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The Queen of Wishful Thinking
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Dulcet Darling's LiveJournal:

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Saturday, January 5th, 2019
11:04 pm
The Trouble with Television

I'm an only child, and I grew up in the 1980s and 90s, so I have watched more than my fair share of TV (whatever you feel a "fair share" is of broadcast entertainment, I assure you I got mine plus enough for 3 or 4 other kids). Game shows with my parents; Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous with my grandparents; cartoons on my own after school and on weekends. Nobody questioned the impact of screen time on health or personality when I was a kid. Commercials weren't a problem, just the price you paid for programming, and adult content was something you'd see on the news channel, reported well after the fact, at a somber and discrete distance. 

When I had a child of my own, my mother asked why I didn't just let her fall asleep in front of the TV, held by her father, like my Dad used to do for me before bedtime. I stared at her, agog that this was ever possible, but said that things are different now. Mum shakes her head. I can see she thinks I'm delusional, but it's true.

How we watch is different. Programming is different. Screens are different.  

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Tuesday, January 1st, 2019
11:38 pm
Hello 2019!

We're less than 24 hours into the new year, so I had to retype that title several times to get it right. My love of diarizing has been cramped by a vicious combination of a lack of time, a lack of meaty subject matter, and a newfound aversion to making my private life public. Having a kid provides an endless font of quotable moments, but since what I record will now reflect on and eventually be read by her, it's difficult to proceed with the same reckless abandon that I managed in my twenties and thirties.

Proceeding in the face of difficulty is how you get writing done, though, yeah?
Enough lamenting; more blogging.

I won't stray from the usual formula of January 1st posts — a time to reflect, to assess, and to make fresh plans that can immediately start going off the rails. 

Reflection is easy. Simply put, I'm content. My job is steady and supportive, home situation is good, my kid is fun and loving, my partner is still a delight after 10 years of domestic bliss, my mom is wonderful. I have all that I need. There are things I strive for, places I'd still like to visit, I could always use more time to myself for exercise, reading and creative pursuits, but that's not news. 

If anything, I feel guilty about how satisfactory my life is at the moment. Every time I read someone else's blog, they're pouring their heart out, and that heart is dripping with stress and self-loathing and dissatisfaction. Perhaps this is both the tragedy and consolation of middle life: I just can't get as worked up about stuff as I used to. Sure, global politics isn't going the way I'd like. Sure, I weigh between 10 and 30 pounds more than I should. Sure, I spend more time consuming media than creating new art. But how much energy do I need to expend on feeling bad about this stuff? Can't I just grieve it and move on? 

As for fresh plans, my choice to procreate has locked me in to a certain path for the next 15 years or so, so the scope and breadth of my new year's resolutions are somewhat restricted. Also, I'm not feeling time pressure like I once did. If I don't get these right today, you know what? I can change them tomorrow. Or add to them next month. Nobody cares but me. So here we go...

— aim to not buy frivolous or unnecessary items for the first 30 days of the year

— aim to blog at least once a week

— since you commit to reading 50 books every year, try to make at least 5 of them non-fiction in 2019, just to mix it up a bit

— do at least one more painting with Darren, that was fun

— book one day every other month as a personal day, to use for physical maintenance (massage, etc) and creative pursuits; do NOT use it for housekeeping

— finish paying off all your outstanding home debt by your 42nd birthday

— please go to the gym every Sunday morning; try for one night a week as well in summer (rowing again? karate with kid? Zumba with friends?)

— clean up some of your unfinished projects; close out the Weekend Novelist overview; wrap up the knitted baby DNA any way you can and mail it to Keira; finish the Noro Jacaranda Wrap top and mail it to Lara; frog anything else you're not into and stop using crafting as an excuse to not write

— plan for 2020; set some goals, get some outlines in order, choose some friends or pay some pros to keep you on track (whatever it takes to finish a shitty first draft)

— get rid of the wooden dining room chairs, treadmill, babywearing gear, sled, bike carrier, and whatever other crap you can bring yourself to purge from the basement. Enlist the help of your mother if you must. Give to Goodwill instead of selling things, you don't really need the Kijiji money, do you?

Saturday, October 29th, 2016
1:32 pm
Moderation in most things

I am a late bloomer, and learning how to cook was no exception.

Read more...Collapse )
Saturday, October 22nd, 2016
7:08 pm
Dueling Goals

Like twangy banjos, the goals that make up my hours, weeks and years of life compete against one another and make a lot of racket in my head.

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Monday, October 17th, 2016
12:17 pm
Luke Cage vs. Jane Austen
There's no real "versus" happening between Mr. Cage and Ms. Austen, but they are battling in my brain, and it's noisy.

Every night for the past month and a half, I've been recording 'Pride and Prejudice' live on YouTube, one chapter at a time, and this usually takes place either directly after or right before watching an episode of the new Luke Cage television series on Netflix.

The adjustment is jarring, to say the least.

Leaping back and forth between reading about the genteel, tongue-in-cheek interactions of upper-crust English society during the Regency, where characters are unconcerned with work other than the business of marriage and the creation of heirs to inherit unimaginable wealth and privilege, and making sport to alleviate the boredom of their limited society, then WHAM! thrown into the audio-visual explosion of modern-day Harlem, ripe with poverty, guns, violence, ambition, and people dropping the N-word like it's salt on their sentences... it's an extreme study in contrasts.

These worlds are so far apart they hardly bear relation, but they're both rich and engaging, so it's interesting to me to find points of connection between them. The only place characters like this meet is in our minds, but to draw parallels is not impossible, despite the vast chasms of time, space, and circumstance that separate them. Both tales involve romance, secret struggle, mistaken identity, foolish youth, and society in disarray.

Consider, if you will, some of the protagonists and antagonists of these pieces. We have: Luke Cage and Fitzwilliam Darcy; Elizabeth Bennet and Misty Knight; Lydia Bennet and "Chico" Diaz; George Wickham and Rafael Scarfe.

