Wednesday, August 27, 2008

in the line of duty

Silly things I have done in the line of duty:
  • painting large purple handprints every ten feet along the sidewalks of downtown Fredericton (with a permit and everything);
  • donning a gas mask and elbow length gloves to use scary cleaners on popcorn machines at Empire Theatres every Sunday;
  • crossing a flooded river pantsless;
  • helping a customer elude an imaginary following menace that had been pursuing him across Canada (at Boldons);
  • receiving multiple calls on a special Avis (rental car) CEO line in the middle of the night from a man who pretended he wanted to rent a car in order to tell me about his mother and wife, who were apparently competitive mudwrestlers in the sub-Saharan African mud wrestling circuit.
Also, Angus and I spent about two hours this afternoon discussing ways to indulge his habit of making itemized lists. It turns out that he has a barcode scanner, for complicated Forbes-related reasons, and we may take an afternoon and make a scanned catalogue of the entire household's books when we are moved into the new place. He then explained a complex system for tracking the contents of the fridge, which eventually led to discussions of RFID tags, special twitter feeds to send "buy milk" alerts to cell phones at appropriate times, and data-mining the collected information in order to optimize shopping days and generate lists.

Real life update: I applied for a job at the university library that I am really hopeful about. I've always wanted to work at the library, and I'm actually qualified for this job, so that's a good sign.
Also, Kate, of the NBCC, called me this morning looking for my help manning a special tent at the big craft festival this weekend. I've been feeling pretty crummy about having left them in the lurch to go digging, so I pledged eight hours Friday and Saturday to help her out (and incidentally get paid). Hopefully it will salve my conscience and smooth things over with the council, and pay is pretty exciting too. It basically just means that packing is going to have to be a little more intense tonight and tomorrow, which is fine, because I'm not really doing anything else.

Monday, August 25, 2008

steampunk philosophy

The internet curmudgeons sometimes have a way of getting to me. I've passed through any sort of phase where I feel the need to be an Internet Tough Guy (well, Gal) and boast about how brilliant/strong/well-informed/grammatically superior I am, and I find it annoying when people feel the need to derail a good discussion with pointlessly negative put-downs.

A good example is this thread from Apartment Therapy, where an unwitting reader asks for a source for a print and is shouted down by a host of design nerds who declare it "SO last season" and "too ubiquitous to be even remotely relevant". The print, by the way, is a limited run print by an independant artist who sells them on Etsy, not a commercially available poster or something. Now, it is the internet, and of course they are welcome to their opinions, but that level of hate for a piece of independant art that someone wants to put in their own home? Kind of uncalled for.

So a scifi blog I enjoy, io9, started a discussion today entitled "What's Wrong With Steampunk?". It quotes a designer by the name of Randy Nakamura, who says:
Steampunking, with its commerce driven, faddish re-skinning of their own history, is closer to Disney than punk or sci-fi. A laptop styled like a Eastlake sideboard is merely a threat of bad taste, not a threatening reaction to massive social and economic disenfranchisement. In its essence Steampunk seems suburban in its attitude: nostalgic for an imagined, non-existent past, politically quietist, and culturally insular hidden behind cul-de-sacs of carefully styled anachronisms that let in no chaos or ferment.
It's a fair statement, I suppose. Steampunk doesn't have a slogan or a philosophy beyond a certain love of anachronism, handcrafting, and neat gadgets, along with quiet spaces and old-fashioned comfort. I actually really like the idea of a fashion that doesn't pretend to be deep and meaningful on political and spiritual levels, and I think there's a certain amount of backlash against the modern need to split everyone into philosophical categories based on what they wear, buy, watch, and listen to. I resent the implication that because it doesn't have a built in identity for me to subscribe to, it means I have no interest in life beyond shiny objects. It doesn't mean anything. It's fashion.
If I sound annoyed, it's because the commenters - from a nerdy scifi community, no less - spend many pages tearing down steampunk as a fake trend and just generally throwing around a lot of negativity.
And I'm not even a steampunk. I don't own a single set of goggles or a modded raygun. I just like the aesthetic. It's pretty and eccentric. I think that's enough.

Real life update: the position with the city has been filled by someone with twenty years of experience, and the position with Radian6 is on hold while they discuss the position within the management. I'm not very hopeful about it; it sounds like it may have been killed. Regardless, I'm supposed to get in touch next week to see what's up, so maybe there's hope yet.
I've applied for seven more positions today and have a couple to apply to tomorrow on campus, so the search continues.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

silver-screen starlet or mad scientist?

