Friday, 4 December 2009
1. I'm actually writing this Thursday night. I might be too busy tomorrow night (a social outing) to do this on Friday, as is traditional.
2. Saturday was Old Fashioned Christmas. Assorted things happened. We had an ice rink and a sledding hill. There were horse rides and pony rides and sleigh rides. There was a hockey shuffle board. There was maple syrup on a stick and children's crafts. There was chilli and hot dogs and hot chocolate and hot cider. There was a silent auction and a gift shop and pointsettas. There were carolers and live entertainment and bonfires and Santa Claus and elves and Christmas decorations. I was floater, as usual. It wasn't a bad event. I stayed later then than I ever have, though. I got out at 8:00. Before I left, I was mopping floors by flashlight.
I want you to look at this photo I took. The one to the right in this paragraph. Those are carollers, yeah, and that's a dude taking pictures of them, and there are little wooden sleighs with reindeer in the background and further back there are Christmas trees with Santa's Village in front of them. But that's not really what I want you to observe. What I want you to notice is the positions of the sun. See where it sits above the horizon? See the length of the shadows? Now here's the kicker: I took this photograph at 12:00 o'clock noon. That's the highest the sun gets around here. And we're not at solstice yet.
Of course, in Inuvik the sun doesn't even raise entirely above the horizon by now.
3. I served in church on Sunday. I've already written about that, though, in this post. That also happened on Sunday. I'm sure other things did, too, but they aren't really coming to me right now. It was a bit of a disappointing weekend, given how short it was.
Writing that Advent post got me to thinking. (Any surprises?) The other day I saw on ad on Facebook exhorting me to celebrate Newtonmas on 25 December. Maybe they want to join the festive season with their own scientistic holiday (I say 'festive season' because this time of year certainly has holidays other than Christmas, and the Jewish community began to observe Hannukah more to fit into the mainstream culture, Islam has the Eid and many religions have solstice celebrations, so I think it's fair to say this is one of those times of year that are celebrated by many different cultures). I have a suspicion that they want to practice a bit of irony and try to replace Christmas' spot in the mainstream culture with their own holiday, but I know I shouldn't think that because it's uncharitable. The choice of Newton-mas over Newton Day makes me wonder, though.
Anyway, this is the second scientist-based holiday campaign I've heard of. The other is Darwin Day. It makes sense for the atheist revolutionists and secularists to try and create a seasonal cycle. Conversion Diary has written about the importance of liturgical seasons, and in my incarnation as a Religious Studies student I have come to realize that many faith traditions take seasonal cycles far more seriously than your average Christian. I like being connected to the natural, planetary cycle because it makes me feel more agricultural and less urban, which is at this point nearing hypocrisy. Regardless, I realize how important it is to be able to enact a symbolic, community narrative each year, and the cycle of fall and return is a potent one. I think it will be a difficult project for the scientistics to create such a symbolic narrative. The creation even of a narrative has proven difficult (see the failure of things like The Great Story to gain momentum), and even people like Dawkins have noted that atheist communities seem inherently prone to dissolution.
Strictly as a scholar of religion, I'd like to see how this calendar holiday deal develops for the atheist movement. Will they try to use the actual idea of calendar holidays--that is, creating an annual narrative that the whole community reenacts--or will they find that is antithetical to their whole project of atheism? And do they have the voice and numbers to make this become popular? People who are still in academia (where atheism is more influential), could you keep your ears to the ground and let me know what develops?
4. I'll never finish this post if my entries continue to be this long.
I finished reading the Lovecraft collection (Nick, if you're reading this, know that you can borrow it now). Unrelated to this, I also finished reading Isaiah. I am now in--you guessed it--Jeremiah.
Thoughts on Isaiah: at some point I need to sit down and read it in bigger chunks. Maybe chart it out. I feel like something's there, but I'm not seeing it. I'm feeling like my education in close reading, while necessary and formative, is limiting me in my ability to see the whole of things I read. I want a sense of the whole structure (an idea I got from Frye, and again there are no surprises there). I have some sense of unease concerning this book. It's my first Prophet since my months in the Wisdom books, of course, so it's been a little while since I read much about carnage and slavery, I guess. This is why I want a sense of the whole.
I started this with Lovecraft, so I guess I should say something about him. Not the best, but certainly not bad. If you have any interest in the horror genre, you ought to read him. If not, then I suppose you need not. "Facts Concering the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family" remains my favourite, though "Whisperer in the Darkness" is a close second.
I have started reading Daphne de Maurier's Rebecca, and am so far enjoying it.
