Showing posts with label a complete list of things i have seen or not seen is available in my blog. Show all posts
Showing posts with label a complete list of things i have seen or not seen is available in my blog. Show all posts

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Journalism wanted: what are tests of the Alert Ready system testing for?

Working from home, I sometimes have the TV on during the day.  So every once in a while, I see programming get interrupted with "This is a test of the Alert Ready system!", where there program is interrupted with an intrusive beep and the screen turns red, announcing that they're testing the system.  It's similar to this youtube.

What I want to know: what are they testing for? To see if it shows up? Does someone have to look at all the TV channels to see if it's working? And is that why it takes so long?  Or is there more to it than that? What things could possibly go wrong that this test could detect?

I'd love for someone to write an article about this!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Why do politicians want people to telephone them?

Recently, a greater than usual amount of instructions for political activism has been reaching me, and a common theme seems to be to telephone politicians. The instructions are to tell the person who answers the phone that you would like the politician to take or stop taking a particular action, and tell them any personal stories that support this request.

But why on earth would the telephone be the optimal medium for political activism?

If you telephone an elected official's office, someone has to answer the call. If you tell them an anecdote, someone has to write it down.  If they have a case tracking system, the person who answers the phone has to enter their notes into the case tracking system. The whole process moves at the speed of human speech, and is subject to transcription errors on the part of the person answering the phone, and dictation errors (as well as general human error and any lack of preparedness that's borne of inexperience) on the part of the person making the call. This is especially egregious because less-experienced phone-callers have to write up a script for themselves, which they read to the phone-answerer, who transcribes it into whatever system the political office uses.

But if you send them an email, the message will reach your political official (or enter their automated system) in your own words, either by copy-paste or through an automated algorithm. No human intervention, no possibility of human error, and also no staffing expenses to deal with your inquiry. It's faster for political staff (reading is faster than typing) and might also be no less slow for the citizen if - like me - they'd have to write up a script before making a phone call, or - like me - they can type at the speed of speech anyway. There's no human error, because your very own words either reach the politico directly or are entered into the automated system. From the point of view of the politico, they can get their constituents' POV straight from the constituents' mouth, and/or get their constituents' POV without having to pay the salary of political staff who run itnerference.

So how did it come about that a telephone call is considered the most effective way to reach politicians?

Saturday, June 10, 2017

City Shoe Repair in Eglinton station has moved to 2200 Yonge St., 2nd floor

Looking for the awesome shoe repair place that, until very recently, was in Eglinton station?

They've moved to the 2nd floor of the Canada Square building at 2200 Yonge St.

If you're standing in front of their old location, go up the stairs to the southwest corner of Yonge and Eglinton, then up the next set of stairs (or the escalator) into Canada Square.

Then keep walking south through the building (parallel to Yonge, away from Eglinton). Go past the little stairs that go down to the lobby, past the elevators, and keep going. It's, on the left side (closest to Yonge St.) about three storefronts past the point where you start thinking "Did I miss it?" You can see the big red boot through the store windows. If you reach TPH The Printing House, you've gone too far.


The nice people at City Shoe Repair have saved my ass and my shoes multiple times, including when my shoes literally fell apart while I was walking down the street and when my boot wouldn't unzip leaving me stuck inside it.  So hopefully I can use my googleability to help people find them now that their new location has less foot traffic.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

In which Reitman's breaks my heart again

I blogged before about how Reitman's broke my heart by discontinuing my jeans.  Just weeks later, they've done it again.

During my chafing-induced frantic acquisition of yoga pants, I found an absolute treasure at Reitmans: cotton yoga pants with pockets, styled so that (I was able to convince myself) they looked like real pants rather than activewear.  A strategically placed seam at the front emulated (from a distance) a crease that might be ironed into a pair of dress pants, and the drawstring at the top was easily covered by my shirt.  They worked with sneakers and a hoodie, they worked with boots and my good coat, they worked with everything.

