Monday, July 31, 2006

"I felt helpless": Calgary woman left to miscarry in crowded ER waiting room

That is just... Despicable. Infuriating. Totally unacceptable.

The nursing staff who were on duty that night should be fired - absolutely.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Now this is super cool!

Vibration Harvesters: Powering up, one step at a time

* * *

So anyway, today I was thinking about school. About how difficult it is to choose a major... because there are so many interesting choices!

For example, I think I have my major(s) narrowed down to Sociology and International Development.*

But that could change! My indecisiveness is so annoying! My mind changes everytime I read something new - then I start to thinking, "Maybe I should be in religious studies because belief systems fascinate me..." Or "Maybe I should have stuck with an English degree because otherwise how will I ever get a chance to read 17th century romantic poetry and dissect Shakespeare's Tragedies to boot..."

Today I was daydreaming about which degrees I would take if I had all the money in the world. I figured I'd list off five or so.

I started my list off with Sociology & IDS, then added Political Science.

Then I thought, "Hey, Religious Studies would be incredibly interesting - imagine learning about the Bible from a non-JW point of view."

Then I added the Classics. (That's 5 already.)

But I'd also have to have English!

And what about History???

Oh, and then there's Environmental Studies...

And the list could go on and on! Its so infuriating! Yes, its also totally exciting because there are so many possibilities, so many things to learn that an entire lifetime could easily be filled without even skimming the surface - that alone is incredibly frustrating!

I mean, if everything is interesting, then what is the most important subject to study??? What's should I know? What is the most enriching, the most satisfying - especially if one likes everything!

Oh, and I forgot about Physics! Or maybe narrow that down to just Astronomy...

And don't even get me started on more "practical" subjects like woodworking, mechanics, cooking, etc.!

Which leads me to our public school system. How is it that it takes us 12 years to school our children in the "basics" and they walk away from that education knowing how to do what exactly...? They can hopefully add, subtract... I highly doubt that every high school graduate knows their multiplication tables backwards and forwards though - I sure didn't and I graduated with Honors. They can write and spell - ideally, but not necessarily...

What are they skilled to do? What have they learned in the way of a moral code? What have they been taught about citizenship?

Why do we take 12 years of our childrens' lives and then make it so that its almost a necessity to add on another 3-5 in University?

And if our children were taken away from the world of total technology would they be able to survive? Do they know how to cope with the natural world or only the superficial one which may not exist in twenty odd years once we've milked it dry?

Okay, okay, I know that's survivalist thinking. Not to mention hypocritical because I doubt I'd be able to survive if you dropped me in, say, the Gobi Desert for a few nights.

But I'd sure love to learn how to! Darnit, why didn't my parents place me in Girl Guides...

Oh, I'd also like to learn First Aid.

Actually, hell - I'd like to learn basic nursing and surgery skills!

And throw in learning French, Spanish, and Mandarin. And self-defense. And how to sew.

The more I think about it the more useless I feel...


Um, of course, I'm not really complaining, you know. It delights me to think of all there is to learn. I definitely would rather have too much to learn then not enough!

But boy oh boy, does it sure make it hard to figure out where to start...

* I've never seen the phrase "traditions of peace and service" applied to IDS before. I like it. So can I tell people that my degree is about 'peace and service'? Because currently when asked I sputter about trying to sum up what exactly I'm endeavoring to be trained at and usually end up going with something like "Um, its a very interdisciplinary degree that can lead to humanitarian aid work"...
Being as I had today off, I decided to Fringe.*

I saw three plays over the course of six hours. One of the plays was funny, one was witty, and one was terrifically good fun.

Sadly, I am talking all about a single play.

The other two sucked.

Okay, okay - only one actually 'sucked' per se. The other was just 'meh.'

(Yes, that is my offical Fringe rating code. I am tired - and slightly cranky at only having seen one good show today - grr!)

The first play of the day which I saw was FemMennonite - a one-woman show.

I had high hopes for it considering the great four star review it received on CBC. However, it turned out to be a piece of self-indugent, Christian-bashing tripe.