Mr. Cage is an antihero, a common figure in modern fiction as we deconstruct traditional heroic values. He's a loner, reluctant to connect with others, whose appealing features include his quiet dignity, his pride, his respect for others and his struggle to maintain good manners in a time and place where the rules of conduct are decaying. How is this so different from Mr. Darcy? Both men are cynical, adhering to high standards. Both unintentionally inflict pain and suffering on others because they choose to keep aspects of their past a secret. Both have abiding links to the men whose private vices and disregard for society's rules wreak havoc on their lives.

Both look pretty good in a wet shirt.

Similar echoes occur between the female heroines, the foolish youths, and the villains. They are all painted on a more aggressive scale in the modern production, making more extravagantly impulsive decisions, and coming to more violent ends. And of course, a 300-page novel cannot match the scope of a multi-season, multi-arc television show in the size of its cast or need for Big Bad villains (although Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Mama Mabel might have plenty to discuss). In essentials, however, the characters stand united.

Like Darcy, Luke eschews the offered companionship of the well-suited, attractive and willing lady who first approaches him for a "coffee", instead choosing the more headstrong, saucy, athletic female who teases and challenges him, but is an unsuitable social match. Misty, in turn, rejects his suit because she considers his pride and arrogance harmful to the community she loves, and holds him responsible for Pop's death.

Chico and Lydia serve the same plot-advancing purpose - silly youths who are warned that their behavior will lead to trouble, choose a quick and easy path and suffer the consequences. They are both hidden in cities, and sought with reluctance by the hero whose actions are motivated by the desire to do right, and serve the will of a failed father figure. George Wickham and Rafael Scarfe both have the appearance of goodness, masking a core of duplicity and vice; both are beloved of the heroine until she is made to see the truth of their wrongdoing.

Reworking old stories and reinventing old characters is the bread and butter of any good writer. Always interesting to ponder the many ways classics continue to echo through time.
Saturday, October 15th, 2016
8:56 pm
A long time gone

Hello there, LiveJournal.

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Thursday, January 7th, 2010
11:15 pm
2010: Year of the Blog
This is it! The year that blogging returns to my agenda. Maybe. But alas, not here, my lovelies.

I have firmly set up camp over my own pipesdreams.org URL and that is where my words will live from now on. LJ, I have loved you and your sense of community for many years, but it's time to leave the nest and strike out on my own in the big, bad Internet.

Here are my first two posts of 2010 "over there":
#1 - What to do when its freezing outside (hint: it involves pecans & penguins) http://bit.ly/pecan_penguin
#2 - The Great Bikini Race http://bit.ly/bikinirace

I'll cross-post occasionally, in case anyone misses me over here, but if you're keen to keep tabs you could either sign up for my entries RSS feed http://www.pipesdreams.org/blog/feed or you could follow me on Twitter @pipesdreams

Peace and joy to all in the New Year!
xoxo Pipes
Friday, August 28th, 2009
9:49 pm
It's not Larping, it's just Cosplay
(Cross-posted from Pipesdreams.org)

Poor LARPers. Back in 2002, Brunching's Geek Hierarchy proclaimed the abysmal geekiness of individuals who choose to spend their leisure time dressing up as warlocks and dwarves, acting out campaigns "IRL". The Shuttlecocks weren't aiming to be cruel; they were just telling it like it is. LARPers languish in the deep netherhells of uncoolness - lower than tabletop role players, far below video gamers - they are mocked, often and hard. Even professional mockers like X-Play's Sessler & Webb, aren't above stooping to take cheap shots at these poor unfortunate souls (see: Wild Larping Kingdom for details). They are the whipping boys and girls of the geek world.

But what about a LARPer's kissing cousin, the Cosplayer? Strangely, the cultural phenomenon of cosplay (dressing up without intent to perform) doesn't suffer nearly the same degree of public stigma. Cosplayers are embraced as fun-loving jokers, beloved totems of the creative spirit found at conventions, in high schools and all over the urban sprawl of Tokyo. Recently, Felicia Day and the cast of The Guild made a joyful splash at SDCC by cosplaying as their online avatars.

All this fuss got me to thinking - in my many years of attending cons, I've never really dressed up. I found myself wondering who or what sort of video game icon I would choose to cosplay at PAX, if any. Laziness and my hatred of checked baggage instantly eliminated fun-but-bulky options like the King of All Cosmos or a Goomba. My firm refusal to expose my midriff ruled out nearly every female video game character except GLaDOS and Samus (again with the luggage problem). Maybe something subtle, something only recognizable by a rare few, something to weed out the hardcore from the n00bs. Then it came to me - instead of a character, why not dress as a notable girl gamer? Why not be Kate Libby from Hackers?

Please don't think that I imagine myself hot enough to evoke Angelina Jolie, age 18 (before her stick-figure-hexa-mom phase) without the aid of considerable props. I did my homework and re-watched the film, to see if there was a particularly iconic wearable item beyond the vulcan haircut, hinged gauntlet ring, silver hoops and white or blue nail polish. I was surprised by two things: one, the shocking lack of photos of Angie's various states of dress in this film (I thought the Internet had everything about celebs already?) and two, what an amazing job the costume artists did of building a self-consistent character with thoughtful wardrobe and make-up choices.

All of Kate's clothes stay on a limited colour palette of white, black, silver, sky-blue and orangey-red: bright, confident, decisive colours with clear limitations. No blending, no softness, no apologies. The materials and style are entirely geared towards showing aggression, activity, sexuality, and an alien, unattainable quality. Kate wears slinky leather motorcycle gear, tight spandex surfer shirts, oversized hockey jerseys. She has outfits with straps, buckles and zippers in inappropriate places, kimonos and a dress with an obi. She's basically flipping the bird at Trinny and Susannah.

