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The Public Ineffectual

For entertainment purposes only.

Friday, December 24, 2004


Does NASA have a day in January that they are keeping from us?

The International Space Station is going to be visible with the naked eye from Montreal on these days (there is a link on this page for other cities). Its kind of a cool idea - just a shame it has to be at 6am!

Happy Holidays people! If you're in Northeastern North America, stay warm. If you're in South Eastern Australia, watch your head...I hear there is a monster hail storm forecast.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Abort! Abort! Abort!

Oblivia, at the gym, having finished her warm up on the treadmill, settles in to do some stretches and ab work on her mat. She is surrounded by other gym-bods who do the same, in their own time, in their own way.

Some guy (known as Guy, hereafter) has Oblivia in the crosshairs and takes his first strike: he makes eye contact and says, "hi". Oblivia returns with a "hi". Both return to their self-involved mat work.

Guy asks, "Where are you from?". Oblivia puts on her i'm receptive face but before she can respond, he blurts out "Toronto!", in a pre-emptive strike. Oblivia returns with a volley: "Well, no...(smiles)....Actually, I'm from Australia."

Guy: Oh yeah? My brother-in-law is from New Zealand but he lives here now. What are you doing here in Montreal?
Oblivia: I'm a student.
Guy: What are you studying?
Guy: Med!
Oblivia: No, no...(smiles)...Communications.
Guy: Oh yeah....WELL, I WON'T KEEP YOU FROM YOUR WORKOUT....(re-starts up his ab workout with religious fervour and some minutes later, leaves the area with a sheepish "nice to meet you")

Dear reader, what the hell just happened here? Somewhere above, this guy hit the big red button labeled "EJECT" to jet-propel himself into the ether and deployed the parachute for a safe, soft landing.

I have three theories:
1. Communications students are (excuse the Seinfeld-ism) "un-date-able" - unlike Med students from Toronto, perhaps.
2. He thought Oblivia was trying to blow him off by giving nonsense answers like "Australia" and the reconaissance mission was slow in bringing the analysis back.
3. He thought I was an undergrad.

Any more theories?

Update!!!! Crouchingturbo, Oblivia's sister, says, "There are many 'good readers' out there - meaning good at reading people's reactions, guys included. And if they feel defensive attitude, they will go away before they can get rejected. You can be very defensive." This had occurred to me but I forgot to write it down, so:

4. Oblivia's missile defense shield works much better than some other country-that-shall-remain-nameless.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

*** Special Guest Post: The Gossip Mill ***

Originally uploaded by Oblivia.

I happened upon our high school home economics teacher, Mrs Nichol, on the streets of North Sydney. Unsettling: she looks exactly the way she did 17 years ago and I don't mean exactly the way you would expect someone to look after a 17 year timespan. She was even pulling the same bum-face she always used to pull. I can't help but wonder whether she was actually not entirely offended by my hemstich back in '87 after all. Perhaps she's been afflicted with having a mouth that naturally screws up like a sphincter all her life and found a use for it in teaching. She was also looking remarkably crisp on a 38 degree (100 Fahrenheit) day and was tucked neatly under the arm of a dapper older man.

If mousy old Mrs Nichol (seemingly) still has her act together... where are the others at? An email demand for information to my mother (font of all gossip) yielded the following results:

* Mr B - "the short man of mathematics"; the sleaziest, most self important local councillor that ever was - had an affair and got kicked out of home by his wife. He now lives in a caravan (trailer, for the North Americans)

* Mr H - German language teacher who got a little too gemutlich (trans: cosy, friendly) for my liking - apparently still living with his mother in Eastwood

* Mr W - primary school principal - has now completed his community service for paedophilia

Further research is underway, but it looks like Mrs Nichol is a bit of an aberration, having her reputation in tact.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Just how Canadian are you really?

I seem to have developed a penchant for online quizzes. This means, I really need to get out of the house more but I'm happy self-medicating at home for the moment. To get some variety in my diet, I was going to order in some dinner last night but then roomie cooked and saved me the trouble of having to reach out to the outside world.

