Monday, 30 March 2009

Reading in T-minus 1 hour

Wish me luck!

Friday, 27 March 2009

The Silent Letter

Pet Peeve:

When people are typing and put multiples of a silent letter. For instance, "the story of my lifeeeeee."

What is this supposed to mean?

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

A Moment on Penny Arcade

"OnLive is pretty much the belle of the ball at GDC thus far, and its promise of rapture must be pure exhilaration to anyone who has never worked IT. I wouldn't describe it as a fight, per se - the knives remained sheathed - but I would say that Gabriel and I entered into what you might call a scale model of a fight. There was fury, but it was a very compact fury."

This is the sort of thing that makes Tycho interesting to read. He's not exactly Poet Laureate material, but his prose has a certain level of low-vocab intricacy that makes him enjoyable. He indulges in a priggish nerdiness that I only attain by accident.

Words from the OED

glögg: n a Scandinavian winter drink, hot sweetened wine to which brandy, almonds, raisens, and spices are added.

glomerel: n a pupil of a grammar school.

melanochalcographer: n a person who engraves copper plates for printing.

Quellenforschung: n the study of the sources of, or influences upon, a literary work.

quemadero: n a place where convicted heretics were executed by burning.

OK, so the last entry was less fun. It would make a good novel title, though.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Excuse me, I have an announcement to make

I am now a published writer.

No, please, sit down. There is no need for applause.

*I would make a label called "arrogance" for this, but then I'd likely have to go through and label every one of my previous posts.


1) The cover, which you have seen, came out quite "psychadelic," as the professor put it. The colours are interesting. In case you're wondering, it's what happens when the ice on the Lake here in Kingston shifts. The sheets along the shore get thrown up in big chunks on the bank. You'll see this pretty much everywhere that a body of water freezes over. It makes me think of plate tectonics.

2) My last name was misspelled in the table of contents. It is spelled correctly in the big letters at the beginning of my section, and it is spelled correctly in my bio. I had made the error of mentioning this in my Facebook status. The professor noticed and is now horrified. I assured her that I had only been upset for about five minutes before I laughed it off. It's just more of a disappointment or embarassment, really. People misspell my name all the time.

3) Looking at your own words on a page is a surreal feeling. This is especially true for prose. You're used to the line lengths of your poetry being where they are and all of my pieces are pretty much contained on a single page, so it looks pretty much the same. The line lengths aren't fixed in prose, though, and so moving it from a Word document to a novel-size page changes the appearance. The new font size and typeface also make a difference. In all, your prose piece looks different. To me it looks shorter: it's single spaced, and arranged on spreads, which means two pages would equal only one page on a photocopied courseware page.

Further, it looks professional. It looks concrete, real. It looks like I've sent it away now, it's no longer wholly my own. I now understand, to a small extent, what those Renaissance poets were talking about, sending their little bookes out. Maybe I'll understand even more when I get a book of my own. (I'll stick to the when; no need for an if.)

4) I now have had a second look at the content included. Most of us have written better things since then. Funny, isn't it? I somehow assumed that those newer, perhaps better pieces would end up in the anthology, or could be mystically infered from reading the anthology. This is untrue.

Anyway, I tried to get a sense of the book's flow, how it moved from one writer to another. I couldn't discern much, but perhaps I'm not removed enough (likely not). The authors all appear alphabetically (placing me second). There are some coincidental things I am not fond of, so far as placing is concerned--the very last words that appear in the book (minus the back page, which discusses the font) do not please me overmuch, but, well, that's out of my control and out of my worries.

5) I have signed, let's see, four copies now. I am not good at signing books. I looked in the three signed books that I own myself (Joseph Boyden's Through Black Spruce, Heather O'Neill's Lullabies for Little Criminals, and Carolyn Smart's Hooked) to learn how one does it. Still, I can never think what to put between "To _______" and my signature. Cait's housemate told me that I couldn't put "Keep writing" on hers because she doesn't write, and I said that I wouldn't do that anyway because it would make me sound arrogant, like I thought I was some sort of publishing guru. I still don't know what I ought to write. Alas, alack, woe is not really me.