Given the advent of Ebay and Etsy, I thought it would be easy to track down at least a few of these items. Again, I overestimated the webs. The only item that could be had on short notice is her New Jersey Devils hockey jersey. The red/white/yellow/black Suzuki Icon motorcycle jacket she wears is impossible to trace. I couldn't find a reasonable facsimile of her black & white raglan shirt with the white-on-white skull & crossbones and legend "Too fast to live / Too young to die", anywhere. The black & silver short v-necked satin kimono dress with black obi must have been custom made. And Quiksilver no longer has anything like a shiny blue low-turtleneck ladies surf shirt with their logo on the front, with or without a checkerboard flower pattern. I can only speculate as to which brand of club gear made the red and white jumpsuits (Snug? Kitchen Orange? House of Spy? FDCO? Tripp NYC?), or the wide-lapel silver pleather short jacket with long sleeves and exposed seams. Sigh. Better luck next time, Gadget.

In the end, I decided to use Ms. Libby as a muse for my new haircut, rather than as a model of fashion to imitate. Probably for the best - I doubt anyone would have caught the inside joke if I'd shown up to PAX wearing Kate's club gear: a skin-tight white turtleneck and white pants with white plastic knee-high boots. Even your above-average geek would assume I was just doing a shitty job of cosplaying as a Stormtrooper with no helmet and no armor. Possibly due to my hatred of checked luggage.

Tell me, dear reader: who would YOU cosplay as?

Current Mood: geeky
Monday, January 5th, 2009
12:19 am
Happy New Year!
Happy new year, everyone! A little belated, I know, but I've been enjoying some time away from the Internet for the past few weeks, with the exception of my recent Twitter addiction.

Overview of 2008Collapse )

My "Books I Read in 2008" list is abysmal.
I was too preoccupied with affairs of the heart and school part three and real estate to pay proper attention to fiction last year. Here's what I did manage:
Salman Rushdie – Midnight’s Children
Neil Gaiman – Murder Mysteries
Marjane Satrapi – Embroideries
Dorothy L. Sayers – Murder Must Advertise
Agatha Christie - Murder of Roger Ackroyd
China Miéville - Perdido Street Station
John Gardiner - Grendel
Madeleine L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Christopher Moore - Fluke
Christopher Moore - Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove
Jhumpa Lahiri - Interpreter of Maladies
Jane Urquhart - The Stone Carvers
Neil Gaiman - American Gods
Elizabeth Gilbert - Eat, Pray, Love
Daniel Quinn - Ishmael
Neil Gaiman - Neverwhere
Josephine Tey - The Franchise Affair
Jane Feather - The Silver Rose (mathom)
Michel Faber - The Crimson Petal and the White
Stephanie Meyer - Twilight

And now, looking forward... Things to do in 2009:
TRAVEL - visit Stephen & Skye in Japan; get out of Toronto to do minibreaks (maple sugaring, wine tour, hiking, visit Jana in Montreal, visit Heather in Boston, etc); go on a "relaxing" vacation; visit Mum more often / take her to Vegas to see Bette Midler
FINANCE - file taxes for 2007 and 2008; achieve zero debt; put at least $5000 in savings account by end of year
CREATIVITY - complete at least 2 current LV projects (Emma and Roughing It); finish at least one painting; make a quilt for the 2009 Quilt for the Cure charity; do Baudelaire illustrations; finish Sonnet project; write a blog at least once a month
CULTURE - read at least 12 good books; eat out at at least 10 new restaurants; go to the symphony, and do Messiah again
ACTIVITY - run at least 2 times a week; go rock climbing at least 10 times; go to yoga at least 10 times; help Mum with her garden
CAREER - make some solid, long term career plans
EDUCATION - consider alternative education (TESOL, yoga teacher training, dance, OCAD sewing course?); try to get back into archery
EMOTIONAL - be more calm and steady in personal relationships; stop feeling guilty about everything

Current Mood: reflective
Wednesday, December 10th, 2008
10:48 pm
December Insanity
Well, December rolls on apace and I am multiply overbooked, as ever.

This is my last week to submit my overdue papers to the iSchool (brace yourselves for my inevitable withdrawal from the program - I'm not usually a quitter, but I can see no purpose in proceeding, really). Last night I was going to dutifully write my final 1230 management paper at least, but was shanghaied to celebrate Dave & Lena's fabulous news (they're engaged! hooray!).

Tomorrow is the CO staff Christmas party, which I'm ducking out of early to go see a concert at the newly renovated Royal Conservatory with my friend Adam and a small crew of special lady friends (Casey's having a post-party at the Beast, but I feel I will be beyond exhausted at that point).

Friday is a celebratory, "Yay! Christie's finished her MBA!" celebration at a murder mystery dinner theater, then, if I have any juice left at the end of the day, I've been asked to join Alastair and Pastor Marty for an evening of dancing to Big John Bates and the Voodoo Dolls at the Reverb.

Not sure what the weekend holds, but Monday next is the #HoHoTO party at the MOD club. Tuesday is Amy's birthday dinner... the list goes on. Worst of all, it's my birthday party next Friday, and I haven't planned a damn thing, other than asking Casey to DJ. No idea what to serve re: food, drinks, haven't sent reminders, haven't planned anything at all. Just asked some folks if they'd like to stop by.

And of course, this evening, I'm starting to feel a bit sick. Throat sore, etc. Not good timing.

Work is also, uh, a wee bit busy at the moment. That's the understatement of the year, but I won't/can't elaborate. On top of all this, I'm trying to go home to visit my Mum as often as possible to soak up the festive spirit of having our first Christmas tree in years.

Speaking of Mum, I asked her to find me a few Christmas sweaters for me to take in to work for our Christmas party tomorrow. She is an absolute marvel at hunting things down. Look at these gaudy gems! How does she find these things?

Current Mood: tired
Sunday, November 30th, 2008
8:55 am
Kamikaze Cookery = Procrastination Crack
Remember the final week of school before winter break? Remember how every second spent doing something that was NOT writing your papers or studying for exams was pure ecstasy? How even the most mundane household task - scrubbing the toilet, sewing up holes in your kitchen towels, bleaching the porch steps - took on new thrilling dimensions of fascination simply because it didn't involve reading about how clever Michel Foucault was?

