constructive year

>> Thursday, December 31, 2009

It’s pretty interesting to reflect on the last year and think about what's happened, what I've learned and done. I didn’t think very much, at the beginning of the year, about what the end of it would look like. Maybe I will this year. Nothing too crazy has happened (I consider that a positive) but there have been some definite changes. Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the way things have gone and where I am right now.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year (though it certainly isn’t just one), it’s that goals are not very meaningful unless they’re specific and tie into a bigger picture of where you see yourself going. So, for most of my goals this year I have some specific numbers, weekly/monthly benchmarks, and other details in mind. The harder (but more interesting) part is getting a clearer sense of that bigger we go:

1. Start running again
2. Pay off a significant chunk of my OSAP, half (trust me, that is a lot)
3. To that end: undertake some serious financial planning
4. and to THAT end: learn to do my taxes!
5. Continue reading 2-3 books every month. I love book club(s)!
6. Spend more time cooking and eating at home (& trying new recipes!)
7. Make guitar practice a habit (difficult when you are as awful as I am)
8. Take a course at U of T (tbd?)
9. Stay in touch with long-distance friends and family
10. Write more

Happy new year!


this all bears repeating

>> Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Is there anything in the world more embarrassing than crying at the office? Of course there is, let's not lose perspective here. It is pretty awkward, though, especially when you're not expecting it yourself - like when the song you've been listening to all day on repeat suddenly catches you off-guard on the 17th listen and that's it. Game over. That would be me, today:

I've been getting into the treasure trove / black hole of everyone's year-end lists (double super bonus: decade-end lists this year!) and catching up on music for the year. Today I got stuck on the Antlers and I'm kind of upset about the fact that every other song on my 'to listen' list isn't THIS SONG. At the same time, realizing that the same thing could happen tomorrow with another song is probably the reason I keep listening to music and haven't given up on the whole enterprise altogether.

Oh and tonight I watched the Blind Side. I now feel the urge to dye my hair blonde and begin affecting a southern accent (not for the first time). Maybe drive a pick-up truck. Call people darlin' and baby. Whatever. If the indie rock is getting to you, you could always try some of this:

I think I actually like Tim McGraw and his well-meaning (if not quite well-placed) pop culture / political references.


I don't mean to seem like I care about material things, but

>> Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Every year I get stuff at Christmas I do not want (hint: I don't need pj's...I live alone). For some reason, people seem to think I am difficult to shop for. As far as I am concerned it is the easiest thing in the world. Then again, I do it all the time.

So what is the solution? For the first time ever, I am making a gift list. That's right! Good for all occasions, including birthdays (Feb. 11, btw). And here it is!

1) A subscription to the Economist (it is no longer available to read for free online...) thanks momma!
2) Bookmarks. Nice ones. No lame quotes or script-y things.
3) Gift certificate to the framing store near me - Gallery Boutique
4) always need more
5) A complete set of the Anne of Green Gables books
6) Any books at all, including new ones, ones I've read and enjoyed but don't own, classic children's books, coffee table books with fun pictures
7) Good coffee
8) A coffee bean grinder
9) Anything related to music history or Bruce Springsteen.
10) Records. As in vinyl.
11) Ummmm....a moustache calendar
12) This and this from Etsy
13) A business card holder
14) Lincoln Park After Dark


don't make me dance all night alone

>> Monday, October 19, 2009

I hardly use this. What can I say, I've been busy. On the internet. On Twitter and Tumblr, mostly. Oh and I guess I have this job, and a mostly pretty decent social life. Speaking of which, I have started a book club! We met last night and here is the list of books we have picked out:

Book: Juliet, Naked
Author: Nick Hornby

Book: The White Tiger
Author: Aravind Adiga

Book: The Hour I First Believed
Author: Wally Lamb

Book: Push
Author: Sapphire

Book: The Book of Negroes
Author: Lawrence Hill

Book: In the land of long fingernails
Author: Charles Wilkins

I'm hosting in March.

