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.