6) That is enough about my publishing right now. I will likely inform you some more after the launch.


English Clergyman

Friday, 20 March 2009

City of Ember

I read a review of City of Ember a while ago ( and finally got around to watching it.

I will review the movie myself when I am less exhausted and when I have time (or maybe when I don't). Until then, this is a placeholder post. I'll replace it with the review when I get there.

Colloquium; Presentation


I had a really busy day today. Colloquium this morning; a presentation shortly after. I'm tired. I think I'm just going to watch a movie and then go to bed.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Playing Fast and Loose (Part I)

I had originally entitled this "A Brief Examination of Literary Analysis," but my eyeballs started to die in boredom, so I've renamed it.

I suppose the previous title was a bit of a misnomer. Really, what I'm interested in is when literary analysts (a term I am prefering to literary critics, because some people, especially sciency ones, seem to be stunned and don't realize that 'criticism' does not mean 'finding something wrong with') do the wrong thing and give the rest of us a bad name. I'm talking about the ones who play fast and loose with the text, equivocate, don't keep their boundaries and methodologies straight. And let's be clear: I'm not talking about students who don't yet grasp what it means to be an English major. I'm talking about famous, published, well-respected (or highly controversial) theorists who get put in the Norton (for those who don't know, Norton publishes highly respected anthologies for universities; the Norton anthology is to the literary canon as the Oxford English Dictonary is to the English language).


In Danse Macabre, Stephen King recalls a conversation with a woman about the book The Incredible Shrinking Man. Her thesis, predictably, is that the novel is about sex. What the novel appears to be about is a man who shrinks by an inch a day, but she claims it's about a man wrestling with his sexual identity. At a point near the end of the novel, the protagonist battles a spider. According to her, the spider is symbolic of the universal vagina.

Cue laughter.

King, if I recall correctly, then goes into one of his signature tirades against literary theorists and their propensity to sling BS. Now, if this woman was typical, that would be a fair argument. I would like to say she isn't typical, but sometimes I wonder. I will need to delve into some academic-y literature for that, but let's postpone such an adventure for the moment.

One of my housemates repeatedly insists that anything can be read sexually. He also insists that anything with the right shape can be a phallic symbol. This, I think, fairly approximates the opinions of most people who have only a very indirect relationship with literary analysis, and hear some of the worst of it (ie. the stuff you get in newspapers and in the beginnings of books by Orson Scott Card--if you've read the intro to Ender's Game, you might know what I mean). This is also utterly wrong. Yes, you can read almost anything sexually. But no, that doesn't mean that one such reading is equivalent to another. The Goblin Market is quite possibly "about" a rape, and maybe about lesbians (but more likely sisterly chastity, in my opinion). Yes, le Belle Dame sans Merci has something sexual to it, if we could only figure it out. However, if you try to tell me that the relationship between Frodo and Sam in the original, textual Lord of the Rings is homosexual, I will submit your opinion to the nearest fertilizer distributor. It all has to do with the degree that the text asks to be read that way.

The same goes with phallic objects. A hat-rack is not phallic unless described so. For instance, "He put his hat on the hat-rack" is not phallic at all. I'm sorry, but it isn't. However, "He placed his hat on the stiff, knobbed prong of the hat-rack" is remarkably more phallic. "He inserted the knob of the stiff, reaching prong of the hat rack into the cup of his hat" is even more so. These are obviously very silly examples, but my point is that the shape of an object alone is not enough to make it sexual: it must be used or described that way, first. And it had better be pretty clear, too.

If you want, you can say that guns and swords are almost always phallic. I will accept this, but only with the "almost."

Which is to say, your average Joe doesn't seem to get it, entirely. You would hope the "real" analysts would, but, again, I'm not so sure...


