Saturday, December 26, 2009


Another Xmas has come and gone, and I have one week left before I'm back to work. I also have two books waiting for me at the library. I'm presently getting through a book about Hegel. An examination of his works and theories, to be precise. I'm up to the part about the ego and the consciousness. This chapter reminds me of the quote 'to be is to be perceived'. It all goes back to perception, I guess. I know the year isn't over yet, but I think this would be a great time to examine 2009 as I perceived it and make a few remarks about the year. 2009 dawned (for me) with Matthew Arnold and some major introspection. Work was great and I was looking forward to the year and to what it might bring.
I duelled numerous times with my fears and wondered why I was so fear-ridden. When you get down to it, I guess it was fear of the unknown and what bad it may bring to my life. This flies in the face of much of what I have read concerning Buddhism. One should neither embrace the good nor flee the bad, but take both as they come. Of course, there is a big difference between reading this truth and living it. I'm still examining this whole matter, and short of visiting someone skilled in past-life regression, introspection is all I have. It could also be an inherited issue, as I learned during the year as well.
Probably the biggest change in my life was my move into higher independence and solitude. I took possession of my bachelor apartment August 1 of this year. On New Year's Day, it will be 5 months since I moved out of the house. I continue to enjoy every single day of solitude and quiet. No regrets whatsoever about moving out. All in all, this has been a wonderful year of thought and growth. I'll admit I've been lax on some things but right on target with other things. My diary speaks of many books read and reactions made. I'm closing this year down feeling pretty excited about the year to come, and that's pretty good.
I guess that's all I've got for this year. The next post will probably come in January 2010. BYE.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Much misc.

Ahhhhh. Free at last! Let the Xmas vacation begin! Electronic Arts still hasn't gotten their act together with their patches for Sims 3 and Sims 3 World Adventures. A crying shame, considering how many Simaholics lurk in the shadows, gnashing their teeth and screaming their collective frustration to the uncaring skies. A few pretty words, eh? I don't mind uninstalling if I need to, but I'd rather just play the game and enjoy pushing my Sims around. In the meantime, the fortnight of rest and mass consumption is just around the corner. I need to get mas shopping done. I just felt too lazy to get any shopping done after work today. Saturday is going to be a real beast, so I'll sit it out as well. Monday, I promise!
Time for some meaningless muttering. I'm going to talk about Geoff. The name, not any particular dude with said name. When I was growing up, I knew two dudes named Jeff and as far as I knew, that was the only way one spelled the name. Then came the Geoff to end all Geoffs. Chaucer, the dude who wrote 'The Canterbury tales'. Like the Will to end all Wills (otherwise known as the Bard), Geoffrey Chaucer has long been cherished (or perhaps not, depending on who you are) and respected. But, outside Chaucer, I just assumed that the name had changed and that Jeffrey was the correct spelling. (Oh, and there's also Geoffrey, Count of Anjou, but again, we're going far afield). In the last couple of years, the tide is turning, I have found. It seems every time I turn around, I come across the older/British spelling. Like this guy's name, for instance.
Okay, the meaningless muttering is over. Meanwhile, I started reading a bio on Chaucer, which might explain the make my muttering a little clearer. This book came out in the 1930's and could be better, but I'm only 50 pages in. Better to give this elder a chance, right? Xmas Day in a week's time. Scary, eh? Okay, I guess I'm done. BYE.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Geez, it's cold!

I'm pitying my car in the morning these days. It's a 2008, so it probably won't conk out any time soon, so long as I keep plugging it in overnight and keep running out during recess to start it for several minutes. Still, I do feel like a brute to put it through such a struggle in the frigid mornings. Is it wrong to pity one's car? Maybe it's better than feeling sorry for myself, having to get up and struggle to the car in the -25 stillness and shiver my way through scraping the windshield. I think I need to spend more time around other living, breathing, individuals. Pitying my car might be a sign of lunacy. Naming it was probably a big mistake. Better to focus pity on the kids that don't bring their tuques, mitts, or scarves because they don't have them at home. There are kids who just don't bring their winter gear because they forget, and I pity them, too.
When it's cold like this, snow doesn't fall, and I would like there to be more snow on the ground. It's looking like a pretty paltry White Christmas out there. I would like to make better use of my boots. The cold also knocks out stop lights, which causes nothing but trouble on the road. This cold weather does keep the roads from being greasy, but I'd rather have slightly warmer weather with lots of snow. No matter how bad the traffic is with snow on the road, I want more snow! There's still a week to go before Xmas break, so I am going to continue to hope for snow.
I finally started my shopping, but there's still a lot of ground to cover, and the malls are going to be insane next week. Maybe I should try ordering stuff online? The one thing my folks were going to get me is now a bad idea until the company that makes this item starts thinking enough to fix all the problems. It's game-related, and that's all I am going to say about it. So, I guess that's about all I have to say for now. BYE.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

On the Literary Front #6?

I'm doggedly working at a rewrite of a project. Much of this is going to get cut back (assuming it ever sees a publisher), but I needed to flesh the world out big time and understand where my protagonist was coming from. I just couldn't see my main character or understand him. How can I send this character on his journey without knowing something about it. Under the previous take of the project, I could barely see him or the world he inhabited. Shame on me! I've also been reading a lot of Cornelia Funke, and her work just makes mine look barren. I guess what I'm writing is just background stuff, which is why it's going to get cut down in time. That or I still won't have enough description. There's no fast and hard rule as to the length of a chapter, and that's something that bugs me. It's a power thing, I guess. Just the need to know what the rules are. In the end, I guess it's just a matter of writing until the chapter feels done.
Of course, an 8 1/2 x 11 page full of description and dialogue is different from the page in a book. I'm not sure how much of the former becomes the latter. It's something I've wondered about for some time. Meanwhile, I've reached ch. 3 in this project and am introducing another character into the mix. A guide of sorts for the protagonist, if you will. One thing I set out to do with this project was to keep prophecy out of the mix as much as possible. As you might know, I find prophecy to be far too prevalent in Fantasy and Sci-fi genres. Of course, without the crutch of prophecy, I've needed to look deeper and see what is driving my protagonist. Is he just a pawn for greater forces or just a guy trying to find his way in the world? I've been trying to put myself in my protagonist's shoes. Not easy with the character I've come up with.
Meanwhile, I'm trying to get through a rather dull book of essays that examine Karl Popper's work and theories. I'm just about done, and I'm close to breathing a sigh of relief about that. This is definitely not a book I wish to revisit in a year's time. Did you know that Xmas break is just two weeks away for me? Pretty remarkable stuff! And my tree is decorated and the snow is finally falling. Time to get started on Xmas shopping! BYE.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

School stuff

Apparently this is the 100th post I've made for this blog, but I've got better things to talk about. Earlier this week, I attended a two-day workshop on Resititution, and my brain was full to overload by the end of it. Restitution is less focused on consequence, and more focused on a student's needs and finding a way to make amends for wrongs done. It's descended from Aboriginal practices, and has been spreading like wildfire across Manitoba. The two schools I work at are getting very much into this concept, and I attended this workshop because I was feeling a little isolated. Mainly, I wanted to reinforce the language and keep things as consistent as possible for the students. I have not had time yet to put the stuff I learned to work, but I have a couple of ideas as to how I want to put said stuff to work. Especially where kids with overdue books are concered. Kids making an inordinate amout of noise (who do it all the time) are another area where this concept can come in handy.
Restitution is defined as follows: Create conditions for the person to fix their mistake and to return to the group strengthened. This is done through a three-fold concept (picture a triangle) of stabilizing the child's identity (mistakes are okay), validating the need (you had a reason for doing what you did), and seeking beliefs (what are this school/classroom's beliefs?). It is accepted that people have five basic needs (survival, belonging, power, fun, freedom), and that these needs have to be filled somehow, whether by good means (friends and family, success in school, freedom of choice, etc...) or by bad (gangs, drugs, etc...). Most folks would prefer the good means, but for some children, that ain't possible.
That was earlier this week. On Thursday and Friday, I held a book fair for one of my schools courtesy of Scholastic. The turnout seemed poorer than last year, but the time flew by faster this year than it did last year, so I don't know. I do know that Scholastic has upped their requirements for getting the 50% credit (the fiends!). I'm thinking that change is coming. The trial will be in March, for the other school has decided to turn its back on Scholastic this year. Good riddance, if you ask me. Anyway, that's all that's been going on in my little world. BYE.

