There was an earthquake this week in Montréal. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I did notice it.

The computers provided for my design team are new, but they have trouble sometime. They turn themselves off periodically, and sometimes their fans sound like an aircraft preparing to take off.

So when I saw my computer monitors shaking, my first thought was that it was another problem related to the fans inside my computer. In fact, to test my theory, I started pushing the leg of my desk slightly against the enclosure of my computer, to see if the shaking increased or decreased.

And here’s where it gets weird: For a second, I thought I had established a relationship between them. I nearly called over one of my co-workers to show them that whenever I pressed the leg of my desk against my computer, the whole thing shook enough to make my computer monitors shake.

Then the earthquake ended.

This is what is interesting about what I did: I think I unconsciously selected which observations I would pay attention to, and ignored the ones that didn’t support my theory.

So how do I know I’m not doing the same thing with my earthquake theory, now?

Bell technicians

Today, I finally got the intercom for my apartment fixed. The internet too! It has been a long and frustrating fight, but I finally won, and it didn’t cost me any money.

I called the people from my apartment, and they told me to try plugging the phone into different phone jacks around the house. That didn’t work. So I tried calling Bell, and they sent a technician to fix it, along with the internet, which was also struggling at the time. The technician came, fiddled around with the wires, and eventually left, having given up on fixing anything. So I called Bell a second time, and they sent another technician, who split the internet line from the intercom line, and now they both work.

Now, when I receive packages in the post, the delivery person can call up to my apartment, and I don’t have to chase them all over Québec. It’s really quite fantastic. I’m expecting some books soon, and I’m excited to think that they may actually arrive at my apartment.

Here’s a strange bit of trivia that you might not have been able to guess: From this experience, I’ve learned that Bell technicians spend a lot of time muttering under their breath about the Tabernacle.

Help wanted

If I were ever in the position where I was hiring someone, for any position whatsoever, I would find it terribly tempting to add “Circus experience an asset” to the end of the Help Wanted ad.

Something along the lines of: “Executive assistant needed, must type 60 WPM, circus experience an asset.”

No matter what job you’re application you’re looking at, you can always make it more interesting by adding “Circus experience an asset” to the end.

My family’s favourite Christmas movie

Little Shop of Horrors
Little Shop of Horrors

For some people, it’s that terrible stop-motion animated feature about Rudolph-the-red-nosed-reindeer, and for others it’s one of the millions of adaptations of A Christmas Carol. In the same way that there are certain smells or decorations or sounds that remind different people of Christmas, there are movies that do the same thing. It’s almost Pavlovian.

But for me and my family (except for my older sister, who likes to pretend she doesn’t like it) our favourite film to watch at Christmas-time is Little Shop of Horrors.

Five points for whoever can give me the weirdest true Christmas tradition that their family regularly observes. It has to be something real, and it has to be something that is done regularly.


Something that one of my students drew for me
Something that one of my students drew for me

Being a TA is one of the best parts of grad school. In the class that I’m a TA for, the first essay of the year was due last Monday. I guess I must have done a good job emphasising good “signposting” in essay-writing in my conferences, because this week, one of my students came up to me and handed me this hand-drawn cartoon that she made while writing her essay.

Some of the other grad students say I should put it up somewhere in the philosophy grad student office.

By the way, I do realise that it’s been over a month since I posted last. Sorry guys! My life is pretty complicated right now, and I don’t want to blog about it yet, because there are people who I need to talk to in person, before I start letting the whole world know what’s up with me. I expect that sometime this week, I will resume regular posting again.

Weird to find this in the pages of one of your books

Eat a hamburger. Do it now.
Eat a hamburger. Do it now.

Pickles was looking through some of the books that we don’t plan to keep, either because we have multiple copies, or because we don’t like the book enough to keep it around forever, and she found this. It’s a post-card sized advertisement for the beef that McDonald’s uses in its hamburgers. She was using it as a bookmark at some point in the past.

This is just weird.

If you can give me a good translation of the Chinese phrase at the bottom of the advertisement, you will be awarded 4 points.

My unicorn doesn’t look right

"My unicorn doesn't look right"
"My unicorn doesn't look right"

I’ve been saving this post for a special day. And today is 09.09.09. At 9h, I have my Bioethics Theory course. What were you doing?

The last time that I was in Stratford, visiting my family, I dragged my little sister out of her bed to play a game with me and Pickles and mom and dad. My little sister had gone to sleep early, saying that she was tired from work or VBS or something.

We decided to play Cranium, and part of the way through, she started drawing a unicorn for Pickles. She started by drawing the horn first, and then drawing the horse around it.

My little sister must have been tired, because she stopped drawing and looked at her picture and proclaimed, “My unicorn doesn’t look right, and I don’t know why.”

After a few minutes, she realised that she had put the horn in the wrong place. Does this make it a rhinoceros rather than a unicorn? I grabbed the piece of paper while she was still incapacitated from laughter, before she could correct it. I like the unicorn just the way it is, to be perfectly honest. :)

Things that professors tape to their doors

I found this note on a prof's door. I think it's hilarious.
I found this note on a prof's door. I think it's hilarious.

While I was a student at UWO, one of my favourite things to do while waiting for an appointment or a class to start would be wandering around Talbot College, where the philosophy department used to be, and looking at all the things that professors would tape to their doors for passers-by to see.

Profs do this at McGill as well. While I was waiting for my advising appointment on the 1st of September, I walked around the 9th floor a bit to see what profs had taped to their doors. There were a few of the usual jokes that you see periodically circulated by email, but this one that I photographed stood out to be, by far, the best.

Click on the photograph attached to this post. It is worth the time to read it. This is an account of a philosophy conference, as given by a child in elementary school.

I think my favourite part is “They couldn’t make jokes, many had beards.” But then again, the bitter conclusion, “I’ll never go to a philosophy conference again,” is pretty good too.