Saturday, September 29, 2007

Kickin' my own ass

Last night I reluctantly left my warm, cozy apartment mid-Phillies game to venture out into the chilly night and make my way to Club Lambi on the Plateau to see Portugal The Man, The Great Depression, and Rocky Votolato. You may or may not know this, but I hate going to shows. I especially hate going to shows by myself, and last night I was on my own. Happily, it ended up being a really good time, and I'm extremely glad I dragged my butt out the door to have a little adventure.

Portugal The Man was rocknroll. The Great Depression was full of lovely harmonies. And Rocky kicked some serious ass. Yay Rocky! He played mostly new stuff but some older stuff too, including "Like Silver" from "Burning My Travels Clean" and "Montana" from "Suicide Medicine," which I really wanted to hear. While the first band was playing, I attempted to purchase a t-shirt from the merch girl (who I think may be his wife, as she is on the cover of one of his albums) but was thwarted by lack of funds. I only had $8, and they were $15. Damn. After The Great Depression played, I tried to put those same eight dollars to use for one of their CDs, but they were $10. Damn again. When the whole show was over, I did something I never ever do. I went back to talk to the merch girl/Mrs. Votolato. I told her that the show was awesome and I was so glad they had come to play in Canada, and wonder of wonders, she told me I could have a shirt for my measly $8. Yay! Humans are really nice sometimes.

As I walked all the way down St. Laurent to the bus stop at Sherbrooke (and just caught the bus, thank goodness!), I was in a haze of lovely Rocky Votolato music-ness. Mmmmm, good shows are so very good. There were tons of people still out and about, lining up to get into clubs, drunkenly leaving clubs, shouting across the street to each other, chatting on cell phones. It was such a nice feeling to be in a city where stuff actually happens at night and to have just taken part of a little bit of the action.

And the Phillies won.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Don't click

Celebrity Faceoff might rival Snood for most addictive game.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Whirlwind Tour

Vacation! Weee, I just got back from a vacation to Colorado, sadly without Mister Matt, but his absence was somehow appropriate as I was revisiting a pre-Matt time in my life. The main reason for the trip was that one of my college roommates got married. I hadn't seen anyone from college since I graduated five and half years ago, so the visit was long overdue. It's strange how a change of scenery and the company of some friends from the dorms can revert you back to 19 years old.

I would post pictures but I was a moron and forgot to pack my camera. Here are some highlights of the trip. You'll have to use your imaginations to make up the images:

  • Seeing Harold, Mar, Crazy Andy, Alley, Woolfe, and The Greek for the first time in over five years.

  • Taking one name off my People From College Who Don't Talk To Me Anymore list. Sadly, it's a bit of a long list.

  • Eating Mexican food (made by real Mexicans!) and drinking margaritas.

  • An absolutely gorgeous drive from Denver to Pagosa Springs (and back again). More beautiful than should be allowed.

  • My first ever dip in natural hot springs. Mmmmm hot springs.

  • Einstein's Bagels and Target.

  • Hanging out with Mar for an action-packed 48 hours.

  • Wine with Harold and Quinn the plumber.

  • Eating at Watercourse, my sister's favorite veggie resto in D-town.

  • Off-roading in an Impala along a muddy ridge overlooking a rushing creek in the San Juan Mountains... and then reversing back out at high speed. Without dying.

  • Seeing that The Breakfast Palace is still there... whew!

  • Visiting Alley's coffee shop.

  • A trip to the Dikeou Collection.

  • Drinking American microbrew beer.

  • Driving around the DU campus, marveling at all the new buildings and laughing that the library building still sounds and smells the same. And I sat in the (now cleaned and reupholstered) egg chair.

  • Oh yeah, and a wedding in a beautiful aspen grove!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

I need help

Hey, you. I am calling upon YOU to help me out for once in your life. I need some math help. I didn't think doing a degree in geography would entail much math, but I was wrong. I have not done anything math-related in years and not being able to manage this is making me very irritated because the problems I am trying to work out are not complicated in the slightest. They're very basic algebra, just plugging numbers into formulas. I hate that I can't figure this stuff out, because I was good at math in high school. I can explain Husserl's transcendental époché or Althusser's interpellation of the subject in my sleep (and I do, in my dreams!) but I can't do simple algebra. Makes me feel dumb. Here's a sample of what I'm being asked to work out:

The Stefan-Boltzmann Law stipulates that the maximum rate at which radiation is released by an object is proportional to the fourth power of its surface temperature, measured in Kelvin.

M = σ T^4

Where M is the maximum rate at which radiation is emitted by the surface; σ is the Stefan-Boltzmann constant, (5.67 x 10^-8 W/m^-2 K^-4) ; and T is the surface temperature of the object, K. W/m = Watts per meter.

