Monday, 28 June 2010

Oy Vey

I peeked into the sugar dispenser at work and found that it was about three coffees away from running empty. "Oy," I exclaimed and proceeded to refill it.

"Oy?" repeated my Filipino supervisor, Debbie. "You say 'oy'? We say 'oy' in the Philippines, too, but it means something different." She gave several examples of when a person speaking Tagalog may use 'oy'. To the best of my understanding, it's the approximate equivalent to the English "Oh!" during a light bulb moment.

At this point Soon broke into the conversation. "We use in Korea, too. In Korea, 'oy' mean 'cucumber'."

I found this fascinating. A Russian family friend has informed us that "oy" is the Russian way to say "ouch", and nearly 400 episodes of Naruto will tell you that the Japanese use "oy" to hail someone or catch their attention, as in "Oy, Naruto!"

My mom and I were also told by a Bible scholar that "oy" in Hebrew is a warning that you're going to be majorly punished if you don't smarten up. It's generally translated as "woe", as in "Woe to you, O Israel!" It's better than "hoy", though. "Hoy" in Hebrew is also translated as "woe", but actually means you're hosed, regardless of whether you smarten up or not. Essentially, "You're dead." As an aside, the freaky "Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth," in Revelation 8:13 is "Hoy, hoy, hoy."

Hebrew and the Yiddish, "Oy vey," are pretty closely related. It translates to approximately, "Woe is me."

I wonder what "oy" means in other languages. If someone did a study on this, I'd read it.

There are really no good "oy" quotes of which I'm aware, so you get another taste of randomness today. Said my mother to me over lunch: "What?! How can anyone like the Bourne Identity but NOT like mangos?!"

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Bzap

I was the targeted victim of a cruel attack today. For the first time in my life, I was subjected to the inhumane violence of a thoughtless brute, still in his yellow-and-black-striped prison uniform. It was completely unforeseen and unprovoked.

There I was, lounging comfortably in a cushioned chair in the third floor office of my mentor at the DC. It was a cozy nook, with one wall comprised of windows to let the sunlight stream in. All the windows were entirely shut. The door to enter the office was also shut to allow for privacy during our interview. Naught was to be heard but our conversation.

I shifted in my seat and suddenly felt a tickling sensation on my right elbow. Believing that I had unwittingly brushed up against a frayed piece of fabric or something of the sort, I shifted position a second time. This only made the tickling become rather more painful. At this point in time, my sympathetic nervous system kicked in and I reflexively swung my left hand around to swipe away the problem from my elbow.

It sounded a little like a malfunctioning taser. Bzap. My attacker fell fluttering jerkily down to the ground between my seat and my mentor's. I twisted my arm around to see what damage he had inflicted to my elbow, not yet having processed the situation. What shock to face the unexpected termination of my oft-wondered-at 21 year streak of good fortune! Could it really be the case that after such a good record, this, perhaps my most important sensory organ, had finally been violated? Indeed, it was true.

He should have known - nobody smaller than my fist attacks Carla and lives. My mentor came valiantly to my rescue, grinding the assailant to the ground under her foot. Vengeance was served.

Unsure of whether or not I was allergic to the pollutants so kindly forced into my body by the executed criminal, my mentor found some ice and a tea towel with which for me to compress the wound, in hopes of slowing the spread of the poison. This I gladly took from her. She expressed her confusion over how on earth such a being could have resided in her office without her knowledge of his presence. After apologizing for the damage done to me on her watch, we settled back down and resumed our conversation.

And I did not go into anaphylactic shock.

"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog." Mark Twain

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Good and Lucky

Today at Timmy's I announced that we would be playing a game of "Step on a crack; break your mother's back." Given that the floor there is tile, it seemed an amusing idea. What was even more particularly amusing was that the middle-aged women listened to me and even added a rule: if you step on a crack, you have to sing a song. Customers must have been rather confused.

But how does one go about playing a game like that when working in a fast-food restaurant? For one, you don't play during the rush hours. Second, you either have to be very lucky with where you step, or a very skilled stepper.

This relates to a question of some interest to the Heinrichs and Schroeder families, a question that has appeared in impromptu sermons and in oddly timed long-distance texting conversations. We ask you, "Is it better to be lucky or to be good?"

If you're good, you are better able to predict the outcome of whatever you are doing because you know what you are doing. You know you can do it. If you are lucky, then it's much more of a gamble. You don't know how anything is going to turn out. On the other hand, the uncertainty will spur you to plan for more eventualities and perhaps condition you to roll with the punches a little better. Then again, you might just be caught on your backside when the stats turn against you.

