Thursday, March 30, 2006

I have truly forgotten how much shit costs.

Even though I currently spend $600/month in rent for my claustrophobia-inducing basement apartment, I get electricity, water, cable, and a porny-fast internet connection included in that. So, all in all, it's really not that bad; the only person that bends me over the kitchen table (if I had room for one) every month is Ma Bell. Alas, my vacation from paying (most) utility bills is nearing an end.

If there's one thing I learned from being a seminomadic co-op student at UW, though, it's how to change addresses and deal with people hooking up utilities. So, I spent the early part of this evening talking with lovely representatives from various companies, trying to rig up a home phone, internet service, and some form of cable-delivered television entertainment service. If you're moving soon, click here to read the gory details.

Home Phone

I'm sick and tired of having to pay Bell the $55 "connection charge" for some schlep in an office tapping a few keys and turning on my phone line. It's extortion, plain and simple. Rogers has the right idea: it costs $0.00 to install any service, anywhere. I mean, why should I pay before I start using a service? It's not like a gold-plated phone is hand-delivered to me by a barely-clothed Halle Berry so I can begin making calls. (That would be worth $55, though. Are you listening, Bell Canada?)

(...of course they are. They're the phone company. But I digress.)

At any rate, both Bell and Rogers are about the same for monthly phone service with voicemail. The long-distance packages at Rogers are better, and they'll give me (a.) $45 worth of credits and (b.) a free cordless phone for signing up online. The only downside is that Rogers (a.) doesn't have calling cards, and (b.) can't give me my old Toronto phone number back, even though I'll be just around the corner from where I used to live. But I'm sure my nightly baths in crisp $50 bills from all the money I'll save will nicely balance that out.

Cost per month: approx. $33, not including long distance or phone-sex calls


Again, a battle between Rogers and Bell (i.e., their Sympatico service). A charming young man named Gavyn, a Rogers representative, cut me a deal (I can email him anytime) in which I get a cable modem for free for a year, saving a cool $3 a month.

Aside: Gavyn reminded me of Mark McKinney's "Darrill" character on Kids in the Hall. You know, that clueless waiter? Gavyn went on and on and on, oblivious to my increasingly-monosyllabic responses to his statements. Oh well. At least I'll milk him for a sweet sweet discount.

Moneywise, it's pretty much a wash between Sympatico and Rogers, although Sympatico has some sort of "Home Networking" package that they'll throw in for free. Whatever, I already have a wireless router that's been out of the box once, and that'll do me nicely.

Approx. cost per month: $45, not including all the goat-porn I'll buy online


This one's all Rogers, because I don't really feel like putting up (and probably can't put up) a satellite dish for Bell's ExpressVu service.

This one really steamed me, though. Rogers is all-digital now with its cable service; this sounds cool and awesome, except that every customer now has to have a digital cable box in their house. This costs $7 a month. For everyone. So, the statement "ooooh, we're all-digital now, aren't we awesome?" actually means "if you want cable, we're going to squeeze another imported-pint-of-beer-in-a-bar-a-month out of you, even though CBC Newsworld would look just the same using either digital or analog service, you lucky motherfucker."


I'm seriously considering going the rabbit-ears route on this one. A decent cable package is $50 a month... but really, if I just use rabbit-ears I can pull in TVO and the CBC, and possibly some American broadcast channels I'd never watch anyway. But, because I suckle at the teat of the Comedy Network, I'll probably end up caving and getting cable. I'm such a pussy.

Approx. cost per month: $50, not including all the pay-per-view porn I'll buy

In conclusion, total cost of phone + internet + cable = $128 per month (!!!)

...which is why having a disposable income again is going to rock.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

More crazy search keywords.

