Saturday, 20 December 2008

Liquidation

This is a picture of my sister and her friend in our living room. I'll stick with her original caption:

"So uh, we had to sell our furniture in order to pay for the grocery bill last week. The economy has taken its toll on our household, as well as on [sister's friend's family], so they've sold their house and moved in with us. My bedroom is being rented out so we're sleeping in the living room now. And no Christmas gifts either... as you see, we have none under the Christmas tree. If you feel any compassion..."

Off on a tangent:
“There are two types of people – those who come into a room and say, 'Well, here I am!' and those who come in and say, 'Ah, there you are.'” Frederick L. Collins

Monday, 15 December 2008

Cold Shoulders

I was shoveling the other day, and planned to push my brother into the waist-high snowbank, but I forgot to. Not that it mattered. He threw himself into the snowbank to cool off from the shoveling. I'm sure there'll be ample opportunity to push him some other time this season. My dad said it's about 30 degrees below zero today. Even for us Calgarians, that's considered cold... although, despite the title of this post, it's usually my fingers that get cold, not my shoulders. I am so glad that I don't have to stand around outside, watching my hair freeze, waiting for buses anymore. I am DONE FINALS and can take a break!

I'm a little disappointed because I'm used to being at least within the top five students in most academic settings, but I have the official results for one class already, and I placed 60th out of 115 people in the class. It's largely my fault, because had I really tried to read the material and study (as opposed to just recall the lecture notes on the day of the exam) I would have done better. But I claim that I should not have had to put a lot of effort into it. The professor did not do a good job of teaching, but was very vague, wordy, and repetitive... and generally quite dull. A very nice man, but I did not benefit from his teaching style. And I'm not sure how anyone could do well on those multiple choice exams. I pretty much gave up trying to figure out what the questions were asking and just looked at the key terms, then decided which three of the four "answers" were furthest removed from them.

I suppose this is an example of a self-serving bias. I attribute my success to myself and my failures to outside circumstances... at least partially. That being said, I attribute my success to outside circumstances somewhat, too, so maybe I'm not completely irresponsible.

Anyway, Stephane Dion has been given the boot by his own party, and shall be replaced by Michael Ignatieff. He'll be serving as the interim Liberal leader until it can be finalized next year. Ignatieff seems a little more grounded that Dion (or Layton), and he's got a lot to lose, unlike Dion, so he may not try to push the coalition through come January. We'll see.

Meanwhile, if you want to see the final straw that got Dion ditched last week, you can find it here. I don't feel like posting his big long boring speech on my blog. Suffice to say, it's more interesting to know that although it's a national address, it came to the TV stations over an hour late (thus didn't even make it to air in some cases), was out of focus (at least his face is - you can read the books on the shelf behind him), and the general consensus is that it must have been recorded spur of the moment on a webcam or cell phone or something. The unprofessionalism is appalling. And when it's compared to the PM's address... hah.

"What's on your mind? If you'll forgive the overstatement." Fred Allen

Sunday, 7 December 2008

White

Today is a snow day. Really, the first big snow day of the year, which is quite something given that it's December already. The sky is the same colour as the ground, and in some places you can't tell the road from the grass, except that the grass has trees sticking out of it. About four inches of snow collected on the windshield while we were at church, and I had so much of the fluffy white on my hair that I looked like a Mrs. Claus wannabe.

Dad wanted me to drive the car home from church, but I talked him into letting me, the inexperienced female, take the SUV while he, the pro alpha-male, took the rest of the family in the car.

They got stuck. I didn't. Or more technically, they started rolling backwards down a hill, steered into the curb, got pushed by a benevolent stranger, spun around and drove the wrong way through a red light.

I left church later, so my sister called to tell me to stick the SUV into 4-wheel drive and take a different route home. We agree now that it was good that Dad didn't make me try to drive the standard home.

The protest may have fizzled had the snow come yesterday. And people would have had trouble getting to the school for exams on time if it had started snowing tomorrow. What beautiful timing.

"When I die I, want to go peacefully in my sleep like my Grandfather, not screaming like the passengers in his car." Glenn Satchell

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Protest Pics











































































































































The first few pictures are of the anti-abortion display, then the later ones are of the coalition protest.

1. At the anti-abortion display, it was mostly the amateur camera men and obnoxious ladies from off-campus that caused the noise. This is the guy who was trying to preach.

2. This is a bit of the display I helped set up. The pictures are rather graphic, but only because they're real, and not created on a computer.

3. These are some of the guys that came to support the display, even though they disagreed with it. Go freethinkers!

4. This is the coalition protest, lined up on along MacLeod Trail, getting the cars to honk in support. Only one unamused Liberal fingered us. One of my friends and I tried to get people to chant "Let's go, Harper!" hockey style, but I guess it was too late, and people were starting to break up already.

The crowd at the coalition protest was quite polite, actually. I guess everyone figured we all have a common enemy, and so that made us friends. There was one lady in front of us that gave me a bit of a glare every time I screamed, but the other lady chatted with us. Apparently there one disabled lady that drove by the protest about fifteen times just so she could honk and be a part of the action.

In case you haven't gathered, it was outside after all. Still not really sure why we weren't allowed to hold it at City Hall, though.

5. Even the kid has the math right.

6. I think this sign might be a little extreme. It did make me laugh, however.

7. Whole families were there. I ended up crossing paths with a few different people I know, but somehow never found my sister. I guess I could have texted her. Oh, well. Slipped my mind. I was there with a few friends, one of whom I kept accidentally poking with my flag. She eventually took it away from me, and someone else gave me a sign saying "Harper Rocks". Shortly after I took it, everyone started chanting it. Made me happy. :-)

8. I think so, anyway.

9. These were some fellow university students. In case you can't read it, it says "Jack and Gill went up Parliament Hill to make a coalition. Dion fell down and broke his crown, and joined the seperatist (sic) position."

10. I thought some of the signs were a slightly harsh. There was one sign that proclaimed Layton, Dion, and Duceppe were "Wanted: dead or alive for conspiracy". There were some other kind of witty ones, however, like "Hit the road, Jack", and "Just say no to LSD: Layton, Separatists, and Dion". One called them the "Unholy Trinity" and had pictures of them as devils.

Man, was I wired after that. Try to study after protesting - I defy you.

“Here's my Golden Rule for a tarnished age: Be fair with others, but keep after them until they're fair with you.” Alan Alda

Friday, 5 December 2008

She Doth Protest Too Little

There was going to be a protest tomorrow at City Hall, but for some reason it's been moved to Epcor Centre, instead. Apparently whoever is organizing the protest worried we'd run out of room at City Hall due to the vast number of protesters. It doesn't make any sense at all to me. Epcor Centre, if I remember correctly, is a building. If you're worried about running out of room, why on earth would you move everyone indoors? And why even bother protesting at all if no one can see you? I'll go anyway, but I'm a little less excited now. Hopefully the media will still be there to cover the whole thing so that the Three Stooges can watch it in Ottawa and lose lots of sleep over it.

It'll be my first official protest as a university student. No, scratch that - it'll be my first official protest ever. The anti-abortion thing at the uni was kind of a protest, but nothing on this scale. I figure being part of a protest is sort of a university rite of passage. Isn't that what students are supposed to do? Take part in protests and change the world? Not sit around on their butts being brainwashed and trying to be "tolerant"?

I got rather ticked off at a couple of friends today. What happens in school finals over the next ten days is too important, I guess, to take off a few hours to try to keep the nation from flinging itself into the abyss of debt, corruption, and general lack of democracy. People are entitled to choose their own priorities, but come on - like you're not going to take a few hours off studying, anyways. And yes, I realize that whether the protest makes a difference or not does not likely hinge on me personally being there. I, however, will at least be able to say that I resisted, and didn't just resent, being a Canadian under the rule of a Frenchie, a Separatist, and a Socialist. The whole thing is being called the 'Coupscam' now.

If I'm rather heated when I get going on this topic, my excuse is that I'm in university, and still supposed to be idealistic enough to get angry over this sort of stuff, and not just sadly resigned.



"Politics is supposed to be the second-oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first." Ronald Reagan


"Politicians say they're beefing up our economy. Most don't know beef from pork." Harold Lowman

Thursday, 4 December 2008

So Critical

You've probably seen this before, but if you haven't, have fun.

Test of Cognitive Ability and Critical Thinking: (this test predicts how well you will succeed in life)

1. How do you put a giraffe into a fridge?
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A: Open the fridge door, put the giraffe in, close the door. This was to test whether you make simple things complicated.

2. How do you put an elephant into the fridge?
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A: Open the fridge door, take the giraffe out, put the elephant in, close the door. This one was to test both your foresight and how quickly you learn.

3. The Lion King calls a conference that requires the presence every animal. Only one animal doesn't attend. Which one is that?
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A: The elephant. He's stuck in the fridge. This tested your comprehensive thinking.

4. You have to cross a river that's inhabited by ferocious crocodiles. You have no supplies. How do you get across?
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A: Swim. The crocodiles are at the animal conference, so it's perfectly safe. And this was to test your reasoning ability.

