Sunday, May 16, 2010

Starlings, songs and a lovely Smithers-ite

I'm cleaning out my closet today. I'm such a packrat.

There are things in there that I haven't worn in like... eight years. And I've only lived in this apartment for five.

Gah! The dust! Allergies suck.

Ok, so onto something interesting.

Photo credit: Tam Stuart

European Starlings. So pretty. I've noticed them around every spring/summer and have always thought them to be neat birds. Shiny black, sprinkled with polka dots, a purplish sheen... lovely. I'm not a birder, or at least I never used to be, but I feel a creeping birding tendency coming on. I think it is a hobby that I may acquire soon. I guess I need a birding guide and binoculars. For some reason I associate this with elderly people, but really, that should make me feel quite at home (I am a 33 year old elderly person).

Last weekend though, I visited a local natural history museum, and I discovered that they are the zebra muscles of the bird world.  Apprently all the North American European Starlings are descendents of a group of 100 or so that were released in 1890 in Central Park by a poetic (but misguided) soul who wanted to bring every bird mentioned by Shakespeare to the New World (I read this both on wikipedia, and [minus the Shakespeare part] at the museum).

So... they are pretty but they are pests.

In unrelated news, have you heard of YouTube Disco? What a smart idea! It's a bit like global network of dreams (gnod) but instead of just suggesting new music for you to check out on your own time, it helpfully creates a playlist for you to listen to and discover. The way it works is that you put in a band/muscician  you like and then hit Disco! and voilà. It plays a mix of the band you chose and other stuff that is similar. Neato mosquito. 

And finally, guess what I'm up to lately? Reading! Nice, hun? I'm taking a summer class to inch ever closer to getting my library technician diploma and it happens to be a Libraries for Young Adults type class, and we have to read a book a week and review it. Eeep. I am a bookworm, it's true, but I am also a pretty slow reader. I may try to do some of this reading via audiobook. Anyway, even though it's daunting, it is also exciting! Usually when I'm taking classes I have to sneak fiction in on the sly, guiltily. Now I can lounge around reading great YA literature and still totally be doing homework. So awesome. 

The first book I read is Alice, I Think by Susan Juby

(Check out how cute her website is, speaking of birders:) 

It's a great book! Not only is it clever, quirky and quite funny, it's also Canadian. It's set in Smithers, BC and is a diary-style account of 15 year old Alice who is headed to high school after a lifetime of home schooling. She's wonderfully odd and antisocial and fun to read. Especially funny are the adults of her world, as seen by her. Her hipie parents and their tragic friends, her teachers, counselors, and her boss are all hilarious. Or rather, the way she talks about them is hilarious.

Ok, I'm headed back to the closet, and then I need to get oustide to enjoy all 22 degrees of this lovely afternoon.


  1. cool links! i used gnod to find gail anderson-dargatz via liz gilbert... g a-d had douglas coupland and john irving on her map, so i'm hopeful that i'll enjoy it

    now i want to read alice, i think! :D

  2. ok, if you have never done it on purpose (or by accident by me) press the accessibility symbol next to the word verification box (the little pic of the person in a wheelchair) and listen... creepy

  3. Hmmm.... I've read G A-D, but a long time ago. I remember liking her stuff but she's not much like the Liz Gilbert stuff I know. Maybe it's her fiction that's more similar... anyway, I hope you like G A-D! I've read The Cure for Death By Lightning and A Recipe For Bees... and I read them so long ago that they kind of blend together. You'll have to refresh my memory!

    If you are looking for more good Canadian fiction (aren't we always?) I also recommend The Girls by Lori Lansens (one of my faves!) and Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson (about BC!). I think I will eventually write some blog posts about some of my favourite books, especially ones that may not be super well-known.

    I'd like to read some more of Susan Juby's stuff too! Apparently the sequel to Alice, I Think is good but the third one is less great. She's got a memoir too, called Nice Recovery that looks good as well.

    So much to read! : )

  4. Ok, just checked the word verification thing... yeah creepy! I guess it's the audio equivalent, background noise with real numbers/letters embedded but still... sounds totally creepy!