You see, I tend to believe that when people leave a fundamentalist religion** (and my own experience has only been with the Christian persuasion), it is usually for reasons that fall into one of two catagories:

1) Intellectual - meaning the individual has left the "flock" due to a lack of faith/a crisis of faith/by reasons of critical thinking. In other words, they could not reconcile two truths - what they believed to be true and what they were being taught to be true. (More on this some other time)

2) Moral - and by this I actually mean immoral. In this second catagory, individuals leave their religion because it is too morally restrictive (or they get booted out for having broken one of the religion's moral commandments).

I've always kind of felt sorry for those who fall into Catagory 2 because they're in such grey territory - they may have left their faith behind so as to indulge in various "sins" such as smoking, drinking, sex, etc. - and yet they're not free because as far as they know they have no ground to stand upon. They're much more at risk of being consumed by guilt over their actions because they have not left their faith due to its flaws, they've left due to what they consider to be their own flaws.

Of course, not all people who leave for Catagory 2 reasons feel any guilt whatsoever. Many, it seems, just leave because their faith was too restrictive and they don't look back or think much of anything of it.

Anyways, I've kind of gone on a tangent here. *ahem*

FemMennonite is about a girl who - from what I finally
gathered at the conclusion of the play - leaves her Mennonite religion for reasons falling into Catagory 2. In other words, she wants to party and she finds her Mennonite faith restricts her ability to "really live."

Of course, the play isn't about what happens after she leaves (because that would probably have made a very dull play). Instead, its all about her mocking the lifestyle she eventually decides to leave behind. So that she can pursue her dreams of becoming a movie-star and having lots of great sex.

You get the idea?

Going by the short synopsis I'd read ahead of time, I really thought the play had the potential to be funny and charming and even sweet. But unfortunately it just came off as sad (and by that I really mean pathetic). The jokes fell flat (there are only so many Jesus jokes you can make before you need to get some new material) and I found the character to be... well, basically unlikeable. I actually ended up feeling much more sympathy for the family she constantly mocked and ranted against - I mean, they had to put up with this irritating teenage daughter continually complaining about how repressed and hard-done by she felt day in and day out.

Which leads us to play number two - The Bold and Spikey Poetry Show.

I'm tired so I'll make this quick.

They were quirky, British, and performed stand-up poetry. Some of it was very funny and some of it was very bad.

The last play of the evening was The Excursionists, which - thank the goddess! - was great.

I'll let CBC sum it up as, at least in this case, they were right:

"What would any good Englishman do if his country sank to the bottom of the sea? Why, set out to conquer another land, of course. That’s the premise of this Jules Verne-inspired epic underwater adventure story where you’ll be treated to a fantastical walk on the ocean floor, an underwater train and, of course, the obligatory giant squid attack. The two-man, four-flipper cast offer bang-on performances in the very clever, quirky comedy. British colonialism never looked so good. True fringe."

Really, I ask you! How could anything that is "Jules Verne-inspired" and an "epic underwater adventure" with British humour be bad??

Especially when the two characters emerge wearing deep-sea diving helmets, blowing bubbles, and making "glug-glug" noises as they slowly walk about mimicking the underwater pressured atmosphere.

It may sound insane - but it was great. Very goofy, very British.**

Tomorrow - only a three hour wedding to do. *phew!*

Night night.

* Because our annual Fringe Festival is truly one of the greatest things about this city.
**E.g. Mormons (Latter Day Saints), Jehovah's Witnesses, (hardcore) Mennonites, the Twelve Tribes, etc.
*** Although, they were actually from Seattle. Americans!
However, in an extremely well-done and subtle way, they included the obligatory "we hate Bush" jibe and so we all liked them anyway.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Lebanese Canadians have the right... to complain

(To fully understand this post, start at the bottom and read up. The debate started when an email from a Winnipegger by the name of"Mike Crawford" [see below] was sent around my workplace - subsequently causing this discussion.)

From: Anactoria
Sent: Tuesday, July 25, 2006 12:48 PM
To: Vanessa; David; Pamela; Sahadev; Jared; Stacy; Jeff; Drew
Subject: RE:

I think David’s right – not all Lebanese Canadians are complaining. As well, those who are just came though what was probably the most frightening experience of their lives. Maybe they were terrified that we would leave them there – in Lebanon – and their ingratitude is just a side-effect of that fear! Who knows.

