onefixedstar: (academic)
2008-11-05 11:32 am

Well, that was depressing

Obama won. That's great. I'm happy about that. However.

There were four big anti-gay amendments up yesterday. Every single one of them passed.

Florida and Arizona both voted to ban gay marriage (i.e., define marriage as between one man and one woman).

Arkansas voted to ban adoption by gay couples.

And although they haven't called it yet, it looks like Proposition 8 will pass in California, amending the state constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman and bringing heartbreak to the many couples who thought they were finally going to be allowed to marry.

Obama came out against Prop 8, but he and Biden both have stated that they do not believe same-sex marriage should be legalized--they said that gay people should be allowed civil unions, but that marriage ought to be reserved for heterosexual couples. It's the electable position, no doubt, but contrast that to Paul Martin's speech when Canada legalized gay marriage almost four years ago.

One wonders when America will reach the point when a national politician can give such a speech. Looking at yesterday's results, I don't think it will be soon.
onefixedstar: (mystery)
2008-10-29 02:36 pm
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Introducing the Newest Additions to the Household

It's been a bit of an eventful past week in my household, in ways both good and bad. The bad came primarily in the form of more than a week without hot water. We've been running on unmetered hot water for quite some time--one of the side effects of any old house and old electrical system--and Hydro finally demanded that we switch over. So we did. Or rather, we tried. Shortly after the electrician departed, we discovered that we had no longer had hot water of any sort. We called. He came back a couple of days later, tried something, and told us that if it still wasn't working, he'd come back again. It didn't work. We called him. He promised to come over the next day. He didn't show up. We called again. He promised to come over the following day. He didn't show up. In the end, it took him five days to finally show up, and when he did, he concluded that it wasn't his work at all--our hot water tank had broken! So we called the hot water tank repair people, who managed to send someone over the very day we called! (Hurray for prompt service!) wasn't a problem with our hot water tank after all. No, the electrician had installed the wrong breakers.

The electrician came back the next day. We had hot water that evening.

If the guy hadn't done good work for us in the past, I'd definitely never use him again. As it is...I'm not sure yet. It's not so much the mistake that gets me as the lack of urgency in fixing it. It's not as if we had one light out--no hot water for a week+ is kind of a big deal. And yes, there was a time when there was no such things as running water. But that period (i.e., most of human history) also didn't demand daily showers.

On the brighter side... )
onefixedstar: (academic)
2008-03-05 05:49 pm
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Fun at the castle

Last night I went to a mystery reading at Casa Loma sponsored by the Crime Writers of Canada. I like a good mystery novel and enjoy book readings, and the craft-focused Q&A sessions that accompany them, but I have to confess that the main draw of this event was the location. Casa Loma, for non-Torontonians, is a 19th century castle started by romantic-minded millionaire Sir Henry Pellat. Unfortunately, he ran out of money while trying to expand the castle, but it's still around and in good shape, managed by the Kiwanis Club. Frankly, I can't think of a better place for a mystery reading than the Casa Loma library. I should see if they run more events. Halloween at Casa Loma has promise....

As for the actual event, it was quite good. The authors (Lyn Hamilton and Rick Blechta) were entertaining and reasonably insightful, and the book excerpts were fun. Both books were clearly set in Toronto, and it's always fun to try to picture the locations being discussed. I didn't end up buying either book, but I think I might check out some of Lyn Hamilton's books from the library. Her books are of the historical mystery-paralleling-contemporary mystery type, which I often find entertaining. (Hamilton's main character lives in Toronto, but she ends up traveling around the world, so each book is set in a different location. Last night's was set in China.)

All in all, a nice break from the marking that is consuming the REST OF MY LIFE.
onefixedstar: (academic)
2008-01-17 02:39 am

Hooray for unions

Winter is slowly returning here, after the unseasonably warm weather we returned to last week. We got a little snow on Sunday, and a little more yesterday--enough to lightly coat the ground, but not enough to create huge piles of snow and slush to wade through. The perfect amount, in other words. January and February are always the time when I really feel the length of winter; there's nothing to do but hunker down against the cold and endure. But it's not too bad right now.

