Friday, October 26, 2007

the earth for pillow, and the great heaven for coverlet

1. This week is turning out to be not so great for getting things done, but I'm trying, I'm trying. After Greek was cancelled on Wednesday, I went home and made another batch of couscous and some more refried beans (we soaked way, way too many), and then napped until Megan came over to visit. It was a pretty good evening, lots of chatter and music, and after Megan left we watched the Rocky Horror Picture Show, which we hadn't seen in a while. Good fun.

2. Unfortunately I woke up feeling awful and stayed in bed doing homework pretty much all day yesterday. I have lots of it, so I can't really call it a wasted day to work through some Virgil and Greek assignments, but while I was lounging about conjugating, Sean did all the dishes and started reorganizing again. He's taken it upon himself to turn our storage closet into a little office nook for himself, and so he spent most of the day trying to fit things in other storage areas. I can feel Mom thinking that we should throw out crap we don't need, but really, I threw out an awful lot when we moved in, and we do need things like luggage and cat carriers, just not all the time.
When I was feeling more energetic in the afternoon, we held down Parallax and tried to clip her one extra claw that she just can't seem to grow properly. Being a freaky double-pawed cat, you'd think she would have more, but just one back claw has a tendancy to grow weird and bite into her paw. I was trying to clip it with dull nailclippers when she gave a great squawk and tried to squirm away from Sean, and actually twisted the overgrown nail clean off, revealing a new claw underneath (cats shed their claws, but apparently this one couldn't hook on anything to get pulled off). She seems happier now and followed me around for the rest of the day, mewing, so there's a good deed done.

3. So I finished my Greek for today, and almost all my Latin, though I had to get up early to finish it off. I came in to class and had to check the time, and that I was on the right floor, before realizing that class was probably cancelled. And there in my inbox, dated this morning at 7:30, was the class cancellation email I didn't get because the internet is still out of commission. I am speechless.

4. Waiting for my next class, I was reading Li Po and the Tale of Genji for WLCS, which I have in a few minutes. Good stuff. I'm really glad I took WLCS, and I think I will probably sign up for some more next semester. I have never actually taken literature or English university courses, and so this is an interesting change.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

a deluge of busy

1. Well, I came out of Media Culture just as disgruntled as last time, but instead of stewing all through Greek, I found out when I arrived that Professor Murray cancelled it, so I'm in a better mood than I thought I might be. I rather wish I'd taken more WLCS courses and not taken this Media Culture course, but what can you do. It is something that I'm intensely interested in, obviously, but I really feel as though I could teach it a lot better. Today, he conflated blogs and MySpace and Facebook, which are such massively different things, and I just wanted to bust out the rant stick and send him a map of the internet to clear up a few things.

Click to zoom, it's well worth it.

2. What have I been doing other than being angry? Well, in the past couple of days, I've translated over a hundred lines of Latin and done a chapter of Greek, administered a computer competence test (designed by yours truly) to the new admin person, Rosalind, at work, I've succesfully grafted the second Jaywalker toe (pictures whenever I get the internet back, I suppose), read Dune (a classic sci fi epic, but just the first book so far), watched two James Bond films (You Only Live Twice and Casino Royale, Connery and Craig respectively), made a rather nice couscous salad from Epicurious, and helped Sean figure out refried beans (cheapest protein ever, and I love them anyway), and started a new pair of socks that look like they'll be fast - I've just finished the first heel (socks are generally knit cuff to toe, with heels being the most complicated bit). Busy times. I could say that I get a lot more done when I don't have the internet, and it might be true, but I think it has to do with foresight in saving lots of knitting patterns and recipes, and downloading lots of movies and books, while I do have the internet.

3. There isn't much else to tell, and I'm pretty hungry and loaded down with homework (as always), so I think I will cut this short. Luckily I will be on campus for an early makeup class of Greek (8:30, blech) so I will probably blog again early tomorrow.