I haven't done this in a while, but this is the latest answer to the question, "When people find this blog using a search engine, what did they type in it to get here?" Over the past few days...
  • listen to cfrc radio kingston, ontario [deliciously wordy]
  • will ferrell robert goulet mpeg clip [ever hear of YouTube?]
  • sweatpants with words on the butt [gotta love the Asswords]
  • will ferrell goulet clips [a popular one, obviously]
  • elephantisis [the word's actual spelling is a little different]
  • jtl 3 poker [I really can't explain this one]
  • candacecameronbure [not sure why there aren't spaces]
  • patrick bastard [yeah, I'm sure I've called Mr. Roy that name before]
I'm not sure why this amuses me so much, but it does.

The tangled web of CBC journalist-anchors.

Here's just a part of the whole sordid tale:

Lloyd Robertson anchored The National from 1970 to 1976, when he left to join CTV (where he's been ever since), because at the time they had a policy banning anchors from writing their own material.

His replacement, Peter Kent — whose younger brother is Arthur Kent (look up the phrase "Scud Stud") — left the CBC after two years because of the same policy. PKent went off to NBC for a while (joining AKent), but eventually found his way back to anchor the Global national newscast before running off in 2001, and trying unsuccessfully to win the St. Paul's federal riding as a Conservative this past January. (I'm not sure what he's doing now.)

PKent's replacement, Knowlton Nash, is the grand old guy I remember doing The National when I was growing up. His understudy, Peter Mansbridge — once blessed with an enviable jet-black mane — was being wooed by CBS; Nash altruistically stepped aside in '88 to let "the new guy" have at the anchor desk, where he's been ever since.

Here's where things get interesting. (Moreso.)

Not long after Mansbridge assumed the anchorship, (a.) most of his hair fell out, and (b.) he married Wendy Mesley (who is far too hot to be 49; the short hair is a result of recent chemotherapy for breast cancer, FYI... I think she looks great with the close-cropped coif). Mesley later went on to do the weekend national newscast; she also created the always-interesting Undercurrents, which examined mass media and marketing.

The Mansbridge-Mesley marriage fell apart after three years, though, and in the late '90s he married former Street Legal star Cynthia Dale (whose sister Jennifer is a TV/film actress as well); they have a son, named Will. Mesley later went on to marry someone mysteriously unconnected in any way with Canadian television, and they had a daughter, whose name may or may not be Wendy Junior.

...which made me giggle tonight as I watched The National, with Peter in Jerusalem and Wendy in Toronto, doing a little back-and-forth-between-locales routine.

As you can tell, the revisions process on my thesis is going awesomely awesome.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

A tip for thesis-writers.

Let's say you're in the planning and writing stages of your thesis — this could take several months, top to bottom — and you don't have regular meetings with your supervising professor.

Or your professor takes a four-month trip to the other side of the world while you're in the midst of writing (this is arguably when you need your supervisor the most).

And then you send your supervisor a bit of your thesis, in order to get some comments on it; sort of a general "how am I doing?" kind of thing.

But it takes your supervisor a full month to comment on it.

And when you do get comments back, they're of the "yeah, I don't think we're going to be able to defend this in the time-frame you initially suggested" variety.

Which means you're going to have to pay tuition all. summer. long.

Even though you're flat fucking broke.

As soon as you start to realize, "Hey, maybe my supervisor is sorta just leaving me out to the wolves," it is time to sit down with your supervisor and have a serious god damn discussion about where your research is going.

It's not that I want my supervisor breathing down my neck as I type every word. But a little "hey, how's it going?" or "could you send me a sample of what you have so far?" or "what stage are you at?" could be really, really helpful.

If you want this, and you're not getting it, ask for it.

Learn from my mistake, people.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Holla if you jab hunks of plastic into your ocular cavities.

My vision is... meh.

I wear glasses whilst driving either (a.) at night, or (b.) in unfamiliar places; I also wear them now in movie theatres. I think my eyesight has become a bit worse since my last set of glasses in spring '04, especially in my left eye (which has always been better than my right). It's irritating, though, when I can't see stuff off in the distance, or when I'm wearing glasses and they slide down my nose.

