Tag Archives: canada

i’ll return across three biomes tomorrow

I should probably look that up to see if I’m misusing the word “biome” but I’m thinking Canadian Shield, Prairies and the Rockies. Currently I’m in Toronto, where I’ve completed all nine interviews I came here for. Some of them were really interesting. Some were less so. I saw way more of Ottawa than I have before, and had a good couple of days in Montreal and Kitchener too (thanks to Kate Aileen & Bruce for letting me stay with them).

Sadly, I’m getting swamped with work and have to hole up on the ol laptop tonight rather than enjoy any fun things Toronto might have to offer. I did get to Bakka-Phoenix Books this morning, and am now at the Reference Library. Snakes and Lattes looks very cool but I wasn’t quite confident enough to go in, grab a table and a game you can play solitaire for hours and just play.

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sometimes i watch sports

I love baseball. True fact. But this past week I read The Complete Essex County and it was about small-town Ontario life and hockey played a big part in it. Today was Hockey Day in Canada so while I worked my afternoon away I took the opportunity to stream NHL games and feel a bit more stereotypically Canadian.

There is something about the way a hockey game is called that is calming just because of its familiarity. While baseball commentators on TV or radio can annoy the hell out of me (Buck, McCarver, Morgan) because of the inanity of what they say, I barely hear the words coming from the hockey game. I know friends of mine have strong opinions of who is damned good at their job in the booth hanging over the ice, who should never be allowed near a mic and who should have retired fifteen years ago, but to me hockey all sounds the same. It’s just this chanting cascade of names in succession (Tanguay to Jokinen to Iginla to Jokinen shoots Luongo saves), and it’s soothing as all hell.

Sean, who preferes football, and I have talked about the American ability and proclivity to mythologize the fuck out of things (he’s better at explaining it than I am). Listening to these games today I was thinking about how the announcers’ hockey chant is less a mythologizing than a ritualizing. In the game itself there’s no room for much more than the names, while baseball announcers have epochs to tell stories between pitches. Baseball’s got sagas while hockey’s doing rosaries.

Kind of bullshit, I guess, but something I might keep in mind. For future refinement.

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anticipation of a globe half-travelled

I enjoy the feeling of being about to leave a place so much. This afternoon Holly and I (re)packed all our bags for heading up to the terribleness that is winter after spending a week on the road to Melbourne and back. And after returning from New Zealand, which I enjoyed immensely even though I was only there a week.

We learned on the road trip what different ideas of the enjoyability of travelling long distances in a car we have. This led to me doing 80% of the trip back (which took us through Canberra – a confusing and bizarre place that felt like people trying to fake like they were living urban lives) and just enjoying how pretty it all was. There are hills but they have trees and the highway cuts differently through them than it does in the Canadian prairies so you can see for ages. You can also see dozens of roadkill kangaroos littering the shoulders.

Holly‘s been doing a bunch of blogging on our travels so I’ll point you there if you want more details.

And now here we are, about to head north tomorrow morning. I’m so looking forward to Xmas in Virginia. I hope it’ll be a little less cold than Winnipeg would be.

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nigh, the way only ends can be

I’ve realized that our time in Oz is coming to an end. It was the placard-toting vigilantes that finally clued me in.

Right now the plan is that Holly goes travelling in Australia by herself for a while when she quits her job, and then heads over to New Zealand to visit Catherine, a friend we know from China. Because of my incessant and pitiful whining on the subject she’s shifted things around so I can come to NZ the day I finish work and go hiking with them on the Milford Track. I’ll only get a week in Middle Earth (and on the South Island so no trips to Hobbiton) but that’s way better than being down here and not going to visit the Canada of the south Pacific (a phrase which garners curiously few Google hits, and one of them referred to Australia).

One of the great pities of living here has been the lack of oven in our apartment. If you live with a baker, be very sure your dwelling has one. But last week, in order to make us not want to leave (or complain about the extra rooms and people being added to the place), our landlord finally gave us a small convection oven. This is what life with a baker should be. Last night we made pizza, real pizza without having to use the “covered frying pan” technique. Holly’s made biscuits and muffins and buns. She’s possibly baking cookies right now.

It’s good and inspiring, this whole “eating delicious food” thing (our whole time living together, really). It’d be difficult to go back to Vancouver and not cook better for myself, even without the prod of cooking for someone else. I’ve been thinking about that a bit because yeah, with less than a month left before I’m unemployed, my orientation is shifting back towards Vancouver. That’s how I roll, with great inertia. Things to prepare for even if you don’t know what they’ll look like. Amat Victoria Curam. I don’t know who that’d be a victory over.