Donna Haraway published "A Manifesto for Cyborgs" in 1985. Haraway is polyglot of the academic sphere: she says she underwent a transformation from a simple feminist biologists to something more, a sort of science-culture critic that blended biology with philosophy, history, and science fiction theory. She is considered the founder of cyberfeminism, which itself blends many disciplines. The Norton describes it as "a new and often iconoclastic wave of feminist theory and practice that is seeking to reclaim technoscience." Whew. Mouthfull. She is controversial, largely unaccepted by both humanists and scientists. She is an environmentalist, but not one of the hippy variety. She embraces hybridity, and you can see that in her resume.

She also doesn't seem to know how to do rigourous analysis. I thought they taught you that in biology? I suppose not.

I would like to throw whole chunks of her writing on here, just so you can see how problematic it is. But I'll have to stick with a little bit. Let's take this:
The diseases evoked by these clean machines ["Our best machines are made of sunshine: they are all light and clean because they are nothing but signals, electromagnetic waves, a section of a spectrum"] are "no more" than the miniscule coding change of an antigen in the immune system, "no more" than the experience of stress. The nimble little fingers of "Oriental" women, the old fascination of little Anglo-Saxon Victorian girls with doll houses, women's enforced attention to the small take on quite new dimensions in this world. There might be a cyborg Alice taking account of these new dimensions.
Would you look at this? There's this strange leap: because women have in some cases been relegated to the realm of the small ("women's enforced attention to the small"), they'll be somehow more adept at dealing with the small matters of our technological age. What? 1) I'm not convinced by this that women have been delegated to matters of the physically small, at least not universally. But that I can be sold on; give me enough evidence and I'll buy it. 2) If it is true that women, in needlework and other matters, have an affinity for doing little things with little fingers, this does not seem to me to give them an edge, or a fresh perspective, in the microscopic (or sub-microscopic). For these things you require tools and mechanisms--often abstractions--that seem entirely unrelated to darning, etc. The best training for this would be such things, perhaps, as theology, theoretically mathematics, and philosophy (abstraction), or astronomy, siesmology, and oceanography (the use of instruments to "see"). And that's just a guess.

What Haraway is doing is equivocating. She's conflating two different realms of "small" and saying that skill in one equates to skill in the other. It's like saying that a good cook is a good boxer, because cooking and boxing are both about timing. It's patently ridiculous.

This is playing fast and loose with the text. Well, ideas, in Haraway's case. It's not rigourous. Sure, it's creative. But that doesn't cut it in theory. I'm not saying it has to be rock-hard and empirical, or that it has to work up from a priori like pure mathematics. I'm just saying that you can't ricochet around like Haraway does. When people try to pull this off, it makes the rest of us look bad.


One of my professors is a very brilliant man, but he was once guilty of such ridiculous games (or so I think). He once supposed that the frequent use of apostrophes (that would be the little mark in "can't") in a particular character's dialect was indicative of the number of things absent from the text. Absent letters, absent ideas/motives/whatever it was that we had decided was absent. Which is a quick and clever connection, of course, but it's also total bologna. If it was something a bit more signature, a bit quirkier--a Dickinsonian dash fetish, for instance--then I'd be able to buy that characteristic use of punctuation meant something on a more theoretical level. Perhaps Dickinson did not like the finality of periods, as she had troubled relations with finality itself (ie. death). This I can follow. But the thing about an apostrophe is that it's so ubiquitous. Everyone uses apostrophes, especially when trying to catch the oral element of dialect. I think those apostrophes were a side-effect of the author's desire to capture the "local flavour" or the speech patterns of the characters being portrayed. Certainly this seems more likely, and more supported by other elements of the text, than that the apostrophes call our attention to absent letters and therefore absent other-things.

Now I'm still trying to work out exactly where one draws the line between scholarliness and silliness. Perhaps there is less of one than I imagine, and perhaps it's not where I want it. However, I hope you can agree with me that there is a problem in playing so fast and loose with the text. Not only does it give me a bad name when I say I'm an English major, but it's also a quite useless form of analysis.