To that end, I'm wondering if contacts might be a good fit for me. I've heard people say that they'll never go back to glasses after them, and that they really can change your life for the better. (I'll assume the person from whom the second sentiment came had much worse vision than mine.)

I'd like to hear peoples' perspectives, experiences and so on with contacts vs. glasses. What do you use? Disposables vs. more permanent ones? Is it an expensive endeavour? Let's hear what you have to say.

On Desire.

Desire is a funny thing.

It drives us to do things we otherwise normally wouldn't, and blinds us to the reality of the situation in which we actually find ourselves. But, on closer inspection, most of the time desire leads us down the path of despair, setting us up for a fall. Consider these four possible outcomes if we pursue something we desire:

1. You obtain the object of your desire, and it turns out to be exactly what you hoped it would be.
The best-case scenario; your strife has not been in vain.

2. You obtain the object of your desire, and it turns out not to be what you hoped it would be.
Disillusionment sets in, else you lie and tell yourself that you were initially wrong. Maybe you'll be able to fool yourself; maybe not. Good luck.

3. You do not obtain the object of your desire, and it would've been exactly what you hoped it would be.
There's not much you can do about it now, and you could never be sure if it would've turned out like you hoped it would.

4. You do not obtain the object of your desire, but it wasn't what you were hoping it would be anyway.
Desire blinds you very well to this consequence, which is sometimes unjustly labelled "sour grapes."

Outcome 1 is what movies are made of. Options 2, 3 and 4 are what life presents to you much more often than 1. Yet, people still dream about Option 1; the de facto gamble, of course, is that you're trying to overcome 3:1 odds (although they're probably much, much worse in reality).

Now, I'm not saying desire is necessarily a bad thing: it drives us as humans to get better and smarter. But there's a right and a wrong place for it these days, and it spends most of its time in some fairly disreputable locales.

I guess Buddha was right after all.

Friday, March 24, 2006

If I have to drive another inch of the 401, I'm going to shoot myself.

Two Toronto-and-back trips in six days. Can you say "I've memorized every exit between Sir John A and the DVP"? The first was to secure an apartment, which I did. The second was to take part in an all-day workshop dealie at my former-and-future school, doing things pertaining to our application to become an International Baccalaureate school. I charged the school for mileage for the latter. Which makes me awesome.

Earlier tonight on the Daily Show, Jon Stewart managed to get a hold of a list of items that US Vice President Dick Cheney requires, should he stay in a hotel somewhere as a part of his "Downtime." I played the Freeze-Frame Game and transcribed the things he can't do without, and I swear to Wilt Chamberlain these are all real.
  • Queen or King sized bed
    So he can cuddle with all of his cardiologists
  • Desk with chair
    Because you can't fuck over brown people with just a clipboard on your lap
  • Private bathroom
    His "bowl aim" is embarassingly terrible
  • All lights turned on
    You wouldn't want the boogeyman to surprise you, right? Oh, wait, Cheney IS the boogeyman
  • Temperature set at 68 degrees (20°C)
    He's made of gelatin and will melt at anything higher
  • All televisions turned to FOX News
    C'mon, too easy
  • Microwave
    Little known fact: Cheney's hooked on Pizza Pops
  • Coffee pot in the suite (BREW DECAF PRIOR TO ARRIVAL)
    The capital letters means if that's not decaf, you're as good as shot-in-the-face
  • Container for ice
    The spare hearts go bad otherwise
  • Bottled water, 4-6 bottles
    Fluoridated tapwater saps and impurifies our precious bodily fluids
  • Diet Caffeine-Free Sprite, 4 cans
    Hey, at least he's off the elf-blood
I'm surprised he didn't ask for a giant bowl of green M&M's for good measure. What a fussy old motherfucker!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Dubya: He knows Cleveland.

Dubya apparently knows more about Cleveland, Ohio than he might otherwise let on.