If you do recall the special thrill of illicit exam week activity, you can doubtless sympathize with my current situation. I'm working full-time at a demanding job AND taking 2 grad school courses at night, so every second of stolen leisure takes on the heightened sensation of having procrastination crack cooked into it. For the past two days, my time-wasting drug of choice has been Kamikaze Cookery.

I admit, I'm a latecomer; brought in along with the herd of yahoos who migrated following their mention on BoingBoing. But I've latched on to the show with particular vigor because the three characters who run it remind me fondly of the many British geeks I know and love. I passed the link on to sanity_clause and philipispdr, and I think James hit the nail on the head when he said it was like watching a mashup of Brendan and Edward with a bit of my cousin Caius on the side. I enjoy how James excludes himself from this geek + chef equation. ;)

Although they're still finding their voice and learning about the medium of video, working rough and tumble without too much scripting and experimenting with what to film, where to film and for how long, using handheld cameras in kitchens with minimal space and less lighting (except Paul & Jehane's kitchen, which has a bit too much light), I have high hopes for these guys. Season Zero is a big learning curve for them, although I worry that making one show per week is going to strain their resources, since there have been a few duds (*cough*HealthGrills*cough*) since the first, most excellent "How to cook a steak using a vacuum and blowtorch" video.

My totally unsolicited analysis of Kamikaze Cookery's pros and consCollapse )

Enough blather. Now I have to return to the dreadful task of writing my dreadful papers on project management for the web (oh, the irony!) and information and communication technologies and how they're revolutionizing the world (aren't I getting paid to do just that at work?). Why did I decide I needed a second Master's degree again? Boredom, was it?

ps - Should mention that Kamikaze Cookery also has their own LiveJournal feed and Facebook page.

Current Mood: procrastinating
Friday, November 28th, 2008
1:19 am
Sartorial Spend-a-thon

Ever since leaving the Attorney General's somewhat formal office environment (black suits, grey suits, pant suits, twin-sets) for the significantly more eclectic atmosphere of Cabinet Office New Media, I've been feeling the pain of the bureaucratization of my wardrobe.

At the height of my funkiness, circa my Silver Snail Comic Shop employee days a few years back, my dresser was crammed full of graphic tees embellished with interesting ribbons, hand-sewn patches and funky bias-cut necklines. Pink and black skirts sporting a shameless quantity of taffeta were hung next to purple velvet blazers in the closet. The clothes may or may not make the woman, but I was definitely kicking my own style.

From my former technicolour splendour, I have sunk into a monochrome abyss of black pinstripe and grey tweed. Given my blindingly caucasian skin-tone and dark hair, most days I feel like I could blend into the set of Pleasantville with little or no effort. I'm sure my coworkers would be quick to remind me of my experiments with striped and lime-green tights, but the fact remains: the situation has become dire. My clothes suck.

Today was the breaking point. I went to U of T's Rotman School of Management for a really excellent talk by Rahaf Harfoush (a New Media strategist who worked on the Obama campaign) and naturally, what with Rotman being a business school, there were suits, suits, everywhere, as far as the eye could see. Being a keener, I sat in the front row, which put me at eye-level with Alexander Manu's feet. When he sat down for the after-talk discussion, I noticed he was wearing one orange sock and one green sock. Brilliant! A splash of irreverence, of creativity, of colour in an otherwise crisply professional facade.

On the way home from dinner after the talk, I was drawn into a local clothing store. I can't really say what happened while I was in there, but I walked out with $300 worth of stuff. There's a lot of polka-dot and corduroy action happening in that bag. There's also a pleated dress that looks like it might have time traveled out of the 1960s. And a green and gold striped sweater with a cowl large enough to conceal a parachute pack, if I ever wanted to carry such a thing surreptitiously on my person.

The insanity didn't stop there. Never forget my awful addiction to the Internets. When I got home with my loot, I paused to check my e-mail. Lo and behold, a message from Glarkware. They're having a "Black Friday" sale: all t-shirts $5 and all hoodies $10! Sign me up! Another $50 later, and I'm the proud new owner of a large quantity of absurdly nerdy t-shirts, some featuring sock monkeys.

For now, the beast is sated. I will rest my poor weary Visa for a while, and absorb these new pieces into my closet, hopefully rejuvenating my tragically deflated sense of personal pizazz. But the hiatus won't be long - it's winter, and baby needs a new pair of snowpants. Not to mention a crazy Christmas sweater to wear home for Mum. Perhaps some new boots. And some dark red gloves, to match my glasses...

Current Mood: spendy
Wednesday, November 12th, 2008
11:31 pm
Getting Toronto on Google Transit

EDITED TO ADD! Joy! At Web 2.0 summit today (November 26, 2008 circa 1pm) in Toronto City Hall, Mayor David Miller committed to putting Toronto on Google Transit by mid-2009!

As of today (November 12, 2008), the Hamilton, ON Hamilton Street Railway has become the fifth Canadian city to feature route planning on Google Transit, joining Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver and Fredericton in beating out Toronto's glacial progress in this area by a wide margin.

According to our TTC Commissioner's Office, Toronto is "in discussion" with Google and "working towards" a solution, and we can expect to get this service sometime next year. But these discussions have been underway for five years now, so I'm not holding my breath for 2009. AAARRRRRGGGHHH!!

Direct quote from the TLCHamilton blog article on this: "Hamilton is the fifth city in Canada to receive this treatment. Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver and Fredericton were first. How did Hamilton get the service before Toronto? Google spokesperson Tamara Micner says the city of Hamilton was "very co-operative" in the partnership."

See the fruits of my prior expressions of frustration on this subject, below. WTF, TTC?


Sent: Monday, October 06, 2008 5:11:03 PM
To: TTC Chair; minister@mto.gov.on.ca
Cc: mayor_miller@toronto.ca; mintc@tc.gc.ca; msnider@globeandmail.com;
Subject: Please get Toronto listed on Google Transit!

