Saturday, November 25, 2006

R.I.P nablopomo

Boo me. After coming so close!

You see, I did this thing last Wednesday, where I put my credit card in a place other than my easily-accessible wallet (in the name of the holiday shopping budget). Immediately after doing so I gave myself a congratulatory pat on the back - good work you, way to stick to your budget. Then Thursday night came along. Specifically Thursday around 6pm, where I had to check into a hotel. With no credit card in my bag. fuuuuuuuuuuuck. Luckily, the woman I was checking in next to (my prospective employer, the reason I was at the hotel in the first place) heard my sad story and offered up her card. And wouldn't take no for an answer. It was nice of her, but fuck. Talk about embarassing.

Anyway, there I am at this lovely, posh hotel (rhymes with "Bing Beddie", Torontonians), sans credit card. The event rooms I worked in for the next two days didn't have internet access (long story, complicated, boring). My room had internet access...if you had a credit card. The business centre at the hotel had computers and internet access...if you had a credit card (why not just the room card? Because they suck.). I seriously would have just bent over and paid them the $12.95 PER USE fee if I'd had it, and I'm very sad that I wasn't able to finish the month.

Will keep my fingers crossed for the rest of you keeners. For now, I have less than 12 hours not only to figure out what I'm wearing to a wedding tomorrow afternoon in Cambridge - but to learn the five songs I'm supposed to be singing there. doh.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


A while ago, my pal roro had a wonderful post about presents. Specifically, the first present you remember making or giving your parents.

I've agonized for days, now. Surely, at some point in my youth I gave my parents SOMETHING that I specifically intended to be a present, something that I wasn't told was a present to begin with (ie. today we're making flowers to give to your mom).

It doesn't help that my parents had a hippyish attitude to so-called "material things". My brother and I had a lot of crayons and dress-up clothes and lego, and a few dinky toys and random no-name Barbie's inherited from cousins and aunties. (PS, the blog that barbie pic came from is a must see - top marks for creepy doll obsession in another language, whoever you are!)

ANYWAY, my parents not only discouraged violent/war/weaponry toys, they discouraged gift giving in general. Not that we didn't get presents, because that is certainly not the case. They just didn't go crazy - it was a quality not quantity sort of scenario, which I think makes a lot of sense.

Only problem is, when you're 6, your idea of a "quality" gift can I've mentioned before, but to recap, my family didn't do christmas or birthday's until I was 14 or so. Yeah, I know, seems weird - but trust me, when you grow up with it you really don't know anything different. All this to say that gift giving was usually a pretty random event - for the adults, at least. Kids tended to get stuff at the beginning and end of the school year, that sort of thing.

I remember my brother and I being obsessed with the idea of surprises. Ideally a treasure hunt with a surprise at the end of it. I have NO IDEA where this obsession came from. I remember spending the better part of the afternoon creating a trail of notes for my dad's arrival - and this was PRE post-it notes, people. I think we tried to get tape from mom, who was a willing conspirator, and used a combination of that and sheer five-year-old ingenuity to stick the notes where we thought they should go.

For example - The first note, on the front door, read "go to the living room". The one in the living room read "go to the kitchen". One in the kitchen read "go to the basement". The clues would frequently intersect, so if you were en route to the kitchen, you had to ignore the clue in the hallway that came later in the game. You get the idea. At the end, the "treasure hunt" would usually lead to my brother and I, hiding somewhere (linen closet, under the blankets on my parents bed, in a giant cardboard box), where we would of course attack our parents/finders with hugs and kisses and much laughing.

Seriously, all you parents out there - this is a great trick. My mom could get us to be in our "hiding place" for HOURS before Dad actually arrived. And in retrospect, how hilarious must it have been for my mom and dad? The two of them must have done some serious gut-busting behind our backs.

There you go, roro - not quite a present, but definitely my earliest recollection of a gift!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

me, i want a hula hoop

How did I forget about the Chipmunk's song, people? HOW?!

Finding lots of real musical gems, as co-workers bring in their fave holiday cd's to add to the partay playlist. I should have thought of this scheme YEARS ago. I am going to have *the* comprehensive holiday music collection, and all for very little effort, really. Awesome.

