the_siobhan: (NaDruWriNi)
At one of our previous laptops&beers sessions somebody asked the room, "Do any of you have any opinions about Earth Day?"

Hoo boy, do I have opinons about Earth Day.

The first year it went international, Axel & I took part. We turned off our lights, lit some candles, sat around in our creepy living room with the plastic hanging off the bricks because we had no walls, drank a bottle of wine and talked. And it was nice, a little break in the middle of a hectic life.

The next day there were tons of news articles about how many people had taken part. How so many major cities, mine included, had seen major energy use dips. The number of people who participated put the event on the map in a big way. I let myself feel a tiny shred of hope, the sneaking suspicion that maybe we weren't totlaly fucked. Not because an hour of low energy use means squat - it doesn't. But if that many people had demonstrated that climate change was important to them, it couldn't help but be a flag to government and business that hello, WE GIVE A SHIT ABOUT THIS SIT UP AND PAY ATTENTION DAMN YOU. MAKE. A. FUCKING. CHANGE,

Ten years later I no longer participate.

Ten years later, my workplace - which has investments in the oil sands - puts an planet earth logo on their intranet site and encourages their employees to celebrate Earth Day by going for a walk during our lunch break.

Businesses all over town promise to dim their lights for an hour. Immediately after, of course, they go back to being fully lit up all night and causing bird genocide all summer long.

Earth Day is now a performance by marketing companies and PR hacks for the benefit of companies who want to convince people to give them their business becasue "they care". And I no longer bother to participate.

Drink List: A bunch of beers, four maybe? Plus a very strong g&t.
the_siobhan: (on fire)
So because my co-workers are lovely, they got me going-away presents. One of them was a pie, which was delicious and they helped me eat it.

The other part of the present was a gift card for Indigo, which is a Canadian book store. "Aha!" says I, "I can finally buy some of the books that are on my wish list." And because we are trying to reduce the number of Things, I went online and created an account on the Indigo website and bought the electronic version of some of the books I wanted.

Now the Indigo e-reader is called a Kobo. When I buy the books the Indigo website ports me over to Kobo to create an account there. This concerns me a little as I don't have a Kobo, I have a Kindle. Not to worry, says the website, you can convert the files using a free Adobe app. So I download the Adobe app. Then I try to convert them so they can be read on my Kindle. Adobe app says nope, those files have DRM. I do a search on the Adobe website, which says, well if you register your Adobe app you can share the files across devices. Fine, I didn't particularly want to have to create yet another account with a third company, but whatever. I register the Adobe app. I download the books again. Adobe app says that's nice, now you have two copies of the files but they still have DRM so I can't put them on your Kindle.

Axel downloads a DRM-breaker. DRM breaker says it could convert the files if it were the previous version of the Adobe app but not this new version.

We collectively say fuckit and torrent the fucking books.

Keep in mind that these are books that I legally purchased, and would like to be able to read on an existing e-reader that I already own, and after hours of nonsense we still couldn't get them into my Kindle. It took all of three minutes to just download an illegal copy, convert it, and bam I'm good to go.

And this is why people pirate shit.
the_siobhan: (on fire)
There is a point, when one is flying by the seat of one's pants and barely maintaining altitude, where the stress just goes away and replaced by a sense of "Ha ha what else could possibly catch fire today."

I think I've hit that point three times already this week, and it's not even 2 PM.
the_siobhan: (Dufferin station)
Today's commute was an utter crapfest. I was coming in from D's place in the east end of town so I had to take the subway instead of my usual bus[1]. Six trains went by, all so full that there was no space to squeeze more than a single body into each open door.

At that point I went to the opposite platform and took a train going the wrong way until I got to a station far enough from the core that I could finally switch to one going the direction I wanted.

This is such bullshit. We needed a downtown relief line 20 fucking years ago. But taxes are bad, right?

[1] The bus that D calls "the honey badger". Because it just doesn't give a fuck.
the_siobhan: (Kurt Vennegut Jr)
So here's a situation I haven't run into before.