I promptly purchased two pairs and, once I realized my jeans were discontinued, started using them as my go-to casual pants.

Then, after only a couple of months of using them as my go-to pants, they got a hole in the crotch.  And when I went to buy more pairs, I discovered that they, too, have been discontinued.

This is particularly frustrating because they were barely a year old, and I had only been wearing them as my go-to for a few months. (And wearing them during the hour or two a day when I'm out of the house.) I definitely wore them for less than 300 hours in total, and quite possibly as little as 200 hours.  I definitely washed them less than 5 times, and quite possible as few as 2 times.  And yet they wore out.

If they were still commercially available, I wouldn't be complaining on the internet. I would shrug my shoulders, say "Meh, 21st-century fast fashion, what can you do?", cheerfully buy a few new pairs at whatever the price and keep wearing them forever. They're that awesome!

But the fact that they wore out after only a couple of months' regular wear means that, if I wear them regularly, I only have a couple of months before they're forever lost to me. So now I have to ration every step and every wash. Every time I decide which pants to put on, I have to think about whether today's activities are worth the wear and tear on the pair of pants I really want to wear, or whether I should wear a suboptimal pair of pants to save my favourites for later.  It's so disheartening! I think about the decades of statistical life expectancy I have left, and cringe in dread of having to keep myself properly clothed for that many decades.


And the thing is, I actively want to buy all my clothes at Reitman's and never shop anywhere else again!  I love clothes, I hate shopping, Reitman's has always been reliable for me, plus Reitman's is literally the closest clothing store to my home.  All I want is to walk into Reitman's, pick up the reliable standard pants that have always worked for me and whatever pretty tops and skirts and dresses they have this season, hand over my credit card, and be home in half an hour. I don't want to shop elsewhere, because it's more work and less predictable.

But Reitman's is making this impossible, by discontinuing the clothes that work for me and not having a comparable replacement.

If they're going to discontinue the clothes, at least make the last batch sturdy enough to last. If they're going to make them so flimsy they get holes in only a few months, just keep them in stock and I'll keep buying them!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

King Charles III (and some thoughts on cultural references)

I recently saw the movie King Charles III. The premise is that, after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles ascends to the throne and causes a constitutional crisis by refusing to sign a bill into law.

The plot I could take or leave, but what made this movie particularly interesting is that it's written in a Shakespearean style, using blank verse, iambic pentameter, asides to the audience, etc. So watching it was akin to being one of Shakespeare's contemporaries watching a Shakespearean history play.  In fact, as I was watching it, I kept finding myself noticing references that would need to be footnoted if this were taught in schools centuries in the future.  But for me, they were just common knowledge with a soup├žon of tabloid gossip.

It might be interesting to show this movie to students learning Shakespeare, just to give them that experience.  Anyone who can name or extrapolate from context the names of most of the people in this photo already has the necessary cultural references.

***

When I studied Shakespeare in school, the plays came in these books with extensive footnotes explaining the wordplay or cultural references that weren't part of our vernacular. The teachers said that in Shakespeare's time, everyone understood these references, with tone, delivery and connotations suggesting that if Kids Today would just be more diligent, we'd understand it too just like in the Good Old Days.

But as I watched King Charles III, I realized that those were just their modern cultural references at the time - contemporary slang, basic current events, current social media use patterns, the sort of celebrity gossip you pick up from seeing tabloid covers while waiting in line at the grocery store, etc.

Similarly, when we did an extensive unit on Greek and Roman mythology in Grade 8, the teacher said that people used to know all these references, again with tone and delivery suggesting that our lack of knowledge of these references that are apparently so crucial and vital and baseline to our culture made us somehow subpar.

