Thursday, January 31, 2008

my evening

I have been living a rather retired existence for the past few weeks. Emerging from the house to do my duty (and occasional pleasure) as a student most days but spending most of the rest of the time alone. Through this time I have been fairly good at keeping up the appearance of both myself and the house. Today on arriving home from class I decided to do a bit more thorough cleaning and get some laundry done (I was running out of clothes) so I changed into an old pair of pj pants and a tee shirt and got the laundry started and cleaned out the nasties in the fridge (resulting in hands that stink of mouldy cheese. Mmm.) consolidating all the containers by the sink so I could wash them later. I just sat down to the computer to get some homework done when my Aunt and Uncle arrived. Apparently another Uncle and Aunt were stopping by to drop off a new purchase later on. The first pair leave and I have time to turn back to resume working when the second pair arrive.
I am not concerned what my relatives think on finding me doing homework in pjs with different piles of stuff around the house waiting to be cleaned up but the point is that, although this is quite acceptable and understandable behaviour, it is not what I generally engage in. Had they arrived any other night they would have found the aspect much more presentable. I'm glad it was nothing embarrassing but I think it just goes to show how people will always show up when one is at one's worst.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

some quotes

The following quotes are from three of the plays that I have been reading for Romlit this year (A Bold Stroke for a Husband, Blue-Beard, Timour the Tartar
Yes, he has a very pretty kind of conversation; 'tis like a parenthesis[...] it might all be left out, and never miss'd.

One may as well marry a looking-glass as a woman who constantly reflects back one's own sentiments, and one's own whims.

Nay, we want no thanks. Men are unworthy of succour in their own time of need, who will not be active to relieve the sufferings of their fellows.

Ah! Believe me, 'tis only in the Cottage, that real Happiness resides. Desolate with snow, or terrible with fire, on the haughty Mountain's Summit never yet did flower bloom: the Rose and the Violet are only found in the lowly verdant valley!

On returning to an empty house and happening upon a mint

Let me not to the marriage of two flavours admit

O mint.
O chocolate.

It is there, here am I. I sit
alone. Soon our estrangement

may end (by dint
of my eating it).

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Funny how things work together. A little while after I wrote out the last post about the concern with switching one's image in high school, I heard the following song on the radio. I suppose had I not been thinking on the same topic it wouldn't have jumped out at me the way it did but I was thinking of it and it did and there you have it.
Beautiful Disaster by Jon McLaughlan
She loves her mama's lemonade,
Hates the sound that goodbyes make.
She prays one day she'll find someone to need her.
She swears that there's no difference,
Between the lies and compliments.
It's all the same if everybody leaves her.

And every magazine tells her she's not good enough,
The pictures that she sees make her cry.

And she would change everything, everything just ask her.
Caught in the in between, a beautiful disaster,
And she just needs someone to take her home.

She's giving boys what they want, tries to act so nonchalant,
Afraid they'll see that she's lost her direction.
She never stays the same for long,
Assuming that she'll get it wrong.
Perfect only in her imperfection.

She's not a drama queen,
She doesn't want to feel this way, only seventeen but tired

She would change everything for happy ever after.
Caught in the in between, a beautiful disaster,
But she just needs someone to take her home.

Cuz she's just the way she is, but no ones told her that's ok.

And she would change everything, everything just ask her.
Caught in the in between of beautiful disaster,

And she would change everything for happy ever after.
Caught in the in between of beautiful disaster,

But she just needs someone to take her home
And she just needs someone to take her home.

Friday, January 18, 2008


There are times when I think a bit about my appearance and whether there are ways that I can improve on it (without too much inconvenience) but I must admit that I don't think that I have ever thought seriously about creating my image. The fact that I am not speaking from experience relegates my comments on the subject to the realm of speculation (tinged a bit with general observations I have made over time). That being said I will now continue with my discussion as though I were the most prominent researcher on the subject.

On reflection I think that there are several factors behind why I have never thought seriously about taking on a specific image: most of the more desperate and rapid changes of image often occur while the subject is high school age. I didn't go to highs cool, had no groups to associate with or join, was too busy working to worry about what I looked like. My friends also worked when not doing school or having sleepovers and were similarly unambitious in the style arena. Not to say that we did not display a generally uniform style but it came more from utility than a conscious choice. Much as a painter wears white because it's part of the job, we wore jeans, old t-shirts and hoodies because they're most practical for jobs in barns. When we did 'dress up' to go to town or the like, we definitely wore clothes with a country flair but it was not overly studied. My co-workers were over twice my age and not concerned with high school interests. Also I think that a part of my comfort in who I was was helped along by the fact that I had a very stable and static home and circles of relatives and friends. I knew who I was and where I stood. Perhaps one shouldn't define one's self with one's relationships but it's a good start and, for me at least, took away the necessity of breaking out on my own until I was a bit more mature.

I perhaps sound smug from all that. I will say that I was blessed much more than I was aware of at that time (more than I am aware of even now, I'm sure) and by telling more of my story I wished rather to negate any claim to merit on my part, chalking it up instead to unmerited blessing.