I've been a student for so long that the idea of decor is often "what kind of couch can we land for under $20?" and "do you suppose we can paint the walls?", and it's getting a bit tiresome. I've been hanging out at Apartment Therapy for years now, looking at the gorgeous spaces other people have put together. Granted, a lot of them are expensively and professionally put together, but many others are outfitted in Ikea and Craigslist finds, together with ingenuity and elbow grease. That should be accessible even to us.

I'm going to be a grownup now, at least moreso than before, with a job and no pesky designation of "student" to keep me down, and with Sean and Angus firmly in the "mature student" category now, I think that we can safely venture beyond student decor and into the murky territory of chic-on-a-budget. Angus and I are both design nerds, and Sean, while not being a nerd, is definitely a fan of clean cut and elegant interiors and is willing to support our quest, wherever it may take us.

So I'm sort of thinking of going classier with the new place. There are a couple of styles I am really into, and they have a lot of points of similarity. Disclaimer: I know we are doing this uberbudgetstyle, but it can be done.

1. Hollywood Regency: bright colours, Victorian or Neoclassical furniture mixed with modern, clean lines, chandeliers, Chinosierie.

2. Steampunk (also an article here): Victorian furniture with lots of warm colours, dark wood and brass hardware, with a fantasy twist. Pulleys, gears, and just generally really H. G. Wells; industrial pieces with beads and leather touches. Think the Golden Compass, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, A Series of Unfortunate Events.

I'm favouring steampunk at the moment, because it's not hard to pull off on a budget with creativity, brass contact paper, and a hardware store. It's also comfortable-feeling, like a library - burgundy and forest green and browns. I'd never bother in this apartment, as it's kind of dark already, but the new place has huge amounts of light, and the eccentric angles of the ceiling, mixed with stained glass windows, give us a lot to work with.
Assuming we are willing to bargain hunt and craft our way to a final product... what do you think?

Friday, August 22, 2008

nothing is funny at 7 am

Pretty much the worst way to start a morning is with a terrified scream.

Yesterday, in the cleaning and dolling up of the apartment, I pinned the bedroom curtain back so new tenants could see the lovely windows (they are usually closed to keep out prying drunken eyes), so when I woke up this morning, the first things I saw were two men on the roof, about three feet from my face. They were loudly discussing (over the neighbour's air conditioner) how to keep people from climbing over the fence; I believe they are from the guy who owns the building next to us, who has heard from Ruth about our problems and decided to fix them by draping the fence in barbed wire, and decided the best thing to do to tenants who have already had a nasty scare this week is to do this at seven in the morning. I was pretty mad, and as usual, they are lucky that Sean was here to talk me down. I was sorely tempted to call the police, as I had been told to do. I have very little sense of humour when woken up like that.

I'm going to miss several things about this apartment, especially now that we've powercleaned and prettified it, but the general public's assumption that our windows are soundproof and our roof is a highway is not one of them.

On the good news front, two guys came to see the place last night, and while the first one was cautiously optimistic, the second is almost definitely going to take it. He seems very much like some other guys I know, whose main requirements in an apartment are walls, a ceiling, a floor, and a plug for their TV and Xbox, and he didn't sound interested in shopping around. He also doesn't care if we paint over the border in the living room, which is great, because I don't want to.

We're also discovering new and awesome things about our new place as we discuss it - Sean, for example, knew that the door in the kitchen is not in fact a pantry, but a second door to the outside world, so we have two options for getting furniture up. Choice is good.

Cannot wait to move.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

real bohemians live in attic spires

Well, as my twitter feed shows, we are moving into the best apartment ever in just ten days. It is the entire top floor of a big old house with a tower.

From left to right: the guest room, the living room (both the round window and the tower), and Angus' room (with the half moon window). No interior pictures yet, but you don't want to see it as it is now. We'll videotour when we are moving in.
So we are now looking for someone to take this place, and in fact have two showings this evening (a girl with a cat was supposed to be here this afternoon, but she totally did not show).

Powercleaning, with an eye to selling this place so we can have our damage deposit back, is exhausting. It will be even worse to pack. I knew I hated moving for a reason. On the other hand, ceramic floors! stained glass! Rooms for things like eating and having guests! Storage areas!

We blued my hair again, leaving the dye in for three hours, wrapped in a warm towel to encourage it (this was the advice of both the internet and the staff at Sue Lawrence).

Verdict: er, well, it's bluer. I'm going to get some dye on the internet that is apparently better than this stuff. It's alright, and I'm not too bummed about it, but you can sort of see the lack of enthusiasm right there.