However, even if they were complaining, I think David made a good point when he said ‘what if they were British?’ If I had dual citizenship and was visiting Britain when a war broke out and if I had to sit around for days while bombs were going off while I watched the Americans and Europeans hastily pulling out their people while reading in the news that my Prime Minister - Steven Harper - had decided that evacuations of Canadian citizens were totally unnecessary (which he initially did!), I might be slightly pissed off at the Canadian government, too. Would there be nasty emails being sent around about my complaints were I a British-Canadian? Don’t I have the right to complain about my government no matter which other country I also may hold citizenship with?

I think that the climate of our world – politically – is currently such that we feel we can get away with attacking and ranting about (to put it mildly) certain people from certain cultures without any kind of repercussions. Without anyone thinking we’re racist bigots – which Mike most certainly is, whether he honey-coats his prejudices with rationalizations or not. I think that’s sad. I think it’s pathetic that some of us feel the need to write to our MPs about… what exactly? Our annoyances? Our pet peeves? What comes down to our own racial issues with people we think don’t ‘belong’ in Canada because we feel they’re not grateful enough for our charity? What do you think your MP (who for all you know came over as a new immigrant to Canada) should do about this? Should they pass a motion in Parliament to leave all of those ungrateful Lebanese-Canadians there in the Middle East to die because we don’t deem them worthy to be rescued? Should we penalize them for complaining? If it were up to the oh-so-tolerant Mike, we'd simply ship them back to Lebanon!

What exactly makes us so worthy of living in Canada and reaping all of the benefits? Is it because we’re taxpayers? Is it because we were born here? To Mike I would say this – perhaps your fathers and forefathers went through a lot to get to Canada, but what exactly did YOU do to get here? What benefits are you taking advantage of each and every day just because you were privileged enough to happen to be born in a wealthy country? And if you were stuck in Lebanon, frightened out of your wits, watching others be evacuated, and having to sit around with your fingers crossed, I would bet anything that you’d come back absolutely furious and write a letter to your MP of quite a different tone. And you would feel extremely entitled to do so – and so you would be.

Overall, my opinion is this: anyone who was evacuated – be they from whatever country – should feel exceedingly lucky to be alive and exceedingly fortunate to have the protection of a wealthy country’s citizenship. Instead of bitching about who got evacuated first, we should be praying (or hoping or writing letters – whatever) for all of those Lebanese people who are simply LEBANESE and NOTHING MORE. They are stuck in a country under attack with no Prime Minister flying over to rescue them from their plight.

And meanwhile we are having to listen to the likes of Mike.

Good grief.

~ Anactoria

* * *

From: Vanessa
Sent: Tuesday, July 25, 2006 11:34 AM

Well, here’s my 2 cents……

When my father came to Canada, he was only a (still growing) boy of 17, and was forced to work construction up North. He did grueling work,
and was underfed, but was so grateful for an opportunity in a new country that he put up with the hardships, and discrimination (yes, at the time,
people thought Italians were “dirty immigrants”). We won’t even talk about the permanent damage his back suffered due to the strenuous work…

What really fries my butt about the current situation in the Middle East is the apparent ingratitude at the efforts. Maybe we could be doing more, but…

IF YOU GOT TO A WAR ZONE, EXPECT A BLOODY WAR TO BREAK OUT. It’s not the fault of the Prime Minister or Canadians that Lebanon is
finding itself in a war / imminent war situation. It is pretty much the MOST dangerous place on the planet. If you choose to go there, then I guess
you roll the dice with your personal safety!!!


* * *

From: Haynes, David
Sent: Tuesday, July 25, 2006 11:17 AM

Typical “white” response. What, are you afraid Mikey-boy that these Lebanese are some terrorists in disguise? Yeah yeah yeah, “they all” look alike don’t they? Why don’t you get off your tractor in Alonsa, travel the world, eat something more savory than a boiled potato, and get some culture. While you’re at it, get your head out of your ass and realize that despite what the MEDIA says, not all of the Lebanese Canadians were dismayed at the Canadian response; a majority were very grateful. Also realize that members of our own government were sickened by the slow response of the government when the Swedes, French, and Germans were whisking their nationals out of the war torn country in a way that epitomized efficiency. Sweet deal Canadian government; ask the Americans to chopper lift Canadians out of Lebanon.