Among the books I have been trying to work my way through, I have some that are a part of a series. The whole point of me doing this is to whittle down the books we have here, so rather than buying the ones that are missing I looked to the library.

And the library has them. But they are "reference only". I can't check them out and read them at home.

The hell? I have never run into this before with books that are fiction. Is this a new thing? Why would fiction be reference only if it's not something like the first edition of Dracula?

(Dog Wizard by Barbara Hambly and Child of the Northern Spring by Persia Woolley in case you were wondering.)

[ETA] BTW, when I say "The Library" I mean the entire Toronto Library network - I don't just mean one building. I think that's a local colloquialism, not just me who using that nomenclature.
the_siobhan: (What Would Jaques Cousteau Do?)
I ended up having a gastroscopy yesterday - fortunately the doctor's office called me to remind me, with everything that's been going on lately it completely went out of my head.

It's something I have to do every couple of years for monitoring but it was my first time getting it done by this particular doctor - she's the same one who took out my gallbladder. The experience was very different. The previous doctor would knock me out and I would wake up feeling like I had swallowed a couple of yards of sandpaper. This time I was given a local and some gas and was completely conscious through the whole thing. I can tell you it feels weird as hell to have a hose going in and out of one's stomach. But my throat feels absolutely fine.

Whatever gas they gave me made me feel so sleepy I kept nodding off in Darrell's car while he was driving me home and and he ended up putting me to bed shortly after we got there. The rain started while I was sleeping and I woke a couple of hours later to find a large puddle on the window sill next to me. I cleaned that up and went downstairs just as Axel got home from work.

The two of us were noodling away on our respective computers and I started pointing out pictures people had posted of flooding all over Toronto. Then I recognized one of them as being from an railway underpass just south of our house. You could just see the tops of the cars poking over the top of the water.

We looked at each other. "Hey, have you been down in the basement yet today?"

Oddly enough, the bedroom was fine - there is a wooden floor built on top of the concrete and so it's just raised enough to prevent any damage. Every other surface was covered in water and mud. The storage room is also raised but obviously not as much, the water got into the low shelves where Axel had all his records stored.

So right now we have anything paper spread out over piles of towels to dry on our living room floor. Stuff that was in cardboard boxes and that we figure we can deal with later - like clothes that will need to be laundered - are propped up on tops of the plastic bins that survived the flood. Everything is covered in mud. It looks like a few lighter objects actually floated for a while as there are a lot of small things that travelled across the room. We have towels and tarps thrown across all the entry points so we don't track mud through the rest of the house.

It's just another day in the Once And Future Gin Palace.
the_siobhan: (BOOM)
Let's propose a hypothetical situation. Pay careful attention, there's a quiz at the end.

Unidentified individual #1: Engages in inappropriate behaviour at a work event that is specifically prohibited in his employer's code of conduct.

Unidentified individual #2: Responds to and also participates in inappropriate behaviour at a work event that is specifically prohibited in his employer's code of conduct.

Unidentified individual #3: Notifies a corporation that behaviour is taking place that is specifically prohibited in their (the corporation's) code of conduct.

Unidentified individuals #4 - #1000: Send online threats of assault and murder to a single targeted individual. Members of this group also engage in harrassment by launching DOS (denial of service attacks) to one or more online service providers.

Unidentified corporation #1: Fire one of their employees for engaging inappropriate behaviour at a work event that is specifically prohibited in their (the employer's) code of conduct.

Unidentified corporation #2: Fire one of their employees for receiving online threats of assault & murder and for being targetted by DOS attacks.

So here's the quiz part.

Question: Who in this cast of characters behaved in such a way that they should receive the most public criticism for their actions and choices?

Answer: The woman.
the_siobhan: (Dufferin station)
I could have sworn I made a post about the trains behind our house, but I can't seem to find it. Oh well, if I did you get to hear about it again.