Some other must-hears, if you haven't already:

Lou Rawls - Christmas Is
Bob Marley & Wailers - Sound The Trumpet
Harry Connick Jr. - Christmas Waltz & This Christmas
Take 6 - Go Tell It On the Mountain
Martin Sexton - I'll Be Home For Christmas
Sarah McLachlan - What Child Is This
Mariah Carey - All I Want for Christmas is You
BNL/Sarah McLachlan - GRYMG/We 3 Kings (this one's for you Kate!)
The Weepies - All That I Want

Wouldn't it be great if I could make a living selling mix tapes? sigh. This office party assignment is definitely dangerous - I'm going to be sick of these songs WAY before the 25th actually rolls around.

Monday, November 20, 2006

one card

Alright, check this out - remember my post a few days ago about scary corporate America, and the singing Bank of America hoser video?

Apparently Universal Music Publishing Group is suing for copyright infringement (NYT article). Hmmm. I agree that the song is appalling, but to sue for copyright infringement? It's not like the guy was performing to a sold-out stadium, or has in any way made money from this. Neither has he in any way made the original artist look bad or lose money. Yet another example of how effed contemporary copyright laws are.

ANYWAY, the video is still right up there with the Star Wars Kid, in my opinion. Here's a money quote from the NYT article:

Mr. Chandler also denied any involvement in leaking the video, although he admitted that, despite the cutting online criticism, the incident had an upside. “A lot of people thought it was fake, but I really do sing,” he said. “I’ve been doing this a long time.”

I guess we shouldn't be surprised at further confirmation of his delusion.

Check out also, WFMU's comparison of the two sets of lyrics. (Yup - they're just as bad as you thought the first time you listened.)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

holiday toonage

So, there's a crazy lady in my office. You know the one - she makes us sing happy birthday, organizes a 'fridge cleanout' team the friday before every long weekend, dresses like she's in that movie with Melanie Griffith where she pretends to be a big office lady, tsks every time someone swears, never quite got the hang of technology - I suspect there's one in every office.

ANYWAY, she's decided to "put a team together" to organize our office holiday party. Side note - I organized the office party last year. By myself. It probably took an hour of my time, all told (room booked at local pub - check, drink tickets ready to pass out - check, pass out secret santa assignments - check, spend the rest of the budget on food - check), but from what I hear, this year's "team" is meeting weekly - and discussing things like decorating schemes and theme drinks, all under the crazy lady's supervision.

Luckily because I organized last year, I escaped being coerced into this year's planning spree. But I didn't escape entirely unscathed - I am apparently responsible for providing the festive music for this occasion.

Now, of all the jobs I COULD have recieved, I don't really mind this one. I do love me a good mix tape, as you all know, and this is really just an expanded version of this. But then I started to worry a bit. I didn't grow up celebrating xmas - what if I miss some key songs, and I ruin the party for everyone?!

So I've decided to open it up to you guys - what are the must-haves on this playlist? Any little-known classics that I should know about?
(Yes, if the crazy lady had her way, we would all dress like the carollers above, whom the internet tell me are a group of people called "Christmas Matters". It MATTERS, people! heh.)

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Busy day, kidlets. I sit on a board of directors for a local economic development org, and today we had a 9-5 board retreat, where lots of exciting things were accomplished. We're registered not-for-profit, but we aren't a registered charity (which means we can't issue tax-receipts), so our lives revolve around funding sources - which are ever-changing marks. "Easy" funding sources, such as private foundations, aren't an option because of the lack of charitable status. And we aren't eligible for charitable status, because economic development of a community can be said to benefit individual businesspersons, which isn't seen as charitable. Our programs include a series of job fairs, community forums on topical neighbourhood issues (zoning, construction projects, etc.), election candidate debates, storefront beautification, how-to sessions for new canadians, mural projects, arts/crafts fairs, etc. - so I suppose individual businesses are supported, but it's all for the betterment of the community at large. Argh! As a board, we've decided that financial sustainability is our main goal. We've been really fortunate up to now, finding renewable sources of funding, but that means a lot of our staff are only hired on a per-project basis, and when funding runs out, we lose major human assets. If we can find sustainable funding, we can hire people on a permanent basis, which would be exciting for many reasons. ANYWAY - we have come up with several extremely entrepreneurial projects that might have extremely interesting results. Projects where we are running a seperate, for-profit endeavour of some sort, where all the profit is directed back to the original program. I'm really excited about the model we've come up with - but holy CRAP I think I've somehow signed on for even MORE work.

As a result, it's a take-out ordering, movie-renting kinda night chez moi. There will be some knitting, there will be some watching of So You Think You Can Dance (dance dance), there will be some lazing around on the couch.