I must go and do real work now, but I'll come back later to explore this problem more.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

ASUS Formal

Last night was ASUS Formal. Instead of going to bed, it appears I am instead going to relate how the evening went.

At some point I determined that I would be going without a date, per se. I was, however, going to be going alongside a friend (Caroline, for those who know her) who I have known for some time now and with whom I am quite comfortable. She is such a position that she hasn't "had a date in far too long," and so she said that she considered me to be her date. I could live with that.
I suppose I ought to tell you what the ASUS Formal actually is. It's essentially a university prom, for the Arts and Science students. This is the largest department in the university, so it's a pretty mixed bag, as far as attending students is concerned. All formals are themed, and this one was "The Prohibition Years: A Night of Madness, Moonshine, and the Mob."

Now, I have a white shirt, black pants, and a suit jacket. I also have black shoes, conveniently in another of my three homes (Ontario house #1). I also have undershirts to be worn with my white shirt, conveniently in yet another of my three homes (Alberta). I also have older and worn ties. THUS, I bought new undershirts and nice, snazzy black tie from a local department store, and borrowed black shoes from my housemate (and black laces from another housemate, because these shoes had a fairly ratty set). I then washed my clothes. Sadly, I arrived too late to save my white shirt from wrinkling in the dryer, and so had to run to the girls' place to iron it. We had some difficulties with this.

Fast-forward to the evening (the rest is me working, loafing, and dressing--no excitement). My date is in a vintage yellow dress with lots of poofy at the bottom, with classy long yellow gloves. We catch the bus at the JDUC and it takes us to the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour, where the Formal is. On the bus we run into an old friend (Josh) from our first year English class and his equally well-dressed date. We lament the lack of fedoras on both our parts. He demonstrates to me that he is keeping in the tradition of Prohibition with the flask in his jacket pocket.

The formal was excellent. The lobby has awesome 20s music playing (honestly, they knew how to make music in the 20s), and many of the girls were dressed in vintage dresses, with those feathery things pointing straight up from their hair. You know the ones. Sort of like in the picture to the left, only more from the middle of an architectural feat on the top of their head. Many of the guys wore gangster hats, at least one had a pimpin' stick, and some--especially guys working there--greased back their hair in a particularly retro fashion.

After briefly entering the dance hall, Caroline and I went for our free photos. Now, the photographer woman thought we were a couple, and this led to some interesting situations. Apparently it is not good for one's hands to be seen when one puts his arm around a girl for a picture. I did not know this. First I was told to put my hand not on her shoulder but down by her hip--I supposed this made sense. I was then instructed to put my hand "lower," at which point I was glad we knew each other. Then the photographer woman actually came over and physically moved my hand so it was squarely on her bottom. Caroline is close to giggling like a schoolgirl at this moment, and I was now particularly happy that we are close friends. I think the photographer woman was terribly confused about what we thought was so funny.

If the pictures come out funny, that's why.

Anyway, we adjourn back to the dance hall. At this point we've accumulated another member of our first year English course (Ahlya), who has been in some classes since then and is in fact being published in the anthology I've mentioned previously. At some point one of us remembers that we once, back in first year, took a picture imitating our first semester English professor, the excellent and quirky Professor Ware. Later that evening we used another of our free pictures to reproduce a similar pose, as we each struck a characterist Ware position.

There was food: veggie sticks, cheese, pitas and hummus, meatballs (these were truly excellent), and more. We also each got two free drinks with our "Moonshine" tickets. I used mine on Coke, of course, but most people got one of the number of mixed drinks available. There were tables, at which we sat and around which we mingled until the dance floor started to fill.

The music was all modern, of course, and the bass was a bit too high. The flashy club lights were also somewhat distracting, but not so much as the dirty dancing that went on. It was fun anyway.

