Thursday, 31 January 2008

Weather Wonder

Ha ha! I'm posting from school, so this shall be quick, but I really must gloat.

Today the weather is only about fifteen degrees below zero (celsius, on the off-chance anyone here is imperial. In fahrenheit, that's about 5 degrees). It's GLORIOUS!

As opposed to three days ago, when it was negative 28 degrees (with a windchill factor turning into about negative 43) - in Fahrenheit -18 and -45 degrees, respectively. When you have to walk to school from the train station in that kind of weather, it's not very fun. Unless you have some very odd definition of the word "fun".

Canadian weather rocks!

"There are few, if any, Canadian men that have never spelled their name in a snow bank. " Douglas Coupland

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

A Day in the Life of the Wanderer

Perhaps you are wondering what a typical day in the life of the Wanderer looks like. For the benefit of us all, I have decided here to make you privy to the answer.

January 29th, 2008

I woke up, stared at (but didn't actually see)the white expanse known as a bedroom ceiling, blinked and thought "Oh... I woke up of my own accord. That can't be good."

As I turned with dread to the cheery green numbers which would tell me the time, I was already wondering why my dutiful mother had thus far not noticed the absence of crashing sounds coming from the kitchen or bathroom, nor chosen peel herself out of bed to make sure her daughter was up.

The time was nine minutes to eight-thirty. Nine minutes before my first class at the uni. It turns out that I had only imagined setting the alarm clock the night before (call it wishful thinking, maybe?).

I bounded out of bed, put on my clothes, and stuffed my books into my backpack, wondering how badly I would stink, how greasy my hair would be, and how many people would not recognize me due to my glasses. Darting into the kitchen, I grabbed some cheese, an apple, and a plain white bun (so much for breakfast). Telling myself I could eat it later, I headed to the garage.

Here I faced a hurdle that had never proven difficult before. I was required to turn off the alarm system before exiting. After several attempts of punching in the command code returned an angry beeping noise, I stormed upstairs to demand an explanation from my slumbering parents of why the system was not working for me. Halfway up the stairs I realized I had been punching in the wrong code.

Scurrying back to the door, I punched the correct one in this time, and voila! I was on my way to school. Now, it was minus twenty-seven out today - minus forty-three if you count windchill.

Turning left on an icy downhill intersection, the car two places ahead of me spun out, blocking the entire lane into which I, and the car ahead of me, were about to turn. Both the car in front of me and I, myself, took evasive action, dramatically managing to navigate around the spun out car, thereby avoiding any unsightly collision. Continuing on my way to school, I was quite grateful that I had been traveling slowly with a decent distance between me and the car in front, and that I knew not to apply brakes and steering simultaneously. Doubtless the driver of the car that spun out was grateful, as well, or should have been.

Arriving at school, I rushed into the building. Usually the foyer of this particular building has at least three or four students lounging about in the couches, but today, at this time of morning, in this weather, there were none. There was, however, a young man from my church, who does not attend my school, standing there, looking somewhat lost. I thought this was rather odd, so I assumed he was waiting for someone, greeted him, complained about not setting my alarm clock, and breezed into class. It seems doubtful in retrospect that he was waiting for someone. I can only imagine what he may have been thinking (this really is pure conjecture).

Guy from church: Okaaaay.... where am I? I think I'm supposed to be in the main office or something... huh.... this doesn't look like the main office. Wow, this place is dead. There's not even somebody around that I can ask. Wait, someone's coming! ... Hey, she looks familiar - kind of. Is that Carla? What's with the glasses and the goofy hair? I didn't even know she went to this school! Imagine the chances of this! What luck! I can ask her where the main office is. She'll help me.... Wait, what is she babbling about? I didn't even know she could talk this fast. Ah, I better make some noise so that she thinks what she's saying is significant - don't want to offend her, after all. Hey! She's stopping! I can ask her now where the main office is! Or not - there she goes. Well, so much for that plan. I guess I'll just wander about aimlessly in the minus forty-three degree weather trying to find the place myself.