I decided to take on a second TA job this term. I got through last term on just one, but only because I had savings from the previous year, and those are pretty well depleted. The new job is for a Soc of Work course, which is an area I've never studied. I'll have to do a bit of catching up, but hopefully it will be interesting. I've been asked to attend class since I don't know the field, but that will have to wait another week as this week and next, I'm guest lecturing a course on the mass media at the Scarborough campus. That particular course has proven to be a bit of a bad luck course--the original instructor went on sick leave at the beginning of the term, and the replacement instructor had to head home to Europe because of a death in the family. Happily, my only bad luck has been not being able to show my slides during the first lecture because I couldn't get the key to open the computer cabinet. (Happily, I don't believe in bad luck, and I do believe in coincidence.)

I may also have some RA work coming my way this term; it doesn't pay as well as TA work, but the experience can be useful. I may get a chance to edit a book coming from conference proceedings, but that isn't certain yet. I may also get to help with another book, though nothing that would get my name on it. It will be a bit more of a challenge to carve out space to work on my dissertation and my own publications, but maybe being busy will force me to be more efficient, something I usually only accomplish in short spurts, right before deadlines.
onefixedstar: (mystery)
2007-09-12 08:18 pm
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Fluffy posting

My (roommate's) cat has developed a strange fondness for a small plastic suction cup that she found somewhere. She has also apparently decided that the best place to keep this suction cup safe is in with her food. In the beginning, we tried taking it out of the bowl, mistakenly assuming that it was there by accident. However, we quickly realized that every time we took it out, it would mysteriously end up back in the bowl. So now we pour the food on top of it and the cat eats around it, and she's apparently quite happy with that.

Yeah, my life? Not so exciting right now. A little stressful, but not exciting. Although there's going to be a party this weekend for which I get to cook--I'm looking forward to that.
onefixedstar: (Default)
2007-08-22 05:07 pm
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A series of weekend events

I made chocolate profiteroles last weekend, subbing in pastry cream for the whipped cream called for in the recipe. Actually, to be fair, B made chocolate profiteroles last weekend, while I read out the directions. About the only work I did was separating the egg yolks for the pastry cream and holding the pastry shells while B filled them using the old ziploc bag trick [ profile] semiotic_trader reminded me of. We were a little doubtful about the pastry cream, which on its own had a rather unappetizing texture, but it turned out to be quite good when served with pastry as intended. And now that I've witnessed the making of pâte à choux, perhaps some day I'll try doing it myself. Perhaps when I have guests who can help eat the result.

It was actually quite a social weekend for us, though since we did all of our socializing elsewhere, that was no help in consuming the profiteroles. On Friday night we had a movie night with a friend and his 40-something inch television (or was it 50-something inch?) so that we could all admire the clarity of Blu-ray. On Saturday we saw The Bourne Ultimatum with [ profile] semiotic_trader and [ profile] a_just_society and then went down to the Distillery District for (a rather mediocre for the money) supper. [ profile] semiotic_trader and [ profile] a_just_society are on vacation right now, which sounds like a lovely idea. It's something I'd like to try again, sometime in the future.

On a completely unrelated note, our regular mail carrier seems to have vanished, leaving behind a rather careless replacement. The replacement carrier apparently hasn't noticed yet that there are mailboxes for the individual apartments inside the side door of the house, so she or he has been leaving piles of mail outside. On Monday, the carrier left the mail outside of the side door. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I found the mail outside of the front door, which serves as a private entrance to one of the apartments. The building has an odd set-up, I admit, and perhaps it's not surprising that the carrier hasn't taken the time to look around, but I'm not enjoying the new daily hunt for the mail. What really worries me is that I didn't discover the new delivery system until Monday, but as we didn't get any mail last Thursday or Friday, there's a possibility that some letters and packages have simply been lost.
onefixedstar: (mystery)
2007-08-09 01:18 pm
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I've been on a pie kick lately.

