Recently in Marginalia Category

A Farewell


There's a species of cat owner that is convinced that their own personal feline is pretty much the best on the planet. For the past eight years I've been that kind of cat owner, as I shared my life with Mrrt, who joined us as Felicia from my sister, but quickly found a new onomatopoeic name thanks to her regular chatter. She's been a constant and welcome presence in my life as the us became just me, and it got to be impossible to imagine my apartment without her in it. Sadly, I'm going to have to start doing just that, as she died on Wednesday after a long decline from kidney problems. I am constitutionally allergic to being maudlin in public, but for her I'll make an exception: thanks for being part of my life. I'll miss you and always remember you fondly, and you really were the best cat on the planet.

PS: A big thanks to West King Edward Animal Clinic, who were always friendly and helped me keep her healthy for a long time.

Let's do this more often


For a long time I've been telling people "I dunno, maybe someday" when they ask if I'll ever start posting regularly here again. And there's all kinds of things I was telling myself I'd like to do to the site to make writing on it more appealing, like maybe erasing all the archives and just starting fresh with a completely rethought design that really focused on the content and would allow me to easily highlight my photos, and a bunch of other things.

Today I realized that that's all just a way of making a problem interesting enough, and hard enough, that I never actually get beyond the half-baked design stage. Yes, I could spend hours figuring out a cool new publishing system that works just with plain text files and publish with rake (no really, there are two), or I could just start posting again, and see what happens. It's easy to do nothing and blame perfectionism, but I'm going to try, as Rilke put it in a wonderful phrase I read today in Lewis Hyde's The Gift, 'a continuous squandering of all perishable values'.

So today I upgraded Movable Type, reset all the templates to defaults (sorry to feed readers for the spam today, last time I promise) and now let's go. The only thing I can promise you is that you will never see 'Share This!' buttons littered under every entry.

Stuff to look forward to

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Eastern & Western Laziness

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Quote spotted at, by Sogyal Rinpoche:

There are different species of laziness: Eastern and Western. The Eastern style is like the one practised in India. It consists of hanging out all day in the sun, doing nothing, avoiding any kind of work or useful activity, drinking cups of tea, listening to Hindi film music blaring on the radio, and gossiping with friends. Western laziness is quite different. It consists of cramming our lives with compulsive activity, so there is no time at all to confront the real issues. This form of laziness lies in our failure to choose worthwhile applications for our energy.

A bit of googling reveals this is from The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.

Off to Kindergarten

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Today marks the fifth birthday of marginalia. While hardly an early adopter, I have an email from a Vancouver weblogger dated April 2000 noting that with my weblog Vancouver was up to four (which was probably an undercount, but not by much). Things have taken off a little bit since then.

My first post was about Apocalyptica, a band of 4 (now 3) crazy Finnish cellists that play heavy metal covers (and have since branched out to their own heavy metal originals!). That they have not become world famous remains a mystery to me. To celebrate the day, I'm going to burn through some bandwidth by offering up one of their songs: Sad But True, by Apocalyptica (broken link fixed, sorry about that). Turn it up, dude, and enjoy.

Thanks for reading, and keep coming back.

Words I'm trying to avoid using


In an effort to improve the clarity of my written and spoken communication, I'm noting words that I use too much. A partial list:

  • Basically: empty word I use way too often, especially when defining or explaining something. E.g.: "This extension basically makes it easier to extend mozilla." Basically adds nothing to this sentence except 9 letters.
  • Interesting: my go to word for expressing enthusiasm about something. I think it's lazy, as I rarely explain what I find interesting. Getting at the reason for my interest would be way more, well, interesting than just a statement. (Also file this under: criticial thinking skills, need for improvement of.)
  • Kind of, probably, likely, mostly, sort of: Weasel qualifiers used so I can avoid definitive statements. I do this a lot and I've decided that pre-couching statements with plausible deniability is getting in the way of communicating clearly.
  • Very, really: reverse of previous point. Started noticing the use of these after reading Mark Twain quote: "Substitute 'damn' every time youčre inclined to write 'very'; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be."
  • Dude: (spoken communication only). Typically employed in a jokey, ironic fashion but it's become a crutch, and I'm sure it makes me look like a doofus at times.

It's hard to act as editor as I'm writing but it'll be worth it if I can internalize good habits. (I had to remove kind of from the previous sentence.)

You get to sit with me AND have haggis

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Get them while they're medium warm: 5 spots left at Bloggers Table at GungHaggisFatChoy.

Die comment spammers die!

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After clearing out a 100 comment spam attack on Sunday, Google's nofollow announcement is welcome news. (via.)


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That's right, ice golf:

Armed guards keep the polar bears at bay while the golfing takes place, and specialist equipment is highly recommended. Tinted goggles are needed to prevent snow blindness, and colored golf balls are advisable if you want to have a chance of making a second shot. Clubs should have shafts of steel, since graphite shatters when exposed to extreme cold and force.


Beautiful Losers

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So there's this relatively silly "Greatest Canadians" thing going on. I've been mostly ignoring it, but now that I find that Leonard Cohen and Roberston Davies didn't even make the top 100, I think I'll be boycotting it.

Update: Hmm, the show has Cohen as 46, I guess the website list is different from the show list?

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Marginalia category.

Language is the previous category.

Movies is the next category.

This is, a weblog by Bill Stilwell. I take the occasional photo.


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