Of course, I didn't let him get a word in edgewise, so I don't even know if he actually recognized me or not...

And into the classroom! We were discussing the Romantic poets, Coleridge and Keats. No, this was not an English class, but a History of Ideas class. The prof was so animated, and we were so dead, I almost felt sorry for the guy. Almost. I cannot see how a (completely stoned) man recounting an opium-induced dream can simultaneously be making a political statement. The deeper meaning of the poem? Um.... I see what could be a big Freudian slip, if that's what you mean. And so I sat there, taking incoherent notes, wondering how on earth someone protesting the rationality aspect of the Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution could formulate any rational arguments against it. And that's when it hit me. They couldn't! And that's why Romantic poetry doesn't make any sense. (Don't get me wrong, it's beautiful poetry, just altogether elusive).

As an aside, in response to a study question about this poem, I said (arbitrarily) that the main theme of the work was creativity. Why not? It seemed as good a reply, if mostly random, as anything else. And somehow, it appears I was right. The prof kept going on and on about how the poem was talking about creativity, in juxtaposition to the rationality of the surrounding culture. Whoo! Pat on the back for the Wanderer!

Sighing to myself, I wrote off any hope of getting marks for participating in the class discussion. However, during the last five minutes of the three hour class, I offered the word "epistolary" to explain the format in which a work by Goethe was written. The prof was suitably impressed, asked me what the significance of that was, and gave me marks for opening my mouth. Go vocabulary!

Next class was Ethics. We were discussing Kantian moral theory, which I was already familiar with. The prof stated that one of the problems with Kantian moral theory was its inability to differentiate between morally required and morally permissible actions. I corrected him with regards to this. Here is an approximate recounting of our conversation (I'm more understandable and fluent in type than in speech):

Prof: And so, because writing your name in the front of every book you buy passed the Categorical Imperative, it would seem that it is morally required. But we would think that seems pretty silly. Kant's theory doesn't give us the tools to decide what is permissible and what is required.

Me: Um... couldn't we just run the opposite of the action in question through the Categorical Imperative, as well? If both pass, then the action is morally permissible, and if not, then one is required and the other forbidden.

Prof: But that wouldn't work, because if you ran the opposite through the Categorical Imperative, it would always come out as forbidden.

Me: No it wouldn't. Like your example, for example.

Prof: Well, the opposite of writing your name in every book you buy is... not writing your name in every book you buy... that would pass the Categorical Imperative, wouldn't it. Oh... um... I guess you're right. So that could be one way that you would respond to this criticism, and defend Kant's position.

Me: Heh heh heh....

Following this class, I drove (uneventfully) home. It's a wonder the vehicle started. Ate a late lunch (I was quite hungry), did a Bible study (please, if anyone knows what to do with Luke 6:27-30, let me know), found out my parents were having a meeting with a few of the church pastors, greeted the church pastors, took a shower, and headed out to school again.

There I had a friendly chat with a Muslim girl (at least I so assume - she said she spoke Arabic, was from North Africa, and was wearing a headdress). I mused her name, Iman (ee-MEN), decided that it was very pretty and I liked it, and shared some important information with her - class notes from Psychology class last week. Perhaps in the future I'll be able to share information that is infinitely more valuable to her. Time to research witnessing to Muslims!

Then class started, and I got to learn all about eating disorders. As I was feeling guilty for skipping breakfast, the topic shifted and I got to hear all about what guys want in a mate. Apparently the common consensus among our class males is that large eyes are preferable, and symmetrical features. Who knew they gave it such deep thought?

So I came (uneventfully) home again, tried to clean my room (failed - at least I got the clean laundry put away), asked about the meeting with the pastors, ate supper. Dad, Brianna, and I had a discussion on what a soul is, and the ethics behind paying (or not paying) church staff for their work. And that's pretty much it. Now I'm planning on writing an essay for Ethics class, clearing off the supper table, and scrounging up some kind of snack from the kitchen. I realize I just ate, but hey, deprive me of my breakfast...

