Thursday, December 16, 2010

Plaid Pants

 Last month I went to see Rufus Wainwright perform with the San Francisco symphony. The performance itself was mediocre due to being a very new piece and, I suspect, affected by the recent loss of his aunt. I still enjoyed the evening and also saw some amazing outfits during intermission. There was a group of gay men in the lobby who were all wearing fabulously fitting plaid dress pants along with other snazzy accessories like vests and suspenders.  The group of 5 men stood out to me in the crowd and I couldn't take my eyes off them.  I think one of them noticed...

Anyway, since that night I've been planning to find myself a pair of well-made plaid pants and today, thanks to a Techcrunch article about Bonobos, I did. Now the pants were $195 and I'm sure they are amazing pants but I've learned that you can pretty much always find a coupon for online purchases so I did a quick search and found a link that gave me 50% off my first order of over $100 at  The link worked like a charm and after making my purchase I was given my own link to spread around so that other people can get 50% off too. In turn, I get a $50 store credit which means - MORE PANTS!

If you use the link below you will get to save 50% on your first order over $100 guaranteed. It will take you to a page where you create an account, then you shop, and when you check out the form will populate the discount code field with a unique code just for you. Then you save money and also get a link of your own when you're done. Happy shopping!

Go Get 50% off at

Monday, December 06, 2010


Today is the anniversary of the December 6th massacre in Montréal.  When this happened  I was 14 years old, growing up in Ottawa which is only a couple of hours from Montréal.  This hate crime had a devastating impact on the feminist community, and on young women considering studying in technical fields.

This morning I was listening to a Spark (CBC Radio) podcast about females in startup culture and it brought up the topic of the decline in women enrolling in STEM and as I got to the office and remembered what today is I thought: "Here are 14 fewer role models, and STEM women".

In the early 90's I lived in Montréal and was part of direct action to commemorate this day.  One year we blocked traffic in a very busy intersection near Concordia for 15 minutes, as a woman read out each name, allowed one minute of silence before proceeding to the next.  We passed out flyers to passers by and to those stuck waiting in their cars.  What impressed me at the time was how so many people were aware of the significance of this date, of this heinous crime, and that any anger quickly dissipated and was replaced by respectful silence.

Today I'm taking 14 minutes to remember Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte, and Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz.  I'm not putting it out there in anyone's face in the same way that we used to but I'm glad to see some people tweeting, blogging, and otherwise continuing to bring it to people's attention so that they do not forget how this was a crime that can never be mistaken for anything but a hate crime against women, and feminists specifically.

In the Geek Feminist post the author points out how today we should also be remembering other groups who are targeted and killed such as Aboriginal women and Trans women.  I want to suggest we remember that every day, and then on December 6th we can take an extra 14 minutes to remember that a guy walked into a room and specifically shot women, calling them a "bunch of fucking feminists" while doing so.  He didn't know if they were feminists. He equated them being in a non-traditional field with being feminist.  Today when a woman shies away from labeling herself a feminist I have to wonder if it's events like this that shaped her idea of why using the F word doesn't seem like a good idea.

Something I am thinking about with regards to this event is that the gunman told the men to leave the room, and they did. They left their cohorts in the room with an armed lunatic instead of protesting, uniting, or otherwise trying to help. Similar to the use the Bechdel test to check for quality content in media - I wonder how this scene would play out today in a CS classroom.  Would it pass a Polytechnique test?  Would today's male students still walk out and leave the women behind to be murdered?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Today in my neighbourhood:

BP's attempt ($50 million ad campaign: to pass the blame.

Reminds me of Eddie Izzard's gun joke:

Consumers standing there shouting "I need OIL!" doesn't cause oil spills, being the oil drilling company with faulty equipment and no safety plan does.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Breathe On It

Play this song while you read this - it's what I was listening to this morning while thinking about this post.

One of my favourite things about being part of a queer community is participating in the way we perform for each other as both performer and audience. Camp, drag, drama, dance, and even the occasional spoken word piece move me and make me so proud of our colourful, creative, and freaky selves. Often our main stage celebrities are shameless and will do anything for attention but there is also room for the shy wallflowers to take the stage every so often and get in the spotlight where they will do something completely hilarious and beautiful, imprinting a lasting image of their courage on our minds.

Yesterday I posted the following as a Facebook status update:
It's NOT a coincidence so many cities are making alternatives to the OFFICIAL "family" Pride parties which rely on corporate sponsorship. Pride went from a march to show we existed to a bloated tourist attraction that requires millions of dollars to survive. Let's stop doing the SAME thing EVERY year, it's lazy. Get freaky on your block, love each other up in the streets, throw parties any day you want. Fuck Pride.