But the 90s Jane Austen movies, and some subsequent reading on the concept of neo-classicism, made me realize that this whole Greco-Roman thing was basically a trend too. It was that era's equivalent of Simpsons references and/or dank memes. The flowery, wordy reference-laden Romantic-era writing style was that era's equivalent of today's dense, reference-laden hip-hop lyrics. And people were familiar with them simply because they had consumed the era's popular culture, just like how people who have seen the Marvel Thor movies starring Chris Hemsworth might pick up a thing or two about Norse mythology.


I think if our teachers had presented these aspects of the curriculum as a glimpse into the popular culture of the olden days, we would have found it much more approachable and much more interesting.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The origin of mansplaining and bootstrapping?

A while back, this story circulated where a male employee and a female employee switched email signatures on their shared inbox:




My first thought was that nothing like this has ever happened to me, but in the shower today, it occurred to me that this might explain another phenomenon I've observed.

When I ask for something that's perfectly reasonable and then don't get it, older men within earshot of my complaints often respond with "Well, did you ask?"  Of course I asked. And I didn't get it. That's why I'm complaining about it.

For example, when Dell said they couldn't sell me an extended warranty as promised (which, BTW was two years ago and I'm still using the same computer - they could have gotten hundreds of dollars each year and absolute loyal out of me by extending it), I kept getting "Well, did you tell them that you'd been sent this personalized offer?  And that you had a confirmation email?"  Yes, I did. And it didn't get me what I wanted. That's why I'm complaining about it.

For as long as I can remember, I've been baffled at this "Well, did you [do the most glaringly obvious first step]?" with tone and delivery suggesting that they think this is a whole solution.

But in the shower, it occurred to me that maybe, in the world of the men who say these things to me, the most glaringly obvious first step is the whole solution?  Maybe they live in a world where all they need to say is "I have a confirmation email" and people agree with them?

I don't know how to test this, but if it is the case, I wonder if there are any other disadvantages I might be experiencing that I don't perceive?

Also, might this be part of the origin of mansplaining?  If things tend to work out for them when they try the first obvious step, they might arrive at the conclusion that someone who's having problems hasn't tried the first obvious step?

And more broadly speaking, this would probably be the root of punitive "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" policies - people in positions of greater privilege have things turn out right when they do the basic right things, so they conclude that people who have things turn out wrong aren't doing the basic right things.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

It should always work this way





Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Things that are harder to clean than their counterparts

1. Glasses from Pearle Vision. There's a Pearle Vision right in my neighbourhood and they had frames I actually like for a price that's actually lower than my insurance limit (!!!) so I thought I had it made, but it turns out I have to clean the lenses more often than my previous lenses from LensCrafters. And yes, I did ask for the kind of anti-glare lenses that stay cleaner.  And they do stay cleaner than the kind of anti-glare lenses that don't stay cleaner. But nevertheless, I'm still cleaning them more than my LensCrafters lenses.

2.Glass cooktops. The stove on my new apartment has a glass cooktop, unlike every other stove I've used in my life, all of which had electric coil burners. (I have never at any point had a choice in the matter.) And it turns out the glass is impossible to keep clean. Every spill or drip creates a disaster, and while I've been able to get rid of 97% of the mess with a combination of purpose-built products and internet tips, I can never remove every trace of evidence. And even if there are no spills or drips and you just wipe it down, there are streaks left like cleaning a window.  The first time I cleaned it, it wasn't particularly dirty, but wiping it left streaks that made it look worse.  I don't recommend it to anyone, and can't fathom why my builder thought it would be a good idea.  (On top of the cleaning problems, the burners also either heat more slowly or produce less heat - haven't figured out which yet - so I have to relearn all my cooking patterns.)