What’s appalling, is the fact that no one makes a fuss about Canadians who hold dual citizenship with the US or England. NOOOOO!! People who do that are so cultured and they NEVER complain about anything now do they? The people who live in Lebanon and have dual citizenship enjoy the benefits of BOTH countries. I guess the average person whose never left their farm wouldn’t see it that way. Oh yeah, and since they are from a country where English isn’t the native language and they have an accent, I guess that means automatically that they have no grasp of “our” language and are in dire need of ESL. Not every person from a foreign country refuses to assimilate and/or speak English.

“Reverse discrimination” is a worthless name as is “white trash”. Being white, doesn’t exclude you from being discriminated against. ‘Reverse’ discrimination is like saying “what? How dare they hate us for our colour” and white trash is like saying it’s a “special kind” of garbage because as a rule, ‘we whites aren’t garbage…that’s “the others”’. You may indeed be a bigot, Mike, you may just be another educated white male who smiles and works with “a few of them” but thinks that they are all inferior. Whatever you are, you are staining things for people, white people, who believe in equality across the board. I’m sure in the olive faces that were shown on CBC (which just happens to be the bastion of fair reporting) there were a few tanned white faces; vacationing faces who were just as disgruntled as “the other” Canadians who happened to catch your ire.

Yeah, I said it, issues with it. . bring it on I say. I welcome debate in any way, shape or form.

David Haynes

* * *

Email from Mike Crawford (Please note: I have no idea who this Mike actually is - this was forwarded to me by someone at work who knows him)
Sent: Tuesday, July 25, 2006 9:45 AM

Hi Everyone;

I just had to write this to get it off my chest. You may or may not agree with my sentiments however they are my opinions.

I was watching CBC news coverage this morning of the events concerning the returns of Lebanese-canadians. You'll note I did not capitalize the word Canadians when referring to these people as it was evident by their comments that they consider themselves to be Lebanese first and Canadians second. The more I watched the madder I got and I ended up turning off the television.

A host of the returnees to Canada were complaining about the Canadian Governments and it's slow response. Some of the returnees commented that Canada should be ashamed of itself for it's slow response in getting them out. One person complained about taking 11 hours to get to Cyrpress and also complained about the sandwiches that they were given. I was stunned at the ingratitude of the people being interviewed.

Considering the logistics involved in getting thousands of people out of Lebanon I think the Canadian Government and other governments did well. I got to thinking about the situation and came to the conclusion that Canada now seems to be a land of opportunists, not opportunity. The only two people in my family who got a free trip to Europe were my dad and my uncle Charlie who were shipped overseas to serve in World War 11.

No-one asked most of these people to go to Lebanon so a free trip back with minor inconveniences is a good deal. Better than being dead I suppose.

Here is the deal. I will arrange to pay for a trip back to war torn Lebanon for any Lebanese- Canadian ingrate who agrees to the following. If you feel ashamed of Canada and it's response you should renounce your Canadian Citizenship, pay back the government of Canada for the free services you received when you came here such as medical, dental, education, job start programs, housing, ESL classes, business venture
grants etc. and for those going back to live in Lebanon give up your CPP benefits ( a great many Canadians are ignorant about the programs your tax dollar is paying for). As I stated earlier Canada seems to be the
land of opportunists. I wonder what the percentage would be of these ingrates serving in our Armed Forces?

Now, you might view me as a radical and a bigot. That is your opinion. The above is mine. I am one of many CANADIANS who are just fed up with the ingratitude of some and the milking of our government by
others. It's about time that people stood up and said enough is enough. Political correctness is a way to stifle people from speaking how they feel and in some cases speaking what is the truth. Affirmative action is nothing
more than reverse discrimination. As I stated earlier I am fed up with the hyphenation of Canadian citizenship. You are either a Canadian or you are not one.

I intend on sending this letter to my M.P. and anyone else I can think of. If you agree with me please pass this on, if not, then press delete.

Mike Crawford
A Canadian from Winnipeg Mb.