It started with Taste T.O.'s review of Madeleines, Cherry Pie, and Ice Cream. I'm sadly afflicted with a prominent sweet-tooth, and the thought of a hitherto undiscovered dessert shop in my neighbourhood was very exciting, so B and I paid them a visit one Sunday evening. Unfortunately, it turned out that their website is out-of-date and so we arrived well within the website hours but an hour after they had actually closed for the day. Disappointing, to say the least, but our disappointment was mostly rectified by a quick trip to the supermarket for an apple pie and some whipping cream.

The apple pie was good. Perhaps not as good as a pie from Madeleines would have been, but you have to take pie where you can get it, and Sobeys is open 24 hours.

The next weekend, B pointed out that we were being overrun with strawberries, and suggested that a pie might be an excellent way to cope with that situation. So I went on the hunt and came up with what looked like a fairly decent strawberry pie recipe. As hot as it was, I didn't want to try making the pastry myself, so we bought a frozen pie shell and mixed up the very easy filling. That pie also turned out very well, though I do recommend cutting back on the sugar as many of the commenters suggest.

Today, on my breaks between working on my proposal, I've been reading about how to make different kinds of pastry. It's possible that acknowledging the fat content may be enough to prevent me from ever eating pie again. If not, then I fear that a successful attempt at making pie crust may lead into other pastry-making ventures. (Danishes! Cream puffs!) It could be bad. But very tasty.
onefixedstar: (mystery)
2007-08-06 10:34 pm

A night out

Six weeks since my last update...I'm turning into a bad LJer. I'm going to blame my lack of presence on running up against program deadlines. I hit the summer and suddenly realized that I had four months to study for and write my second comprehensive exam, and prepare my proposal. My own fault, for dithering and delaying on a topic (which in turn delayed my comp area was supposed to be related to my thesis topic). I ended up picking a very broad comp area (culture) that I thought related to the general topics I was interested in and that I already knew fairly well from my TA work and running with it. I managed to prepare for it in about half the recommended minimum time, at the rate of one or two books or 5+ articles per day most days. And now that's over and done with, and I'm working on my proposal and changing my research question every other day as I read further in the literature and then go back to the available data. I came up with a new topic today...I'll see if it sticks. (I ended getting a two month extension on the proposal, so I now have until October 31st to finish. I'm aiming for mid-September, though, as I'm tired of having it hang over me.)

With the comp out of the way, I've been going out a little more. On Thursday, B and I went to the new Annex BBQ restaurant, Cluck, Grunt, and Low, where we had a rather unusual experience. They'd been getting good reviews, and the place was packed when we got there. Rather than wait for a table, we opted to sit side-by-side at the counter, facing out onto Bloor Street through a large open window. B ordered ice tea in place of the sweet tea we'd been hoping for, and sat drinking it while we waited for our ribs. A few minutes after it arrived, with scarcely more than a sip gone, a man passing by on the street reached through the window, grabbed the drink off of the table with a grunt, and kept on walking. The man walking behind him paused, looked at us incredulously, and asked if that had really happened, to which we could only shrug and laugh. What else can you do, really? The dry rub ribs were generally good (though the BBQ sauce could have been smokier), and the server replaced our iced tea for free once we convinced her that it really had been stolen, and we'll definitely be back at some point to try the pulled pork. B, Southern boy that he is, has been lamenting the lack of good Southern food for a while, so it's nice that something opened in the neighbourhood.
onefixedstar: (cherry blossoms)
2007-06-04 03:14 pm
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I had a nice entry written up on my trip last Friday to the free concert hosted by the ROM in honour of the opening of the Lee-Chin Crystal wing, but I lost it when LiveJournal wouldn't let me post for two days. (Probably more, but that's how long I know I couldn't post for.) It looks like I'm finally able to post again, but the opening wasn't exciting enough to recap yet again, except to say that the MC bits between the performances were incredibly cheesy. The premise was Paul Gross arguing with Time over whether the human race deserved to continue to exist, with the occasional boost by guests like David Suzuki. I like Paul Gross. I like David Suzuki. But still, incredibly silly. Like it was aimed at 8-year-olds.

