Wednesday, December 22, 2004

German follies.

I'll be sure to post photos of the week in Frankfurt-und-environs as soon as Matt and Eric-the-German get back from their Baltic and Scandinavian adventures. (Stupid me for forgetting my digicam in K-town.) Highlights:
  • a crazy-ass trip to Bern for a hockey game
  • apfelwein and gluhwein in outdoor kiosks
  • musings on how a disposable-cup society destroys our sense of community
  • not being able to remember the German word for "four"
  • cash machines aplenty in "Bankfurt"
  • smoking, smoking, smoking (all second-hand)
  • teaching a Grade 9 Science class a lesson on linear equations, leading into springs*
  • doing a buck-eighty on the Autobahn
  • buying boots for Matt in Koln
  • sitting in on a Russian class
  • never, never, never sleeping in
* Hey, I'm an education junkie. I do things like this on vacation, alright? Sheesh.

More later. I hate this stupid dial-up connection, but meh, it's all I got at the folks'. Perhaps New Year's will be spent in New York City with an old buddy from Waterloo-daze, we'll see.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Splat.

That's the sound the Thing makes when I drop it.

What's the Thing, J? Is it, like, a cat? Or a balloon full of semi-set Jell-O? Whatever could make such a sound?

No, my friends... it's the sound the longest thing I've ever written, my literature review for EDUC 820, makes as it contacts the fake-wood surface of my desk. With that muted sound comes the end of my first "real" term of grad school (the summer really doesn't count, as far as I'm concerned).

Seeing as how the lit-review was on metacognition, it's a natural fit that I reflect on my experiences since September (or July, if you count the summer, and we already talked about this). Here's what comes to mind.
  • ridiculous laughs at long PressNites
  • interesting times commuting to Toronto for romantic reasons
  • the announcement of my impending uncle-dom
  • a sharp increase in alcohol intake
  • the generalized lack of getting up early
  • visits to the old high school at which I taught (including tomorrow, when I'm stopping by for lunch)
  • the making of a ton of new friends
  • the repair of a couple of old friendships
  • the return of crazy schedule-making from UW days gone by
  • my nifty new UW Science Alumni pen and coffee mug
  • the protest in Ottawa
and... oh yeah...
  • stufuckingpendously fucking fantastic fucking classes.
Bought Let's Go Germany tonight at Indigo. I'll post photos as soon as I can.

Let's roll.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Ann Coulter is a crazy bitch, part 2.

Check this caca out.

Oh, and she can take Tucker Carlson with her on that long walk off that short pier. (I never could figure out how to tie a bow-tie... then again, they're only worn by right-wing dufuses and Orville Redenbacher's spawn.)

My first reaction was seething hatred of all things south of the border, natch. But the more I thought about it, the more I realize that would be a caricaturization of Americans on par with Carlson's of our fair country's inhabitants. I've lived close to the States pretty much all my life; Americans are generally kind, they mean well, and they really do make a fine baseball team. It's just their government that's messed-up, that's all.

And the aforementioned Ms. Coulter, of course. Hell, she's not even hot. You'd have thought, being on Fox, they'd have her all face-lifted-up on a reality TV show or something by now.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The Public Cost of Privatization.

An excellent article by Susan Jhirad can be found here.

Last night on Studio 2 (it seems like TVO and the Comedy Network are about all I watch these days, when the Electronic Cyclops even gets turned on), there was a story about a private piece of land on the Lake Erie shore, between Fort Erie and Port Colborne. It hadn't been developed much by its previous owner, a Dr. Marcy from Buffalo (he built a little cabin decades ago but it has since fallen into disrepair), and as a result it contains the very last remnants of old-growth black maple forest in the world. What makes it doubly unique is that this forest goes right down to the sand dunes on the shoreline; most other properties clear that growth away to put rocks down, as to protect their mansions from possible erosion by wind and water.

The controversy these days is that the new owner of the land wants to build a cottage on the lot, thereby wreaking havoc with the forest, which also contains dozens of plant and animal species which used to be widespread in southern Ontario but have since lost their habitat. The province has tried to talk to the owner, but his attitude is essentially, "I own the land, and if you don't stop messing with me, I'll sue."

This brought to mind an interview in The Corporation in which a spokesman from the Fraser Institute gushed about how the world would be a utopia if every square inch of the planet was owned by someone. Oceans, deserts, even Hamilton -- someone was its "owner." I believe his head then spun right round, baby, right round, like a record, baby. (I think I have The Corporation on tape somewhere, if you'd like to borrow it.)

What the Fraser fellow neglected to mention, or perhaps chose not to bring up, was the idea of a "common wealth." We as residents of a city, county, province or country all breathe the air, drink the water, and simply exist, which ties us together. We contribute to the local economy by spending our wages at the corner coffeeshop, thereby directly fiscally supporting our neighbours (assuming said coffeeshop isn't $tarbucks.) Our knowledge and talents are worth uncountable sums of money... yet the yahoos at the Fraser Institute and other "free enterprise think-tanks" seem hell-bent on trying.