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when you find a stranger in the alps

My mother is complaining I haven’t been blogging enough. This is because she doesn’t read Librarianaut. Six posts in the last week. That she doesn’t care about my topics over there is a completely separate issue. (Hi Mom!)

Recently the exciting secrets I’ve been keeping from the blog include how I went to get backup keys to my apartment copied, and the place in the mall told me I had to go to a certified locksmith. I suspect that’s because these keys have “Do Not Copy” stamped on them.

The other day Javier was playing guitar in the common area. It turns out he knows something like three songs and can spend hours trying to play them correctly.

Friday was the last day at work for one of my coworkers. We went to the fish market for lunch. At the fish market there are very few vegetarian options, which wasn’t a problem for me, since I could have a greek salad. But my boss felt bad so he ordered me two salads and potato wedges. It was an amount of salad designed to be ridiculed.

My boss was so happy today when he learned I know a bit about Photoshop. At quarter to five he got me to install it on my computer so I can begin graphics tasks tomorrow.

The last couple of days have been very rainy. I told Holly she should bring a Chinese umbrella since throwing one away there and buying a replacement here that costs ten times as much would be annoying. I think I’m also going to forgo trimming my beard till she can bring along ultracheap clippers. So far that’s the main thing I forgot to bring from Canada that I kind of need. It’s one thing to have a massive hobo beard when I’m off travelling but another when I’m going to work every day.

I do love the small office vibe we’ve got where I don’t have to feel underdressed in jeans and a half-buttoned shirt (over a tshirt – I don’t expose my Hemsworthian pecs to the office just yet). It’s possible I’m being ruined for corporate work, but that’s all right with me.

Okay Mom, there you go, a pile of boring minutiae. This is what happens.

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near-sighted monkey sighting

One of the perks of being in White River Junction when I am is that Lynda Barry was here for a couple of days doing a workshop with the students. Last night there was a bit of an afterparty with Ms. Barry at the bar which Caitlin and I could go to (we weren’t invited to the workshop, being librarians as opposed to cartoonists).

Lynda’s a very good talker and it’s kind of neat to listen to a person who’s famous talking about her friends and acquaintances who are people who’ve always just been names in books (like Charles Burns, Ira Glass and Matt Groening). People were interested in the gossip, sure, but there was also talk about the notion of language and culture being a part of biological evolution, synchronicity and all sorts of good stuff. She sketched a sleeping dog while she was talking.

I stayed out of it mostly, after a couple of Canada references at the beginning. I mean, the students are the ones who’re there to learn from her, to soak up her methods and whatever. I’m just the librarian intern. Not “just.” It’s actually really fun to have such a specific role in town here. Caitlin introduces me as “her intern from Canada” and yeah. Since I’m here a short time, being pigeon-holed is exactly what I want. It makes interaction easier. I have an in to just sit there and listen to people talk about linework and getting their pages done and I really enjoy it. It’s all so much more interesting than geeking out on tagging or social media or whatever crap I animatedly talk about after school with a couple of beers in me. (Do I talk about library stuff when that happens? Maybe I don’t.)

It was also pretty funny because last night was also 50¢ wings night at the bar, so it was packed (evidently they used to be 25¢ wings and they needed to thin out the crowds a bit by doubling the price) with regular townsfolk, who for the most part are distinguishable from the cartoonists. One of the students was talking about coming out the door and a bunch of guys were driving by yelling “Woo! We’re gonna go fuck some chicks! Fuck’em! Woo!” Those guys were not cartoonists.

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manlibcon 2010 day 1

I was volunteering at the Manitoba Libraries Conference today and I learned… not a lot about library stuff. This is because I was working the registration desk in the afternoon and almost everyone had registered in the morning. I pointed people towards the rooms for their annual general meetings and stuff, but there wasn’t a lot of complex work to do. Selah.

That actually turned out great because I was working with this nearly-90-year-old guy at the desk. He was the kind of old guy who just liked to talk. He talked about victory gardens in World War 2. He talked about Henry Morgenthaler, and about the creation of the Canadian health care system. He talked about an 1100 year old bible with marginal notes written in French from some museum in London. He talked about the Mackenzie King diary and how he found the errors in the digital copies made by the National Library. He talked about his daughter giving basic law school lessons in Laos: “You see, they used to have a Napoleonic code and then the communists got rid of it all. Now that people are allowed to own things they need lawyers to teach them how contracts and wills work.”