When the Q&A session after a speech at the City Club dragged on — and we all know how much he likes answering questions from unscreened crowds — he jokingly asked, "Anybody work here in this town?" You know, implying, "Hey, you all have jobs, so go back to them instead of, like, holding me accountable for my actions. What's with you people?"

Turns out that substantially fewer people work in Cleveland than when the Monkey-In-Chief took over:

Cleveland poverty rate in 2001: 24.3%
Cleveland poverty rate in 2003: 31.3% (latest year figures are available)

Cleveland unemployment rate in 2001: 4.5%
Cleveland unemployment rate in 2006: 5.8%

Or, maybe he meant that Clevelanders take a lot of six-week holidays to ranches in central Texas as shitstorms they caused in deserts 15,000 miles away rage on day after day. Yeah, that's probably it.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The end is in sight.

Despite my relative lack of work on my thesis for the past two days, I've pretty much conceptually planned out the rest of it. I composed the conclusions while lying in bed the other night... I don't want to spoil the ending, should you pick up a copy in the Education Library someday, but let's just say the charming Mr. Witherspoon, who you think is so whimsical throughout the entire thing, has a deep, dark secret that's only revealed at the climax of the story. You'll be surprised, I can assure you.

To that end, I zipped down to Toronto yesterday and signed a lease for a new apartment. It's gonna be spacious — I'll have an extra bedroom which will function as an office, if you can believe it. "To the winner go the spoils of victory," goes the saying, and I guess surviving a few years of teaching and a graduate degree in education is something of an accomplishment.

In amongst all this talk of endings, a possible new beginning is on the horizon for Bob Rae: leader of the federal Liberal party. I agree with Bob on a lot of stuff (but not his recommendation that universities should be allowed to set whatever tuition they like); if he was the head of the Libs, I might actually consider going Red in the next election. If he assumed the Liberal leadership, I think you'd see a reversal of the rightward slide we've seen in recent years, with Paul Martin being in control of the purse-strings and eventually the whole thing. And that can only be good for us.

Plus, he plays a pretty mean piano.

Aside: I heard something completely asinine on the news yesterday... a snippet from George W. Bush's weekly radio address. He said, "The security of our country is directly linked to the liberty of the Iraqi people."

Excuse me?

He's trying to imply that if Iraqi's aren't full of "liberty," the US will not be secure. Well, friend, chew on this: under Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi people didn't have too much "liberty," but the US seemed pretty "secure" (at least from threats from Iraq). But now that they're all "liberated" and shit, the US is, by all accounts, much less "secure" than it was before; this "liberation" thing seems to have riled-up international terrorists pretty well (e.g. Barcelona, London, Bali). Ergo, his argument is diametrically-opposed to evidence. Whoops!

Aside #2: I have no freaking clue how I managed to post what I wrote below, short as it was. Soon after typing that, I zonked out on my bed and didn't move for over five hours. Thank you, Saint Patrick, and the glorious libations consumed in your name.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Saint Patrick, you glorious bastard.

I'm drunk right now, so I'll keep this short and sweet.

Get yourselves a beer today, people. Before it's too late.

That is all.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Barry Bonds, Apartments, and Oga Nwobosi.

Yeah, it's been a little baseball-heavy here at the Brain-spillings lately, but it's Spring Training, so fuck you. I'll write about baseball every god damn day if I want to. It's my blog, so shut the hell up.

Barry Bonds has been in the news lately, as an excerpt from a damning new book appeared in this past week's Sports Illustrated. I read it, and... well, if there was any doubt in your mind before, prepare to have it sandblasted out of your head.

But, here's an interesting little morsel on which to chew:

Mr. Bonds was "injured" for a good deal of last year, with assorted "knee ailments." But, instead of hanging out with the Giants here and there during his convalescence, which players are known to do often, he was completely out of the picture until his brief 14-game stint last year when he was "healthy" enough to play. Didn't talk to anyone, didn't see anyone, kept his "fans" "informed" through his "website" — which, sadly enough, is sometimes how the San Francisco Giants Baseball Club, his employer, even knew how he was doing.