If you are good, you are more confident. You would have to be extremely lucky to be confident, and even then it's rather silly. Of course, that assumes there is such as thing as luck. Is saying you're confident in your own good luck really just a masked way of saying that you're confident you've been blessed? That you have faith God will get you through?

You certainly can't take credit for your own good luck, though you might be able to claim ownership of your skill level. Along the same track, if you run out of luck, that's not your fault, but if you claim to be good yet fail, then you have to shoulder the blame for that.

If you're good, just not quite good enough, then you're hosed, in which case you will still need to rely on luck. Does it make more sense to have a Plan A or a fallback? Can you become skilled without first being lucky enough to receive a high aptitude and the proper opportunities? Is it actually possible to make your own luck? Sun Tzu and Machiavelli think you can't, but if you're good enough, you can prepare yourself and survive through the bad luck. I guess that makes sense, but you can be as good as you stinkin' want - if you've got the worst luck, then you're only going to last so long against it before you burn out.

Luck is pretty well guaranteed to let you down from time to time, while being good is less capricious. Everyone has bad days, it seems, but perhaps then they're just not really as good as they thought? Yet it seems kinda of ridiculous to say you have to be perfect to be good. Talk about unreachable standards.

Naturally, it's best to be both good and lucky, but if forced to choose between the two... hmm...

I think I'd be lucky. There's so much less pressure that way. Plus, I think it's more honest to have faith in God than faith in yourself (not that luck is God, of course, but that somehow or other God controls luck). You can have luck without skill and make it out ok, but being skilled and unlucky won't get you anywhere. But however lucky I got, I'd hope I'd still be striving to get as good as I could...

Now here's another thought: which is more abundant? Skilled people or lucky people?

I wonder if Niccolo Machiavelli was married: "I conclude therefore that, fortune being changeful and mankind steadfast in their ways, so long as the two are in agreement men are successful, but unsuccessful when they fall out. For my part I consider that it is better to be adventurous than cautious, because fortune is a woman, and if you wish to keep her under it is necessary to beat and ill-use her; and it is seen that she allows herself to be mastered by the adventurous rather than by those who go to work more coldly. She is, therefore, always, woman-like, a lover of young men, because they are less cautious, more violent, and with more audacity command her."

"Most of the time, people who take credit for their own success are really just taking credit for their own good luck." Laura from the DC.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

All in a Name

I think I've been bitten by some kind of bug, because there's something about these characters that won't leave me alone. Therefore, I give you blurb number three.

Apparently Kieran and Austin have agreed on some form of action against the NeoSpartans that involves Kieran distracting a girl while Austin secretly does something. I actually feel a little bad for the girl in this scene, even if she is working for the bad guys. She can't be half bad herself...

*****

Kieran is about to raise his eyebrows at Austin, but discovers that Austin has already ducked out of sight. As casually as he can, Kieran slogs up to the desk, planting his hands firmly and lazily onto the counter.

I need a print-out of my records,” he tells the pretty blonde-haired girl behind the counter as he takes note of the exact time.

Ok,” she replies. “Do you have any ID with you?”

No, I left my wallet at home.”

At home?... Alright,” the girl replies, “but I'll have to get your password and ID number and signature to compare to the information on record. Although,” she glances at him, “with the bill revision next month, that option is being done away with. Starting on the first, we'll need to see three pieces of government issue picture ID before you can access any of your records.”

Oh.”

It'll improve personal security and privacy,” she explains. “Your name?”

Kieran Paupanekis,” he says, instantly regretting giving the girl that information. So much for Cree boys not leaving a trail.

How do you spell that?” she asks.

Kieran,” he says amicably. “Like a double E Keegan, but with an I instead of the first E, and an R instead of the G. So it's not really a double E, then, and none of the C-I-A-R-A-N stuff. I'm not Gaelic.”

K-E-I-R-A-N?” the girl double-checks.

I'm sorry?” he says.

Did you say K-E-I-R-A-N?”

No, no, no,” he tsks. “That's like the female Keira with an N on the end. I'm male. But even if I weren't, it's supposed to be I before E, except after C, remember?” He's quite proud of himself for remembering that rhyme, even if half the time it wasn't true. His mom taught it to him.