What else bears telling? I saw lots of people from assorted classes there. There was Caliegh, and I was for the first time introduced formally to her boyfriend. I said that we had met before in that he had served me at the QP, and Jon had pointed him out to me. I had known of him then because he was dating Caleigh, and so I told him that I therefore had recognized him. Caliegh had taken off her heels and was just wearing flipflops. I told her that was clever, and she said, "That's what I thought!" in a slightly intoxicated version of her usual adorable way of speaking. There was Christine, who I've known since last year. (Do you recall a post ranting about a professor who didn't seem to grasp diversity in feminism? She was in that class.) She was in a backless red dress and I believe was there with her boyfriend, but I never did meet him. There was Alison, who I saw only briefly, because she had leave to play risk with her boyfriend, who had refused to go to the formal. There was Kerri, who I met this year in class and who came with a number of friends, including Adele and Krista, both of whom I know from other classes in previous years. There was Kevin, a former housemate of Caroline's, who had slicked back hair. He is a lot of fun. There was Igor, another former housemate of Caroline's and, even earlier than that, a former classmate of mine. He is quite gregarious. There was Elamin, who is easily one of the most well-known guys on campus, and his girlfriend Emily. Elamin was the one with the pimpin' stick. There was Abbey, one of the English Department Students' Council co-chairs, a classmate of mine, and one of the members of my Gael group way back in first year. There was Astrid, one of the tiniest girls I know. There was Goddard, of course, who both Jon and Karen know (for those who don't know him, you can look back a few posts to the one about my amazing weekend). My housemate's friend Erik was there. Two of my friends were on shift: Amy, who I know from American Literature this year (calm down, Jon: she's the tallish pretty Asian who sits to Snediker's right), and Jessica, a StuCon with whom I had two RELS classes last year. I am sure there are others I am forgetting--yes, Adam and Devon were there, both of whom will be published in the anthology and who seem to be dating, based on how they interacted on the dance floor. OK, but other than that there must be people I've forgotten. Regardless, I knew quite a diverse group of people there.

Because I was not with the regular "gang," I wound up hanging out with and talking to people I don't usually socialize with outside of school settings (as evidenced above). Most of these people I've never really socialized with or spoken to before.

At one point in the evening, they dropped balloons. We (that's Caroline, myself, and a bunch of girls who were friends with one of Caroline's friends) caught one of them and held onto it as the music played. The beat throbbed through the balloon in our hands; it was really cool, all holding one hand against this balloon as it buzzed between us.

We left at about two, which is roughly when the whole shindig ended.

Overall, it was a good night.

Friday, 13 March 2009


I just saw Watchmen. Maybe more later; maybe not.

I put "rorschach" into Google Images. 11 of the first 20 were of Rorschach from Watchmen, either movie stills, photocopies from the novel, or fan art. And you know what? That was lower than I'd have guessed.

Anthology Cover

This here is the cover for the anthology. I forgot to post it earlier.

A "Fib"

form of
poem seems
to overvalue
mathematical precision.

(But I suppose you may say that of a haiku or an accumulative as well. I just don't see the point in this particular sequence of numbers. I have yet to determine what you can do with this structure.)

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Doing the (un)Desirable

One of the myths about Christianity (and any religion that has rules) is that its behaviour codes limit the pleasure of its practitioners. That is, that Christians forgo happiness for some other reason (usually, according to the legend, to get into heaven, where they will be happiest of all). This sort of thinking is unfortunately advocated by such mechanisms as Pascal's Wager (if you don't know who Pascal is, don't worry about it).

Another version of this myth is that Christianity limits some happinesses (sexual pleasures, drunkenness, etc) and offers others (community, networking, comfort in the face of death, sense of purpose, etc). In a sense this is seen as a sort of "If you give up such-and-such, we'll offer you this" deal. Membership rules still inhibit happiness, but some this-world sociological or psychological benefit is given in return for that membership. This sort of thinking is advocated by Durkheimian analysis (if you don't know who Durkheim is, don't worry about it).

Now, from a non-Christian perspective, either of these could be true. I am not going to say anything to make a non-Christian believe that these are false. Rather, I am simply going to illustrate how Christianity does not see itself as offering either option, but rather a third (and better) one. That is, a religion's perspective on rules is radically different from an outsider's perspective.