If you got:
4 correct - success in life is inevitable. There is little, if anything, you cannot do.
3 correct - if you practice a little, you might be able to catch up. You can be mildly successful.
2 correct - consider flipping burgers for a living. It's the only thing you'll be successful at.
1 correct - sell your organs. At least you may help someone else be successful.
0 correct - consider a career that needs no critical thinking at all - like being a politician. More particularly, a left-wing Canadian politician.

Speaking of which, Her Excellency Michaelle Jean has thus far proven to have some sense. She suspended parliament until January, by which point in time the lawyers may decide that the Three Stooges can only force a re-election be rejecting the budget, and not simply stage a coup. Plus, there'll be more time for people to stew about it and get angry and decide that anyone who aligns with the Bloc sucks.

At any rate, for the first time in several days, there is a faint wisp of hope in the air. That's kind of a nice thing right around Christmas.

On a completely unrelated note, here's a snippet of tonight's dinner planning conversation:

Lisa: I know the restaurant, but not exactly where it is. It's right by a strip mall.
Mahabba: What?
Lisa: It's right by a strip mall. I've been there before.
Laura: I've been to that strip mall.
Mahabba: I don't like that it's at a strip mall.
Laura: Oh, it's a good place. Good stuff, lots of fun.
Melissa: Mahabba, your mom is driving. Does she know where the mall is?
Mahabba: Guys, I really don't like that it's at a strip mall.
Me: A strip mall is just a normal mall with the doors on the outside.
Melissa: An outlet mall.
Me: The stores are lined up to make a strip.
Mahabba: *Ohhhhhh*

We laughed about that pretty hard. A strip mall. Great place for a Bible study dinner. :-D

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Two Quotes

...that made me laugh, even in the last throes of the dying nation.

(8 yr old, in Sunday School) Julie: If your name was Miss Carlo, then your boyfriend's name would be Mister Carlo's!

Me: We would have to do some major research, first.
Emily: Oh, I don't know. I think we already know everything.

P.S. I changed the pictures on my sidebar.

Monday, 1 December 2008

I Know I'm a Doomsdayer

What with the coup that's about to utterly destroy everything good and praiseworthy about Canada, I felt motivated enough to write the idiots responsible. First I emailed the Liberal Party.

Dear Liberal Party of Canada,
As a university student who hopefully has a long life ahead of me as a citizen in a stable, democratic nation, I am asking you please, please do not align yourself with the party whose main goal is to destroy Canada. If the Bloc Quebecois gets into power, it will not be just Canada that will be deeply scarred, but also my belief that the members of the Liberal party have a conscience about them which they would like to keep clean. It is an absolutely ridiculous idea that Harper must be overthrown at any cost up to and including all provinces but Quebec.
Please look at this from the point of view of a proud citizen, and not from that of a desperate party who sees no other way to reclaim power that it democratically lost.

Then I pretty much copy and pasted and fed my thoughts to the NDP. I changed a few key bits to make it more relevant and so that whoever reads it won't know that they're second to the Liberals.

Dear NDP of Canada,
As a university student who hopefully has a long life ahead of me as a citizen in a stable, democratic nation, I am asking you please, please do not align yourself with the party whose main goal is to destroy Canada. If the Bloc Quebecois gets into power, it will not be just Canada that will be deeply scarred, but also my belief that the members of the NDP have a social conscience about them which they would like to keep clean. It is an absolutely ridiculous idea that Harper must be overthrown at any cost up to and including all provinces but Quebec.
Please look at this from the point of view of a proud citizen, and not from that of a desperate party who sees no other way to get the power that it is having trouble democratically claiming.

Then I wrote to the Bloc. I figure since they know I can never vote for them anyways (because I wrote them in English), and they really don't care, there was no sense in being diplomatic - if they even understand what I wrote. This was just therapy. Did you know that on their site they don't even claim to be working for Canada? Just Quebec. They state it right there (in French, of course).

Dear Bloc Quebecois,
I'm sure you're giggling with glee over this coup. If you do get in power, please make sure that the first order of business is to secede from Canada. If you really are all about Quebec, then I am imploring you, please don't touch the rest of Canada. And if you are only the worms you make yourselves out to be, don't be spiteful when people step on you later.

When I went to write the Conservative Party, I was forced to choose the topic of my comment as either membership, donations, or the website. At first I figured "political advice" didn't fit under any of the three, and so honestly navigated away, but, after a moment of crafty plotting, went back. I don't suppose their website techie will be able to do much about my comment, but at least I wrote someone...

Dear Conservative Party of Canada,
Your website is lacking an easy-to-find place in which to contact you about anything other than membership, donations, or the website.
Where am I supposed to appeal to you as a young, interested citizen to please dissolve the government before letting Michaelle Jean hand everything over to Dion? I voted Conservative, and the last thing I want is the Bloc or NDP to have more influence than they already do in Alberta.

I tried to find Michaelle Jean's email, too, but from what I gathered, you actually have to use the snail mail to contact Her Excellency, so I contacted the secretary's office, instead.

Dear Office of the Secretary to the Governor General,
I am a university student and proud citizen of Canada who is more than a little worried about the future of my homeland. Nobody voted to give Her Excellency the position of Governor General of Canada, so I do not understand why Canadians must entrust the future of our nation to her. If the non-confidence motion goes through, I believe it would be much more democratic, and generally more honourable, for the Governor General to force another election rather than appoint Dion as the new Prime Minister. The coalition parties lost the last election for a reason. Please don't hand to them what they rightfully lost or never had.

I tremble for our nation. Many prayers requested!

"Thank you for sending us your comment. We take good note and we will give it the attention it deserves. Come back to our site and thank you for your interest in the Bloc Québécois." -Bloc Quebecois website. I suppose my comment won't have any merit deserving attention.

And the wind shall say: "Here were decent godless people: Their only monument the asphalt road and a thousand lost golf balls." T. S. Eliot

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Obligatory Update

We recently discovered something else that the "low-life scumbags" took from our garage. The $20 ham from the fridge. They left us the wine. Go figure. Apparently we're not great connoisseurs.

Meanwhile, the anti-abortion display on the uni again today. We'll see what comes of that. I haven't been down to campus yet today, but apparently there is another group (I'm not sure what they're called) standing in solidarity with the pro-life club. The interesting thing is they disagree completely with the message, but, in the words of Voltaire,“I disapprove of what you say, but will defend, to the death, your right to say it.”

I've never particularly trusted newspapers, but what little trust I did have is now gone. The story I read about the protest today was badly mistaken. First off, the reporter wrote Casamay instead of Casamayor, and secondly, way more than six people stuck around after 11 a.m. Eleven o'clock is when things first started getting crowded and noisy.

I'm in the picture with the Casamayors, but my head is obscured from view by the barricade they're holding. Oh, well. I guess none of this is really about me, anyway, is it?

“I can take umbrage, I can take the cake, I can take the A-train, I can take two and call me in the morning, but I cannot take this sitting down. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna take five.” Hawkeye Pierce from M*A*S*H*

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Campus Stand

I doubt I have much, if any, new material to add to the abortion debate, but I feel I have to report on the situation on campus.

So here's the deal. Every year, in a high-traffic area, the campus Pro-Life Club sets up a display consisting of graphic images of aborted fetuses that are compared to Nazi victims, slave lynchings, and dead Rwandan children. Every year, the university tries to stop them from doing so.

This year, since the university couldn't find grounds to not allow the display, the club was ordered to turn their signs away from easy view. This would allow the display to go up, but would keep students who didn't make a particular effort from seeing it.

The club set the signs up facing the path, just like always (and I am proud to say that I helped in that regard).

The university began to issue trespassing notices to its own students, and set up signs warning people of the graphic images. The signs also said that the university was "pursuing appropriate legal action". Several of the ringleader students may be expelled or suspended. An obnoxious pro-choice group came to protest the display, dressed in dumb clown costumes with whistles, stopping people on the paths and warning them to take a different route to class. TV crews showed up to interview people. Police arrived to make sure things didn't get out of hand.

Now I'm not technically part of the pro-life club, I just happened to be on campus when they were going to set up, and they needed a few extra hands. Some to hold the signs before they were set up because the pro-choicers kept trying to steal them if they were left unattended, and some to set up the display.

My friends the Casamayors held the signs (even though they aren't actually attending the school - they were just there to support the club), and Talia and I helped a club member set it up. As we moved the first sign into place, the many cameras in the area all crowded to the barricades to film it.

It was kinda weird being in the spotlight, seeing as I had only just learned of the intended display the day before.

Now, I think the university is being absolutely stupid. Their official reasons for not wanting the display visible or on the grounds is that a) it might offend people's sensibilities, and b) it might lead to a confrontation.