Thus, as participants in this shared wealth, we have an obligation to keep things that are for the good of everyone available for anyone to use. If seen in purely economic terms, a "use" could be to generate income for personal gain; if seen in a more holistic way, a "use" would be for society to preserve its heritage or to raise the standard of living for its people.

This brings us back to the forest near Fort Erie, and the tug-of-war between private ownership and public good. Yes, the land's new owner is free to do what he wishes with it, including burning the entire forest to the ground and paving the whole thing with cobblestones. However, this person must also realize that he has an obligation to soceity that, as the "owner" of something precious to the natural history of the province, he holds within the deed something which southern Ontario may never see again.

Making some progress.

Paper #1: Done like dinner.
Paper #2: In the can like a sardine.
Paper #3: Researching like a mofo.

Now, all I have to do is read and massage scads of stuff on metacognition into 15-20 pages, learn Flash, and create a portfolio website for one of my profs. By Friday.

Oh, and I'm 88% sure I'm heading to Cuba with what increasingly appears to be the GW crew.

Things is happenin'.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Three damn paragraphs.

Three of 'em.

The sum total of what I've done today, workwise.

But I must say, they were probably the three toughest paragraphs of the paper.

But still.

Three.

Oh, I'm in deep shit.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Final papers.

My three courses this term all have substantial final papers due within the same week. Yeah, I know... only three. But they say it's a full course load, and I'd have to agree with them. "Who's 'they'," you ask? No one knows.

But I digress.

One is "in the can," so to speak. Another is, in principle, all sketched out and ready to be massaged into 8-10 pages of pure qualitative goodness. The third... yoiks. Lit review. I can already tell it's going to soak up all my time next week like a sponge. And because I leave K-town on the 10th to (eventually) fly to Germania on the 12th, I'm up against a hard-ass deadline.

But, with enough careful planning and organization (and enough trips to Tim Hortons to get all caffeine'd-up), I think it's eminently doable. I'm just glad I don't have any exams. How barbaric.



I'd buy the full-length album by The Go! Team, but with the exchange and the shipping, $28.97 is a lot to pay for 35 minutes of music.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Candles for peace.


At the candlelight vigil on Parliament Hill, during the anti-Bush protest on November 30. Posted by Hello



Headline: Bush Against Meddling in Ukraine Election

Oh, so suddenly he's not a meddler. Hmm.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

A dialogue.

A: First, recommend to me:
1. a movie.
2. a book.
3. a musical artist, song, or album.
4. an artist (contemporary, manga, us comic, historical, whatever).

B: I want everyone who reads this to ask me three questions, no more, no less. Ask me anything you want.

C: Then I want you to go to your journal, copy and paste this allowing your friends to ask you anything.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Letters.

Just got a nice card with a letter enclosed from my grandma.

Which got me thinking... paper letters are cool. We don't send enough of them these days; it's all about the e-mail and the MSN and the homing pigeons and the singing telegrams.

So, here's the deal:

Anyone who wants a letter, anyone at all... email me (the first three characters of this blog's URL, at qlink.queensu.ca) your address and within a few days you'll have a piece of paper in your mailbox, ensconsced within an envelope, with your name on it (and not with an "Or Occupant" tacked onto the end). And who knows, maybe you'll be nice enough to return the favour.

"Penpals for the 21st Century." Ooooooh, I likes it. This idea's got legs it can stand on.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Wise words.

Looking back all the time at what happened -- riding the brake and not putting your foot on the accelerator -- gets you literally, nowhere.

This gives me an idea.



Nuts to you, Richard and Tavis. I think my article was funny... so for all y'all, check this out.

Going to Ottawa.

So, it's settled:
  • going to Ottawa on the protestbus
  • staying in O-town overnight with a friend
  • coming back to Kingston on Wednesday
It's been a couple of years since I've been at a protest march... ah, I almost pine for the days of Mike Harris.

***vigorously slaps some sense into himself***

But, no, I couldn't really think of a better way to spend my birthday than by throwing limp cooked spaghetti at George W. Bush, or perhaps at an effigy of said world leader, or perhaps just randomly throwing pasta at any kind of target, seeing as how I don't own a dartboard, because I live in a basement, and the ceiling is too short, and I don't really have enough space on the wall anyway because the wainscotting comes up almost four feet, and I'd want to mount the dartboard on cork to save the drywall just like we did at the place in London a few summers ago.

That was a fun time, London. "Oystnolo Links" in the back yard, with the possum.

Wait a second... where was I? Who are all you people looking into my brain?

Monday, November 22, 2004

Anti-Bush Buses.

Fifteen bucks to yell at Dubya on November 30? Sign me up.



Kingston Departures:
9:00 am, JDUC (University and Union)
9:15 am, Queen Street Blockbuster
(leaving Ottawa at 7:30 pm)

Price:
$15 for all people who can afford it. Homeless and working poor people can inquire as to a subsidized or free rate depending on their situation.

