jazzfish: an evil-looking man in a purple hood (Lord Fomax)
["Hydro" is Canadian for "power company." When we were first looking at rental apartments we kept asking 'is the power bill included in this obscenely large monthly price?' and the agent kept saying 'yes, hydro's included for this unit' and we kept saying 'It's good to know that water is included but what about electricity?']

ME: Hello, BC Hydro. Remember me?

BC HYDRO: *is suspicious*

ME: *sigh* *reset password* *verify email*

BC HYDRO: Hi! Welcome to BC Hydro! What would you like to do?

ME: I'd like to have electricity in my new house.

BC HYDRO: We can do that for you, sure! Would you like to transfer existing service, or set up a new account?

ME: Well, since I haven't been a BC Hydro customer for the last two years because the city of New Westminster has its own power authority, I guess I'm setting up a new account.

BC HYDRO: Oh, you can't do that. You've already got an account with us, from when you lived in the city of Vancouver before, and we can't create a new account that duplicates an existing one.

ME: In that case I guess I'm ... transferring service?

BC HYDRO: Sure thing! Just tell us where you're transferring service from.

ME: How about from having disconnected it two years ago when I moved away?

BC HYDRO: Oh, you can't do that. You need to have service before you can transfer service. You'll have to set up a new account.

ME: ...

BC HYDRO: ...

ME: This is not a Friday kind of problem.
jazzfish: Randall Munroe, xkcd180 ("If you die in Canada, you die in Real Life!") (Canada)
Supreme Court rules Wal-Mart must compensate workers at closed Quebec store: "The store shut down a few months after the 190 workers became the first Wal-Mart employees in North America to be unionized in 2004."

(You may, if you wish, compare and contrast this decision with almost any recent decision by the US Supreme Court.)

Something I've noticed: there are unions in Canada that will actually go on strike. Since I've been here I've noticed: the Post Office, a month after we got here. (Ended badly: the union staged 'rolling strikes' of roughly one spot per day to make a statement while not inconveniencing anyone too much, management responded by locking out *all* postal workers and then blaming it on 'the strike,' and the gov't signed back-to-work legislation.); truckers at the Port of Vancouver, sick of making no money while sitting around waiting for the Port to unload/load. (An agreement was reached; the Port is dragging its feet on implementing its end, and the truckers are making more strike noises.); and BC teachers, currently ongoing.

American individualism is American exceptionalism taken to ridiculous extremes. The idea that helping everyone else get ahead means that everyone else is dragging us down may be the most pernicious I've ever heard. It's certainly up there with "the rich deserve their money" and "work good, pleasure bad."

There's certainly some of that attitude up here, but there's still some leftover pushback against it too. It's nice to see.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Blarg rant DST rant blarg. Sign the petition.

We've been keeping a change jar since we got here. It's a pretty big jar, and we've filled up maybe 5 cm (2") of it. Extrapolating out, it's going to take us over a decade to get it most of the way full. Since Canada abolished the penny awhile back there's going to be a clearly demarcated stratum at the bottom with copper intrusions, and then the rest of it will be pure silver coinage. (Loonies and toonies aren't "change," they're oddly-sized bills.)

March seems to be music month: Tylan (formerly of Girlyman) in Seattle next Sunday, a UK band called Veronica Falls the Friday after, and then back to Seattle for Antje Duvekot the next day. Busy busy.



After having it open in a browser tab for a week or more, I finally played Depression Quest yesterday. It's a choose-your-own-adventure type of thing from the point-of-view of someone who's depressed. As you get more depressed, some of the choices are struck out & not available to you. Highly effective, slightly terrifying. [Via Zarf, I'm pretty sure.]

(Also, Boggle the Owl. DW feed at [syndicated profile] boggletheowl_feed.)

Via [personal profile] thanate, Procrastination is Not Laziness, which explains a great deal about where my procrastination habit comes from. O brain, you are not as helpful as you think you are. From the comments on either that article or a related one, I'm experimenting with the Pomodoro technique, which consists mostly of doing things for 25 minutes and then not for 5 minutes. Initial results are promising but that could be the standard "any change in process will result in temporary improvements" thing. Will see.