My purpose for setting this up is to contrast it with the information I saw on a link my brother sent me as a joke yesterday (but I began to wonder if it is serious). I wonder if people really are as desperate to fit in as not to understand what they are doing and how they are living a contradiction. The link was to wikihow . At this page there is a list of different 'images' that one might wish to take on with hand tips on each particular page about the best/easiest ways to take on this identity. It almost reads as what I would imagine an amateur-disguise-for-budding-detectives book would. I believe it is a branch of Wikipedia and has been edited by various readers.

Some of the more memorable quotes from the few passages I have read are as follows:
The Emos
just be sure to dress like all the other emos, so everyone can see that you too are non conformist.
be careful because too many pins can look poserish so arrange your pins in a random fashion.
Try hard enough to look emo, but not too hard or you might look like a poser.
A lot of times, Emo is associated with being bitter, depressed, insecure and resentful. But at its core, you can be Emo because you're sensitive, introspective, thoughtful, and quiet.
If someone calls you Emo, don't cry about it - tell them something mean to get back at them and walk away. It shows them that you have a backbone and they have no impact on you.
It is hard not to laugh at the poor emos. This next category, however, is close to how I dress on occasion so I was interested in hearing the pearls of wisdom in this post.
The Smart Girl
If you try to use big words - make sure you actually understand what you are saying. Otherwise you'll seem like a fake and everyone will laugh at you.
Dress in an intelligent looking way. T-shirts with the names of museums on them, shirts with stuff like "Use Your Brain" on them...
Whatever you do, be yourself. There is nothing smart about pretending to be someone you're just not. Stick with your look - it's just sad seeing someone try to be smart and the next day completely going back to being "one of the pretty girls". You will totally lose respect.

I just don't get it.

Friday, January 11, 2008

room makeover

Keeping my room clean is not always on the top of my priority list and I often put up with the chaos that stems from a lifestyle of only stopping at home or in my room enough time to sleep and then grab whatever I may need for the oncoming day on my way out (resulting in the dump-and-crash method at the close of the day). This general pattern is punctuated with the occasional whirlwind cleaning (usually when I need clean laundry) on the odd Friday. These cleanings merely scratch the surface not dealing with the problems of finding place for miscellaneous items or of sorting papers instead merely stacking the mess into smaller piles (only to be scattered again the first time I need to find one of the papers quickly).

Last term was typical in this respect. Perhaps even worse than ever before since I was particularly busy and had but few Fridays free to spend even surface cleaning. Piled onto that, I have now been living out of this room for approximately five years and the number of miscellaneous items without designated place (so that I might follow the mantra "a place for everything and everything in its place") along with the piles of unsorted papers had reached unprecedented levels. Added to that (perhaps stemming in part from that) I was increasingly dissatisfied with the setup and dingy paint in my room.

Having set up a slight picture of the chaos in which I was living let me make a brief note on my sentiments on the issue. I love cleanliness and orderliness. I thrive in bright, clean, organized spaces. It is useless for me to note, then, that I was not pleased with the state of my room. I just did not have the time to do anything about it. I resolved that immediately following the end of the term I would paint the room and make sure, once that was finished, that everything I put back into it would be something that I had a good reason for keeping. I would then organize all these things (finding good places for them and ensuring they would be easy to put away--thus helping in those times when I have but brief moments to spare on such activity) and perhaps rearrange the plan of the room. I had a few ideas of what would be better and was eager to execute them. It was difficult slogging through the rest of the term with this liberating scheme percolating in my mind but being unable to follow it. I managed to write my papers only because Gma was away and I was able to move my activities and laptop to the kitchen and livingroom (places I easily kept clean).
The time finally came when I was able to start at the painting. I really enjoy painting but the prep work is not my favourite. Mom was able to assist me a little (on her birthday no less) by helping to move all the junk out and then start on washing the walls with TSP.

The paint was old and I had my suspicions that the last paint job was rushed since the coat underneath was a lovely bright orange that showed through the tiniest scratch. The result was not pretty. As mentioned before, I was alone in the house (Gma being away at the time) and eager to start but I knew that rushing the prep steps (as much as I disliked them) would merely result in a similar shoddy job.

I got into the groove and was finally able to begin my favourite part. I painted clockwise around the room starting the trim once the first coat was finished and the second coat once the trim was finished. I took a break to sleep upstairs partway through and grabbed one or two snacks but other than that I was on such a roll that I didn't want to stop until everything was done. During this period I helped the time pass by listening through all the Chronicles of Narnia radio theatre on CD. It gave a very unique feeling to this time. Looking back, I don't recall any normal sense of time. I suppose it is because I did not mark the time with any of the usual methods (meals, varying activities through the day, sleep...) but I have never had the opportunity of diving into Narnia so thoroughly before. I definitely enjoyed myself.