There are two ways to purchase your ticket:

1. Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) offices, 51 Bader Lane (formerly Queen's Crescent; the first office through the front doors, on the right). Phone 533-3189.
Tracey will be selling tickets there on:
Mon. 10:00 am - 4:30 pm
Tue. 10:00 am - 4:30 pm
Thu. 10:00 am - 4:30 pm

2. The Sleepless Goat, 91 Princess St., at the following times where there will be a ticket-table:
Wed. Nov. 24 from 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Fri. Nov. 26 from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and 6:00 - 9:00 pm
Sat. Nov. 27 from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and 6:00 - 9:00 pm
Sun. Nov. 28 from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm

Questions? bushnotwelcome@hotmail.com

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Road Trip to Ottawa.


Whee! With all this butt-kissin',
I'm gonna need a whole case of Chap-Stick!
Posted by Hello
(more funny captions here)

So... who wants to take a little drive to our fair Nation's Capital next Tuesday to greet the Moron?

Friday, November 19, 2004

Queen's Players.

For those not familiar with this phenomenon, it's an original play put on by a group of Queen's students, apparently twice a year.

I went last night to the show at Alfie's, and it was the stupidest, drunkest, funnest night of theatre I've experienced in quite some time. The narrative structure broke down a bit in the second act, but I doubt anyone in the place (including the cast or the band) really cared that much, as we were all pretty uniformly full of liquor by that point. For the first time, I used the "Hey, I write for Golden Words" line on a girl, and it actually ended up making for nice conversation. (I gotta play this card more often, methinks.)

Alas, nine hours after I returned home quite drunk from Queen's Players, I was sitting in a colloquium on West Campus where the student (a friend of a friend) was presenting her thesis proposal, about motivation in Grade 12 and Advanced Placement Biology classes. It's not often that a colloquium is on a topic in science, or at the secondary level... they always seem to be about ESL programs and elementary stuff. (Not that I have anything against those pursuits, it's just that they're not terribly applicable to my research area.) It was actually pretty interesting, and went alright for the poor, terrified M.Ed student (although one professor acted, somewhat uncharacteristically, I'd say, a bit like a bulldog in her questions).

I'm just glad I hit the water and Rolaids the night before.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Nick Drake is following me.

My Winamp, which is on "Shuffle," has played four straight ND songs.

I think it's a sign that I should buy an acoustic guitar.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Someone'd better hire this guy.

Best resume ever.

Secretary Rice.

I am really, really curious to see what Colin Powell does in the upcoming weeks or months. My money's on him writing a book like the very, very excellent Against All Enemies by Richard Clarke. (If anyone in K-Town wants to borrow my copy, let me know and I'll gladly loan it to you.) Or maybe he'll take a vacation, chill out, spark up a blunt or two, and decide to retire somewhere sunny. At least his son will still be busy ruining the FCC.

What's on my mind today is not the future direction of U.S. foreign policy (because we all know where that's been going, and where it's bound to be headed with Condi at the helm), or what initiatives Dr. Rice has in store for the world (e.g. giving all Republicans a 10% discount coupon redeemable at any Chevron station in the lower 48). What struck me today is this question:
Would I do Condoleezza Rice?

She just turned 50 on Sunday (happy belated birthday!), so let's turn the clock back a decade or three and reconsider...
  1. She is pretty foxy, in a sort of "Diana Ross meets Karl Rove" sort of way.
  2. Brains are a big turn-on; they ain't exactly giving away PhD's in international relations to Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel.
  3. I'm not normally a fan of short hair, but she pulls it off quite nicely.
  4. Poise out the yin-yang, with excellent posture.
  5. Apparently she's a concert-quality pianist.
  6. Extensive knowledge about the Cold War (makes for good storytelling 'round a crackling fire, with bourbons in hand).
So, there you have it. Condi, how's about you c'mon over Saturday night... I'll put on Ween's "Chocolate and Cheese" album, light some candles (made by 8-year old Indonesian kids, of course), and we'll play a serious game of Risk. (You can invade my territories anytime!)

...or at least send some Secret Service goons over to give me a good frisking. For a fellow as strong as Agent Mitchell is, his hands sure are gentle.

Monday, November 15, 2004

It's that time of year again.

Autumn is entering its "crisp" phase these days. The walk home from class tonight -- breath visible, stars punching through the city's artifical glow, nose getting a little bit nippy by the time I reached my door -- was serene and quiet and peaceful. Just me and my thoughts.

And the squeaking of my boots. Stupid boots.

Busy as a Japanese beaver.

Fortunately, my hell-week is over. Assignments and presentations aplenty, it tested my organizational skills like they haven't been since my last days of teaching. After all was said and done, I handed everything in on time, and managed to devote my Sunday to GW, as per normal.