While I agree that perhaps people should be warned when they're about to see something "graphic", the uni's first "reason" to suppress the display is complete BS (although I said it more nicely to the Global News cameraman). During the orientation week, all the new students were herded into the campus theatre and shown, on the giant screen, disgusting and very graphic pictures of STDs. There are paintings of naked people in the cafeteria. Obviously the university does not care very much whether they offend people's sensibilities, and neither does it care to warn incoming students that they might be offended. I doubt there's an official policy on what to do with "graphic" images. Not mention that these pictures were no worse than what you see on TV except that they were real and not digitally-created.

The second "reason" is also ridiculous. There would be no confrontation or publicity if the uni didn't make such a big deal of it, drawing the camera crews to the place. As soon as the TV crews left, the place simmered down. The only people to cause a ruckus would be over-exuberant pro-choicers, in which case, the pro-choicers should be removed, not the pro-lifers. Plus, I doubt that the women with babies or the elderly woman holding the "I regret my abortion" sign would be very willing to throw themselves into the mess if things looked like there were going to get out of hand.

I guess this is as much about freedom of expression as it is about abortion.

I am quite pleased with how all the pro-lifers behaved, with the exception of one amateur cameraman from off campus, who was trying to preach while he was arguing for the cause and consequently getting himself laughed at. Now I imagine there'll be a number of people who associate "Jesus' love" as pertaining to everyone but women. With the exception of him, all the pro-lifers were very calm, collected, and well versed in friendly discussion and debate. Even the Pro-Choice Clown Squad was mostly well-behaved, though very very loud in general, and very very quiet when pro-lifers tried to talk to them.

The main people causing problems were the middle-aged nay-sayers and amateur camera men from off campus, who then fired-up some of the students.

So let me relate to you some of the things I heard there:

"You don't deserve to LIVE, you SON OF A B****!" screameth a pro-choicer man (not sure whether he was from the uni or not). Even the ahem *bitchy* off-campus woman who was firing people up corrected him for yelling that one.

"Get your rosaries off my ovaries!" Pro-Choice Clown Squad (at very high volume).

"My body's nobody's body but mine. You can run your body, and I will run mine!" Pro-Choice Clown Squad and the bitchy woman, very loudly and in a sing-song tune.

"I'm not here to persuade you, I'm here to see where your heart is!" the preacher-dude making me cringe.

One observation, however. It's pretty rare that I hear a female verbally debating the pro-life cause. It's usually a guy, though I don't know why. I do know, however, that women are more likely to accept a personal point pertaining to women if it's made by women.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

When School Rocked

Oh, my. Does this bring back memories or what? I miss Howard.

"A philosophy professor walks in to give his class their final. Placing his chair on his desk the professor instructs the class, 'Using every applicable thing you've learned in this course, prove to me that this chair DOES NOT EXIST.'

So, pencils are writing and erasers are erasing, students are preparing to embark on novels proving that this chair doesn't exist, except for one student. He spends thirty seconds writing his answer, then turns his final in to the astonishment of his peers.

Time goes by, and the day comes when all the students get their final grades...and to the amazement of the class, the student who wrote for thirty seconds gets the highest grade in the class.

His answer to the question: 'What chair?'"

Quoting Whitney, a philosophy classmate, "Ten bucks says Howard destroys a chair before the end of the year."

Quoting Howard, my philosophy prof, "Oh, s***, I think I broke the chair."

Good times, good times.

Try to define a chair. Come on, I defy you. THEN you can try and convince me I'm more than a parasitic personality of an evil genius.

Don't LOOK at anything in a physics lab.
Don't TASTE anything in a chemistry lab.
Don't SMELL anything in a biology lab.
Don't TOUCH anything in a medical lab.
and, most importantly, don't LISTEN to anything in a philosophy department.

"I accept bribes. They won't affect your grade, but I do accept them." Howard Hopkins

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Dumb Luck

Yeah, so we were robbed last night, sometime between 10 pm and 6 am. I was heading out to work (to get there by six - kudos to me!), and noticed the rather blatantly open garage door. That didn't particularly alarm me, but I also noticed two boxes on the concrete, where they should not have been. I had to get to work, so I just shut the door and left. It seemed rather odd that two boxes would have flown off the shelf into a space usually occupied by a vehicle, so I fired off a couple texts from work to say that the garage door had been left open all night and Dad should check to make sure everything was still there.

My sister got the text, but Dad didn't check his phone because it was charging (all morning, apparently. What a lousy phone). My sister came home, and also noticed the boxes on the ground because they prevented her from pulling in. She moved them and pulled in anyways. A while later, however, my dad went in to the garage and noticed a screwdriver lying where it shouldn't have been. He couldn't find the toolbox to put it away. And then he noticed my old junky (but nice looking) computer was gone, too. That's about when my sister mentioned my text.

SO....
The thieves took (at least)
1. Snow blower
2. Pressure washer
3. Tennis/badminton rackets
4. A nigh useless computer with school projects on it
5. Dad's tools

Luckily, the bikes were in the shed. Dad just showed me the police report he's filing.

I'm not too worried about anything on my old computer that they might be able to get (assuming they can get that hunk of junk to work long enough to get anything off it). In fact, I kinda hope they try to use it, and realize they were gypped. And if they steal my essays... well, I suppose I should be flattered.

Funny thing is, the neighbours keep their garage door open on a regular basis, and we haven't heard of anything of theirs being stolen.

As for those thieves, “If man makes himself a worm he must not complain when he is trodden on.” Immanuel Kant

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Proud to Be Canadian, but...

I really would like to travel somewhere sometime. Somewhere very different from Canada. Maybe more than one place. Peru was super neat, but that only lasted a month. I'd like to leave for longer. Problem is, after traveling like that, I think I'd be forever torn between staying with friends and going to new places. What is that called, wanderlust?

Wanderlust, n. a strong, innate desire to rove or travel about.

But when am I going to do that? How could that work with school? And what would I actually do while I traveled. And how could I make it so that I'm there as a part of the culture, and not as a tourist?

Well, seeing as I don't really know if I want to go to grad school anymore, I guess there are lots of options (as long as I don't mind being dirt poor and being in debt for a while).

And I would want to go with someone. Oh my sweet, dearly hypothetical plans. Maybe I should just wait until I am hypothetically married to a sweet, dear hypothetical man and go on a several year honeymoon.

"It is a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to." J. R. R. Tolkien

Monday, 3 November 2008

Powers that Be

Tomorrow is election day in the US. About time. I expect Obama will win. I have become thoroughly disillusioned with the Republican party, so having the Democrats get in might not be a bad thing, although the insane fanaticism of Obama's followers is a little disconcerting. I'm quite happy to live in Canada right now.

While I'm discussing politics, I've always been somewhat fascinated by the ideas of totalitarianism and fascism. Machiavelli and Hitler and all that. Currently I'm reading the Art of War by Sun Tzu. There's something kind of entrancing about the idea of so much power and authority. Maybe that's why I like the book of Isaiah so much:

Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you understood since the earth was founded? He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spread them out like a tent to live in. He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on the them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.

“You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no saviour.

(segments from chapters 41 to 43)

But while it is kind of terrifying that God has that kind of power, it's reassuring, too. It would be the furthest thing from reassuring if any loser king (or queen, if it happened to be me) had anything similar to that kind of power, which is why I believe so strongly in personal rights and freedoms even to the deficit of personal security.

Oh, and Leon died this morning just as I had to catch the bus.

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." Abraham Lincoln

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Fish Killer

So I had this little betta fish, M. Poisson, for the longest time. He was half brain dead due to a little jumping accident, and anyone interested in cryogenics may have theorized that he lived twice as long as a normal fish because he died for twelve hours every night before thawing out and living during the day. I loved that little fish, despite his tendency to do nothing but bob along near the top of the water.

But eventually all good things come to an end, and he died. So I replaced him. The little guy promptly turned an ugly dull colour and passed on. So I took him back to the pet store and got a free replacement. They tested the water for me. The ammonia level was a *little* high, but considering the fish had died and stayed in there for a few hours afterward, that wasn't very surprising.

But then the same thing happened to the replacement. It looked like the fins were rotting, and within three days he died, too. It's not like I was sitting idly by. I changed that water, made sure it was absolutely clean, and the chemicals were all removed. It was a proper temperature. Yet it still died. I pretty much gave up then, and didn't get another one.

Now a little girl down the street has a new pet betta, Leon, and I'm pet sitting for them while her family is at DisneyWorld. They suspected the fish was sick before they gave it to me. The reasoning was that if he died, I'd be better able to handle it than the other little girl they were going to give it to, and also that I must be fairly pro at identifying sick betta symptoms. Maybe I'm not. At first I thought it was just a dumb fish, not a sick fish. It was anorexic, and seemed intent on burying itself alive.

But yesterday it started showing the same symptoms that my other fish showed during the two days prior to their deaths. Fins essentially rotting, turning a dull colour, covered in little white dots, doing nothing but bobbing along the water's surface. It's a little girl's fish, for pete's sake! I don't expect Leon to live. I hope she's not too heartbroken.