3. Caesarstone counters. My new apartment has caesarstone counters, whereas the old one had granite. (Again, I didn't have a choice in the matter in either apartment.)  Everyone along the way and the entire internet told me that caesarstone is way easier to keep clean than granite, but I've found the opposite.  With granite, I spray it with a cleaner, wipe it down, and I'm done.  With caesarstone, wiping it leaves streaks so I have to sort of polish it with microfibre cloths (like cleaning glasses) after I've actually wiped the dirt off.  On top of that, the slightest mess is readily visible. If a bit of water drips on the counter and I don't clean it up right away, there's going to be a visible mark on the counter until I do clean it.  At one point early on I must have put a hot pot on the counter (I don't consciously remember doing this, but it's the only explanation) and it left behind a circle that can't be cleaned off.  This got me a scolding from my mother for not using those things people put under hot pots, but I've never had to do so before. Everywhere I've lived, I simply put pots wherever they landed naturally and they didn't hurt everything. But this caesarstone is such a hothouse orchid that one mindlessly placed pot in my first week living here caused permanent damage.

I know I'm the only person on the recorded internet saying this, but based on my first hand experiences I do not recommend caesarstone counters. Granite is far easier to care for, as is what ever that plastic-like stuff they used in the 70s is called. Caesarstone has no discernable benefit.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Boys' entrance and girls' entrance

The school in which I attended middle school was built in 1929, originally intended as a high school. It was a brick and stone building, built in an architectural style that the internet tells me is called Collegiate Gothic.

At the front of the building are two imposing-looking entrance doors.  Carved in the stone above one door are the words "Boys' Entrance".  Carved in stone above the other door are the words "Girls' Entrance."

The mystery: the school has always been co-ed.  (It's been co-ed throughout living memory, and a search of newspaper archives can find no hint that they ever changed it to co-ed.)

Each front entrance door leads to a stairwell, both of which are identical. You can go up to the second and third floor or down to the first floor. Each stairwell let out in the same hallway, about a classroom length apart.  There were no hints inside the building that it had ever been divided into two and then later merged (and the interior of the building was such that it was clear when you were entering one of the wings that had been added later etc., so I doubt they would have removed any sort of dividing wall without leaving evidence.)

The gender segregation of entrances was never enforced within living memory.  (We actually used the back doors a lot more often because they were more convenient.)  The signs were only still there because they were carved in stone and it's hard to uncarve stone.

But the mystery remains: why have gender segregated entrances leading to the exact same hallways in a co-ed school in the first place?

Friday, March 10, 2017

Warning: Charmin Essentials Soft toilet paper is NOT the same as Charmin Ultra Soft

I have brand loyalty to Charmin Ultra Soft toilet paper.  It is the most comfortable toilet paper I have ever experienced, so I use it all the time as a small daily luxury.

Last time I went shopping for new toilet paper, I saw this package with the great big word SOFT, so I figured it's my usual Charmin and they've changed the package as they do from time to time:

However, once I got it home, I quickly realized it isn't anywhere near the same toilet paper - it feels like sandpaper on my pampered anatomy!

It turns out Charmin Essential Soft is a rebranding of Charmin Basic - the less comfy discount brand!

Charmin Ultra Soft is still called Ultra Soft, and its packaging looks like this:


So if you're picky like me, don't be fooled by the word "soft"; the word "ultra" is important.

Mnemonic: yellow packaging = yellow flag

Saturday, March 04, 2017

What I didn't expect about living in a concierge building (#FirstWorldProblems)

I knew that one of the services a concierge provides is that if you receive a package when you're not home, the concierge will sign for the package for you.

What I didn't know is that even if you are home, the delivery person will still leave the package with the concierge.

I guess it makes sense from the delivery person's point of view - I'm sure they're on a schedule and otherwise evaluated for speed and efficiency, and they'd much rather just dump everything at the concierge desk than buzz or knock on the door of each apartment that has a package on the off chance that someone is home in the middle of the day. And I'm sure that if I asked my concierge to send a particular delivery person up to my apartment (for example, because the package is large and unwieldy) they'd do so.

It just never occurred to me that living in a concierge building would put an extra step between me and my deliveries.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

How Reitman's lost my loyalty and broke my heart

I have had brand loyalty to Reitmans for my entire adult life, ever since I discovered their Comfort Fit pants.  These are these only pants in the world that don't gap in the back when I sit down, which is particularly important because I have a desk job.