So that's pretty much it. Nothing else to say.

“This must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays.” Douglas Adams

... no wait... today is Tuesday. Shoot. Oh, well.

Monday, 28 January 2008

A New Hobby

Take a look at what I've been up to lately! Ok, so I haven't actually been castelling, but I think it'd be fun!

I don't really have much to add to this blog right now. I've been thinking on some interesting topics lately, but haven't developed opinions well enough to write about them here. But, deciding that I really must try to keep up to at least two posts a month, I am embedding here a video I found. You may call me crazy, but I think castelling looks like a lot fun. At least, I'd like to travel to Catalonia some time to see them live.



How brave must those kids be to climb all the way to the top! The kid in this video looks like she's about seven. I'm not sure why the ones on top got helmets, but not the children beneath them. You'd think that if one those helmeted kids fell and banged heads with an unhelmeted person, things could very well be nastier than if neither were wearing a helmet. Anyway, YouTube has lots of castelling videos, and some of them have pretty spectacular falls - but not this one (probably because fate knows they're prepared for it, what with their helmets and all).

I counted nine levels of people here. Well, I feel I've got to do something to make this post more substantial, so I'll draw a comparison between it being a child who ends up at the top of the tower and Christ's statement in Matt. 18:3-4 that if you wish to enter the kingdom of heaven, you must have faith like a child.... and tread on people underfoot... no wait... you didn't hear that. You must have a childlike faith... and allow your fellow Christians to support you on the journey! Ha! There we go. (Good thing the tower didn't fall, eh?)

“We can lick gravity, but sometimes the paperwork is overwhelming.” Werner von Braun

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Heads and Hearts

Nut-2007-Shell:

In case you're not sure, that means "My Year in a Nutshell".

1. School.
2. Working at Tim Hortons.
3. Going to Peru.
4. School.
5. Teaching Sunday School.

That's mostly it. I played DS with my bro, made some friends, got to know others better, wondered about what I should do with my life.

Now what? I'm pretty frazzled right now. Apparently I left all the notes from the first semester at the school after my last exam three weeks ago and didn't notice until yesterday. Now I'm freaking out because I still need them.

That's the nutshell. Now I want to write about something else.

We had a meeting at church today about Sunday School. Somehow the topic of Head Knowledge vs. Heart Knowledge came up. Now basically, I'm interested it just what it is. How are those terms defined?

Head knowledge, I've always understood, refers to mental recognition of factual information. I've used the term "heart knowledge" in the past, and understood it to not mean anything related to factual knowledge, but to be merely an emotion that reflects head knowledge. That is, the feeling that what you "know" is true. To have heart knowledge about something you have no head knowledge about would be ridiculous - just an emotion that you couldn't legitimately base any decisions upon. Based on that, however, the term "heart knowledge" becomes an oxymoron, because emotions are unreliable, and can reflect anything, not just reality.

A couple of my friends came up with a good point, though. Are the two actually separate?
So, I was wondering, what is your understanding of "heart knowledge"? And are heart knowledge and head knowledge really separate? For example, can you love God without knowing Him, or know God without loving Him? Or does loving and knowing require both head and heart?

Hmm....

Well, anyway, speaking of knowing the difference between two things:

"For Children: You will need to know the difference between Friday and a fried egg. It's quite a simple difference, but an important one. Friday comes at the end of the week, whereas a fried egg comes out of a chicken. Like most things, of course, it isn't quite that simple. The fried egg isn't properly a fried egg until it's been put in a frying pan and fried. This is something you wouldn't do to a Friday, of course, though you might do it on a Friday. You can also fry eggs on a Thursday, if you like, or on a cooker. It's all rather complicated, but it makes a kind of sense if you think about it for a while."
Douglas Adams