Friday, November 20, 2009

On the Literary Front #4

The Muse has been slumbering for some time, but with all this talk of NaNoWriMo I've been hearing, I've been thinking of giving the Muse a hard kick in the rear. I've been busy with work, reading, and gaming, and the wanting to write has faded somewhat. After a decade of near-constant writing, I guess it was time to take a break. It isn't that I have nothing to say, but that what I want to say has changed somehow. Apologies if that doesn't make sense. Maybe it's just that I've needed to get settled in my new digs and exult in my freedom before I bow to the Muse. This is something I need to examine further, which I will do in my personal diary. In the meantime, I have two projects I could be working on, but one of these two has become less interesting to me, while the other one has too many things indistinct to me. The main character is not at all visible to me, and I need to make him visible in my mind's eye before I can go and flesh out his world.
I've been reading Cornelia Funke, and her work is magnificient! So much detail and so well-fleshed out are her works. Makes anything I've written seem so stripped down and barren. Fleshing everything out and then cutting back the far is the better way to do things. One problem I have with that is how long to make the chapters. I guess once a scene has climaxed, move on to the next scene. Does that make any sense? And then there's the matter of where to start the story and where to end it. That is one of the hardest parts of writing a story, and I applaud Funke deeply. I also applaud her translator, for I don't understand German. Anyway, I need lessons in creating and fleshing out a world for my protagonist and his fellows.
I need lessons in many other things... especially where getting my Muse stirred up to the point where my fingers are on fire with the desire to write (or type, in this case). Blogging and writing in my journal has taken off some of the edge, maybe, which suggests I may need to drop blogging for a while. Hard to say. Well, that's about all for me. BYE.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Xmas closing in?

My first Xmas under a new roof, it looks like. Today I went out and bought lights for my window and some Xmas decorations. No tree yet, but there's still time to go and get one. Something in the 4 foot range sounds about right to me, considering my lack of height thereof. The snows that stay have yet to fall, but I'm not impatient to see them fall (yet!) In another week, if the snow hasn't started yet, then I might get a little antsy. I hear about people going to warmer climes to celebrate Xmas. I would just feel very strange if I celebrated Xmas in Mexico, where snow is virtually unknown. The locals in Mexico find their winters cold; imagine how they'd feel if Mexico got even a week of Winnipeg's Winterpeg? Frightening, I should say. Anyway, today it was the Santa Claus Parade in Winnipeg (the 100th anniversary of this event, to be exact). My sister's boyfriend's niece was brought to see it. She probably won't remember this amazing event... meanwhile, I've never been, so it's nothing to me.
Remembrance Day was on Wednesday, and having the day off really threw me for a loop. I didn't sleep too well over the next couple of nights. I went to bed extremely early last night as a result. Now I'm going to bed at a more reasonable hour (12:00, but it's Saturday, so it's all right). Hope that will balance me out. I'll try to get through Aristotle this evening and listen to Enya, and both of these things should relax me. Actually, my brain's been whirring the last couple of nights, duelling with my worries through the night. Totally irrational, I know. Well, I slept all right last night and hopefully I sleep well tonight as well.
Well, I guess that's the end of this mess for today. BYE.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Picture test #2

Home sweet home (when I 1st moved in)

The nerve centre for my wryness

My pride and joy.

Another view of my digs when I 1st moved in.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Between two Phils

Let me tell you about the two books I'm currently focusing on. Both are massive, gem-laden tomes, and both demand my attention. One is due back at the library in a few days unless I renew it (which will probably have to happen), while the other is from my personal library, so it ain't going noplace. The latter is called 'Classics of Philosophy', edited by L. Pojman, which I bought for an Intro to Philosophy course back in 1999 or 2000, which I want to get through from cover to cover before I give it to C.D. It's got all the visible pieces by the biggest names, from Anaxaminder and the Pre-Socratics to the minds of the 60's and 70's (I imagine, as I have never peeked at the end of it). I have tried a couple of times to get through it, but somehow never get past Hume, which is somewhere in the middle. I guess one really can't get through this monster unless one tries VERY hard to do so. Well, I'm up to Aristotle now, and I am going to keep it around until I have come to the end of it! That's how stubborn I'm becoming.
The first book I mentioned, the one that needs to go back to the library soon, is called 'Pearls from Peoria', and it's all the gems penned by the fairly good Philip Jose Farmer that were either never published or were published but soon forgotten. I am getting through this one all right, and enjoying the journey for the most part, but I suspect that I will need to renew it if I am going to get through it. That or I take a break from Sims 3 and life in general. Imagine needing to take a break from reading?!! Not in my lifetime (not so far)! It's all a matter of how one fills up one's waking hours. I'd like to think that reading takes up a vital chunk of time. I'd be proud if it did, as a matter of fact.
It is All Saints Day, and Halloween and Daylight Savings Time are over. The snow can fall now with complete and total abandon. Bring on the whiteness of Winter!! Anyway, that's all I can say today. BYE.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Goals... so far

Been thinking about my goals for the future, and I'm coming to the conclusion that condo is the way to go, but not for a couple of years. Once I've paid off my car, which won't happen for another couple of years, I'll look toward getting a mortgage and my own little condo unit. Feeling so mature at this point, which is rather amusing to me. For now, I'm just going to continue with my brand new lease (sublet no more) and keep paying down my car. I broke 11,000 kms the other day, so, when I do the math, I should hit 100,000 kms in another nine years. I suspect I'll have moved on to another car by then. Assuming hybrids have gone down in price in the next five years. Geez, I'm feeling like such an adult right now. Hopefully that feeling will go away before long.
Had a conversation with my amazing Dad about condos, houses, and apartments. Vacancy rate here in Winnipeg is 1%, but that is going to change, what with all the seniors complexes going up all the time. My wonderful Grandpa lives in one such complex, and there are 60-some people waiting to get into that building (and the three or four like it). That means that 60 houses, condos, and apartments will be going on the market before long. This thought sort've cheered me up, but it made me wonder if there are just too many people alive on the planet today. I know that probably sounds a little negative, but it's how I feel today (and have for the last year or so).
I finished reading Joyce Milgaard's book 'A mother's story' the other day for the third time. I think I'm done with that book now, having looked through it three times over the last few years. It was part of my 'Two Year List', and now I'm done with it. I have yet to start a 'Five Year List', but I highly doubt I'll need to start such a list. Unless 'Indestructible truth' blows me away so much that I feel I need to revisit it in 5 years. I suppose such could happen, but that would leave me with three ongoing lists. I suspect this five year list would be much shorter than either of the other two lists, but no need to cross that bridge until I come to it.
Reading 'Inkspell' right now. Darn Funke! I can't put this book down for long! Taking a break just to mess around in my blog, but I'll be going back to it ASAP. Darn! Okay, this meaningless drivel is done for the week. Maybe I'll have something useful to share with you next time. BYE.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Marking pages, marking time

Weekends my time is my own, and I spend much of that time reading, navel-gazing, or gaming. Yesterday I went out and did some shopping with my sister. Stuff I needed. Stuff I want can wait until Xmas, and I've already started work on the Xmas list. Meanwhile, I'm trying to get back into reading 'Classics of philosophy'. It's a mammoth book made up of all the greats, and I was having some trouble get through Plato. Now I've finally reached Aristotle, and I can breathe a sigh of relief. Socrates choosing to drink the hemlock continues to bug me, especially when he had the option of making an escape. I know he saw it as submitting to the will of the civilization, but I still think he had a choice in escaping and coming back when the heat was off. I guess he felt that, being in his 70's, he could die before the heat was off. It's one of those things that cannot be answered. I read 'Republic' and enjoyed it somwhat. Are there any oligarchies or timocracies still alive today, or are we all monarchies, democracies, or dictatorships?
This massive book is not from the library, but one I kept from my University days (I decided that I was not going to drop this book until I was done reading it cover-to-cover). I also just finished reading Cornelia Funke's 'Inkheart'. Thick like brick but a good story. I've got 'Inkspell' waiting in the wings, and am on the hunt for 'Inkdeath', which is the 3rd book in the series. I'm wondering when Brendan Fraser is going to star in a movie treatment of 'Inkspell'? I should go and watch 'Inkheart' now that I've gotten through the book a second time. I've heard it's a good movie. Cornelia Funke is a pretty good writer (and her translator is pretty good as well). I read 'Dragon rider' recently as well. Another book I couldn't put down for long.
On the literary horizon, I've got a book about Carl Barks coming up, as well as another foray into Joyce Milgaard's book. I haven't read it in a couple of years, and thought the time was right. But before I go down this path, I've got a ton of Philosophy to get through. And that's what going on with me these days. I'll talk a little more about my navel-gazing later on. Whatever highlights I can come up with, I will post. BYE.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A well-balanced diet

The mind comes up with many things while hands and feet are driving. Sometimes strange, sometimes deep. I had an attack of the deep while driving from work to visit my folks. I was working out karma in my head yesterday afternoon. I'm sure others have said the same, and that I'm not saying anything new, but for the soul to attain Nirvana, the karma has to be perfectly balanced. Any tipping on the good or the bad and rebirth is assured. Too much bad and the soul is reborn an animal, a hungry ghost, a demon, or a citizen of Hell. Too much good and the soul is reborn a jealous god (angel, maybe?) or a god. I'm suggesting that being reborn as a god is no better than being reborn as a demon. Both are states of complete and total ignorance, and can only end once the karmic excess is worked off. This is pretty deep stuff, and what's even more suprising, I haven't been reading much Buddhist material lately. Just my semi-Buddhist-eyes looking within, I guess.
Just a digression before I go on: For all I know, I could be completely and totally wrong. Do not take anything I say as gospel. Okay, moving right along.... Once the scales are totally balanced, the soul is born a human and attainment is possible, but only by keeping the scales balanced in the human life. Right actions (thought/word/deed) and so forth. Of course, this is rarely easy, so the scales can get unbalanced pretty quickly, which usually ends up in another rebirth. Based on one's karma, this next life might be human, and might be better or worse than the last one. One might need a few lifetimes to make up for one where the soul is a demon or a citizen of Hell. There are just too many karmic threads and twists to determine how it all works. It would be nice to know how it works, but that's just going to have to wait for another time.
In the meantime, Thanksgiving is just around the corner here in Canada, and I'm gearing up for an amazingly full belly and enough turkey to last for days. My sister loves turkey, so between her and my dad, that bird should be gone by Tuesday. Maybe. Thanksgiving Monday the schools are closed. Three-day weekend! Something indeed to feel thankful for. I may post an entry on Monday saying what I'm grateful for, but I'm not sure yet. The folks south of the border have to wait another month for their fully-loaded turkey with all the trimmings. Nyah-nyah! Okay, I think I'm done for now. BYE.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Aged spinster