And after a dull grey morning the sun is threatening to come out.

linkuary

Jan. 15th, 2013 10:09 am
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
On Not Believing In Canada: "As anyone can see, this isn't a country -- it’s far too perfect to be convincing. It's a fantasy roleplaying character invented by a kid who goes to mock United Nations camps instead of playing Dungeons & Dragons." (Also, Crooked Timber is one of the very few places on the internet where one should read the comments.)

How to Avoid Work: "In 1949, career counselor William J. Reilly penned How To Avoid Work -- a short guide to finding your purpose and doing what you love. Despite the occasional vintage self-helpism of the tone, the book is remarkable for many reasons -- written at the dawn of the American corporate era and the golden age of the housewife, it not only encouraged people of all ages to pursue their passions over conventional, safe occupations, but it also spoke to both men and women with equal regard."

Best cookie cutters EVER.

Corrections: "Additionally, we inaccurately wrote that the groom 'attended Cornell University and double-majored in English and Humping Other English Majors' Girlfriends.' Mr. Penview, in fact, only majored in English."

Proposal for a Hobbit AU: "So Lobelia Sackville-Baggins is a confirmed spoon thief, right? As in . . . confirmed burglar?" (Via [personal profile] james_davis_nicoll)

La trahison des imperials.

Screw Organic Chemistry, I'm Just Going to Write About Cats: "Some people might say this is simply a naked strategy to obtain more traction on social bookmarking sites and I am selling out my core mission in the interest of transient popularity. Don't bother looking below the surface of this, dear reader: this analysis is 100% correct."

The History League: because shaping the world is a team sport.

Tangentially related, chickens dressed as historical figures, in case your day wasn't weird enough yet.

A Pickpocket's Tale: The Spectacular Thefts of Apollo Robbins: "I specialize in future used goods-- goods that used to belong to you." (I recognise Robbins as a 'technical advisor' for Leverage, and also Parker's opposite in "The Two Live Crew Job.")

just shut up.: "[C]onsuming media critically is a skill, and in an age where media is more prevalent than ever before, it's a skill worth having. It's a skill worth having because you are going to continue to be exposed to media, and it is going to continue to attempt to manipulate you."
jazzfish: Two guys with signs: THE END IS NIGH. . . time for tea. (time for tea)
PSA: I'm told that Korra Nation has the first two episodes of the new Avatar series for viewing. I say "I'm told" because all I get is a redirect to the Facebook page, presumably because they're prejudiced against Canadian IP addresses. Will have to actually install/configure Tunnelbear this week.

(Other television thoughts await their own post, because they are legion.)

Hunger Games: it turns out I read the books mostly for Katniss's internal monologue, so the (decently-written, decently-acted, well-filmed except for the overuse of Shakycam) movie didn't do as much for me as I'd hoped. Mildly curious as to how coherent it was for someone who hadn't read the books.

("You know what they call the Hunger Games in France? Battle Royale with Cheese.")

Weekend Seattle trip: no time for shopping, alas, but we did have some amazing sushi with a couple of writers I met at Rainforest. I'm still pleasantly surprised when I can hang out with people I barely know for two-plus hours and feel like the conversation could easily go another two, or six, or days.

But there was a Girlyman show to get to, which was the original reason for coming down. I'd sprung for the extra $5 for Really Good Seats right up front; this meant that when the clog-dancer came out for "Kittery Tide" I had an up-close and personal view of her shoes.

They played most of the songs from the new album, "Supernova." Hearing them live does make me like the album more, but I'm still only so-so on it. Which is okay; they still do my favorite live shows, and I'll happily go see them whenever they're nearby.

Otherwise, eh. Been feeling the need for comfort reading lately. Not entirely sure what's going on with that. (Man, this whole "being a grownup" thing just never stops, does it?)

b'ham!

Dec. 21st, 2011 10:06 am
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
I can tell I'm adapting to Vancouver because the distinctions of "clear" and "partly cloudy" and "cloudy" no longer matter. There's only "bright" and "dim." Today, now that the sun has come up, is "bright."