It turns out that when fish try to bury themselves, they're actually just trying to scratch because they're itchy with the parasite ich. Not eating is another symptom of ich, as are the other things I mentioned. So I've cleaned the whole fish bowl as well as it's ever been, changed the water (for the second time), and added a little salt. It's supposed to help, but like I said, I don't expect much. Too little too late. Poor thing.

What really bugs me is that I can't find any good info on what causes ich. Stress, supposedly, but M. Poisson and my sister's fish, Finneus, had PLENTY of stress and lived to tell about it. So I don't know why all these other fish can't handle a move from the pet store.

Perhaps evolution is playing a role and these dudes just aren't cut out to survive, like university students who can't handle red "x"s on their assignments, only purple circles.

Sigh. Maybe one day I'll figure it out.

And speaking of fish, did you know the Nemo was actually a sequential hermaphrodite? Protandrous hermaphrodite, actually. They start out neutral, then the head honcho turns into a female, and the second toughest turns into a male. If the female chief dies, then the male turns into the female, and one of the neutrals turns into the male. The things I learn in psych class.

Dory: You mean you don't like me?
Marlin: No, of course I like you. It's because I like you I don't want to be with you. It's a... complicated... emotion.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Dinner Schedule

I was thinking recently that I should be very grateful to be among the few in this world who gets to eat three square meals a day. But then I realized that I actually don't.

Monday: breakfast, supper
Tuesday: breakfast, supper
Wednesday: breakfast
Thursday: breakfast, late supper
Friday: breakfast, sometimes a late supper
Saturday: breakfast, supper
Sunday: breakfast, lunch

There's some snacking throughout the day, of course, and on Sundays I guess you could say I have a snack-like supper. And I occasionally purchase a lunch on Wednesday, or at least consume a considerable number of snacks. But still. I rarely eat an official three meals a day.

Naturally, however, this is due to school and work scheduling, and not to lack of resources or poverty, so I have nothing to complain about.

"Those who forget the pasta are condemned to reheat it." Anonymous

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

I Should Get a Nobel For This

Apparently the most commonly used perspective when dealing with abnormal psychological problems is the "biopsychosocial" approach. I suppose that a biological perspective wasn't good enough, nor a psychological one, even when tempered with a sociological flavour, so someone just shmooshed them all together and acted like it was something unique.

I'm ahead of the game. I hereby dub the approach I shall use the

"biopsychosocialarchaeolexicetygeoecodemonenvirotaxoastro-
meteorosexyontophenomenal
"

approach, which successfully integrates biology, psychology, sociology, archaeology, lexicology, etymology, geology, ecology, demonology, environmentology, taxology, astrology, meteorology, sexology, ontology, and phenomenology. Ha!

Anyways, I was wondering why, if there are Epipens for people with allergies, there aren't Benzopens for people suffering from panic attacks?

"Be what you would seem to be - or, if you'd like it put more simply - never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise." Lewis Carrol

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

For My Brother

My brother and I were discussing this the other day. How on earth ARE those little vulneraries and elixirs from Fire Emblem supposed to work?

* * * * *
Doctor's Orders

One day, in the midst of a terrible battle, Prince Ephraim and Lord Hector, through some twisted series of events, were fighting side-by-side to destroy a horde of flesh-hungry gwyllgis and wyverns.

Ephraim spun Reginleif around like nobody's business, coolly goring the heart of first one creature then the next. Hector was laughing at the shrieks the monsters made as they saw his glinting Wolf Beil come crashing towards them.

All was well. But then, disaster. A freak ballista shot impaled Ephraim's arm, and a rock falling from the sky (presumably it had been lodged in Huey's hoof) hit Hector in the forehead. Naturally, as Hector had a very thick skull, it didn't do much damage, but it was rather ugly and caused a small amount of bleeding. Ephraim wasn't bleeding much, either, because the arrow was still stuck in his arm.

"Owee, mama!" Hector shouted, picking the rock out of his head as Ephraim finished the last wyvern with a swift kick to the jaw. "Good thing we have that healing elixir, here, hey Prince?"

Ephraim glanced in his satchel. Indeed, they had one full elixir between them, which was plenty given the circumstance. He used his uninjured arm to pull the vial of sparkling blue liquid out of the bag.

"I suppose since my injury is the worse of the two, I should go first," said Ephraim.

Hector grumbled but agreed. He pulled the arrow out of Ephraim's arm, which caused the young prince to yelp rather unmasculine-like and to shoot Hector a dark glare. Eventually, though, the prince turned his attention to the matter at hand and looked back at the blue vial. "Erm, I've never actually had to use one of these things before," he said. "Am I supposed to drink it, or am I supposed to pour it over my wound?"

Hector scratched his brow and winced. If his forehead hadn't been bleeding before, it was now. "Actually, I don't know, either. I've never been hurt before."

"Do you think it will kill us we use it incorrectly?" Ephraim asked.

"Probably not," said Hector, so Ephraim wisely chose to believe the opposite.

"If I pour it on my wound, then most of it will just leak away," he mused. "But if I drink it, then how does it know where to work?"

"If it tastes awful, you're probably meant to drink it," said Hector with a grimace, remembering the awful tonics Serra had forced Matthew to drink when the thief had gotten his arm stuck trying to retrieve a lockpick from Umbriel's mouth.

Ephraim shrugged and sniffed it. It smelled sweet. "Maybe we should just go find a healer really quickly and ask," he said.

"We left all the healers behind," said Hector. "Remember? Figured we wouldn't need them because we have these elixirs."

"Oh yeah," said Ephraim, starting to feel very woozy. "I think I'm going to sit down for a moment."

"Maybe we should test it on something," said Hector. "Here, give it to me." He took the elixir from Ephraim and strode over to a writhing gwyllgi that obviously wasn't quite dead. "Drink this," he said, pouring one third of the liquid down the gwyllgi's throat. The gwyllgi stopped writhing. "Oh, good, it worked," Hector declared. No sooner had he made the proclaimation than the reptile let out a deafening screech. Syrup-thick blood bubbled out of its mouth and its eyes went blank, the entire creature freezing into an unbecoming dead bug position. Hector hacked off its head just to be sure.

"It's dead," said Hector. "I'm not certified in hocus-pocus healing, but either elixirs don't work on gwyllgis, or we're not supposed to drink it."

"Which... do you... think?" Ephraim grunted, trying to tie a tourniquet around him arm.

"We could try it on something else," said Hector, "and see if the death thing is a general phenomon when this stuff is swallowed."

"Then we won't have enough left for us," Ephraim murmured, his voice growing fainter as his face grew paler. "I think... we're not supposed to drink it. I don't know how the elixir would.... know what blood... it was supposed to clot, and so would just clot everything and ...kill you. I think the arrow must have hit an important artery. I'm going to lie down now."

"Hmm. Well, that makes sense. Pour it on it is, then." Hector grabbed Ephraim's arm and was about to pour half of the remaining liquid on the noble's wound when he remembered something. "Didn't Natasha use an elixir when Forde's kidneys got crushed when Bartre hugged him hello?"

"Yeah..." Ephraim was lying on his back, eyes closed.

"How could you pour an elixir on crushed kidneys?" He wiped some blood off his forehead and flicked it off his wrist. He was starting to get a little woozy as well.

"Maybe it wasn't an elixir she gave him after all," suggested Ephraim, eyes still closed.

"I think it was," said Hector. "I mean, this stuff is a cure-all for, well, all... except poison. I wonder if it's habit forming?"

"Are there any instructions printed on the container?" said Ephraim, voice barely audible.

"I'll check." Alas, there were no instructions. "Boy, that's dumb," said Hector. "How would we even know the difference between an elixir and a spy's sleeping potion?"

It was about now that Ephraim passed out. Hector thought about the elixir a while longer before finally deciding to pour half a dose on Ephraim's arm, and then make him swallow the rest if that didn't appear to help anything.

Unfortunately, by this point Hector had also lost too much blood so he keeled over as he stumbled towards Ephraim, and landed unconscious with a whump on the ground.

Farina spied them from atop her pegasus nearly twenty minutes later. "Dumb boys, bleeding to death," she muttered to herself. "Two full uses of magical elixir left, and they're both too manly to use it. Serves them right." She swooped down, picked up the elixir, and returned to camp to report the location of the missing lords.

Needless to say, Princess Eirika made hocus-pocus healing certification a mandatory requirement for anyone joining the army after that.

* * * * *

"For those whose reasoning is bent, I shall straighten it with my bow" - Rath from Fire Emblem 7

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

I'm All Over the Place

But currently sitting around at the uni.

Wow... eleven days since I last updated, and apart from proudly announcing that Stephen Harper is once again Prime Minister, and that Alberta is only one seat short of being entirely Conservative, I don't have much to report. Unless you wanted to know my current grades in school, which would mean you're either family or have no life.

Actually, I guess that's not quite all I have to report. My sister is now officially graduated, and it was good to visit with extended family over Thanksgiving. Gabriella is so stinking cute! The game of football with just me and my sister and... what was it, fourteen guys... was more embarrassing than it was anything else, though I do pride myself for the one tag I made that saved my team from an even more humiliating defeat.