In 5 months I'm hitting a milestone, and I suspect I'm supposed to feel miserable and worried about being so close to 30. It has something to do with the fact that being 30 means you're squarely in adulthood, I guess. I don't feel adult most of the time, and I suspect that being 30 won't change that one little bit. I remember feeling rather down when I turned 20, for I had come to the conclusion that 20 meant the end of childhood, and I liked my childhood. Being 20 seemed old, I guess. I'm closing in on 30, and I'm far from being depressed about it. Shameful confession: I'm enjoying making my relatives feel old! You know; those relatives who were in their 20's when I was born... they're turning 50 now, and they don't really like it all that much. They also don't like me reminding them about it.
I must've gone through something during my 20's, for I don't see 30 as being old or as a yardstick for progress. I have freedom beyond anything I could've pictured ten years ago and responsibility enough to deal with said freedom. So far so good, at least, and it can only get better from here. I've got a threadbare plan for my future, which could change any time. Might as well try to live in the moment and keep plugging at it. Moving along.... I am a proud spinster! There, I said it. Ads for matchmakers and websites like e-harmony and the like nauseate me a little. They suggest that you should be with someone and not rely on your own mettle for ways to spend your time.
A quiz I took once suggested that I was a romantic realist, and not a real romantic. I'm willing to go even further and suggest that I am as far removed from romance as can be. I'm not interested in seeking my soulmate, partner, or anything like that. I'm not saying this is an improbable concept, for my soulmate might be out there looking for me, and if this is true, I'm making his job VERY difficult by not caring all that much. My priorities lie elsewhere, that's all. Speaking of priorities, I'm reading 'Welcome home' by the awesome Stuart McLean. Definitely a good read. Okay, that's about all. BYE.

Monday, September 28, 2009

2 months in...

On the 1st of October, it will be two months since I moved into my new digs. Surprisingly, I'm still alive and kicking. Lots of introspection, reading, and surfing the Web has ensued over the last couple of months, and I expect there will be more introspection and reading to come. Do not imagine that I'm dying for lack of someone to talk with. Introversion has been good to me that way. If I had been gifted with extroversion, I'd be doomed to madness. Scratching my pen on the page and simple chats with acquaintances and co-workers seem to fill the void for me. Then again, I have a wonderful family who endures my visits for supper every other day. If not for them, I would be in a more difficult place, I figure. At least where nourishment is concerned. I just had supper catered by Subway (the healthy choice, at least). Easy enough when you're just one person.
Meanwhile, I'm trying to get through a critique of the works of Ezra Pound and am musing about Soujourner Truth. I first came across these two poets while at the UofW and I was in an English course with a Poetry flavour. Not my favourite course, to be honest. Kinda turned me off of majoring in English. Religious Studies was, in the end, the better choice, for it's lead me into some wicked introspection over the years. Speaking of Pound, I'm trying to read 'Poet in exile' right now, and am not sure how I feel about it. Maybe if I sought to be more interested in it.... I'm also listening to Jann Arden right now. That reminds me that I haven't mentioned what I've been listening to in the car lately. Alternative stations on Sirius. Gives me enough R.E.M. and New Order to keep my brain busy while I'm driving.
Getting back to books... Scholastic has been upping the price and lowering the quality on their book fairs, so the principal and I are looking for alternatives. Usborne looks promising, but we'll see. So, I guess that's about all for the time being. BYE.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Planning it out

Just finished watching 'Uncle Buck' this evening, and realized it was time to update my blog. So here I go.... This is my second year working at my schools, and I know I've been floating, more or less, from one situation to another. Being more reactive than proactive, and while that's okay, it could be better. So now I'm faced with one major assignment; prepare goals for my year. The teachers have to do it; why should I be any different? No teacher, I, but we're all both students and teachers. The kids can teach just as well as the adults (not the same lessons, but why should there be any repetition?). Meanwhile, I need to think about my goals for the second year. Inventory, my bugbear, needs to be done, but I'm hoping to get that figured out. It might not seem so intense to my cohorts in the division, but I well recall the mess I made in my previous place.
It would be better to figure out how to properly do an inventory. Then there's the weeding and purchasing. Stuff going out and coming in. Transitions always. And then there's the increased rapport between me and the kids. I've got some thoughts about that, which I am going to share with my own diary before I announce them to the two or three people who accidentally come straggling across this blog. Still, it's better that I do establish and maintain a somewhat deeper rapport with the students. Be there as much as possible, you might say. Some kids, because of their own problems, are much harder to reach, but it's better to do what I can than do nothing at all. Why stand on the sidelines and just watch?
Meanwhile, as far as PD is concerned, I've got something planned for October. A SAG meeting thingie where I'll go and learn about libraries and Web. 2.0. Should be very intriguing. Free lunch... can't complain. In my personal life, I'm starting on 'A midsummer night's dream' by the Immortal Bard. Now I'd like to read something by the Venerable Bede. New forays constantly await. I finished reading a book about reincarnation. It's happening all the time, but the book didn't really tell me anything. Yeah, books can't talk. YUK YUK YUK. I guess I should keep digging. Well, that's my update. Later days.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Without cable, I'm making do with DVD's, Flash cartoons, and Youtube. One show I've rediscovered is "Mahabharat", which is the 80's Indian treatment of the saga "Mahabharata". I greatly enjoyed reading this Indian epic and am glad to see the show is available on Youtube. This show has gotten its fair share of grief for being so cheesy and dated. Maybe it's dated now, but back in the 80's, this was probably the height of quality in India. Bollywood has gotten big over the last few years, and efforts like this series are laughed at now, but I doubt they were mocked back in the day. Meanwhile, I'm watching this series again (as I missed the beginning the last time I watched it), and while I'm snickering at the SFX, I'm recalling the truths of another age, and recalling how important debts, oaths, and karma were to the people of the "Mahabharata". I also believe I should borrow the epic from the library and read it again.
It is my understanding that we are our actions, and "Mahabharat" really lays bare this and other realities. A king has great power, but he is also bound by his responsibilities to his nation and his subjects. The greatest king is a good servant to his people. I heard that somewhere, and the kings of India return to this point several times during the story. Obligation and duty are constantly revisited. I'm astounded again and again by this epic. It is most unfortunate that, so far, nobody's thought to create a trilogy in the colours of LOTR to bring this saga to life. Honestly, this epic deserves better than what the Chopras tried to do with it.
My second topic for discussion probably does not seem to have anything to do with legends. Be patient. I'll start making sense soon. First off, "Do as thou wilt" is a good book. The author neither glossed over nor smeared Crowley's reputation (it would be hard to smear the man's reputation more than he already did himself). I applaud the author and recommend this book highly. Aleister Crowley himself, I wouldn't recommend for a second. When I first opened "Do as thou wilt", I wondered if the whispers about Crowley were true or if they were just part of the miasma he had woven over his life. Part of me actually thought that he had been a boring fellow and had just woven some major whoppers to build himself up in society.
Granted, he had done that, big time. After I came to the end of the book, I came to the conclusion that Crowley had been pretty pitiful. He went out of his way to earn the title of notorious, but I do not believe that he was worthy of the title of Satanist. The closest he got to the 'dark side' was when he met up with L. Ron Hubbard, but the latter didn't seem impressed by him. Opportunist? Yes. Swindler? Absolutely. Hedonist? Without a doubt. But not a Satanist. Not a wizard. Even the alchemists of the past had more determination than Crowley did. At this point, I could get into a major tangent by discussing his potential future life, but I'll keep that for my own diary.
In a way, though, Crowley has become a legend. Probably not the legend he wanted to become, but he's still discussed, and that's fame ... of a sort. BYE.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Labour Day weekend