We also got to talking about the Society. Since none of us knows anyone in it, and thus cannot join (and who wants to join anyway), we came up with a bunch of interesting / different social activities we could do as a group. These include:

- going to a shooting range
- inviting a hypnotist
- each of us going to a bar alone, but at the same time (I have always wanted to do this. Is it a social experiment? Performance art? Alcoholism?)

suggestions all around are welcome...


there's just something 'bout the summertime

>> Thursday, July 23, 2009

and I think it's music.

on repeat even through the stupid summer rain:

jj- ecstasy
Neko Case - If You Knew
The Gaslight Anthem - Miles Davis & the Cool (summer romance)
Yim Yames - All Things Must Pass
and Say Please

Thank you.


the last recluse

>> Wednesday, June 10, 2009

This image, from sweethomestyle, is all cute whatever...I mean it's what a little girl's room should look like, from the point of view of an adult. What is it with washed out pastels and airiness? But it does remind me of something I wanted to do this summer - find good (old, new, whatever) copies of classic books I liked as a kid. This includes the obvious ones like Anne of Green Gables but also others whose plots I have to google because I can't remember their names or who they're by.

And so I look forward to discovering good used book stores in Toronto this summer. So far I have only hit up the obvious BMV, where I scored Watership Down, and could use suggestions for other places to go!


>> Tuesday, May 26, 2009

as an addendum to my previous post on snuggies, I would like to add this compelling bit of news:

Weezer's blanket statement

yessss an officially licenced Weezer Snuggie! This plus Tina Fey repping the slanket makes me feel so good about my life choices.



>> Wednesday, May 20, 2009

this is my poorly-lit photo of the next several books I plan to read. Many are books I ordered off amazon in a fit of desperate procrastination at 4am on a Tuesday sometime last March and then never read, because apparently I wasn't quite that desperate to procrastinate. The rest were picked up at BMV on a particularly nice evening after seeing the new Wilco concert doc (the night I decided to learn to play the guitar).

The mix is a little weird, by which I mean it's not that varied...normally I like a lot of contrast. But I also think I will enjoy all of these. I am especially looking forward to Watership Down, which may or may not be moved up in the list depending on how badly I crave the whimsy.

Oh and read this if you haven't. Not only is the cover beautiful (to me, the illustration is very typically Bengali) but it's a beautifully-written story, set during the time of the civil war and separation of Bangladesh from Pakistan.

recommendations for August are also welcome


you can keep tomorrow, after tonight we're not gonna need it

>> Friday, May 8, 2009

No Surrender
Outlaw Pete
She's the One
Working on a Dream
Johnny 99
The Ghost of Tom Joad (rounding out the trio of recession songs)
Raise Your Hand
E Street Shuffle
Prove It All Night
Louie Louie
(sign requests)
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
The Promised Land
Racing in the Street
Kingdom of Days (for Patti)
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
The Rising
Born to Run
* * *
Hard Times
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Land of Hope and Dreams
American Land
Rosalita (just for me)
Glory Days


four dead in Ohio.

>> Monday, May 4, 2009

I was thinking about this a few weeks back because of a joke made on 30 Rock. Normally, I am all for poking fun at just about anything un-PC (the Phil Spector joke killed...pun intended). But for some reason I feel very strange about the reference to the May 4, 1970 shootings at Kent State university. I remember listening to a documentary on it a few years back. Something about the whole event seemed so eerie and shocking, like the kind of thing that should not happen in America. The event remains controversial to this day - in part because the issue of who caused what has never been decided and none of the National Guardsmen who fired on the student protesters (killing four and wounding nine) has ever been convicted of a crime.

Then I think of how this event fits into the political and popular context of the time. A turning point, the end of the 60s - a time when people's belief in their ability to effect change had been worn down by Vietnam, Nixon, and the failure of peace and love and hippie folk music to accomplish all that it was supposed to.

Also of note: yesterday was Pete Seeger's 90th birthday.


I do not hook up.

>> Sunday, May 3, 2009

this is what a popular academic looks like.

Thanks, Dick. I wish I was intelligent/famous enough to write an in-depth treatise on Toronto's success as a diverse city that is really just an intro to an excerpt that someone else wrote, plus a comment agreeing with it completely (and re-quoting it to really drive the point home). If I wanted to read Will Wilkinson I would just do that. Continue sucking up to Toronto, though, I think it's working.


a serious one now

>> Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I came across this letter while searching for the meaning of the word "booshoo" (interestingly enough, it seems to mean something in both Ojibway and Farsi).

