Tonight Stargate Universe premiered, and I wanted to share my thoughts on it. However, I feel guilty blogging about a television show when I haven’t blogged about arguably more important matters, such as life.
With a month behind me, I feel good about the school year so far. I only have four courses this year: Introductory Analysis, Partial Differential Equations (PDEs), Introduction to Mathematical Probability, and Speculative Fiction. Three math courses and an English course. All of my math courses are interesting, and I was excited to take the English course the moment I saw it offered. I’ll discuss it first, since the rest of the post will be about math.
My Speculative Fiction course is covering only science fiction this section—which is fine. Although I love literature in general and would gladly have taken something like Victorian Literature if this course hadn’t been offered, the chance to read and discuss science fiction for credit is not something I was going to overlook! We’re reading The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds, The Left Hand of Darkness, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Neuromancer, Dawn, and Singularity Sky. We also have to watch Blade Runner (a film based on Do Androids Dream).
Of my math courses, Introductory Analysis is my favourite because it comprises my favourite aspect of math: proofs. Specifically, I love algebraic proofs—the more abstract the better. I love math but don’t like numbers so much. PDEs are fascinating and challenging as well; the course is very much oriented toward application, however, whereas I‘m more interested in theory. Unfortunately, my ardour doesn’t quite extend to probability, but I think I’ll survive—so far it hasn’t tripped me up too much.
My involvement in math at the university extends far beyond courses! Last term I marked assignments for a first-year calculus course; this fall I‘m marking a second-year linear algebra course. Moreover, I’m tutoring in the new Lakehead Math Assistance Centre (LUMAC for short). Both of these jobs are paid positions, which is a nice income in addition to my gallery job while also providing me with relevant experience for my future career.
Having spent a few sessions tutoring, I can already say that I enjoy it. We’ll see if it stays that way once the flood of people arrives the week before midterms! For now, however, it’s fulfilling. Plus, it gives me a nice review of first-year courses, like basic calculus, that contain skills I’ll always be needing but don’t always practise as I should.
So I have a very math-filled term, it appears. I like to use the phrase “inundated by math—and I love it.”
With the first term nearing its end, here’s a little review of my second year so far.
That is the best way to describe how I spend most of my time now. With three math classes, I spend nine hours a week listening to math lectures. I have three assignments due each week, so I work on those in my time between school and work. Every second week until the middle of November, I went to a practice sessions for math competitions for an hour on Fridays. Even when I’m not doing my own math, I like to help other people with their math. I am living and breathing math.
AND IT’S FRELLING AWESOME.
For those who don’t understand how someone can be so excited about math, the best way I can describe it is like being closer to God. I don’t necessarily believe in God, but I imagine that what I feel when I’m exploring mathematical concepts is the same feeling pious people get when they do whatever it is pious people do to feel closer to God. And math truly is the language of the universe. If God does exist, in one form or another, then understanding math helps one understand the universe and, in a way, get closer to God and creation.
When I first started university, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up. I had this deep, dark fear that I’d fail to understand crucial concepts and I‘d never be able to graduate in the math program. Fortunately, so far that isn’t the case. I am learning, and it is a challenge—some of these concepts are really complicated! But I build on what I learned before, and that allows me to understand concepts that a year ago I would have been unable to grasp.
The more I learn, however, the more I‘m able to comprehend just how much more there is I don’t understand yet. I‘m starting to get an idea of where my interests lie, however. I’m really enjoying ring theory—we’ll see if my interest continues next term, when we learn group theory. Abstract algebra appeals to me because it focuses on the reason I love mathematics. Abstract algebra involves constructing and proving the fundamental aspects of math. It’s the fundamentals of the fundamentals. I‘m discovering that I love doing proofs.
I’m getting the sense that most of my peers don’t have the same white-hot passionate love for math that I do. But that’s fine. I’ll show them. I’ll show them all! Muwahahaha! Muwahaha—er … right. Moving on.