There will NOT be any chores or volunteer work or even phone-answering. It's been a hell of a week, and I am DONE.

Friday, November 17, 2006

the case of the twisted shower curtain

In response to this post on Keltie's blog:

Years ago, when I was young and foolish, I lived in an apartment building from hell in the annex (just before moving into the hippie flophouse with Roro - I was on a bad-housing streak). During my tenancy, my super decided to use my apartment as the "show" apartment, the unit he would bring prospective tenants to in hopes of wowing them with my spectacular furnishings (a piquant mixture of goodwill and ikea) and suckering them into signing a lease on the spot - WITHOUT MY PERMISSION. That's right, my habit being to go to work Monday through Friday, 8:30-5:30 or so, meant I was the perfect absentee tenant to use in his diabolical scheme.

Except it sort of back-fired on him.

You see, when you live alone, you pretty much know what to expect when you walk in the door of your apartment - you see your pyjamas on the corner of the couch and remember "oh yeah, that's where I flung them this morning in my mad dash to get to work on time", or the basket of laundry waiting to be folded at the foot of your bed, or the pen sitting on the top row of your keyboard keys, and these things are all comfortable and familiar friends, friends you EXPECT to see in your apartment because you invited them in.

But then one day I came home and went to the bathroom to wash the TTC off my hands, and my shower curtain was....wrong. It was pushed to one side and hanging outside of the tub, and for a minute there, I questioned my sanity. Did I forget? Did I break my lifelong habit of closing the shower curtain after showering so that it will dry and not get mildewy? Is it possible I didn't notice that this morning? And however unlikely (I ALWAYS close the curtain), the first time this happened, I convinced myself that I was crazy, that OBVIOUSLY it must have been me who did it. I lived alone - someone else would have had to be in my apartment, and that same someone would have had to touch my shower curtain. While I wasn't there. That's CRAZY TALK.

But strange things kept happening over the next week - the shower curtain was a regular victim, the door to my patio would be unlocked and sometimes open, my curtains would be opened/closed, lights left off would be on when I returned, papers left on my kitchen table were pushed aside into a pile. Finally, after returning home to find my BED MADE, I decided I wasn't crazy, that something very strange was going on, and I called the police. That's right, the police.

They took me seriously, thankfully, and sent over a pair of nice officers to talk to me about it. I walked them through my suspicions and showed them my "evidence". They told me that I should try to "booby trap" my apartment to find out for sure if someone was entering while I wasn't home - they showed me tricks like closing my bedroom and bathroom doors and wedging a tiny piece of paper in the door frame, so that if I came home and the pieces of paper were on the floor, I would know someone else had opened them. They told me that if my traps proved successful, to call them.

So, embarking upon what is retrospectively a hilarious scheme, I booby-trapped my apartment. I put the paper in the doors, I put shoes in the way so whoever walked through my entrance hall would have to kick them aside, I taped the bottom of my patio door so the tape would be broken by the next person to open it....and then I went to work and waited anxiously for 4:30, wishing I had Doctor Watson handy to keep me company, or at the very least that I was allowed to smoke a pipe at my desk.

I got home, and sure enough - every single one of my traps was sprung. I was totally furious by this time, because even though nothing was being taken, it had to be someone with a key, which was freaking me out. So I called my pals the police officers who told me something very interesting - the reason they had paid so much attention to my call was because the year before, the previous landlord in my building had been arrested for burglary because he was systematically stealing electronic equipment from tenants, entering their apartments while the tenants were not at work, and that older apartment buildings are always a problem, because the locks aren't changed frequently enough and there could be spare keys floating around the city. WHY DIDN'T THEY JUST TELL ME THAT TO BEGIN WITH?!?

(by request, the end of the story: the landlord was reprimanded by the police, and I called a locksmith - and gave notice)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

let it snow

Man, is it disgusting outside today or WHAT. The temperature itself I dont have an issue with -it's actually pretty balmy, all things considered. It's the rain that's making me crazy. Okay, to be completely 100% honest, it's the moving from an inside environment you've completely acclimated to, having spent most of the day fairly inactive in front of a computer, out to the nice fresh rainy environment, on to the stuffy hot disgusting subway and back into the fresh rainy outside and back onto the sweaty stinky hot no-seats streetcar and back into the wet outdoors and back in to your apartment which is hot because there is only one thermostat in your building (not in your apartment, natch) and the windows have been closed all day and AAAARRrRGH! I hate this weather! I don't know what to wear! I don't know what temperature to set the thermostat at! I don't know if it's worse leaving my windows open during the day (squirrels, robbers, wet), or coming home and literally stripping down to my gotch as soon as I step inside. I hate being hot and sweaty for no reason. I wish it would just get it over with and turn into winter, already.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