Later this week, I'd like to actually get inside the Crystal.
onefixedstar: (mystery)
2007-05-18 10:45 pm
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Toronto Tourist - The AGO

The Art Gallery of Ontario currently has an Emily Carr exhibit on display. I've been meaning to go for a while, having heard from my roommate that it's fabulous, but kept putting it off for later. Yesterday, however, I realized that it closes on Sunday, and so tonight B and I finally made the time to go. My roommate was right--it is indeed fabulous, with enough paintings to give a real sense of the changes her in style over time (including the influence of the Group of Seven). I was particularly interested in a couple of rugs that she did, which were apparently originally displayed under a different name. The exhibit didn't say why, but I suspect it was because she didn't want to detract from her artistic reputation by becoming known for art in the form of women's crafts. I suppose it takes someone like Joyce Wieland--and a few decades of time--to begin to garner some respect for that kind of work.

I think the rest of the evening will be spent on pop culture, specifically watching season 5 of Gilmore Girls.
onefixedstar: (academic)
2007-04-19 02:40 pm
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Thoughts While Invigilating a Make-Up Exam

One of the best features of my (slowly going obsolete) laptop is its amazing wireless reception. I can get reception in places where no one else can. Like the TA room in my department, for example. Or the basement seminar room where I'm currently sitting, invigilating a make-up exam and figuring out the distribution of grades in the course.

Of course, amazing wireless reception can quickly become a liability when one is trying to do boring work, and is prone to aimlessly surfing when bored. Fortunately, I like playing with numbers, so I'm not too bored...yet.
onefixedstar: (sandmanweber)
2007-04-05 07:33 pm
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Shivering kitty

My roommate made a good point today. The cat may have been lying on top of me all week not because she was lonely last weekend, but because she's cold. Because there's snow on the ground and we have no heat. My roommate called the landlords this morning, leaving a polite message asking them to please turn on the heat. I called them again this evening leaving a civil message threatening to call the city if they don't get the heat on pronto. So far, no effect.
onefixedstar: (sandmanweber)
2007-04-04 12:46 pm
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I need to buy a thermometer. Our landlords turned off the heat a couple of weeks ago, and it's cold in here--I really don't think we're at the legal minimum of 21 degrees! I feel a little guilty about wanting the heat up, though, and the energy required to do it. The temperatures aren't dangerous, just uncomfortable. And layers and blankets and having both a cat and a laptop on my lap will all make it bearable. There are only a couple more weeks of cold, right?
onefixedstar: (cherry blossoms)
2007-04-04 03:29 am
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Lap cat

The cat was left alone for most of the weekend, as I was at my boyfriend's and my roommate was visiting her sister. Wow, is she making me pay for it! Roommate's not back yet, so it's just me and the cat. Every waking moment for the past two days that hasn't been spent paying attention to to the cat has been spent with her trying to get my attention. Usually by knocking things over and generally being a pest. I've picked up more garbage cans over the past two days than I care to think about. I like having a people-oriented cat, but gah. Oh well, at least she's been letting me sleep in the morning.

And what am I doing up so late, you ask? Marking papers, of course. I really don't think this batch of papers are as good as last year's, but that may be my memory playing tricks on me. Nonetheless, I wish someone would explain to these students the difference between a topic and an argument.
onefixedstar: (sandmanweber)
2007-02-27 02:25 pm
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Red card, green card

Last week, while I was away, I got a letter from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care telling me that it's time for me to get a photo health card. (These were introduced a few years ago, replacing the old red-and-white non-photo cards, in an effort to combat fraud.) I rather like my red-and-white card, which up until now has never needed to be replaced because it has no photo, but I want continued access to health care, and so I decide to call and set up an appointment to get a new card.