K = ℃ + 273

The mean global air temperature is (we'll go with today's temperature) 20℃.

What is the maximum rate of emission in terms of W/m^-2?
I have to go through a bunch of problems similar to this one, so if some kind person could show me how to go about it I'm sure I could figure out the rest on my own. Any takers? I'll love you forever...

Friday, September 21, 2007

You heard it here first!

2007 Mets = 1964 Phillies


Paul Robeson - That's Why Darkies Were Born (1931)

Someone had to pick the cotton,
Someone had to pick the corn,
Someone had to slave and be able to sing,
That's why darkies were born;

Someone had to laugh at trouble,
Though he was tired and worn,
Had to be contented with any old thing,
That's why darkies were born;

Sing, sing, sing when you're weary and
Sing when you're blue,
Sing, sing, that's what you taught
All the white folks to do;

Someone had to fight the Devil,
Shout about Gabriel's Horn,
Someone had to stoke the train
That would bring God's children to green pastures,
That's why darkies were born.

Lyrics by Kate Smith


Car commercials should be banned, just like cigarette and liquor commercials are. Cars have created hell for everyone, and turn us all into Satan's minions. Everyone should have their cars melted down, to be made into luxury suites for the homeless and jail cells for the rich. I'm sick of hearing your revving engines, your piece of shit horns, car alarms at four in the morning (like I fucking care if your car gets stolen). I don't think it is too much to ask to not have to yell to make oneself heard on the street. I've had enough of nearly being run over while trying to cross the street because some cock wants to get to work three seconds earlier. I'd certainly prefer to not have any more of my friends die because of the fact that no one seems to have much competence when it comes to driving around a ton-and-a-half of steel. I want to hear some motherfucking birds! Fuck cars indeed!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Jean Kerouac

Here's Jack Kerouac interviewed by Fernand Seguin on a French-Canadian television show in Montreal. He speaks a broken French patois, known here in Montreal as Joual. After the interview he went to a bar on St-Laurent and smashed up the place. He was already sick at the time of this interview and died soon after.

Here's the full interview without subtitles.

There were some early drafts of On the Road discovered recently that were written in French, as if he initially had in mind to write it in French. Le Devoir has the story (in French). Obviously he changed his mind. Things definitely would have been different had he done so. We would now not know his name.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Horse

The Horse

Many times the size of a man, the horse has flaring nostrils, round eyes under half-closed lids, cocked ears and long muscular neck.

The tallest of man’s domestic animals, and truly his designated mount.

Man, somewhat lost on an elephant, is at his best on a horse, truly a throne to his measure.

We will not do away with the horse, I hope?

He will not become a curiosity in a zoo?

…Already now, in town, he is no more than a miserable substitute for the automobile, the most miserable means of traction.

Ah, the horse is also—does man suspect it?—something else besides! He is impatience nostrilized.

His weapons are running, biting, bucking.

He seems to have a keen nose, keen ears, and very sensitive eyes.

The greatest tribute one can pay him is having to fit him with blinders.

But no weapon…
Whereby the temptation to add one. One only. A horn. Thereby the unicorn.

The horse, terribly nervous, is aerophagous.

Hypersensitive, he clamps his jaws, holds his breath, then releases it, making the walls of his nasal cavities vibrate loudly.

That is why this noble beast, who feeds on air and grass alone, produces only straw turds and thunderous fragrant farts.

Fragrant thunderisms.

What am I saying, feeds on air? Gets drunk on it. Sniffs it, savors it, snorts it.

He rushes into it, shakes his mane in it, kicks up his hind legs in it.

He would evidently like to fly up into it.

The flight of clouds inspires him, urges him to imitation.

He does imitate it: he tosses, prances…

And when the whip’s lightning claps, the clouds gallop faster and rain tramples the earth…

Out of your stall, high-spirited over-sensitive armoire, all polished and smoothed!

Great beautiful period piece!

Polished ebony or mahogany.

Stroke the withers of this armoire and immediately it has a faraway look.

Dust cloth at the lips,feather mop at the rump, key in the lock of the nostrils.

His skin quivers, irritably tolerating flies, his shoe hammers the ground.

He lowers his head, leans his muzzle toward the ground and consoles himself with grass.

A stepstool is needed to look on the upper shelf.

Ticklish skin, as I was saying…but his natural impatience is so profound, that inside his body the parts of his skeleton behave like pebbles in a torrent!

Seen from the apse, the highest animal nave in the stable…

Great saint! Great horse! Beautiful behind in the stable…

What is this splendid courtesan’s behind that greets me, set on slim legs, high heels?

Giant goose of the golden eggs, strangely clipped.

Ah, it is the smell of gold that assails my nostrils!