Looking into Grassy Narrows, I see that this particular project is a campaign by the Rainforest Action Network, one of the groups I did some work with in my freewheelin' (by which I mean my services were free) consulting days. All these things come back together...

There was something on the radio this morning about development somewhere in Ontario and a conflict with a First Nations community (I was half asleep so I don't remember where or with whom). I do remember a woman explaining what it was like to have bulldozers come in and tear up trees that had been growing for decades, scarring the land, just for the purpose of prospecting, and what it felt like to see your homeland torn up that way. So, besides the issues of resource benefits sharing and land claims issues, I think I am starting to understand how these things affect people on a more personal level.



>> Monday, April 27, 2009

via here


I can't get started

>> Thursday, April 23, 2009

I'd like to go ahead and declare myself over doing certain things on the internet because it's a certain day. I think you know what I'm talking about. I blame excessive enthusiasm over Twitter and Tumblr.


high top sneakers & sailor tattoos

I check this website frequently in case anyone I know comes up.

look at this fucking hipster.

Toronto represent!


rock 'n roll is here to stay

>> Tuesday, April 7, 2009

In view of a recent trip down memory lane (I know, nostalgia is no good, Diana Vreeland does not approve) and the result that I am so excited for the new Wilco album that will drop in June (?), I have been revisiting some classics. Some favourites of mine aren't quite Wilco songs at all but remind me of a time when I was the only person I knew who even listened to this band - which was not a good thing at the time, but served instead to soundtrack some of the quieter moments of my angsty teenage years.

First, Remember the Mountain Bed. Absolutely beautiful lyrics, and lovely, simple chord progression. One of the best from the Mermaid Avenue sessions.

Second, the first song of theirs I ever heard, a cover that introduced me to two great bands at once - one of the many reasons Gilmore Girls has had such a profound influence on my life (let's not get into that here). Thirteen.

Lastly, if you really would like to impress me...tell me something Diana Vreeland said that I don't know about. It's a good thing she is no longer with us (after having lived a long, full life, of course) because I simply cannot fit any more of one person's advice into my life.


turning your orbit around

>> Thursday, April 2, 2009

Everyone keeps asking me if I'm excited to start work. You know what I'm excited for? Dressing up every day!!! Yes it's true. Even though it's the public service (notoriously dowdy, I have some good horror stories) I think that my office will be quite smart. The reason might have something to do with being located on the same floor as the Minister's office, but I also think it has something to do with being in a building full of corporate-types (a bank and Unilever).

My morning laugh came from this news piece. Honestly, who does that? The resulting reaction by the Toronto Airport Authority is totally predictable. And hilarious. OK, maybe it's only hilarious if you're the kind of person who regularly makes jokes about bureaucracy based in personal experience and a little self-deprecation.

I made cut-off shorts. They're really awesome. I can't wait for summer.

oh shit. I forgot to pay rent again.


it's hard to be a saint in the city

>> Monday, March 30, 2009

...but I'm sure gonna try.

So the latest life news is that I've signed a contract and will be working in Toronto for the next 6 months, most likely a year. I'm pleased because the position seems interesting and directly related to my school and work experience to date. So, I'm looking forward to making some 'real world' policy, you know, being personally responsible for recommendation #4 in a report that was summarized in a power point and presented to the Minister who brought it up in Cabinet and while not implemented at was heard and considered by the right people who then made a decision incorporating the concerns of their constituencies. No but seriously jokes aside I'm pretty excited.

Beyond that I have pretty much given up on school. As far as I'm concerned it should be summer and I should be on a beach (and 10 pounds thinner).



>> Friday, March 20, 2009

I kind of want one of these.

In other news, I will definitely be single forever.


these are the days

>> Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I may have some good news this week. I will wait until Friday to be certain and then I will tell EVERYONE, because goodness knows I cannot keep a secret.

Interesting fact: this news story sort of (but not really) ruined the ending of my current book. You see, a parallel story line to the lives of the characters in Late Nights On Air is an inquiry into the proposed Mackenzie Valley Pipeline (a true story). Well, I didn't actually know how it ended until this morning. Oops! It's really no big deal, but very interesting that this proposal has been around for over 40 years now (the book is set in the 1970s) and inquiries continue to this day with no resolution.