Monday, October 22, 2007

why a blog is not the same

I've been accused of being addicted to the internet or computers or whathaveyou before, and so it should come as no surprise to anyone that I get sort of defensive when academics use the internet as a convenient target for whatever their particular hobbyhorse might be. "Technological patriarchy"? Oh sure. "Ethical and moral cesspit of piracy and obscenity"? You love it, admit it.
My media culture professor likes to shock people by raining on their parades. For example, today he told us that the concept of the Soup Nazi (yes, from Seinfeld) shouldn't be funny and isn't funny, because Nazis shouldn't be funny, because the Holocaust isn't funny. No, the Holocaust isn't funny, but in our media Nazis are funny. Look at the Blues Brothers ("I hate Illinois Nazis!"), or Formula 51, which I watched with Sean recently and which uses bumbling skinheads as comic relief. They're funny because we make them so. We portray them as lunatics, bent on misguided and evil quests, whom everyone, even the other characters portrayed as losers, make fun of. Is this a bad thing? I don't think so. When you tear something down and laugh at it, you take power away from it. Blues Brothers Nazis aren't scary, they're laughable. Who would watch that and say, gosh, Nazis are impressive. It doesn't belittle the Holocaust, it sneers at people who are intolerant and bent on their own self-righteousness. Like the Soup Nazi.
In the same lecture, he said, "You people, you young people, think that blogging is this new thing that will change communication. Well, I have news for you. People said the same things about radio, and about television. Nothing changes."
I take deep exception. For one thing, things do change, and not in a you-can-never-step-in-the-same-river-twice way, but in a meaningful way. Radio changed the way that people communicated; it pioneered up to the minute reporting, and embedded advertising, and changed the way people thought about music and songs and songwriters and singers. There were records before, and sheet music for sale, but things changed drastically with radio, and it's foolish to say otherwise. Television changed politics; now you couldn't just get by on having ideas and public speaking skills, you had to play to the camera. Visuals ended the Vietnam War.
Blogging isn't, in and of itself, as important, but the internet definitely is. Blogging is a symptom of the nature of the internet. It's a huge landscape created by people for people. I've read about the "one to many" and "many to one" and the new "many to many" paradigms of communication (television, democracy, and internet, respectively), which is useful when you talk about more traditional internet forms - chat rooms, message boards. My professor argued that blogging is like the traditional speaker's corner in London, where anyone can stand up and yell about whatever they want to the passing crowds. You, my dear readers, are not the passing crowd. You come here because you know me. Possibly you come here without actually knowing me, but you know my writing. You don't randomly stumble upon me spouting opinions that you have no choice in hearing. For one thing, flipping randomly through blogs is a pretty boring activity, because a lot of blogs are abandoned, or written by people who string together texting slang into barely legible three-line blurbs.
I would say that in a way, we've stumbled onto a new form of the antiquated "one to one" communication. I'm not writing to the impersonal public - the very thought would terrify me. It's not even as impersonal as a message board that thousands of people will skim. Sure, anyone can read this - but it's like people randomly eavesdropping on a conversation. There are so many to listen to, it's unlikely many people will randomly pop in and pay attention. And if one does eavesdrop, they might find it interesting enough to join in and comment.
I haven't really thought about the implications of blogging before. I don't usually blog to air one of my many and varied opinions, or to harvest posts I like from other blogs (though that does happen occasionally) - just to write about what I'm up to, to keep family and friends up to date. How can nothing have changed, if I have a surface knowledge of where everyone I have known is, and what they're doing? How can I communicate with my whole extended family on MSN and this blog, sending pictures and comments and emails and quick notes at any time of day or night, and not change something fundamental about our relationships? I've just joined a Facebook group that is intended to show the support for Stephen Colbert's bid for office, won't that change things? I've finally gotten into Ravelry, a huge social networking site for knitters - it's already changed the way I go about doing projects. If all these little things change, how can the big picture not be changed?
I'm too angry and reactive to even put together a reasonably organized rant about it. All I can do is splutter, which is the point of him saying such outrageous things - he wants us to be angry and questioning and to think. Unfortunately, I don't respond well to stupid assertions.
While it may be comforting to him to know that he doesn't need to worry about his paradigms shifting, ever, it's just not true. Things change. Sometimes they even change in a beneficial way.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