I've been asking a lot of questions recently. Questions like "Why are they called midterms when they extend throughout the entire semester?" and "What's a caucus and how do you spell it?" Also, "How do you pronounce 'Sikh'?" "Would getting a tattoo on my ankle cause me grief later in life if I try to do missionary work?" "What's the difference between blind faith, 'good' faith, and rational belief?" "Why don't most people my age vote?" "Who gave the okay to put Vista on the market, and where does he live?" "Does anyone else in university think Freud was a fruitcake?" "Is hypnotism dangerous spiritually?" "How can the transit train be so full after only two stops?" "Is it even possible to beat Fire Emblem 6 hard mode without cheating?" and, perhaps most importantly as I'm being graded on this one: "Do music videos released between the years 2003-2008 inclusive show more religious images than music videos released between the years 1993-1998 inclusive?"

Anyways, looking back at some of my former posts, I've noticed that in many of my earlier posts I was expressing my opinion on something. Recently I've been mostly asking questions. So instead of another question I shall state an opinion here: King Baldwin the Fourth of Jerusalem was a respectable guy. If I got to have dinner with five dead guys, I think the current guest list would include C.S. Lewis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Winston Churchill, Sophie Scholl, and King Baldwin. Actually, talking to Moses or Elijah or Ezekiel would be pretty cool, too.

As an aside, one of my profs mentioned that the polls proclaiming Obama and McCain to be in dead heat are probably quite wrong. The only people polled are people with landlines. There are record numbers of registered young voters with only cells and no landlines. The "young people" demographic tends to support Obama, so Obama's probably doing better than the polls show. Makes sense to me.

It is the nature, and the advantage, of strong people that they can bring out the crucial questions and form a clear opinion about them. The weak always have to decide between alternatives that are not their own.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Friday, 3 October 2008

Elections for Dummies

I'm getting kind of excited because I get to vote in my first federal election on the 14th. I'm not too excited about the advertisements on display by Elections Canada, however. I am officially unexcited enough to write the local newspaper about it. I don't know whether it'll get published or not, but just in case it doesn't, I'll publish it here, too.

"I'm not sure when billboards with cursing on them became acceptable and I'm both disgusted and surprised that the Canadian government thinks it is. I have seen several of the “Just Vote Dammit” ads set up in and around the C-train stations, visible not only to people who think it's hip and cool to use foul language, but also to families and children and other people who would rather not be exposed to such tastelessness. I know that ads must relate to their target group – which I'm assuming in this case is post-secondary students – but if all the ads relate to is our perceived collective immaturity, then I'm not sure why the government would expect us to make mature choices concerning whom we decide to vote for. Respectable citizens will vote, and the government should encourage that in respectable ways."


Thus it endeth. I mean, I know that Alberta has the lowest young voter turnout of the country, and that's not a point of provincial pride. But if people are stupid and lazy enough that they don't want to use twenty minutes of their time to vote, then if by some miracle they actually do vote (due to the cursing, presumably), I really doubt they're going to be the type of person who's going to vote the way I want them to.

“Alright guys, I want to get out there and vote tomorrow. And not because it's cool, because it's not. You know what is cool? Smoking. Smoke while you vote.” Jon Stewart

Friday, 26 September 2008

Random Post

For those of you who didn't already know it, Sigmund Freud was a nutcase who was in love with his mother. It's kinda embarrassing that he's the father figure of psychology. He wasn't even a scientist!

Anyways, here's something my dad and I were discussing recently: is there such a thing as true randomness? Does such a thing as "luck" exist? I've always linked randomness to the free will vs. predestination debate, but never really come to an opinion on it. But oh, the implications this topic has on theology and God's role in human life....

If there is nothing random, then everything is predestined, and I'm not responsible for what I do. If there is randomness, then "it was fated to be" or "it was meant to happen" doesn't make sense, because one random thing could completely throw everything else off.

Perhaps there is only one goal, and whatever randomness happens will eventually lead towards it... but then it's not random. Maybe there are say, three possibilities, and one of the three will be randomly chosen. Does that still count as random? If there is any causality at all, does that negate its randomness? AHHHH!

Maybe this is only confusing because I'm thinking of time as linear. Perhaps, when viewed outside the cage of time, and everything is happening in one eternal moment, it makes more sense. I suppose "fate" wouldn't mean much then, because there's nothing to travel towards, and randomness wouldn't really exist, either, because there'd be no point at which it could start being random.

I don't even know if this is coherent at all. Oh, well. I think I was fated to get confused.

Either that, or it was just my luck.

From Signs:
"People break down into two groups when they experience something lucky. Group number one sees it as more than luck, more than coincidence. They see it as a sign,evidence, that there is someone up there, watching out for them. Group number two sees it as just pure luck. Just a happy turn of chance. I'm sure the people in Group number two are looking at those fourteen lights in a very suspicious way. For them, the situation isn't fifty-fifty. Could be bad, could be good. But deep down, they feel that whatever happens, they're on their own. And that fills them with fear. Yeah, there are those people. But there's a whole lot of people in the Group number one. When they see those fourteen lights, they're looking at a miracle. And deep down, they feel that whatever's going to happen, there will be someone there to help them. And that fills them with hope. See what you have to ask yourself is what kind of person are you? Are you the kind that sees signs, sees miracles? Or do you believe that people just get lucky? Or, look at the question this way: Is it possible that there are no coincidences?"

Friday, 19 September 2008

Bathroom Reader

Today at the uni I discovered a theological conversation scratched into the door of a bathroom stall. We've all seen graffiti scratched in bathrooms before, but this was something. I thought, "Who doesn't like a little good bathroom reading?" and copied it down so I could post it on my blog.

-Coffee is evil, caffeine is salvation
-Partying is all we know of heaven and all we need of hell
-The quest for a man may be fun but the quest for God is more satisfying!
-She's correct. Wait 10 years and you'll understand.
-Oh bugger off!
-Don't be patronizing
-The quest for chocolate is better
-There's more to life than questing for God
-Find the gods in everything
-The optimist
-If you enjoy looking for that which does not exist, have at it
-Religion is how you make your life feel like it has purpose and meaning when it really DOES NOT

Also on the bathroom door:
"All life and order in the universe is all poo patterns."
"The universe is supported on the back of a great poo tortoise."

Off to the side, someone wrote, "If you make them angry, that's as good as winning."

Oh? That's what these discussions are about? Winning?

Well, one person at least seemed to have a little sense. Scrawled, almost unnoticed amidst the larger etchings, was the simple statement "Life is strange"

Yes, so it is.

To steal a quote from Emily, "Yeah, that's profound. I think I'm going to write it on the bathroom wall." -Fonzie

Monday, 15 September 2008

No Feminism for Palin?

This is an interesting article on feminism and Sarah Palin. With the way feminism hits you in university, this was kind of refreshing.

I know I've become more feminist in the past year or two, but this article struck me as quite right. I don't know much about Sarah Palin (other than she's pretty and has a good, solid, yet pretty name), but, in this article at least, she seems to be pretty well grounded.

"You don't have to be anti-man to be pro-woman." Jane Galvin Lewis

"[Feminism is] a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians." Pat Robertson

"Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels." Faith Whittlesey

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Is There a Line?

So here's an ethical dilemma that's been on my mind recently. I realize it's extremely hypothetical, but I'd still like to have some conviction on the matter:

Suppose some big, nasty government takes over Canada, strips away democracy, starts killing and torturing people randomly, brainwashing people with evil ideas, etc. etc. As bad as you can imagine it. This is a force to be resisted to the utmost degree.

Underground resistance groups begin to form, but due to the insurgents, the new awful government is forced to crack down, performing even more random searches and arrests and such. You are a part of this resistance movement, and have a whole stash of weapons to hide.

The only place near you that this regime has left alone, and neither searched nor destroyed, is your community church, because, for some reason, this regime respects the idea that churches are sanctuaries and houses of worship.

Supposing that you could be relatively certain that you would not be discovered, would you hide your stockpile of weapons inside this community church? Please comment.

From Battlestar Galactica:

(After nuking one of their own civilian ships)
Commander Adama: I gave the order, Son. It was my responsibility.
Captain Lee Adama: I pulled the trigger. That's mine.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

It's Alive!

And has a mind of its own.

My computer is being stupid. It restarts randomly and without warning and takes its jolly sweet time connecting to the Internet. It's having some sort of internal dispute about whether or not there's a firewall turned on. My computer has been slow for the past while, but this illness is quite sudden.

So anyways, it's driving me crazy, and I don't think I'll be spending so much time on my computer until this gets sorted out, so if I'm a little behind on posts or Facebook or email or whatnot - that's probably why. Methinks if this doesn't get fixed soon, I'm buying a laptop.

This is an eco-friendly post. It was typed with recycled pixels.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Pass the Corn

I ate some corn on the cob today. When all my corn was gone, my dad observed that I had eaten it all in such a way as to shape the cob into an elongated rectangle. Almost a perfect square, except it was obviously much longer. And it was entirely unintentional.