There were also Comfort Fit jeans, and they were a revelation!  The dark wash boot cut style not only fit comfortably, but was perhaps the single most flattering garment I've ever owned.  I look tall and toned and fierce wearing them, and feel bad-ass walking down the street!  In recent years they've been using a lower-quality denim that wears out faster (and, inconveniently, seems to wear out in the crotch first), but no biggie, I can just pop in and buy another pair of the same.

But this time, I couldn't.

There are zero boot cut comfort fit jeans, and zero dark wash.  There was a straight leg style, but it wasn't a true straight leg - the ankle was skinny and I could barely get my feet through. They looked exactly like the hideous cheap fake jeans from Biway that the kids on welfare wore in my preteen years.

Which means there are now zero jeans in the world that will fit me comfortably and make me feel good about myself.  And my old ones got a hole in the crotch, so now I don't even have the option of wearing jeans.  At all.  Ever.  An entire baseline category of clothing is unavailable to me.


***

This has been happening to me more and more often. Clothes that make me feel good about myself are taken away, and no workable replacement manifests itself. Victoria's Secret changed my underwear, and I still haven't found an alternative that's as good. Smart Set made shirts that were flattering to me, then they closed down. I normally adore Fluevog shoes, but everything this year has pointy toes and I don't think my black ankle boots are going to hold out long enough for their silhouette to evolve again. Lord and Taylor made cashmere gloves that actually fit me (even though they were a bit too delicate and I only got a year's wear out of them), but then this year they didn't make them any more.

Despite my best efforts to take care of my clothes (even my mother thinks the extent of my air-drying is ridiculous!), they're wearing out.  And I'm afraid once I lose the clothes that make me feel good about myself, I'll never be able to find a replacement and I'll never feel pretty again.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Profiled

Last spring, I experienced thigh chafing for the first time in my life.

Due to my disproportionately long inseam and dislike of the current trend of tight pants, it turns out that on most of my pants the gusset fell below the bit at the top of my thighs that was chafing, meaning that the legs of my pants couldn't serve as a barrier to protect me against the chafing. What few pants I owned that did have a high enough gusset were made of unpleasantly rough or unbreathable material, which may have even made matters worse.

I clearly had immediate need of softer pants, and they probably needed to be more fitted so the gusset would stay right at the very top of my thighs and protect the area being chafed. But the last thing I wanted to do when every step was painful was go pants shopping!  So I went to multiple websites with generous return policies and ordered multiple pairs of yoga pants, one of each plausible pair in my usual size and one a size smaller.

Over the next few days, a wide selection of yoga pants arrived at my door. I tried them on and kept everything that worked for me.  It turned out my idea of going a size down was unnecessary (I hadn't bought new yoga pants in years and they're more fitted now than they were last time I shopped for them), so I returned everything in the smaller size and some of the things in the larger size.

Shortly after that happened, I started getting coupons and offers and recommendations for maternity wear.  I guess I triggered an algorithm somewhere - frantically shopping for yoga pants and opting for the larger size in every case is totally something a pregnant lady would do! 

This was all about nine months ago.  And now I'm getting coupons and offers and recommendations for baby things!  Even though I haven't bought yoga pants or maternity wear or anything comparable in the meantime, apparently online shopping algorithms are the kind of people who count months.

I wonder how long this will persist for? Will I be getting offers for toddler things for a few years, followed by back-to-school offers and high school graduation offers?  Will they start trying to sell me those conception monitors if I don't shop like a pregnant lady for a few years, on the grounds that my non-existent child should have a sibling?

Maybe I should use Privacy Mode when googling for baby gifts just in case...

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A solution to the bringing kids to demonstrations dilemma

I've always had mixed feelings about bringing children too young to develop an independent opinion on the issues to political demonstrations.

