Monday, 30 March 2009

Noisemakers

One of my friends and faithful readers has a birthday today. Until midnight tonight, she is simultaneously only one day but one year older than me.

Happy birthday, Kate! And all the best.

"May you live all the days of your life." Jonathan Swift

Friday, 27 March 2009

What a Hoot

When I was shoveling the sidewalk a few days ago, a truck full of guys drove by (as close to the walkway as they could, in order to splash me with slush) and whistled "Hot chick!"

Perhaps it's the season for catcalls, because today, as I was walking home from the train station, another truck full of young men drove by and hooted through their open window.

At any rate, I know I'm supposed to find it demeaning, but it just makes me laugh. And reminds me of Peru. Oh, Peru...

The minds of men will forever be foreign to me. Why would anyone want to whistle at a girl in a winter coat with completely wind-whipped hair? Bent under the weight of a snow-laden shovel or a backpack?

They're an odd breed, I tell you.

"What, Sir, would the people of the earth be without woman? They would be scarce, Sir, mighty scarce." Mark Twain

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Up to Speed

So here's the plan for the summer. I'm going to attempt to find a good job, but given that a friend of mine turned in 60 applications and got 2 interviews, it's looking a little scary. I'm a tad fatalistic, and don't really expect to get something all that great, and yes, I realize this could turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But I am optimistic. As soon as I can figure out what I want to with regards to education next term, I shall apply for many, many scholarships and search for money in easily earned places (such as sending jokes to magazine editors). If all goes well, perhaps I will not need a well-paying job this so-called vacation.

I guess you could say that I'm an optimistic fatalist.

Meanwhile, the pro-life group set up on campus again this week. I've collected about 400 signatures on their behalf, but that will not be nearly enough to pressure the uni. From here on out I dub the project "Operation Up Ostrich*", and shall renew efforts for widespread circulation, though there isn't much time left in the semester.

That's all the update for now. Perhaps I shall be struck by some spark of ingeniousness which will prompt me to post something more mentally stimulating within the week, but if not, I'll see you on the other side of the great carry-over. Next week I cross the threshold into... well, I suppose I'm legally an adult already, but I will leave behind me the label of "teenager" and be forevermore known as a grown-up. Yikes.

“The man who is a pessimist before forty-eight knows too much; if he is an optimist after it he knows too little.” Mark Twain

*Props if you can guess why.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Chronicles of the Transit Train

I haven't done much wandering lately (perhaps my sense of navigation is finally improving a bit? Maybe?), but in recognition that the name of this blog is, in fact, The Wanderer, I feel compelled to describe those travels that I have recently experienced. Namely, my trips on city transit.

Most days the train is extremely boring and quiet, and I get a good ten to fifteen minute doze on my way to or from the uni. Every now and again, though, something or someone interesting happens. There are all sorts of colourful characters that use public transportation.

Like the man with a ferret wrapped around his neck. It startled me a little, but it was pretty cute. I was sad when it tucked its head back under the guy's hood. Methinks it's a good thing that no rodent-phobic people noticed the wiggling little creature.

Every now and again I see men wearing red, green, and yellow trimmed clothing with the star of David and words like "Zion" and "Lion of Judah"... or was it "Lamb of Judah"? knitted into their toques. I figure they must be members of some sort of Judeo religion, but I haven't figured out which.

And then there was the guy who was about two inches away from falling asleep on my shoulder. And the one that never seemed to learn that if he wasn't hanging on to something when the train started moving, he'd lose his balance and fall into me. After he fell into me four or five times, I took to standing with my elbow pointed out at him. He only fell once after that.

The volume at which some people listen to their iPods never ceases to amaze me. If I can sing along from across the train car, they should probably turn it down. Although at least they think they're being quiet. On one occasion, someone had brought along a laptop, hooked it up to desktop computer speakers, and was purposefully blaring music throughout the car.

I've even see a few African men with tribal scars on their faces. And it's always interesting to see how the blind man with his seeing-eye dog get along without help.

The man and his wife who talked to me today on the train were fun. They were a senior couple, retired, but the man was quite flirtatious. It might have been a little creepy had his wife not been there rolling her eyes good naturedly at him. I learned a good portion of his life history in half-an-hour (born in Belgium in 1929, came to Canada to a tobacco farm in 1949 - though both he and his wife had stopped smoking - lived in Toronto for 50 years, traveled to Mexico to visit a brother every summer for 10 years, lived in Calgary for 2 years, has at least one son and two granddaughters). Every now and again he'd ask about my boyfriend until I told him I didn't have one. Then he asked about my husband, and I said I didn't have one. At that point his wife told him I was younger than that and to stop being nosy. He started gloating that I was still available, and that was why he was sitting beside me. His wife told me about how high-rise apartment buildings are installing backup generators for elevators and that St. Petersburg, Florida, was called the Funeral City, and that the reason her husband was never sick was because he spent all his time joking. "It's good for him," she said, "but for other people...?"