I don't so much mind it getting dark at 4:30. That's kind of obnoxious but, eh, it's not like it was worth being outside in this weather anyway. It's getting up and going to work and watching sunrise at 8:30 that's starting to get to me. At least it's Sunreturn tomorrow.

On Sunday we popped down to Bellingham to ship Xmas packages and do a bit of US grocery shopping. (Jif peanut butter is curiously unavailable up here.) This trip involved enough awesome things that it's easier to just make a list, viz:
  • Driving around Stanley Park in the daytime.
  • The USPS, who only charged us $35 to move nearly eleven pounds of stuff 2500 miles in three days at Xmastime, and would have charged half that if we'd been a couple of days more on the ball.
  • USPS's Automated Postal Centres, especially on days when the Post Office is closed, because there's a) no line and b) no need to interact with a human being. (This, incidentally, is why I like self-checkout lines at grocery stores: not because it's any faster [it's not], but because I don't have to talk to the cashier.)
  • Stracciatella Lindt balls. Yow. Seriously, why did no one tell me about these sooner?
  • La Fiamma pizza followed by Mallard Ice Cream. I'd forgotten how delicious both of those things are.
  • The Nexus trusted-traveller card, which got us across the border in about five minutes while everyone else was backed up through Blaine. Best time-saving $50 I've spent all year.
  • And finally, driving around Stanley Park at night, except for the %&$ pink limo in front of us.
I like Bellingham. It's like Blacksburg, if B'burg were cooler and had a larger downtown. There was a brief period of time when I was considering living there and trying to find work in Vancouver. If things had fallen apart in a certain way, and $work hadn't been unexpectedly willing to deal with all the immigration stuff, it would have been a decent place to hole up for a couple of years. Much more than that and I expect the small-town-ness would have gotten to me in the same way it did in B'burg.



If you're wondering what the hell happened to the comment pages on LJ, well, they fixed them. In unrelated news, Dreamwidth has turned off invite codes through the end of the year, so if you were thinking about jumping on that particular bandwagon, now's a decent time. (Credit where it's due, LJ also claims to have fixed the problem with the layout I'm using where images would get cropped rather than expanding it, making it difficult to read comics.)



Late-breaking addition: last year's list of things I want is mostly still operative. I'm no longer in need of a good tattoo artist (at least until I hit whatever I determine to be my next milestone), and I found a Criterion copy of The Third Man last spring. Other than that, though.

On maple

Sep. 24th, 2011 12:16 pm
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
When I was young my mother put me and my sister on the Feingold Diet. This was an effort to control hyperactivity by removing various things from our diets: no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives, and no "natural salicylates." I'm neutral on whether it had any effect on me: I was ten, and not exactly the closest student of my own nature. It did have a number of negative social side effects ("oh, my kids can't have kool-aid / cokes / candy bars"), so that's shaped my opinion of the whole exercise.

It did have at least one positive effect: from about the age of eight, "syrup" to me has meant real maple syrup.

Mark Bittman, in the aptly-named How To Cook Everything, has this to say about maple syrup: "The difference between real maple syrup and the colored and flavored sugar syrup sold at most supermarkets is equivalent to the difference between butter and margarine: One is a natural, wholesome product, and the other is a nutritionally useless, not-very-good-tasting, unnatural substitute."

US maple syrup comes in four varieties: three levels of Grade A (light amber, medium amber, and dark amber), and Grade B (darker than any of the Grade A varieties). They're graded based on translucency: a darker syrup indicates a stronger flavor, and thus (as far as Bittman and I are concerned) a better syrup. Now, Grade B is inexplicably hard to find. The only reliable source I've found has been Trader Joe's, where they sell it in something like 30oz bottles. Unless you're me this will be enough syrup to last you for quite awhile.

When I first got here I thought Canadian maple syrup came in three varieties that get darker as you go down: two levels of #1 whose names I forget because honestly who even cares?, and #2 Amber. It wasn't until we were perusing one of the overpriced grocery stores (probably Urban Fare) that I found a large bottle of #3 Dark.