Leather and manure mixed together.

Strong-smelling omelette, from the goose of the golden eggs.

Straw omelette, earth omelette, flavored with the rum of your urine, dropping from the crack under your tail…

As though fresh from the oven, on a pastry sheet, the stable’s rolls and rum balls.

Great saint, with your Byzantine eyes, woeful, under the harness…

A sort of saint, humble monk at prayer, in the twilight.

A monk? What am I saying?…A pontiff, on his excremental palanquin! A pope—exhibiting to all comers a splendid courtesan’s behind, generously heart-shaped, on slender legs ending elegantly in high-heeled shoes.









—Francis Ponge

Saturday, September 15, 2007


I'd rather be the dust of the road
And be trampled on by the feet of the poor...

I'd rather be the rivers that flow
And have washerwomen along my shore...

I'd rather be the poplars next to the river
With only the sky above and the water below...

I'd rather be the miller's donkey
And have him beat me and care for me...

Rather this than to go through life
Always looking back and feeling regret...

Fernando Pessoa, from Keeper of the Sheep

Monday, September 10, 2007

What I did on my weekend vacation

This past weekend I went to the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival. There were sheep. There was wool. There were also alpacas, llamas, goats, rabbits, and border collies. I enjoyed looking all all the fibers in their various stages of processing, from being attached to the animals, to being sheared, picked, dyed, spun, and knitted. Meeting people who do the sheering, dying, spinning, etc, was also pretty cool. I only bought two skeins of yarn: one intended (the wool below) and one impulse (the silk).

Besides the festival, I enjoyed a bean and cheese burrito. Mmmmm... even mediocre Mexican food tastes amazing when you come from the land of Quebec. I really like being in Burlington, Vermont. Being a college town, and this being the beginning of the school year, we did see some stupid college kids, but compared to many other college towns I've visited or lived in during the same time of year, the Catamounts were overall a very tolerable bunch.

Were we to leave Montreal, Burlington would be my first pick. I haven't spent a good amount of time in any of the rest of Vermont, so perhaps there are other places in the same state I would like just as well. Burlington has a nice small town feel, like there is a strong sense of community there. It's nice and laid-back and pleasingly hippy. I know Matt is against living in a hippy town. As leftist as he can sometimes appear, he actually has a deep dislike of hippies (you'll have to ask him what his definition of a hippy is since some might think he is married to one) and is disgusted with liberals. It can be trying for me sometimes. The anti-hippy part, not the anti-liberals part.

I'll leave you with some photos.

Sunset on Lake Champlain

An alpaca

Cormo wool yarn from Foxhill Farms in Lee, MA. One of the sheep who contributed some fleece to this skein is named Carabee.

Silk yarn

You can see many more pictures in the couple of blog posts the lovely Ariadne ladies have posted recently.

Saturday, September 08, 2007


These are the only two musicians I give a damn about. To my mind, no one else even comes close.

Smog - I Break Horses

Smog - Rock Bottom Riser

Palace Brothers - Come In

I just found out that Bill Callahan (Smog) is playing at La Sala Rossa tomorrow night. Hopefully it isn't sold out. He's been playing with Joanna Newsom, those two being a couple, so hopefully her name won't make the show too popular among the Montreal hipsters. I could die half-way and go to half-way heaven.

Will Oldham (Palace Brothers, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, et al.) never seems to come within six million miles of the cities in which I reside.

Friday, September 07, 2007

My illustrious career

These are all the jobs that I can remember having throughout my life, starting at age 13.
  1. Handed out fliers on a skateboard for a pizza shop.
  2. Worked at a daycare center until one of the kids told his grandmother that I hit him.
  3. Busser at a chain steakhouse.
  4. Bar-back at a playhouse.
  5. Catering at a civic center.
  6. Sold tickets at various Renaissance Festivals in Florida.
  7. Busser/host at a chain steakhouse.
  8. Janitor at a church.
  9. Reading tutor at an elementary school.
  10. Sold tickets at the Warped Tour a few times.
  11. Laid sod for a few summers.
  12. Counted cash in a trailer at a hot air balloon festival in Alabama.
  13. Made coffee at a chain bookstore.
  14. Piloted a glass-bottom boat in a state park.
  15. Sold merchandise for various Nickelodeon plays.
  16. Sat in a folding chair on a loading dock behind a university bookstore with a walkie-talkie.
  17. Dishwasher at an Italian restaurant.
  18. Baker at a bagel shop.
  19. Assistant manager at a different bagel shop.
  20. Door-to-door canvassing, trying to get people to send letters to their representatives regarding arsenic levels in drinking water and playground wood.
  21. Sold my plasma at $15 a pop.
  22. Made smoothies at a mall.
  23. One day of daily labor, picking shit up at a construction site.
  24. Sold magazines door-to-door for a week, for which I spent a couple nights in jail in Beverly, Massachusetts.
  25. Drove a bookmobile for a public library.
  26. Worked in a supermarket deli.
  27. Sous chef at a Thai restaurant.
  28. Library assistant at a public library.
  29. Stuffed packages with informational material for a seminary.
So there you have it. There are probably many more that I cannot remember. In case you were wondering, driving the bookmobile was the best job, and selling magazines was the worst.