Oh,” the girl says, clearly a little flustered. “Then K-I-E-R-A-N?”

I think so,” he says. “Did you spell it like 'pier' with a K, then add A-N?”

'Pier' as in 'dock' or as in looking at something?”

As in a scrutinizing gaze,” Kieran says, staring into her eyes.

No,” the girl replies. “I spelled it with an I. So it's K-E-E-R-A-N?”

No, it is with an I.”

I said with an I.”

You spelled it with two E's.”

After you told me it was peer as in gaze!” The girl is obviously getting frustrated now.

No, peer as in gaze is wrong! It's pier as in dock, wharf, jetty. But with a K and without a P. Plus the A-N.”

Ok, so K as in kitten, I as in iguana, E as in envelope, N as in noon, R as in ridiculous, A as in -”

Anaphylactic fit?” Kieran offers.

A as in anaphylactic fit,” the girl repeats, “and N as in nincompoop.”

Hang on,” Kieran says. He pauses, looks up, and waves his finger around in the air a bit as if he's writing his name on an invisible canvas.

The girl raises her eyebrows.

Yes,” he finally states. “Yes, that is correct. K-I-E-R-A-N.” Wow. If the police ever ask this girl what his name is, there won't be any chance she'll get it wrong, now.

Awesome,” the girl says, trying to remain friendly. She's well trained and very patient. “And your last name?”

Kieran suppresses a smirk. “Paupanekis.” He could almost swear that the girl just paled.

Perhaps you should write it down for me,” the girl says with a smile.

Good idea,” he replies, taking the pen and paper the girl hands him. He writes in cursive, making each vowel indistinguishable, with the exception of the I, of course, which he does not dot. Sloppy writing is an art form, he decides. Even chickens couldn't scratch this mess.

She takes the paper and furrows her brow a little as she reads it. Taking her best guess, she plunks something into the computer.

Is that two A's there?” she asks about the A-U.

There are two A's, but not in a row,” says Kieran. “Do you know any English words that have two A's in a row?”

But your name isn't English, is it?” the girl retorts.

Yet it does use English letters.”

As do Kierkegaard and Haagen Dazs, and they both have double A's.”

Well, I'm not Scandinavian, either.”

I don't care what you are, just tell me how to spell your name!” the girl finally snaps. “P, then what?”

I wrote it for you!”

Well, I can't read it!”

Kieran begins to feel badly for her. He'll have to find some way to make it up to her later. “P,” he says.

P,” the girl repeats.

A,” he says.

A,” she repeats.

U.”

U.”

Yes, it sounds like Pieu from Pepe Le Pieu when you spell it out letter by letter.”

But it's not spelled like Pepe Le Pieu.”

No, just sounds like it.”

P-A-U, then what?” the girl prompts coldly.

Another P. It's like the Papua from Papua New Guinea if you added a P and spelled it back-”

Shut it,” the girl says. “P-A-U-P...”

Yes.”

She sighs. “Then what?”

Paupanekis. P-A-U, then P-A-N.”

As in pot.”

No, as in nincompoop, to use your word.”

Yes!” she exclaims. “You spell pan with an N at the end. But pan is also a word, like a shallow pot!”

Oh, that kind of pot,” says Kieran. “I didn't make the connection.”

Hardly surprising,” mutters the girl.

What's that supposed to mean?” Kieran says.

Nothing,” the girl chimes, eeking false friendliness. “P-A-U, P-A-N... sounds musical.”

Hey, yeah,” he agrees with her, “musical. I like musicals. Your voice is musical, too.”

The sound of me screeching is not.”

Kieran flashes her his most charming grin. “Ok, then. So we've got to the N. Next is an E.”

E.”

E.”

E.”

Then spell kiss, but subtract the last S.”

Ok.”

He smiles flirtatiously at her.

Pervert,” she mutters.

That's it,” he says.

P-A-U-P-A-N-E-E-K-I-S,” she repeats.

No,” he says, evoking a growl and a subdued spasm from the pretty secretary. “No,” he repeats, “there's only one E. Where'd you get the second one from?”

You said E twice.”

I was agreeing with you. You sounded like you needed reassurance that you were doing it right.”

I don't need reassurance, I need you to spell your name!”

Fine! Spell it again, and I'll tell you if it's right.”

P-A-U-P-A-N-E-K-I-S,” she spouts, almost faster than Kieran can himself. This will definitely not be good if the police are to be asking about him.

Yes,” he says. “That is correct. You see, I knew you could do it.”