"O yes," I said, and immediately paid too much for a litre of maple syrup and brought it home, and tried it out on pancakes the next morning.

There is, it turns out, such a thing as too much maple. [personal profile] uilos has been known to describe gin as "chewing on Christmas trees." This was like chewing on maple trees: not exactly woody, and not exactly smoky, and still somewhat sweet, but... kind of like accidentally nibbling on a block of baker's unsweetened chocolate when you're expecting semisweet. We bought a bottle of #2 and combined them, and that cut the flavor down to where it was edible on pancakes and waffles.

I looked it up later. Turns out US Grade B is anything from 44% to 27% translucent. This is equivalent to Canadian #2; #3 is anything less than 27% translucent. (The US description of this grade is "Substandard," but what do they know?) So, you know, about twice as much maple as I'd been expecting. Yow.

On the bright side, the #3 does wonderfully in baking, or when mixed in with oatmeal for breakfast. So now we just buy two different (giant) bottles of maple syrup, and keep careful track of which is which when making pancakes.
jazzfish: Malcolm Tucker with a cell phone, in a HOPE-style poster, caption NO YOU F****** CAN'T (Malcolm says No You F'ing Can't)
Uncle-in-law C--: "I really liked living in Vancouver, but, you know, you're paying like 40% of your income straight to the government, you never see it."

What I said: "Yeah, and I'm also getting full health care for two people for $110 a month[1]." At which point, irreconcilable differences having been expressed and acknowledged, we went about our business.

What I did not say: "You, with your giant house and your three cars, complaining about taxes while taking public transit to and from work, are half of what's wrong with this country, and the main reason why I will almost certainly never live there again if I have any choice in the matter."

What I also did not say: "There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody."

How sad is it that I cannot remember the last time someone prominent stood up and argued that in public?



[1] Fudging a bit: there are things (such as drugs, or chiro, or psychological outpatient counseling, to name three I've run into in the last couple of weeks) that the provincial[2] Medical Services Plan doesn't cover. I'm also enrolled in a supplemental insurance plan that covers a lot of what the MSP doesn't, and the supplemental is paid entirely by work.

[2] In Canadian this word lacks the same overtones of "backwards and country," as in Canadian "province" means "state." Note that "territory" also sort of means "state," except for the ways in which it doesn't.
jazzfish: Randall Munroe, xkcd180 ("If you die in Canada, you die in Real Life!") (Canada)
Via [personal profile] jadelennox, I feel like slacktivisticly saving the US Postal service Canada Post.

First ten people to comment (comments screened) with their address and then repost this meme in their own blogs will get a snail mail letter.


ETA: Comments are screened; you're not just putting your address out for the world's spambots to harvest.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
My life is in danger of becoming too boring to think about, much less write about. I mean, I can only talk so many times about how Kai is complaining at me about how I'm not sitting down so she can curl up next to me. Although today I expect she's complaining because it is WET and GREY and COLD outside, after yesterday's bright warm humid summertime. (Felt like being back in DC, only about ten degrees cooler.)
The rain it raineth on the just
And also on the unjust fella;
But chiefly on the just, because
The unjust steals the just's umbrella.

--Ogden Nash
Jack Layton, head of Canada's New Democratic Party (aka 'the pinko socialist leftists,' currently the Official Opposition), died of cancer this morning. (Layton's last letter to Canadians.) I suppose the weather is Vancouver's way of mourning.

Yesterday we walked downtown to see The Secret of Kells at a local artsy theatre (very very pretty, good storyline, and Aisling makes me want to play Changeling). Then we checked out a Surrealist exhibit at the Vancouver Museum of Modern Art, by which I continue to be less than impressed. They did have a couple of (minor) Magrittes, at least. And on the fourth floor thay were showing La Jetèe, which I'd not seen, so we sat and watched that. It's a half-hour... film? Narration over a series of still images, and was the inspiration for Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys.

After that we hung out on the beach and read for awhile, and had dinner at a reasonably tasty thai place with awful service.