Anyway, our back yard ends where the CN/CP rail corridor starts. Legally we have no rear access to our property but our neighbours are pretty enthusiastic about finding creative work arounds to that and our "fence" is really just a bunch of boards and old doors hammered together. When we moved in our backyard was protected by a broad swathe of trees and some pretty heavy underbrush. All the wildlife I keep finding in my backyard took advantage of that thicket to travel along the rail corridor. It also provided a very efficient noise baffle against the sound of the passing trains.

Since then the province has decided to build a direct rail between the downtown and the airport and the obvious spot to put it was in the corridor behind our property. Fair enough, it's something we need. Heavy machinery appeared behind our house and about half the trees were cut down in order to make space for the new rail. They also put up this weird silver box that "chirps" every 2 minutes and that gets covered with fresh gaffiti every week or so.

Since the original plans were announced there have been a couple of things that have gotten the locals up in arms. One is that they are planning on putting in deisel trains instead of electric, which seems really stupid given that these are high-frequency passenger shuttles travelling a total of 30 km. Our objections have been answered with, "Oh we'll convert it to electric five years later," which sounds even dumber to me since it would require spending the money twice (or at least one-and-a-half times) on the same thing.

The second thing that is pissing people off is that they have decided to build a 15-foot wall along the entire length of the rail line. As a noise barrier. One would assume against those frequent-service deisel engines that people have said they don't want.

When I got up this morning there were people working on the rail lines chopping down the last of the trees behind my property. You know, those trees that I mentioned were so great at blocking the noise of the trains going by. I guess that's where they're going to put the wall.
the_siobhan: (What Would John Constantine Do?)
Something I was thinking about today.

(It involves death & suicide so take note if those things disturb you.)

Most of the people I know are sympathetic to the idea that a person has the right to end their life under certain conditions. The typical scenario being where one has a fatal illness such as cancer, where all medical options have been exhausted and when the quality of life can no longer be maintained in a way that the individual finds meaningful. In fact a number of people have told me that they plan to commit suicide if they ever find themselves in such a situation, preferably before they are completely incapacitated by pain and physical deterioration.

I can't say if this is typical of society at large, but most of the people I interact with don't have a problem with that.

So why do so many people have the exact opposite reaction when it comes to mental illness?

I was thinking about the friends I have lost to suicide over the years. In a couple of cases it was well known that they suffered horribly from depression that was resistant to all medical intervention. They struggled for years, decades. And when they finally gave up, their friends were all furious with them.

I don't really get the difference between the two reactions. Giving up on an incurable painful illness that impacts the body is obviously being measured on a different scale than giving up on an incurable painful illness that impacts the mind. And I don't really get why. (I get why people would put them on a different scale when it comes to making the decision for themselves, it's their friends' reactions that I'm quizzing.)

Anybody think they can explain the thought process there?

NOTE: Not considering suicide as an option for me. Just in case anybody misunderstands the purpose of this conversation.
the_siobhan: (Kurt Vennegut Jr)
The rule I decided on for sorting through my books was that if I ever wanted to re-read it I could keep it. Otherwise it goes out the door. Some books I can tell you the answer right away. Some I have to leaf through a bit or read the first chapter. Since I have so many books this process is taking a while. I have also filled two big boxes where the answer is, "Yes, but only the once." So these are the books I am now reading right away.

One of the ones I just finished is a paperback so old it is held together by an elastic band. It was published in 1964 - I was a year old. The events it describes as happening in the near future are already 20 years in the past.

That makes it kind of an interesting read even without discussing the worth of the writing itself. But what really jarred me out of the story was the language used to describe Africans and Asians - they were referred to as Negroids and Mongolians. There were two characters in the story with birth defects, both were called mongoloids by other characters. This was not the author trying to be cruel, this was the accepted polite nomenclature in the year the book was written.

In 2012 those words feel either archaic or give me an emotional wince that makes it hard to focus on the story. Since the early 60s the word "mongoloid" became an insult and an epithet and so we don't say it any more. It was replaced by the much more kind and scientifically accurate term "mentally retarded".

Except that now "retarded" is an insult too. So we've replaced it with... Developmentally delayed, I think? Mentally challenged? Neuro-atypical? Is it fucked up of me that I'm not even sure? I know I've heard "delayed" thrown around as insults recently, so if those terms are considered socially acceptable now I imagine they won't be for long.