When I tell people who know me that I want to teach high school, most of them react with scepticism. Apparently I walk around with the word “Professor” stamped on my forehead. Working for the first time with a new hire at the gallery, I made an allusion to Sisyphus, and my boss said, “Ben’s our resident Einstein.” And the new girl replied, “Yeah, I’m getting that vibe.”
Apparently I give off a vibe now….
I have wanted to teach for as long as I can remember. As I got older, however, the age group I wanted to teach got older as well. So I can’t deny that now that I’m in university, I‘m starting to understand why I would want to teach at a university. My main reason for not wanting to become a professor is that I don’t want to write math papers and do research into theories. I just wanted to do math. Now I‘m realizing that I actually like doing proofs, and it’s scary! :whoa:
Will I stick with my original desire to teach high school? Or will I fulfil everyone else’s predictions? Tune in for the exciting conclusion over the next three years!
Either way, I’m going to be a math hermit for a very, very long time.
It’s already been over a year since we moved into our new house. Since moving in, although I’ve been very happy with my room on the whole, I have wanted to do three things: get new curtains, get rid of the wallpaper, and paint the white walls.
Classes end next week, and my exams are over by December 12, which gives me a nice break before the start of next term. This is a perfect opportunity to paint my room. I need to do it soon, too, because I’ve already run out of space to shelve my books—and once I put up more shelves, they are never coming down.
Over the course of this year and a month, I‘ve adjusted to the curtains. I asked one of my coworkers (who is an artist, so I figured she could suggest some good colours) what I should do with the room, and she said she liked the wallpaper. It’s certainly not Mario wallpaper1 … but then again, if I don’t tear it down, I only have to paint three walls, and I don’t have to take down one set of shelves.
So I’m asking for your help with these two questions:
- Should I keep the wallpaper or tear it down?
- What colour should I paint my walls (bearing in mind your answer to question 1)?
I‘m not very good with colour, so I appreciate any suggestions you have, whether it’s just a word or if you link me to a specific ID number or swatch. Here are some recent photos of my room so you can get an idea of how everything is laid out:
- [ 1 ] For those of you who don’t stalk me, I used to have Super Mario wallpaper on one wall of my room in my old house.
I shouldn’t be up this late. I’m going to bed. Really, I am. However, there is one advantage to staying up this late: infomercials.
Think what you like about infomercials. I think they’re annoying, sure. But open your mind for a moment and listen to those infomercial hosts—don’t listen to what they’re saying, but how they’re saying it. As I write this, YTV has started to air the Magic Bullet infomercial with “Mick and Mimi.” It’s probably a combination of his accent and his enthusiasm, but when I close my eyes and listen to Mick explain how the Magic Bullet is the answer to all my food-related problems (and some non-food-related ones), I can, for a brief moment, feel reassured that everything in this world is all right.
So praise the Flying Spaghetti monster for His noodly gift of infomercials. They are truly a blessing!
I‘m addicted to a new game called Superstruct. It’s a “massively multiplayer” forecasting game. Sort of like a role-playing game, Superstruct is set in 2019 and concerns five “superthreats” that together weaken humanity enough to make our survival outside of the century unlikely. But you aren’t playing as a superhero or a zombie: you’re playing as you—or as you will be, in 2019.
Created by The Institute for the Future, Superstruct is more than a game. It’s a collaborative problem-solving exercise. And it’s an experiment. I learned about it from this week’s episode of Spark, where Nora Young interviews Jane McGonigal, the game designer. I was immediately intrigued. The goal of the game is to create possible solutions for the likely threats of our near future. It’s designed to be realistic. While making accurate predictions isn’t always possible, the game gives us scenarios extrapolated from humanity’s current global situation. Watch the videos for each superthreat; they sound very plausible.
As McGonigal explains, the game’s serious. It’s designed to get people to think about issues we might not otherwise consider in our daily lives. By focusing on the environment as a game, one in which people are rewarded for their efforts and participation, the IFTF is drawing upon a whole pool of people who might not otherwise provide input.