Dear Mr. Giambrone and Minister Bradley,

I am writing to you as a citizen of Toronto, a citizen of Ontario, and as someone who uses Toronto Transit and GOTransit every day, to ask  you to take action and get our city - and eventually our province - listed with Google Transit.

This resource would be a revolution for Torontonians in finding the best TTC routes to get where they want to go, and would make our city instantly more navigable for tourists and visitors of all kinds. Not everyone knows where to find the TTC website, or how to use it, especially if English is not their first language - the whole world knows Google.

For GOTransit riders in the province, an alternative to the existing, extremely hard-to-read GO train and bus schedules would be a welcome change.

I read the Staff Response to the Commission Inquiry about Google Transit Trip Planner put forward in December 2005, and can see that the obstacles to participation were "costs incurred by the TTC to prepare the back end of the data conversion / ongoing link to ensure that the latest information is being made available" and that the TTC was waiting "until Google is in a position to provide the system requirements to the TTC" and that at that time Google Transit was "still a work in progress".

These objections have since been answered - Google has made it infinitely easier for cities to participate with their Transit FeedSpecification toolkit . Just follow the instructions, fill in the blanks, and voila! You have a Google Transit feed.

Private citizen efforts to map our transit onto Google, such as those by Ian Stevens and Greg Smith, started in 2006, which makes me wonder why an "official" version of a Google Transit map wasn't immediately forthcoming.

I am not alone in feeling this way: the online conversational thread on the Google Transit group page expresses some fairly negative and despondent views about the responsiveness of Toronto Transit to the desire of its citizens for this online resource to become reality.

In Canada, Vancouver, Fredericton, Ottawa and Montreal have all joined in to link their city's transit options to a Google Transit feed. Why is our city not participating in this amazing project? Has any progress at all been made on this file since 2006?

Please let me know what the current status is on this project, as I would like to see both our city and our province take advantage of this incredible opportunity for global marketing and service improvement to private citizens using web technology.

Thank you.

Responses to date:
1. From Councillor Giambrone
Date:    Thu, Oct 16, 2008

TTC staff have been in discussion with representatives from Google and are working towards incorporating the TTC into Google Transit. Simultaneously, TTC staff are in the process of preparing our own trip planner which will be incorporated into our new website.  This feature will not only provide route directions, it will also include the estimated length of time for travel along the route specified and updated  information if there are route diversions or delays.

2. From  Ministry of Transportation, Transit Policy Branch
Date:  Mon, Oct 27, 2008

(No mention of Google Transit here whatsoever)

Thank you for your e-mail of October 6, 2008, addressed to the Honourable Jim Bradley, Minister of Transportation, and Adam Giambrone, Chair of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), regarding Google Maps’ public transit trip planner.  I am pleased to respond on behalf of the Minister.

I have read your comments with interest, and believe you may want to hear about an initiative being spearheaded by Metrolinx – the regional transit agency created by the ministry to develop a transportation plan for Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), and eventually be responsible for GO Transit.

Metrolinx is planning to collaborate with GO Transit, TTC and other transit and transportation providers across the GTHA to implement a web-based integrated transit trip planner.  The trip planner will allow transit riders to key in an origin and destination point, and access departure and arrival times, connection opportunities, fares and route maps.

I have taken the liberty of sending a copy of your e-mail to relevant staff at Metrolinx, so they will be aware of your concerns.

3. From Councillor Giambrone's Office (Special Assistant)
Date:    Tue, Oct 28, 2008

I agree with you that trip planning is an important function for many TTC patrons.

I am pleased to let you know that the TTC is currently developing a trip planning feature that will be available on the TTC's website mid-year next year.  This trip planner will be able to provide riders with available routes as well as the amount of travel time expected on a given route.  Additionally, the trip planner will provide information to riders if there is a significant delay or route diversion that will impact their trip.

At the same time as TTC staff are working on the trip planner, we are also working with Google to incorporate the TTC onto their Google Transit site and expect that you will be able to use Google Transit for trip planning on TTC routes next year as well.


Current Mood: jubilant
Sunday, May 4th, 2008
8:03 am
Double "booked"... ha! Get it?
The many years of lazy weekends as a student are now just a fading memory as I plunge into the ever-more-hectic reality of adulthood. Yesterday I spent the morning with pipes_mum, cleaning the accumulated decade's worth of dirt off of the balcony and behind the appliances in the kitchen at my rental unit, a job which after almost 4 solid hours of work is still not complete. There's still a depressing amount of furniture which needs to be removed, but we're making progress.

After that, I did a Bloor-only nod to Free Comic Book Day, and despite the pouring rain managed to get edwud to join me for a stroll in the soaking wet. I partook of the free Hellboy and indy comics on display at Labyrinth, then he and I moseyed along to the Beguiling where I had a nice chat with Peter about French comics and briefly saw Cassidy and the ever-growing, ever-adorable Momo (who was sporting a pretty sweet set of wellies on her tiny feet). Edward chastised me for looking at the latest Guarnido in hardcover, then softened the blow by sending me home with a new Neil Gaiman hardcover that I'd never seen before.

We then went for brunch at Insomnia, I suffered a massive asthma attack, phoned Aly to keep myself from passing out, then decided that given the lack of oxygen all I could handle for that afternoon was Disney. I stopped in at Bay Street Video, had a nice conversation with the cashier (would it be so wrong to apply for a part-time job at Bay Street Video?) then took home Enchanted, which was warmly recommended to me by several people, including my friend Phil Westoby who is generally speaking a Disney-hater.

I watched it, and although the scene with the dancing cockroaches was amusing, I just can't get into films where there's a partner "swap". I didn't like it in 'You've Got Mail' and I didn't like it in this film either. I don't care if she ended up with Prince Charming; if I were the girl Patrick Dempsey was about to propose to, who he then dumped in 2 days for Giselle, I'd be pissed. That's the patented Disney twist, I guess: all happy endings, and no litigation.