And this right there is a big part of why I find changes in acceptable language to be problematic. The problem is not with the words. The problem is that dicks will treat a group of people as if they are an insult just by existing[1]. You can change the language as often as you want, the shit-heads will change right alongside you and pollute any new term you come up with.

I don't have a solution for this. Fewer shitheads I guess. Except I don't see that happening any time soon either.

[1]This post is brought to you by Ann Coulter and by the people who think they are insulting Ann Coulter by making jokes about how she used to be a man. You are not on my side.
the_siobhan: (Brighter Blessed Than Thee)
I usually try to limit my Facebook use to short quips and sharing of music videos and online petitions. I just like the blog environment a lot better for having more in-depth conversations. But every once in a while I post something that generates a lot more comments than I was expecting. The "newsworthy women of 2012" post started off like that.

So I made a post on FB a few weeks back. It went like this;
Public support for alcohol prohibition in North America was largely spear-headed by women's groups who believed that it would stop men from spending the grocery money on booze and then coming home drunk and beating up their wives. Of course prohibition laws passed and incidents of domestic violence did not decline. It must have been a bitter realization for them.

I think of those women every time I hear an atheist claim that human society would feature less injustice, intolerance and violence if only we could get rid of religion.

So it did generate a lot of comments, mostly a debate about whether or not religion could be considered to be a bad influence. Which was interesting, but not really what I was going for. (Although I have to confess, I did immediately start picturing the exact same conversation happening between a group of women 150 years ago; one side presenting example after example of Good Men Who Had Gone Over To The Drink, and the other side arguing they knew plenty of people who could have a tipple without turning into a monster. But I digress.)

So anyway, saving that for a separate post. What I was really getting at was wanting to point out that taking away the things that influence people to turn into douchbags won't magically get rid of assholes. Being an asshole is one of the things that humans have evolved to be very good at.

But of course if I'm being honest it's not as simple as that either. We aren't islands, standing tall and proud in the strength of our convictions. We are influenced our entire lives by family, environment, peers, experiences, popular culture, things we read, genetics, the perceptions and expectations and treatment we get from other people.

I remember when I was a kid being absolutely incensed when my parents decided that one of my friends was a "bad influence". How dare they assume that I was so weak-minded and easily led that I couldn't be a fuck-up all on my own. But the people we surround ourselves with are both picked because they share our values and also give us the feedback that says are values are the correct ones. When I go out of my way to behave in ways that are seen as positive I get kudos from my peers. When I fuck up, I get called on it. That's what peer pressure is all about, and that's the reason that one of the most common conditions of probation is that you not hang around with your old friends. As per my previous sentence about my friends calling me on my shit, it can also be a powerful force for good - assuming we all agree on what constitutes "good", that is.

But yet some people can walk away from that. I know a ton of people who have left their family or their birth religion or changed their political affiliation because they perceived injustice in how other groups were treated. That can't be easy. I have read many stores written by people who spent time in white supremest groups, who grew up in "quiverfull" communities, who were surrounded their whole lives by a belief system and yet abandoned everything they knew in favour of what they felt was right. Hell, I once read an interview with Randall Terry's mother where she identified as a feminist. Look at how much good that did him.

So where is the line? What makes the difference between behaving a certain way because it's all you've ever known and behaving that way because it is truly a part of who you are? How does holding people accountable for their actions as individuals intersect with the acknowledgment that they are immersed in a culture that reinforces and encourages some of the worst parts of human nature?

I have my own take on the answers to those questions but I'm still mulling over how to clarify them. You take a stab at it.