Getting a lot of reading done lately. 'Two gentlemen of Verona' was the first devoured. I guess the Comedies are easier to get through than the Tragedies and Histories (I think they're called). I read 'King Richard III' recently as well, and that was not nearly as easy to get through. I've read both plays already, so that increased the pace already. I love that the 'clowns' are usually wiser than their masters. If not wiser, then at least possessing more common-sense. The clown/servant is more grounded than the flighty master with many of the Comedies. Julia dresses like a boy to spy on her 'beloved' Proteus, who says one thing and does another. Everybody has an agenda in this play, it seems. Either way, it's a good enough play. I've never seen it done on stage, but I don't think it's as popular as 'A Midsummer night's dream'. THAT's a popular one.
From Shakespeare to sci-fi I went with Philip Jose Farmer's 'Dayworld'. Freakish! The concept is pretty sound, and if Homo sapiens sapiens keeps going the way it does, we may need to introduce said concept. Still, for those 'day-breakers', at least for some of them, the act is more dangerous than one would think. I've heard of people who can 'compartmentalize' their lives. This trait can become dangerous if taken too far. To go farther would be to spoil the book for those who have yet to read it. Good book, only it took less time to read it than I thought it would. Fast-paced. I hope I didn't miss anything. I fear I have a tendency to skim over stuff.
Now, I have yet to get halfway through this third book, but this one could paint me as a Satanist. I'm reading a life of Aleister Crowley. Hey, the guy is bloody fascinating. At least, this is the miasma he wove over himself before he died. Maybe he was totally boring. The least I can do is read and find out. Before I close this, I listened to Beethoven (ODE TO JOY) and am now listening to John Lennon. Cool. BYE.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Kant, solitude, and independence

It has been almost a month since I took possession of my apartment. A month tomorrow, actually, and my thoughts are many. The level of freedom goes beyond what I felt when I got my car. Just knowing I can go hither and yon without checking in with the rest of the family is remarkable. I was a little worried that I would not be able to handle being alone, but it's so far, so good. Of course, my folks don't live too far away, so I've been visiting them every other day for supper and conversation. I'm very fortunate to have such great parents. September is close at hand, and with it come the kids and so many other things. I'm excited to see the school year start.
Meanwhile, I recently read a bio of Immanuel Kant and found myself sorrowful by the end of it. This famous philosopher and essayist did not die young, nor did he die in the prime of his life. Instead, he reached well into old age before passing away. The feeling of loneliness and confusion was palpable. Imagine having to say goodbye to so many friends and then to what Kant must've considered his greatest of friends; his own mind. He fell apart, bit by bit, and rent my heart. His aging and fading away reminded me of Rush's 'Losing it' (from Signals). That song rends my heart as well. Manfred Kuehn wrote a fantastic book, and one I highly recommend.
I started into King Richard III the other day. The longest part of this kind of book is usually the Introduction, and this was no exception. Most would say: "Why bother looking through it?" I like looking through the Introduction as it usually discusses the evolution of the play, the characters, and anything else Shakespearean. I'll keep reading King Richard III and I'll get back to you. BYE.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Picture Test #2

Relaxing on a bench

Being a little cheeky

Monday, August 24, 2009

Back to School

I start back on the 27th to the schools and to those kids. My first year is done and my second year stretches out before me. I have plans and ideas for this second year, and no sign of an evaluation for a while to come. There are a couple things concerning me, but I'm going to keep those things at the back of my head until they get close enough to warrant worrying about. The big one is the Inventory. The last two times I did inventory were not pleasant affairs. I have some experience with the collections this time, though. If I had some time, I could methodically go through all the books on the LOST list and see if they found their way back onto the shelves. I've found two books so far that I could cross off the LOST list because they were on the shelves. Inventory is a little intimidating, but it's part of the job and needs to be done.
I've done two Book Fairs already, and there are two more Book Fairs ahead of me. I'm feeling so-so about that. Just need to get myself a few volunteers before November for the first one. Okay, I can worry and dwell on that later. Meanwhile, I'm catching up on my reading. Just finished reading an excellent book by Guy Gavriel Kay (Lord of emperors) and am starting a bio on Kant by Manfred Kuehn. Hope it's a good tome. On my future list of stuff to read, I'm going to revisit 'Andromeda strain' and then plumb the Shakespearean depths with 'Richard III' and then 'Two gentlemen of Verona'. I love going to the Library, even though my new base of operations has lousy parking.
Before I close this up, I want to say a few things about the Bachelor life. Some of my relatives joked that I've become a 'bachelorette'. The title sounds better than spinster, eh? Still, I'd rather be called a spinster over the female for bachelor -- it actually sounds better to my ears. I continue to make attempts at cooking a hamburger patty. Two screw-ups and one-and-a-half successes, I'm proud to say. I'm getting used to being by myself, and when work starts up again, I'll have much less time to kill during the day. I'll probably even get very good at cooking a patty. I also warmed up some soup for myself. Just didn't feel like having fries. I haven't had much success with fries. Maybe I should try cooking them in the oven and not the toaster oven.
Okay. That's all for the Wry Spinster. BYE.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fill'er up!

Delving through earlier diaries yields a wealth of info. Diary #7 (2004-2006) brought me into contact with 2005, which was a rather tumultuous year on both a personal level and on a global level. I usually addressed the personal much more than the global in these pages, but events like the passing of His Holiness John Paul II needed recording no matter what. Other passings like that of Terri Schiavo and Peter Jennings were duly recorded as well. One passing that struck hard on a personal level was that of my Grandma, and this journal is full of ominous and sometimes disgusting and disquieting dreams both before and after her death. I didn't know why I was having so many grim dreams, but I'm willing to suggest that my psyche was just dealing with her passing as best it could.
2005 was also a year of great change (again on a personal level), for that was the year I started my Library and Information Tech. course at RRC, which welcomed me into a world of possibilities and eventually led to my present job. I am very grateful for what I learned from that course. There were also many fascinating books mentioned in this diary. Among literary journeys that I took, I mentioned the excellently ponderous 8-part bio of Winston Churchill by Martin Gilbert (started by WSC's son Randolph, only he died after finishing the first book), as well as the complete Arden Shakespeare, which I completed in February 2006 after two years of on and off attention. I should kill a couple more years and try that list again. Give my weird mind something to chew on.
The 2006 Olympics in Turin also came under my scrutiny, and I praised Cindy Klassen highly for her exploits. The next Winter Olympics won't happen until 2010, which isn't that far away anymore. Have the Men's Team Canada been working their hardest? They didn't do all that well in 2006, according to my journal. Looking through these pages, I have come to the conclusion that although I recorded quite a bit, I don't think I was as thorough as I am now. There are fewer gaps between entries in my present journal. I also pay less attention to my dreams these days. I do recall my dreams, but they don't seem to find their way into my journal. Maybe I've been more introspective in my most recent diary. A little navel-gazing never hurt anyone, right?
I guess this post is coming to an end. Perhaps, in 2014, I'll go looking back again and be astounded at the stuff I came up with. By 2014, it will have been 20 years since I got to writing in journals with any regularity. Fascinating stuff? Hmmmmm.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I took possession of my apartment August 1 and my bed moved in on August 3. Since then I've been exploring my new lair and surroundings. I live in an area called Charleswood (amazing this link actually exists!) and there ARE unpaved roads and ditches galore. Just recently, the city laid down some fresh gravel on one of the streets I use quite a bit. It's refreshing after the massive subdivisions I'm used to. In the past few days, I've found a Subway, a couple of supermarkets, and the nearest library. What a tiny library it is! I usually place holds online and then go into the library just to do a quick book exchange, so I may not have a look at the whole place for a long while. It felt weird walking into another library and leaving my home-away-from-homestead for good.
Living the apartment experience has been very interesting. Learning the ins and outs of cooking, as well as getting used to a different stove and different appliances has been fun. It's also all about keeping busy. I opted not to have a TV in my new lair. Internet, yes, but not cable. We shall see how long this lasts. My diary has seen a lot of action. So have the computer games I play. The Internet has also seen a lot of action. I fear I haven't done as much reading as I would like, but the book I'm currently reading is leaving me to scratch my head. Heidegger's 'What is a thing?'... how to explain this book? I'll do it another time.
Getting a new postal code and giving out a new phone number has been interesting as well. It's amazing how many organizations rely on one postal code. Even the library relies on the postal code. It's a different experience. Well, I'd best be running along. Heidegger needs my attention. There will be more about the apartment later. BYE.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Devil's doing time

It started with 'The Chatto book of the Devil' and continues with 'Papal sin'. I've been dipping my toes in matters diabolic and focusing my Semi-Buddhist eyes on the nature of Evil. Anyway, all this thought on the diabolic and on Evil has lead me to a thought that could get me sent to Hell's less pleasant suburbs. Maybe it's just the Buddhist bifocals, but I'm slowly stepping further and further off the RC path and onto a very agnostic one. I guess I have two questions that are connected in some way. Does Satan/Lucifer/the Devil exist; Does Evil exist? The Devil is, according to what I have been reading lately, a rebellious prince of angels who lead a group of angels against God's general Michael and his angelic army.
As you might expect, Michael and the 'good guys' win and Lucifer and his army are cast down to rule in Hell's persecuting domain. Since then, the Devil has been tempting humanity and then enslaving them in Hell if they go along with his dark designs. This temptation doesn't seem to work on the most pious of self-mortificating and self-denying saints, who end up trouncing the imps, demons, or Satan himself every time. It started with J.C. and has been happening ever since. Those who end up selling their souls and falling for Satan's lures get their treasures in this life, but punishment in the next one.
I've been getting heavily into Buddhism, and the view there is that good/bad happens based on the choices we make. Can you see the parallels already? Of course, there are just as many differences as there are similarities, but let's keep focusing on Evil. The major evil here is Ignorance. Remain willfully ignorant and bad things are going to keep happening. It's how we act and react. There are devils and demons, but no chiefs or princes among them. They live in severe ignorance, expiating their bad karma and causing continued suffering to both themselves and to everyone around them. Unlike Xianity, this stay in Hell isn't permanent, and another chance is always on the horizon. Also, the stay in Heaven isn't permanent, but this isn't about the good choices, is it?
Here's another question, summoned up by those pesky Semi-Buddhist eyes: Is the Devil working for God by tempting and punishing those who don't make the right choices? Hundreds of thousands of years worth of community service? Hmmm. It is worth at least wasting a few synapses thinking about this. Anyway, I'll get back to reading 'Papal sin' and get back to you soon enough. BYE.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Some art from the Wry Zone