I think about the future and possible solutions to problems all the time. But I‘m not always in a position to effect change or even necessarily make my voice heard. And I love hearing the ideas of other people, not only on what the future will be like, but what we can do about it. Superstruct was made for me!
The website itself suffers from several design flaws and technical issues that make me less inclined to participate. However, I’ve joined the game, even created my own superstruct. The game only runs until November 17, at which point it will be frozen and archived for future reference. So if you‘re interested, don’t wait. Join now and start inventing a better future.
Oh, almost forgot: following the lead of other SEHIs, I also have created a Twitter account for my 2019 self.
Last updated Thursday, October 9, 2008 at 12:36 AM
So I was going to write this entry in French, but I discovered along the way that I’ve forgotten my simple past tense. This disturbs me.
I took French from grade 1 until grade 11 in school (this was before the provincial government postponed mandatory French until grade 4). It’s only compulsory until grade 9, but I liked my teachers, and the courses were interesting and academic. Plus, being able to speak another language is a plus. Except I can’t really speak it now, can I?
Part of me thinks I don’t have an ear for languages. I excelled at reading and writing French. However, even at the height of my proficiency, I was never too hot at pronunciation or comprehension of spoken French. Nevertheless, I feel bad that I live in a bilingual country yet I only speak English. There’s this whole other culture that’s an integral part of my country’s history and current events, yet I ignore it. I feel like an elitist anglophone snob!
This week’s episode of Spark includes a segment about the French-English digital divide. That’s what got me thinking about this, although it was also tonight’s French-language debate amongst the federal party leaders. I recorded it, even though my French is rusty. Luckily I was able to catch the gist of what I watched—I didn’t watch it all, because it is rather long, and most of the issues will be covered again in Thursday’s English-langauge debate.
Of course, no amount of wanting my French to improve will magically make it improve. I‘d actually have to do something about it. My chances of doing this in my free time are virtually nil. Maybe next year, if it’s offered, I’ll take Lakehead University’s Elementary French course—it accepts my grade 11 French class as a prerequisite, and that will provide the classroom-directed motivation I need to re-engage myself in French. I guess I could also try reading for leisure in French. Maybe some Camus? I wonder if I could get my hands on Douglas Coupland in French…. :P
For those of you who speak multiple languages, what was your experience in learning languages other than your first? If you went through immersion (either in school or just by living in a different country), did you find that conducive or challenging?
I had a bunch of nifty blog posts planned for this week, but I didn’t have the time to write them. My weekend was chock full of work, followed by homework, leaving me with barely enough energy to drag myself to my computer, let alone write or write a blog post. This week hasn’t gone much better.
That’s not to say that I’m having bad days. I try not to start off my day dreading what is to come; it seems like the wrong attitude. Nevertheless, I do feel the pressure of a continuous flow of activities. I wake up, go to class, do homework, maybe read if I‘m lucky. I’ve been working a lot. To reduce the stress and impose some order on this managed chaos, I‘ve tried to establish as much of a routine as possible. Of course, things crop up that don’t submit to that routine, and those throw my day off.
I try to consciously stop and recognize those moments of stillness that happen between each scheduled activity. This afternoon I listened to Brahms while solving differential equations, and that was quite relaxing. Really, it was. No one else was home, so I existed alone in this pocket of classical music and mathematics (which are related, of course!). I knew that stillness could not last, unfortunately—I had to go to work. Worse, I had to work late, which means I had less time after work to 1) watch House and 2) do more math. Work did not last as long as it could have, fortunately. House was excellent—Felicia Day seems to be popping up everywhere since I saw her in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. But now the night is over for me.
Hopefully I’ll be less tired toward the end of the week and next week. I wish I could stay up and work on ring theory, but I have an 8:30 class on Wednesday, and if I don’t go to bed, then I won’t get up in time. I’m already going to regret waking up at 7:30 anyway.
If there were one thing I would change about myself, it is the fact that I lack the ability to inhabit the moment. I am constantly and consistently thinking only of the future—not necessarily the distant future, more usually the immediate, next-couple-of-hours-or-days future. And I find that this drains me more than is necessary.