And now I have a whole new room to study in! It is much brighter, better set up, cleaner, much better organized. I even have tried in a small way to have a bit of a colour scheme and have framed and hung some of my pictures to tie it together. Things are looking up!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Interesting history

I have often thought on and discussed the way that history is much more memorable for me when I hear it in conjunction with some of the details of the everyday life of the time as opposed to the bare facts of battles and lines of kings. That is the basis of my viewpoint that it is more important for certain aspects of history to learn it from the living literature of the time rather than from a hollow history book. The following (rather lengthy) quote is an interesting discussion along the same lines (which I obviously appreciate since it supports my viewpoint):
The historian points back to the men of other ages, and from the gradually clearing mist in which they are first discovered, like the mountains of a far distant land, the generations of the world are displayed to our mind's eye on grand and regular procession. But the transactions of men become interesting to us only as we are made acquainted with men themselves. Great and bloody battles are to us battles fought on the moon, if it is not impressed upon our minds, by some circumstances attending them, that men subject to like weaknesses and passions with ourselves, were the combatants. The establishments of policy make little impression upon us, if we are left ignorant of the beings whom they affected. Even a very masterly drawn character will but slightly imprint upon our memory the great man it belongs to, if, in the account we receive of his life, those lesser circumstances are entirely neglected, which do best of all point out to us the dispositions and tempers of men. Some slight circumstance characteristick of the particular turn of a man's mind, which at first sight seems but little connected with the great events of his life, will often explain some of those events more clearly in our understanding, that the minute details of ostensible policy. A judicious selection of those circumstances which characterize the spirit of an associated mob, paltry and ludicrous as some of them may appear, will oftentimes convey to our minds a clearer idea why certain laws and privileges were demanded and agreed to, than a methodical explanation of their causes. A historian who has examined human nature himself, and likewise attends to the pleasure which developing and tracing, does ever convey to others, will employ our understanding as well as our memory with his pages; and if this is not done, he will impose upon the latter a very difficult task, in retaining what she is concerned with alone.
from Joanna Baillie's Introductory Discourse to her Plays on the Passions (Broadview edition pp 78-80).

I do wonder, however, if this view to the approach of history is particularly feminine. The relational aspect seems to dominate over the logical aspect. It does seem from my general (and rather simplistic) idea of the way it has worked over time that the factual and logical approach ruled while institutions were the domain of men and that this second view of the study of history has only sprung up since women have had their foot in the door of the education system (becoming inreasingly popular as they gain dominance in many ways). Interesting. Perhaps I should take a vote amongst my acquaintances.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

whistling bishop

From The Warden by Trollope:
The bishop did not whistle: we believe that they lose the power of doing so on being consecrated; and that in these days one might as easily meet a corrupt judge as a whistling bishop; but he looked as though he would have done so, but for his apron.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Canadian eh

A book designed to help integrate new Canadians and teach them English recommends an easy shortcut to sounding casual and Canadian: use eh. But it's a little more complex than that. According to Richard W. Bailey in an article on Canadian English (one of only a few; this broad area of study has been sadly neglected) there are six uses for 'eh' and according to another scholar, Walter Avis, there are eight different uses of this simple sound. Are the poor followers of that book to venture into the labyrinth of 'eh' usage without any further indication as to when such an interjection is appropriate? It is unfortunate that they are not pointed to one or other of these two erudite explanations because, although they may not get much out of them besides confusion, at least they will realize that there is more than one use for what at first has been presented as a catch-all. For our own edification, however, I shall briefly outline some of the various uses these two letters--and indeed but one vowel sound--are put. For this list I shall quote Bailey's article mentioned above. is abundant in British, American, and Canadian English and also occurs in Australia and South Africa. In all these places the functions of eh are diverse:
as a question tag ("hey, Barry, you have a cold one for me tonight, eh?"),
as a reinforcer ("call me Alex, eh?"),
and in elliptical statements of various kinds ("see you eh?" and "you won't eh?"). Assuming that the historical attestations are reliable, eh does not have its origin in Canada, and in only one function is it more common in Canada than elsewhere--in [the] "narrative eh." In this use, which may occur "with disconcerting frequency," eh serves in place of a hesitation vowel or, implicitly, as a request for confirmation of the speaker's assumptions: "He's holding onto a firehose, eh? The thing is jumping all over the place, eh, and he can hardly hold onto it, eh? Well, he finally loses control of it, eh, and the water knocks down half a dozen bystanders." is clearly widespread across the country across social classes. Both by its use in narrative contexts and by its relatively high frequency, it qualifies as a "Canadianism" and serves as one of the "distinctive" features of Canadian English.

I love the tone of the illustrations. Those are quite profound statements and that story about the routing of innocent bystanders with firehose almost moved me to tears... I don't know if this is a coincidence but most of those uses (perhaps from the informality implicit in the use of 'eh') I associate with a lower class or education level (as illustrated in the subject matter of the examples). I do use 'eh' on occasion. Generally the question tag or elliptical statement varieties when in an informal situation. There is much more tied to the idea of when, where and how to use 'eh' than the straightforward idea of using it more to sound more Canadian. Perhaps it would contribute to helping with integration with one group in society but not so much with another. This topic is much more complex than it may seem on first inspection. I have only explored some small side issues connected with it and I imagine further studies would be quite interesting. But I have not time or scope on this blog to continue much more than what I have already.
So I'll leave it with that, eh?

part of why we have a large lexicon

We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.
-Brooker T. Washington