these things are sent to test us

1. Some days just feel like they are designed to provoke as much annoyance as possible. Yesterday was one such day.
I stayed at work until 6. I wasn't really supposed to, if things had gone according to plan; my hours for the week were up at 2, and Kate was supposed to stop in at some point and, if things were busy, take over minding the gallery. However, things were busy all day, and Kate didn't show up at all. I couldn't justify kicking people out of the gallery in order to go home and lounge around, as there was an actual event taking place at the centre. So I stayed.
The problem with the centre is that most of the traffic we get is from the dance studio - small, energetic children and their parents. We have stuck most of the tippy pottery to the plinths with sticky tack because people tend to walk in and admire the art while absently saying "don't touch anything, honey" and letting their kids run shrieking around the the $3000 vases. It makes me tense, and when I'm tense and watching people I can't really get any work done, so it took me a lot longer to get my work done than it really should.
Towards the end of the afternoon the traffic changed from children to art people, who tend to run around less, but took no less attention because they have a lot of questions about the work (which is fine) and about craftspeople they used to know (I'm not much help, not least because some of the people they ask about are dead or long since moved away). One man sang me a song about a whale.
Meanwhile, I was struggling to make a new e-News template because Kate doesn't like the one we've been using. I had to redo the whole thing a few times, which is frustrating, and then, as I left for the night and sent the finished product out to the membership, it messed up in a way it hadn't every other time I had tested it with the same program.
Not much of a Saturday, really. I had high hopes of getting to redo the living room, but ended up having just enough energy to haul all the furniture to where I want before collapsing into bed and watching Star Wars. It's a measure of the how hard the fates were working to annoy me that Sean went out to rent the classic trilogy and someone had rented the only copy of Empire. I understand that it's the best one, but why only rent the second movie of a trilogy? Ugh.

2. Today: Latinning at Reads, because I have no internet and I need it to do my work. We're going to see Megan briefly this afternoon - she's been working like a fiend and having an awful week personally as well as all her classes - and we had planned to have Danielle over this evening to teach her how to make pecan pie, but she's probably not going to be able to come at this rate because she needs to go see her grandmother. If she does, I doubt we will be able to make pie, because it will be quite late and her grandmother tends to upset her a bit.
So I'll probably just do more Latin, and hopefully make pillows for the living room, set it in order, put things on the walls and take pictures for y'all.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

it's not my fault

1. Seriously, it isn't. When I got home from work yesterday (why was I at work? don't ask) the internet we've been liberating from our neighbours had been passworded, cutting me off from any ability to blog (or, incidentally, do Latin homework). At this point I'm getting worn down from this pursuit of free internet, and might actually be persuaded to pay for it by Monday.
So I'll try to hit a thousand words today to make up for yesterday, but honestly I can't make any promises. I'm at work, which means I technically have better things to be doing, but there's a big art thing going on today at the Arts Centre (where we are located), and if it's slow (as I suspect it might be, being a rainy sort of Saturday) I might have some time.

2. So what did we do in the land of no internet last night? We went out to Will's to play D&D, of course. I spent every Friday night of Grade 11 playing D&D, so this "I'm such a loser that I have a standing arrangement for D&D on Friday nights" feeling is oddly familiar. It coincides with the Classics society movie night, which is unfortunate, but there's another problem: Kristine, with whom I had a couple of memorably stressful classes last year, has assumed leadership of the Anthropology Society and, despite being a Classical Studies honours herself, decided to run a last-minute Anth movie night on the same night. I think it's a poorly thought out sort of thing, as there are an awful lot of people with both Classics and Anthropology interests, but she's just sort of plowing ahead with it anyway, so D&D is a safe third option. It's just unfortunate that all the organized social opportunities in my life are all scheduled for the same day.
We're playing an odd sort of campaign for me. I've never played a druid or a halfling before, and while Sean has lots of experience with halflings, he's never played a bard before. We're playing with a girl named Marie, who is pretty comfortable with her halfling rogue but is still pretty new at the game in general. We're having a good time, though - Will's an excellent DM (Dungeon Master, the one who organizes the adventures), and we have a lot of choice to go in whatever direction we want. Currently we're helping a group of refugees hiding in a cave; their food supply was being raided by a band of kobolds deeper in the cave. Those kobolds will never raid anyone again, but there is a big nasty monitor lizard back there still. Oh well.