To a Christian (or, at least, to some Christians), the rules are most certainly there to test our obedience. God has put down these rules, and if we break them, we've "failed" the obedience test. But let's think about this. We knew from the outset that we'd fail. God knew from the outset that we'd fail. No one in the whole of Christianity has ever claimed otherwise. So obviously there is a lot more to these rules that simply testing. We aren't getting into heaven based on our obedience, so that rules-as-entrance-exam story can be promptly defenestrated.

To a Christian (or, at least, to some Christians), the rules are most certainly there to keep our community intact. I don't think we deny the fact that these rules have to do with social normativity and conformity. Oh, no one phrases it like that. But in Philippians, Paul asks us to "strive side by side," to "do everything without murmuring and arguing," to be "of the same mind" and love with "the same love." We frequently say that if the congregation (and especially the elder committee) doesn't follow the rules, the church falls apart. The rules are clearly there to keep the community together, unified. Social normativity or conformity: these are good things, in moderation, and I don't think any Christian who's really thought it through would argue that the rules aren't there to keep us from falling into chaos.

But that, again, is not the whole story. If the rules were so repressive of pleasure as people sometimes seem to think, people--and therefore communities--would erupt far more often than they do. Communism fell for this reason; Westernized colonies frequently experience bouts of spirit possession, witch attacks, and other rebellions against the normalized, scientific doctrine imposed on them. That these eruptions only rarely occur in Christianity indicates something in particular: it indicates that the rules are not universally repressive.

To a Christian (or, at least, to some Christians), the rules are there to help us be happier. They are not fundamentally tickets into heaven. They are not fundamentally prerequisites to church membership. They are rather guideposts to earthly happiness. We are not to get drunk (that isn't abstain entirely; that's not get inebriated) because God knows better than we do that drunkenness leads to unhappiness. We are not to engage in pre-marital sex because God knows better than we do that these relationships will hurt us in the long-run, as we play havoc with our chemical emotions through acts of intimacy with people who we are uncommitted to. We are to refrain from arguing because it will prevent us from exercising our pride, and we are to avoid pride because it pride makes us pig-headed and therefore stupid. We are to watch our anger because anger is poisonous--and I'll note that this is physiologically true, in that adreneline destroys our bodies and the physiological mechanisms of anger give us minor short-term advantages and major long-term damage.

The idea is that we do not know what is good for us; we learn from mistakes, but sometimes these mistakes can be so destructive that it's very hard to repair the damage by the time you've learned the lesson. God, knowing those mistakes that are most common to the most people, has encoded warnings against these mistakes in rules. Now, because He's God and we need to trust Him, it's wrong for us to disobey these rules. Many of the effects of these mistakes damage others or the church (because a hurting person is a dangerous person), and so most certainly these rules enforce certain norms and protect the church. But these both stem from the fact that, fundamentally, these rules are to prevent each person from hurting his or her own self.

Have you ever known that something will make you happy in the long run, but right now you really don't want to do it? For me it's exercise. I am happy once I'm exercising, and I'm very happy after I've exercised. But before I start, I really don't want to do it. For others this may be dieting or giving up alcohol or quitting smoking. The short-term pleasure is far easier to account for than long-term pleasure.

That's what the rules are like. It may look unappealing at first: limits on sex, limits on alcohol, limits on gambling, limits on swearing, limits on anger, limits on arguing, limits on pride, limits on selfishness. This is only because we are looking entirely at the short-term pleasures of a buzz or a quick orgasm or a nicotine kick. These pleasures, if improperly handled, will destroy us. That is what the rules are for: to control these pleasures.

Now, if you're a non-Christian this whole spiel may not convince you that the rules given by Christianity are the right ones; that's not my aim. What I hope I have successfully done is indicate how believers understand these rules, and why believers think it's valuable to follow them. Hopefully, it will give you a new perspective on the role of rules (unless you already understood all of this).