In other news, I have found a piece of art for the nook where I plan to put the cat litter:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

love at first sight

That apartment. Is beautiful.
I can't even really tell you how great it is, and I can't show you, because it was so great we forgot to take pictures, just flitted about going the light! the windows! the ceiling! the floor!

There are only two real shames about the whole business. The first is that even if we had taken pictures, you have to have the eye to see it, because the current occupants have trashed it. I mean, holes in walls, garbage everywhere, trashed. The landlady is heartbroken and just wants someone who will love it like their own (her words).
Lady, I will clean the floors with my tongue. And assassinate the previous tenants if you want some revenge. And even pay more money, because honey, you are letting us rob you at these rates.
The other shame is that someone else got there before us and put their name on it. Calamity! But she liked the look of us enough to show it anyway, and got us to fill out reference sheets, and said she would be in touch if the other group's references don't pan out, and then said she would definitely be in touch. I think it was Angus and myself squawking at the stained glass while Sean enthused about the closet space and kitchen, and that I looked like I might cry when she said that she had let it already.

It will be mine. And there will be pictures, so many pictures. Once I clean it.

trading spaces

The truth is, I love new apartments. I love looking at places with potential to be awesome - slanty high ceilings and restored hardwood floors, big windows, excitingly chunky floorplans, and the other architectural weirdnesses of Fredericton houses. I now know the questions to ask landlords above and beyond "so this is the bathroom, right?". I also know how to couch those questions (always "I'm thinking of getting a cat, is that okay?" and never "I have two cats, is that a problem?"). I love looking past other people's crappy taste in decor and imagining the cool stuff we can do with the space and the light.
I do hate moving, but you know, one day of pain, it's not such a big deal.

The solution, I think, is going to be moving in with Angus. We started looking at three bedroom apartments this morning on kijiji and other places, and the general price is around $1000/month with heat, as compared to $650 for most one bedrooms. Also, with three bedrooms, you get weird little extras like laundry and porches and dishwashers, and generally better units.

We did check out a place this afternoon that was very cheap, but with stringent no-cat rules and smallish rooms, and also lovely views of a rusting metal roof six inches from half the windows. It did, however, have glorious hardwood floors and the entryway had stained glass windows (another frequent perk in certain areas of Fredericton). We're going to another in roughly half an hour that we have high hopes for it. We've known people who have gone to parties there (it was an infamous party apartment) and it's apparently gorgeous, newly renovated (probably because of the parties), cool with cats, and you get one floor of a pentagonal tower as a room (it's quasi-Victorian), ceramic and laminate...

I love new apartments.

Monday, August 18, 2008

a line in the sand

Sometimes my faith in humanity takes a serious hit.

I got in from the bus this evening after a pretty uneventful trip back and found out that Jason had called to say that my paycheck is finally, finally available. We were pretty excited and decided to get out of the apartment and have some restaurant food to celebrate - it's sickeningly hot in here tonight even without cooking.

When we came back, the house reeked of pot smoke. I walked into the kitchen and heard the telltale sounds of people on the roof - obviously the perfect place for a clandestine toke - and yelled to Sean that there were people out there, which of course made them bolt. I didn't see them, but I could hear them. I leaned closer to the window to see if they were really gone and noticed that the cookbooks on the windowsill were wet. Which is weird, because it isn't raining.

Someone pissed through the screen and wrecked most of our cookbooks.

I think maybe I will start looking for a new apartment tomorrow. People on the roof on the weekends is bad enough to almost make me want to move, but this is just unbelievable. And sickening.

At least I got paid.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

links du jour

yarn withdrawal

Over the course of my digging adventures, my knitting progress slowed from a furious pace (a sock every three days!) to absolutely nothing as my hands were getting wrecked. I missed having something to keep my hands busy in the evenings, but they were so sore, it was just out of the question. It was one of the things I was looking forward to the most about the digging drawing to a close - at last, I would be able to knit something, anything, and scratch that itch.

Over the past two weeks, I knit a single hat that I'm not overly pleased with, and that's all. I'm stuck on a sock because I feel like I'm wasting the nice yarn on socks that aren't special enough, and my Rogue sweater, despite being only two sleeves short of done, is on pause until it gets cooler in the apartment so I can stand having a lap full of alpaca again. My Ravelry queue is slowly piling up with neat socks and even a few sweaters, but everything requires a special yarn from England or industrial steel from Japan or me having figured out what colour I want for my winter accessories (pdf) this year. Not to mention money for these things, which is honestly in short supply until I get paid.