This morning I showed someone clips from some performances at GayBiGayGay back in March.  Yesterday I saw this clip from QueerBomb.  This weekend I was at NoLose watching a variety of performances by very talented queers.  My community in Toronto (and a bunch of us who don't live there anymore) just recently lost the amazing community organizer Will Munro who used to bring us a monthly night of queer expression called Vaseline/Vazaleen.  That's where I first saw The Hidden Cameras back in 2001.  That where I saw homos go-go dancing in briefs with sock masks on their faces, drag queens boxing, Kembra Pfahler in blue body paint walking with bowling balls strapped to her feet with electrical tape and so. much. more.  Even I got to be on that stage a few times participating in contests like bob-for-dildos on Halloween (Vasoween) night.

At the music festival I worked at for many years we wove performance into our daily tasks. Dressing up and impromptu dancing were staples but every once in a while we would get to do full-on theatrics for each other and for the larger community.  Whether it was a parody of a revival tent, a perpetual new year's eve party where the clock struck midnight every 5 minutes, or a silent film being acted out by monochromatic-outfitted villains and heroines, we acted out for each other intensely and with so much appreciation from the audience.

I love us.
We say that often. Right after someone dazzles us with an unexpected serenade or a spontaneous choreographed dance. We say that when as a large group we raise the energy level in the room above that of the day-to-day getting by. Queers do this a lot. Throw parties, freak out, rally, shout, dress up, go out and play.  We don't need Pride™and their big budget, booked entertainers, corporate floats, designated parade routes, or "no you can't bring your own water in here" beer gardens.

Just perform for me and I'll do the same for you and we can do that whenever we want.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Family Car Decals - My latest obsession.

After moving to the United States just over six months ago I started driving a car again. Spending a lot of time commuting has given me a whole new view of car culture - California car culture to be precise. Highway 280 running from SF to the Silicon Valley has shown me a whole new world where most cars only contain one person (including my own), are often hybrid or at least manufactured by Toyota, and are generally free of decals. That's probably why I started to notice this phenomenon of family car decals.

I first noticed them in December, often in the form of varying sizes of flip flop shoes in a row on the back window of a vehicle. But lately I've seen more stick figure representations along with the occasional skull version (the goth/rocker family?).

A quick google search turns up an incredible amount of pictures so I'll stop taking pictures of them on my phone now. I've been so curious to know why this is such a contagious sticker trend. I can't help but think that esp. in the recent years of debate over marriage and family caused by gay marriage activism that we are going to see an incredible backlash in the form of "family pride" by people with traditional hetero family units. 99% of the stickers i see depict nuclear families. Some add on a dog after the stick people. This could be because a divorced family and thus spread out family might not have one car to put all its stick figures on...or just that only families who fit a two parent/many kid mold think it's cute to get a sticker version of themselves made.

I'd almost put my obsession with the trend aside when I saw this:
Stick baby has two mommies. Now my fears of gay assimilation through weddings and wedding culture have been trumped by a fear of hetero-sticker-schlock mimicry.

The debate over what makes a family is now to be discussed over the $5 vinyl cling on your gas-guzzling minivan, just like your activism now consists of clicking a "Like" button to send your outrage over a news story back to your Facebook feed.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My new apartment

Just a quick post - more to come. I am moving into a studio at Duboce & Church this weekend. I've basically been calling it "the heart of the gay". Already, as I walked home from picking up the keys, I was thrilled to see the gay boys on every corner. This is one of those romantic visions I moved to SF for.

My new place is small but it's really bright and the kitchen has a full-sized gas stove, a bigger fridge than I've had for the last 6 months, and built-in shelves. There's room for my table & chairs, plus room for a nice chopping board island that I've been coveting. Though it's technically a studio and I will have to put my bed and couch in the same room there is a HUGE closet. It's about 19 feet long, walk-in, 3.5 feet wide, and the back wall (all 19 feet of it) is covered in built-in shelves. Plus the ceilings are close to 10 feet high and I can put a second level of storage up at about 7.5 feet.

Pics to come as I work on moving myself in and taking advantage of all that space. I love vertical space.

Monday, May 17, 2010

To-Do list #1

Now that I'm not on Facebook anymore, I've been noticing when I get the urge to share information. Thoughts that pop into my head, interesting things I find on the internet, blog posts I want to write are starting to pile up and I don't currently have a lot of time to pump those out. So I'll start small. Better to start small than not start at all.

