Monthly Archives: March 2011


666 facebook friends


hey, moron

Last night, I went out to the pub with Alex and some of his friends. Newport is a quaint village by day, but one endless pub crawl at night, overrun by Harper Adams students doing what college students do best: drink, drink, drink! We started at one pub and moved onto a second one later on, for reasons unknown to me [side note, the urge to go to a bunch of different places in one night, forever chasing the “better” party, is common, and related to the Fear of Missing Out]. I stood outside for a few moments after the others had gone in, watching an old man walk down the road with his amused eye on the drunken college crowd that had spilled onto the sidewalk, and the orange streetlights shining on the church. So when I actually entered the pub, I was alone.

There were a couple of drunk boys standing in the entrance, about 20 years old, clearly wasted. One of them said “hello!” and held up his hand in what I thought was an invitation to high-five him. Being rather tipsy myself, and always willing to high-five strangers, I started to high-five. But before my hand could connect with his, he snatched it away, making a face of disgust. I couldn’t tell, at first, if he was kidding. I raised my eyebrows and withdrew my hand, and as I did so, he and his friend started spewing a mishmash of Asian gibberish at me, mocking expressions on their faces as they let out whatever mangled syllables of Chinese/Japanese/Korean they knew. Shocked, I walked past them and into the pub as quickly as I could.

I hate racism because it brings out the worst in me. It’s difficult, after being treated in such a way, not to reciprocate: I immediately feel hostile towards everyone around me. I instinctively start setting up an angry, defensive counter-prejudice that goes something like this: Bunch of fucking rich closed-minded white-ass farmers stuck in their provincial backwater little shitheads…¬†you see nothing but my race? I see nothing but your disgusting ignorance… And so on. The worst of me. I mean, it’s ridiculous. I start to look at everyone around me as a potential enemy. [Note: just for the record, since I feel like this is the kind of thing that floats on the internet and then comes back to bite you in the ass when you’re running for president or whatever – I mean, this is NOT WHAT I REALLY THINK, just ridiculous heat-of-the-moment totally unreasonable anger.]

But of course, by and large, the people I’ve met here have been welcoming and kind. They’ve made no judgments on my race, dreadlocks, enormous glasses, hippie attitudes, or anything else. I’ve liked them, and they’ve liked me. You can find two bigots in any crowd; it doesn’t mean everyone around you is a bigot. So I did my best to laugh it off and carry on. To look around at the pub (which was completely white, aside from me), and know that they were good people, not jerks. To feel lucky – and I do feel lucky, all the time – that I’ve never had to deal with any racism more pernicious than this, and that I’ve met lovely, interesting people here.

But hey, it’s never fun.

More thoughts on race in the future.



Alex took me to the orchestra.

Birmingham university choir and philharmonic orchestra

The University of Birmingham Choir and Philharmonic Orchestra, performing Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius.

sin titulo

Do you like any of the following?

1. Comic books

2. Intriguing cliffhanger storylines

3. Serialized fiction

4. Good art

5. Good writing

6. Awesome stuff, for free

7. Canadians who rule

If so, please start following Cameron Stewart’s Sin Titulo. Cameron Stewart is an acclaimed Canadian comics artist, and since 2007 he’s been writing and drawing the occasionally-autobiographical, super-creepy, extremely compelling webcomic Sin Titulo. He uploads it to the internet FOR FREE. It’s now at 106 pages, which I devoured in one sitting the moment I discovered it.

Do yourself a favour and go check it out, unless of course you’re in the middle of something really important. If so, wait until you have a couple of hours on your hands. Seriously, guys – free, top-quality comics!

P.S. I feel compelled to confess that I found my way to Cameron Stewart and Sin Titulo solely because he is doing the Suicidegirls comic book. Though on second thought, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s been mentioned on – and if you don’t follow Warren Ellis, check him out too. He’s an amazing comics writer, and one of the most interesting, eclectic, and prolific bloggers that I follow.

xkcd: beauty

science ftw!

In other news, I got an NSERC! Hurrah!

Also, people who express opinions like the one stated in the first panel are one of my major, major pet peeves.

personal punctuation update

[Is it just me, or does “personal punctuation” sound sort of… dirty?]

A month or two ago, I posted briefly about the number of spaces to put after a period (one), and my personal struggle to adapt. I’d always been a two-spaces kind of gal, but after reading a very convincing article, I decided to switch to one. I just wanted to update y’all that I’m doing very well with one space these days, and only slip up occasionally. Efficiency, efficiency!

But why does it even matter? Why allocate that small chunk of my brain to the seemingly trivial matter of switching over to one space after a period? Friends, I believe that punctuation matters. Literacy is a gift. Literacy is a beautiful palace of endless rooms, but it is BUILT ON A FOUNDATION. I’m actually appalled by how often I come off as a technophobic bitter old fogey on this blog, but I’m going to say it anyway: electronic communication is eroding our language! I have the misfortune of seeing this occur in English, and no doubt it plagues other languages as well. It’s okay to have a solid grasp of the rules and then go ahead and break them, but I suspect that many people are slowly losing their grasp on the rules. Uncountable thousands never really understood the rules in the first place.

Grammar is important. Written English is not a mushy place where there are no rules; it is a place where, reassuringly, you can know if you are right or wrong. Part of my work-from-home job is editing the CVs of people who make more than $2000/day in the oil industry. The number of elementary grammatical mistakes that I’ve found in these CVs is mindboggling. It makes me sad that people who have had every opportunity to learn to write in English just.. haven’t. I don’t know their lives, and there may be any number of extenuating circumstances. But I’ll say it again: literacy is a gift. If you have the opportunity to learn to write properly in any language, I think you’re a fool not to take it. Knowing how to read well, and how to express yourself in writing with clarity and precision is nothing but good.


textures, england

Textures from a recent excursion to Coalbrookdale, birthplace of the industrial revolution! I want to start painting again and I’ve been collecting interesting colours and textures… I think these are amazing, the patterns formed by centuries of weathering, water dripping down ancient brick…

weathered brick, coalbrookdale

weathered brick, coalbrookdale