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

How to Spell the Holidays

A Brief Rant:

Apparently Word does not accept "Hallowe'en" as a legitimate word. It does accept "Halloween." Now, I am not saying that "Halloween" is an incorrect spelling (even though it is) or that it shouldn't be considered correct by Word (though it shouldn't). Rather, I do not like how the original, not-yet-obsolete, etymologically-faithful, replete-with-character spelling is dismissed by SpellCheck. I do not want an ugly red squiggle under my letters just because the software designers are part of the Simpul Speling Moovment.

What makes it worse is that, because of Word's discrimination against authentic spelling, all of North American will soon believe (if it doesn't already) that Hallowe'en does not have an apostrophe in it.

Monday, 9 March 2009

A Super Fantastic Weekend

(Well, almost.)

To begin, I notice that I have not posted since Wednesday. This is due to a particular cocktail of events: a) waves of nausea, b) waves of excellent things this weeked, and c) waves of guilt followed by fruitless attempts to do work. Oh, and add copious hours of movie watching. Truly copious.

Friday evening my housemate held a semi-formal at our house. We all dressed up and such-like. Other than the previously-mentioned nausea, it was enjoyable. We played cards (President) before dancing a bit, and then I walked a friend home. When I returned I found Jon holed away upstairs reading The Giver because...well, I'm not sure, something about the social dynamics downstairs. Anyway, we went downstairs where a drinking game was in progress, so we participated in that. I don't drink, though, so I was simply having excessive amount of ginger ale rather than alcohol, which did not impare my judgement but did inhibit my gastrointestinal well-being. I found "Never Have I Ever" particularly easy, as well as categories, largely because I have not done things like "Finish a drink" or "Drive for more than three consecuitive hours" and because my knowledge of obscure words and species means I don't have to pay attention to what other people are saying when we play categories (there's no chance anyone has said "leafhopper" under insects or "forsook" when rhyming with "took"). That was a late night.

Saturday night I did not feel well enough to go Square Dancing, alas. I did feel well enough to sit around and talk (it was physical exertion that would set me off, as my stomach was feeling over-full and my gag reflex was trigger-happy), so I headed to Jon's to meet for the first time in person Karen (Kay) and the truly inimitable Dave. You can read about that evening over on Kay's blog, of course, but here's what I thought: I met a number of people (Goddard, Jennin--I don't know how to spell that one) about whom I've read and heard. Now I can put faces to all of the names and stories. This is a group of people with whom I felt almost immediately at home and into whose company I could easily fall if things like time and geography didn't interfere. It was a late night, which indicates how enjoyable it was. We also all discussed romantic difficulties and old memories (or old stories, for me) in the sort of emotional round-table that seems to develop around Jon these days. It's funny; there was a sense of nostalgia for me looking on a shared experience I only had second-hand, through Jon's lists of quotations. I had heard much of what they reminisced about already, and so I partook of their old-days-ing in a vicarious sort of way.

Oh, and I have now officially met someone from the Internet. That is apparently 'weird' to anyone who I've mentioned it to, but it doesn't seem strange at all to me. I suppose it would have a few months ago. Things, and people, change.

Anyway, on Sunday I went to Bethel and heard Lew Worrad speak about "The 'No God' Delusion." It was the late service, though; I couldn't get to the early service. Then I had lunch in the cafeteria with Jon, Karen, Dave, Goddard, and Angela (who I hadn't met before), where the conversation was more intellectual and less relationship-driven than the night before. Then I got a little work done before preparing to and then actually cooking for Navigators. I had prepared a roast the afternoon before and let it sit in the crock pot. I also made a vegetable-ladden creamy-tomato pasta, and my sous-chef made apple streudal. (OK, I don't really have a sous-chef; he was assigned to help me by the cooking coordinator.) By this point the nausea had all but gone.

Which essentially concludes the relatable elements of my weekend. I suppose there must have been other parts, but that's all that's fit to publish on-line.