Alright, so maybe it's not that interesting.


You can say it's my instinct. Yes, I still have one.

>> Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I feel good because I just got an email from the director of a not-for-profit for whom I (and two others in my program) just completed a project and report. The project was done on a pro-bono basis, as a way for us to practice some of our policy skills and for not-for-profits in the area to get some free policy work. Anyway, her email said a) she is very pleased with the report, b) she would like to take us out for dinner, c) she wants to arrange honoraria for us, and d) what is our status in the near future, should some full-time work become available?

I'm pretty pleased myself, and would have been even without all the extra 'stuff', because I know we worked hard and it was a good report. As usual, I put the most effort this year into something non-school-related.

In other news, I am excited about the imminent release of Steve Earle's album of Townes Van Zandt covers. For some reason admitting I like Steve Earle has always made me feel old...perhaps because my introduction to him was via classic rock radio when I was pretty young (similar to Springsteen in that way). Yes he was classic rock before I was even born. Anyway, anytime you read about Townes Van Zandt (my introduction to him came through the Josh Ritter song "Me & Jiggs") you hear something good Steve Earle has to say about him. Steve seems like a nice guy, and this whole album seems like it will be (I've only heard a couple of tracks so far) a true tribute to a dear old friend. And you know Steve must have loved Townes if he named his kid after him.

Lately I've been listening to a lot of 'love' songs. That's in quotes I guess because they're a bit unusual and sometimes a bit creepy. I don't know if it's the spring weather or the orientation of the latest Neko Case album, but I'm huge into this phase right now. Don't even get me started on "I'm An Animal" or "This Tornado Loves You". Neko Case is literally a force of nature. Literally? Yes.

Townes Van Zandt - If I Needed You
Wilco - She's a Jar
Bonnie "Prince" Billy - So Everyone
Ra Ra Riot - Can You Tell
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - This Love is Fucking Right!

(I'm going to assume everyone has the new Neko Case album so I won't bother posting links. Am I done talking about her already? Probably not.)

What are your favourite odd or slightly creepy love songs?


with love and trust and shows all summer

>> Tuesday, March 3, 2009

who wants to see:

justin townes earle (yeah steve's kid) - April 22/Horseshoe/$12.50

the pains of being pure at heart - April 28/Lee's/$10

bonnie 'prince' billy - May 14/Queen Elizabeth Theatre/$20something

the national - may 21/Kool Haus/$20something also.

and yes (in between rounds of Neko Case) I am back on this Hold Steady album from last year. Every time the weather gets a little nice I dream of songs to listen to this summer. Of course when summer does come around there is no time for new music as we are too busy living it. At least, I hope that will be the case this time around. My first summer as a non-student. Makes me wonder if summer holds the same promise when you work all damn year 'round. I've always done that anyway but I feel it will be different, being a 'real person' and all that.

In quieter moments I have been going for the new Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (longest name ever), and Ra Ra Riot (soft spot for college rock).


did someone make a fool of me?

>> Monday, March 2, 2009

James has resolved that I blog more often. So here I am.

I am just here to recommend that everyone who is able get their hands on a copy of Late Nights On Air by Elizabeth Hay. It is the book currently on my night table, and on nights when I get to bed early enough (and even some when I don't) it is my night time treat. I'm probably not even half way through at this point but am enjoying it enough to recommend it. The writing is incredibly beautiful and I love the descriptions of the characters, the landscapes of the Yukon territory, the history of them all...

I think I could be one of those people who falls in love with the North. Yes? the last great frontier! But not for that reason. More for the landscapes of the tundra. There is something I like about permafrost and the tiniest, most hardy of plants in brown and green and funny animals and lakes and sun half the year. Well, in theory anyway.

Sorry to go on but if you read it you'll see what I mean.


the next time you say forever I will punch you in your face

So Michelle Obama has better arms than I do. She is how old again? Never mind, I don't want to talk about it.