My theory is that Bonds was staying out of the limelight so he could avoid being tested for steroids. Some of those drugs take months to get out of your system, and I think his "injury" was just a ruse to buy him time as they gradually worked their way out. Nowadays, his urine is probably so clean that... um... well, it's free from steroids.

In other news, I'm very likely going to sign a lease for an apartment in Toronto, starting May 1. I'll be living in the ol' Bayview-Davisville neighbourhood again, which is great, as I'll again be within walking-distance from the best damn bagels mankind has ever tasted. Of course, with all those carbs from all those bagels, I'll quickly gain weight and be housebound like that 1100-pound guy was once, you know, the guy where they had to take the wall out, take it out so he could get out of his house and get more bagels.

Yet another person has found this here website by doing a web search for Oga Nwobosi, the Vancouver reporter for The Weather Network. In fact, if you put her name into Google, guess what page comes up eighth? This one, motherfuckers. So, Oga, if you're reading this — and I know that you are — remember that with your Nigerian (via Guyana) chocolate goodness and my Irish-Scottish-English (via rural southwestern Ontario) transluscent-vanilla paleness, you and I can make some gorgeous, caramel-coloured, Weather Network-watching babies.

Well, either caramel, or a crazy chocolate-vanilla swirl like you can get in ice cream cones. Either way, our babies will be delicious!

The Fetching Ms. Nwobosi

Monday, March 13, 2006

A song obsession, literature reviews, and crepes.

The Foundations were a Motown-ish group in the '60s, whose most famous song is "Build Me Up Buttercup," which you may remember from the very excellent There's Something About Mary. Giant bass, very complementary horns, and a vocal performance which attempts to channel Wilson Pickett. I've had it in my head all day, and just now was able to get it out through listening to the song. I recommend you do the same, preferably at a very elevated volume.

I'm currently in the thick of writing the "literature review" portion of my thesis. Basically, it's fifteen solid pages of name-dropping wankery which tells people things they already know, but you have to let them know you know, or else you won't know they know what you know, y'know? At any rate, all this bullshitting-about is stupid, because your opinion — yes, you, you stupid, immature graduate student who doesn't know shit about shit — means nothing, and in order for you to say anything, you have to use someone else's words instead of your own. Don't worry, I said a big "fuck you" to academia and included some of my own observations to link the train of thought between authors. Take that.

On the weekend, I made crepes for the first time, which were awesome and surprisingly easy. (Here's the simple recipe for basic crepes I used.) Put a little butter and syrup on them, or jam if you like, or Nutella, and you're off to the races. I'll give you a tip, though: whole wheat flour tends to clump up a little. So, if you have all-purpose around, you'd probably be better off using that, unless you want to mix the batter until such time as your arm falls off. (I stopped a bit short of that, don't worry.)

If you go here, and go to "Hobo Names," you can get an mp3 of John Hodgman reading out 700 hobo names with acoustic guitar accompaniment. It takes 53 minutes and 49 seconds. And if you listen to all of them, I will buy you a beer and shake your hand. Some highlights:
  • #57: Orphaned Rinaldo, the Child with Haunting Eyes
  • #147: Jethro the Pagan
  • #264: Weekend-Circular Debra
  • #336: Robert Louis Stevenson, the Pirate
  • #497: Mr. Torso, the Legless Wonder
  • #612: Chuck McKindred, Not So Holy But Very Moly
I wish I was making these up. But someone already did.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

I love you, Linux; I hate you, Linux.

From time to time, I like to geek it up and boot my computer into Linux instead of Windows. (Today, though, I met my wits' end with Windows, actually said out loud, "Fuck you, Microsoft," and vowed to only delve into the world of Windows when absolutely, positively necessary.)

(You know, to do things like play goat-porn video clips that won't run in any other place.)

