I have a ghost story to tell.

It’s a small one, but it’s mine. (Clearly under my copyright, 2012.)

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Music you don’t approve of.

I was reading the Montréal Gazette the other day, when I came across an article about the Sûreté du Québec investigating a Montréal police shooting. Now, the police claimed the man was suicidal, and attacked them with a weapon. As for those details, we’ll read more about them when the SQ are done with their investigation.

That is not the point of this post.

This post is about a fascinating paragraph from the article: Continue reading

Of quality and image

Or, Why the HELL did I look at the Burberry website?

See, I’m a guy with an understanding of how raw materials become fabrics become garments. Anyone who pays a little attention can know how things work, and for someone who uses yarn a lot, this knowledge becomes integral lore. If I needed to, I could construct a drop spindle and spin and ply my own yarn; probably, most knitters, crocheters, and weavers could.

This is where today’s little diatribe starts: at the cost of producing a fabric product. For something hand-made, these costs can skyrocket if the effort is exceeding a certain level; there’s no real way to produce things like socks in an economical amount of time, unless you’re selling them for hundreds of dollars a pair; say, 8$/hour with 10$ for materials; most pairs of socks take at least 30 hours to complete, if you’re lucky. Suddenly that’s 250$/pair; (friends of mine, take note: that’s why I don’t sell socks. You can’t afford them, and if I give them to you as a gift, I damn well expect them to be worn.)

What is shocking, though, is going to the Burberry website and seeing a scarf cost 400$ or more; that’s just absurd. That’s fucking absurd, for a machined product. Especially one which uses yarn that I can acquire from an online retailer who is marking up that yarn, having acquired mill ends of it, for about 20-30$ a cone; each cone, if I purchased the four colours necessary to weave one of those scarves, would cover the production of probably four or five scarves, all for around a hundred dollars. Somehow, you expect me to believe that your machine-produced scarves are worth 400$? Bullshit.

On the other hand, I’ll sell people scarves for 350$, with better workmanship than the Burberry product. You can take orders in the comments.

QM isn’t deliberately trying to piss me off.

At least, I hope they’re not. But they are anyways.

I get it. We’re queer, so we need to support other minorities. At some point, though, you’re just ignoring the politics and actual circumstances of certain « oppressed minorities » in order to support them. There’s a strong a recent case of QM’s selective blindness which I’ll deal with here.

QM decided recently that they should support a group that is protesting the efforts by « Pink Money » to clean up the Village, to the detriment of the homeless living there. They pay some lip service to the fact that members of the transient community are drug addicts, and yes, they’re queer. However, the group goes off the deep end when they suggest that really, public sanitation isn’t so big a deal that urinating in an alley is a big problem, so why is it a misdemeanour? This was about the moment when I put palm to forehead and wondered why QM thought this was deserving of support, given the fact that this particular group seems to be focused mostly on continuing to support urban decay. That was when I realised what was seriously underlying the discussion here, a core misunderstanding of why things were happening the way they were. QM — and the group they were supporting — were ignoring the underlying malaise to suggest that no treatment was necessary in the first place, because these people are here. Incidentally, and entirely separately of this e-mail from QM, I’ve come to develop a new personal theory about endemic homelessness in Montréal, and notably the strange characteristics of the community here.

One of the defining aspects of a large section of the homeless community is that they’re tattooed, professionally pierced, and have post-punk haircuts, often with heavily dyed hair. To me, although the first two could easily have been acquired before becoming homeless, that last signifies a vast separation between interests and situation, what I’m coming to deem the Horse and Water problem. The adage goes, « You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. » I see this as an accurate depiction of the problem in Montréal, that there are support services available — most likely not quite sufficient, as they always are — but the people for whom they are provided do not care to use them, because their current situation fulfils their needs. Unfortunately, their current situation involves urban decay as a core feature; QM seems to ignore this reality and instead deem the homeless an oppressed minority with whom they must show solidarity. They really didn’t learn after the Queeriot debacle?

Getting back to knitting …

And blogging, apparently. Hey blog! I owe you more material, and a candy. I’ll get around to that when I can get a candy thermometer.

On-topic, then. Knitting is one of the things I love to do, but often ignore for long periods of time. Like playing music. Once I have (more) time, I’ll return to playing the violin. Honest.

Now, really on-topic. Every year, it seems, I return to knitting just as exams and assignments start piling one atop each other; whenever I’m studying and just reading, I start knitting to avoid boredom and stress. Plus, it produces materials that I can give other people. Really, the only problem I see is in acquiring the proper materials here. In Canada, I see a fascinating conundrum of fashionable, modern stores — and low consumerism. Online shopping? Yeah, that doesn’t happen. Stores regularly have no internet presence here, or the least possible presence, which makes acquiring yarn quite difficult, since there’s only a few yarn shops around here.

As for what I’m working on, well, I’m finishing up some socks, and I’m about to work on another pair of socks based on a similar pattern; other things, well … those are secret.

Exploring the economic impact of car-minimal living

Moving away from autos as our main source of transportation would result in vast changes in both physical and socioeconomic landscapes; before we explored the actual physical ramifications of car-minimal city planning, so now it’s only fair to examine the socioeconomic changes that would result. We’ll look at this in two parts, starting with the economic changes, as that will lead smoothly into the social transformation that comes from this fundamental change. Continue reading

Going solo

Not having a studio to fall back on can make studying an instrument difficult; initially, you don’t have an instructor to give you feedback on your development, but there’s also the lack of a sense of completion: in a studio, every four months or so, the instructor holds a studio recital, in which all of his/her students perform the piece they’ve been studying since the last recital. This provides all the students with an ability to say, Okay, I’ve finished that. I can set it aside and move on to the next one. Continue reading