The article linked above is from the Economist.com and tests your knowledge of Canada. I was a little pensive because my notion of Canadian-ness is sometimes a bit askew. For example, people refer to shows like "Kids in the Hall" which I've never seen a full episode of. And yet, tv programs pre-1984 are quite familiar to me. I can't think of any since I mostly grew up on a diet of US television (damn you cross-border flows!) - but I assure you, its the humus of my memory's ecology.

I did well on the test though. That is, I did as-well-as-I-would like-to and better-than-I-expected with a score of 9 out of a possible 13. The economist's summation of my performance: "Well done, but there is more to the country than ice and kitten-eating aliens." I don't think I WANT to be any more Canadian than this.

My Canadian-ness, Australian-ness and Korean-ness come under scrutiny from myself (mostly others) as competing notions. Its particularly bad around the Olympics season... But they tend to play together nicely when asked. This weather brings out the mopey Canadian, the whinging Aussie and the bitchy Korean.

Monday, December 20, 2004

"Cold" Doesn't Even Begin to Describe It


Its -25 degrees today. Within minutes of being outside your knuckles ache and the inside of your nose freezes over with each intake of breath. I am unable to summon the courage to leave the apartment.

That's it for today folks. I am devolving into the Winter Shut-In, again. I need a hug.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

We're Going At This Thing All Wrong

Google Love Ad-vice
Originally uploaded by Oblivia.


Are you in the market for a cute guy? Stop trawling bars, online dating or putting your friends on the spot with a pointed, "who's HE?". Just BUY yourself one on eBay! Be sure to exercise some serious caveat emptor and see if you can even enter into an "in kind" deal. Happy shopping. (Xmas is coming up soon, wink wink, nudge nudge)

This suggestion was brought to you by Gmail in conjunction with Google's Adwords.

Linked above is a post from boingboing on some of the in-"ad"-vertant hilarities produced by Google Adwords algorithms.

My personal fave is:

Find Devastation
We have what you're looking for.
Devastation & much more!

Friday, December 17, 2004

Careful What You Wish For...

Family Portrait
Originally uploaded by Oblivia.

...because you might just get it.

I asked Claire to send me a pic of her, Jon and her new kittens (watch flickr zeitgeist for little grey lovelies) and this is what I got.

heh heh heh, she makes me laugh

Thursday, December 16, 2004

What I'm Reading...

Pyong Yang by Guy Delisle
Originally uploaded by Oblivia.

I bought this at the Kyobo book store in Seoul. Kyo means "school" and bo means "to assist" - this company made its fortune in selling school insurance. (I don't know what that is.) They diversified into textbook publishing and now, book stores. They are the Chapters/Barnes and Noble of South Korea.

I bought this graphic novel so that I might practice my Korean without the intimidation of reading something too literary. I wanted something easy to read that wasn't a children's book. A graphic novel has the advantages of being quotidien in its language (my forte) and lots of pretty pictures. And to learn a little something about North Korea along the way.

The author, Guy Delisle, is a Quebecois transplanted to France. I had no idea when I bought it and just made the realisation today when I googled him. I figured he was French French from the jacket photo. I didn't read the introduction or the bio, you see, because its written in Korean.

Its an account of his two month trip to North Korea in 2000. English language version available from (Montreal) publisher, Drawn & Quarterly, in September 2005.

This Montreal connection is kinda cool. I'm always surprised and happy when that happens.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Look what I did---------------------------------->

I can't believe I did it. All by myself. It's the flickr zeitgeist that automatically does a montage of photos in flash. Neat!

They give me the script and I close my eyes, randomly pop the script in the template somewhere and then preview to see how I like it. (Took me 3 tries...)

Damn Protocol


You are invited to a party by email. This person does NOT have the decency to BCC thus you see the entire mail-ee list. You know approximately half of the people invited who roughly correspond to a particular sphere of your life.


You don't have the foggiest idea WHO this person is.

1. Do I simply go and find out who it was?
2. Do I reply saying, "Who the fuck are you and why do you have my email?"
3. Any suggestions on how I might handle this more diplomatically?

Sunday, December 12, 2004

I cleaned the bathroom today.

Domestic SOS
Originally uploaded by Oblivia.

Its beginning to feel a lot like Christmas...

Pine tree loaded with snow
Originally uploaded by karlcow.

Attention friends in far off places!

