiums full of fans.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Spinning A Yarn.

My mother, with whom I once again live, told me I wasn't allowed to go to MacAusland's Woolen Mill in Bloomfield, PEI, because every time I go I bring back $60 worth of yarn and barely get through a quarter of it.

Now, to be fair, that is 100% true. I have enough MacAusland's DK in a gorgeous heathered purple to do a sweater and the skeins aren't even balled off yet.

Unfortunately, my mother may poop her pants when she sees the dimensions of the box of yarn I'm going to be getting out of storage next week. It has about 10 skeins of MacAusland's DK, about a dozen factory-made regular worsted, a couple of skeins of sock yarn (a weight which is both embarrassingly and tantalizingly called "fingering"), and lots of beautiful samples that I inherited from a professional knitter friend. The box is about 3'x2'x2' and heavy, and I'm in deep trouble.

It is enough yarn to do about 20 pairs of mitts and 3 sets of knit dolls of every character in The Sound the Music. Including Rolf and the Mother Superior.

Happily, I can throw her small bunker of quilting cotton back in her face if she gets too tsk-y.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sleeping Under The Stars.

I pick Ryan Reynolds.

Har har. No, really.

Through a long and somewhat boring series of events, I find myself sleeping on a futon in our sunroom, which used to be our storage room.

I don't have a door, but I don't really care. I have the option to move into a now-empty room, but we started using it for storing packed boxes and sorting out yet-to-be-packed ones, and besides, I really don't care. I've been living from pillar to post for almost a year now, so what's another two weeks?

It's not much of a sacrifice, really. The best part is that three walls of my room are windows facing East, South, and West, and I'm at eye level with a beautiful 4-story maple.

I open opposite windows and at night the most delicious crisp spring breeze blows through. I love listening to the rain and watching the lightning. I feel like I'm camping, but without all the bullshit that goes with camping!

I know now, as I slowly design my own straw bale home in my head, that I'd love to have windows all 'round in my bedroom. It's terrible, thermally, but if I'm careful about size and placement, I could enjoy North Shore breezes all the time in my sustainable home! (In my South-facing windows, of course!)

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Affixation.

Cards on the table: I like stamps. I don't collect them or anything, but I like the design of stamps. The Canadian stamp museum can be found within the walls of the National Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, and that is where I spend the bulk of my time when I visit that institution.

I've been working a few hours a week at a friend's accounting business (she does peoples' taxes - it's a busy time of year) and one of my favourite duties is buying stamps. Because we send out a lot of differently-weighted parcels, I need lots of small-denomination stamps. Happily, Canada Post has a fantastic line of low-value stamps called "Beneficial Insects." It features beautiful insects with multi-penny denominations, the values of which are listed with a stylish overhang the edge of the stamp.

There is also a line of stamps (which borders on saccharine) which features baby animals. It bothers me a little that the animals are not named on the individual stamps, let alone given a genus species, but forget it! Look! Baby geese! Awww!

Here are some other of my favourites: a commemoration of the Terra Nova National Park's centennial (my grandfather worked there!), the homemade beauty and simplicity of Mary Pratt's photorealism (right), and this real stunner from this year (above).

I give this praise so I can chastise, too.

Canada Post came out with commemorative stamp for the recent royal wedding, and, I'm sorry, Canada Post, but it is a true fail. It is a failure to do something really interesting. Something stylish and innovative. A beautiful line drawing, or an abstract, or something that relates back to Canada. Nope. It's a cut-and-paste, phoned-in effort, with two press-release photos of the engagement announcement. Perhaps they didn't have enough time to commission something good. Perhaps they blew their design budget on some beautiful portraits last year. (I know, that should be in the praise section of this rant, shouldn't it?)

Maybe they just shouldn't have commemorated this event at all if they couldn't put their backs into it. I suppose there's some precedent: look at the lacklustre celebration of the Girl Guides' centennial and the marginally better Scouts' 100.

Either way, this maybe this isn't the best platform to send along this disappointment for a missed opportunity, but there 'tis.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

It Takes Time To Build.

I figured I should let folks know that I went oh-for-three on grad school applications this year. I finally got the rejection letter from Dalhousie last week. The letter from U of Toronto came two weeks earlier, and the email (!) from McGill came earlier - in March.

Of course, I'm disappointed. I really want to start this part of my life, so now I have to wait until I'm 34 to get into this program - if I get in at all. I regret not thinking of Speech-Language Pathology earlier, like when I was in undergrad. In the 1990s. Christ.