(This post was brought to you by the Iron LJ Retro Challenge. It was originally posted on FB, but Axel explains what it's about here.
the_siobhan: (What would Jean Chretien Do?)
I've been mulling over a conversation I had with my dad when I was at his place recently. I was ranting about our Honourable Wife-Beating Drunk-Driving Mayor (as I so often do) and how the hell could anybody actually be convinced to vote for the incompetent fuck. I am pretty strongly of the opinion that anybody who campaigns on the promise that they can lower taxes while simultaneously pretending that they won't then have to reduce the stuff that taxes pay for should instantly be disqualified from any position in public office. Because they are either too bad at math to be able to perform adequately at their job or they are just flat-out lying.

So my dad has this theory that part of the problem is that advertisers have been busy telling us for the last four-five decades that we can get stuff for free. "First month is free." "Free trial." "Buy two get one free." Of course everybody knows that none of this stuff is actually free. The cost is just getting shuffled onto something else. But the message has been drilled just a little further into our heads every time we've been exposed to radio or television. And now politicians have figured out that if they promise us stuff for “free” or for less money (taxes) then people will vote for them. Even though we should know that it's impossible. Even though it didn’t work any of the other times we voted for people who made us the same impossible promise.

Advertisers spend an awful lot of time and money figuring out how to get us to do stuff that we wouldn't otherwise do. I'm still thinking about this.
the_siobhan: (blowfish)
You know, as much pushback as the "Do You Want To Be A Mermaid Or A Whale" poster has gotten, I think it's a really good metaphor for the beauty industry.

Because, you know, mermaids are fictional.
the_siobhan: It means, "to rot" (Default)
I have never been one of the Pretty girls.

Before anybody starts thinking this is a sudden onset of self-esteem issues, let me be perfectly clear that this statement has absolutely nothing to do with my appearance. The face in the mirror has it's good days and it's bad days, but mostly I'm pretty cool with it in a "It-may-not-be-perfect-but-it's-mine" kind of way. It appears that some pretty hot people also seem like my face just fine and I'm certainly not about to argue with that.

This statement is about identity.

When you're growing up people give you labels. Adults do it. Other kids certainly do it. And when I was growing up the label I got from everybody around me was The Smart One. The bookworm. The one who was destined to go to University.

My younger sister - now she was The Pretty One[1]. And man, was I envious. But the older I get, the more I think I really dodged a bullet by not getting that label slapped on me when I was young and likely to really internalize the things that other people thought of me. And let me be perfectly clear about this, I strongly internalized the way I was perceived. I don't know if it would be possible not to internalize the terms that people use to describe you, the qualities they praise you for, the thing that dictates the very way they relate to you.

The reason that I've learned to count myself lucky is quite simply because as I get older the things that people use to define me as "smart" don't really change all that much. I had to gave up precocious in return for a little wisdom-from-experience, but that's about it. Assuming I escape dementia or a debilitating head injury, I will probably get to continue thinking of myself as smart right until the end of my life. If my designated label was "creative" or "funny" or "green" I could probably say much the same thing.

But "pretty" is one of those labels that means some very specific things in our culture. And one of those very specific things is being young. And for the lucky ones, being young is something you eventually stop being.

That's the nasty fucking trick that gets played on the Pretty girls. It gets planted into their psyches that they are The Pretty One before they are even old enough to know what that means. It gets reinforced by the way they are treated by others the first 30-odd years of their lives - and people do treat others differently based on their perceived attractiveness judging them as more competent, more intelligent, nicer. It's held up in magazines and movies as both the ultimate goal and the natural state of all women. People treat them better or worse based on their appearance.

And then our culture starts to slowly peel away the very identity that's been pushed onto these women for the majority of their lives. No matter how accomplished intelligent, or surrounded by love a person is, no matter how many additional layers of "self" she has built for herself over the years - losing that first one? That's going to sting.

And I was lucky enough to escape all that.

I don't have to lie about my age. I can watch the gradual flowering of laugh lines across my face with fascination (and admittedly little trepidation). I can eschew expensive spas, painful injections, dubious skin treatments and creams that come in teeny tiny little bottles. I can eat what makes me happy and move my body solely to make myself feel good. I don't wax anything.

But man, suggest that you think I'm dumb? I'll probably eat your face.