A style I've been working with for the last four years

A variation of the style

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


It would be a more pleasant day if the weather was cooperating. It rained through most of yesterday and all through the night (granted, I slept through it, so I'm not really sure). The sound of rain pattering against the roof of the shed woke me up. The dreams I was having were incomprehensible, so I was glad to wake up. Someday I am going to share some of the nightly meanders I've had. Not a recurring dream in the bunch, although I've had recurring themes and images. I haven't read a whole lot of insightful material lately, but I'm trying to dive into 'Te-Tao-Ching', so I might have something later. Keep'em crossed! As far as music is concerned, I'm listening to the Grateful Dead and will be following that up with Ravi Shankar. Child of the 80's fully entrenched in 60's music? Meh. It was what I was raised on.
Moving along, my computer seems to like the new video card. I'm not totally sure I like the resolution the computer is set at, but it was the best and clearest setting available. Going with the flow. I installed 'Sims 3' and have been playing it. Everything seems to working well and I haven't had a crash in the last two days. My sims also look very well defined and the bushes and trees behave more realistically. They actually sway and move in the breeze, which looks pretty creepy for the moment. This is probably the newest thing I've come across. I won't bore you with further details of Sims 3. I've got a blog running on the website custom-made for blathering about the game.
Windows has this cool feature where one can check the 'reliability' of one's computer. I keep checking it every morning to see if there's something I missed. The last two days, as I've already said, there hasn't been a crash, freeze, or anything else to mar my PC's operations. I guess, if this good behaviour keeps up, I'll do a lot more gaming and a lot less typing. Maybe. I mean, I've got one more chapter to type up and that will be the end of that project. I'm thinking about getting back to typing out older diaries. We shall see. C'est tout. BYE.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Miscommunication = Frustration

The hardware is not to blame. Microsoft Vista is wholly to blame for the mess. It's an easy charge to make and most people would not blame me for making it. I apologize for not having a whole lot to say this month, but not having a working computer really screws things up. I would love to know what possesses the computer programmers to mess up so royally! Why can't these people talk to each other once in a while and iron out the bugs? My computer's fallen pretty hard against one of these dreaded bugs and I'm getting really ticked off about it. A slave to frustration, I'm entertaining visions of travelling to Microsoft's head office with a rubber mallet and the will to use it! If I wasn't so cheap and couldn't find ways to calm down and find other ways to channel my frustration, I might go and board a plane. Geez!
Anyway, without my computer, I haven't played Sims 3 all that much, so I've been typing and writing. I've already mentioned this, so I won't go any farther with it. My computer came back from Staples the other day and (quelle surprise!) the buggers didn't find anything wrong. I get it hooked back up and the damn mess crashes on me! Staples didn't tell me they wiped the PC clean, however. I found that out when I started it up. I had been expecting this, and told them they could do it if absolutely necessary. Apparently this is how Staples 'fixed' whatever problems my computer had. It fixed nothing! Well, my computer is running all right this second, but Sims 3 isn't loaded and I'm not going anything heavy-duty with it. I suspect there would be some problems if I did install Sims 3.
Another problem is that my video card is horribly lacking. Nothing that a visit to a computer store won't fix. This PC is mainly for gaming (other things might happen down the line) so I need a really good video card. Something that can more than handle Sims 3 and games to come that need that added oomph. Above all, I'm irritated that Vista doesn't like to behave with my computer all of a sudden. I've had this PC for a little over a year, and only now are there problems. Something to do with Service Pack 2, I'm lead to understand. If there's anyone out there with some advice, I would be greatly appreciative. Thank you. BYE.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

On the Literary Front #5

Apologies for the lengthy absence. My computer's been giving me grief so I sent it to the shop. Something to do with Vista not liking me or something like that. Anyway, without my computer and my beloved Sims to keep my fingers busy, I've been doing a lot of writing and typing. The writing is mostly in my diary and the typing is at my laptop, where dormant stories are getting looked at and updated. I'm presently working on a book about two sisters, which makes sense considering I have a sister. The plot's different from the one I'm living, and I'm finding it a nice change to type rather than plan out what my Sims are going to do from one hour to the next.
Instead, it's what my characters are doing from one scene to the next. I was able to get a chapter and a half typed out over the last few days and I'm feeling really good about all the work I've been able to do. Perhaps, when my computer gets back, I'll fall back into playing God and plotting my Sims' futures. That or I'll spend my summer typing and writing. I suppose I could do both, but one cannot worship two masters. I think, in the grand scheme of things, I would rather be in service to the Muse than to the Game. The Muse is more tempermental, but it doesn't make my computer crash nearly as much.
Oh, and I have to get my hands on a new video card for my computer. I think that's what's causing all the strife. Sims 3 is just too much for my 'high-end' computer. That's why I like my laptop. Sims 2 was too much for it, so all I can do with it now is play Pinball and type my brains out! And that's what I'm gonna do this summer. That and apartment hunt. That's showing some promise as well. I've got some apartments to check out tomorrow. Wish me luck! BYE.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Hard to be mindful?

This is going to come off as a tirade about bad drivers, but I get to thinking about frustration, mindfulness, and impatience a lot when I'm driving. I see more than enough thoughtless drivers making rather bad choices when I'm on the road. My path through life has reminded me that I need to be mindful of what I do, whether by thought, word, or deed. While on the road, I try to discipline myself to not think badly about the other folks on the road when they cut me off or tailgate me. It isn't the being cut-off part that truly irks me, but the fact that some of these folks do not think to signal does cause much frustration. Visited by my favourite bugbear, I try my hardest to be mindful. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail. That's life, but I'm also trying to come up with reasons as to why these tailgaters and the like do what they do. I'm not condoning what they do, but I would rather have some reason as to WHY they do it. This keeps the frustration at bay a little longer and calms me a touch.
I admit frankly that I am sometimes impatient at the actions of 'slow drivers'. I do not call people who drive the speed limit 'slow drivers'. I drive the speed limit, and it bugs me when someone's close to bumping me because I'm not going fast enough for their liking. I'd rather they go around me than hang out there, trying to intimidate me. The temptation to come to an abrupt stop and let them crash into me just to press charges on them later floats just beneath the surface of my thoughts. I've never done it, but thought=word=deed. Definitely a bad choice no matter how it comes out. But I digress. I get a little frustrated by folks who DO drive under the speed limit (or at least seem like they do), or folks who are a little too hesistant when they seek to merge with traffic. These people are holding up the flow of traffic and that is what leads to traffic jams and other causes of frustration.
I know that sometimes a guy is late for work, and that's why he speeds. I don't condone it, and I do leave for work early just to make sure that I'm not late. However, I've been known to grumble at someone ahead of me who's being a little pokey even though I have lots of time. There. I've made my confession for the week (or month). I will probably have more to say on the subject of books next time. I'm reading a pretty informative book and should be ready around June 30th... maybe. BYE.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Books to love

Just an update on my cold and then we'll move on; the cold is only an ominous memory. Hooray for antibiotics! Been reading quite a bit since my last post and today I'm going to talk about two books I've read. If this post goes on rather long, I apologize. First off, I finished reading that Matthew Arnold book I mentioned in my last post. It's called 'Schools and universities on the Continent', and was edited by R.H. Super. Super's a guy who has to have some high respect for Arnold, for he released several volumes of the man's work in the 70's and not all the material is easy reading. In fact, much of it could be considered boring. Still, this book I read, while it might be considered boring, shows that Arnold was a man who really loved his job. It comes through in the writing, which is concise and laden with information. He inspected schools in Prussia, Switzerland, Germany, and France; I cannot imagine what sort of experiences he had that did not come up in this book.
Either he knew several languages or he had a good translator with him. Nothing like this is mentioned, but he comes across as a man who loved his job. Does the job of 'school inspector' still exist? It probably does, but I don't think it's any more glamourous than Arnold's job was. Really, Arnold was just looking at these schools to see how they compared with English schools. I don't know if one can do that any longer. Darn homogenous world!!! Anyway, onto the second book.
I read Kapleau's 'Awakening to Zen' last year and I admit that I felt like I was walking onto uncertain ground. There was something in that book that really unsettled me. I will have to check last year's entries to see what it was that so unsettled me. I returned to it recently and I have to admit; I did not feel at all unsettled this time. Actually, I enjoyed revisiting it.
Maybe I was in a state of turmoil last year and reading this book didn't help me any. I enjoyed coming back to the lectures documented in this book. I won't be returning to it in two years, but it is a good book. For the intermediate traveller, one might say. That's all I can say about it. It's well-travelled ground.
One last note. I'm reading 'Everyday life through the ages'. I like looking through this gem from Reader's Digest every now and again. Chock-full of information. That's all. BYE.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

More misc.

