29 June 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11 sets record

From Ireland Online:

"Director Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 took in a whopping $21.8m in its first three days, becoming the first documentary ever to debut as America's top weekend film."

And that's just the US numbers. Mike and I went to a Sunday night showing that was packed full.

Was it worth it? Yeah. Was it as slanted as it seems? Hell, yeah. But that is Moore's MO. Does it really deserve an R-rating? It is rated 14+ here in Canada, R in the US. And yeah, I think it does deserve it. Some of the war footage is graphic and stomach-churning. However, the film also made me laugh, made me cry and made me curse (out loud, but under my breath)... which means it is a damn good documentary.

Writing for change

Writing for change is a resource which encompasses three areas of writing: Core Skills, Writing for Science and Writing for Advocacy. We just received the booklet and CD-Rom at our Library (for US$29), but the online HTML version is free to use.

Fahamu (which means understanding in Kiswahili) is an organization working towards various civil and human rights through the use of information technology and training in research and IT.

One of many curses I suspect...

Apparently, my Dad says being unable to vote for a winning candidate is a "family curse."

I actually ended up voting for the guy who came in second (Elections Canada - Electoral Districts see Victoria) and for a change was voting because I wanted him to win (I have voted all over the map in the past, often strategically to try and unseat someone) -- he used to be Mayor of Victoria and seemed to have the best grasp of what it meant to represent the city.

Of course our riding was one where the pollsters were really off base -- the local paper suggested yesterday that the Conservative candidate would win, but he came in 3rd. Instead we have the same idiot who has been ignoring the city for as long as I can remember (this will be his 4th consecutive term)...

27 June 2004

Not too foodsafe

Having a stable adjacent to your kitchen just doesn't seem foodsafe to me... but that's just one example of Eurobad 74; the creme de la crappe of 1970s European interiors.

Old Fisher-Price toy

The mystery old FP toy I found at the flea market is the engine from the Lift 'n' Load Railroad. According to This Old Toy (one of my favourite toy reference websites), the set was sold from 1978 to 1979; so it's newer than I thought, but still 25 years old. And I only paid 25 cents. :)


Most of yesterday was spent on the road... we piled into the van and headed up to Quallicum Beach to pick up a friend who has just moved back to the island after 5 years in the US.

We took our time going up, stopping in Duncan and twice in Nanaimo before getting into Quallicum. The stop in Duncan was at the Sally Ann (great bunch of toys for Alice including some grab bags of Lego); the stop at the south end of Nanaimo was to browse the flea market (more great finds including an odd old(?) Fisher-Price toy which looks like an engine... will try to find more info and post photo); then we popped up the road to get some fresh veggies to accompany lunch... then went in search of somewhere to stop and eat.

We chose Maffeo Sutton Park in Nanaimo (it's right downtown on the waterfront) and boy were we impressed. There was a wedding party gathering at the bandstand, there are two oversize chess boards, basketball court, skate ramps, a huge kids playpark, plenty of benches and picnic tables, and an adjacent saltwater lagoon. We will definitely stop there again.

Anyhow, the ride back was a little more painful... we only made pit-stops for bathroom breaks, gas (which is always cheaper up-island) and groceries (including a box full of berries and produce from my favourite farmer's market just north of Duncan). But we made it OK.. I even managed to knit a bit along the way.

24 June 2004

There might be a reason it's rare.

Folks at the University of Connecticut are excited. Rare 'Corpse Flower' To Bloom In UConn Greenhouses, boasts a news release on their website, complete with a webcam for "scent free viewing" of the event. The flower is "difficult to locate in the wilds of Sumatra" and reeks of rotting flesh when open. Do you think maybe there is a reason that no one has seen it in a while? Why is anyone looking for this freak of nature?

