Archive for November, 2009


Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

I don’t know if Mye knew what she was getting into before she moved out here.

“I love the rain,” she told me after less than a week. And sure, if you’re in Quebec the rain is nice. In the summer it’s a welcome respite from the oppressive heat. In the winter, rain means it’s no longer -30c. Rain is good.

But here it rains pretty much every day. It didn’t take her long to get tired of it.

“Is it always going to rain?” she asks me.


“What’s it like outside right now? Do I need my jacket?”

“Do you need to ask?”

“Merde, next year I’m moving to California.”


Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

It’s funny how I’ll go quite some time without really being able to accomplish anything or to focus on school and then suddenly I’ll bang out 2-3000 words in a sitting.

I think I have to sort it out subconsciously first, otherwise I’m wasting my time trying to write. I stick the information in there and then it has to ferment untouched a little. And once it’s all sorted out, papers like to spring nearly fully formed from my brain.

That’s been my day today. Productive, but not particularly exciting.

I’ve been working on a reference for a friend. It came as a form full of questions to fill out but it’s obvious from the way they’re written that it’s supposed to be used by someone in a phone interview. I really wish they’d phoned me instead. I overthink things when I write them down so it’s taking me ten times as long to say that she’s reliable, creative and I would trust her around kids.

It doesn’t help that the questions are kind of repetitive so I feel the need to say the same things over but worded differently. I kind of wish that I had a bit of time to let it sit on the back burner so I will have something magically brilliant to say.

Pumpkin pie

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

I spent most of today feeling really fatigued. I kind of sleepwalked through the day. When I got home I was informed that my roommates were planning on feeding me.

“Great,” I said, “I’ll make pie.

I made it from scratch. It wasn’t quite as good as it looks, and I was kind of disappointed. This calls for further experimentation. Yes please, they said. I must be really out of shape these days because rolling out the dough for the crust has left me pretty sore.

‘Bash it down’ is the name of a song my roommate wrote in high school. It took him a while to notice it after I took it out of the oven. “It’s like you made it for me!” he said. He was pretty excited.

At dinner we cracked open another bottle of our new wine. I don’t know what’s in that stuff but it goes straight to my head. I spent quite a bit of time after dinner laying on the floor taking pictures of the cat.


Group work

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

perpetually flooded

We were supposed to get a lot of work done tonight but I had the presence of mind to be late. It was my fault, mostly. I left a couple minutes later than I should have and somehow when you’re taking transit five minutes can compound itself into an hour and fifteen.

Shortly after we moved in, it was discovered that the sheer volume of wine consumed weekly in our suite is rather impressive. In order to cut costs, it was decided that we would just bottle our own. The francophones placed the order and it was delivered today. Thirty bottles of something white, dry and fruity tasting.

It called for a toast in the kitchen, which turned into the recounting of drunk stories. The liquor laws and attitudes are far more lax in Quebec than they are here, so it made for some pretty good ones.

By the time I ran out to catch my bus it was nowhere to be found. I was soon to discover that Translink had decided to send me off on some strange, counter-intuitive route to my destination, definitely not the one I would have chosen had I had the sense to second-guess the computer.

The problem with the next stop announcements on the bus is that they give me a false sense of security. I get on a bus I’ve never been on before and just assume that the name of the street I want is going to be called. So because of that I’ll wait that much longer to get off and backtrack because I’m still holding out hope that my stop is coming up.

I arrived finally. No one had really started working because they were trying to load SPSS on a dinosaur of a PC. While this was happening, Sense and Sensibility was on TV. Some of my group members were arguing over whether it was Hugh Grant or Hugh Laurie they saw and the modern day diagnoses of the illnesses you read about in Victorian novels and then we started looking up youtube videos of Cathie Jung, the lady with the world’s smallest waist, which turned into various rants about fashion, body image and why healthy looking never seems to be in style.

All of this was sort-of appropriate, I guess. After all, we’re looking at images of women in the news. But after that we all got tired, lost steam, ate Chinese bakery danishes filled with something custardy that was definitely not custard and went home.


I sure know how to spend a Saturday

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

under the rotunda

In my bid to be the most exciting person in the world I spent the evening in the library at school doing SPSS coding. Yay me.

Afterward I wandered around campus. On weekends it’s a completely different place. It’s quiet and there’s no one around to watch me wander around erratically taking pictures. It becomes a blank slate for wandering aimlessly. I like it better with the people erased.


Everything looks so much bigger when there’s nobody around, and I’m so much smaller. There’s so much more space to think.

Shooting at night is a funny thing. My camera always seems to see so many more colours than I do. The photos always come out brighter. I love it, even though I hate the sulphur yellow of the lights.

It was snowing when I left. I wonder how long it will take to come down the mountain.

stairs down, stairs up, more around the corner


Friday, November 20th, 2009


I don’t have a lot to say today so look at this picture I drew. I promise I’ll be more verbose tomorrow.

Late nights with Erin

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

So, suddenly it is 3am and I am still up. I’m not quite sure what I do that sucks time at this time of day. All I know is that I’m not tired at all and the time always goes by really fast.

