Friday, 12 February 2010

7 Quick Takes (XXIX)

1. Today is Darwin Day, in case you aren't up on your secular/scientistic holidays. So happy natural selection and all that? I actually don't know what a person is expected to do on Darwin Day. The proximity to St. Valentine's Day sort of suggests that you should be going out and finding an advantagous mating partner and ensuring the genetic diversity of your species or something. I don't know. It seems sort of like Victoria Day; the only difference is that by now Victoria Day's meaning has been entirely eroded and it's just a day off.
2. I'm not really watching the Olympics. 1) I'm not all that interested in sports in the first place, 2) I don't see how competitive games makes for diplomacy, and 3) I've lost respect for the whole institution upon learning that women's beach volleyball is now an official summer event, with bikinis being the official uniform. Patriotism is all well and good, but I don't think I need to support an event which I think is an enormous waste of money and a poor way of securing international relations.

I'm sure I'll be having all sorts of people swan-diving down my throat for this one. The Olympics can be fun, sure, and it's an excellent opportunity for skilled athletes to get attention. For instance, a girl I knew in high school competed in the last summer Olympics, and I'm proud of her for it. It just isn't such a big deal to me.

3. I got some books from the library, both borrowed and purchased. I've borrowed J. R. R. Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth by Bradley J. Birzer, The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next by Lee Smolin, Best Canadian Stories 08 by (editor) John Metcalf, and Tales Before Tolkien: The Roots of Modern Fantasy by (edited and commentary) Douglas A. Anderson. I purchased Henry James and the Problem of Robert Browning by Ross Posnock, Just After Sunset by Stephen King, Winter Notes on Summer Impressions by Dostoevsky, Obasan by Joy Kogawa, The Secret of Dragonhome by John Peel, and World Wonders by Robertson Davies. As usual, I am further burying myself in books that I will not have time to read.
So far, I have finished Sanctifying Myth and read some of The Trouble with Physics and Best Canadian Stories. Perhaps I will discuss these later.

4. Lately it has been mild. It's a range between -25 or so and near thawing. There has been little snow and virtually no wind. There are therefore no complaints on the weather side of things.

5. I have still been feeling less-than-healthy, but I've nonetheless gone to work. One thing I will say about work is that I clambered up a ladder to cut down a damaged eavestrough. I borrowed my Dad's tin snips to do the job, and they cut through the eavestrough like construction paper. The hardest part, actually, was hauling the ladder through the snowdrifts. It caught the snow like a net and dragged it. The heights didn't bother me, which is a good sign.
6. My mother has been walking to work lately--which is itself an interesting story, as this involves cutting through the bush--so I have had to take the bus to work. I had forgotten about that whole process, and it is a little less than exciting when you're nauseated. (Jon, I'm trying very hard to use nauseous and nauseated according to their original meanings. It would be out of character for me to use them incorrectly.) Also, I am no longer enchanted by bright bus interiors in the night. However, compared to most cities, Fort McMurray has an excellent public transportation system. Fare is $1.25, and I can get from home to work in about half an hour. Buses very rarely come late.

7. On Wednesday I stopped in at the Peter Pond Shopping Centre and visited the Coles. I went there to buy a copy of North Word, a fledgeling literary journal for the Canadian north and to order a copy of Morrison's The English Opium-Eater, a biography of Thomas de Quincey. (The author, Robert Morrison, is a professor I had in second year, and a phenomenal lecturer and person. That he gets royalties is the only reason I was willing to shell out that much for a book.) (I know, I know. More books.) At Coles, I saw a table of discount books, and on it was a book of Canadian photography. My mother had been talking before about not having any nice reference books (in artiste lingo, a book with nice glossy pictures you can use as a drawing reference) from which to paint. I was humming and hawing over the book, when I came upon a photo of a man hand-feeding two beavers carrots. Both were sitting up on their hind legs, and one had his little front paws out, reaching for the lovely tubers. I decided that that photo alone was worth $10, so I bought the book.
While I was there, I went in to the food court for Chinese, which for some reason I am always craving but never eating. Then I lost track of the time and missed my connection.

A note on the Peter Pond Shopping Centre: it's one of the few things in Fort McMurray still named after the first white man to come to the area. There used to be a public school and a hotel named after him, but no more. Pond is likely the most well-known local historical figure here, as even the recent immigrants to Fort McMurray hear of him. However, naming things after him has become a faux pas, largely because he was a cruel bigot and murderer. He is suspected of murdering two rival fur traders, but he was never convicted. Evidence has also come forth that he beat the indigenous peoples he traded with and that he distributed pox blankets to the local tribes. In the case that you're not well-researched in European subjugation of Native North Americans I'll explain a pox blanket: it's a blanket deliberately infected with small pox so that the people who buy and use it will catch the disease and, not having an immunities to it, die. This is why we no longer name things after Peter Pond.

That's seven!

I will also announce that the folks and I are visiting Fort Chipewyan this coming long weekend. It should be fun. We leave early tomorrow morning, and will go dog-sledding and will hopeful see the Aurora Borealis.

You know to visit Conversion Diary by now, surely.

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