Now comes the tricky part: keeping this industrious momentum flowing through the next three weeks or so. The "October Lull" bred the "October Sloth;" if I keep on top of things, though, we won't be going down that road again by the beginning of December.




In a relationship, trouble can begin when the two participants don't see the same situation the same way. If it isn't discussed openly and honestly, without personal attacks and put-downs, the situation can breed mistrust and resentment. Too often, people let their emotions do the talking, and that's very often a bad, bad thing to have happen... because emotions aren't logical beasts, not by a longshot.

This past weekend has taught me that, if approached like adults in a calm, rational way, even the trickiest of situations can be resolved with a minimum of permanent damage. While our own situation didn't exactly work out like we'd hoped it to, I think we handled it very, very well, and there were zero hard feelings.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Busy times.

This has probably been my busiest week since June. The B.Ed kiddies are back on campus, so I'm TAing a lot this week; I've been doing a couple of things for profs; I have a paper and a presentation due on the same day (i.e., tomorrow); and I have a field notes assignment due the next day in another class (but I asked for an extension to Monday, for the first time in my life)... hence why I'm up at such a stupid hour on a Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. Coffee certainly helped.

It doesn't hold a candle to teaching, though; that's like getting put through a wringer-washer five days a week. This is, comparatively, a big, delicious piece of carrot cake.



PS: I love semicolons.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Nice show.

The northern lights were out tonight, in all their ghostly glory. Also added to the mix, at such a late hour as this, was a slender crescent moon rising in the east.

'Twas a lovely sight. Did you catch a glimpse?




Courtesy of Kate:

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 33.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal...along with these instructions.

"It [learning] is a moral achievement when people develop the capacity to choose new ways of thinking."

Pratt, D. (1994). Curriculum Planning: A Handbook for Professionals. Orlando: Harcourt Brace, Inc.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Busy, these days.

This past Monday, my prof came to class a bit frazzled. One of her PhD students, whose dissertation was due in one week, merged together her thesis from separate files (one for each chapter) into a single monolith, and the formatting got supremely messed-up. We're talking random bolds, underlines, italics, margin changes... a royal cack-up. This wouldn't normally be a daunting task to untangle, except that it was (a.) due in seven days, (b.) the most important document of her life, and (c.) two hundred and seventy pages long. (Did you even know MS Word has a limit on how large a document can be? It's 32 MB, which is a lot of text... but put a bunch of high-res photos in there, and things can get a bit elephantine.)

So, my prof asked around the group to see if there was anyone who (a.) didn't work full-time, (b.) was "picky," and (c.) was willing to help. Seeing as how my courses are raining assignments on me these days, I said, "Sure, I'll give her a hand." I called the student that evening; she woke me up by returning my call Tuesday morning and asked if I could come in to chip away at it that very morning. I groggily agreed, and in no time flat I was cursing Bill Gates' name (as I am wont to do when I use Microsoft products).

The thing was a wreck. It was a behemoth, for sure, with lots of ad hoc fix-ups (e.g. manually typed in captions, instead of letting Word handle them), random formatting miscues, and of course nowhere near APA in terms of general structure. This wasn't her fault; I had a paper draft from which to work, and it didn't look too bad. It all happened when she put it together into the single file.

Aaaaaanyway... long story slightly-shorter, I put in 13 very productive hours showing that dissertation who was boss. She managed to get a three-day extension, and I didn't move from my chair today for seven straight hours. But, we beat the thing into submission, and aside from a few extra things she has to pencil-in, it's done.

This actually follows a trend we have going in our family. When people need some help, we help 'em out without really thinking about it. Pitching-in is what we do. (What's that about a good man being hard to find? Maybe you're just looking in the wrong place.)




Inothernews, Jeanketeers, I spent all day Friday in lovely Auburn, New York, at a mini-conference on assessment and evaluation in education. One of the presentations was horrible (to be fair, he was pinch-hitting for the real presenter... but damn, man, doesn't a PhD degree give you a few presentation skills?!?), one of them wasn't terribly applicable to education per se, and two of them were really quite good.

However, the focus of this annual excursion to upstate New York was, as always, food. Lunch was good, dinner was great, and we kept up the Queen's tradition of buying Ben and Jerry's ice cream at the Price Chopper at exit 45 in Watertown and making ourselves cones. (The yellow plastic scoop was joined this year by a penguin-shaped sibling.) We got a few strange looks, not only because we were having an ice cream party in amongst the shopping carts, but because we were tearing into ice cream at a couple degrees above freezing.

Grad school is fun.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Get 'em next time.

From the very excellent Get Your War On site:

---

CHIN UP.
We're smarter than those motherfuckers.
We can learn more quickly than those motherfuckers.
We can be more ruthless than those motherfuckers.
We can be some six-million-dollar motherfuckers ourselves.

Chin up.
We're more American than those motherfuckers.
We're more responsible than those motherfuckers.
We're more compassionate than those motherfuckers.
Hell, our atheists are more Christian than their Bible-thumpin' motherfuckers.