Today I wanted to do one simple thing: view a video from The Bees on my system. I have a program called Helix which plays RealVideo clips (without the nasty spyware). When I clicked on the link to the video, Firefox dutifully asked me what program I'd like to use to play the clip. I thought, "Aha! I'll use Helix. That'll work but-good."

Except I can't find the fucking program on my entire system.

Oh, sure, I can type hxplay at a command prompt, and bingo, up pops the program. But do you think I could find the damn executable anywhere? If you guessed "no," you're sadly correct. I even su'd, dropped down into /, typed find -name hxplay... and all it got me was that there was a directory named /usr/lib/helix/share/hxplay which contained some PNGs that the executable (which is still, sadly, nowhere to be found) uses.

Add to this the mysterious placement of OpenOffice 2 — no other program puts itself into /opt, and I haven't the foggiest idea what that even stands for — and Linux has me scratching my head. There is no standard place where executables go... sometimes it's /usr/bin, but sometimes it's /usr/local/bin. I've found them in /lib, /lib/src, /usr/src, /usr/local/src, and now /opt. Holy damn! I can't find a shitting thing!

And this, dear friends, is the geek I keep hidden deep inside most of the time.

Friday, March 10, 2006

It's a sham, folks.

A friend told me today that she's giving up coffee for Lent.

Me: "Why?"
Her: "Because I like it."

People only give up things that they (a.) like, and (b.) feel guilty about liking, for Lent. They give up the standard things: chocolate, fried foods, pornography — you know, stuff that is undeniably awesome, yet stuff for which we're trained like lemmings to express public disdain.

People give up things that they feel bad about liking, and maybe they didn't the have the movitation to do so before. But suddenly you slap a little Lord-and-Saviour in front of them, and it's "bye-bye yummy milkshakes" before you can bat an eye.

I've never understood this. Even when I painted myself a Christian (i.e., pre-age-16), I never gave anything up, and never even thought about it. I knew what Lent was, and I knew that some people gave up things they liked, but I was never quite sure why. I looked this up recently, though, and it's supposed to be symbolic of suffering, yadda yadda.

And I'm not saying that hardcore Christians shouldn't give up stuff for Lent; if you're tight with the J-Man — Jesus, not yours-truly — you probably get the symbolism and understand what the hell is going on. But for the vast majority of people that do this, it's turned into more of a thoughtless habit rather than a rite of spiritual connection.

It's the same with New Year's Resolutions. "I'm going to go to the gym more," "I'm going to bike to work," "I'm going to stop drowning kittens." These sentiments are all well and good, but if you really wanted to lose those few pounds, help the environment, or stop snuffing out cute little animals, why not start on March 23rd? August 18th? My birthday?

The beginning of the year is an artifical construct anyway; there's nothing special, at all, about January 1. If you want to pick a noteworthy day, pick something like the solstice or a full moon; at least those are astronomically significant dates.

At any rate, the moral of the story is, if you feel you might want to give up chocolate, sit back and evaluate the pros and cons. Make a list, then make a decision. But don't wait for Mardi Gras or the day you put up a new calendar to be that day, you gutless pansy.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

This just in: David beats Goliath.

Canada: the land of ice and snow, the land where hockey reigns supreme.

The USA: the land of milk and honey, the land where baseball is the National Pastime. (I realize that football is huge and baseball is just too slow and quaint for the ADD-afflicted masses, but there's a reason the Hall of Fame is located south of the border.)

Enter the World Baseball Classic.

For the USA: Jeter, A-Rod and Griffey, with Johnny Damon off the bench.

For Canada: Pete Orr, Corey Koskie and Stubby Clapp, with Maxim St. Pierre off the bench.

(I firmly believe that "Stubby Clapp" is one of the best all-time baseball names, ever. Right up there with Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown, Al "The Mad Hungarian" Hrabosky, and Dick "Dr. Strangeglove" Stuart.)

You'd think this'd be a cakewalk for the US; the game was in Phoenix, and aside from Steve Nash being in the crowd, the Americans definitely had home-field advantage.