3. The open house is surprisingly busy, though mostly we're getting cafe patrons and parents of children in the dance classes that go on all day. Amusingly, most of them come in and start oohing over the board table, not the exhibition. It is a pretty cool board table, I admit.
I'm redesigning our electronic newsletter, which is almost as riveting as it sounds. Unfortunately I have to make all my own graphics, etcetera, so this will take a long time. I'm modeling it on the UNB Student e-News and also the local Art News to try to make something more informative than the UNB one and less unwieldy than the Art News, both of which are vastly superior to our current layout anyway.

4. I suspect today will be the day I get new batteries and rearrange the living room. I prefer to do things with the living room when Sean isn't home, which is odd, but I know he's the same way; yesterday while I was at work he took everything out of the storage closet, organized it, and put it back before I got home (now we can close the door!).
Perhaps I will send him out into the world to check out great big secondhand desks. He's come to the realization that he needs a desk, and I'm pretty firmly entrenched in mine (dead language charts and sewing supplies everywhere tend to discourage casual desk borrowing) so we're going to find one for him and put it in the bedroom where we currently have a big red chair and nothing else. Our bedroom has turned into a workshop/homework area as well as sleep (and we often watch movies in bed on laptops), while the living room is more of a public space for when we have people over (which is more often than you'd think, even though Porter has his own apartment now and thus doesn't tend to visit anymore, let alone sleep on the floor).
What am I going to do with the living room? Well, it will involve boxes, lamps, pillow making, and finally putting things up on the wall. You'll see. Or I'll move things around and decide it was a bad idea and put it all back and never mention it again. We'll see.

5. Discussion for the day: What should I be for Halloween? I think I may attempt to go to the Classics Society Halloween party, which is a costume-mandatory event. It's next Friday, so I don't have a lot of time, but enough to pull together most things. Seeing as it's the Classics Society, a Classically themed costume would be fun, but I'm not that choosy. If I had my own archaeologist trowels I could be an archaeologist, but unfortunately I don't. I have a few odd things that could be scraped together for a non-Classical costume as a last resort, but maybe you have better ideas?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

rebuilding to serve you better

1. Seriously, how poorly built could the Prospect Macdonald's be if they had to tear it down right to the foundations and rebuild it from scratch? It's currently a large hole in the ground, surrounded by fences that have billboards reading "We take care of our employees. You should be one" and "Rebuilding to Serve You Better". It seems to be a common theme in the area, though - the Fredericton mall has been ripped to bits and turned into a weird big-box strip mall.

2. So today I went shopping uptown, mainly just to get black beans in bulk (Sean is going to turn them into refried beans this weekend, omgyum) and to get leggings. Now, I haven't worn leggings since I was in about grade seven (though god knows I lived in them) and as a loyal reader of Go Fug Yourself, I should know better, but come on. I wear pretty much nothing but skirts, even in the winter, and it's Canada. Worse, it's Fredericton, where the wind comes whistlin' across the hill at eye-bitingly cold temperatures starting in about November. They didn't have any plain black ones, but I'm now the proud owner of grey argyle and black-and-grey striped leggings. And about two pounds of black beans, and heaps of arborio rice, dried shiitake mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, couscous... bulk food is a lot more fun when you live with someone who can actually cook. Though, to my credit, I made couscous and egg curry for supper. (Yeah, so, the hardboiled eggs turned out soft boiled and the curry came from a package, SHUT UP, I made the couscous fair and square.)