So, I am really not interested in living and schooling in America, but they have a lot of programs and I've been told it's not as competitive (my rejection letter from U of T told me they had over 340 applicants for 45 seats). I'm also looking into New Zealand and the UK. I've been told that Canada has good reciprocity with Oz, NZ, and the UK for schooling and working across borders. I'd prefer to go to NZ or the UK over America - any day, and all will probably put me sufficiently in debt, but it'd be worth it.

Now that I've focused on something, I just want it to start. It's frustrating that I can't just start doing something I know I could do well.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Finally. Something To Celebrate.

So, after a couple of long weeks (rejection from U of T, putting in 2 mos. notice on shelter in Toronto, screwing the pooch to the max on my stats final), M and my new Irish roommate, R, and I are going to take in Caplansky's community Passover Seder tonight. I'm pretty stoked because I know very little about the practice of Judaism.

The owner of Caplansky's, Zane Caplansky, wanted to host a community Seder not just for Jews who were away from their families, but anyone in the community who wanted to join in. (Listen to an interview here.) He says it'll be a little bit truncated from a regular family Seder, which sounds good to me, because from what I hear, they can become epic events.

M and I are big fans of Caplansky's deli. We like to integrate it into our catch-up sessions every couple of weeks. We're especially fond of the staple medium-fat smoked-meat sandwiches, M enjoys the latkes, and we're both truly devoted to the sour cherry pies that Zane gets from Wanda's Pie in the Sky shop in Kensington Market. Once, when the deli had run out, the blessed man went out to get one so we could enjoy our slices.

Although we enjoy our sammies, I will, once in a while, stray to other parts of the menu. I had a nice BBQ brisket sammy once, and another time, some smoked meat hash. I've had their matzoh ball soup more than once, but I've yet to partake in some pea soup. Apparently the fries are very good there, too.

I feel that since it looks like leaving TO is imminent, I want to get to Caplansky's every week and try lots of stuff off their menu. Like, for example, the Leaning Tower of Caplansky, or their liver and onions, or trout. They've recently rebooted their menu, so I want to explore while I can. It's an essential part of my Toronto experience.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Deep Breaths.

I just saw on Twitter (yeah, I'm on Twitter - deal) that flippin' Stephen Fry is in flippin' Toronto!

I have to think about what I'd say to him if we shared an elevator.

Shall I lead with, "You're the sole sitting member of the Gay Council on my Husband List!"?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Stick 'Em Up.

Hm. I like a good heist farce. This might be interesting.



I like Keanu. I think he's better than people give him credit for. He just has a very distinctive style.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Excerpt.

This is a paragraph from the psychology paper I'm working on. I know, it's a little reflexive, but eff it. It was too good to turn down.

"I did not control for equal gender balance. Although the instructions for the testing did not dictate gender requirements, I would have liked to have had more balance, especially in the younger age bracket. It only brought into sharp focus what I already knew: I do not know enough young men with whom I would like to spend time alone in a quiet room."

Friday, March 25, 2011

21st-Century Stalker.

I've been listening to Craig Ferguson's autobiography on audiobook. Himself is the reader, and it's great to hear it in his accent.

In the chapter about his first experience in America when he was about 15 years old, in passing, he mentioned that the visit pre-dated the internet, so the world was much bigger and he felt like he might as well have been going to the moon. America was a truly exotic place.

I have a stack of travel books. Brazil, Spain, Ireland... Why do I buy them? Maybe it's something tangible to hold on to - like I get to touch a place I've never been and may never go. Why do I buy these books at all? I can spend time on the internet and learn all I want to know about these places. And now, instead of schlepping them with me on my journeys, I could buy an e-reader and load them into it - from the internet. Still, instead of watching videos and reading endless travelogues from Random Q. Public's blog, wouldn't it be better if I picked up some tips from a book and went and experienced the place for myself?

Last night, I thought in passing, "I wonder if the house that Craig grew up in is on Google Streetview?" He told us the exact address in the gloomy Glasgow satellite town of Cumbernauld, and even described it: third-last row-house on the street.

There it was, the address clearly marked next to the front door. It really didn't look all that bad, but Streetview did have the good sense to visit on a sunny day.

Looking at that home (that looked like scores and scores of others in the town), I felt slightly creepy, like a weird decades-off voyeur. I felt like I shouldn't be able to look at it so casually. I found myself thinking about the family of six who lived there in the 1960s and 70s. He told us about playing in the attic with his siblings, so I found my gaze drifting to the roof of the house. I pictured the scene that went on when he was dropped off by the local police chief after he was found bloodied and bruised in a ditch having blacked out after his first drinking experience. He told us about the screaming match his mother had with the mother of the other boy with whom he had gotten drunk, much to the entertainment of the neighbourhood, and there it was! I could see the neighbourhood!