On one hand, bringing your kid to a demonstration is modelling political participation, just like bringing your kid with you to vote. And a demonstration is also a part of regular life, like taking your kid with you grocery shopping.

But, on the other hand, participating in a demonstration (especially if you're holding a sign, chanting the chants, etc.) implies having a certain opinion on a certain issue, and some kids are simply too young to have developed an opinion.

On top of that, children tend to make for good pictures, so there's a high likelihood that kids at demonstrations will end up with a photo of them on the internet holding a sign that may or may not reflect the opinion they develop independently once they become savvy enough to do so.

So far, the best idea I've been able to think of is that kids at demonstrations shouldn't be photographed, which helps contain the issue but doesn't completely address it. (Although I have no objection to any policy that protects kids - or people of any age, really - from having their pictures posted on the internet without their informed consent.)

But the other day, my Twitter feed gave me a much better idea:

Kids participating in demonstrations must write their own signs, without any adult input about content or messaging. 

I'll allow adults transcribing the kid's message (only at the kid's request) if the kid's printing and spelling skills haven't caught up with what they want their sign to say, but the content of the sign must be entirely the kid's idea, and the kid must be permitted to use their own sign regardless of whether it's consistent with the demonstration's messaging.

Here are two delightful examples of this phenomenon that were tweeted into my feed. They can also been seen on imgur here and here.






As you can see, the kids are clearly expressing their own ideas rather than mindlessly regurgitating what the adults around them are saying. But they still get to proudly participate in the social and cultural experience of a demonstration, even if they don't have independent understanding of the issues, without expressing any ideas that they wouldn't if they had independent understanding of the issues. And, despite the fact that they're off-message, they don't take away from the message of the demonstration, and, in fact, add to its credibility by making it look like an inclusive family event.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Things people say

People (specifically Canadian Anglophones) are often surprised that I learned French in regular public school (as opposed to going to French immersion or growing up in a household where French was spoken) and went on to have a career where I use French every day.  It's like they see it as impossible to learn French in school.

In my previous job in tech support, people (specifically non-techy end-users) were surprised that I didn't study computers in school, and instead picked up what I needed from personal use or everyday life or people around me or the internet. It's like they see it as impossible to learn computers without doing so in school.

***

I'm not very good at convincing or persuading people.  But when I say that out loud, people say to me "Don't be silly, of course you are!"

Even though I have literally just failed to convince/persuade them that I'm not very good at convincing/persuading people.

***

I've noticed a significant overlap between people who react to the fact that I've bought a condo as though it's exciting and people who believe that money can't buy happiness.

If you think it can't buy happiness, why do you think it's exciting?

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Things They Should Invent: put buildings on the internet before they tear them down

In my neighbourhood, there's a group of row houses that's going to be torn down for condos, and I'm extremely curious about what they look like inside - so much so that I've even pondered attempting to break in engage in some urban exploration, which isn't something I've even considered before.

The reason why I'm curious about these houses as opposed the many other buildings that are being torn down for condos is that I can't figure out their history just by looking at them from the outside. I'm not savvy enough about architecture to tell when they were built. I can't tell if they're single family homes or apartments. I can't tell if they're middle-class or working-class. I can't tell if they're middle-class single-family homes that latter got subdivided into working-class apartments. They clearly have a story, and I can't even begin to speculate what that story is.

Every building that is torn down has a story, and you never know when or to whom that story will be of interest.  So to preserve our stories, they should document buildings before they tear them down, and post all the information on the internet.

On a single comprehensive website, interior and exterior photos, floor plans, and all known history should be posted for every building that is torn down.  Maybe the public could also add to it, so someone idly googling their grandparents' old house could come along and add the interesting factoid "My grandparents bought this house for $10,000 in 1952 and raised four children here on a steelworker's salary."