3. This evening I'm working on quite the backlog of Latin. Enough that I'll be working on it until the small hours of the morning and then getting up in the slightly larger hours of the morning to keep working on it. The morning Latin has been a habit for a year or so now, because I work a lot better under pressure and the translating comes easier when my mind is blearier, but evening Latin too? It's my own fault for getting behind, I suppose, but really. Is it so much to ask to be able to do the homework for my other classes, too?

4. Tomorrow will be more fun than today, almost any way you slice it. It starts with pre-Latin translating, then Latin, and World Lit, and then I’m going in to work briefly to meet with Kate about making a computer use test for the new admin assistant. From there… I plan to rearrange the living room, which is way more fun than it sounds. Really. I have no idea why I find it so fun to play with the layout of our living space, but I suspect it has to do with my settling-in-for-winter mood lately. Every fall I start trying to nest; this year Tonks is getting in on it as well and trying to shred paper in the middle of the night, presumably out of some confused kitten-bearing instinct. Or out of annoyance that we are sleeping and therefore not moving around being interesting to goggle at. Who can tell what lurks behind those eyes?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

three weeks, two weeks, one month

1. Okay, so not really three weeks, but twenty days. Man am I ever a slacker these days. That's going to change a lot, though. I have a plan.
My life has been pretty full of plans lately. I have a plan for school, I have a plan for work, I have a plan for making them happen at the same time, I have a plan for knitting that will probably conflict badly with the other ones. I'm working on a plan for my living room (it needs to be a little more comfortable than it is) and a plan for food that isn't going to bankrupt or kill me. Plans plans plans.
My latest plan is something that has been nagging me for a few years now. There's this writing marathon called NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) that I've made half-hearted stabs at in the past. It takes place every November, and basically you sign up and write about 1500 words per day for the month, ending up with a whole book. In theory. In practice, I tend to gack out at about day three or four.
This year's going to be different. And to get warmed up, I'm going to write at least 500 words here, on this very blog, every single day until November, at which point it may drop off a bit, because honestly 1500 words is an awful lot. I have two weeks to get sufficiently pumped to get through November. And then, of course, I get to write exams.
I may fail at this, but you know, I may not. And collecting these little victories makes it easier to try for bigger things. And hey, who doesn't have "write a book" on their to-do-before-I-die list?

2. So, what have I been up to these past weeks? Let's see.
I went home for Thanksgiving and took a lot of pictures, and visited with Grandma, and Grandpa, and Michelle and Scott, and Mom and Dad, and all the furry Peters. I brought Sean, and we had a good time, and lots of pie.
The pictures: We traveled via Saint John, where, apparently, the snow plows YOU.

We visited a park in downtown Saint John where there is a very cool fountain with some beavers in the middle.
We went to the woods near my house to appreciate the beautiful weather.
Possibly the best picture of Sean ever.
A bug's eye view of the woods. I took a lot of very fuzzy nature photographs.
Nature that is easy to photograph: Sonny, drinking from our garden pond. He has since taken ill, but apparently he's getting better quickly, so hooray for the indestructible Sonny!
Mom learned how to make my camera take everything in sepia tones. It's a pretty good picture, actually.
Grandpa got a manicure.
And I finished my first Jaywalker! I'm on the home stretch of the second, so hopefully I will have pictures soon.

3. This past weekend, we went to visit Sean's family, and spent a peaceful weekend playing with four dogs (two are his parents', two are Aine's) and visiting with Aine and her boyfriend Matt, and of course Sean's parents. Unfortunately, my batteries died, so I couldn't take more pictures, but they would mainly be of the dogs (Noola, Sam, Lucy, and Bailey) and of delicious, delicious food.

4. School has been ticking along with startling rapidity. I haven't got much to say, really, except that it remains a lot of work and I don't seem to sleep much these days.

5. Work has also been moving along. We have our new gallery completely set up and open for business, and have accordingly switched my hours to one hour during the week and four hours on Saturdays, to have the gallery open on the weekend. I'm pretty happy with it - it limits my ability to take off on Saturdays, but gives me my Tuesdays and Thursday back, except for that one hour. Very exciting.

6. Well, that's my words for today - closer to 700 than 500, but we'll see when I have less to catch up on. Stay tuned.