Summer is supposed to be time off from school to relax, but present-day economics throws a wrench in that model. Students instead usually must arm themselves with resumes and hunt out at least one (if not more) summer jobs in order to pay for schooling, residence, food, gas, and whatever expensive habits they have acquired since they had enough money to buy expensive habit-forming items.
I‘m one of the lucky ones. I don’t have to pay for schooling, residence, or food. All I need to take care of are my expensive habits,1 and sometimes gas, although my dad is pretty generous in that area. Otherwise, I‘m just saving my money for when I will need to pay for school, when I’ll need to start renting an apartment or put a down payment on a house or anyone of those expenses that seem to crop up in the adult world.2 So compared to others, I have it easy. Either I just have a weaker constitution, or going through school and then working all summer is draining.3
My wondrous vacation to Ohio is over, and now I am starting full time at work. This means more money (yay) but longer shifts. The true downside is also the upside of my work (isn’t that just irony for you). At the gallery, the days are often slow—especially in the summer, when the weather is warm and people engage in outdoor activities. So when there is nothing for us to do, we front desk attendants get some downtime. I like to read. Working during the summer means that the first four hours of our weekday shifts are spent with the full-time staff, which means we at least have to look like we’re working. Anyone who lives in Cubeville knows how this feels.4
I get Sundays and Mondays off, but otherwise I’m biking to work every day that the weather is nice. That takes time and effort—especially on the way back, because that way is mostly uphill. When I arrive home, I’m tired and sweaty and all I want to do is collapse. Combined with working, this gives me the distinct feeling that I lack free time. And as a somewhat lazy, sedentary sort of person, free time is a very valuable commodity to me. I function best in an idle state of careful rumination.
Hence my lack of ability to focus on the present and “live in the moment.” Were I able to do that, I think I’d be better at coping with this sort of lifestyle. Instead, I constantly focus on what comes next, leaving me somewhat disorganized, discontent, and dissatisfied.
So every so often I say to myself, “Ben, you need to shape up and start living in the moment,” and every time I reply, “You’re right, Ben—and might I add, devilishly charming and handsome—I do need to alter my pattern of behaviour.” Yet nothing comes of it. The closest I‘ve managed to come is sort of use a to-do list, and even that hasn’t become a habit. I have flirted with the GTD philosophy, tried downloading ThinkingRock and using that, but it has gotten me nowhere.
I need to accept that I am not a very organized person. Those who know me may balk at this statement, but what you think of as “organization” is in fact just a deep-seated need for tidiness. It’s true that I enjoy cleaning. I need a clean, tidy environment in order to have a clean, tidy state of mind in which to work. If my room is messy, then I feel stifled, crowded, and I can’t work very productively. Don’t mistake this for organization, however. That is another beast altogether. I am usually very disorganized.
The question remains, however: if I cannot become an organized person—and I‘m pretty sure I can’t—then how do I improve my time management even though I’m disorganized? How do I avoid feeling so drained, grumpy, and … grown up?
The answer may be to “stop and smell the roses” as often as I can, and I do. Really. I spend a lot of time just vegetating—that’s the whole point of acquiring free time, so I don’t have to do anything except just soak up the wonderful ambiance of life in our little corner of the universe. What else? I’m going to try and read as much as possible in order to further expand my personal life goal of “know as much as possible, read as many books as possible before you die.” Lastly, I am going to remember to breathe. To try to separate the tough and grimy (work, travelling to work, cleaning, lack of free time) from the light and fluffy (movies, books, gardens, walks, friends).
After all, rain comes from clouds.
Yesterday I had a consultation with an oral surgeon regarding the possible extraction of my wisdom teeth. Why possible? Well, I’m not sure if I need it—or if I want to do it.