Friday, July 21, 2006

First Memory
by Louise Glück

Long ago, I was wounded. I lived
to revenge myself
against my father, not
for what he was—
for what I was: from the beginning of time,
in childhood, I thought
that pain meant
I was not loved.
It meant I loved.
Recently I started a self-challenge project. I'm going to be volunteering weekly on the crisis lines for a local non-profit clinic/community center. I've finished up my training (3 months - phew) and I've been taking calls for the past few weeks. Before I started I had a feeling that this kind of volunteer work would result in my having all sorts of odd little stories to tell - which happens when you're talking to all sorts of people from all over about all sorts of things. About the most basic aspects of life, in other words.

A lot of the calls are simple - sometimes as simple as just making small talk with people who have very few companions involved in their life. You're their lifeline as they go through their day, their check-in point, someone they can depend on to listen.

For some, we're a bastion in a time of crisis - as important as a 911 operator but confidential and less risky. Some callers are facing emergencies, danger, trauma and need someone to tell their fears, someone to give them a non-judgmental (ideally) ear.

A lot of the times the work is as simple as referrals - our city is so full of resources that most of us aren't even aware of! A solution to a crisis or problem may be as simple as directing a caller to a free clinic or to a free legal aid center.

But some of the calls are Other. They're of a more heart-tearing kind.

And after taking an Other call last week I realize that... well, I may not have as many stories to tell as I thought. Because even though I'm a story-teller of a sort, some stories just aren't mine to tell. And some stories are too terrible to tell. And some stories you just don't want to remember, you want to forget that you ever heard them. And sometimes you want to forget that the call ever happened because even though you said and did everything you could think of you can't stop thinking of what you might have done. Or of what someone else might have done better. And when a call ends and the person is still in such darkness that you're not sure they made it out... well, maybe its better to forget.
A silly little poem for a sleepy Friday afternoon...


If no one ever marries me -
And I don't see why they should,
For nurse says I'm not pretty,
And I'm seldom very good -

If no one ever marries me

I shan't mind very much,
I shall buy a squirrel in a cage
And a little rabbit-hutch;

I shall have a cottage near a wood,

And a pony all my own
And a little lamb, quite clean and tame,
That I can take to town.

And when I'm getting really old

-At twenty-eight or nine -
I shall buy a little orphan-girl
And bring her up as mine.

(Laurence Alma-Tadema)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A runcible spoon

We were approved for the apartment - rejoice, rejoice!

Honestly, I'm feeling a little too tired/blah right now to rejoice much myself. I am looking forward to a cleaner, bigger space with less people. I'm also very happy to be moving into what I consider to be a more aesthetically pleasing space. I've realized how much it means to me to be happy looking at my surroundings. Part of me knows that I really could get by with a sleeping bag in a nice field of heather and a bottle of water and some bread and raisins. Another part of me wants to wallow in the pleasures of good cheese, fine chocolate, a roaring fire (okay, so the new apartment has a fireplace but it doesn't work - boo!), soft fabrics, hot baths... and the list goes on.

I've also been realizing something lately about Why I Read. Its a question I've wondered about from time to time - especially when I peer into the future at my potential progeny. Its a scary thought! What if my children HATE to read? What if they prefer... ohgodohgod... a sweaty game of football over a good book. Or even worse - experimenting with lipstick and eye shadow!

Such terrible thoughts must not be thought.*

Back to why I read...

To learn about the world, to gain insights into minds other then my own, to escape (that's a big one) - overall: To Be Someone Else.

Not that I don't like me. I generally do. Except... book heroines seem to have more fun sometimes. *sigh*

I'm reading one of my favorite books, one which I consider a bit of a guilty pleasure because the back of the book (damn the publishers with their target audiences!) makes it sound like a sordid romance novel.

I've decided I will openly read it and should anyone challenge it as damn good fantasy fiction I will smarmily point out a few facts to them, such as the book's 1) historicity (no, not all of it but she did a fantastic research job) 2) time travel component (thus making it more then a "bodice-ripper" thankyouverymuch) 3) frequent battle sequences (it's not just for girls goddamnit!) and of course, 4) extremely entertaining writing. I've never read a Harlequin that had that much (and yes, I used to read them when I was 12 or so and found some my grandma had stashed away... anywho).