I'm not a person who objects to development (as evidenced by the fact that I keep insisting on living in new buildings), but there's no reason why the stories of what was here before should be lost in an era when everything can be so easily archived and indexed.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Girl colours and boy colours

I currently have four baby cousins: three boys and one girl. (They aren't all so much babies - the oldest one is 3 - but old nomenclature dies hard.  And it's not like they can read this blog to complain that I'm referring to them as babies.) I bought xmas gifts for all of them (I don't celebrate xmas myself, but my family does and it's an awesome excuse to look through all the adorable children's books at Mabel's Fables), and since all the gifts would be going under the same tree I put gift tags on them.

I managed to find a package of non-xmas-themed gift tags in all different colours, one of which is pink.  So I put the pink tag on the girl's gift.  Because pink is for girls.

Of course, I myself don't actually think pink is exclusively for girls and not for boys at all.  If any of my male baby cousins expressed interest in pink things or things that are culturally marked as for girls, I'd be the first to make sure he had all the girly things he wanted. 

But, because on a broader cultural level pink has connotations as "for girls", some boys might not like it.  Some boys might find it insulting to be given the pink thing. It might be problematic to give one brother pink and the other brother a colour without gender connotations. (The inverse is true too - I remember once feeling very humiliated and insecure in my femininity when my sister got a Judy Jetson toy and I was given smelly old George Jetson.)

If I had multiple pink tags, I wouldn't hesitate to give every child a pink tag. But I only had the one, and I only ever use gift tags for the baby cousins, so the one pink gift tag went to the one girl.

And so, out of consideration for connotations that these small children may or may not have yet picked up from the prevailing culture, gender stereotypes of colours are perpetuated for another generation.

***

Another similar issue is that I'm very mindful of making sure the boys get books with male protagonists (insofar as the books have protagonists and the protagonists have gender - with children this young, sometimes the books are about animals or shapes or colours, and sometimes they don't have enough of a plot to have a protagonist), but I don't put the same thought into making sure the girl gets books with female protagonists.  This is because I have the idea, absorbed from the ether, that boy are more likely to be reluctant readers, and that boys are more likely to be disinclined to read books with female protagonists. 

In real life, none of these kids are reluctant readers, simply because they're too young for anyone to make that determination.  In real life, I'm not even sure to what extent children that age do or don't perceive gender.  But, nevertheless, I've decided to pre-emptively address this Thing That People On The Internet Say Might Happen, and, as a result, might be perpetuating the stereotype that books about girls aren't for boys.

Part of it is the fact that I can testify from my own first-hand experience that even a girly girl whose gender identity and expression is wholly feminine can totally enjoy books about a male protagonist, and therefore would feel confident in getting a girl a book with a male protagonist.  But I have heard anecdotes of boys being disinclined to read female protagonists, and I only have a self righteous "Well, it shouldn't make any difference!" to counter that.  (I don't actually know whether my male baby cousins as individuals care about the genders of their protagonists - I'm never able to have as comprehensive a conversation with their parents as I'd like because we keep getting interrupted by the presence of babies and toddlers.)

But ultimately, I think it's more important (in terms of both gift-giving and child development) to maximize the likelihood that the kidlets will enjoy the books put in front of them. And so I resort to gender stereotypes unless I have further specific information.

I kind of wish I could switch off that portion of my knowledge of self and culture, and choose books cheerfully unaware of what gender (and other) stereotypes might exist and need to be addressed.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

"Excuse me, are you Jewish?"

For several years now, there have been young men (they appear to be Orthodox Jewish students to my semi-informed eyes) who stand around on the corner of Yonge and Eglinton and ask passers-by "Excuse me, are you Jewish?"

While I'm flattered to pass for potentially-Jewish, the fact of the matter is I'm not at all, so I've always just said "No, sorry" and left them to their business.

But I've always been super curious: what happens if you are Jewish?

So this year I decided to ask one of them. When he asked me "Excuse me, are you Jewish?" I replied "No, but I'm super curious what would happen if I said yes!"

"We give you a free menorah if you don't have one already," he replied.