two things

1. Second Life

For some reason, I can't seem to escape references to Second Life lately, and Katr's post today has pushed me over the edge - not only because I'm a big fan of Case Camp, but because I think the entire idea is FASCINATING. (I know it's shallow, but the opportunity to have a 12" waist and STILL EAT CHEESE is one I can't pass up). I am now the proud owner (?) of a Second Life avatar and am deadly curious to see how this whole thing works. It still reeks of D&D-style gamery to me, which I was always too lazy to figure out, but I think the ability to be whatever you want to be is fascinating. I realize this is nothing new, that people have essentially been able to re-create themselves anonymously online for years, but don't you just love the idea of some really quiet, non-descript person having this raging, sexy, dramatic Second Life? And the thought of people who honest to god make a LIVING via this game/site? Holy. Anyway, stay tuned - so far my avatar is entirely boring and remarkably reflective of my real life (except the waist size)...but who knows what the future will bring (other than eye-fatigue from spending waaaaaay too much time looking at a computer screen).

2. Crazy Corporate America

Despite being deathly allergic to shellfish, I worked at Dead Lobster for a year or so while I was in University, and that experience, thank god, was my closest brush with the beast I like to call Crazy Corporate America. I still have nightmares of our managers trying to get us to wear Dead Lobster clothing during our off time (why not give one of these great Dead Lobster hats to your Dad for christmas? 5% off for Staff if you buy one today!), passing out pins for things like "best procedure follower" and calendars with pictures of Dead Lobster restaurants in different (American) cities, and generally proselytizing the seafood-themed "word" at any given opportunity. It was an all-or-nothing scenario - either you thought this was the best goddamn job you'd ever had, or you weren't Dead Lobster material. I have NEVER responded well to that sort of scenario - I was a very damn competent waitress (I think it's the ocd), I followed their rules, customers loved me (I think it's the boobs), and I couldn't understand why they wouldn't just leave me alone to do my job, collect my tips and LEAVE. Anyway, I eventually quit, leaving the memories of forced team bonding/brainwashing far behind...until this AMAZING video of a Bank of America employee BROUGHT IT ALL BACK. Sweet Jeebus, I would so love to hear what Bono has to say about the new lyrics. heh.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


The coolest thing I saw on the internets today:

I'm a big fan of BLDGBLOG, but this post is even cooler than the usual.

Sorry I don't have anything more exciting to say - I'm at work, in between the regular work day and our scheduled evening event, which starts in ten minutes. Ah, the glamorous life of a fundraiser in the cultural not-for-profit sector.

I would SO rather be at home.
this + this + this + this = bliss.

Monday, November 13, 2006


Alright, boring day here, folks - I'm feeling like a champion just because I spent the day at work, went to the gym and grocery store after work AND remembered to vote on the way home. Barely.

I wasn't on the voter list when I showed up, but I just had to show proof of my residence (I knew carrying around all those old pay stubs would come in handy one day) and I was handed my ballot.

Did anyone else have to use one of those mini screen things, where you're supposed to stick your pen and ballot into the box, but when you do, you can't see anything on the ballet? Man, I miss the good old days when there were full-on dividers between you and your voting neighbour.

No big plans for this week, so expect many more scintillating posts like this one. Between work events and knitting, this blog could change direction entirely. Speaking of knitting, wanna see what I'm working on? Well, you can't see it exactly because I don't have a picture of it yet, but this is what it's going to look like eventually. Except mine is alpaca and a beautiful shade of teal that will look perfect on my mom. Pretty, huh? The pattern is the most complicated I've ever done, and I've started giving myself a little whoop whoop (Arsenio-style) after every successfully completed row. Laundry, knitting (whoop) and Heroes - not a bad Monday night after all. As long as this doofus doesn't win the mayoral election, that is. Worst. Campaign. Evar. Fingers crossed, Torontonians! See you tomorrow.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


I was waiting for the Queen streetcar today when all of a sudden, a grey cargo van pulled up right in front of us waiting folk. It appeared out of nowhere, and pulled to a halt very suddenly. Suddenly enough to make me panic a bit, and flash back to a time when my brother and I had to walk home from school and used to hide in the ditch or the bushes alongside the road everytime one of these drove by (I blame Unsolved Mysteries - we saw an episode where the 80s version of that van, with the bubble window on the side, kidnapped some kids off the street, and it scarred us for life).