But sometimes things don't turn out quite as you'd expect them to.

Which is why Canada beat the US, 8-6.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

This cat could PLAY.

Kirby Puckett played centerfield for the Minnesota Twins in the '80s and into the mid-'90s, when glaucoma blinded him in his right eye and ended his career. He suffered a stroke yesterday, and died today at the age of 45.

I've been a Detroit Tigers fan all my life. In the late '80s, when both the Twins and the Tigers were great, there were plenty of times when a key series would come down to a play involving Puckett in some way; he'd make a diving catch, or leap over the wall to steal a home run, or get a key hit which would win it for the Twins. You did not want to see him come to the plate with the game on the line, because you knew it'd be as good as over.

Sure, he was great in the '91 World Series, and sure, he put up some fantastic numbers in his shortened career. But when I think of Kirby Puckett, I remember the sense of dread I always felt in the pit of my stomach, knowing he was somehow going to come up big when his team needed him the most, and ruin my day in the process.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Sesame Street, Huckabees, and Contentment.

Courtesy of Tavis, here's a collection of those trippy "1-2-3-4-5, 6-7-8-9-10, 11-12" shorts from Sesame Street, nicely stitched-together. Not only does the soundtrack contain porn-ish soul music from the '70s, but the "psychedelic factor" on this thing is off the charts. I don't think you could come up with trippier stuff if you licked a sheet of LSD like a lollipop. The clip associated with one of the numbers (3, I think) contains a steel-drum soundtrack which I probably haven't heard in over 20 years, yet was incredibly familiar. One word: "scrumtrilescent."

I finally got around to watching I Heart Huckabees today, after a long time of having the movie in my possession. It's sort of a "Analyze This" crossed with "A Life Aquatic;" I'm going on speculation for the former movie, as I've never seen it, but it definitely is whimsical enough (in places) to compare with the latter. My cousin Jude does a good job covering up his English accent, and I've always been a big Lily Tomlin fan. A nice bonus was Tippi Hedren (who played the lead in Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds). All in all, a goodly-fun time.

Goodly-fun movies should make the viewer think, though, and this one got my brain a-rollin'. I'll spare you the details; the conclusion is that the universe basically unfolds as it should. If you're trying to force something and it's not working, you probably shouldn't be doing that in the first place, so quit trying to jam a square peg into a round hole. Just be content with who and what you are; other people will evaluate you and either give you a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down. If it's a "nay" (as opposed to a "yea"), just accept that that's how things are, and don't let it trouble you too much. You might as well just be simple and transparent. It's easier that way.

Since coming to these compound conclusions (which may well sound like a load of gibberish), I've felt more content than I have in a long, long time. Seriously, I probably shouldn't operate heavy machinery, I'm that relaxed.

On a completely unrelated note, I love digestive cookies. They're awesome. They rock my socks. And they're kosher! (Not that it matters to me. But it might to some.) Why do I only buy them once in a blue moon?

Friday, March 03, 2006

Feelin' F-I-N-E-FINE.

A lot of chipping-away, interspersed with plenty of procrastination, and accompanied by coffee, I have managed to weave what I think is an interesting 55 pages' worth of writing on how two particular schools have changed in the past few years to meet the challenges handed to them by this latest secondary school curriculum incarnation in Ontario.

Now what I have to do is slap a few graphs on the front, throw a literature review on there (which I've already partially done a few months ago), dress it up with an introduction, come up with some sort of summary, and defend this motherfucker.

Sounds easy, doesn't it?

A thought occurred to me regarding cellphones today. As you may or may not know, I have an unholy amount of hatred directed towards these damn things; the "crack of technological gadgetry" is how I like to think of them. Anyway, without further ado, here's my thought.

Someone on my MSN list had "Sally — out call cell" as her name. (Names have been changed to protect the innocent.) I thought to myself, "You know, once upon a time, if you were going out for the evening, you just went out with whatever gang of booze-junkies with whom you normally get sloshed, and those are your plans, period." But, what is Sally's motivation for telling the world (or at least a small chunk of it) that (a.) she's out this evening, and (b.) if you want to get in touch with her, call her cell?