It made the autobiography less of a story and much more non-fiction, which, of course, it already was.

When I was a girl, if I had a crush on a boy, I would look up his phone number in the directory. That's all I really could do. I couldn't "friend" him on FB, or Google him*, or stalk him via Streetview. What did I do with my time? I read and drew and teased my sister.

I've been thinking about the internet lately, and my dependence on it. I've emailed passwords and PIN codes to myself. I don't write down phone numbers and addresses anymore, because Google has them for me. I take whole university courses via the internet, and do all my banking on-line. I kinda don't like it, but what choice do I have? I can sure cut down on my time on-line. I think what I'll try to institute is a "no screens before bed" goal, where I'll read in bed like I used to.

Well, this post went off the rails a little... Here: I'll bring it back.



*Although really, what kind of web presence is an 12-year old going to have? Did he study SEO?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Jesus. Can I Catch A Break?

I did really crap on a physiology test yesterday. The physiol. tests are nightmarish - 30 minutes to do 20 multiple choice questions which are carefully written to boggle the mind and be absolutely as similar as possible.

How would a hypophysectomized rat's blood plasma concentrations be affected?
a) increase in T3, increase in T4, and increase in TRH
b) decrease in T3, increase in T4, and TRH stay the same
c) increase in T3, decrease in T4, and TRH stay the same
d) increase in T3, increase in T4, and decrease in TRH
e) decrease in T3, decrease in T4, and TRH stay the same

Or something like this. (I really don't think this was a specific question - I really hope I don't get in trouble for printing it...)

Anyhow, once again in my stressed out, pants-browning state, I effed myself over. Wait to hear about this!

Can I please just start clean, go back a few days and take a big honkin' deep breath?

Pulse racing, blood pressure spiking, I was tearing through my on-line test yesterday and I saw the timer nearing 20 minutes, so I submitted the test. I submitted it!

At 20 minutes!!!

I have 30! Effing 30 minutes to complete and submit it!

I just realized this now, a full 24 hours after I wrote the GD test.

I got an effing 55% on the GD test, and that when when I only used 2/3 of my allotted time. I could have brought that up by another 20% if I'd gone back over my notes and double checked my work, but I didn't think I had time to.

I really want to go have a good cry right now. How can I continue to be so careless and stupid when I'm just trying to do my best?

I've clearly spread myself too thin. I think I have to tell the TDSB that I can only volunteer once a week. Two whole mornings a week while I'm taking 4 courses is killing me.

That's right - I'm blaming the kids. Well, no... I'm blaming myself for taking on too many kids. I can't juggle all that's coming at me.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

You Spin Me Round.

I'm going to take a moment of your time to talk about revolving doors.

If, 130 years ago, Herr Bockhacker of Berlin had the epiphany to invent a draftless door because it was a good sense to keep the out-of-doors isolated from the indoors, why is this not a common goal for us today, the more modern (and not just money-conscious but also) energy-conscious citizens of the world?

After the tragedy at the Cocoanut Grove in 1942, planners were far more conscious about not just energy savings, but also emergency traffic flow, so now, in most places, it is illegal to not pair revolving doors with a requisite number of regularly-hinged doors as well. This offers most patrons a choice.

Choosing the revolving doors maintains what is basically an airlock. Just as an airlock in a submarine or a shuttle bay, it travails to keep two atmospheres apart. In the winter, it keeps in the warm, and in the summer, it keeps in the cool. It's the same reason you wouldn't leave a window open when you're cranking the heat or AC in your own home.

Also, you might notice that sometimes when you use a regular hinged door, it's difficult to pull it open or it might be slow to close on its own - this is because the two atmospheres are fighting with one another to equalize two pressures through that breach. Once the door closes again, the building's environmental controls have to redouble their efforts to reclaim the balance they once had. (Want more? Read about chimney effect, which can be designed into sustainable houses as a low-tech cooling device.)

The upshot is: if you have a choice between a regular door and a revolving door, please always choose the spinny route.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Friday, February 18, 2011

Found Money.

Springtime is a strange and subtle time in the Sweet clan. It's the time of year my father would go on walks. This might not sound so strange, but my father's not much of a walker. He's a jogger. My father would go for walks in the springtime, because springtime was when the snowbanks melted and the pennies appeared after months of being entombed in ice. Beer bottles also appeared in ditches.

Even here in Toronto, where we're enjoying a little bit of a thaw, I've picked up 11 cents in the last couple of days.

The downside to all this is the actual most common material to be revealed by melting snowbanks: dog shit. Tonnes of it! Lazy asshole dog owners! Don't you know that's where my pennies belong?

