Thursday, July 31, 2008


Thank you, years of Latin and French, for giving me the knowledge to use the subjunctive in my writing, and the confidence to defend its use. Would that knowledge of the subjunctive were more widespread!

This post's theme word: catachresis, "the misuse of words."

Solar eclipse tomorrow

It won't pass over the part of Canada where I am, but nevertheless, it'll be visible from this country! NASA has organized a lot of cool solar eclipse resources. My favorite is this animation:
You can see how the shadow of the moon passes over our spherical world, in a way that is muddled when projected onto our flat maps.

This post's theme word: envisage, "to form a mental image of something that is not present or is not the case." When I first heard "envisage," I thought it was a fake word meant to sound like "envision," but fancier.


Via 3D pancakes.

This post's theme word: atrabilious, "gloomy, ill-tempered."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I miss film studies

The academic writing that I work on every day has no polish. No poetry. I am just hammering out a rough draft of something that may or may not go into my thesis, and it is dry. At best, it is concise and clear. I haven't yet found (or even dreamt of producing) written academic work that is a pleasure to read.

So I seek other outlets. I'm working on a film studies/lit/lang-style essay analyzing Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. I just saw the latest Batman in IMAX (delightful! -- did you know that IMAX was created in Canada?) and then got entangled in a literary/critical discussion of it. I miss having a playground for that part of my brain.

This post's theme word: mondegreen, "the mishearing (usually unintentional) of a phrase as a [near-]homophone in such a way that it acquires a new meaning."

Facebook does Hamlet

I just rewatched Kenneth Branagh's magnificent Hamlet, and this concise retelling of the story came up in my RSS feeds:

Hamlet (Facebook news feed edition)

This post's theme word: quinsell, "a rein for a horse."

Monday, July 28, 2008


I have of late been rather quiet here. This is not for lack of post ideas (and even drafts), but for lack of internet connectivity at home. When my house is put back on the web-o-sphere grid, there will be a great outpouring.

For now, though, like John C. Wright's Paethon, I have realized how much of my mental space is online. Without all that e-maintainance to do, tending my blog gardens, checking on my RSS feeds, ruthlessly trimming to inbox zero, what do I do? I go home and stare at my hands for awhile. Then I cook something. (I've discovered the secret ingredient to delicious pumpkin scones.) Or clean something. Then I go to sleep even earlier than usual -- sometimes 9. Or 8. I have gotten a lot of sleep, without the internet.

Over the weekend, while replenishing my depleted stock of flour and cornmeal, I happened upon peaches being sold by the open box, not the pound. So I bought a box of (carefully examined) peaches. I have eaten peaches at (sometimes as) every meal since then. They are delicious, and juicy, and the challenge for me -- as usual -- is to eat them all before they go bad. As a household of one, this is how I've come to manage my diet: buy very little, and eat it. There is no natural force to gradually diminish leftovers, as there is at home.

A spate of peaches. A dearth of connectivity. And when I do have internet -- that is, now, at the office -- I feel terribly guilty using it for personal maintenance and not research. Hopefully by next week (an EPIC week), we'll be back online. Stay tuned. Big things are coming.

This post's theme word: ophiolatry, "the worship of serpents."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Stoplight macarena

Yesterday as I was walking home, I passed a group of maybe 30 students hanging out at an intersection. At the red light, they spread across the avenue crosswalk in a line and sang and danced the macarena for the cars stopped there. When the light turned green, they gathered back on the streetcorner.

That dance will never die.

This post's theme word is: misoneism, "a hatred or fear of change or innovation."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Animal-themed wine

Following this observation that wine tastes about the same no matter what the price, I have conserved my meager grad student budget by purchasing the cheapest of cheap wines: box o' wine. I try out a new box 'o wine each time. This time I ventured away from the Canadian section into the international section, and found myself strangely compelled to purchase "Frisky Zebras," made in South Africa.

On my way out of the store I noticed another display, this one for a wine called "Funky Llama."

Who would name their wine after a large, smelly, obstinate mammal? And why? I guess that in my case, it made the sale, so that is a good motivation. I'll have to get the llama wine next time, though it is more expensive since it comes in a bottle, not a box.

Have you seen other mammal-named wines? Reptile? Bird? Insect?

This post's theme word: marua, "a fermented liquor made from finger millet."

Monday, July 14, 2008

Busting out

This weekend I saw "The Incredible Hulk," which was good insofar as it involved Edward Norton and bad insofar as it involved a lot of a green CG character who was not Edward Norton. It certainly witnessed this truth:
There was one scene in particular where he transforms, and scraps of his torn shirt (he goes through so much clothing!) hang off his torso as he moves. I thought, "Wow! They're getting so good at animating cloth!" ... and so bad at plotlines.

Much to my delight, many of the campus scenes were shot at U of T, on the lawn and in the alley just outside my building! If my office had a window, it would be visible in this movie. I spent most of the action scenes trying to spot familiar locations and tell when they'd digitally extended buildings, adding stories and towers and duplicate stairs. And watching the animation of muscles contracting under skin.

After weeks and weeks of daily use, a chunk tore out of my exercise band. That is how serious I am about my PT and recovery. I wore through an exercise band. Thanks to UHS, though, I have several more.

This post's theme word: wavel, "to stagger."

Saturday, July 12, 2008

On selecting a major

Or a "concentration," depending on your level of snootiness.
I always had a sense of superiority that I had chosen my concentration based on an abstract idea of interest and education, completely unmotivated by prospects of future earnings. Sometimes I am haunted that I may have chosen poorly.