What to do...

"Profound boredom, drifting here and there in the abysses of our existence like a muffling fog, removes all things and men and oneself along with it into a remarkable indifference. This boredom reveals being as a whole." - Martin Heidegger

"Since boredom advances and boredom is the root of all evil, no wonder, then, that the world goes backwards, that evil spreads. This can be traced back to the very beginning of the world. The gods were bored; therefore they created human beings." - Soren Kierkegaard

“Boredom is rage spread thin” - Paul Tillich

“By his very success in inventing labor-saving devices modern man has manufactured an abyss of boredom that only the privileged classes in earlier civilizations have ever fathomed” - Lewis Mumford

"Boredom flourishes too, when you feel safe. It's a symptom of security." - Eugene Ionesco

"All man's troubles come from not knowing how to sit still in one room." - Blaise Pascal

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Three months down

It's a little crazy to think that a quarter of a year has gone by since I started the Riot for Austerity 90% Emissions Reduction Challenge! Here's where I stand after three months:

On a daily basis, we are still use 90% less (or perhaps even less) than the average American uses. I haven't actually been keeping track since my primary form of transportation is the bus or the metro, and I don't even use them everyday. I am going to go on a number of trips in the last few months of this year, however, so this is one area where my "progress" is about to do a 180.
Three-month status: On a daily basis, we use 90% less than the average American uses.

I said in my baseline post that we are allowed 90 kwH per month. I only get an electric bill once every two months, so the last bill I got was two months ago, and I was holding steady at my baseline figure of 125 kwH per month. However, since then, I have reread the rules of this challenge and noted that hydro-powered electricity users are allowed four times the standard allotment. Wikipedia (a site that would never lie, right?) says that 97% of the energy Hydro-Québec produces is, well, hydroelectric. So if 97% of my 90 kwH gets to be tripled, my goal is actually 265 kwH per month, which I am way under. I have made some electricity-saving changes around the apartment, so I am anxious to see my next electricity bill. I would still really like to hit 90 kwH per month.
Three-month status: Still waiting for the bill! The last time I got the bill, we used 95% (with hydro bonus applied) less than the average American uses.

When I did the baseline calculations, I decided that we should only be allowed 10% of the 90% allotment in this category because we only get billed for our cooking energy. I think I was being hard on myself, but I also don't have any more specific numbers about how much of this should go for cooking and how much for heating. Because we can't control our heat, I'm going to just throw up my hands and say we can have the entire 23.5 cubic meters per month. But I'm also not really going to count this category since it is compromised. I'm going to go for steady progress rather than a number goal. This is a hard one for us since we do a lot of cooking from scratch. Beer brewing also takes up gigantic amounts of energy in this category.
Three-month status: For cooking alone, we use 93% less than the average American uses.

Our scale has been getting finicky lately, and it doesn't like heavy things, so I haven't been able to weigh our garbage or recycling. I have been reusing plastic bags more diligently and thinking hard about each container I recycle, trying to reuse it. I can't do much about the paper. I started a worm composting bin, but I still end up throwing out way more organic matter than I would like. When I have large amounts of it (after preserving foods or brewing beer) I take it to a friend's house where there is a proper compose pile.
Three-month status: Not sure. Still too much waste. :(

This one is harder than I thought it would be, especially because textbooks are expensive! Here's how we did, with deductions in place:
June: $98 (88% less than average)
July: $277 (67% less than average)
August: $207 (75% less than average)
Three-month status: We spent 77% less than the average American.

This is a hard category too. We buy a lot of stuff in the third (non-local, non-bulk) category. And we cook from scratch for most of our meals, so it's not as though we're buying lots of processed, pre-packaged food. We just seem to buy a lot of ingredients that we can't get (or haven't figured out how yet) locally or in bulk. Our CSA has certainly helped us improve in the local category. I've also started buying more dry stuff in bulk. This past week we hardly bought anything in category three, so maybe we are doing better.
Three-month status: This is only a guess. 55% local, 15% bulk, 30% everything else.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Where's Danica?

This blog has been all Matt all the time lately. That's because I've got me another blog. That's right. I'm a blog two-timer. Don't worry; I will still post over here. But over there, you can read about how I try to be a good treehugger. And maybe you'll learn a thing or two.