23 June 2004

insult to injury

I'm having one of those days. The fish died. My cat clawed the hell out of my hand. I waited in ridiculously long lineups in retail and restaurants because it was a gov't payout day. I had to climb into the McDonalds play structure to retrieve my stubborn child (her punnishment is a month without McDonalds). I was repeatedly stuck behind slow (as slow as 20 km/h in a 50 km/h zone) drivers this morning and narrowly avoided two potential accidents this afternoon(idiot no. 1 turns left in front of me as I am entering the intersection; idiot no. 2 swirves over into my lane while yapping on his cell phone. both got to hear my horn). I am short-staffed at work and then, a coworker points out a notice she pulled from the public notice board downstairs:

Party at (address)
Hosted by Rob M-----
BYOB Tonight June 23

I really wish I could deny some people the right to share this planet. What I was tempted to do was phone the womyn's centre to see if I could track down a band of millitant fat chicks to crash the party. Alas, I have settled on notifying the Equity Office.


22 June 2004

Hey Teach! Can you help us divide this coke?

I laughed out loud when I read about this Cocaine math problem:

Confused about how to divide "kilos" of cocaine into ounces for sale, two teens from a Saanich private school turned to their math teacher for help, provincial court heard Monday.

An 18-year-old woman testified that a classmate -- when they were both Grade 11 students at St. Margaret's School for girls -- returned from the Thanksgiving holiday with a large quantity of cocaine which she intended to sell.

21 June 2004

The Mercury Theatre on the Air

The Mercury Theatre on the Air features RealAudio and MP3 recordings of Orson Welles radio serials (perhaps you have heard of War of the Worlds?).

The site also asks you to sign a petittion for the Eldred Act (aka Public Domain Enhancement Act) which, if you are an American, you should consider.

Rescue Magazine

If you like Martha Stewart Living, but can't stand the woman and/or find yourself constantly adapting everything in her magazine to suit your needs/budget/diet then you ought to take a peek at Rescue Magazine. Its motto is "relief from house food and garden perfection" and it is a breath of fresh air for House and Garden addicts like myself.

It's the brainchild of Dan Ho, and he is trying to put his money where his mouth is... his June/July issue advocates: "start your charcoal with this magazine when you are finished with it" after he rants in the editorial about the mountains of paper and pacakaging in our lives.

19 June 2004

Librarians Sailors and Patriots, OH MY!

The Canadian Library Association held their annual convention in Victoria this year, and I was lucky enough to attend. While the presence of so many liberal library types might offset the balance in this city, the Americans were kind enough to send up a naval carrier (the USS Stennis) and flood the place with young party-hungry sailors. I can't imagine what the night clubs looked like last night.

Today I attended two sessions: the first was all about Graphic Novels and why libraries need to add more to their collections; the second was about privacy issues. It touched on the PATRIOT act (which I now know actually stands for something: "Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism")and it started to make me think... about why I get pissed off about America's superiority complex, about international law in general, about privacy versus confidentiality, rights versus freedoms, and so on.

18 June 2004

Knitting Techniques

Knitting Techniques is a great resource for new knitters or for anyone who has forgotten how to do a rarely-used stitch. The instructions are accompanied by simple animations to show the direction of the needle and the path for the wool.

17 June 2004

Watch Lobster

It never ceases to amaze me how easily creatures adapt to everything people put in their path. From the odd news files comes this tale of a very big lobster standing guard over a barnacle encrusted watch. Not happy to leave the lobster be, people moved it into an aquarium (with the watch, natch). Now, I am sure the lobster will adapt again with no problem.. if only people could do the same.

Still on the subject of change, I just finished reading Who Moved My Cheese? which is a little parable about adapting to change. It's a little condescending, but an accurate study in human psychology.

16 June 2004

Are you experienced?

The BC Experience is set to move in to the Crystal Gardens space. What is this experience? Basically it is a "multimeda exhibit" that centres on a "giant topographical map of BC".

I'm thinking someone had leftovers from the BC pavillion at Expo 86...