This is what Montreal looks like now. I wanted to take photos of this Winter Wonderland myself but I couldn't get out of my long johns and out of the house today. We got some 20cm of snow in about 24 hours.

We'll try again tomorrow.

Winter is one of the most photogenic seasons, in my opinion. Winter is difficult to photograph well but the results are spectacular when done right. My man Cow is quite the shutter bug, as you can see. Summer is over-rated like a catalogue model.

The Christmas lights are on in the streets. The store displays are all dolled up. If only the carols would stop. There is only one Christmas song worth its mettle and it's "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus". Weird shit.

Thanks Cow. Feel free to blog any of my terrible photos, should you feel them worthy.

Friday, December 10, 2004


I had the worst dream last night. Its strange that I remember so much of it. I got married. Everyone around was soooooooo happy for me (*mwa*...*mwa*) but I had no idea what was going on, how I got there and why I was doing it. I just didn't have the strength to resist. I thought, if I had allowed this to get to this point, I should just go through with it. All the prep had been done, my body and consciousness had been dropped in the middle of it. I didn't even know who the groom was.

Selected scenes:

* I was in a room full of "our friends" (he was younger than me, of course) and someone mentioned his name, Teo (pronounced like "Theo"). I told this girl I had never met before - a "friend", presumably - that I wanted to talk to him. She said, "But he's right over there." and pointed to the corner of the room where a bunch of people were gathered. I swung my head around, "He IS???" I looked back at this group of chit chatting people. My future husband was in there somewhere, only I couldn't even pick him out.

* Trudging up a stairwell in my dress, hiking up my skirt with both arms, muttering to myself with every step, "'Till....Death...Do....Us....Part?!?"

* Being walked down the aisle by my grandmother in a church. (???)

* Parents made a brief appearance and were quite chuffed about the whole thing. It figures they didn't even catch on that I was completely confused.

* Meeting some older English guy coming out of a library who struck up a conversation out of the blue who started to talk to me about my undergrad degree (Hell man, you think I want to talk about this in my wedding dress?). I thought briefly that was quite attractive and felt a small pang that I would never be able to go there again, full well knowing that if it wasn't my wedding day, I wouldn't be thinking this.

* Walking down the aisle making mental note that I must look into the legalities of annulment.

Horrible feeling of confinement and duplicity throughout. Horrible.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

My Life, In A Nutshell

Grad Student Life
Originally uploaded by Oblivia.

This goes out to my comrades who toil in the salt mines of graduate school, everywhere. We shall overcome.

Thank you, stevey.com, for distracting me with this pic.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

"Beauty and strength; this is connected to everything in life."

I used to joke that the only exercise I did was shopping and clubbing which, although a joke, was nominally true at the time.

Lately, every time I go out all I want to do is dance. I think this is a good sign, overall. Sunday night, Atomic and I went out for a couple of quiet pints and ended up dancing to some big, BIG house beats at Blizzarts alone on the dancefloor, closing the place down yet again. That which is good for the body, is good for the soul.

That which is good for the soul, is also good for the body. Listening to music while walking downtown the other day made me groan out loud with pleasure. (FYI: Steinski vs. Skratch Perverts/Plus 1/Jonathon More, BBC1 "Breezeblock") Visceral pleasure is difficult to come by.

I've been going to the gym and it gives me a wonderful sense of well-being. How do you say..."natural high"? The rumours are true, everybody. This is a rough typology of the gym demographic: overindulged out-of-province students, gay men, mafia foot men and strippers. I guess I fall into the first category - without the neo-valley girl accent, mind you.

But - wait - Oblivia at the gym??? Click link above for a sense of what that might look like.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

"I Gotta Be Meeeeee!"

Oodles of Poodles
Originally uploaded by Oblivia.

Sometimes, when I'm all alone at night and there is no one to entertain me but the internet, I like to do stupid things like online questionnaires so I might while away the loneliness until sleep besets me or the sun comes up.

The one above asks you to answer ten questions and tells you what kind of dog you are. I took the test only to find out that I am a member of one of the most reviled breeds of all time. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the MINIATURE POODLE.

WTF!?! Hell No! Huh???