Today I face the young urbanite problem of too many commitments, not enough weekend. I'm double booked. Literally and figuratively. I am a member of two book clubs - a recently formed one with my university peeps where we're reading 'The Stone Carvers' by Jane Urquhart (I like) and another that I've been in for years with my high school girlfriends, where we're reading 'Everything is Illuminated' by Jonathan Safran Foer. The problem being, today is the day we're supposed to discuss 'Everything Is Illuminated', but I'm supposed to be taking birthday boy Brett out for brunch and then escorting him to his surprise birthday party this afternoon.

Clearly Brett's big day takes precedence, and although I'm bummed out about not seeing my people - I don't get enough opportunities to hang out with cwf, furrypinkcowgrl and ladyinred88 - I'm not terribly sad about not being able to discuss the book. It should have been good, but somehow wasn't. I love comedic writing, but this felt like a bad mash-up of David Sedaris's 'Me Talk Pretty One Day' and Sasha Baron Cohen's Borat character. Maybe I'm missing the point, but the machismo attitude of the narrator/translator and his fractured misuse of English failed to amuse me.

Okay, now I'm getting worried... pipes_mum was supposed to be here at 7:45am so that we could go take a second crack at cleaning the other apartment, and she's over an hour late. That's very unlike her, and I've left messages on both her home and cell phones. She never sleeps in. Hmm. I guess I'll just make some tea and wait.

Current Mood: nervous
Friday, May 2nd, 2008
6:53 pm
Signs of Spring
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. It also makes awful travesties occur, such as my kitchen turning into a propagation patch for new vegetables. Eww.

I'm fascinated by the way the sweet potatoes sprouted. They don't grow "eyes" like potatoes, which are essentially just roots; they sprout actual runners and leaves.

This is a very good indicator that a) I am not cooking at home frequently enough, b) I have been working too many hours of overtime and not paying enough attention to household chores, and c) I need a vacation.

Sadly, vacation is not happening until August. On the plus side, I'm flying out to British Columbia on August 1st, returning August 16th, and I do love relaxin' on the west coast.

This trip has three purposes:
1) to visit my cousin mindriots, who I haven't seen since Hong Kong last March;
2) to see the newest addition to our clan and the first baby born on my father's side of the family in almost 30 years, Caius & Cait's wee one, due sometime at the end of July;
3) to attend the Shambhala Music Festival in Salmo, BC, which is happening from August 6-11, so I can hang out with caellum for a few days as we won't be revisiting the Muddy Buddy this year.

It's going to be hard to squeeze in time enough between Vancouver, Victoria and Salmo, but I think I can make it work.

Now I have to go work on finishing a long-term knitting project, an entrelac scarf that is taking me an eternity to complete. Then, the new episode of BSG at Zeena's at 10. Time for cylons!

My new garden
My new kitchen garden
While admittedly revolting, there's a certain aesthetic value to these sprouting things when you capture them in a nicely framed photograph. Sadly, all such charm is lost when confronted with the cold, harsh reality. They smell weird AND they're creeping me out by reminding me of the science fiction of John Wyndham (author of 'Day of the Triffids' and 'Trouble With Lichen')

Current Mood: groggy
Thursday, May 1st, 2008
11:37 pm
The Great Tenant Move-Out of Zero-Eight
After nearly a decade of renting my apartment on Bloor, my corporate tenants decided to say "Sayonara" and have headed back to the Land of the Rising Sun.

A Japanese English-teacher recruiting firm, they no longer had a Toronto executive to fill the suite, so my other apartment is now open and available. Anyone looking for a one-bedroom with jacuzzi in Yorkville?

I'll be renovating it during the month of May - painting the walls (volunteers welcome! beer incentives provided!), getting the carpet torn out and laminate flooring put down, etc - and all this means that the furniture has to go.

If you are looking for "pre-loved" furnishings, from 80s dressers to 50s sideboards to 70s sofas, I may or may not be able to help.
Check out my lacklustre, half-hearted Craigslist posting for more details: http://toronto.en.craigslist.ca/tor/fur/664433673.html

Feel free to lowball me on prices if you see anything you like. By lowball I mean "$10 and a case of beer". I am also willing to accept barter for furniture, and in some cases possibly services, if those services include massage, cooking and/or butlering for me, or a really solid tarot card reading. Seriously, this crap all has to go within two weeks and I don't own a van so I can't drive it to Goodwill. Help me out here, people.

Getting back to my original story: my Japanese tenants left, but they didn't quite clear everything out before they handed back the keys. Here are photos of a few things I found around the apartment today when I was cleaning out drawers and cupboards. Some of them are familiar to me. I grasp their purpose, even if I can't read the packaging. Some of these items alarm and confound me. I have no clue whatsoever as to what they do.

I would be very happy if anyone with experience reading Kanji could help me to understand what the hell some of these packages are all about (ahem, robertsoncrusoe, this means you).