15 June 2004

The Allurium

The Allurium is the website of John W. Randal, a writer in Pittsburgh. I found it like this:

A few months ago someone left a bunch of Amazing Stories magazines in the staff lounge. Leafing through one on a break I came across a story called Proxy by Randal. It's about "sim" addiction and how it affects real life relationships. It's a pretty cool story. I wrote myself a note: "Proxy -- John W Randal -- sim addiction -- amazing stories LXVII:10" and tucked it in my purse. Today I cleaned my purse and found said note, stuffed at the bottom. I googled the author and found his site. Actually, I found his old site... which linked to the new site.

I will be trolling through his bibliography the next little while... we'll see if anything else sticks with me the way Proxy did.

Where do I get news?

OK, so I am an information junkie. I spend a lot of time absorbing info from all types of media, from books, radio, television, the net of course, movies, art installations, and even grafitti at the bus stop. I belong to email-lists, I check news aggregators like Realpolitik and Findory, I read blogs, and I talk to people about current events.

So how do I know what is "good news" what is a trusted source? I can't give a quick answer except that I am always skeptical, and I understand that everyone has a bias.

That said, I trust CBC and BBC much more than CNN; I read the San Francisco Chronicle closer than the Washington Post; I trust Roger Ebert to give me a clear and accurate movie review; any blog by a Librarian to point me to great new sources of information; and The Register and Slashdot to highlight major changes in technologies.

It helps that I work in a library where I can find dozens of newspapers, have free internet access, and all the books I could ever hope to read.

Sometimes finding news is tricky. Locally, we see all sorts of things going on that never make it into tv reports (we have two local stations), newspapers (one daily and two weeklies) or on the net (really, we're a smallish city, off the national radar). So sometimes, I just have to interperet hearsay or (could it be true?) actually interperet what I saw firsthand.

So where do I find news? Everywhere. I find it difficult to understand people who don't have a clue what's going on -- people who didn't realize an election had been called 48 hours after the fact, or who didn't hear about important legislation being tabled, or who missed a major natural disaster -- because I pretty much trip over this information every day.

13 June 2004


Went out on a limb tonight and rented Returner , a cheesy dubbed Japanese sci-fi/martial arts movie. I was looking for something where I could completely park my brain and this did the trick. It stars Takeshi Kaneshiro who makes a fine attractive lead -- he looks as good as Keanu in the Matrix, and acts about 20 times better (even with his lines dubbed, you can tell he has some grasp of human emotions).

The plot is made from equal parts Terminator, ET and Independence Day; the wardrobe (the cool part anyway) and CG effects are stolen from the Matrix trilogy. There is enough action to keep things moving, and enough humour to keep things light -- the bad guy is really entertaining -- and overall, something I would reccomend to certain people.

10 June 2004

blackout blocked?

An article in today's Globe and Mail, "Election blackout rules lifted" is a serious bomshell: due to a BC Supreme court decision, Elections Canada is lifting the blackout on election results as polls close in different timezones.

This is truly odd and will either have a profound effect or no effect at all. It could mean that British Columbian's make or break the Federal election. Imagine knowing how Ottawa and Quebec voted before the polls close here? Very weird. As usual, I will probably vote early in the day, then spend the rest of the day badgering others to vote.

08 June 2004

...ways to spell Viagra

Rob Cockerham has finally proved that Viagra by any other name would smell like spam. He has computed mathematically that There are 600,426,974,379,824,381,952 ways to spell Viagra.

See? I told you math was fun.

07 June 2004


Well, I biked in to work today for the first day of BTWW. I measured on the map and it is just shy of 10 km. The ride took me a little over an hour -- mostly because I had to walk part of the way. Some of the walking was due to traffic (and lack of bike lane) and some to a busted derailleur -- could not get all gears (only 4/12) and it kept bouncing between gears. Bah. I will try to fix it tomorrow.

But I feel more awake than I have in weeks, so that much is good... though I have asked for a ride home...

06 June 2004

Useful calculator

I knew someone must have written a script to determine Number of Days Between Two Dates and lo and behold, there it was, on page two of a Google search.