You don't have any records to be printed,” she reports, giving him a glare so dark that he thinks it will surely bring a few noble bystanders to her aid.

I don't?” he says. “I'm sure I do. This is the NeoSpartan Alberta Registry, isn't it?”

Yes,” she says.

Maybe I'm still listed under my father's name,” he says. “Can you look up my father's name?”

You can't access your father's information unless he fills out the forms necessary to give you permission.”

Kieran shrugs. “I don't want to access my father's information. I want to access mine.”

You can't access your information if it's locked in with your father's.”

But everyone in the government and the military can look at my information. Why can't I? I have a right to my documentation.”

No,” the girl says.

'No', you're agreeing with me, or 'no', you're denying me?”

I'm denying you,” she says, all traces of patience gone.

Kieran glances at his watch... it's tight...

But,”

No,” she repeats.

If I get my dad on my cell, and he gives you his password, can I look at my information then?”

What does 'hasn't filled out the forms' mean to you? And how can I check his signature if all I've got is a telephone call?” Her voice is shrill.

We've got camera phones. We can send you a picture.”

Are you insane?” the girl says, pushing herself away from the computer. “The answer is no!”

You're saying no, I'm not insane, or no, we can't send you a picture?”

Goodbye!” she shrieks, standing up and waving her arms. “Next! Please!”

Austin has been quick and is standing across the room, so Kieran shrugs and walks away. He is seriously going to have to do something sweet for that girl. He feels positively nasty.

Well?” he says as he approaches Austin.

Very well,” says Austin. “Let's split.”

*****

I gotta say, Kieran is spelling trouble for himself later on...

“I don't care what you say about me. Just be sure to spell my name wrong.” Barbra Streisand

Monday, 14 June 2010

Pain and Pacifism

You may already know that I can be somewhat obsessive at times. My latest guilty pleasure has been the Japanese anime series, Naruto. The number of episodes is currently sitting at 384, plus 6 movies, all of which I viewed in less than four months. My Firefox persona is currently a dark and brooding drawing of Kakashi's eyes, sharingan uncovered. Oh, yes. Definitely a tad obsessive.

It took me longer to read through Shane Claiborne's The Irresistible Revolution. My sister just wrote a blog post on his book, but it's a potent enough piece of work that I feel the need to comment on it, as well. It's difficult to ignore what he has to say.

Claiborne is very anti-violence (or, as he prefers, very pro-love). I don't know if his pacifism is of the extreme type that would prohibit him from attacking a guy who is trying to rape a girl, but I feel fairly confident to say that he would at least exhaust every creative idea to distract and confuse the would-be rapist before he would resort to any sort of violence against the guy to help the girl. He visited Iraq in the heat of the war to spread God's love and and protest the war.

I don't feel, at least at this point, that I can label myself a pacifist and honestly mean it, but he makes strong points against war and capital punishment. At one point he talks a bit about Timothy McVeigh, who was responsible for the Oklahoma bombing incident. He claims that McVeigh had set out to kill those people because he wanted to show people in America what they were doing to people in Iraq. His hope was that everyone would come to understand the pain and grief that they were causing and that they would repent of it and become advocates of nonviolence. Whether or not this is entirely accurate hardly matters. It's a really interesting idea.

I found it particularly thought-provoking because the current story arc in Naruto (I'll admit to reading ahead a bit in the manga) deals with pretty much the same idea. The current antagonist is named Nagato, but goes by the alias of "Pain". I suspect the meaning of his alias is intentional, though probably a little more hidden to people who speak only Japanese and not English.

Naruto is a ninja in a town with an economy kept afloat almost entirely by the mercenary activity that Naruto and his comrades engage in. Just to be clear, Naruto is the protagonist. His only desire is to protect his friends and become the ninja leader. As far as we can tell, this ninja town accepts mainly "ethical" mercenary assignments, like being bodyguards and rescuing cats. I say "mainly" rather than "only" because there's also an ANBU black-ops division in the town that will sometimes perform assassinations and other, well, black-ops. Naruto's sensei, Kakashi, used to be a member of ANBU. But that's beside the point.

The point is that Nagato, aka Pain, has lost a lot due to violence and he blames the ninja villages for the considerable bloodshed and pain that he has had to undergo. He attacks Naruto's town and razes it to the ground, killing large numbers of ninjas and civilians both. Yet all the while, he claims that he is an advocate for peace. It turns out that Nagato believes that only if everybody comes to feel as much pain as he has will they come to understand and deplore violence. Only then will there be peace.