ANYWAY, the grey van pulls up and out of it spring three people - a dad, and two kids, boy and girl, both under 13 or so. Mom was sitting in the back seat, couldn't tell what she was doing, never got out of the van. The kids and the dad, though, were filling up the news boxes right beside the streetcar stop - Condo News, Auto News, Renter's Guide, that sort of stuff. They were a precision drill team - each kid was responsible for a couple different mags, dad too, and they all pitched in uncomplainingly, chit-chatting with each other all the while. And watching them brought back yet another memory, this time not one that involves cheezy 80s television.

My parents haven't always been as financially stable as they currently are. In fact, in my early childhood we didn't have much - us kids never wanted for anything, but there weren't a lot of frills, if you know what I mean. My mom didn't work full-time outside of the home until I was in grade four or so, and it wasn't until then that our familial bank balance started to look a little healthier. Until that time, my dad worked full-time painting houses, and they both did other odd-jobs to make ends meet as necessary. My dad delivered pizzas for a while, my mom had a series of part-time jobs on weekends or the occasional evening - office cleaning, a memorable stint as janitor at the local psych hospital, and of course, the job that the grey van reminded me of, the rural newspaper route.

Now, I was a little kid, so I don't have any really focused or clear timelines associated with this period. I think it must have been before either of us was in school full-time, because I remember going with mom (occasionally dad, on weekends) on the route in the middle of the day. My parents had a green Datsun at the time, with matching green faux fur on the seats in the inside that my brother and I loved.

The three of us would pile into the car, and off we would go. The first stop, an exciting brush with the newspaper factory where we picked up bundles of papers off the rollers and there were lots of burly men and smoke and machines. Now, to be fair, I don't remember actually doing any of the work here - I suspect we were mostly spectators, an easily-distracted audience with the attention span of, well, impatient hamsters.

So we'd get the papers in the car, and off we'd go, out into the country surrounding Thunder Bay. Once we got there, our job (and by our job, I mean mom's job) was to roll up the paper and stick it in the little yellow Chronicle Journal box at the end of the long country driveways. I remember my brother and I ostensibly "helping" by trying to roll the occasional newspaper, but I suspect we mostly fought with each other and made our mom crazy.

The moment we lived for on this trip was when the last paper had been delivered, and mom would stop at a country store to buy a Mars bar. The three of us would sit in the car (or outside the car if the weather was nice) and share the chocolate bar before heading home.

Pretty simple memory, really. But watching that family today made me realize how much I owe my parents. And its thanks to them that I have the security of knowing that you do what you have to do to make ends meet, and that honest work is never something to be sniffed at or looked down upon. My life is so much easier than theirs was back in those days, but I have no memories of them complaining about being tired, or not having the time to play with us or read to us or cuddle us. I'm sure their memories of that time period aren't as rose-coloured as mine, but I wouldn't exchange mine for anything. Not even a Mars bar.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

loving the nature...literally

I was on College Street for a while today, and I happened upon the strangest thing.

I was waiting for the westbound streetcar at College and Euclid, and I saw this young fellow approach on foot from the west. He looked entirely average - jeans, sweater, scarf, backpack, all of them and himself squeaky clean. And then I noticed what he was doing.

This dude was walking up to the trees planted along the sidewalk, and kissing them. Walking up to each one slowly, caressing its branches, staring up into its leaves, then putting both his hands on the trunk and kissing it. He did this to every tree eastbound as far as I could see - sadly, I wasn't close enough to notice if there was any tongue.

Friday, November 10, 2006

seriously, whose idea was this?

Okay, do you remember the movie "Galaxy Quest"? It's one of my all time favourites. Coles notes version - the cast of a Star Trek-esque show (Alan Rickman, Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Tony Shalhoub - if you haven't seen it you really have to rent it) are kidnapped by aliens because the aliens have seen the television show and think the actors are genuine intergalactic heroes and not just b-grade actors in a cheezy low budget sci fi cult show.

If you've seen it, you will understand why this article brought the movie to mind.

It's like hiring Julie Andrews to baby-sit because she did such a good job with the Von Trapp family. Or asking Keira Knightley if she can score you some crank because obviously as Domino she would know the seamy underworld like the back of her hand.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

my first drunken post!