Oh, and about the service: Navigators had complained that Lew's sermon was too intellectual for them, let alone the junior highs he invited to remain for the sermon. The use of 'epistemology' and Kuhn's theories might have done part of it. I think I may have done a better job in my previous posts of dismantling Dawkins' claims, but again what I wrote is likely high-intellectual and not appropriate for a general congregation either. I could rant about intellectualism, but I won't.

So there we go. A Super Fantastic Weekend, minus the sickness parts.

Karen: you did not get an adjective because I couldn't think of an appropriate one. I had "delightful," but that seemed too much of an aren't-I-a-pretty-fixture hostess adjective. I also considered "pretty and individual," but that sounded too much like I was hitting on you, and what does "individual" mean, anyway? I also considered "unique," but that's too often an underhanded compliment, and "intelligent," but that seemed too clinical. Eventually I opted for no adjective at all, in favour of this explanation. Dave gets "truly inimitable" because, well, I think there's no question about that.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009


Using the "Next Blog>>" function, I discovered a birdwatching blog entitled Birdscapes. I have two things to note.

1) I love the name. I like words that end in -scapes, and I like clever neologisms that end that way. You know, seascape, cityscade, spacescape (you know, spacescape is almost palidomic; if you allowed s's and e's to be equivalent, it would work). So birdscape is cool; it's the landscape of birds.

2) I sometimes wish I could sustain a blog that is pretty much only about a single topic. You know, like God Online (see sidebar) or Freakonomics (see sidebar) or foodie blogs (see sidebar) or any skecthblog or webcomic blog... I tried with the whole MMO thing, but I haven't played for two months now and even then I rarely felt moved to write. That makes updating difficult. Here is the problem: those people who your average read-but-not-widely blogger has following him or her are often of a diverse interest range, picked up through assorted comments and exchanges and just perhaps by the "Next Blog" function. A diverse-topic blog is more likely to retain such readers because even if every post is not interesting to them, some will be. Now, a single-topic blog is more likely to work on a massive-scale for the same reason, I presume, that chain restaurants, book series, and episodic TV shows work: familiarity and niche. So as much as I admire the neatness and professionalism of a single-topic blog, I realize that is a phenomenon that works best for large, popular blogs, and not little fish like me.

I mean, if I wrote entirely on religious stuff, my less religious readers might get bored. If I wrote on entirely literary analysis type stuff...well, Jon might not get bored. Would the rest of you? I'd say maybe, but that's not fair. Maybe you guys would find nerdiness interesting. I could say something like, if I wrote on gaming... but I don't play games anymore, it seems, and I never write about that here. If I wrote entirely about my writing process, I'd get nothing written and I might bore some of you away. If I wrote entirely about my life, I'd get bored, and I think that some people do enjoy my less-about-me stuff. See my point? Nothing that I currently write about would be interesting enough to please the readers I currently have (there are, what, about five of you, unless my family is still reading this...then it would be eight, right?). I know! I'll put up a poll, and you can tell me what you like! Not that I will change any of my habits accordingly, but it would be nice to see.

Wow. Somehow writing about Birdscapes turned into writing about me. Whoops.

3) Birdscapes, if you look at the profile, is part of a blogger group called Birds of a Feather, whose mascot is a turkery vulture (I like turkey vultures--they're cool!). Check them out too, why don't you?

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Sick and Bored

Sorry, I have no reviews or academic things or clever rants.

1) I have a take-home midterm due on Thursday. I am almost done and I do have all of tomorrow to do it, but I do not want to. I got through most of the analytical thinking stuff and have only one, boring, non-critical regurgatative passage remaining. Also, I have to cite things and make it all sound nice and coherent. You can file all of that under BORING.

2) I feel ill. This illness is composed of a mild cough and on-and-off crampiness/wooziness in my gut, often with a latent gag-reflex going on. I didn't go to Running and Reading today and I don't plan on attending class tomorrow.

3) I have lots of work to do on top of the midterm, but guess what I really don't care to do?

4) Blah.

That is all. Maybe I'll write something fun if I think of anything.
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