My wisdom teeth have fully grown into my mouth and don’t cause me any pain, unlike some people, so I count myself lucky in that regard. Nevertheless, both my dentist and my oral surgeon have recommended I get them removed. There are some compelling reasons to do this. Firstly, it’s possible they’ll crowd my jaw in painful ways in the future (I didn’t really follow this part of the discussion, so I’m not sure if they are crowding my jaw right now or not). Secondly, if I ever need to get jaw surgery, my wisdom teeth will have to be removed anyway. Lastly, the teeth do make it harder for me to brush and floss, which can lead to oral hygiene complications—I already have a cavity in one wisdom tooth.
So with all of this compelling data, why am I ambivalent? To put it simply, I don’t like the idea of surgery. I’ve never had surgery before, and I‘d rather avoid it unless it’s really necessary. The idea of removing parts of my body—even if they’re vestigial teeth—seems weird to me. Plus, no matter how safe a surgery is, there can always be complications. If the choice is between having wisdom teeth that aren’t causing problems and having surgery that could cause problems, which choice makes more sense? I can just as easily get my cavity filled and try to improve my oral hygiene habits. So the question might very well be: even if my wisdom teeth aren’t causing me problems now, will they in the future?
I tried to ask intelligent questions of my oral surgeon, but he disarmed me with his bedside manner. The receptionist urged me to book my surgery while I was there, before the summer schedule filled up. Lot of car salespeople they are! And really … even if I did ask my oral surgeon, can I trust that his opinion is unbiased? After all, he has a vested interest in getting me to go through the surgery so he can get money (and who can blame him—he has a family to support, and in this case the surgery is relatively harmless, so it’s not like he’s bootlegging organs). This is a problem I have with medicine in general: it is one of those things in life where only those initiated into its secrets can understand the complexities involved and make an informed decision. As a person who tries to make rational, informed decisions whenever possible, how can I choose when I don’t have the information? Who do I trust when the only people with the information—medical professionals—may not be reliable sources of information? I can do research on the Internet, but ultimately I’ll have to make some judgement calls.
To summarize, I’m not concerned about the surgery process itself—I‘m uncomfortable with surgery from an ideological perspective, but if I do decide to go through with it, that’s fine. I’m just not sure if I want to get rid of four teeth. I never thought that I could make such a big deal out of this decision—I figured I‘d go in, get ’em out, and recover. I didn’t expect to enter into such inner conflict as I am experiencing now. Funny how life does that, eh?
My life seems to be full of countdowns lately. Two days until the premiere of Battlestar Galactica. Five days until classes end. Eight days until my calculus exam. And so on. Now I‘ve just added one more: 36 days until I fly to Ohio to meet someone I know only online.
As someone who spends most of his time online, I’ve come to know many people whom I‘ve never met in my offline life. Some of them I consider close friends. I’m sure that many people, particularly those in my demographic, interact other the Internet with foreigners all the time. We are a global village, as Marshall McLuhan might say. Still, going to a foreign country (yes, America is a foreign country!) to meet an online friend is a big step. It’s increasingly common despite the pervasive fear of Internet predators. I’m not going to meet up with “sparky004m” from a faceless channel on some yuppie IRC network, however. That would probably be asking for trouble. Sorry, sparky.
Lauren and I met on deviantART. I used to be quite active there until school ate up my time and I devoted my writing time to novels instead of short stories. Lauren regularly read one of my offline-friend’s submissions. She was impressed by the depth of critique I gave this friend’s poetry and asked me to comment on hers. So I read her work, looked at her art, and she reciprocated. Eventually we began to chat via AIM. In many ways, it was much like any other online friendship. We had conversations (sometimes quite long), discussed our lives, compared our countries (go Canada!), and whatnot. Yet through some wonderful sequence of cosmic events, our friendship was deeper than the average online friendship usually is. Lauren’s one of my best friends, even though we’ve never met in person. We just seem to sync.