What do you know? I think in colour and eat in geometric shapes.

“Develop your eccentricities while you are young. That way, when you get old, people won't think you're going gaga.” David Ogilvy

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

First Impression

'Tis orientation week at the uni. Thus far I have gotten a free t-shirt, laundry bag, frisbee, pen, New Testament, day planner, pizza, ticket to a theatre production, and another free Christian book. I got there late on the first day, and so missed out on the free tote bag, and somehow today I missed the free mugs. Nuts. I also a got a free pass to a nightclub downtown, but the picture of the topless lady on it leads me to think that I probably will not use it. Oh! And oh, joy, there is a campus map in the day planner! I'm so happy. I've never gotten hopelessly lost there yet, but sufficiently lost enough to waste a fair amount of time.

I actually know more people on campus than I remembered I knew. I keep bumping in to more people. Or rather, I hear someone call my name. I'm rarely observant enough to notice them first. Odd thing is, most of the people are guys. I thought I knew more college-age girls than guys, but either I'm mistaken, or the girls are shunning the uni. If that's the case, I wonder if they're just shunning the U of C, or post-secondary schools altogether. Hmm...

I got to watch a play today about college life. It was very well done, but I'm already getting a sense of the spiritual flavour on campus: almost not even tolerant - just all around dry, although there is a multi-faith chapel. It was quite cheering to see the Campus for Christ club being among the first people to greet the new students.

I did learn something today, which didn't happen yesterday due to a massive scheduling error on the school's part. It's funny how quickly you're bombarded on campus with information on STDs (I refuse to euphemize by calling them STIs). I suppose I'm comparing to homeschooling and Sunday School, although even St. Mary's Uni didn't smash it all in your face like the U of C. The pictures were quite repulsive. Yet for all that, no one said "don't be promiscuous", just "have safer sex", which I suppose is actually a small victory, insofar as no one said "have safe sex".

Engineers have all the fun. I wish there were a shrinking hallway, liquid oxygen pond (at least, I think that's what it was), and doorway to nowhere in MY house. And I've always contemplated how much square footage you lose when you paint a room, but I've never contemplated how much larger a rock gets every time you paint it. One of the decorative rocks at the U of C has been painted so many times, the paint itself is now over an inch thick.

So I'm looking forward to hanging out at my cousin's apartment and getting my new Japanese friend settled into Canadian university life. It'll be an interesting year. I think I'm definitely going to have to get involved in one of the Christian groups there.

“Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.” C. S. Lewis

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

On a Blustery Night Part III

The last installment...

* * * * *

As the wind peters down, the conversation dies beneath the shadows of the coniferous trees. Oriana sidles up to Jorien; Jorien grips her javelin even more firmly. Salome says “Almost there.”

They all hear a twig snap.

Oriana inhales sharply. Jorien lifts her javelin and pushes the princess behind her. Salome grabs Oriana's arm and whimpers.

“What's wrong?” Salome demands. “Why are you all so frightened? You're scaring me. It's likely only my brother... Isaiah?”

Oriana and Salome remain huddled together, but Jorien takes a few cautious steps toward the place of the sound. “Show yourself,” she commands, there now being no trace of a tremble in her voice. She is sick of this uncertainty. Let come what may, she will end it now. With the pointy end of her weapon, if possible.

“Isaiah?” Salome calls again. Then she mutters something about not liking the situation the moment the door was opened why did she involve herself with such shifty folk?

Another twig snaps, slightly farther off. Jorien takes a few small steps. Though she sometimes pretends, she's not a nocturnal creature, so it's difficult for her to see in the dark – particularly amongst the trees. She notes how well long shadows mess with her ability to distinguish one object from the next.

Perhaps it is only a small, furry animal – no, it would have to be a fat, furry animal – breaking twigs, but Jorien is trained to take no chances. “My lady, I'd advise you have your knife handy.”

Oriana bites her lip and pulls a knife from her boot. “I've never had to use this, you know,” she whispers. Salome eyes the knife warily.

Jorien takes a few more steps into the trees. “Speak!” she commands.

* * * * *

The light from the kitchen window casts a muted orange glow over Neal's face. He is about to tread on the doorstep, cloak flapping about his legs, when a picture flashes through his mind's eye. Her face – he's placed it. When Prince Baruch was nearly done in – the man that Neal had seen slinking away through the halls – the man had tossed something to a girl in the shadows. Baruch's royal ring, they figure, and a key. Tossed it to a girl. That girl. He had seen her face in the shadows for just half a moment before he had opted to take after the would-be assassin, rather than the female, but he had seen her face, if not clearly.

He feels like throwing up, but doesn't have the time. How could he be so stupid? “HEY! HEY!” Dropping the lantern, he gives a shout to rouse those inside the house, and books it back to the princess. What has he done? How could he leave them? Feet fairly flying, Neal wishes he was one of those mythological centaurs of old, with hooves that could carry him twice as fast as he is now going.

Ba-dum, ba-dum.

Is that his heart or his feet?

“My lady!” he yells. “Jorien!”

The stars are still shining; the cloud still covers much of the moonlight. The air is still crisp and windy. Neal sees only one silhouette headed back toward him. Stomach churning, he hopes against hope that he's somehow miscounting.

“Where is she? Where is the princess?” he demands, grabbing Jorien by the elbows. She has dark splotches on her face, and no longer holds her javelin. Her darl hair is matted to her forehead despite the wind. “What happened?”

His star female recruit mutters something in hysterical gibberish and collapses in his arms.

“Darn it, Jorien! What happened?!” he demands again, giving her a shake.

Two gasps later she snaps out of her panic. “It was a trap!” she blurts.

“Where's Prin-”

“They took her! Horsemen!”

The familiar rumble of horses in gallop is audible from where they are. Five of them, each with a cloaked figure astride. Had he been an archer, they would have been in range. He really wishes now that Vivianna had come along to begin with – not only with her medical gear, but with her bow and arrows, too.

As he is thinking of arrows, one seems to materialize from nowhere and comes whistling towards him, barely missing his foot. There is a note tied to it. No doubt a ransom note, or at least a tasteless gloat of the “neener neener” sort.

He hears other people coming from the rear. They're allies because Prince Obed's voice is directing them. But the horses are gone too far by this time. Out of range, even for Vivianna, now.

Different words wish to make their way out of Neal's mouth, but they aren't noble words, so he holds them in check. Instead, only a strained “...Prince...” is released.

Obed comes to stand beside him, eyes hard. “Where is my sister?” he demands.

Neal can only gesture.

The prince looks after the rapidly distancing horsemen, mouth slightly open, then turns back to Neal. He speaks softly. “That was my baby sister, Neal.”

Neal can't answer. Prince Obed will be very, very angry with him, only not now. He's still in shock. Later.

"Ohhh...." breathes Vivianna, eyes wide.

Baruch also comes to stand beside them. He shakes his head. “Wow, hey?... Right out from under our noses...”

Neal bites his tongue.

Silence ensues.

* * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * *

I hope you like cliffhangers, because that's it.

“What might have been is not what is." Charles Dickens

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

On a Blustery Night Part II

Part II:

* * * * *

It's a girl. The gusting wind whips the stray bits of brown hair about her face.

He is mildly surprised. No more than fifteen, he guesses. About Bianca's age.

Her cheeks are flushed bright red from the nippy night air. Her eyes are a clear and sparkling deep grey-blue. A coarse brown cloak and hood protect her from the elements.

“Hi,” she greets, then pauses. “Oh... I'm sorry. I didn't mean to disturb the whole household... but I was just happening by with my brother and there's a horse out in the field. It's on its side... we think it's sick.”

Neal can basically hear the whoosh sound as breath is released. Although, thinks Neal, the horses were tied up in the trees, not out in the field.

“Oh!” Oriana cries. “What colour?”

“White,” the girl replies. “He was making some noises... I think he's pained.”

“A white horse?” exclaims Oriana. “That could be Giboreo, or maybe your Titan, Dame Jorien – yours is white, too, isn't it, Ishmer?”

Prince Obed looks about ready to jump Oriana in order to clamp her mouth shut, but she notices and so closes it herself. Neal sighs inwardly at her for her not-so-strategic hints of identity, but is only paying half attention to the princess. His attention is held by the girl at the door.

He doesn't like her. Something is not right with that girl. Be vigilant in retaining the royal heirs, but don't be overly high-strung, Neal, King Aaron had said. He must learn to laugh, the king had said. Oh, I'm laughing , now, he thinks. At the irony. Neal searches the girl's face, making no pretense otherwise. She smiles awkwardly at him.

“What's your name?” he asks her, a warning tone edging his voice.

“Salome,” says she.

“Show me where the horse is,” Oriana chimes, worry in her voice.

“May I have your name?” the girl asks him.