Dudes, talk about just getting in under the wire! We had an event at work tonight, and I may have imbibed a tetch too little. I'm still at work, actually - if I don't throw something up on my blog in the next five minutes, I've totally missed the nablopomo deadline...and although I'm not really sure if this is legal in terms of the "spirit" of the competition, I saw this story earlier today and it made me laugh:

A Japanese bra company, in a bid to discourage Japanese from using plastic bags, unveiled a bra whose cup padding unfolds to become a handheld shopping bag.

I laughed, because, comparing the young lady in the photo and her bra-to-bag size ratio to myself, I would end up carrying around a fashionable hefty sack. Guess this is one innovation that's not for me!

Luckily, that's not the only "clever" idea this company has had. From the same article:

Lingerie maker Triumph has regularly designed bras aimed at drawing attention to
social issues and to raise its own profile. Last year it unveiled a bra that can be heated in a microwave so as to help save on indoor heating costs.

Can't wait to see what next year brings....I've always thought a bra that could teach me Spanish would come in handy.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

copyright battle - just in time for remembrance day!

Okay, I just read an article in online version of the Edmonton Journal that sort of makes my brainz spin.

The Edmonton chapter of Women In Black (and another local store, "Earth's General Store") are selling white poppies, with pins in the centre of the flowers that say 'peace'. I'm not sure how long they've been selling them, but judging from the article, this may be their second or so year - the white poppy originated in England in 1933, with the Women's Co-Operative Guild, many of whom had lost loved ones in WWI. The Guild and the Women In Black now, both deny that the white poppy is intended to supplant the traditional red poppy - they see it as a pro-active statement that could easily be worn in conjunction with the red poppy.

The Legion, on the other hand, is pulling one of my least favourite questionably-legal cards: Halt! Copyright infringement!

The Legion has been selling the red poppy pins in Canada since 1921, in remembrance of Canada's war dead. Rod Stewart (heh - that's seriously his name), vice-president of the Legion's Alberta/Northwest Territories command, is quoted as saying:

"This practice is not only disturbing, but illegal. The poppy, in any form
other than a real poppy, is a registered symbol of the legion and can't be used without permission. The legion will ask the groups selling white poppies to stop. Legal action has been used in the past
to enforce trademark infringement."

Ummm...what about all those elementary school kids drawing poppies for the Remembrance Day assemblies? And the poppies seen online
here and here (scroll down) and here? Are they sending THEM infringement notices too? Whose buttheaded idea was it for the Legion to copyright the poppy - I don't think anyone in Canada associates the poppy with the Legion, we associate it with Remembrance Day!

Another "helpful" suggestion by the Legion was that "the white poppies "piggyback" an inappropriate political message onto Remembrance Day. A more appropriate day might be Sept. 21, the International Day of Peace, and suggest the groups sell olive branches instead of poppies."


I am conflicted on many levels. I am definitely antiwar. But there's a strange sort of split in my "definite" - in my head, I mostly "remember" the dead of WWII on November 11th. The wars/battles that have succeeded and preceeded that war have mostly had very unclear "right" and "wrong" sides. I feel an extreme detachment from the troops in Afghanistan right now - does anyone actually know what they're doing there, besides dying? It's awful to say, and I am of course saddened by their tragic deaths, but I also resent the Legion telling me that all of our war dead died in the "glorious" cause of protecting my freedom...'cause I don't really remember being asked my opinion about sending troops to Afghanistan.

I guess all this to say...I will respectfully keep a minute of silence at 11:11 on
November 11th, and if I see a white poppy, I will happily buy one and wear it
next to the red one currently residing on my lapel. But I am disappointed that the Legion, who I generally see as a strong contributor to community life in Canada, sees this pin as a threat instead of something that we should all hold as ideal. Then again, if there were no troops or war, there would be no reason for the Legion...and I guess that would mean someone somewhere is out of a job.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


I'm not usually someone who plays a whole lotta videogames. Well okay, there were a few months back in 1985 or so where I couldn't get enough of one particular game, but other than that, and a quick brush with duck hunt when nintendo first came out, I've largely managed to avoid the obsession and save the majority of my quarters for important things like vending machine snacks and laundry.

Not any more.

Monday, November 06, 2006


PaGa and I just had a lovely, relaxing evening chez Mitzi's Sister.

It was songwriter's night. Which was exactly the mellow sort of mood we were in.