I could blame my absence on Sims 3, or on my ongoing feud with this ridiculous cold. Truth is, I think they're both to blame. That and the fact that I didn't really have anything new to say. Anyway, this is going to be a hodge-podge of stuff. It isn't that I haven't been doing much reading, which is where I get most of my post material from. I also get it from my diary, which has been serving as a rough draft for this blog. Lately my diary's been full of my being sick, and since I've already dedicated two posts to this damned quarrel, I'm not going to bore you with it any further. Meanwhile, some numbers. 12: the number of work days until the end of the school year. I work right up to June 30. I need as much time as possible to clean up my libraries and get as many books back as possible before we all go home for the holidays.
Work, despite my cold, continues to be amazing and wonderful. I'm wondering if I'm going to miss getting up at 6 and driving the 20-30 mins. to be at one or the other of the schools. I'm wondering if I'm going to miss the kids. Well, I'll miss most of them. Then they go up a grade in September. I'll meet a new group of Kindies and the Fifth Grade goes on to middle school. They'll get to see my predecessor at that middle school, so everybody'll be happy. I know I'll miss many of those Fifth Graders. Especially the ones who brought back their books or renewed their books without fail. I believe I've already discussed the kids who don't (or can't) bring their overdues back in a previous post, so that's all I'm going to say about that.
Actually, I thought about doing my post on obsolete projector lightbulbs. Total snore, you might say. Well, I came across a treasure trove of bulbs that probably still work, even though they haven't seen the light of day in a long while. Curiosity taking over, I did some research on projector lightbulbs and found a pretty informative site. For anyone with a similar social life as mine or they just really want to know, this is the place to find lightbulbs. Maybe next post I'll put some pictures up as evidence of this bulbs. There, I got in a note about projector lightbulbs.
I finished reading 'The book of Druidry', but I haven't seemed to get anything out of it apart from approving of the book. I have also started reading another Matthew Arnold compilation. Man, something must be wrong with me! Okay, I know this hasn't been very cohesive, but as I've said, I haven't done as much deep thinking into one particular topic. Well, there's the Sims, but I doubt anyone wants to hear about that. BYE.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sickbed diaries

I've kept a pretty regular diary on the progression of my duel with the common cold. Most of my entries were written in the dead of night, which is when most of my ensuing frustration occured. Anyone who has followed this blog knows that frustation is one of my big flaws. I admit frankly that I succumb easily to it. Meanwhile, my adventures in being sick started on the 22nd when I came home early from work. I've already mentioned that part of the adventure in a previous post, so I'll just pick up from where I left off, as most of the excitement started then. Not that coughing and moaning about being sick can be considered very exciting, but my social life is extremely limited and I take my excitement where I can.
For starters, things started off as an 18-hour flu and then changed into a cold. The battlefield, for the most part, has been in my throat, and the battle between the urge to cough up and the urge to swallow has been severe. This ongoing debate between these automatic reflexes has been the main topic of a couple of my journal entries. These two forces are inevitably going to work at cross-purposes where a cold is concerned. Crap comes up and then gets swallowed back down. Ugh. This has also been the source of much of my frustration, especially when it happened at night when I was trying to sleep.
Suspecting I was running out of sick time, I went to work for three days straight. Maybe not the best route to take, considering every teacher I ran into said I should be at home. It was the relentless coughing that tipped them off, I imagine. I mentioned in my last post about my Dad and how helpless he was feeling, but then Mom and my sister came home from Florida. Well, my throat was still too sore for me to eat much or talk, so she got it firmly in mind that I should be on some sort of prescribed meds. Then came the night of the 28th, when I tried 'Buckley's Mixture' and spent one of the worst nights I've spent in a very long time. It's like drinking 'Vick's Vapo-Rub', and then gagging everything but the kitchen sink out.
By the end of it, my throat and tongue hurt abominably and I was awash in despair. I had only gotten a couple of seconds' worth of sleep as well. Anyway, the next morning I went back to the walk-in and another doctor looked at me. Throat infection and developing chest infection. Time for some good, solid amoxicillin! That and stuff to clear up my infected sinuses (yeah, they're infected too). To make a long story short, it's better to get a second opinion. Sleep is still more elusive than I would like, but I am sleeping better, coughing less, and my throat is much improved. I think I've written enough about my disgusting forays into being sick for now. I may return to this topic a third time next week. Depends on how the amoxicillin is working. BYE.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Let me tell you a little bit about my weekend. It started with me asking my boss if I could go home early on Friday because I was feeling queasy, achy, a little warm, and generally without any appetite or interest for anything. I got home, put on my pj's, and went right to bed. That didn't last long, and I was soon wandering to the couch. I spent most of the weekend in my pj's and either on the couch or in my bed. The only activity I took any pleasure in this weekend was reading... that and staring at the TV or into space. I wandered from room to room when I wasn't sitting on my duff. All told, it was a very boring weekend. I had no interest in gaming, which is something I do occasionally, and I think my Dad was a little bit concerned with my lack of interest. It must be hard on a parent to helplessly watch their child suffer. I mean, there wasn't really anything he could do for me that I couldn't do myself.
I did manage to get quite a bit of reading done though. That and watching flash cartoons. Where was the Internet when I was a kid? I think I watched more flash cartoons than stuff on TV this weekend. Not a good sign, eh? Meanwhile, back to the reading. I started and finished reading Sandow Birk's fantastic interpretation of Dante's legendary 'Inferno'. Definitely a book I'm going to revisit in a year's time. I'm pretty sure I praised Birk's take on 'Purgatorio' in an earlier post, so I've already said everything I could say about the writing. The illustrations were just incredible. I like the map of Hell that comes up close to the beginning. I got to wondering if I'm a heretic, for my thoughts usually don't fall in line with Christian thinking. I suspect that I may end up in Limbo, for though I'm not completely bad, I'm not completely Christian (not anymore), so I'm one of them 'Good Pagans'. Good, but still doomed.
I guess it's all a matter of perspective. Meanwhile, I went to the walk-in this morning and it looks like I'm doing everything correctly. No need for meds. Whoo-hoo! What I have is viral and will go away on its own and has nothing to do with bronchitis or pneumonia. Double whoo-hoo! My throat doesn't hurt as much as it did yesterday, and my appetite has been more or less completely restored! Still, I'm sick so I should continue to avoid gaming. I might as well get some more reading done. BYE.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Introspective and inquiring

I paint a frustrating picture of myself whenever I look within to examine my flaws. I've been reading 'The teachings of Kirpal Singh' and this Sikh mystic has been reinforcing just about everything I've read about where self-introspection is concerned. Doubting, fearing, easily irritated, and just plain unmindful of other people's feelings. This negative picture pleases my oppressive superego to no end, but Singh suggests that transcending this whole mess is possible. He passed away in 1974, so he was no stranger to the 20th Century, and still he had faith in humanity. Kudos to you, sir! Perhaps it's the cynic in me, but there are not many people who would willingly confront their demons and work as hard as he would like them to work. Then again, he reiterates that to make any progress, one cannot go it alone. This is a universal point of view. One needs to find a teacher or guru and seek his/her help to completely transcend all these illusions.
This is the part I'm presently working through, and where my doubts do battle with my hopes and my common sense. It would be nice to just take a little walk and find a guru or a teacher who would be willing to guide me all the way through. I feel I've reached some sort of crossroads and cannot go much farther alone. However, while I would like very much for there to be some sort of teacher nearby, my doubts assure me that such a teacher would not have the wisdom nor skills (read: certification or pedigree) to help me. A teacher/mystic like Singh would be wonderful to have nearby, but not very probable. The ones with the right skills (again, read: certification) doubtless live in China, Japan, India, or California, and all those places are currently beyond my reach.
Feels like a Catch-22, doesn't it? On the surface of it, I don't want to be lead astray, but at the same time, I don't want my trust betrayed. That's at the base of it. Whom to trust? Trust issues. That's something I have to keep working on. If I can transcend my doubts and place my trust in a teacher in the hopes that he/she can and will help me go beyond, I'd be pulling off a minor miracle. The cynic in me warns against such an action. Anyway, that's what's going on inside my head right now. Meanwhile, 'The teachings of Kirpal Singh' is a very insightful book. I'll return to it in a year's time, I figure. BYE.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Irrational force