After a while, we started having audio conversations, and then audio/video conversations, using Skype. (Yes, I‘m plugging software. Get over it.) Video chats add a whole new dimension to any online relationship, making conversations seem much more real and sometimes more natural. It was so cool being able to talk to this girl in Ohio as if she were in the same room as me! Plus, it does provide security. Thanks to these conversations, I’m reasonably sure Lauren is not a muscular biker named Doris. If she is, Doris has gone to extreme lengths to create an elaborate deception at my expense, so I applaud her dedication! Still, I was somewhat shocked when Lauren invited me to visit her. I got used to the idea quickly, but initially I thought she was joking. We talked about it, and I realized she was quite serious—and the more I thought about it, the more appealing the idea became. Speculation turned quickly into planning, and now the plans are coming to fruition.
There’s more excitement to this trip than just the fact that I’ll be meeting Lauren for the first time, of course. This will be my second trip on an airplane. I don’t get out much. :P My brother and I took a plane to Hamilton, ON once to visit my grandparents, who live in Waterloo. That was several years ago, however; since then, I’ve never been on a plane. So this will be my first time flying alone, to a foreign country—and I have to catch a connection in Minneapolis. Then I’ll be spending two weeks in Columbus, OH. This will be a welcome vacation—I don’t think I’ve left the city in two years!
I‘m posting this tonight because I bought my tickets tonight. The tickets are non-refundable, so I just passed the point of no return. In 36 days, I’m going to Ohio!
But before that happens, I have lots of planning, shopping, and packing to do. The next month will be filled with lots of preparations for this trip. I‘m kind of overwhelmed at the moment because I’m bubbling with excitement. I don’t know how much I’ll be online while I’m in Columbus. I hope to get my site redesigned before then, but that is a very optimistic hope. Maybe this will provide some more motivation to code quickly. Then I can blog about my days in Ohio, from Ohio!
Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!
Mr. Gradgrind, Hard Times by Charles Dickens.
Sorry Mr. Gradgrind, but I refuse to believe in a universe based entirely on fact. The universe can’t be based only on fact and science. If it were, why would we have emotions? Why would we feel terrible half the time and ecstatic the other? Why put ourselves through so much pain and trauma? If the universe were based on fact, we wouldn’t need this. We could be moist robots going about with logic and reason. But we aren‘t. And to me, that means that there’s something out there logic and reason cannot explain. Our emotions are our ways of navigating that which we can’t quantify. And that’s magic.
I had an awesome day today. I fixed a problem with VSNS Lemon’s new code, which I celebrated by playing the Hallelujah Chorus. Then Ms. Sukalo called, and we agreed to meet at 2:30 at Starbucks, as she’s in town this week. At 2:00, Carly logged onto MSN. She’s also a former student of Ms. Sukalo, so I thought it would be cool if she came along, and I invited her. So we both went to Starbucks and had a great visit with Sooks.
Then I picked Cortney up from Kakabeka and we went back to my house, where we cooked dinner. My dad was out of town again until tonight, so I cooked dinner for the second time ever from scratch. I did the same diced chicken type dish. It was good to have some help though. After dinner, Cortney and I watched the first disc of nip/tuck; she ended up lending me the entire season.
Too often I feel lonely over my lack of a real social life. It’s too easy to become withdrawn, especially when one doesn’t do things with friends often enough. Days like these that remind me of how great my friends are … these are days worth blogging about, so I can remember them years from now.
It’s scary, sometimes. My peers and I are growing up. Our parents aren’t driving us to each other’s houses anymore; we‘re driving ourselves around. While preparing dinner with Cortney, I realized this experience was one of the most adult things I’ve done since I turned 18, because my relationships with my friends are changing. No longer fuelled by the day-to-day interaction of high school, our friendships endure because of what we hold in common and new types of interaction, like making dinner together.
Now if I can survive this weekend from Hell, then there’s hope for the future after all!
Although it’s only been two days since we moved into the new house, and we had Internet by 1 PM on Friday, I still feel so disconnected. This really puts my online activities into perspective: I spend most of my waking hours online. If I‘m at home, I’m basically online. I may be doing something else, either on the computer or something completely different, but I‘m still online if people want to talk to me. For the past two days, however, we’ve been busy unpacking, cleaning, and organizing. I’ve spent so much of my “free” time offline that I feel disconnected.