However, Mitzi's Sis being the hipster hangout it is, we had more than our fair share of laughable eavsdropping moments throughout the evening.

Two of my favourites:

Drunk guy to other drunk guy: "...a really judicious sense of coming in and out of the arrangement."

Same drunk guy to same other drunk guy five minutes later: "...99.9% of our people who come into our personal sphere..."

Maybe you had to be there, but trust me. It was really funny.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

day 5 - boring

Days like today are the reason I don't blog every day, and why I'm not sure I'm going to last the full month. Days where a thousand tiny aggravations make me grumpier than Oscar, and about as pleasant to be around.

My landlord is making me crazy. Last Monday night, I tried to do load of laundry - the washing part was no problem, but when I tried to put it in the go. The darn thing wouldn't turn on. The power was fine - I heard the timer happily ticking away - but nothing happened when I pushed the start button. I hate it when machinery betrays you like that. So I hauled my wet towels (of COURSE it HAD to be a load of towels, aka the items of fabric in my apartment that takes the longest time to dry) up to my apartment and draped them over every available surface, grumbling the entire while. Because it was late-ish, I left a message for my landlord at his office, for his tuesday morning enjoyment, asking him to look into the dryer problem and keep me posted.

So the rest of my unusually busy week speeds past. No word from the landlord, but neither have I had time to do laundry or go down to the basement myself, so I sort of let it slide.

I had a bunch of housecleaning planned for the weekend. My weekly chance to redeem my apartment from hovel-dom, to catch up on dishes and groceries and other assorted chores that I typically neglect from Monday-Friday...including laundry, which was now already a week behind. I called my landlord last night, but his always-surly wife answered and said he was in bed. (8pm? Saturday? Seriously?) He called me back around 1pm today, and spun me a sad story about how an impressive series of repairmen betrayed him this week by not showing up when they promised. Apparently someone is once again scheduled for tomorrow, but who knows.

Now, like every time I have to ask my landlord for something, part of me feels guilty for holding him accountable for maintaining his property as promised in my lease agreement...and why the eff do I feel guilty? I'm far from a high-maintenance tenant - in the three years I've lived here, I've called for his help maybe five times and two of those times involved large amounts of water leaking from my ceiling.

That's all I have to say really, told you I was boring. I think that is what's making me grumpy, even more than the fact that I will now have to go out of my way to procure clean socks for tomorrow. Does anyone have any guaranteed cures for grumpiness? Favourite songs? Favourite feel-good movies? Reliable and affordable hit men for hire?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

can't talk, knitting

Enough yarn for seven scarves, plus one that is 7/8ths completed.

50 days to Christmas.

Exactly whose idea was it that my entire family should recieve a hand-knit gift this festive season? 'Cause I sure don't think it was mine. Don't get me wrong, I seriously love the knitting...I'm just starting to feel some pretty intense deadline pressure.

Maybe instead of fancy scarves, everyone will get one of these.

Friday, November 03, 2006

where's a camera when you need one

A lot of streetcar/TTC-riding stories lately, but what can you do - welcome to the realities of my life.

Was on the westbound Queen car this afternoon. I'm not usually on the transit in the middle of the day, but I took today off for a 1pm job interview (oh okay, and also for the sleeping-in).

It was a pretty empty car, which is in itself a pretty awesome occurence. Room to sit, room even to cross your legs if you are so inclined. Bliss.

So, there's not a lot of peeps on my giant slinky streetcar. I'm sitting pretty close to the back, and no one is behind me, so I have a pretty sweet view of the all the happenings. This teeny, tiny, little old Chinese man gets on the streetcar at the Spadina stop. Tiny doesn't even really do him justice. I mean, this guy was miniscule - 4 1/2 feet tall tops, 60 pounds soaking wet, MAX, wearing a saggy old beige cardigan, a t-shirt of indeterminate colour, grey polyester grandpa pants, a black and brown striped scarf and one of those foam-front trucker hats that all the kids are wearing these days. So he's cute to begin with, and that's eye-catching enough on an empty streetcar, but the thing that really catches my eye is that he's pulling one of those giant shopping baskets on wheels. You know the ones I'm talking about. They're everywhere. But his didn't have that fancy plastic plaid liner, even from the back end of the car I could tell his was...different.

The teeny man sat in the first half of the car for a few stops, but you could tell he was restless. Lots of fidgeting with the cart and shifting around in his seat. Sure enough, a few stops later, he takes advantage of our being frozen in traffic to venture back to my end of the car, where he found a seat better to his liking (on a butt that bony I'm amazed he was able to sit at all!), that happens to be two rows away from my seat. And thank god, because otherwise I never would have seen the spectacle that was his empty shopping cart.