There's an election in two years.
There's nothing we can't do.

Chin up.
Because it's on, motherfuckers.
It is on.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Dear America.

Specifically, 51% of you.

ARE YOU
FUCKED-UP
IN THE
HEAD-AREA

OR SOMETHING?!?

Sincerely,

The World

Monday, November 01, 2004

Eve of destruction.

Not just a great '60s song by Barry McGuire... a possibly-apt description of this All Saints' Day.

As I remarked a few days ago, phone polling doesn't include cell phones, which (to me) puts a few more votes in the Democrat column. Nobody really knows how the whole bin Laden tape fiasco will end up "helping;" I'd wager to guess Americans have largely forgotten about it.

All I know is that I'll be watching the Daily Show tomorrow night, fo' sho'. You'd best be, too. (And if you don't get the Comedy Network, c'mon over and we'll have some tater-tots.)

Merit, my ass.

I shop at a grocery store these days called "Super C". I'd never heard of the chain before moving to K-town, but hey, as long as it ain't Loblaws or any Loblaws-owned store, that's good enough for me. (The Weston clan loves private schools.)

Anyway, their equivalent brand to Presdient's Choice is called "Merit Selection"; perhaps other stores carry this one, too. But, every time I see the name printed on the box-of-whatever, I have to chuckle to myself. The name implies that I chose the product based on its merits; i.e., that it tastes better or is more nutritious. But really, I just bought it because it was thirty cents cheaper than the name-brand.

Marketing is funny like that sometimes.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Generation gap.

"Moore's Law" suggests computing power doubles every eighteen months. So, when considering the entire culture surrounding this phenomenon, it's easy to understand how things can change very rapidly.

Here's a "for-instance". I'd wager to say that very few, if any, of my friends my own age (i.e., people that I went to Waterloo with, or other assorted Toronto acquaintances, mostly from UofT) have these blog things. Heck, I'm a recent convert to this whole notion of publicly airing a selection of your innermost thoughts on a regular basis.

So, you take a dash of Moore's Law... mix that with a few years of age-difference... and suddenly I go from someone mildly plugged into electronic-youth culture at UW (yet keeping the distance I needed to, in order to save my sanity) to someone who's completely alien to a concept such as this. Yet, the kids these days, this stuff is second nature to them.

This has a dual effect. Firstly, it makes me feel a bit, shall we say, "old" to hear about people talking about how, when they were in high school, they did this and that on Google searches (the first time I'd ever heard of "email" I was in Grade 12). Whatever, I can handle that.

But, the thing that strikes me most profoundly is this notion of a completely new set of paradigms, and an entirely novel lexicon, which surrounds the whole online culture. Some of the kids these days get "nostalgic" when recalling days spent on IRC and such; I recall learning how "prompt $p$g" in autoexec.bat made DOS do what I wanted it to do. Kids think nothing of hopping on MSN and talking to someone around the world, instantaneously; while I'm well-versed in MSN, I still have to marvel sometimes when I'm talking to someone in England or Germany on the thing, and it comes through instantly; sometimes I picture all these data packets flying underneath the ocean on cables (or far overhead on satellites) , zooming around at the speed of light, and still thinking it's pretty damn cool.

So, in conclusion... am I trying in vain to recapture my lost youth by going back to university and trying to "live the good life" again, albeit with a slightly different flavour? And, if so, is it necessarily a *bad* thing?

Friday, October 29, 2004

Missing numbers.

On the Daily Show a couple of nights ago, Rev. Jesse Jackson mentioned something very interesting regarding all the polling you're seeing in all the media outlets in this lead-up to this alleged "election" they may or may not be having south of our border.

The Rev noted the fact that polling companies, when they do phone polls, don't call cell phones. (I'm not sure why; maybe because those numbers aren't in the regular phone books, as far as I can tell. This is also reminiscent of the Literary Digest poll in the 1936 U.S. election; they called eight million people -- a gigantic sample size -- and predicted a Republican landslide. But, in the '30s, only rich people had phones, and rich people tend to vote Republican. The Gallup company did a much smaller random sample, predicting a FDR re-election, and they were right.) So, try to follow my logic here.

1. Pollsters aren't counting people whose primary phone is a cell phone.

2. I'd wager to say most people whose primary phone is a cell phone are likely younger.

3. Younger people, according to this week's Rolling Stone, overwhelmingly support Kerry (i.e., 4-to-1 or more).

4. Therefore... Kerry's actually ahead by a bit.

It may seem outwardly insignificant, but it could end up deciding the fate of the world. Kinda kooky, eh?

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Miss America is DEAD.

Well, not exactly... but ABC isn't televising it this year, and without at TV contract it's just a bunch of swimsuit-clad women in a warehouse somewhere being objectified by a studio audience (instead of being objectified by millions out in TV-land).

Rest in peace.

Three things happened tonight.