This post's theme word: wavenger, "a vagabond; a stray animal." Not a world-wide web avenger, some sort of internet vigilante. But we should make it mean that by using it that way.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


My calves, feet, and arms are covered with mosquito bites. This weekend's mission? Find some mosquito netting. Preferably of a quantity and strength to completely enclose my bed and also withstand attacks.

This post's theme word: quinsy, "inflammation or swelling of [part of] the throat."

Ninjas vs. professors

The rhyming perfects the humor:
But who would win? It depends on the contest, and the ninjas. Professors can't compete with them physically, but ninjas are no match for their brains. "They're that smart?" you wonder? Well, let me put it this way... you've heard of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates? Morons!

This post's theme word is kyphosis, "excessive outward curvature of the spine, causing hunching of the back" -- compare with lordosis, "excessive inward curvature of the spine." I read it here.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Celebrity crush sampling

These are, of course, crushes from afar. Probably in real life, these actors do not manifest any characteristics I find attractive. I invite you to add your own celebrity crushes in the comments.

Ever since I saw Fight Club, I've liked Edward Norton. He's so thin, and pale, and helpless. So trapped in his own mind. And Fight Club was fantastic. So was The Painted Veil, which starred him in a completely different but still fantastic role. Despite its bad reviews, I intend to see The Incredible Hulk sometime. He turns green.

Then there's always the Doctor, David Tennant. Also very thin and pale, but smarter than everyone else, confident, and in control of every situation. Good sense of humor, excellent at flirting. Plus, whether on-screen or off-, he has a lovely accent.

I had initially disliked John Barrowman in his role as Captain Jack Harkness (also on Doctor Who), simply because he flirted with everyone and was such an obvious crush. But then I watched Torchwood, which was just as formulaic and delightful as Doctor Who, but darker. Also, I recently discovered that he's also a singer. There are lots of youtube videos of his serious Broadway performances, against which this totally silly rendition of "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" plays delightfully. Sadly for me, he's almost twice my age. And gay.

I dedicate this post to the bakers at my favorite nearby bakery, who always ride the fine line between friendly service and flirtation. Today I went in twenty minutes before closing, and they gave me my loaf of bread for free. (Apparently, when they close, they have to throw out any leftovers.)

This post's theme word is: fanacle, "a small temple or shrine." Not a term for a manacle worn by a fan. Sigh. Anyone for a game of dictionary?

Wedding workout

Yesterday, while I was working out, I glanced out the window and noticed a wedding happening in the courtyard of the castle/gym. It was a beautiful, sunny day. And I felt like life was passing me by. Happy marriage to the newlyweds! I return to my desk tomorrow, and the alternating drudgery-delight that is my thesis.

This post's theme word: abrazo, "an embrace or hug."

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Fifth of July

Today I passed a man jogging on the street with a lit cigarette in one hand. Ironic. Or maybe it's a way to motivate oneself toward fitness -- run a distance goal before burning your fingertips! -- with the added difficulty of breaking a nicotine addiction at the same time!

This post's theme song is "The Fifth of July" by Eddie from Ohio.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Fourth of July

This is only the second time I've ever spent July 4th outside of the US. It feels a little hollow. It was a normal work day. There are no fireworks, there are no people wandering the streets with picnic blankets and shoestring licorice (a childhood 4th of July necessity). There's nothing special at all. I'm not an overbearing patriot, but I associate this holiday with good memories, so I'm a little sad to be spending it in Canada. If I had television, I could watch the fireworks (with the added bonus of annoyingly patriotic American TV commentators!). Happy 4th of July, everyone.

This post's theme song: "America, **** yeah!" from that most offensive of movies, "Team America: World Police."

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Third of July

Today is "Dependence Day," and I'm wearing the t-shirt to witness it.

The nice weather makes me consider all the things I'm not doing as a graduate student: I could be a life guard, hiking guide, wilderness EMT, courier, tech support on a cruise ship. Even unemployed and allowed outside my windowless office. Sometimes what I do just seems so dry. R. suggested that I "moisturize" my thesis, but I don't know how...

Many of the CS blogs I read just nodded to kdphd, a female grad student in theory, who just started a blog. It makes me envious -- why is she noted by these CS gods, and not me? -- but then again, I'm writing a much more personal blog. I'm purposefully keeping it non-technical, because otherwise everything in my daily life here would be about academia, and I might shrivel and die. Also, I don't feel like I have anything meaningful to add to the discussion; I don't have enough experience in academia to reflect upon it, or enough confidence to talk about what experience I do have.

This post has a theme garment.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Numb scars

Although the hair has grown back all around my new (2-month-old) and old (1-year-old) scars, the nerves haven't healed completely. I can sense things, but not the same way as I used to, and not the same way as on the skin of my undamaged leg. So I was surprised to find two mosquito bites just below my largest scar (one of the 1-year-old batch). Apparently I can't feel itchy near this scar. This is strange, especially considering my usually all-too-sensitive dermographic skin. (I am much too sensitive to do to myself what this dermographic artist does.)

Blasted insects. I wish I could make my blood poisonous to them, somehow (and yet safe for me).

This post's theme song: "What a game" from Ragtime.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


O, Canada! There are fireworks now, and though I can't see them, I can hear them in the middle and far distances. Echoing off buildings. Closer, on my street, many firecrackers celebrate 141 years of Canada.

Mosquitos are feasting on me, and I wonder if I can get mosquito netting for my bed somewhere in downtown Toronto. Maybe at a camping store?

This post has a theme song.