[1]Years ago my sister said to me, "You know, when we were kids we were The Smart One, The Pretty One and The Nice One. Now we're The Weird One, The Fat One and The Bitch." I howled.
the_siobhan: It means, "to rot" (Default)
I have a couple of glasses of wine in me and I"m still thinking about "drama". (Seriously, if I quit drinking, what the hell am I going to use for inspiration?) From my point of view, drama is essentially conflict. But by my definition of the term, it's not conflict that's being dealt with directly.

During a recent somewhat beer-sodden conversation with a friend, said friend expressed some trepidation about the reactions that might have to be dealt with at an upcoming party. Without speaking for another person or pretending to be a mind reader, my impression is that said friend doesn't really give a rat's ass what other people think - but also doesn't like to be in the centre of a fuss. So I told Friend my philosophy of conflict, and finding oneself in the centre therein.

Which is that when people are pissed at you, they tend to have one of three reactions.

1. They don't tell you.

Maybe they put a high value on just getting along. Maybe your trespass wasn't that high on their internal list of Shit One Does Not Do so it's just not worth the hassle of getting into a discussion about it. Whatever their reasons, I figure if they won't tell me about it what they are really communicating is that it just ain't my problem. Next!

2. They don't tell you but they tell everybody else.

There are gradations of this behaviour. I think everybody indulges in it in it's mildest form. I don't think I've met a single person in my life who never did something I disagreed with, and I'm no so perfect that I'm above saying, "What the hell was X thinking?" in private conversations. In it's most poisonous and unhelpful form, it results in broken confidences, spreading rumours and telling lies. And if somebody does that, they are a) an asshole and b) not my friend. And if people believe the lies and don't talk to me about it, they are a) assholes and b) not my friends either.

And if they aren't my friend, why should I give a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut what some bunch of assholes think of me? Next!

3. They have a problem with you and they tell you about it.

Then you get to have a conversation. Even if it goes badly, at least then you know where you stand.

Just to be clear, I'm not dismissing the pain of losing actual friendships. That sucks no matter how it goes down. I'm thinking specifically of the kind of weird group social interactions that only seem to have become possible since the invention of the internet, which created a unique environment where of dozens of people can now all have a hissy-fit over the same thing at the same time. And since the invention of LJ, they can now also friends-lock it.

Even so, I'm aware that I'm probably unusual in my response to these things. I made a conscious decision that I Don't Care What Other People Think back in high school, and I've never regretted it once.

I'm inventing a new astrology. I've decided that one of the signs will be Bull in China Shop.
the_siobhan: It means, "to rot" (Default)
I went to the movies with BC yesterday. The theatre had the air conditioning cranked so high I spent the last 30 minutes of the movie shivering uncontrollably. Then of course I went outside into the hot, sticky, smoggy Toronto air. By the time we got back to her place I was feeling really ill and it was hours before I was back to normal.

If this was anomalous I might think that something had gone wrong with the air conditioning or that somebody had made a mistake when setting the temperature, but this is my experience Every. Single. Time. I go to a movie. If I'm lucky enough that we've planned for it ahead of time I end up carrying a sweater around in the middle of July just so that I don't freeze my ass off.

For the life of me I can't figure out why they do that. Cool, yes. But why would they imagine that people want to watch a film from inside their refrigerator? Especially when those people are going to have to deal with a 30-degree temperature shift the second they walk out the door.
the_siobhan: It means, "to rot" (Default)
Christmas is less than two months away. That means that I will shortly be receiving my yearly bag of bath oils, lotions and perfumes.

I've done a reasonably good job of convincing the rest of my family to give up on the Christmas present thing, but my mother is the last hold-out. I suspect she always will be. And every year she gives all of her daughters a huge bag full of toiletries, just "a little something" that she managed to accumulate over the course of the year. A lot of them are freebies that she gets as rewards for spending a not-inconsiderable chunk of change on her own supply of lotions, oils, make-up and aesthetically-shaped bath beads designed solely to sit in a ornate bowl on the back of the toilet. (One area where I am decidedly Not A Girl. The back of the toilet is where I keep reading material and extra toilet paper. It would never occur to me that it's proper role is to support bowls of sea shells and coloured bath beads.)