Occasionally a C-train operator is forced to use the loudspeaker system to tell people to squish closer to allow the doors to close, but few of them use the intercom for anything else. Yet there is this one operator that always announces the weather forecast for the day and welcome everyone downtown. And there was the one guy who forgot to turn off the intercom. Everyone on the train could hear him coughing away and sniffing and clearing his throat until he realized it was still on a good three or four stops later. I swear, everyone on my car was trying not to grin widely, but the smirks gave us all away.

There are always two highlights of the C-train ride (apart from disembarking). Or rather, I hold a hope for the two highlights, since neither is guaranteed.

1. On the train platform where I first get on the train, there is a chain-link fence across the tracks, and scraggly bush behind that. And more often then not, five or six black-capped chickadees are frolicking around, tweeting happily, without a care in the world. They're fat enough to be cute, but just small enough to fit their plump little bodies between the links in the fence, so it's like they're giving you a concert.

2. Chinook Station. I'm not sure who designed the Chinook Station, but someone there thought it would be a great idea to wire a little natural ambiance through the loudspeakers. Who wouldn't like listening to birds chirping when they're in the middle of a busy city center? Unfortunately, no one can tell if it's supposed to be screeching birds or screaming monkeys. Maybe it wasn't quite the effect the designers were going for, but it does make me laugh inside every time it's turned on. I will be sad if the city ever removes this failed attempt at peaceful background noise.

At any rate, I think the C-train probably leaves room for more interesting experiences than driving to school every day would.

“When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don't throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.” Corrie ten Boom

Thursday, 19 March 2009

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“Who needs encryption, if their thoughts are unclear in plaintext?” Bob Jueneman

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Stir Fry, Anyone?

Albertan Provincial Flower: Wild Rose
Albertan Provincial Tree: Lodgepole Pine
Albertan Provincial Bird: Great Horned Owl
Albertan Provincial Animal: Big Horn Sheep
Albertan Provincial Mineral: Petrified Wood
Albertan Provincial Fish: Bull Trout
Albertan Provincial Grass: Rough Fescue
Albertan Provincial Gemstone: Ammolite

And now presenting... the new Albertan Provincial FUNGUS! The Leccinum Boreale. Because people in Alberta like their 'shrooms.

What's next, the Albertan Provincial Algae?

"The reason that I'm unable to support the motion is simply because there are too many other [mushrooms]. I would hate to pick one over the other." Neil Brown

Oh, well. I suppose it's good not to take yourself too seriously, although if that's the case I would have voted with Rachel Notley to choose the Puffball instead.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

A Fair Diphthong

"Fair is fair."

It's only today that I realized I don't understand what that means. Is it a redundancy? Like the expression "Boys will be boys"? Or does the second fair mean "good" or "beautiful" as in "my fair lady"?

The English language mystifies me.

And I learned in linguistics class the other day that Canadians pronounce words like "mouse" and "house" as "muhws" and "huhws", with a diphthonged short u instead of an ow sound. It's a little odd that I had never noticed before. The "oot and aboot" jokes have always baffled me, but now I understand.

“I can speak French but I cannot understand it.” Mark Twain

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

The Wordsmanship of Worship


We live in a very utilitarian culture driven by me, me, and mine. We are driven by how much happier we'll be if we purchase this, do this, attend here, act like this, etc. We talk about self-improvement, but rarely seem to get beyond that. Could it be that to improve ourselves we sometimes have to forget ourselves?

I've noticed this consumer egocentrism in rather disturbing places, like ads for seminary school ("Seminary YOUR way!"), and the general health and wealth prosperity gospel that is so often preached. Recently, I've also noticed it in so-called worship songs.

What is worship? While my pastor has given sermons on that, to sum it up, it's doing everything as if for God, not man. So why, then, are so many worship songs so stiflingly focused on me?

It's not the sweet and hymn-like musical structure of a song that makes it worshipful, it's the intent behind the lyrics, isn't it? So why do we consider songs with words like "How great Your affections are for me, oh how He loves us, oh how He loves us, oh how He loves us so" to be worshipful? Or "You make everything glorious, and I am Yours, so what does that make me?" And those are just a couple of the newer songs. Even some of the older hymns have similar content.

I mean, it's true. Those example lyrics are true, I have no doubt, but how is that giving ourselves over to the Most High? How is that glorifying Him? It's not saying "I love you, God", or "Thank You, God", or "How great are You, God", or even "How great is your love, God", it's all about "Lookee what you give me, God!"

As far as I understand, God isn't about what I can get out of Him. I'm more of the mentality that God is Good, no matter what, and our purpose is to bring glory to Him, not to have our Master bring glory to us.

I find it difficult to sing songs like these, because I can't worship if I'm focusing on me. So it puts me in a hard spot when a little voice in my head goes "Carla. Standing around, silently fuming, isn't worship, either."

Grrr!

"Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right.” Abraham Lincoln