Naruto just gives him the raised eyebrow and screams "WHERE'S THE PEACE IN THIS??!!", referring, of course, to the massive body count, and then proceeds to attack Pain, intent on bringing his killing spree to an end.

Who would have thunk this show actually has a large comedic element to it?

I don't want to say that the situations surrounding Nagato and McVeigh are the same because Nagato is a cartoon and McVeigh and his victims were real people with real lives. The motives and ideologies, however, are spookily similar, though I suspect that Naruto is much more honest and well-intentioned than any government.

So in these cases, who's the more peace loving? The government/military, or the terrorist? Who's the better role model? Maybe both are hopelessly deluded. Whatever other thoughts McVeigh and Nagato provoke, it drives home two points: First, people don't respond to violence with peace. They respond with more violence. Second, this is really, incredibly sad.

Shane Claiborne on McVeigh: "The government that had trained him to kill, killed him, to teach the rest of us that it is wrong to kill. Dear God, liberate us from the logic of redemptive violence."

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

She-Woman Chronicles

She-woman accidentally ripped the handle off the kitchen faucet this weekend.

She also made up clapping games with three international middle-aged women in her corner of the gas station. Two Koreans, a Nepali, and one young white chick were giggling like all get-out, pretending they were in a schoolyard somewhere while they were actually at work.

This is She-woman falling in love with Prince Arthur.

It seems that many of her friends are getting married shortly. They're all 21 or younger. Who said that the average age for a person's first marriage is getting higher?

She-woman's parents got home from their 25th wedding anniversary vacation. She's very happy that they've been married for 25 years and are still going strong. Except that means that they also got married very young. She-woman is certainly the odd one out. Oh, well. Good thing she likes that.

She-woman had her first high-risk call at the Distress Centre yesterday. And also got quite good at identifying inappropriate calls. Her spidey sense is well honed.

This is She-woman facing off against a dragon.

Street Church called out to She-woman, and so she attended for the first time this Sunday. It was very interesting. She is now preoccupied trying to think of ways to help new homeless friend Shylar get a job. She has experience with receptionist type work. Anybody need a new employee?

The final 4C was this Sunday. She-woman ate too many gummy bears with her ice-cream and then lost at the Foot Game. She will very much miss Shelly, one of her "peeps", but hopes that Shawn, at least, will be back next year.

She-woman is signing off until next time.

"Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." Lewis Carrol

Monday, 7 June 2010

Joyful Noise... I Hope

I can't help but wonder how Miles McPherson felt when the YC staffers told him that he wouldn't be able to deliver his final talk because they were running late. I mean, I can understand that the kids at YC, given an either/or choice between the two, would have picked to watch Skillet than listen to McPherson again, but did the organizers ever goof with the logistics planning. Not only were the security measures almost completely ineffective, but they were incredibly time-consuming. Whoever thought it was a good idea to have two doors open to feed over 16,000 people into a stadium on the final night should definitely be removed from the planning committee next year.

As for Skillet itself, they put on an awesome concert. To me, most groups in concert sound the same - "Crash crash squeal crash word crash squeal". Skillet was great because you could actually hear the tunes and each individual instrument instead of a cacophony. Plus, they had a violin and a cello, which is highly unusual, it would seem. But the little bit that their head musician said gave me the impression that he was somewhat arrogant, which made me sad. Apparently he and his wife were going to a Subway and a kid from YC recognized them.

Kid: Hey, are you Skillet?

Cooper: No, I'm TobyMac.

Maybe it actually was funny and just came across as arrogant in the retelling, but in any case it didn't give a good impression.

This leads to the question - is it possible to have a Christian music band that actually manages to stay focused on their purpose rather than their popularity?

I've never been on a popular band, so I really couldn't say, but it's definitely got to be really hard. A friend who has been part of a Christian music group said that the competitive comparison game surrounding the industry eventually made him feel so sick he had to leave. On the other hand, I know people from another group that is currently on tour, and they're all extremely nice and appear to be focused on the ministry, not the luster. Last I heard, they didn't mind sleeping all night on the floor of the recording studio to save a few bucks. Here's hoping they don't lose that to the razzle-dazzle of lights.

"I'm only here on Earth to serve God. I never had a career. I don't care about commercialism. I have a ministry and I'll fight for the ministry." Larry Norman