So anyway, every year I get a bag of all this stuff. I give away anything I'm actively allergic to, add the make-up to the rest of the stock that's sitting around and collecting dust and sometimes get around to using the rest. I do tend to make good use a lot of lotions because I have chronic dry skin so I'm always slathering myself with stuff designed to keep my outside bits fully functional in their role of keeping my inside bits where they belong. So it's not like her gifts go completely unappreciated.

Except that in the last couple of years she's started throwing in wrinkle cream.

And I gotta' tell yah, I am entirely not sure how to take that.

It just so happens that in the last couple of months we've been digging through the clutter in our house and I stumbled across these little vials in tastefully subdued colours proclaiming their Regenerative, Hydrating, Age-Defying, Gravity-Defying properties. And I figured, what the hell?

At first I eyed them suspiciously. In what way exactly, would they serve to beautify my wrinkles? Make them plumper, fuller and longer? More shiny and conditioned? Cover them with glitter? (I have to admit, the gravity-defying part sure sounded like a hell of a lot of fun.)

I was somewhat mollified when I opened them up to discover they were pretty much just really small really expensive containers of skin cream. OK, not much threatening about that. I rubbed a little around my eyes and examined my face in the mirror. Looked exactly the same to me. I waited hopefully but I showed no signs of levitation so I pretty much shrugged my shoulders, tossed the vial on the counter and went about my day.

Those little vials stayed on the counter and every once in a while I would remember they were there and rub a little more of the glop into my face.

And I started noticing something.

I have wrinkles.

For the first time in my life I was bellying up to the mirror and taking a really close look at the skin on the parts of my face that move when I laugh or cry or have any expression at all. I wasn't looking at my face. I was looking at those little lines and crinkles and the closer I looked at them the larger they loomed.

And I stepped back from the mirror, took all those little vials of coloured creamy crap and dropped them all straight into the trash.

That was about a week ago. And it occurred to me this morning that maybe that stuff really does work.

After all, I haven't seen a wrinkle since.
the_siobhan: It means, "to rot" (Default)
Anybody who spends any time hanging out with me knows that I am brutally allergic to cigarettes. Over the last ten years my allergy and my asthma has gotten to the point where I can't be near the stuff at all - even the stale smoke coming off the clothes of somebody I'm sitting next to can have my lungs contracting in protest.

But I don't react nearly as strongly to pipe or cigarette smoke. If I get it blown in face I get about the same amount of a reaction as I would to getting a face full of street dust. In fact I've smoked the odd cigar and enjoyed it. Which leads me to believe that I'm not actually allergic to tobacco, but to something in the curing process or additives that are specific to cigarettes.

A few years ago there was an anti-smoking ad that showed a couple of teenagers diving into an oily-looking pool while a text-over listed all the toxic ingredients that are found in cigarettes. Tar. Formaldehyde. Ammonia. Now I don't know how many of those things are also found in other tobacco products or are just a by-product of burning leaves and twigs and bug-poo and sucking them into your lungs, but it's a well-known fact that cigarette manufacturers add all kinds of glop specifically intended to make the things more addictive.

And I gotta wonder, why do we let them?

Everybody knows quitting smoking is hard, whether you've actually ever smoked or not. At this point I think I've still known more people who have successfully quite heroin or cocaine than I've know people who have successfully quit smoking, and it's not like I've spent a lot of time hanging around with illegal drug users in the last decade. Yet we still allow manufactures to lace their product with toxic chemicals that are specifically designed to make it harder.

Given the amount of money that we fork over through our taxes on health care, wouldn't it make more sense to tell the cigarette companies to knock that shit off and stop trying to poison us?

And maybe if they did I'd be able to sit next to my friends on a bar patio again.
the_siobhan: It means, "to rot" (Default)
Grumpy today. Probably because I'm underslept.