Overall, a pretty good day.
jazzfish: Malcolm Tucker with a cell phone, in a HOPE-style poster, caption NO YOU F****** CAN'T (Malcolm says No You F'ing Can't)
Just under six and a half years ago, I'd been quietly talking about fleeing to Canada if Bush won a second term. An acquaintance posted something to the effect of "hey, all you people talking about how you'd move to canada if bush won: put your money where your mouth is and shut up about it and just go do it."

"Fine," I thought (but didn't say), and started thinking more seriously about the idea.

It took some doing but in less than a month I will have pulled it off.

... just in time for the Conservative Party of Canada to have won a majority government after being found in contempt of Parliament, thanks to stupid awful first-past-the-post elections with one right-wing party running against three and a half left-wing ones.

The Liberal Party has lost more than half their seats, and the Bloc is essentially finished (down to three, I believe). Congratulations to the pinko commie socialist New Democratic Party on their amazing hundred-plus seats, and to Elizabeth May for winning one for the Green Party.

The trouble is, the collapse of the Liberals (and the Bloc) moves Canada much closer to being a two-party state. And coming as it does after a Conservative victory that appears much more decisive than it actually is (40% of the vote, 55% of the seats), I fully expect the NDP to tack more to the centre. They'll need to absorb the last of the Liberal supporters; in addition, well, where are the more left-wing voters going to go? In another twenty years Canada will look like the US with better health care.

(Of course, I'm very likely wrong on this. All I know is what I read on the internet. I'm just in a rather bad mood, and finding it difficult to see any silver lining at all.)

A Conservative majority also ensures that there will be no election for another five years. I suppose I might be able to vote in that one, at least. But really, what the hell do I do now?
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
21 days for Dreamwidth, #5

How about when you're not on the computer?
I do very little online when I'm not on the computer.

But seriously. Lately I've been doing a lot of reading, in preparation for the Big Move. (Specifically, reading the first 50-100 pages of books and deciding to purge them. I'm amazed at how many recently have made it past 50 pp only to flame out somewhere in the 90-110 range.) I talk to [personal profile] uilos and with other people I soon won't be seeing very often, I cook, I watch the occasional movie or DVD, I laugh at the cats. In the mornings I go running. And there's gaming, and writers' group, and theatre, and concerts. I keep busy.



So, the perky "Canadians" are having an election on Monday. This is reasonably good timing for me: it means I get to find out what the heck is going on with the Canadian political system before I get up there, so I'm not completely lost in the sea of acronyms, weird names, and strange electoral practices.

If you're interested in a reasonably short and entertaining run-down, I recommend Mightygodking's take on the likely outcome (spoiler: most likely, nothing will change!). Very briefly: the Conservatives are just short of a majority. For a couple of weeks it looked like they might be able to flip enough seats in Parliament to squeak out a majority, but thankfully the voters seem to have come to their senses. The Liberals (squishy centre-left party) appear to be coasting and hoping the Conservatives will all just go away. The pinko commie leftists vote for the New Democratic Party but thanks to the travesty that is first-past-the-post voting they don't have many seats in Parliament. There's no left-wing coalition to oppose the Conservatives because the last major party is the Bloc Quebecois, whose separatist agenda ensures that no one else will want to be seen talking to them.

However, for reasons that aren't entirely clear to me, or to anyone else for that matter, the NDP has been inching up in the polls, to the point where it's barely possible they'll end up with more seats than either the Liberals or the BQ. This would make me intensely happy: they'll have a lot of new MPs who'll get a chance to learn the ropes before the next election, when (in my ideal dream world) they can sweep to a majority, driving the blue menace into the sea. (Or, more likely, herding them all into the prairie provinces of central Canada. Not for nothing is Manitoba Alberta known as "the Texas of the north.")

(I note with mild disapproval that my riding will almost certainly be represented by the Liberal party, although my prospective MP seems decent enough if a bit clueless.)

It will be Interesting to see how things play out on Monday. Interesting for me, anyway.

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Adventures in Mamboland

"Jazz Fish, a saxophone playing wanderer, finds himself in Mamboland at a critical phase in his life." --Howie Green, on his book Jazz Fish Zen

Yeah. That sounds about right.

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