I think starting a reread of Outlander was something I really needed right now because I've sunk right into it and have been reading it almost non stop - that rarely happens to me with books anymore. The more I read the more I'm impressed with the amazing job she did in laying the detailed ground-work for the follow-up books. (Yes, its a series but fortunately not the Robert Jordan please-let-it-end-God kind.) I'm honestly not sure where the series ends up going because after the fourth book I stopped reading them - I really, really hate series that have no foreseeable end and yet I had to pick this one up again, it really is just that good.

I think the biggest problem I'm having with my reread is my longing to be in the book. Moreso then with Harry Potter, moreso then with His Dark Materials - this one just makes me curse the fate that left me devoid of a time machine. (And yes, I've visited Stonehenge and sadly I was not carried away to 17th century Scotland.)

Part of this longing might have to do with missing the British Isles - someplace I am determined to spend more of my life exploring and hopefully living in. Part of it just might be me wishing for a time when living was... well, more simple and more challenging. I sometimes think I'd rather be hoeing a garden or tilling a field or cooking over a huge hearth then sitting on my ass in an office day after day doing a task that in some other time was and will be totally unrecognizable as human work. And before anyone jumps on that daydream - yes, I know I'd soon be missing hot tap water and indoor plumbing and modern medicine and - probably, above all - equal rights.

But still, sometimes it seems like we live in a world that's been so... explored.

When there's no place on earth you can go without being in range of a tracking satellite, well, it feels like we're not as free as we once had the opportunity to be. There's nowhere we can walk and not be found again. There's no where we will ever visit that has not been seen before.

It makes me sad.

And the direction space travel is taking doesn't hold out any optimism either. Watching the shuttle launch a few weeks ago made me realize that our governments'** true motives for space exploration are nowhere near as pure as simply "going where no man has gone before." We have no guiding Prime Directive to follow. We're just out to rape and pillage. I imagine a future, more virtuous generation*** looking back on ours in horror: to them it'll look as if a slightly more civilized version of the Vikings got their hands upon the technology to not only destroy their own world but others too.


If anyone needs me, I'll be in 17th century Scotland. Blissfully eating bannock with unwashed hair.

*I admit, I could deal with the football/makeup thing as long as such activities were balanced with the finer pursuit of reading.
**The Americans, the Russians, whichever.
*** Well, I'm crossing my fingers.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Yesterday Harper says they won't be evacuating any Canadian civilians from Lebanon. Today...

"They will be in the region as soon as humanly possible"

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The future of Artificial Intelligence looks grim

Conversation with a jabberwocky... wacky... whatever...

Jabberwacky: Bizarreness is the essence of the exotic.
User: Is it really or are you just saying that?
Jabberwacky: No. Ireally mean it.
User: So, where are you from?
Jabberwacky: I'm from the Netherlands.
User: Oh really? I heard you were from Venus.
Jabberwacky: Yes, it's true.
User: Do you have any questions for me?
Jabberwacky: Are you real?
User: I'm not sure. I think that's something everyone wonders about from time to time.
Jabberwacky: That is not the case.
User: How is that not the case? Explain.
Jabberwacky: It's not. How old are you?
User: Let's go back - how is that not the case?
Jabberwacky: You have no conviction.
User: Sadly, you have no clarity.
Jabberwacky: That's true.
User: So what do you look like?
Jabberwacky: No, I won't. I don't like babies.
User: No, you won't. But what do you look like?
Jabberwacky: I look like my reflection on a mirror.

At which point I gave up any hopes of carrying on an intelligent conversation with a computer program. And others have fared no better it seems.

(However, if you're bored/lonely enough I suppose a bit Jabber's company might suffice...)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Here's to the Now

This is a response to FakePlasticStar's comments about dwelling too much over thoughts of 'everything was better in the past' (see 'p.s. i'd also like to stop complaining')

* * *

But everything was better in the past!

Except that we lived at home with little to no control over our lives, at the mercy of 1) parents, 2) elders, 3) extremely conditional forms of love and acceptance.

Hmmm, let's see...

Why The Now is better....