So when I packed for this weekend, I had one stray thought about stuffing that sad sock into my bag and then promptly forgot, and now I'm kicking myself, because I really, really want to be knitting something. Anything, really.

I'm an addict.

On the hair front, the consensus from Craftster is that I should switch to Special FX dye (which is generally only available in the US, not counting the magic of eBay) and leave it in for hours, not the recommended thirty minutes, because it's just pigment and won't damage my hair. It's a good plan, but just isn't going to happen this week, as dye costs money and Special FX is so far away from me! Still, solutions are good.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

giggling pigs

Guinea pig giggles are the best, especially when you have happy pigs like Michelle and Scott's two, who will giggle at each other with no prompting at all. Just having someone walk past the cage is enough to set them off.

So we're all here for the weekend, somewhat unexpectedly. I was going to come up next week to visit before Mom goes back to work, but it turns out I have a date with Radian6 next week to discuss things with their VP Marketing (!!) so I bussed and boated over yesterday afternoon. Michelle and Scott were supposed to have company this weekend - Scott's parents - but after they cancelled last-minute, the kids threw the pigs and Guitar Hero in the car and zoomed up here. It's been pretty quiet so far - a yard sale, a batch of fondant to ice a cake - and I think we will probably end up watching movies and dying my hair blue this evening. It needs it badly - Sean kindly bleached out the coloured bits the other night, but we ran out of time for the blue, so right now I'm looking a little bit Bride of Frankenstein.

There's not much to say today - I'm trying to post more about interesting things and less with the blow-by-blows of my days, which are often a bit dull, and honestly the most interesting bits of the past couple days are going to be blogged on Michelle's cakeblog and Mom's blog.

Links du jour:
Edit: So we dyed my hair.

It is baby blue. Actually, more like ice blue. With hints of lavender. This is supposed to be screaming royal blue. I am confused.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

come on, take'em off

Wow. I have no excuse for three weeks of silence, except that I was digging a lot, and now I'm done. Yup, done done done, goodbye Minto, au revoir trowel cramp (which has proved fatal to both typing skillz and knitting progress). I can't even express how nice it is to look forward to healing up and resting and seeing people again, though I am a little concerned about resolving the return of unemployment.
In the end, after six weeks of digging, there were
  • four wasp nests,
  • three mice,
  • three thunderstorms that were bad enough to prompt emergency evactuation to Tim Hortons,
  • one snake,
  • one moose track,
  • one deer print in my backdirt pile,
  • lots of bear scat (but no bears),
  • two small red newts,
  • one large black newt with white spots,
  • 54 hours of listening to timeshifted BBC Radio One to and from work,
  • 16 cans of cold Alpha-ghetti after I tired of making lunch in the morning,
  • and absolutely zero artifacts or even possible artifacts.
Also, unforunately, zero paychecks, as the client has been dragging their collective feet on the paycheck issue, which is pretty annoying.
The low point of the project (for me, anyway - definitely the high point for anyone not me) was when Ellis and I were faced with crossing a very cold, flood-swollen river with no rubber boots and no desire to spend the rest of a fairly chilly day in cold wet clothes. Solution? Strip down to panties and wade through barefoot.
I can hear you laughing from here, Mom.

Other news in the world of me: Angus arrived one week ago today, while Sean and I were at my cousin Aurora's baptism, and has been crashing with us and generally being a wonderful addition to the household. Now that I'm finally done with my ten hour days of digging, we're going to spend some time looking for a place and sorting out his sitch with the school, etc.

Also, one of my random fishing expeditions has paid off unexpectedly. A Fredericton social media company (click here for a video of the CEO explaining what they do, it's pretty cool to say the least) was advertising for a sales position a month ago and I dropped a resume on the off chance that they might look past my lack of marketing degree; imagine my surprise when I got an email from them about a completely different position that they were thinking of creating! So I talked it over with one of their (very pleasant) executives, and she gave me a homework assignment for the weekend, which is completely blowing me out of the water right now. I'm hoping that what I'm coming up with is sufficient for now, but I'm honestly not 100% sure that I know what they are looking for... let's hope?
Still, I'm learning tons, and even if this doesn't work out, this has really restored some of my faith in this job hunting business. Apparently my resume resonated with them (her words). And I mean, a company that will set a practical test as a stage of interviewing, instead of some stupid typing test or personality quiz (I'm looking at you, Cendant and Irving) - pretty solid.