I start reading things and then half the night is over. Maybe you know how it is. It’s like mining. You hit a good vein and then you follow it until it ends. You learn lots of interesting useless things that bounce around your head like quicksilver and then eventually percolate out during a conversation with some hapless individual.

And if you’re lucky, peoples’ eyes won’t glaze over and you won’t subject yourself to that tickertape at the bottom of your consciousness that reads

…you’ve done it again…you’ve bored another one…..damn… you’ve done it again… they’re bored out of their skull….abort conversation…..

And now it’s 4:30. I’ve been distracted by something and I’m reading what I wrote above this point and questioning my choice of words but I’m going to leave it all and plunge onward because I can already tell there’s no way to salvage this into a profoundly interesting and insightful post.

Somehow I’ve managed to aggravate my back again. The old knot just below my left shoulder has tightened up. It occurred to me quite some time ago that since this injury has been bothering me since 2003 it’s probably never going to go away. And since it’s here to stay, I think it needs a name. This is going to bug me until I think of something suitable. Any ideas?

There’s a carnation in a little jar of water right beside my computer. It was sitting on an empty seat on the bus the other day. I stuffed it into my hair on my way out and now it’s sitting on my desk. The cat seems to like it. She’s licked the petals a bunch of times but it doesn’t seem to be the worse for wear.

Did I tell you I’m doing nablopomo? Well, it’s the reason I’m cheating by backdating this post. I haven’t gone to bed yet so it sort of counts.

A newspaper and a pot of tea

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

I’ve been busy coding newspapers tonight. For those of you that are just joining us, I’m working on two little media monitoring projects one for the Global Media Monitoring Project and a group project about news photography.

For lack of anything better to say today and because a certain someone asked me ages ago to write more about what I do in school I’m going to tell you about what I’ve been finding today.

Well, for starters there aren’t any women in the newspaper. Studies over the past 20 years have found that they make up about 20% of the total people mentioned and discussed in the news. I’m looking at photographs and there seems to be less than that in what I’ve gotten through so far.

None of the photos of women National Post’s B section had a background. Regardless of what the story is about they’re obviously red carpet glamour shots that have had their backgrounds removed so that they can wrap the text around them. The weirdest example of this is Nelly Furtado’s disembodied head that floats in the white space of the page and creeps me out.

They’re more a design element than anything. They’re not really illustrating anything. They’re just there to look sexy.

Men get nice boxy photos with context where they look like they’re doing something. These photos tend to be bigger too. I can already see our group sitting around a table laughing our heads off as we try to outdo eachother’s snarky remarks.

The thing that’s been causing me the most problems tonight has been a series of pictures of Lech Walesa getting run over by a Segway because it’s kind of random and doesn’t fit well into any of our categories.

In fact, it had a really long caption that I thought I’d read twice, but I’d obviously missed a huge chunk of it because of crappy typsetting. The line lengths were way, way too long for anyone to be expected to actually retain any of the information from it.

It was a series of five photos and here I was thinking grargh I have to code five of these. Part way through though I had to stop and look closer to figure out what the hell was happening and then redo all the work I had just done.

So there you go. A few important messages to take from this. Women are marginalized in the media. Poor typesetting is annoying. Segways are dangerous because they run over populist leaders.

* I’m quite aware of the fact that while I’m complaining about someone else’s typesetting that the kearning on this blog is screwy and it annoys me to no end. I haven’t gotten around to fixing it yet. I will eventually.

Reasons you should learn Latin

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

You can learn it by rote. Seriously, how many things these days are learned by rote? It’s a unique and tedious experience that should not be missed.

It makes you sound smart and cultured. People think that Latin is somehow a difficult and prestigious language to learn so it gets you brownie points.

Forever afterward you will seethe with annoyance when your profs pronounce Latin phrases wrong in class.

You will be able to tell when people use Latin phrases to make themselves sound good without actually knowing what they mean, and that will give you a well-deserved feeling of superiority.

Because English grammar makes a lot more sense after you learn it.

Because after you learn Latin, every other language seems ridiculously simple. That way you can jump with confidence into other random useless languages, like Norwegian. Norsk er et utrolig lett språk, ja.

You can read the Vulgate Bible and come to the realization that it’s just as dry as the English version.

The books look cool on your bookshelf.

You will come across new words in English you have never seen before and magically know what they mean.

Your ability to cheat at Scrabble will be greatly enhanced because you can make up words that seem like they should really be words.

How to conduct a content analysis of a newspaper

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Print out your coding protocol and coding sheets.

Ensure that you have purchased the correct newspapers.

Make sure your environment is free of distractions.

Enlist the help of the cat.

how to write a paper

Check: does your breath smell nice? No, you just ate a fish sandwich. That was probably not a good idea.

how to write a paper

Use an HB pencil. That is a good idea.

Make a trip to the washroom. Return to find that the cat has absconded with your pencil.

how to write a paper

Indicate your displeasure by hugging the cat and glaring at your webcam.

Banish the cat from the room.