I have long been a staunch defender of poodles. I maintain, it's not the dogs that are the problem, its the owners. Same goes for Chihuahuas and Papillons. But this doesn't mean I want to BE one. I want to be a Terrier. Like Eddie on Frasier.

So I take the test again. I change a few parameters around size, stay fairly truthful about personality traits and profession, downgrade my intelligence notch, upgrade my facility with children and hey presto....I am a.....*drum roll please*.... STANDARD POODLE

*Sigh*. I'm resigned. This is, after all, slightly better. This dog is without the Napoleon Complex of the miniature breeds. Would you like to see my profile? Ohhhhhh (grits teeth) you're gonna love this.

Dog Name
Poodle (Standard)

France. This is the oldest variety of Poodle. Closely related to the portugese water dog, the Irish Water Spaneil and the French Barbet. Used for hunting and retreiving in Europe. The familiar Poodle topiary originated as protection for its vital organs and joints against the elements when retreiving in cold waters as well as not bogging the animal down with a heavy coat. Known as the Caniche in France it was a favourite of Queen Marie Antoinette (1755-93).

Intelligent and fun loving (you'd have to be, looking like that) the Standard Poodle is a real athlete - good at hunting and swimming. Happy, good-tempered and lively, this animal is camp on four legs (and a fancy coat). The only downside is that the Poodle likes to look good and demands serious grooming every six weeks.

I have to be the bitch I was born to be.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

More Content, As Promised: Gluhwein

Petra Post-Gluhwein Smile
Originally uploaded by Oblivia.

I love a German Christmas. In honour of the Silly Season, people put candles in the window sills, eat delicious cookies and the drink gluhwein. I experienced the joys of the weinachtsmarkt many many moons ago visiting Germany when I was fortunate enough to meet Petra. This is Petra at the opening of the weinachtsmarkt near her home. These go on, it seems, in most urban centers and mostly they sell seasonal knick knacks, crafts, foods etc. [Petra: feel free to correct/elaborate at any time.] Petra is holding a mug of gluhwein and is clearly quite happy about it too!

Gluhwein also goes by the name of mulled wine in North America, I believe, and something similar is called gløg in Denmark, according to Tudi. It's a potent blend of red wine warmed with earthy spices like orange peel and cinnamon. It's sweet and it's joyous. For all my praises of this fine seasonal beverage my first experience of it was less than salubrious.

Shall I go on?

I went out to the weinachtsmarkt in Stuttgart with a couple of friends some time in December many years ago. I was in this lovely outdoor market soaking in the uncringing authenticity of it all but it WAS December, so I was fairly chilled. We came upon the gluhwein and being the cosmopolitan creature that I am, I had to try some eve though I seldom drank alcohol. Let me repeat: there was a time when I seldom drank alcohol.

Stamping my feet against the cold and wrapping my hands around this delicious mug was just where I wanted to be. We downed our gluhwein and made our way to our dinner destination - a fabulous Turkish restaurant called "Litfass". It was semi-basement with long communal type tables and walls of royal blue and gold. It was, as always, full to brimming. We were seated - rather perched - at the end of a long table. Part way through the first course, I start to feel a bit off. Slightly claustrophobic and strangely antsy so I excuse myself to go to the washroom and leave the table.

I made it about 6 paces - as far as the bar - where I fainted. This was, the first and only time I have ever spontaneously lost consciousness. I don't know how long I was out - I think it was only a minute or two - but I can say I have never felt euphoria like I did when I was laying on the floor of this restaurant. I opened my eyes and the first thing I saw was the legs of bar stools and I thought, "What happened? Where am I?" The second thing I thought was, "What a fucking cliche! YOU CAN DO BETTER THAN THAT!"

Someone helped me up, we gathered our things and we left.

I have been able to drink the stuff since without incident so all's well that ends well. ("What a fucking cliche! You can do better than that!", says my internal editor.)

Thank you, Petra, for sending the photo. Give us an update on Berlin when you can!

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The Public Ineffectual - now with 25% LESS CONTENT!

Originally uploaded by Oblivia.

He says: "hmmmmmm".

OK. I'm sorry. I know I've been single minded of late but this was too cute not to share.

More actual content soon...I hope.


Thank you stevey.com (again.)