So yes, I have no life. I don’t want one, but it’s good to know for sure. I miss you guys terribly. Yes, all of you, including the people who IM me for tech support (darn you) and the people who send me spam that tell me how to get free copies of products I don’t want. And I guess I miss those of you who like to talk to me, poke me to do things, or tolerate me in general.
As soon as my offline activities return to some sort of “normal” operations, I will be back. Until then…blah. Too many cardboard boxes.
Six days and I enter a whole new world. The summer went by really fast. Yesterday my friend Cortney left for the University of Guelph; today Vivike leaves for OCAD. I‘m sure they’ll have lots of fun down in Southern Ontario. And I will miss them terribly.
I’m pretty much ready for university—sort of. It’ll be an interesting few weeks, just getting into the new routine and figuring everything out. Once I’ve done that I think I will be okay.
VSNS Lemon 4 is pretty much finished. I want to redo my entire site before I release it, but it doesn’t look like that will happen. However, I definitely want to put out more rigorous documentation with this release. So look for the beta release sometime next week, along with complete documentation. Site upgrade should happen sometime the week after, and 4.0 final should be out by the end of the month unless an unforeseen number of bugs get discovered.
I never expected to write a sequel to my previous bear-themed post. Then again, I never expected this.
Today I bought a new bike (since my other one was stolen two months ago ). It’s a good bike that will get me back and forth to school and work so I don’t have to drive all the time! Anyway. That isn’t the story. The story begins when I biked home from the bike shop. I came down my street, but when I got to the block on which I live, there were police cars parked at the corner and neighbours standing on the sidewalk watching something.
A baby black bear had climbed up a tree on the corner! And I have pictures. I also got some video, which I posted on YouTube. It’s long and not that exciting—they just tranquilize the bear and then put him in the MNR bear trap. But it’s mildly odd, considering that we live in a fairly urban part of the city.
Ironic, eh? We get bears near the gallery all the time—in fact, the MNR set up a trap outside the gallery on Sunday—but I never actually saw one. Then today I see one, in a tree, near my house. The universe is indeed quite weird and wonderful.
Yesterday was a bad grammar day. I kept on noticing so many little grammar mistakes everywhere I went, and it really annoyed me. By far, however, the largest one was pointed out to me by my coworker—this sign on the front of our GM dealership.
Take a moment to look at it. “Last year GM more than doubled the sales of it’s nearest competitor.” Firstly, there’s the glaringly obvious mistake: “it’s” means it is. In context of the sentence, I believe they meant to use “its”. This is a common mistake for reasons that escape me—how hard is it to memorize when to use its and when to use it‘s?
Now read the message again, slowly. What do you think it is saying? GM has more than doubled the sales of its competitor? To me, that sounds like GM has more than doubled its competitor’s sales, which is to say, its competitor’s sales have been doubled because of GM. So now GM is helping its competition? Right.
So I decided that the only thing to do was to ask about it. Today my friend Alex and I went to the GM dealership and asked about the sign. They were really quite pleasant. An artist from Saskatchewan hand-painted the sign right onto the glass. They were aware of the grammatical error but not the phrasing issue—the sentence itself comes from a GM report. The general manager wasn’t in, but I did get his business card. I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it—I was just curious, and the only way to satisfy my curiosity was to ask. So far I am apparently the only person to actually come in and ask about the sign.
Turns that like the Dark Side has a Light Side, so too does Facebook have a cream filling at the centre. (Tune in for more mixed metaphors at 11!)
Through our mutual friend—the Oracle of English herself—Ms. Sukalo, I’ve reconnected with two friends who I knew way back before I moved to this side of town, back when I went to Algonquin, back in kindergarten and grade 1! Now, I have a terrible memory, especially when it comes to names and faces, but I certainly remember the twins Cassie and Carly. On the cool scale from 0 (“heat-death of the universe”) to 1000 (“The Colbert Report”), this is a solid 923 (about the same as “being John Cleese”)! And if you have no clue what that means, don’t worry.