I love the thrill of finding money. I recently used the contents of a piggy bank to buy a Hawaiian ukulele, so I know a thing or two about spare change adding up!

I hope to never be burdened with making the choice involved with finding a lot of money - like over fifty bucks - something that might have been bound for someone's rent or something.

I've twice hit the mother lode, and neither were in Canadian currency! Neither time was in the winter, either. Two years ago, the union of sanitation workers in Toronto went on strike and my neighbourhood (like everyone's neighbourhood in Toronto the Good) was piled high with litter, tumbling up and down the main streets and collecting near drains. I was walking through my corner of the city and saw a crumpled American $20 bill! (I know, the exchange these days makes this less impressive than it used to...) Its colours blended in with all the other mute-coloured rubbish! And I was just about to go to Chicago for a friend's wedding! Yee-haw, garbage strike! Totally worth it!*

About 10 years ago, when I was working in a cinema in Kent, England, I was going through the many-times daily task of cleaning out a theatre after a screening and under a seat I found a £20 note! Say whaaaaat!!! At the time, that was almost worth a bag of fifty bright shiny loonies! I asked one of my co-workers what I should do with it, and he answered, "put it in your sock." I did.

So, while I don't expect to find foldin' money every time I cast my gaze to the ground, hope springs eternal. And I'm po'.

As for returnable bottles, I don't quite take after my father as virulently. My mother did ask me this fall why there was a huge empty bottle of cheap whiskey in the back of her minivan, and I told her I found it in the UPEI parking lot by the dorms and just couldn't leave it. 50 cents, whole, in my pocket, or a nuisance, shattered, by the KCI - easy choice. This was one of the times my mother shook her head and said, "You are so much like your father." See?

*No it wasn't. It was gross.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

How [R] You?

In my Statistics for Linguistics class, I have to learn how to use a new computer program called [R]. It's not terribly intuitive and I was having a hard time with my first homework assignment, so, in an attempt to seem proactive, I went to my professor's first office hour to ask for her help. I left feeling distinctly unhelped and humiliated. It was not a great first impression, not only for her, but probably also for me.

Anyhow, I struggled though and even though I didn't do it all properly, I flubbed my way through the first homework and handed it in.

Last week, my professor was ill so the TA taught the class: the whole class was a primer on the program! Dreamy! Well, I feel so much better about it now. I don't know if the prof intended to spend that whole time going over [R], but I really liked how the TA taught us. He showed us how he uses [R] and helped us through where the guide was particularly opaque. I feel much better about it now.

Fun fact*: When I saw the title of the required text (see link above), I got all excited that our class was going to be so specific to our dialect of English that the book had to include the rhotic /r/ in its title.

*Wait... not "fun." Disappointing... that's the word. Oh! And nerdy. Disappointing and nerdy.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Recurring Nightmare.

Get ready to share my terror.

One of my classes is online through Athabasca. For the tests, we have an hour-and-a-half to do 25 multiple choice questions and two essay questions. Good timing, actually - I budget about half an hour on each essay. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

No. I make it difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

Because I'm afraid of submitting an unfinished answer by mistake, I write the essay questions out in Word and then cut-and-paste them into the Athabasca fields. Last weekend, with 8 minutes left on the clock, I highlighted the text and instead of cutting, I hit paste by mistake, replacing what I had just written with the first essay I wrote. I scrambled together a taciturn essay which was less my style and more what you'd hear out of a Speak & Spell.

Last night I sat down to write another test, and with 7 (!) minutes on the clock this time, I did the same bleedin' thing!!! I crapped out another replacement essay, but unlike the last one that just had facts and no style, this one was simply shitty. I submitted it with a note for the TA, explaining what happened, although I suspect that since it happened twice in one week, he might think something is fishy. I would. (Damn on-line courses!)

Anyhow, this morning, in the light of day, I didn't think of something: why didn't I just hit the undo button? I was writing in Word, for Pete's sake! Word is a cozy little nest for me - I've been using it quite deftly for over a decade. Why the hell didn't I think about the undo button? I suspect it was the blood pressure spike, me being unable to see through the wordcloud of expletives I created, or the fraction-of-a-second panic attack I had.

Sigh.

I wrote this whole thing in the Blogger field.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Back In The 416.

So long, 902.

Bah on moving in the winter.

Bah on me having secreted my towels in the deepest, darkest box in our storage room.

Bah on cat hair.

Hurrah hurrah on seeing good friends again.

Hurrah hurrah on T coming to fetch me at Pearson in stupid weather.

Hurrah hurrah on Caplansky's!