1. A total lunar eclipse.
2. The Red Sox won the World Series.
3. Elena's grandmother passed away.

While the first is a rarity, and the second is even more bizarre an occurrence, my thoughts tonight are with Elena. I'm not usually one to wax philosophical, so I'll let Jerry Garcia do the talking.

There is a road
no simple highway
between the dawn
and the dark of night.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

I don't even care for Eminem.

...but this is a kickass video.

Presentation follies.

Yesterday, my partner and I were responsible for presenting a topic -- higher-order thinking processes and long-term memory -- for three solid hours. Yes, that's daunting when everyone else in the room is smarter than you... in case you haven't checked, three solid hours (minus, of course, a tea-break in the middle) is a long time to be leading anything.

Because I'm paranoid about my awful memory, I decided it'd be a better idea to drive to class than to walk, because if I forgot something at home, I could just jet back and get it instead of running and panting and being all out of breath and such. Lo and behold, when I went to class early to check and see if the data projector made it to the classroom alright, the prof calmly said, "They never deliver to this place." Which meant I had to haul ass to the place where they keep them, hope there'd be someone around after 5 (quite a crapshoot), and cross my fingers.

They tend to lock all the doors at the Faculty at about 4:30 pm every day, which to me is ludicrous. Heck, most days I'm just getting started by then, but I do have a weird schedule. This meant all the doors leading to that room were locked up tight. Luckily for me, the librarians kick ass, and one of them called up and caught someone just as they were about to leave the equipment place. Disaster averted, very narrowly. (Seriously, if I couldn't have a data projector, I would've been Fucked, with a capital "F" for maximum fuckage.)

The presentation went alright. It wasn't as kick-ass as the previous week's, but I think we did the subjects justice. The major thing is we got it out of the way, which is a load off my mind.




This was on my "George W. Bushisms" calendar yesterday:

"But the true threats to stability and peace are these nations that are not very transparent, that hide behind the -- that don't let people in to take a look and see what they're up to."
- George W. Bush, Washington, DC; March 13, 2001

Patriot Act, anyone?

Sunday, October 24, 2004

More Homecoming madness.

The pancake kegger at Eve's on Saturday morning was boffo. I'd never seen a "keg stand" before, but now I can honestly say I have:


This was the first time I'd been to a party which has had its first keg emptied by 11:00 am. Obviously, good times were had.

I sobered up and did some good work that afternoon, and headed over to Aberdeen to take in some of the madness later that evening. It started out tame, but quickly escalated as the alcohol started taking effect. By the time a bunch of us jetted, people were funnelling from the second storey to the street, cheerleader alumni were reprising their routines in the middle of the intersection, and all that jazz.

So, a bunch of us headed off to find kindler, gentler forms of entertainment, and happened upon a DVD of Jimi Hendrix playing Monterey, which was bitchin'. Then Kevin played an impromptu accordion solo, to the delight of all in attendance:



It was right around there that I realized if I didn't go home soon, my head would explode from all the craziness.

Ah, the Ghetto... a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.




On a side-note, "Morale" by Treble Charger is one of the better songs ever done by a Canadian group. It was laid down, of course, before TC sold out and got all big and loud and poppy.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Homecoming craziness.

Just being in and around the Ghetto this chilly Friday night... man, did I go to the wrong school first.




Oh yeah, and in the unlikely event that someone is actually reading this, I've enabled the "anyone can post a comment" thing, thus enabling, well, pretty much anyone to place a comment on any old posting they like.

...except the Swiss. Damn their neutrality!

"Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral."
- Paolo Freire

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Partisanship.

I find it curious that Fox always manages to find time to show the singing of "God Bless America" during the seventh-inning stretch of games at Yankee Stadium. Let's see... it probably takes two minutes for the guy to get out there and get announced and all that, sing the song, and have the camera on the American flag out in centrefield for a few seconds after he's done singing. That has to represent several hundred thousand dollars of lost advertising revenue. Hmm... patriotism... baseball... New York... voteforbushorelsetheterroristswillwinandwewillalldie.

"But Fox News is fair and balanced."
- Ann Coulter

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

How to Dodge Life's Bullets, Lesson #844.

Today I conducted my first-ever structured interview, for a research methods course I'm taking this term. It went well, if a little short (supposed to be 40-45 minutes; we clocked in at an even half-hour), but the most eventful part came right at the very end. I asked my interviewee if there was anything she'd like to add, if we left anything out that she'd like to say. Just as she said, "No, I don't think so," the tape broke.

Where the flimsy brown tape is anchored into the white plastic reel, the recorder yanked hard enough to rip the tape right in two. I guess it didn't notice the extra stress that the end of a tape side signifies; more likely is a defective tape. (Note to self: write TDK a nasty letter and demand free stuff.)