Ramen Noodles Ramen Noodles
A selection of random deep-fried noodles.
Miso Soup Mix Miso Soup Mix
Two packages of miso soup mix, with freeze dried spinach packets. Looks like space food for astronauts.
Creepy Blue Bobble Head Creature Creepy Blue Bobble Head Creature
I do not know or seek to understand what this creature's purpose is. I simply wish it would stop slowly rocking its head back and forth inside its packaging. I don't even think it's battery operated, although the packaging is all in Japanese so I can't be sure. Which means, clearly, that it is SATAN POWERED!
No Freaking Clue No Freaking Clue
Glue? Nail polish? Salad dressing? I just don't know. I can't translate a single word on the bottle except the number "90" shown on the front. I have sniffed it - the scent is innocuous, totally inoffensive and unidentifiable - and will say it's not very viscous. That is to say, it's runny like water, not thick like glue.
Cleaning Product? Cleaning Product?
Either these are small, ineffectual rags for cleaning my toilet, or I'm supposed to use them to make diamonds erupt from the porcelain bowl. I'll never know until I try. Which will be never.
Burning Demon Bunnies? Burning Demon Bunnies?
Um, yeah. So this has rabbits on it. And their eyes are red. And they appear to be melting into a bed of hot coals. And they appear to be enjoying the sensation. Rabbit Dad is wearing glasses; I guess he's myopic. Rabbit Son is giving us the "thumbs up!" The grotesque amount of plastic packaging encloses what appears to be a rag not unlike the one I can use to summon my toilet genie. There is no English of any kind on the packaging. Puzzlement grips me.
What you MUST NOT DO with Dandan! What you MUST NOT DO with Dandan!
This is the back of the Dandan package, which outlines, with clear and helpful graphic depictions, when and how Dandan should not be used. Do not use your right hand to operate Dandan. Do not open the Dandan package from right to left. Do not use Dandan while sitting at your desk. Do not use Dandan while asleep in your bed. Do not allow 3 dots and a square hovering above a bed of three parallel lines come anywhere near Dandan.
Dandan, made by MyCoal Dandan, made by MyCoal
Well, I'm stumped. It has English on it, sure, but I have no clue as to the purpose of Dandan. I know it's made by MyCoal. I know something happens to it at 68 and 53 degrees celsius (which is pretty damn hot, come to think of it). And I know it is 13cm x 9.5cm. But as to which orifice you should insert it into, or what household object you can polish with it, or how you add it to a meal as part of a daily balanced diet...? I am Lost in Translation.
Miso Soup Bowls Miso Soup Bowls
An excellent accompaniment to the freeze-fried miso soup packets. Also, very attractive; I like the dark red colour and gold smudges on the covers.
Rice and Rice Cooker Rice and Rice Cooker
This brings me great delight. I've always wanted a rice cooker, since I consistently FAIL at cooking rice in a pot. And having one reminds me of living with my beloved ex-roommate clodia927. Also, hey, free sushi rice to put in it. Now all I need is an industrial-sized vat of pickled sushi ginger.

Current Mood: tired
Tuesday, April 29th, 2008
12:00 am
All-Time Top Five Dream Jobs
It's typical in an interview situation for the interviewer to question why you want the job, and where you would eventually see yourself ending up in the business, as a natural gauge of your motivation and ambition. But in an interview I went to last week, my interviewer phrased that question as "what do you want to be when you grow up?"

This is a question I've been asking myself a lot lately, but nobody has really stuck it to me that directly since I graduated from university. What does one do with a Master's degree in English? There's certainly no prescribed career path for "person who likes to read a lot".

Her question brought to mind Nick Hornby's High Fidelity. Specifically, the part where Rob Fleming, seedy anti-hero and record store owner, makes a list of his top five dream jobs.

Here's Rob's list:

1. NME journalist, 1976-1979
Get to meet the Clash, Sex Pistols, Chrissie Hynde, Danny Baker etc. Get loads of free records - good ones too. Go on to host my own quiz show or something.

2. Producer, Atlantic Records, 1964-1971 (approx)
Get to meet Aretha, Wilson Pickett, Solomon Burke etc. Get loads of free records (probably) - good ones too. Make piles of money.

3. Any kind of musician (apart from classical or rap)
Speaks for itself. But I'd have settled just for being one of the Memphis Horns - I'm not asking to be Hendrix or Jagger or Otis Redding.

4. Film director
Again, any kind, although preferably not German or silent.

5. Architect
A surprise entry at number 5, I know, but I used to be quite good at technical drawing at school.

It has traditionally been very difficult for me to mentally divorce my desire for personal fulfillment in my work from my more material needs for money and my disinclination to spend 6 years on a PhD. But in the spirit of Rob Fleming, here is my current all-time, no holds barred, top five dream jobs. (list subject to change without notice)

1. Professor
I like the idea of lecturing to eagerly attentive students and having summers off work. Conferences and travel for "research" purposes sounds like a pretty sweet deal, too. Main obstacle to this being my lack of a doctorate. Teaching at a college or private secondary institution might be acceptable as well, but again, no teaching degree.

2. Writer
Fiction, preferably Giller and Booker prize winning adult contemporary fiction. I would also be extremely happy to produce popular mystery, fantasy, romance or children's books. The promotional tours; the quiet, sedentary, reclusive work periods; the immortality in print. Yum. Downsides: years of obscurity, poverty, and near-certain alcoholism as a result of excessive self-reflection. Also, actually sitting down to write is a bit of a bugger.

3. Cantankerous bookstore owner
Used or new, with wooden aisles full of mystery novels, bought cheap and sold dear, books to the ceiling and in inaccessible places, sliding ladder on a brass rail attached to the bookshelves a must, spiral iron staircase a bonus. Downside: the business aspect. I hate doing taxes, accounting, etc. and the reality of shoplifters depresses me.

4. Comic book artist
It's a niche market, I know, and hard to make any kind of living in. But how cool would it be for me to make another strike for women in this predominantly male industry by winning a Xeric award and self publishing my weird little book about the history of safety or chemistry or mermaids and then have it become a cult hit and get mobbed while trying to go incognito at cons. Bonus: might also lead to meeting Simon Pegg in person one day.

5. Audio book recorder
Having my voice and storytelling ability preserved for all eternity and getting paid for doing it. Narcissism is a problem for me, yes, but I also really enjoy reading out loud. Fortunately, I have a recreational outlet for this desire through LibriVox, where I am currently recording Jane Austen's Persuasion.

All this woolgathering aside, I am seriously evaluating where I want to be, personally and professionally, in the next 2 to 5 years. Wedding bells and baby making don't seem to be on the books, so it's time to buckle down and get serious about work. Plus, career advancement means I might be able to afford a visit to Stephen and Skye in Japan and be able to go to Peru next year without having to live in a box and eat pasta every day for the foreseeable future.