So there you go!  Free menorahs!

I'm not knowledgeable enough of the nuances of Judaism to be able to speculate whether the free menorah comes with evangelistic strings attached.  (I don't even know if Judaism has evangelism, but, coming from a Christian background, that's what my concern would be if they belonged to some Christian denomination and were giving out, like, free Advent wreaths or something). But that's a mystery solved!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The bizarro universe of new home construction

So when you buy a new home, the expectation is that there will be problems.  (They call them "deficiencies".)  I've had a number of them, ranging from the superficial (paint on a lighting fixture) to the more problematic (a draft caused by my balcony door being misaligned).

The developer has a system all set up to handle this. I report the deficiencies to this office, and they coordinate having people come in to repair them. Since I work from home, they just give me a ring to let me know when someone is coming, and a nice tradesperson swoops in and solves a problem for me, often answering any questions I might have along the way. (If I weren't home during the day, property management could let them in for me.)  Every individual I have dealt with throughout this process has been awesome, and no one has batted an eye at the number of things I have reported.

Everyone I know who has bought a new home (condo or detached) says they've gone through this.  Even my parents, who bought a new home back when I was still a fetus, went through this.  And everyone tells me it's normal.

What's weird to me is that it's normal!  Imagine in your own job, if you could turn in work with about at least a dozen mistakes!  I'd get fired for that kind of error rate! And imagine if this was considered fine and normal, to the extent that your employer had a whole infrastructure set up for your clients to report the mistakes you made, and then you'd resolve them in batches over the next several weeks. And your employer was considered a good service provider on the grounds that the mistakes were resolved promptly and cheerfully, and it would be completely unreasonable for your clients to expect you not to make mistakes in the first place!

And the bizarre thing is it's been like this for decades!  It was like this 36 years ago when my parents bought a new home, and no one has fixed it yet!

Don't get me wrong, I'd still rather have a newly-built home that only I have ever lived in than an older one that has the leavings of other people's different housekeeping priorities in it, but it blows my mind that for decades and decades this entire industry has just been okay with the fact that there are multiple deficiencies in the product delivered to the customer - especially when it's the biggest purchase of the customer's life and one that affects every aspect of their day-to-day happiness.

Friday, December 09, 2016

How I'm making my new home uninhabitable to anyone but me.

I blogged before about my filing system, where I sort things in order of when I received them after years of failing to sort stuff and just sticking it in the front of the file drawer.

As I've been setting up my new home and finding myself have to organize things, I've been coming up with more unique ways to organize things:

- I organized my desk drawer full of office supplies and other miscellany in order of "How likely am I to look for it?" Stuff I think I'm going to look for all the time goes in front, stuff I don't expect to look for goes in the back.

-In my file drawer, I made a folder for "stuff I can never figure out where to put and then can't find it and then panic". Now I'll never need to panic about not being able to find something again!

- In a bathroom drawer, I made a "stuff I use every day" section. Once I get drawer dividers figured out, I'll also add a "stuff I use regularly but not daily" section.

- My new place has a den. I'm used to living without a den and didn't deliberately seek one out (the suites that met my other requirements all came with dens). So I'm putting all the stuff that I can't figure out where to put it in the den, some of it in moving boxes, some of it in random piles.  I'm going to leave it like this for several months to see what makes its way out of the den, the I'm going to simply use the den as a storage room for everything else. In theory, I'll eventually acquire some kind of storage furniture or boxes that look more permanent than moving boxes, but who knows if this will actually happen in practice? Meanwhile, my desk is still in the living room like it's always been - previously because I didn't have a choice, but now because my den doesn't have windows and I don't want to spend the vast majority of my waking hours in a windowless nook.

In short, where my limited skills enable me to impose an organizational paradigm, I'm setting things up so they meet my own eccentric needs perfectly.  But, in the process of doing so, I seem to be creating a space that won't make sense to anyone else.