Wednesday, November 29, 2006

On this half lit day
With your crown beneath your wings
Ev'ry word just echoes
And the empty world sings

Where have you gone, my feather light heart?
I never imagined I could leave.

In the glistening
Of the lost and open sky
Tiny piece of you sits
Simple wish waits for reply

Where have you gone my feather light heart?
You mustn't forget what love can see.

"Where" by Lisbeth Scott

(It sounds much better put to music.
I emailed my cousin today. Cross your fingers for me.)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The strains of "O Canada" being sung in a shrill female voice can be heard emanating from our living room. In the kitchen Colin stands pounding t-bone steaks with a hammer. J and A relax on our new couch with beer in hand.

That's right - its Grey Cup Sunday.

The biggest hockey night in the world, or so I'm told.

And once my baked ziti has finished... baking, I'm taking off for a Social Justice/Buy-Nothing-Day- potluck-party-meeting.

Perfect timing if you ask me...

Friday, November 17, 2006

A quote for my sister...

"I am grieved for your clerk. But it is all in the day's work. It's part of the battle of life."

"A man who had money," she repeated, "has less, owing to us. Under these circumstances I do not consider 'the battle of life' a happy expression."

"Oh, come, come!" he protested pleasantly. "You're not to blame. No one's to blame."

"Is no one to blame for anything?"

"I wouldn't say that, but you're taking it far too seriously. Who is this fellow?"

"We have told you about the fellow twice already," said Helen. "You have even met the fellow. He is very poor and his wife is an extravagant imbecile. He is capable of better things. We - we, the upper classes - thought we would help him from the height of our superior knowledge - and here's the result!"

He raised his finger. "Now, a word of advice."

"I require no more advice."

"A word of advice. Don't take up that sentimental attitude over the poor. See that she doesn't, Margaret. The poor are poor, and one's sorry for them, but there it is. As civilization moves forward, the shoe is bound to pinch in places, and it's absurd to pretend that anyone is responsible personally. Neither you, nor I, nor my informant, nor the man who informed him, nor the directors of the Porphyrion, are to blame for this clerk's loss of salary. It's just the shoe pinching - no one can help it; and it might easily have been worse."

Helen quivered with indignation.

"By all means subscribe to charities - subscribe to them largely - but don't get carried away by absurd schemes of Social Reform. I see a good deal behind the scenes, and you can take it from me that there is no Social Question - except for a few journalists who try to get a living out of the phrase. There are just rich and poor, as there always have been and always will be. Point me out a time when men have been equal - "

"I didn't say - "

"Point me out a time when desire for equality has made them happier. No, no. You can't. There have always been rich and poor. I'm not fatalist. Heaven forbid! But our civilization is molded by great impersonal forces" (his voice grew complacent, it always did when he eliminated the personal) "and there always will be rich and poor. You can't deny it" (and now it was a respectful voice) "and you can't deny that, in spite of all, the tendency of civilization has on the whole been upward."

"Owing to God, I suppose," flashed Helen.

HOWARD'S END by E.M. FORSTER (pg. 151, 152)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Cars are evil.

Last winter I bought my first car.

I admit the decision was made impetuously. It was mid-December, thirty-below, and I was sick of taking the bus and begging for rides (what can I say, I'm a wimp - I hate being cold, I think my ancestors were crazy to move to this country, so much for hardy Ukrainian stock! *sigh*).

With help from some boy friends, I located a snazzy blue 1995 Volkswagen golf. Its beautiful shiny blueness called out to me, as did its silver rims and its fancy CD player. Even though it lacked power doors, power windows, air conditioning, was a standard transmission, and was over my price limit ($5,500), I ignored all criticisms and rushed to buy it.

A little less then a year later and I've spent almost $1,500 in repairs and a recent 'car check-up' reports that I will soon have to spend even more as my car is evidently experiencing a mid-life crisis.

I love my car. I love driving it. I love having the freedom to go wherever I want, the freedom to drive my friends around, go out in the middle of the night, accept weird work shifts, take night classes, explore whenever I please - all without having to first consider dreadful bus schedules or the weather.

(Oh, and I love my winter tires, too - those were at least a smart bonus.)

But I want to finish school. Ideally in this lifetime.

And when I think about the fact that the money I spent on my car and on repairs for it could have been used to pay for almost 2 years of full time study (or alternatively, to go to the Maritimes 6x, Europe 3x, and Japan at least 2x) I feel a little... nauseous.

Plus, now that my place of employment is being moved to a new building, I will no longer have a parking spot. Which means the idea of driving my car to work each day is no longer going to be just plain selfish and environmentally unfriendly but also completely unfeasible.

So, the way I see it I have 2 options. I can stop cold and give up my car addiction completely by selling Bluebell (my car's name - stop laughing! my family has always tended towards farm animal sounding names for their vehicles!) and buying a bus pass.

OR I can stubbornly dig in my heels, sell my 'expensive' car and buy a tiny, old, "beater" to use only for school and other 'fun' stuff...

What to do, what to do.

[P.S. While I bask in indecision, please let it be noted for all you who read this that I will happily accept any offers of 1) money, 2) car repair assistance or 3) free advice on buying a better used car!]
South Africa's parliament has voted to legalise same-sex weddings - the first African country to approve such unions

I don't know about the rest of you, but it makes me happy!

Especially since...

This is unusal in Africa where homosexuality is largely taboo..."