Although that reminds me of an interesting sidebar. Yesterday in English we were discussing the end of The Shipping News, which is seemingly a “happy ending”. Our teacher put a quotation from E. Annie Proulx, the author, on the overhead and bid us to discuss it in groups. One of my friends, Andrew, quantified Quoyle’s happiness on an interesting graph that he put on the board, concluding that over the course of the story, ΔHappiness = 45 happy points. It’s these sorts of things that make English class cool.
Anyway, I am pleased that joining Facebook has yielded 923 cool points worth of results so far. I look forward to quantifying further unquantifiable concepts in the future.
The perfect music for meditating on heavy issues of philosophical import.
I think too much. It really makes my life more complicated than it needs to be.
Today, it feels like I got a lot accomplished while at the same time I did next to nothing. Or is it that I feel like I did a lot while accomplishing next to nothing?
I went biking with my brother down to the university and back. It was an interesting experience. I’ll probably be biking to university in two years. Cheaper than driving if those gas prices keep on going up.
This blog now has an RSS feed that I cobbled together, and which I’m still trying to badger to work. I‘m also working on setting up a Coppermine photo gallery. I’m working heavily on improving my blog, but now I’m going to take a break, maybe get some writing done.
Well, my paternal grandparents arrived from Waterloo on Wednesday to visit with people they know from Thunder Bay. My brother and I got to see them a few times. On Thursday we went for lunch with them and my Uncle George (who is in fact more like my Great-Great-Uncle; he is 92). I had fish and chips, ordering 4 pieces of fish thinking they would be tiny and being confronted with several large pieces. I ate them anyway.
We got to see them again on Saturday, where we went fishing on a place called Sunshine near Kakabeka Falls. I didn’t catch any fish, but it was worth a try, and fun, eh.
On Monday we went out to their friends’ camp on Island Lake. We went swimming, my brother did a little more fishing, and then went out to the island on the lake; I paddled there in a canoe and he took a paddleboat. I enjoy canoeing. There was a dog called Cue who had accompanied us to the island in the motorboat with the smaller children, but decided to return to the shore via the canoe. Not only did I overcome my fear of water, but I also endured my fear of dogs, at the same time.
Today we went to the optometrists, and my eyes are still blurry from those eyedrops they give you. Apparently I have 20/40 vision, which means that what I see from 20 feet away, a “normal” person can back up and see the same from 40 feet away. The optometrist is giving me a stronger prescription, and I‘m also getting nice prescription sunglasses, which will come in handy during the summer.
I’ve got a slew of features and upgrades planned for VSNS Lemon. At this time I think they will be included in version 3.1, although that isn’t a final decision. As soon as I get around to getting the site back up, I’ll include a new feature list, although development is still under way.
Lastly, for those of you who left some nice comments in the July 8 article, you may notice some disappeared. I didn’t delete them, it’s that we switched servers and I couldn’t update UNI.CC’s DNS until a few days ago because of their stupid “maintenance” (the service doesn’t work anyway). I can’t wait until I can get my own domain….
I went to the orthodontist today, first time for everything. Apparently I have an underbite, which occurs where my lower jaw protrudes out from my face slightly more than my lower jaw. Mine is very slight, only about a millimetre, so apparently it isn’t much to worry about yet. The treatment would be jaw surgery in which a portion of my lower jaw is cut, removed, and then the remainer is slid back to correct the profile. I would have to wear braces for about a year prior to the surgery, then about six months after. I’m too young to have the surgery done, however, it would have to be done once I stop growing, so they are going to call me back in about a year to see how my underbite fares. If it doesn’t get worse and I’m happy with it, I don’t need to get the surgery; this is good, I don’t like the idea of surgery… .
I took down the Currently Reading section of the About Me page because I read too quickly to keep it up-to-date. In other website news, hopefully my webhost will now be stable.
In real life, I got a job. I am sorting files and the contents of several boxes stored in the basement area used by the law firm where my dad works (he’s a lawyer). It is technically my first job, and my first day “on the job” was today. It was okay … although slightly depressing in the long run.