I needed it for work, to determine a sample size, but may use it again, hence here it is in my blog. Lucky you!

04 June 2004

Geist: Canadian Ideas, Canadian Culture

Geist: Canadian Ideas, Canadian Culture is a literary mag from BC, that has much of its content online. Good fix for those moments I want to read something other than Entertainment Weekly.

03 June 2004

Mythic Archipelago

Mythic Archipelago is the first gallery installation in quite some time to showcase work I actually like. It is on display at the Maltwood's McPherson gallery until July 2nd.

The Eastside Group, a trio of artists from Qualicum Beach, are returning to Victoria with a new mix of artistic whimsy and lyrical introspection. An exploration of their own inner and outer landscapes, Mythic Archipelago will feature the sculptures of Bill Friesen, the collages and assemblages of Marci Katz, and the coloured ink drawings of poet and artist Joe Rosenblatt.

In particular, Friesen's masks really appeal to me; they are otherworldly and yet very human: "New World Order" features multiple partial faces, each with a nine-digit number on their foreheads; "Puzzled Man" is partially cut to resemble a jigsaw puzzle. Marci Katz' found object assemblage, "Newlyweds" uses a marriage lisence as wallpaper in a horrific domestic kitchen scene involving a fashion doll in a meat grinder; her "Dress up Box for Grownups" is much more lighthearted, including rose-coloured glasses and feathers.

I searched the net and found this review of an earlier stop in this tour, which goes into more detail on some of the pieces and the artists' concepts.

Granny's Knitting

As I have taken up knitting again recently, and as it has become more popular globally, I find that the most common inspiration for people my age and younger to knit is "because my grandma was the most amazing knitter." Even my favourite knitting site is dedicated to a grandma.

For me, I've been through this story many times: my Granny tried to teach me but I just wasn't into it. Then my mother tried; no luck either. Then I learned while in England -- bought a whole sweater kit and never even finished the back -- and forgot soon after. Finally, I did manage to teach myself from books and have come to the conclusion that, like sewing, I can happily do the basic-to-intermediate stuff, but don't throw any complex stuff in because I will just get frustrated.

There's a whole school of thought out there that knitting skipped a generation because of Women's Liberation. Of course it didn't skip a generation in my family.... but yeah, I guess that some of the "supermoms" out there who were trying to do everything did not want to knit. More likely I think, especially in North America was the trend toward anything "instant" -- if you could microwave dinner, why the heck would you want to make your own clothes? This is in fact exactly why I wanted to learn knitting, as part of a bid to be self-sufficient by age 30. OK, so I am past 30 and I am not self-sufficient, but I think that I could do OK cut off from society once I got past withdrawal from the internet (hee-hee).

Anyway, my Granny knit all the time. She would sit and watch soaps, and whip up a pair of slippers pretty much while-you-were-waiting -- in fact it is one of my clearest memories of her.

02 June 2004

Here's a better picture of a Forest Tent Caterpillar; you can really see the blue along the sides. Posted by Hello

01 June 2004

report from the flipside

Friend of a friend blogged this: long rambling report from the flipside

Very interesting reading (though best suited to open minded adults!) as the fest seems to be similar to burning man... must find out more.

Added 3June04:
Hey, it is like Burning Man... because it was inspired by Burning Man. There's more info for the curious on the official about page. All I can say is that if I had been invited to go about 10 years ago -- before I was married and a parent -- I'd have gone. Now, I don't think so. That said, if these things are still going when I am in my 50's, and if the hubby and I aren't too set in our ways... then maybe we can pack our bags and go.

"Be kind to your books -- and here's how"

A recent article in the Alameda Times-Star Online - Bay Area Living section outlined the best ways to care for books. How not to repair them; how not to yank them from your shelf; and so on.

It is a topic I would love to see echoed in every high-school English class and repeated at least once in post-secondary. A lot of it should be common sense...but don't get me started on the lack of common sense in our world; I'll be typing for weeks.