He folds his arms. Salome seems fine. There are no scars, no disfigurements.... no evil gleam in her eye. He doesn't recognize her from the royal Wemarian rank and file they've met. But why is she wandering such places so late at night?

“Salome, how did you manage to find this horse?” he inquires. Let the girl be suspicious of their suspicion. They can deal with the ramifications of that later.

Princess Oriana is grabbing her cloak and making ready to leave with Salome. Neal glances at Prince Obed to let him know that she won't be going out alone. Obed nods, but is clearly not liking the idea of Oriana leaving, even with Neal accompanying her.

Neal takes a peak at Jorien to see if he's the only one with a hyperactive imagination. Jorien meets his gaze, then breaks it off and immediately begins wrapping on her cloak. She picks up her javelin again.

“I'll accompany you,” her soft voices says. Neal notices that she smartly omitted the usual tag of “my lady”.

Grabbing his lance, Neal too, begins donning his outdoor gear. If the girl is telling the truth, it would be ridiculous for the whole lot of them to go. They would be spotted by every Wemarian from a quarter league away to the border. Still, better three fighters than two... or rather, two than one, as the princess doesn't really count.

“Oh, Sir Neal, what are you doing?” Oriana whines.

“I'm coming, too, of course,” he replies gruffly.

“Of course,” says she. “Look, Dame Jorien's coming. I'll be fine. Stay back and protect my brother.” He cringes to hear titles and job descriptions. Oh, well. It's not as if Salome hasn't noticed the weapons lying about.

Salome, being the perceptive type, senses the obvious tension in the household. “I'll wait outside,” she offers.

The princess follows her out. Jorien follows the princess. Neal grabs a lantern and walks to the door. Turning to those who remain, he lowly issues out several instructions. “Ten minutes. You hear any noise and you all come out armed.” Several nods. Baruch waves him on, and Prince Obed mirrors the motion with his spear.

Neal steps outside.

They are waiting for him. “Show us where, Salome,” he orders.

She smiles nervously and turns. “This way.”

They walk in silence. The lush grass is soft beneath their feet. The warm yellow glow of the kitchen is easily visible from outside. Where are the guards? he wonders. Maybe they were watching only the road. Salome had implied they had come from the the fields and not by the road...

Their breath is visible; four wispy puffs of white condensation.

Neal figures it would be a good time to assert his station of man-in-charge. “Salome, just wait,” he orders. “You didn't tell me how you happened upon the horse.”

She turns her face, the very personification of innocence, to look at him. In fact, if anything were ever more innocent, it would be so far along the scale of innocence that it would pass the final mark and being regressing. Neal couldn't pull that expression off – not if both his life and Bianca's depended on it, though it would be handy if he could. “My brother and I are heading home from Ira and Camilla's place,” she says. “I'm sure you know them. They just had a baby, you know. A darling thing. Took a shortcut through your field – hope you don't mind.” She glances back at him.

He realizes he's seen that face somewhere, before. He tries to place where.

He is about to share his opinion on trespassing, but Oriana is speaking again.

“A baby? What name?”

“Obi,” Salome says. “Have you not been to visit them recently?”

Finally Oriana wisely shuts up.

The girl turns to look at Oriana. Blast! He's seen that face somewhere before, he knows it! Well, perhaps not philosophically speaking, because his memory could be tainted, but there's the idea. Salome leads them further from the house. They have made it some way, already. In her brown cloak she is like a shadow, or rather a wisp of a shadow. Neal is the last of the four. They walk in silence for several long seconds. Corin is probably counting the seconds back in that dive of a house.

“Is he badly hurt?” Oriana asks.

“Possibly,” Salome admits. “We thought probably sick, as opposed to hurt, but I wouldn't put a wager on it.” She gives an apologetic smile, raising her eyebrows.

“Oh! Silly us!” Oriana exclaims. “If he's hurt, we need Vivianna! I'll run back and get her!”

Neal does not like that idea. His princess, who is in hiding in a hostile nation, out at night by herself? “No,” he decides. “Jorien, you return to the house and nab Vivianna. We'll wait for you here.”

Jorien obediently turns back toward the house.

“Neal,” Oriana begins again, her voice pleading, “if Giboreo is hurt, he needs help quickly! We shouldn't wait around any longer!”

He ignores her, trying not to look arrogant or jumpy, which is getting more and more difficult.

Salome shrugs and rubs her arms to keep warm.

Saith the princess: “You're infuriating, Neal.”

“Where is your brother?” he asks Salome.

“Waiting by the horse,” she replies. “Just past yonder trees.” She gracefully motions toward a black jagged line not far in the distance.

“You, see, Jorien will be able to find us,” Oriana whines again.

He sighs and calls her back. “Jorien!” The wind whips his voice away, but he still manages to get her attention.

“You go with them. I'll get Vivianna,” he says. “See to the creature. I'll catch up.”

“Sir?” Jorien's voice holds many questions, and a slight hint of a waver. Could she also be so unsettled?

He's not entirely sure himself why he's changing places with her. Perhaps he feels Jorien would be better able to soothe an injured horse than he would be able to. Perhaps he wishes for a temporary reprieve from the tension. Perhaps he doesn't like the idea of Jorien being by herself, either. At any rate, he expects his princess to be happy to be rid of her infuriating retainer for a few moments.

Salome mentions something to Oriana about the position she found the horse in. Oriana listens intently. Neal leans over and discreetly whispers something into Jorien's ear. About keeping her javelin in the ready position. She nods and whispers back, “Please be quick.”

He nods and leaves the three females. There's no sense in running. If the horse has been hurt for so long already, a few more seconds likely won't kill it. Besides, it's easier to think when walking than when running – particularly when going against the wind. Nevertheless, his attempt to make his walk look nonchalant fails miserably, but he refuses to admit it.

Oriana's bubbly voice is likely chatting with Salome by now. She appears to like her new friend. Jorien is being much more cautious. Good Jorien. He'd like to get to know her a little better, if he could. Although he's already dealing with Vivianna. Trying to add Jorien into the mix probably just wouldn't work.

Their voices grow fainter as the light from the house grows stronger. “Hey?” he calls quietly. “Where are you, men? Report.” There is no reply. What was that lad's name? “Gavin?” A queasy feeling once again hits his stomach. Where are those guards? He begins moving again. His not-quite-nonchalant walk now qualifies for a potty-dash trot.

* * * * * to be continued...

“Contrariwise, if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic.” Lewis Carrol

Sunday, 24 August 2008

On a Blustery Night Part I

This is a scene that kept playing in my mind. I don't think it relates to the other little blurb I shared earlier, but this, too, is set in a fantasy realm. I don't really know how well this narrative voice works, or there is any tension build up at all, so please give me some feedback.

* * * * *

On a Blustery Night


An old farmhouse stands lonely on the border between the field and the forest. A warm candle-lit glow is being emitted into the greyness of night from two windows of the usually deserted structure. In the distance, a wolf howls, but is scarcely noticeable above the cry of the wind.

* * * * *

Neal sits on a crude wooden chair and is tempted to rest his feet on the equally crude wooden table, but doesn't. Such a posture is not dignified. Instead, he rests his elbows on the rough surface, hands clasped. He must not nod off. He must not. He forces his head up and notes a head of chestnut brown hair. Ah, the royal heir, Prince Obed.

“Everyone, are we ready to begin?” Obed asks, still standing.

There are a chorus of replies. Neal can't discern the individual assertions. Apparently, Obed can't, either.

“Oriana?” Obed asks.

“Most ready, brother. You'll be glad you brought me along, after all – you'll see,” the youngest royal child replies. “I'm not just good for sewing samplers and entertaining guests all the time.” Obed cuts her off before she can continue.

“Glad to hear it, Oriana. Baruch?”

Baruch jerks awake, pushing some long red hair out of his face. “Um, yeah. Sure thing.” The man flashes a lopsided grin.

If Neal were not so tired, that impish grin on Baruch's face would grate on his nerves. He blinks and gazes out the window. After focusing for several moments, some stars become visible. Most are covered by cloud. The ground is full of shadows, which are cast by the farmhouse and the trees. The wind whistles through the sideboards of the house.

“Sir Neal?”

He jerks his attention back to Obed in the softly lit room. “Yes, Sire,” he replies. “I've been ready for quite some time.” He puts a sharp tone in his voice. They had to get down to business before the Wemarians noticed they were gone. Henneth will cover their absence for some time, but even Henneth's charm and ingenuity can only last for so long.

“I can always count on you to be enthusiastic, Sir Neal,” Obed replies with a somewhat dry tone. “Sir Corin?”

Neal assumes Corin has nodded, because Prince Obed continues.

“Dame Jorien?”

“Yes, Sire.”

“Vivianna?”

There is no reply. Neal sighs. “Vivanna?” He offers his voice, a little harsher than is usual.
A pair of sparkling violet eyes in a head of thick golden-brown locks peeks from around a corner. “Here!” she calls cheerily, stepping into the lit room. “I'm here, see?”

“Fine, let's get started,” Prince Obed replies, tapping his fingers against the tabletop.