Latest obsession is the new Neko Case album, Middle Cyclone. I got it last week and I swear, it was like something had been missing from my life and I simply did not realize it until now. It's true - I just feel better with Neko in my life.

I have a job interview tomorrow!


oh yeah

>> Friday, February 27, 2009

if you ever need to feel inadequate, remind yourself that Jeff Tweedy's kid has a blog. And he is more eloquent, takes better pictures, and has better taste in music than you.

Perspective: he hasn't had his bar mitzvah yet.

I wish Wilco would put out another Mermaid Avenue album. Yes? I wonder if there is more...


let's talk about music. Because I never do that.

>> Thursday, February 19, 2009

I've been thinking lately about the kind(s) of music I like. Someone asked me recently and I had a surprisingly difficult time figuring it out for myself and an even worse time trying to communicate it to him. Well, I guess it changes. Currently listening to a LOT of Ryan Adams but I just got this Springsteen album (the Lost Radio Show) which is also kind of blowing my mind. So it means I have no desire to listen to old stand-bys like Joni Mitchell or Neko Case even though I know they are some of my favourites.

Anyway since I find it frustrating and confusing to talk about it I'm just going to upload a playlist of some (mostly not new) stuff I like right now. I think it fits the folky-country-ish mood that goes along with this weather.

1. Blue Ridge Mountains - Fleet Foxes
2. Harrisburg - Josh Ritter
3. Lived in Bars - Cat Power
4. Golden Age of Radio - Josh Ritter
5. In Perfect Time - Jill Barber
6. Kathleen - Josh Ritter
7. Your Protector - Fleet Foxes
8. For Emma - Bon Iver
9. Girl In The War - Josh Ritter
10. White Winter Hymnal - Fleet Foxes
11. I'm On Fire (cover) - Harry Manx and Kevin Breit
12. Me & Jiggs - Josh Ritter
13. The Fever - Bruce Springsteen (live, Lost Radio Show)


I feel alright

>> Tuesday, February 10, 2009

a sense of well-being seems to float me along this week. Maybe it's because it's almost my birthday, but more likely it's due to other things. It's very funny how susceptible I am to outside events, things I have little or no control over. I'm not sure if this makes me unique or not. I would guess not. Anyway, I feel much calmer about the whole job situation. The last few months have involved some low-level panic that began to escalate in the last couple of weeks and generally brought down the tone of everything in my life.
I had a talk with my former director from the summer and she was very optimistic and very willing to put me in contact with potential employers. The knowledge that I can at least find a job in Ottawa is very reassuring. This in turn has kicked me into gear on the job-hunt in Toronto (rather than just sitting about worrying and bitching about it).
I know it's mean of me to talk about how well things are going at the moment, or so April, who got in a car accident yesterday, told me. I guess the thing is just that everything is more or less the same, I just feel better.

I can't stop reading Garance Doré and her adorable blog. I had always assumed Parisian chicks were super bitchy and cold, just judging by their accents and the way they look. Perhaps Garance is just an exception but she is unendingly effusive and full of adoration for her subjects and witty comments and funny broken English. It's the best first thing I read in the morning. Not to mention the photos, which are just so pretty.


policy blah blah

>> Saturday, January 24, 2009

I have, like everyone in the world, been following way too closely the every act of the new administration, especially new appointments. What is striking to me is the sheer number of incredibly talented, energetic, eminently qualified people whose names are being floated around - people no one has really heard of, unless you happen to run in those circles. Where do all these people come from? I read their biographies and try to figure out the path they've taken to get where they are. I wonder if I know people now who will be those people someday. I also wonder why we seem to have so few of these people north of the border. I'm certain that's not really the case (or perhaps just a function of population size), but I feel like our public servants and academics seem dull and old by comparison.

Then again, I attended a talk yesterday given by Mark Jaccard (who is at Simon Fraser University) and found him intelligent and an enthusiastic, engaging speaker. I kind of had fun. It's a silly thing to say, but all this excitement south of the border and going to talks like that sort of remind me of why I want to do what I'm doing (/ will do, once I get a job, economy permitting).

Why do economists make the best policy analysts? I'm a little jealous, I'm not going to lie.


About This Blog

this here ma blog.

I like to talk about things I have no particular expertise in. Especially music.

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