5. Today I received a thank-you (I won't tell from whom or for what) in the form of a $25 gift certificate for Peter Pond (a mall up here) and a space pen. It's one of those pens that can write underwater upside-down in a vacuum on a greasy surface at 100 degrees Celsius. (OK, I realize that it is impossible to be both underwater and in a vacuum or at 100 degrees Celsius and in a vacuum. You know the pen I'm discussing, though.) I also received a $2o gift certificate at Chapters-Coles-Indigo, so I have some fun lined up this weekend!
6. I had some work related things to share. I can't really remember. Let's see. It's cold. But not as cold as it usually is here this season, and it's bound to get colder. And I am now starting to think I hear people with me (usually upstairs) in empty buildings, especially when I have to go upstairs. But those weren't what I had in mind.
There's an article in the Queen's alumni magazine about female sexuality which is pretty interesting, but that's obviously not it because that has nothing to do with work.
That's it! I remember! Sorry, this is negative. OK, I shouldn't say it, because this might get back to me in a bad way. I don't think anyone at work is even aware that I blog, but it's the Internet. Who knows who's reading, right?
Notwithstanding, let me just say this: I am annoyed when educators speak in non-standard English. In particular, I am annoyed when educators speak in a regional dialect--Newfinese, say--when they are educating in a different region--northern Alberta, say. I'm worried they'll teach the kids bad habits, for one. With Newfinese, the worst will be the habit of replacing all ats with tos. ("Go and sit to your desk.") Prepositions and articles, in case you didn't know, are some of the worst for making people judge you. Not only is a person less likely to mistake a vern or noun, but we're usually more forgiving when you do, since then it seems like you're ESL. If you mistake a preposition or article, though, you just sound lazy/slangy/ignorant. This is problematic because, in English, prepositions are the hardest part of speech to learn. This is part of the reason why Chinese immigrants sometimes appear less intelligent to English-speaking Caucasians (or anyone else who thinks they're less intelligent based on language use, I suppose). It's also why it's a problem if you're teaching young kids and you use prepositions incorrectly. We don't systematically teach our children prepositions, but rather teach it through example. (Since it's almost entirely idiomatic and follows no universal pattern, it would be virtually impossible to teach by rote or rule, anyway.) So they kids might pick up the teacher's preposition use, which preposition use will be invalid in the context of all of the English-speaking world with the exception of Newfoundland and maybe Cape Breton. And since they won't be speaking in a Newfoundland accent, people won't chalk it up to coming from Newfoundland but will instead assume that the kid's just not as bright as he/she probably is.
Also, when you tell the kids to stay on the bridge and the nearest bridge is on the very busy highway, I get a little worried. I really hope that the kids know that "bridge" in Newfinese refers to a porch or deck just as much as it refers to a piece of architecture spanning a river, ravine, or road, and that therefore the teacher is telling them to stay on the deck. I don't see how they could know this, but then again I didn't see any of them headed for the highway, either.
I don't think there's anything we can do about this. I certainly don't want to discrimate against people who speak differently than me. It just seems like it's going to be a problem in the education system, as it might give kids habits which will be an unnecessary detriment to them in the future.
Educators, what do you think?
7. OK, cut to the chase, because I need to go to bed: Jon asked in a recent post about life being fulfilling. Or he discussed, more than asked. OK. I feel sometimes unfulfilled because I work for so much of my life now. For those of you still in school, I say this: be happy. School's better than the work force. At least, that's how it's been for me.
So where do I get my fulfillment? The loser answers are blogging, books, writing, and Corner Gas. The less loser answers are fortunately truer, if less frequent. Going to church is actually a big one. I know it sounds hokey, but it's true. St. Thomas' is now a big deal to me. Refer to the Advent post. And time with the dog is actually up there, too, even though she's getting smelly.
And I can't think of any more right now, other than thinking, which I try to do a lot of, and maybe playing Banagrams with the folks.
I need more 'inputs' (think Navs talk, for you Navs readers), and I really need more 'outputs'. Actually, a lot of my outputs are inputs and vice-versa. But what keeps me trucking right now really are those things I mentioned. Other than that I worry about my eyes dying on me due to the superfluity of screens, it works so far.
Simple pleasures are not for simple people; simple people need complex pleasures to keep them occupied, while complex people can deal with stangation because their own minds can turn fairly minor stimuli into fascinating phenomenon. Obviously there's really no such thing as 'simple people.' But I think there's an element of truth in what I'm saying. Look up the original meanings of extrovert and introvert in the personality theories.
Posted by Christian H at 17:21