I've been reading 'Way of the Bodhisattva' and came to a chapter called 'Patience'. I know I need to welcome this concept into my life more, and yet it's so easy to get frustrated and irritated by people each and every day. From the driver who cuts me off in traffic to an innocent request by someone to get off my duff and help with chores, people irritate me so easily. Shantideva, the author of this incredible book, warns against succumbing to the emotion of anger. My shortcomings and this book got me thinking about anger in general. It's the baddest bad boy around, branded as bad by both Buddhism and Christianity. There's a place in Purgatory for people who succumbed to this Deadly Sin, while anger is one of the passions warned against in most Buddhist schools of thought. And those are the ones I know about!
So, here's a brief look at anger and its neighbours irritation and frustration (my folly). Turned inward, anger becomes depression, which is good for nothing, or frustration (my personal imp). Meanwhile, depression can get very grim if not dealt with. Most folks take meds to keep their depression under control, but wouldn't turning their anger outward help just a little? Get it out of the soul where it's doing so much damage and into a place where it can be addressed? I cannot say that I am an expert on depression, but I am trying to understand anger and frustration. These barriers help nobody. Small wonder belief systems lay so much blame on anger.
Not that anger is always a bad thing. Anger can give rise to change. Ra McGuire of Trooper said it best in 'Raise a little Hell'. Anger over injustice, voiced at the right time, can change laws, open minds and hearts, and make the world better for those to come. As long as anger is focused properly and burns to calmer embers, it can be used wisely. Unfortunately, it's the wars, the road rage, the countless acts of violence we hear about. Anger turned barrier, turned inward, turned into something unbearably ugly. Anger spawned by pain can lead to revenge, and that rarely keeps anyone happy for long. For people easily frustrated, driving behind someone going a little slow is intolerably. Like a bug bite from Hell, the irritation flames into anger and the ugly phenomena of road rage litters the road with fender-benders, lawsuits, and twisted metal.
Small wonder anger has gotten such a bad reputation! It would be indeed better to transcend this monster, right? I'll think about it and get back to you. BYE.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The neighbours

40 days to go until the school year ends. One group of kids will move on to middle school and another group will start Kindergarten. Everyone else will move up a grade and the teachers will have new variations on the theme. I've been looking back into my own childhood and making comparisons between my experiences there and what I'm experiencing as an adult. Some of the experiences have been cyclical - a little charismatic pain-in-the-neck reminding me of another charismatic pain-in-the-neck I used to go to school with - and some have given me cause for deep reflection. One of the schools I work at has a group of children with special needs, and the library is right next door to 'life skills', so I can hear just about everything that goes on with the neighbours. I've mentioned in a previous post the struggles the EA's go through to teach these children. EA's aren't paid enough, by the way.
Where were these children when I went to school? Also, where were the emotionally troubled children when I went to school? These are the ones with ADD/ADHD, FASD, anger and other emotional issues, and so on. The ones who are certainly not as visible but are in as much need of support as those who are visible. Where were these children when I was growing up? I would be an idiot to suggest that these problems just didn't exist when I was growing up. They just weren't as visible in my day. There was a Resource room at the school I went to, but I was never in there much. There was a need for this place, but those with visible and invisible disabilities never come up from my memory. They certainly weren't part of the general populace in my day. They were completely hidden/segregated from the rest of the world.
Sad, but unfortunately, there just was not enough focus on these children for government to want to provide supports for these children and their families. Now there's an EA for every class so the EA can provide the one-on-one support that is needed. The child with previously 'unseen' disabilities and issues receives funding, which results in support and the child surviving K-5 with happier memories than the children from a generation ago. I'm not going to go any deeper with this topic until I've given it more thought. Believe me, I could go on, but I've already waded far enough and could be in over my head. Until later, BYE.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Stability and transience

I was going to blather about Ludlum today, but there's something that's been churning around in my brain this week, and I don't think I've spoken about it before on here. I think it's time I did so. Call it my two cents trying to become a nickel. Anyway, one of the schools I work at is in a lower-income neighbourhood, and for some of the students, it is becoming less of a school than it is a hotel, while the teachers are being forced to become babysitters. The students aren't there long enough to learn anything substantial, as their parents shuttle and shuffle them from house to house. Some of these families are just barely earning enough to make it through the day, let alone the month, and I know that they don't have the time nor the energy to waste worrying about a missing library book or two. These are not the ones I'm aiming my writing finger at. They are trying their best.
There are also parents with 'issues' (let us call them) who care little what their kids are doing or whether or not they're getting the necessities of life. These are the ones who are responsible for all the angry, resigned mutters that echo through staff rooms all throughout each and every school division in the world as we know it. Parents that could (and SHOULD) be thinking about their children but care only about themselves and their 'quick fix' (let us call it). And these are children who want to learn, who want to come to school and want to improve their reading, writing, and math skills. I'm not a teacher, but I can hear the mutters as clearly as anyone, and it frustrates me as much as it frustrates anyone.
As I've said, I'm not aiming my cannon at all parents. There are those who genuinely care about their children and about their necessities. They are the ones who come to events and beam with pride at seeing what their son or daughter is doing or has learned. These are the ones who go a long way in establishing some sort of stability for these children, and they must be commended for it. Now, I don't have a lot of space left, and I want to come to the Semi-Buddhist part of my post. Without some sort of grounding in this life, these children are going to wander in confusion and misery until they go to the next life, which might be even worse. One needs to attain stability to feel secure, strong, and open-minded in this or any life. Attain stability before you may understand transience. These children are going to pass on before it is their time and life won't be any better the next time around.
I'm not presenting any answers here. This is just spleen-venting from a frustrated library tech. who has seen things a little clearer. Not that I was wandering around blindly before. Anyway, that's all. BYE.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Deep thoughts about Sandow Birk's 'Purgatorio'. I didn't start with 'Inferno', but if it's anything like 'Purgatorio', I am going to be blown away a second time (and then, hopefully, a third time by 'Paradiso'). The translation to 20th Century English really clarifies the story for me, and livens up the characters. Birk took Dante's already awesome saga and has combined it with his own incredible talent. Eye-opening and breathtakingly inspiring. My knowledge of Purgatory has been poorly limited for some time, and I needed to read this book, if only to increase my knowledge. I like that there's a place like Purgatory. It's not permanent, like Hell or Heaven. It's a place where certain souls go to be purified before they reach Heaven. A chance to expiate bad karma before a final push to Heaven, so to speak.'
I used to feel that Purgatory was just invented to placate those who weren't killers, rapists, or criminals in general, but weren't saints either. Regular folks who've lost their way from time to time. The 'mountain' concept visualized by Dante is refreshingly appropriate. The mountain's summit is Eden, which also makes sense. That's where Humanity got started (according to the Book of Genesis), after all. I need to examine these concepts in deeper detail, but this book makes for a very good start. The matter of the Seven Deadly Sins is also looked at. I made some connections very quickly between the book and my own spiritual journey, and the speed at which I made these connections was scary.
Dante suggests (and Birk seems to agree) that everything is motivated by Love. Even the 7 were born of Love. Love badly manipulated, but Love all the same. I have come to understand that my Deadly Sin is Sloth. This I admit whole-heartedly, too. Sloth, according to Dante, is Love without Zeal. I agreed with this so fast it scared me. I've made more than a few notes in my journal about being without zeal. It's good not to be over-zealous, but there should be some passion in one's life, shouldn't there? In 'Purgatorio', the slothful in life run around their level of Purgatory, screaming out passionately about having zeal for God and crying out their sin to everyone who will listen. All activity, which is the direct opposite of indolence. This just makes sense.
There are other connections I made between this amazing book and my own life, but there isn't enough room here to share them. All I can say is that this book is really worth reading (not just once, but several times - I plan to read it several times). Also, read it while examining your own spiritual journey. I think you may make some connections. Anyway, that's my bit for today. BYE.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Picture test #1

Trying something...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

On the Literary Front #4

I've attended a few funerals in my life, but they've all been of family members, and my family's fairly close-knit and there are no animosities that I know of that would have the power to break the surface tension of solemnity and proper decorum. That's why a scene I'm working on today, which is a funeral scene starring an estranged family with lots of secrets and feuds, is not the easiest thing to see in my mind's eye, let alone portray. Sure, I've seen such scenes recreated in books and on the tube, but having some sort of physical and personal reference would make the scene all the more real. Not that I'm asking my family to start feuding for something as insigificant as my projects. I'll make do with what I have.
It's Easter Sunday and the story's going to get told again. Another reason why I don't go to church. Enough digression. I decided to write about my projects, and so I am. I have two (thankfully, only two!) projects going these days, and when I need a break from reading, I either pick up the clipboard or turn to my laptop. Technically, I've got three projects going. Two series, three projects, if you get my drift. I love working on my novel projects. It's something to keep my brain busy, and results in some really neat diary entries when I'm contemplating and brainstorming. I know I don't do enough of these posts, but Real Life keeps intruding and I need to share what Real Life's thrown at me.
Anyway, I'm working on one series centering around that estranged family I mentioned. They're based in Manitoba and are dealing with old secrets and other things. I'm currently typing out a second draft of the first book in the series and writing out the second book. I can't say if this series is going to stretch into a third book. It's my attempt at purely straight fiction. I've done Fantasy and even some Mystery. I figured it was time to try fiction, but it feels like some sort of soap opera at times. All the dramatic interplay between family members. Oh well. I'm going to keep plugging away at it until both books are done. Bear in mind; I'm doing this because I want to, and NOT because it might earn me a few bucks. If I could see my name on the bookstore shelf for even a day, I would be inexpressibly happy.
The other series has me going back into the Fantasy realm, and yet keeping somewhat within the boundaries of fiction. My way to explain my beliefs and figure more than a few things out. I'm not going to elaborate because I know someone out there is going to ding me for redundancy and for going over well-trod ground. If I am, so be it. If I'm going a whole new way, so be it. I guess that's about all for the time being. I was going to write about 'Phineas redux', but I found something else to write about. Just know that 'Phineas redux' is a really good book. Currently reading Robert Ludlum. BYE.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