He told a great story about a colleague of his from Finland who went to a conference in Tokyo in the early 1970s. By train. There was problem after problem with visas and all these things to get through Russia and China. Once he was on the train and they were crossing Siberia they kept on having to stop to let trains loaded with tanks pass them “on their way to the Chinese frontier.” He told me about getting kicked out of an art exhibition in Madrid because Franco’s soldiers were setting up machine guns.

He talked about the importance of early child development and how all the fundamentals we need to be able to learn are pretty much set by the time we’re three, so when those get messed with, it’s catastrophic for a society. He talked about how in Canada, the more educated you are, the cheaper your healthcare is, which is why early childhood education, “especially in our northern communities” is so important.

He’s got some chip in his car that monitors his driving habits because he’s part of a study to try and “keep old fogeys like me off the road.” He wasn’t angry about it, just talking. He’s got a little bit of old man drift to him, but you could tell he’s a smart guy. He was a doctor, now retired so he has time to be on library advisory boards. He told me about some of the rural boards where politicians get on the board to make policies and proudly proclaim “I’ve never read a book in my life!” and he’s there to try and counter that.

So yes, I didn’t do a whole lot, but got to hang out with the guy I’d like to be in 60 years.

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americans may have demagogues but we’re toppling our government this week

I must say I loves me the day to day uncertainty of a multiparty parliamentary democracy. Our federal election began a year later than the American presidential race, finished three weeks earlier so Harper could welcome Obama as neighbouring leader, and now the NDP and Liberals reach a deal to topple the minority Tory government next week but they haven’t decided who the new leader of the Liberal party is yet, so who knows who the Prime Minister will be when Obama stops being the president-elect? Will protocol demand that Bush leave a congratulatory message for someone? When we aren’t even having an election over this? I love these flurries of activity. What’s going on in the states? A whole lotta waiting for 1/20/09. We could have three more leaders by then.

(For my American reader(s?), our NDP and Liberal parties are our Centre-Left and Business-Centre parties. The Conservative Party is currently in power but don’t have enough members in parliament to do what they want with impunity, which is why this is possible. We’ve talked about this before.)

Note that I am not by any means an expert on the actual non-trivial implications of any of this, so please excuse any misinformation you might feel is part of my commentary.

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I’ve never felt any real need to see Philadelphia. Tom Hanks and the Boss didn’t fill me with a burning desire to visit the city of brotherly love. American history? Snore. But Rocky, now there’s a reason to see a city. Anywhere that has Sylvester Stallone’s bronzed Converse Allstar footprints on the steps of a huge art museum is a place that needs a look. So yesterday a vanful of fellow orientees escaped the tedium of our (beautifully designed but still hopelessly Mennonite) compound to explore.

Now I’m a Canadian. From Winnipeg. Winnipeg is to some extent an ethnically diverse city, like Canada. I hadn’t realized how that diversity doesn’t cross over into the traditional American racial divide. What I’m trying to say without making an ass of myself is “Wow are there ever a lot more black people in Philly than in Winnipeg!” And we pretty much had to drive into Chinatown to find any visibly Asian people. Just different. I know where you’re going with this but I’m not going to show up in Beijing on Saturday (!!!) and say “Wow are there ever a lot more Chinese people here than home!” I’m just saying that my experience of diversity at home is different than a major American urban centre. Ha! Spelled that with an R E. There’s diversity for you.

I went to an amazing poetry performance at the University of Pennsylvania. I love listening to good (ie. not written by some fat white girl about her cats [I’m sorry. That was a bit harsh. I love you too, fat girls]) spoken-word. The flow, the ups the downs that almost get you seasick but then . . . the bottom falls out and words just rush on by. It’s so good. She did one called “Jazz is Sexy” and opened with a poem whose name I forget but it repeated the line “My name is Billie but life ain’t never been no holiday” (apologies to the poet since I’ve probably fucked that up good and proper) which was amazing. I bought two books of poetry from another woman there. One of them is all about hip-hop, which is nicely self referential but also addresses some of the things that I think about when I try to draw lines between what’s shitty and what’s awesome. I also bought the new Beastie Boys CD because in the US they don’t have copy protection that prevents me from ripping it onto my iPod.

I don’t feel like I’m leaving this week. Not even a little bit. Thursday may be messy.

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