According to the letter I received, the best times to call are between 10:00 and 4:00, Tuesday to Friday. So this morning at 10:30, I dutifully called the toll-free number. And got a busy signal. Called again at 10:45, 11:00, 11:15, 11:30, 11:45, 12:00, and 12:15. All busy signals. Went out to return some library books and run errands. Got home at 2:15 and called again. It rang! But oh wait, there was no one on the other end. Just some clicks, and then a dial tone. Rapidly hit redial--busy! I'm beginning to think they only have one person answering all of the calls.

This is pretty bad customer service. (Yes, yes, it's the government. I've worked for the government. It doesn't have to be this inefficient.) They're telling me to do something I don't really want to do anyway, and then they're making it as hard as possible for me to do. (And you ought to see the list of documentation I have to bring in to get a new health card!) Bah.
onefixedstar: (cherry blossoms)
2007-02-25 11:47 pm

San Francisco and other news

I'm back safe and sound from San Francisco, having seen almost nothing of the city itself. We got in one good day of touristing before getting sick, and ended up spending the rest of the trip (once we were able to leave the hotel bathroom) in the suburb's visiting B's brother. Not a bad way to spend the time, I suppose, but I'm sorry I didn't get to see more of the city itself. I did get to watch a tremendous amount of Ultimate Fighting Championship, so I suppose I can add that to my cultural repetoire now. I'm actually rather curious who comprises the main audience for UFC--in what context is knowledge of UFC valuable cultural capital? Mind you, I'm not curious enough to do any actual research on it, but maybe one of my culture students will write a paper about it. (Last year, two people wrote about wrestling, so it's certainly possible.)

In other news, I passed my theory comp. Yay me! Frankly, I'm a bit surprised, as I thought my answer to the last question (of three) was terrible. But I'll take it. Even if it wasn't unanimous, I'll take it.
onefixedstar: (mystery)
2007-02-20 08:04 pm

Mid-trip vacation report

I'm on Day 4 in San Francisco. B and I spent the first day hanging out with B's brother at his place, and the second day wandering around the city, hitting such tourist highlights as the sea lions, and a good chunk of Market St. We ended the day at Zuni Cafe, on the recommendation of my brother, and shortly after that, I was hit with food poisoning. (B blames Zuni, but I think I got sick too fast for that, and the burritos we ate for lunch are a more likely culprit.) Fortunately, we'd planned to stay in a hotel that night anyway, so I didn't have to worry about returning to the suburbs, and was able to spend most of the night on the floor of the hotel bathroom. Twelve hours later, just as I was starting to feel a little better, B came down with the same thing. We booked an extra night in the hotel, and spent the rest of the day in bed, watching the Law & Order marathon on TNT. (Sadly for me, the hotel only had about 20 channels, and there really wasn't much on during the day. B was too sick to care.)

We're still recovering today, so we've mostly been watching TV at B's brother's place. I'm hoping that by tomorrow, we'll actually feel up to doing something again.
onefixedstar: (mystery)
2007-02-15 07:12 pm
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(no subject)

Happy birthday, [ profile] villagechick! Hope you're having fun today!
onefixedstar: (cherry blossoms)
2007-02-12 10:17 pm
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I broke my laptop!

My cat has developed a charming new habit: tipping over glasses. She prefers ones with liquid in them, but she'll take any she can get. On Saturday, I made the mistake of forgetting about this new habit and setting down a glass of water on the coffee table. She went for it, of course, but I was faster. I grabbed it before she tipped it...and then tried to transfer my laptop from my lap to the table so that I could take the glass into the kitchen. Big mistake. Where my cat had failed, I succeeded, and water splashed onto my computer. Not a lot, but apparently it only takes a little. The computer itself seems to be functioning okay, but the keyboard is probably going to need to be replaced. I've had the worst luck with this laptop...but this time, I have only myself to blame.
onefixedstar: (academic)
2007-02-05 09:30 pm
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Comp complete

I'm now finished with comp decompression, and onto catch-up-on-everything-that-was-put-on-hold mode. Today was Laundry Day, and I think tomorrow will be Errand Day. Also Library Day I. To be followed by Library Days II, III, and IV. I have a whole lot of books to take back.