Now, I should maybe mention that although he is perhaps not dressed as au courant as some of the other Queen West hipsters who ride the car, he by no means looks homeless or remotely crazy. Just OLD. Really, really old. Now that he's closer to me, I can see the four or five wisps of hair on his head through the mesh of his hat (which is of course perched on the very top of his noggin), and the couple of long straggly white hairs coming out of his ears. His hands have a death grip on his cart, and now that he's close enough for me to see his ear hairs, I know why - this cart is no mere method of grocery transportation.

He has painstakenly woven several different ribbons through the mesh at the bottom of the cart, I'd say the first foot and a half of the bottom were woven in an incredible assortment of ribbon - we're talking Joseph and the technicolour rainbow here, as though he collected every shred of ribbon he'd ever come across on the street or in a store or at home, and incorporated it into the cart. It looks almost as solid as the old plaid plastic bag I mentioned earlier - I bet he has no problems when it rains.

The rest of the cart is covered in a mixture of old and new photographs and newspaper clippings - in English and what I think might be hand-written mandarin - everything sort of wrapped in saran wrap, or some sort of clear plastic. There is writing and drawing on most of these photos and paper clippings - items are circled, crossed out, underlined several times. I'm dying to know what the signifigance is - I imagine that if I was an author, I could find hundreds of stories in these clippings alone.

Also attached to the mesh is a Canadian flag, much the worse for wear, and several fake flowers and greenery in similar condition. Some sort of paper, possibly of the charmain variety (if you know what I'm saying), is wrapped around and around the handle bar of the cart, the very handle that he refuses to let go of.

As we pull up to Lansdowne Station, he prepares to get off the car, asking a young fellow nearby to pull the stop for him, using gestures that could have looked ridiculous, but ended up looking sort of dignified.

By this point, I am dying to know where he's from, and what he's doing on the streetcar, and why he has this fancy cart. But of course I don't say anything, don't even really make eye contact other than sort of smiling in his general direction. Which I'm pretty sure he can't even see. Then as he gets off the car - backwards down the stairs with his cart - I finally see what the front of his formerly white foam-front hat says, in a plain, centred red font: Toronto Is For Lovers.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

team player

"The popularity of brainstorming results in part from corporate America's knee-jerk faith in teams. In fact, the father of brainstorming, advertising executive Alex Osborn, advocated using people to storm a corporate problem "in commando fashion." And let yourself be labeled a "nonteam player," and you might as well start your own one-person consultancy. But teams aren't necessarily so great. "There are so many things people do in management because they think it's good, but there's no evidence for it," says Paul B. Paulus, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Arlington. "Teamwork is one example. Brainstorming is another." Prof. Paulus conducted research on the number and quality of ideas of four people brainstorming together versus four people brainstorming by themselves. Typically, group brainstormers perform at about half the level they would if they brainstormed alone."

OH MY GOD. Where WERE these guys when I was in University? To this day, I would rather shovel every driveway in this town with a teaspoon than work in an arbitrarily assigned group - there is absolutely nothing more frustrating. Don't get me wrong, every project should ultimately benefit from the input/criticism of multiple voices, and some of the best ideas I've ever had have been made into something MUCH greater than my original thoughts as a result of group input, but there's truly nothing worse than a forced brainstorming session.

Full article:

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

NaBloPoMo - some things better left unsaid

Alright dudes, I'm doing it. This, is my first post of (hopefully) 30 consecutive posts in the month of November. whoa. It's Katr and Keltie's fault for encouraging me, really, I can't think of another explanation because it's possible I haven't even written 30 posts in the (not-so-lengthy) history of my blog.

But I do have one stipulation on my participation - I absolutely REFUSE to say the word 'NaBloPoMo' out loud.(IS it a word, seriously?) I've tried to say it a couple of times here in the privacy of my apartment (hi, neighbours! I'm not crazy!), and there's no way it can be done. Every time I try, it reminds me of the time I was going to see "'Da Kink In My Hair" - I sounded like a complete dork every time I tried to say that, too.

No matter how I try, I can't change the facts - I use lame slang (cf. 'dudes'), my french accent is atrocious, and I think "prego" is the name of a spaghetti sauce. Verbal fireworks will never be my forte.

Good thing I can type.