So, with a bit of surgery courtesy of my precision screwdrivers, and the ever-so-versatile Scotch tape, I carefully popped open the case (no screws, just glue -- which means I'll have to tape it back together to hold it), attached the free tape end to the now-empty reel, and ever-so-gently married the halves of the case back together. I will forthwith transfer the tape's contents to a more sturdy cassette in my stereo, and chuck the original.

In summary, I played the game "Operation" with my EDUC 895 assignment, and won (so far).

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Ann Coulter is a crazy bitch.

I'd heard this woman's name bandied about in various places, mostly in close proximity to adjectives such as "nutcase" and "psychotic" and "battier than a belfry". I'd never seen or read anything by her other than a paragraph or two of one of her books in Chapters, so I really couldn't grasp the nuances of her being.

Tonight, after coming home from the bar and a quick stop at Pizza Pizza for vital after-booze nourishment, I did what any other red-blooded male usually does: turn on CBC Newsworld. Luckily, I happened upon a one-on-one interview by Neil MacDonald (this time wearing stylish glasses) with the aforementioned conservative writer.

Holy FUCKballs.

In thirty seconds, she can go from "studies have shown (insert crazed theory here)" to "I don't believe in studies." She would barely let MacDonald finish a question, and answered them as if there was no one else in the room, e.g., pointing out one of these wild inconsistencies. Her big schtick is "the media are full of liberals;" when presented with statistics on how that's clearly not true, her oh-so-well-founded response is, "That person isn't living in the real world." Apparently, her anecdotes through conservative-coloured lenses trumps objective, scientific study. "Fair and Balanced," indeed.

All the while, she looked as if she was coked-up to her well-manicured eyebrows. With a crazed look in her eye, and all the while tucking her streaked hair behind her left ear (but curiously not her right; make political hay if you will), she proved to me in 22 short minutes that yes, all the hype is true. Ann Coulter is a crazy bitch.

Seeing is believing.




On another note, a thought struck me this evening while my mind played "Everything Writes Itself" by Super Friendz, off their excellent 1996 album, "Slide Show". With the widespread implementation (here in Canada, at least) of peel-and-stick stamps, I hope the phrase "to lick a stamp" doesn't become purely anachronistic. However, I do enjoy not having to lick the stupid things, as they always tasted terrible. Quite the paradox.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Saturday.

My plan for today? Get up at a reasonable time, put on a large pot of coffee, and work on some research-assistant stuff for the afternoon.

What transpired? Awoke at 12:40, listened to the CBC, read about baseball, prepared gourmet scrambled eggs, read more of "Dude, Where's My Country?" and messed about on the 'net possibly chasing down a lead for something for GW.

Wasn't there a "Calvin and Hobbes" strip once about appreciating piece-meal days such as these? Perhaps I'll spend the next hour thumbing through my C&H books looking for it, getting sidetracked in the meantime with a book about SCTV or film history, and end up playing a little guitar.

Despite the lingering guilt about "not being productive," I like days like this.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Orthogonality in music.

A few people I know have suggested that I'm overly analytical when it comes to music. (Personally, I don't see why more people aren't more critical about the music to which they listen; most often it comes down to "I like the way it sounds" or "I don't know, I just like it." To me, that's not enough. I want to know why I think a given song is good, or why a particular artist has merit or talent.) My basic message is, Screw all you naysayers, I'll analyze music if I damn well want.

A thought struck me while walking home after class today. I was listening to some tunes from the very excellent post-punk band Mission of Burma -- specifically their song "Peking Spring" -- when it struck me about what I liked about this song, and indeed this artist. Not only does this song have the bass take on the main melodic lead (the guitar is largely rhythmic and merely sets a mood), the central melody harmonizes with the background guitar chiming. I don't know about scales and such -- are they off by a third, a fifth? I have no clue -- but I do know they're at odds with one another. (They also do this a lot in "Academy Fight Song," and the band Pavement did it frequently, too.)

But, how they carry on through the song, it's almost as if they're riding along with each other; not quite looking the other square in the eye, but complementing the other nicely and making the listener fill in the relationship between the two. Then I got to thinking, that's what The Vermicious Knid does in their songs as well, but mostly between the two main guitars (and not in a cheeseball late-'80s hair-metal power-chord way, but in their intertwining melodies); sometimes the bass jumps into the fray to make things truly crazy, sometimes it just lays the foundation and sets the key.

It's almost as if these instruments make their journey along through the song not mirroring each other, but being orthogonal to each other throughout the entire trip, if I may use a geometrical term. I think it fits.

And now, back to "Banana Phone" by Raffi. Good lord this song's addictive.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

It's a mad, mad, mad, mad world.

MARIETTA, Ga. -- Atlanta Braves shortstop Rafael Furcal turned himself in to the Cobb County Jail on Tuesday to serve a 21-day sentence on a probation violation.

. . .

A judge decided last week to allow Furcal to participate in the playoffs despite a probation violation on a drunken driving charge. Furcal's season ended Monday night when the Braves lost in Game 5 of their divisional series against the Houston Astros.