Monday, November 13, 2006

'The Revenge of Ned Flanders'

"If you win by moral values, you can also die by moral values. By courting conservative Christians with a family values agenda, Republicans set themselves up as the party of superior morality. And when their glass house started to crumble, the very voters they had worked so hard to become active participants in the democracy turned on them."
The BBC reports on the swift change in American power

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Ban organized religion, says Elton John.

Now, the question is - do I send this to my parents?

They could add it to their "Peace & Security!" pile of clippings!*

(*This isn't going to make much sense to any of you non XJWs.)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The phrase "things fall apart" has been ringing in my ears the past couple of days.

It doesn't take a lot to make me happy and so Sunday was a very good day - I enjoyed having a room full of friends to sit with again. Especially nice, geeky ones who like a good scavenger hunt once in a while.

But other recent occurences have been been bringing me down a bit. My sister left on Monday night. And I spoke with my parents for the first time in six or more months (I stopped keeping track) on Friday and then saw them on Saturday. I learned from them that my beloved cousin's marriage disolved less then a year after it began due to some sort of abuse... but they weren't clear on what.

I didn't think I cared anymore about what went on in that 'other world' but it seems I still do because I'm so pained to think of her pain. And I want to call her but... at the same time I'm afraid to.

Another thought in my mind of late is that even friendships which survived the transition won't necessarily last forever, even though I hope they will.

People change. Am I changing?

Maybe so slowly that I don't even notice.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Polls are in...

... and the Scavengirthdayparty was a success.

Its funny how fast good days go by. Yesterday is all a blur now.

A good blur, though.

A blur of lots of laughter and excitement.

Getting things started initially was a bit stressful. From past experience in organizing things like scavenger hunts or treasure hunts, I have learned that the breaking point of the event is when everyone gathers together to divide into 'teams.' With a fair number of people - some of whom know each other, some of whom don't, some of whom get along with everyone, some of whom don't - the challenge lies in creating teams in which no one will kill each other and everyone will have fun. The catch for the planners/hosts of said event is that sacrifice may be necessary in order for everyone else to have a good time. The sacrifice may be in using yourself as the 'social glue' in a team that would otherwise be dysfunctional - being the glue means everyone else gets to have fun but it can be a precarious balancing act of willed tactfulness and self-control.

Yesterday, when the team organizing process started to get out of control I decided to go and hide in the kitchen until it was all over, cowardly leaving it to Colin and Sarah to get everything settled. It was decided to use the democratic method of names drawn from a hat and soon I was being passed a handful of team member names to hold onto. (Later I learned that the hat method was not as simple as it was meant to be due to some confuffle on our dear ninja's side. *sigh* Silly ninja.) However, democracy was soon forfeit as everyone began to barter themselves onto more desirable teams in which they would know more people or feel more comfortable.

I soon ended up on a team (and we won't say how) that was altogether desirable - one person I didn't know but wanted to know and two people I knew and liked very much and wanted to spend more time with.

Soon everything was settled and there was a mad dash for the door to put on shoes, grab coats, take instruction sheets... and the race began.

Whoops! I mean, there was no race! See, Sarah and I had the good fortune to participate in a scavenger hunt a few weeks back. It was a car rally style scavenger hunt - like ours was - but in this one you didn't need to get out of your car to get answers for the scavenging questions. This may have appeared to be a brilliant idea for the Hunt organizers, but in reality it was a huge pain as it involved slowly driving a car up and down streets with other cars honking behind you as you frantically scanned buildings for the answers to clues. And as the driver in that particular hunt, it was no fun at all because of the hell of having multiple directions yelled at one and having to avoid hitting other vehicles... you get the picture.

So yesterday's hunt was much more relaxed as the oh-so-smart Sarah had intelligently planned the hunt around a few key locations in Winnipeg so that we could park and leave the car behind and walk around for what we needed.

To be continued...

Friday, November 03, 2006

I've been thinking a lot about school (as usual) and about what to do once I finish (as usual). A lot of times it seems that I think more about school then I actually am in school or doing school work...


One of the after-degree possibilities that interests me is the JET program (which has captured my imagination ever since I heard about it from a boy I used to date who was getting his Masters in English).

And so a few days ago I started to look up info on it and in the process I stumbled on to this absolutely awesome blog called An Englishman in Nyu-gun. Sadly, the guy who wrote it has stopped writing since leaving Japan and returning to the UK but there are still a good two years of posts to wade through.

It seems a common thing that 'expats' encounter cultural differences between our Western world and that of Japan - and Lewis the Englishman writes about many of them with hilarity.

My three favorite anecdotes so far are: bear bells, Japanese national holidays, and the samba-playing coffee machine.

In the spirit of global brotherhood and inter-cultural understanding, go and check them out!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


Its simple but powerful. Isn't it?

I'm debating wearing the poppy this year. Its the meaning behind it I always feel confusion over. By wearing the poppy am I simply saying "I remember" all of the soliders (and civillians?) who've fallen in times of war? Or by wearing it am I silently giving my agreement and approval of warfare and saying that I believe that patriotism is a cause worth dying for?

I've never worn one before and I'm not sure I should start now. Supposedly there are white poppies you can get but I'm not sure where to find them...

I guess my fear is that by not wearing a poppy I'm being... disrespectful, unappreciative. I hate the idea of the older generation thinking the younger generation really has forgotten - because by no means have I.