There is a job posting at Cabinet Office right now that really intrigues me, but I have to decide in the next day or two if I'm going to apply. I think I will, but I have certain trepidations about the disruption of the delicate work/life balance that we all struggle to maintain being tipped deeply towards the "work" end of the scales, involving weekends and evenings camped out at the office, dreaming of checking e-mail while I am asleep, etc.

If nothing else, having applied for a part-time Master of Information Studies program at U of T in the fall (librarian studies) is a way of keeping my options open. I'll know in a few weeks if I get in or not.

Current Mood: thoughtful
Friday, October 5th, 2007
7:24 pm
Oh my poor, dead, darling LiveJournal
I feel terrible.

This is true in both the literal and metaphoric sense. In the less physical, stoically-enduring-the-plague sense, I am drenched with guilt at having shamefully neglected my diary. Yea though I am traveling through many exotic foreign lands, and have accumulated a treasure trove of interesting stories to relate to my readers, many of whom doubtless think I am dead, I just haven't taken time to write. Sorry about that - travel stories will be a bit out of sequence, but if you can just bear with me I will eventually spew out the content of my brain once I'm settled somewhere. This may not be until I return to North America, FYI.

So, back to the plague. I'm currently in Budapest, Hungary and am suffering a real whiz-banger of a head cold, replete with ample mucus, wheezing lungs, et al. In a test of my youthful assertions that I am one of those intrepid health-conscious people who spurn antibiotics and pissy litle pills that do nothing to actually address the *root* of the problem, but simply mask symptoms (ineffectually), I am now trapped in a city where I am so far removed from comprehension of the language that I can't even mime my way into a decongestant.

This is very bad news, since I'll be boarding a plane for Istanbul in about an hour, and there is a distinct possibility that my eardrums will enjoy the novel sensation of barotrauma (def: they will bloody well explode) as a result of pressure in the cabin being unequal to the pressure in my middle ear.

If I do suffer a ruptured eardrum (which is pretty likely, honestly), I can look forward to:

* Sharp, sudden pain
* Clear, pus-filled or bloody drainage from my ear
* Hearing loss
* Loudly ringing bell sounds (tinnitus)

You should not believe that I am resigning myself to this dreadful fate humbly. Oh no. I will not go gentle into that noiseless night. I got off my bedraggled, sick ass today and strode, bleary-eyed and sniffling, up to the drugstore on Josef Korut, questing for medicine with which to cure my sinus woes. However, there were some obstacles along the way. I like to call those obstacles, "words".

Here is a rough transcript of today's Actual Exchange between myself and what I presume was a Hungarian "pharmacist" (Pure speculation as to the job title, I may have in effect been speaking with the bin collector - maybe they wear white coats here? Anything is possible):

Me: Hello! I am SICK.
*pointing at face, sticking out my tongue, making wild rolling eyes, faux coughing, faux clawing-at-throat, waving at self to intimate hotness from fever*

"Pharmacist": Megismételné, kérem?
*looking puzzled and apologetic, shaking head*

Me: Sorry, sorry, terribly sorry, I don't speak ANY Hungarian. I need DRUGS. For my COLD.
*more wild gestures towards face, blowing nose, pointing at sinuses, coughing*

"Pharmacist": Nem értem. Leírná, kérem?
*looking like maybe he thinks I'm hallucinating, probably a foreign crack addict trying to stick up the pharmacy without a visible weapon, gesturing sternly at paper and pen on desk*

Me: Oh, certainly! I'll write it down. Brilliant!
*grabs pen, scribbles on paper "Sick! Need drugs!"*

"Pharmacist": Hívja a rendõrséget!
*gesturing vigorously at the door with alarm and anger in his voice, waving phone receiver in my general direction, brow furrowed, shaking clenched fist*

As you can imagine, I departed in haste, without anything useful for my pounding sinuses. I did manage to quietly procure some German vitamin C tablets, a box of what I think are echinacea candy based on the pretty purple flower on the box, and a very sexy eucalyptus inhaler which is driving the single young men of Hungary wild with desire every time I jam it into my nostrils and making a strained sucking noise like a wet-vac trying to clean up a rather nasty spill. Oh yeah, I am one hot mama today people.

So, if you could all pray that my eustachian tube does its damn job and keeps that membrane in one piece during takeoff and landing, that would be fantastic please and thank you.

Hoping you are all well, wishing I could hear all of your voices one last time before the curtain of silence is pulled over me, possibly forever.

Melodramatically yours,

EDITED TO ADD: Am now in Istanbul, totally deaf in right ear. Seriously. Oh well, I guess one ear is better than none, right? Right? What's that? SORRY, I CAN'T HEAR YOU, COULD YOU SPEAK UP PLEASE? *sobbing*

Current Mood: sick
Friday, September 7th, 2007
11:40 am
Utah and Arizona Road Trip: August 12-17
So, now I'm on the bus heading back to London from Wales, and as breathtaking as the scenery is, there are only so many grassy green fields and cows and sheep one can look at before one needs to cut it out and stare at a computer screen instead.

At least, that's how things go when "one" is me, because clearly office life has broken my soul into a million tiny pieces and no amount of travel or love can glue it back together again.


As I was saying, I've been productive during my 3 1/2 hours in transit, cleaning up the next section of diary notes from my southwestern US road trip. Here are the rambling, long-winded results. You should probably pull up a comfy chair and make some tea before embarking on this novel-length multi-day journal entry. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 12th – Packing the Car and Getting to UtahCollapse )

Monday, August 13th – Arches National Park and Mexican HatCollapse )

Tuesday, August 14th – Grand Canyon: Day OneCollapse )

Wednesday, August 15th – Grand Canyon: Day TwoCollapse )

Thursday, August 16th – Goblin Valley and Big Rock Candy MountainCollapse )

Friday, August 17th – Delicate Arch, Evergreen, DVDs, Hair Dye, Scotch, Returning the Rental CarCollapse )

Here endeth the tale of the road trip to the Grand Canyon.

Current Mood: nostalgic
Tuesday, September 4th, 2007
11:59 pm
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