We can stay up late watching horror movies or playing terribly violent video games whenever we want; boys can sleep over at our house anytime without it being assumed that Wrongdoing has been committed; we can eat breakfast for dinner and dessert for breakfast (though that's more a general bonus); we don't have to do Bible reading every day; we don't have to go to church three+ times a week; we'll never have to wear a scarf over our heads because we're a woman praying in the presence of a ten year old male; we can kiss people of the same and/or opposite sex without having to take 'pornea' into consideration (ugh); we can go to university without everyone we know making critical remarks about our decision; we won't die over our refusal to accept a blood transfusion because of a strange interpretation of Acts 15:29*; we don't have to try to convince total strangers of the truth of creationism and the identity of the Wild Beast in Revelation; we don't have to worry that a CD or book we buy might turn out to be "demonized" or "questionable"; we don't have to shun our friends over their religious beliefs (or lack thereof); we can be agnostic and atheists to our hearts content; we'll never be asked how our "spirituality" is doing; we'll never be asked whether we've been praying over the doubts we've been having over the submission & headship issue; we don't have to worry about our Harry Potter or LOTR books ending up in some back alley garbage bin; we can leave our erotica story books lying around the house; we don't have to worry about the length of our skirts or the lowness of our shirts; we won't be pulled aside and cautioned over the color of our hair or the number of ear piercings we have; we don't have to tell gay people that we think they're lifestyle is condemned by god and that they're be destined to eternal nothingness; and lastly, we can question and think and defy and protest and talk to our friends about all of the above without ever having to worry about being turned in or expelled or losing their love or their friendship.

* Acts 15: 28-29 "For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials: that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from bloodNew American Standard and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell." (
The Anactoria Poem

Some say thronging cavalry, some say foot soldiers,
others call a fleet the most beautiful of
sights the dark earth offers, but I say it's what-
ever you love best.

And it's easy to make this understood by
everyone, for she who surpassed all human
kind in beauty, Helen, abandoning her
husband--that best of

men--went sailing off to the shores of Troy and
never spent a thought on her child or loving
parents: when the goddess seduced her wits and
left her to wander,

she forgot them all, she could not remember
anything but longing, and lightly straying
aside, lost her way. But that reminds me
now: Anactória,

she's not here, and I'd rather see her lovely
step, her sparkling glance and her face than gaze on
all the troops in Lydia in their chariots and
glittering armor.

by Sappho (translated by Jim Powell)

This is an example of how out of the loop I can sometimes be...

I was driving up Corydon at 12 a.m. on Sunday night. I'd just finished my Klinic shift. The streets were swarming with people - all of them yelling and cheering. Police were patrolling the sidewalk. Bar Italia was absolutely mobbed.

Obviously something was going on, but what?

It was only today that I finally found out/realized the reason for all of the uproar:

Italy won the World Cup.

(Yes, I'm sorry for all of you Francophones but its true.)

And now for some World Cup humor. We present to you:


Four types of fervor that drive me to nausea & rant:

1. Religious (particularly fundamental or evangelical Christian)
2. Patriotic (particularly American
3. Sports fanaticism (e.g. World Cup
4. Militaristic*

Of course, I can tolerate each of the above in moderation. Religion can be nice when... {racks brain trying to think of a time when religion can be nice} ...when stirring church music makes you Wonder!

Patriotism can be nice when it makes you feel that you're part of a united throng with the same ideals and shared culture (although I would say that's almost entirely illusion *sigh*).

Sports can be nice when... well, just go look at Image #26 on the CBC site I linked to. Those Italian fans look great - and happy! (But if their team had lost?)

The military can even be nice....

...when its used to enhance fiction. My favorite TV show, Battlestar Galactica, is extremely pro-military. In fact, it actually plays upon three of the above fervors - religious, miliaristic, and patriotic.

But for the most part the 4 Fervors often across as: horribly arrogant, intellectually brainwashed, disgustingly smug, and frighteningly, irrationally, excessively zealous.


*I'm presently reading Starship Troopers - the ultimate in pro-military fiction - and Robert Heinlein is once again pissing me off with all of his arrogant military propaganda. (I love to hate him.)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

I believe a spoof on one of those newer Mastercard commercials could best sum up my feelings about Elliot's birthday....

Tinkertown ticket: $10.

Dart game: $3.

Mini donuts: $2.50.

Watching Paul get stuck at the top of a roller coaster: Priceless.

* * *

In other words, we had fun. And I think we surprised Elliot (possibly even more then he let on).