Sidenote: When I first started videoblogging, there were several great clients for subscribing to people's vlogs and I used to start/end my day catching up on a select roster of people's posts. I wonder if I will go back to a model like that eventually or if I will come up with entirely new ways to get daily content. Currently I get links and interesting tidbits of information (like Dio's death) from Twitter and IRC conversations with co-workers.

Back to the first to-do list. I'm sure there will be many but this is the stuff I think I need to start with:

1) Re-do my website in order to host all my blogs in one place and get off of the .blogspot namespace. This will also have the added benefit of cleaning up my web portfolio and having a better showcase of what I've learned and done with Wordpress in the past year or so. I originally set this up in my last semester of school as a requirement for a class because we needed an online presence. Funnily enough I now help lots of people have online content and yet completely ignore my own.
2) Set up a feed reader - either Google reader or some similar option - and subscribe to my favourite blogs and online magazine content
3) Move away from Go Daddy hosting - I need to get my own server up and running and learn how to manage it instead of using the McDonald's of web hosting.
4) Keep a list of blog post topics that I want to cover and make a habit of writing at least one of those posts per week.
5) Vlog more, vlog often.
6) Build a dog house. I'm putting this here because I've read that you never do the last thing on your to-do lists, and I'm okay if this one doesn't happen.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Leaving Facebook

My friend mhoye covered everything I would say about why I'm choosing to leave Facebook (and then some, he gathers all the privacy stuff well!).

I'm really hoping that by leaving Facebook I will be reclaiming some time and creative energy to revitalize this blog, make more vlog posts, re-do my website so that it's up to date, and generally enjoy intentional communication over the deluge of lazy input that Facebook provides in spades.

There was a time when it seemed that in order to learn what was going on around town you had to have a Facebook account but now that feature has been drowned out by so much publicity that I don't even look to the events anymore. I expect my friends to tell me when there's something awesome going on. I will look to the local papers if I'm desperately seeking an interesting night out.

Living without Facebook will be hard at first because I'll probably fear that I'm missing something. I will most miss the casual posting of media that my friends are so good at doing - the links, photos, videos. I'll be encouraging people to blog, to email me, to post on flickr or other content sharing sites. I'm also going to trust that when I see the people I love in person they will whip out the baby/trip/food photos.

I'm doing this in a conscious effort to become a creator again. I've been sitting back and consuming too much.

Having been a part of Facebook since the "early days" when you had to have a university email address to join, I've enjoyed watching it grow. At one point, I applauded Facebook for being a great teaching tool on privacy because I believed that it was teaching average internet users more about granularity and control over access. Now they have gone too far. I was originally planning to stick around to bear witness to whatever the next violation of privacy would be, the one after that, and the one after that. Instead I'm going to lead by example. I will have a full and media-rich life on the internet without Facebook, and I will happily discuss the awesomeness of this with anyone. I will actively encourage people to try it out for themselves, just as I love to encourage people to quit smoking, eat more salad, and learn to run.

See you 'round here more often. Don't be a stranger.

Monday, February 22, 2010

I am Hammy Hamster...

Ran on a treadmill tonight for the 4th time in 5 days. I miss running outside where the air is fresh. Living in a hotel for 9 days in a city I don't know is not the best idea and I have learned my lesson. However, the conference I'm at has been amazing and I'm meeting lots of great people. In the down times I have been thinking a lot and here is one of my observations from today:

I'm a "middler". I need to make my peace with that. I am not exceptional at any one thing, I am not going to be the one who invents some fabulous programming language or does something else super tech-fabulous that geeks will fawn over and I am okay with that. I have to remember that I am ok with that because sometimes when I get around a group of people who care about those things I start to care too - but really I don't. So back to being a "middler". I find myself often in the middle of things. In fact, I put myself in the middle of things on purpose. I'm in the middle of my gender spectrum (being butch -> ftm and I'm not saying that's every butch's or ftm's spectrum, it's just mine). I'm in the middle of art and technology, big corporations and grassroots non-profits, open source and queer communities, feminism and free software activism. I can find lots and lots of middles to be in. I must like being in the middle. So every once in a while when I feel worried that I am "not good enough". I have to remember I am good at this. Being in the middle. On purpose.

Friday, February 12, 2010

FOSDEM 2010 - Women in Open Source and Free Software

A quick 'n dirty vlog featuring some of the women attending this year's FOSDEM conference.