Furcal, 26, was arrested Sept. 10 in Atlanta on a charge of driving under the influence -- his second DUI arrest in four years. Because of that arrest, he violated his probation in Cobb County for a June 2000 arrest on similar charges.




Is this not insane? I can just imagine Furcal's lawyer at the trial. "Your honour, I realize my client endangered the lives of people around him recklessly, and he clearly doesn't learn from his mistakes. But seriously, do you want the Braves to lose to the Astros? I mean, come on!!!"

This is progress?!?


I am a lazy ass.

Three hour naps are a bit exorbitant, yes. Especially on a Tuesday afternoon. But, in my defense...

. . .

Alright, I got nothin'.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Thanksgiving at Denny's.

My folks are here in K-Town this weekend to see the sights and whatnot, and it's been fun having them around. I don't get to see them too often, owing to their distance away, and we always get along. (I'm finding that a lot of my peers have issues, of some flavour, with their parents. I don't get it... we're all adults, we get along, we don't squabble -- and this somehow makes me the oddball amongst twentysomethings?)

After an afternoon spent wandering around Wolfe Island (I think it looks like a hilly version of Lambton County, myself) we headed onto Denny's (mom's suggestion) out in BigBoxVille on Gardiners Road. I try to stay out of this part of town -- any town -- on principle. Every city has one, even picturesque Woodstock, and they really do a number at bleeding a downtown dry. But, here in Kingston, it's had the effect of bleeding a mall dry, in an odd ironic twist... the Kingston Centre is mostly empty, save for the Radio Shack and the drugstore. The times, they are a-changin'.

So, what's next after the big-box stores get old? I bet people are going to realize that, hey, going all the way out to Sticksville and the asphalt sea is a gigantic pain and, goshdarnit, why can't we just go to stores downtown instead? One can only hope.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

It's official.

I love the f-word.

Maybe it's because I watched another two episodes of Trailer Park Boys this afternoon (if there's a better procrastinator this side of the Mississip', I ain't-a-nevah met him yet), and the characters on the show, especially Ricky, use it liberally. Or maybe because I'm such a fan of words in general, and it's so versatile it just blows my mind. Or maybe I just have a penchant for cussin' (but I don't think I do).

At any rate... whenever you really want to externalize your vitriol, there's no better way than the good ol' f-bomb. Kudos, you fine four-letter word, you.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Library follies.

A book on one-week loan (i.e., "7-day reserve") from the library is returned one day late. Grade 3 math tells me that's one-seventh the period of the loan. How much money would be a reasonable amount to extract from me in fines?

I don't know, but twelve dollars seems a bit exorbitant. Why not put the thing on regular loan? There are easily a dozen copies of the book (Pratt) at the reserve desk at any given time, unlike the more important other book (Sowell), which I've never seen within fifty damn yards of that place.

Here's a tip: if you're going to foist three textbooks upon us, easily over $120 a pop -- but you understand that hey, we might not want to plunk down four C-bills for one course's books, and you're being a nice prof and putting them on reserve in the library for us -- HAVE A REASONABLE NUMBER OF COPIES AVAILABLE. THEY SHOULDN'T BE AS RARE AS A THREE-LEGGED GOD DAMN BALLERINA.

There. I'm done. Guess I'll have one fewer set of readings to do this week, eh?

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Thorns in my side.

Last four years: marking.
Currently: reading.

The thing they have in common is, once I get started, they're really not that bad. But just the thought of having to go through articles or textbook chapters makes me want to watch another ball game on TV. (Thank you, playoffs.)

Back in the saddle.

Alas, the fourth week of school is upon me, and only now am I really getting into the swing of things. Sad, ain't it?

I mentioned to a guy today before my Psych class that I felt guilty for getting up so late every day -- we're talking 10:30 to 11:00, man. His response?

Enjoy it while you can.

So I will.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Who needs two of 'em, anyway?

So, some cock apparently decided, sometime between Thursday night and now (Saturday afternoon), that snapping my car's passenger-side windshield wiper clean off at the base was a good idea. This happened, curiously enough, right in my driveway.

I didn't notice it until I was out in the gale-force wind gusts today, rain nearly horizontal. I fired up the beast and flipped on the wipers... it took me a few seconds (hey, I had some drinks last night, OK?) to notice that something was quite amiss. I grabbed my rainbow umbrella -- it looks like a souveir from a Pride parade from years gone by -- and traipsed out into the fray to survey the damage. Sure enough, I am now the proud owner of one winshield wiper and one stump. Wonder how much that's gonna cost to fix.

Then, off to main campus in the wind and rain to find The Reflective Practitioner by Donald Schoen which, for some silly reason, is in the Law library. The lack of any sort of logic to the stacks had me running in circles for a while, but I finally realized that, hey, the thing's on reserve and not in the main stacks anyway. My wet shoes squeaked quite nicely on the library's floor... 'cause hey, if you're going to be a visitor in a foreign library, you might as well make your presence known.