The motivation behind (a.) is alright, I suppose. But with (b.), is the idea that you'll call her and want to join her and her pals? Or is it that you can call her and distract her while she's already out engaging in her pre-made plans such that you can cause her to go somewhere else? Gah. It's so confusing.

I live a pretty simple life. I make plans, and I stick to them. I'm also very punctual; if I say I'm going to be somewhere at 2:30, I'm going to be there at 2:30 (give or take three minutes, tops). If something happens, I get a quarter, find a payphone, and let someone know that I'm going to be late. I'm dependable, nearly to a fault.

While cellphones certainly have a use — I admit, I've used someone's a couple of times — I find people rely on them like a crutch, allowing them to duck and dodge previously-made plans at the last minute. It also allows people to be late; if you're going somewhere and that takes 30 minutes, but you're 20 minutes late, just call them 10 minutes into your trip from your cell and let them know you're going to be tardy. It's so... handy.

Too handy.

It's not even the "I can get in touch with anyone, anytime" thing that directly irks me. I think the thing that gets me the most is that with all this convenience, it allows people to be a lot more irresponsible than they otherwise would be, if they actually had some sort of timetable (e.g.) to which to stick.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

It's not hard, people.

Every month or so, the Ontario College of Teachers sends us "our" "magazine," Professionally Speaking. It's mostly full of articles about inspirational teachers of famous people, goings-on in education (but never any particularly interesting ones for me), reviews of books on teaching and learning, and so on. As I implied, it's mostly shit.

...except for the Blue Pages.

These are the dozen or so pages at the back (they used to be in the middle) which talk about the "disciplinary hearings" that have gone on in the past little while at the OCT, when teachers haven't been good boys or girls. And you know what makes for the juiciest stories: "inappropriate" teacher-student relationships.

Highlights from this month:
  • male teacher has sex with an 18-year old female student (not while he was her teacher), which continued after she graduated
  • female teacher makes repeated advances on a male student of hers (including when she invited him to her home, he accepted (!!!!!!), she made a pass at him and he refused, but that only egged her on even more)
  • male teacher tells female college work-placement student he "wants to see her naked," invites her over to his house, she accepts (!!!!!!), tries to make a little nookie on the couch, but nothing really happens
  • male teacher starts e-mailing female student, they hang out a few times, he invites her over after she turns 18, they have sex
  • male teacher writes female student letters (this is in the '80s) after she moves away to another country, "express[ing] hope that they would become lovers"
  • female teacher fools around with a female student in the Grade 11 class she's teaching, it later becomes sexual (this was back in the '80s too)... they break it off and now the teacher's married to a guy
I'm in my 20s and am, of course, one god damn amazing specimen of man-meat. I get asked once in a while, "So, have you ever been tempted to... you know... give a little extra-credit assignment afterschool in the back of the equipment room with one of your students?"

The answer is, It's never, ever crossed my mind. Never. And I'm not just saying that because I'd get my ass canned in a second if I said anything different.

Hopefully, teachers see their students as being akin to their children. You're responsible for their well-being for a chunk of every day for five months, and you interact with them within a very proscribed power structure, where you're very clearly "the boss." Not only that, but they're teenagers (assuming we're talking high school here)... and we all know how dumb they can be, because they're not fully grown-ups yet. Whenever there's an imbalance in a relationship of any kind, there's going to be trouble; mix all the above factors together, and you're setting up something which is very, very wrong.

As teachers, we're obviously not blind to the fact that there are "cute" and "not-so-cute" students; it's just a fact of life. But noticing this fact, and acting on it (or even thinking about acting on it) are two drastically different things. I respect and admire my students too much to even go within a million miles of doing anything ressembling the bulleted points above.

So, in conclusion... teachers, find someone your own age to fuck.