Neal is suppressing a growl. Perhaps because he's tired. Perhaps because Vivianna was late and they haven't even started the meeting yet. Perhaps because they've got masses of the Wemarian civilian population wanting to beat them to death then to burn them alive. “Sit down, Vivianna. You're holding things up.” He shifts in his seat and rubs the bridge of his nose.

Vivianna makes a snarky expression, sticking out her tongue, but daintily seats herself in an empty chair.

“As you know,” Prince Obed begins, “We're in something of a predicament, being cut off from friendly forces and trapped within the confines of an unfamiliar land. Now quick wit has got us to this farmhouse, but the question of what we do next and how still remains.”

“We should kick the Wemarians in the rump and feed them to the frogs!” Princess Oriana exclaims loudly.

Prince Obed shoots her an if-you-don't-bite-your-tongue-I'll-find-someone-to-cut-it-out-for-you look and continues. “We were called here to discuss trade treaties with Wemar, but it is now apparent that was only a farce. Wemar has no friendly intentions to either my sister or me, and neither towards our ally, Prince Baruch.”

The prince glances nervously about the room as though the wind itself were watching them with ever-present eyes. His voice lowers. “If there was any doubt, we have only to consider the assassination attempt on Prince Baruch last night.” After a pause, he adds, “Our gratitude and praise to each of you who have somehow managed to keep yourself and us alive thus far. Especially with my sister making things so incredibly difficult.”

“Obed!” Oriana cries. For all the prince's dry humour, he probably meant that last bit.

Neal allows his eyes to wander. Jorien is standing near the hall, gazing intently out the window. A young Sehiemian knight he doesn't recognize is on the other end of the rickety kitchen, looking out the other. Several more members of the Herenese and Sehiemian retinues are present.

Princess Oriana breaks in with a question. “How much longer do you think we will have to be on the run, in hiding like this? I mean, do you believe we'll ever make it back to our own countries again?”

“Perhaps,” replies the prince, “but the more noise you make, the less likely that will be. The first thing we must do is come to understand the motive behind the actions of Wemar, and judge who in particular is responsible.”

Bull-manure. Neal hopes the prince was being sarcastic. “With all do respect, Sire, the first thing we must do is ensure that you and your royal sister are safe from harm. In this case, running away may prove to be the most prudent course of action.”

“Though hardly dignified.”

“I fail to see the dignity in a farm house, Sire.”

The white-blond Sir Corin voices the same thought Neal holds, only in a less abrasive manner. “A smudge on your dignity can be cleaned, but your life cannot be regained.”

Prince Obed is about to say something when there is a rap at the door.

Neal feels his heart skip a beat.

“That's not one of the guards,” Vivianna declares, eyes gleaming with a hint of excitement. “I told them to make owl noises. Those aren't owl noises.”

Neal exchanges a glance with Prince Obed while everyone else simply freezes.

There are several more raps.

Neal hears his heart beat – the only noise he can make out. Jorien slowly reaches for her slender javelin. Prince Baruch has put his hand on his knife.

Still there is hesitation. “They can see,” Vivianna says, pointing. “The windows are bright. I'll answer it, and then we can see.” Almost giggling, she goes to the door. No one breathes. Who informed on them? Why did the Sehiemian guards not alert them of their visitors?

Neal and several others stand up, as if bracing for a blow. Who is at the door? He grimly notices that everyone, including himself, has a hand discreetly on some weapon or another.

Vivianna opens the door.

* * * * * to be continued...

“All human evil comes from a single cause, man's inability to sit still in a room.” Blaise Pascal

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Monsieur Poisson


Sigh... well, my pet beta (or Siamese Fighting Fish, which sounds cooler) of almost three years finally kicked the bucket yesterday.

RIP Monsieur Poisson, thanks for being a part of the family.

He actually lived a lot longer than anyone expected him to. My theory is that he was half brain-dead, and therefore used energy only half as quickly as a healthy fish, enabling him to live twice as long as one. I don't think I've posted anything before about the incident that left him "special". As I left him unattended in a cup one day (I was cleaning his plastic aquarium), he made a bid for freedom which was ultimately successful. Good thing for him, I found him on my bedside table soon enough to save him, but he was never quite the same afterwards.

Family friends compared his tendencies to the tendencies of a plastic goldfish - he'd just bob along the top of the water, doing nothing at all until someone would come along and give his house a good shake. Silly fish.

Aw, I'll miss him, swollen eyes, raggedy fin and all, even if he was just a fish.

"I'm gonna live forever, or die trying." Joseph Heller

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Snail Mail

A few weeks ago, one of the girls from Sunday School informed me that she was leaving to go to Israel for two weeks. I told her to write me a postcard, and she said that if I gave her my address she would. Naturally, I gave it to her, but didn't actually expect an eight-year-old to follow through with that.

Today I got her postcard in the mail. It says:

"To Carla
This is my third day here It's 9:00 in the evening. I'm haveing a great time here! Tomorrow in the morning we are going to the Medetrainian Sea! Me, Mom, [her brother], Two of my cosins, my uncle + my Aunt. We are going to sleep over night! I've gotta right more post cards. Bye!"

I love getting written notes, so this really made me smile, although I'm not sure how she was able to write it on "Mon. Aug 23", but oh, well...

This is the same girl who, against her mother's instructions, phoned the church by herself the morning of their flight out to make sure that the pastor remembered he had to drive them to the airport. What a kid! I love her.

Random quote:
"Culture is to make a nice drinking bowl from one's enemy's skull. Civilization is to go to prison for that." Anonymous

Sunday, 17 August 2008

What was that?

So my church's soccer camp starts tomorrow. I've never been one for much soccer - I'll run the length of the field then bag out. I don't know why. I was really good at endurance where dance was concerned. This week will be interesting.

On a completely different note, I think my brain is structured in such a way that I would be mistaken for someone born a hundred years ago, rather than two decades ago. I do not multi-task. I can't even listen to music and work at the same time. I either listen to the music and sluff the work or do the work and ignore the music. And if I'm listening to music, I either listen to the beat and bass line or I listen to the lyrics, not both. And oh, how embarrassing it is when I try to take an order on drive-thru at Timmy's while carrying on a conversation with someone else simultaneously. Everyone else can do it. Just not me. Now, I can drink from a straw and walk at the same time, which is a step up from one of my aunts, but I do not hold the same capability to do seven things at once like my sister does (listen to music, 4 MSN conversations, homework, write a blog post, etc.)

The only time I multi-task is when I'm listening to lectures. I doodle. And write notes when appropriate. I'm not sure how I've managed to be a successful babysitter with this deficiency.

I think my absent-mindedness goes hand-in-hand with my inability to multi-task. If I'm thinking of something, I'm only thinking of one thing. Part of me hears what you're saying to me, but it doesn't get processed because I'm still analyzing what you said half a sentence ago, and taking that off onto tangents. I continue smiling and nodding, but I'm not understanding anything. *Helpful hint- zoned off look and lack of annoying questions = Wanderer is in her own world.* Hah! Another meaning behind the name the Wanderer - it's the state my mind is in. Hence the post title, which is doubtless my catch-phrase in conversations as I realize I didn't pay attention to what you just said.

Also, because I'm a visual learner, rather than someone who learns from hearing, I don't have the conversation stored away somewhere in my memory to recall later, except for the odd, rare occasion. And if I manage to do some task while thinking of something different, I won't remember the details of the task, or even necessarily that I did it.

Does anyone know any ways I could combat this? Oh, me. I'm going to have to start wearing sticky-note reminders.

“No, but I feel it. I'm not worried about the looks. I'm worried about the sensation of my brain being eaten. ... What did you ask me?” Joaquin Phoenix

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

All in a Day's Work

Bwah ha! So here I am playing secretary at my church because both the regular secretary and the other intern are off carousing or doing something "more important". I enjoy this feeling of importance and power it gives me (am I being bad to feel that in a church?)

Anyways, two little kids are running around, using a balloon pump to blow air into my face and telling me about ginger root. A lady keeps calling because one of the pastors hasn't returned her call yet. All in all, however, things are rather slow and under control, which leaves me to... answer the phone and speak to an accented man who is calling to inquire whether the church has a dating service. After informing him that the church does have a group for young adults, but that it's not a dating service, he says "Oh... well, you sound nice. Could I buy you a coffee?" Stunned into turning him down with nothing more imaginative than "No... I'm sorry," I began wondering how often this sort of things happens at the church. He replied, "No? Are you sure? I could buy you something nice." Again I turned him down, but said he would be more than welcome to come to church on Sunday. He said that I was breaking his heart and asked me once more. I said no, I'm sorry, so he finally hung up, sounding quite disappointed.

For all the times I've grown frustrated with this job, I have to say I'm still very happy to have it. The other intern has just returned and informed me that the phone call was a practical joke from the youth pastor's brother-in-law and himself. Gotta love these people :-D

He was a great patriot, a humanitarian, a loyal friend; provided, of course, he really is dead.” Voltaire