I also have another one of those trippy middle-ear infections that makes me dizzy all the time. Not enough to tip me over, but I get disoriented and wobbly really easily. I went to the movies[1] last night with [ profile] bcholmes, and although the movement on the screen didn't bother me in the slightest, walking through the lobby with the enormous flashing lights and tilted displays definitely threw me right off. I kept discovering I'd suddenly changed direction without realizing it, which is kind of disconcerting.

We walked home through one of the busiest club districts in Toronto at midnight, weaving our way through crowds of clubbers jamming up the sidewalks. Then I was up at dawn this morning riding a streetcar through the same streets. Quite the contrast. There are only a few people out that early, mostly city workers and homeless people and a few who are just getting out of the boozecans. I played "name what that person's coming down from" all the way to the subway.

It was even too early for the Walk Of Shame.

You can really see how much trash accumulates on the streets overnight. Toronto used to have this reputation as a clean city. There is an apocryphal story of a film crew trying to recreate a New York neighbourhood with trash strewn all around the set, and when they came back from their meal break the city had cleaned it all up. Ha. Not any more. Toronto smells like gasoline and rotting food. Even after the street cleaners do come by there are so many cigarette butts they still pile up in the gutters in tiny white drifts. I keep myself awake by counting them while I'm waiting for the bus.

You know, I've always wondered about that. Do cigarette packs have liner notes that say, "Throw On Ground"? I have no fewer than six ashtrays in my yard whenever I have a party, and I still spend a week afterward picking butts out of my yard. I have watched people walk past the ashtrays on my porch to toss their cigarette in the street, and when I point at the receptacle they just wave vaguely and say, "It's OK." Um. In what universe? It seems to be universal smoker behaviour and it includes people who would never throw say, an empty pop can in the street. I honestly can't fathom it.

Maybe it's just been normalized that nobody thinks about it. I remember when the government decided to boot all the psychiatric patients out of the hospitals in order to "integrate them back into the communities". Except that the communities had no facilities for them. I went from seeing a homeless person maybe once every other week to seeing dozens in a day. I remember walking through the grounds around City Hall and seeing hundreds of people sleeping on the grills that vent warm air up from the underground parking. At the time I was horrified. Hell, I'm still horrified. Most people I know don't remember it as having ever been any different.

Yeah, definitely grumpy today.

Or maybe just discouraged.

[1]Stardust. Highly recommend it.
the_siobhan: It means, "to rot" (Default)
You know, there are lots of things that people on my f-list enjoy that I just Do Not Get. Corsets. Disco. Children. Lost. The Cruxshadows. Dolls. (Seriously people, what is with the dolls?)

And I'm ok with that.

Harry Potter is one of those things. I tried to read one once, solely because everybody I know was going on about it and gave up a few chapters in. I mean, it was ok. It was a kid's book and a reasonably well-done kid's book, but I'm just not that much into the gentre. And I do get that some people really dig kid's books, I'm just not entirely sure why this particular kid's book appears to be so appealing to so many different people - even people who are not necessarily into kid's books the rest of the time.

But whatever. It's your thing, you dig it, you're having fun with it. More power to you. I admit that I am not all that interested in reading posts devoted to how one got/read book, what one thought before/after/while reading book and why said book is the best/worst/most mediocre book she ever wrote. But you know what? I'll live.

And what I am even MORE entirely disinterested in reading is other people on my f-list bitch about how everybody is posting about the book or making snotty complaints about how everybody is using new icons of characters from the movie of the book and otherwise whining that large numbers of people who are not themselves are having a big glowing group hug. Shut UP. We know you are too cool for school and that the pedestrian tastes of your friends are beneath you and that the OK Cupid Muppet test picked Oscar the Grouch as your archetype. We KNOW. We just don't care.

But what I really, really, really, really don't get with extra not-gettingness?

People who are not only posting spoilers to communities, but to the individual LJs of anybody who lists the Potter books as an interest. I mean, WTF? Is it even possible to be more small-minded and banal?

And yes I know there are more important and weighty matters out there for me to post about, but my brain is currently 70% snot and rising so this is what you get.


the_siobhan: It means, "to rot" (Default)

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