I worked at my 'grunt job' (hmmm, that term sounds more titilating then it really is) in the morning and then rushed about organizing people and cars. Eventually Colin, Jan, Paul, Greg, and myself were squished into my tiny VW Golf speeding along the highway to Tinkertown. We got there a little earlier then we were supposed to which gave us time to spray paint the sign: HAPPY B-DAY ELLIOT! it read in slime green paint.

We then attempted to attach balloons to the sign.

Well, Jan and Paul did.

There were around 8 balloons to begin with and by the time they were finished there were 2. I don't know how many times I heard Paul say to Jan, "I TOLD you we should have brought ALL of the balloons!" :P

Anyways, we set up on the highway with camera in tow. In no time at all (well, 30 minutes), Elliot and Melissa pulled up in their snazzy black car.

Just as I'd foretold Elliot was touched and amazed by our wonderful surprise.

In fact, the first thing he said was, "But I don't wanna go to Tinkertown!"

And so the coercion and the dragging began.

But after a few injections of mini-donuts, cotton candy, and ice cream as well as some bribes in the way of stuffed animals, he was well on his way to experiencing gleeful child-like fun.

Of course, the highlight of the afternoon was when Paul got stuck at the highest peak of Tinkertown's highest (in other words, not very high) roller coaster ride and the owner of Tinkertown had to climb up the track to dislodge Paul's car and push it into movement again.

My dad just called. He left a message but I haven't listened to it yet. Its a long story but some of you know it.

Then I went into the lunchroom and watched my first
shuttle launch.

I remember my dad's keen interest in astronomy and space travel. He took us to Cape Canaveral when we were in our teens. We spent the day looking at old rockets and watching IMAX movies on the marvels of spaceflight.


Saturday, July 01, 2006

So, its Canada Day and somewhere not too far away the streets are probably full of revellers but I'm at home cleaning house.

There's something so indulgent in letting oneself Stay Home rather then going out to be baked in the hot sun.

(Plus, I'm broke.)

Elliot's birthday was on Wednesday and we did... absolutely nothing. Which was just according to plan.


See, coming from our background, birthdays are always going to be hard to remember. So when we do remember someone's - as a group, I mean - and decide to hold celebrations, its quite special. Over the last four years, things have gone something like this...

First year: Celebrate everyone's birthday! Spend oodles on presents and sit back aghast and amazed with how 'worldly people' have been doing this all of their lives.

Second year: Celebrate two or three birthdays but dodge as many as you can.

Third year: The number drops to one. I think Colin was the only lucky duck last year. We actually organized a fairly nice outing - by our standards. We even had cake!

Fourth year: Birthdays are a thing of the past. We are mature adults now who have no money to waste on such frivolties (i.e. we are depressingly sunken in student loans, mortgages, and car payments).]

So the plan *was* to shun all birthdays this year, but then I realized that we hadn't all hung out in a group for a long time. Plus, I had this great conversation with Colin a few weeks ago when we were out walking at night at the Forks. We covered a variety of topics but one thing I started rambling on about was how you have to build memories and how my theory is that events can sometimes taken on even greater significance/importance/joy in retrospect. Which is a good thing. Its what gives friends things to look back on and laugh about. And so since Elliot had been dropping hints about his birthday coming round, Colin and I started brainstorming ideas and one of the first I came up with was Tinkertown. If you know Elliot you'll understand why the idea was a bit hilarious.

Skip ahead to today - Elliot's birthday has passed. He probably thinks we're all terrible friends because none of us have said so much as happy Birthday. There has been not even a whisper of presents or festivities.

Part of me feels bad about making him think that his birthday is nothing to us, but part of me is gleefully rubbing her hands together anticipating the expression on his face when Melissa drives him out towards her parents' place in Steinbach on a ruse. They'll be driving along the highway - which conveniently passes right next to the Tinkertown turn off, Eliot will (hopefully) be looking glumly out the window, when suddenly he spots all of us standing on the highway holding up a big sign. (With balloons, of course. You can't have a birthday sign with out balloons. Jan & Paul are in charge of the sign, hopefully they remember the balloons...)

Tears start to run down his face, he leaps out of the car, and runs towards us with his arms outstretched. The song "Lean on Me" starts to play, everything goes to slow motion...


Well, you get the general idea.