PV, pesos, and peace and quiet

My week in Mexico was pretty awesome. I don't have any pics yet to post, and I probably wouldn't post any pics even if I had some on hand to post. Puerto Vallarta is a lively city that was named after a former governor of the state of Jalisco (as far as I can tell). It boasts a beautiful boardwalk, a flea market the likes of nothing I have ever seen before, and hundreds of thousands of Canadians. The resort my mom and I stayed at was wall-to-wall with Canucks. Only a handful of Americans and three handfuls of Mexicans (from the interior looking for cooler weather on the coast). I'm a little surprised the state of Jalisco has not become a Canadian satellite province. It probably wouldn't hurt its rep any, and it might even raise its rep as a great place for Canadians to go.
10 pesos to 1 USD. That is common knowledge, although there were a few differences depending on where one goes. I found myself very fond of the local OXXO, as it reminded me of the local 7Eleven. They were everywhere! Not big in the way of chocolate though, which leads me to wonder; Mexico is considered the birth place of chocolate. With this in mind, wouldn't Mexico seek to capitalize on this rep by stocking their OXXO's and other stores with chocolate? I came across a few Milky Ways (American version of the Mars bar), which were good. Back to pesos, however... it cost 15 pesos (roughly $1.50) to surf the Net for an hour at the local Internet cafe. It was much cheaper than renting a laptop and connection from the resort. We probably only used between 15-20 minutes of that hour, but that was all right.
Had a couple of high adrenalin moments during my stay in PV. First one came while my mom and I sweated our way through Downtown PV. We had finished looking through the Municipal Flea Market and were looking for a restaurant Mom was fond of. Our walk took us over a lagoon across a footbridge made of wood and wire mesh. What a heart-racer that was! The second event came when I parasailed for the first time ever. $40 USD saw me strapped into a tight harness and hurled up like a kite into the air. The view was stunning and I was incredibly amazed by the feeling of freedom that coursed through me as I floated high over PV. No pics of this amazing event (shrug), but I have several witnesses.
More than once, my mom and I likened the resort to a sort of Fantasy. However, I quickly got to thinking about Reality, and how easy it was for Reality to creep and trickle through the Fantasy. Much like Gautama taking his chariot ride and seeing Reality for the first time. Reality is armed police and soldiers on nearly every street, making sure the tourists aren't harmed. Reality is decay just beyond the resort walls. Reality is Time-Share fiends nipping at your heels. Not something that our resort's staff would've wanted us to see (especially the decaying, cracking walls just outside). Sometimes I wonder if the locals are ever resentful about their economy being steered by so much pasty-white flesh. The vibe never came to me at all, but it still makes me wonder.
I'll probably have more to say about my trip later, but maybe not. BYE.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Thoughts afore Mexico

In other words... what's going through my head in the hours before my mother and I leave for Puerto Vallarta. We're leaving this afternoon to be on the plane this evening, and we'll be there in the wee hours tomorrow. Mom says that all we'll do is sleep on Sunday and then start out fresh on Monday. She's done this every year, so she should know the drill. Anyway, to keep me busy, I'm bringing my diary, a couple of books, and I was seriously thinking of bringing some scribbling. The books might not be enough during the quiet moments (and I intend to have plenty of those!) and my diary might not be enough writing to satisfy me. There's no chance of me bringing my laptop, so all I can do is bring a pad of paper and a few pencils and erasers. I've only got one project that I'm writing the rough of, so this would be all right. Still, I'm wondering if all this will be enough during the quiet moments.
As for the books I'm bringing, there are two. One is a biography of John Milton and the other is 'The Eustace diamonds' by Anthony Trollope. This book is unique among Trollope's works because of one singular character. The first time I read this, I thought this creature an insincere beast of a woman. The second time around, I still find her beastly, but it's Trollope's skill I'm coming to admire. The character is, of course, Lizzie (Lady Eustace). She has little genuine feeling about her, dwells only on money and what it can do for her little family, and really doesn't care what anyone else thinks. She can work herself into an insincere passion that almost seems to move mountains and can be dangerous when spited. I don't like her at all, but I don't think she's supposed to be liked. I doubt Trollope wanted her to be liked. She's neither liked nor respected, but one does have to admire Trollope's skill for creating her.
She still has the diamonds at this point, and I don't remember how the story ends, so I can't really spoil it for anyone. I think she gets away scot-free, but I don't know for sure. She isn't the hero of the story anyway (a villainess if there ever was one). I'm re-reading the Palliser series because 'Phineas redux' astounded me last year, and I believe in going through the other books again just to get to the one I really liked. I'm starting to wonder if I'm going to go through this again next year because of 'The Eustace diamonds'. That's all I have for the time being. I probably won't have anything new for a while because of PV. The Internet services are a little cheaper in Puerto Vallarta, but there's no sense tying up a computer just for the sake of my little blog.
So, until then, BYE.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

He's got very Jewish eyes...

...And he's looking at the Bible with'em! The gent I'm speaking about is John Shelby Spong, a retired Episcopal bishop and wonderfully excellent thinker. For years, this man has been writing about the mess Christianity's gotten itself in and has been suggesting ways it can get itself out of this mess without dying out altogether. I first became acquainted with this man's writings when I read 'Why Christianity must change or die', a book that blew me out of the water. I think it was after I read this book that I chose Agnosticism and stopped going to church. To this day, 'Why Christianity must change or die' remains one of my most favourite books.
Spong has written many other books, and today I'm going to write about 'Liberating the Gospels', which is the book I'm reading currently. In addition to enjoying Spong's writing style, I am blown away by the novel theory he presents by 'looking at the Gospels with Jewish eyes' and thus freeing it from Christian clutches. After all, the Bible (the Old Testament especially) was written by a bunch of Jewish dudes centuries ago and is only the Bible because some wealthy figure put a bunch of books he liked and that fit his concept of Christianity and rushed this hodge-podge to Guttenberg. Given this stance, anybody with money and power could publish a bunch of stuff and call it a Bible. Hey, aren't people doing that now?
Moving on... Spong, inspired by a fellow named Goulder, has come up with a most novel take on the Gospels. If one looks at the four books against the Jewish background in which they were all conceived, one comes to see that the Gospels are not inerrant nor are they the literal truth (DUH!), but that they were created to teach and remind the new generations of Jewish folk on how they should conduct themselves in Judaism. The atmosphere after Jesus was pretty tense, and the Jews and Christians were just starting to go their separate ways. The writers of the Gospels (years after J.C. left the scene) were trying to placate several groups of faithful, and Spong, by placing key N.T. events in line with Torah readings and Jewish holidays shows not only what each Gospel writer was trying to say, but to which group he was addressing.
The skeptic in me is of course warning me not to fall instantly into this theory. I don't have enough of a background in Judaism and Talmudic studies to either accept or reject these concepts, but Spong has once again given me much to think about. I recommend at least having a gander at this book. To reiterate, the book is called 'Liberating the Gospels'. BYE.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

On the Literary Front #3

Wrapped up a day and a bit of Book Fair and spent the weekend recuperating from standing much more than is good for me. My ankle ached relentlessly from all the abuse and I had to wear a Tensor bandage all yesterday. Things are improved now, and I can actually walk without whimpering at every laboured step. This post is more about what I'm reading than what I'm writing, but it counts as literary in my book. I finished reading one version on Homer's 'Iliad' recently and I have a few things to meander through concerning this legended saga and its players. I didn't come across the Trojan Horse while I read, so I have to figure that it will come up elsewhere. Maybe in 'Aeneid', eh? I have a collection of works by Virgil warming up, and the 'Aeneid' is part of this collection. Anyway, I have another version of 'Iliad' waiting in the wings, which I will eventually pull out and read.
It's part of my plan to compare the two versions and see what difference and similarities come up. The first of the two I read was translated by a fellow by the name of Butler. It was set up in a prose format rather than a poetry format, which I found unusual. I enjoyed the story and characters, but it was the writing that I paid attention to. Well-written to say the least. Rich with details I don't recall from past readings, which I figure were added to flesh out the story. This is needed for prose compared to poetry, which does not always need many words to get its point across. This time I also paid closer attention to the characters. During past readings, I could rarely determine which heroes fought for which side. Were Aeneas and Achilles compatriots or something? They fought on opposite sides, to be honest with you. This was something I did not know. Now I'll probably never forget.
What really blew me away was Homer's treatment of the gods and goddesses. They prove to be as flawed as us foolish mortals, and this makes Them even worse than we are, in my considered opinion. Hera rooted for the Greeks, Aphrodite rooted for the Trojans, and Zeus had to play judge between the two warring factions. Reminds me of the gladiator games, where the wealthy figures had their favourites and bet big money on them. The gods and goddess of Olympus were just big shots playing with thousands of lives, which makes Them far worse than those wealthy figures of later years. Like pieces on a vast chessboard; or, to use a 20th century comparison, like warriors in a video game, battling for dominance in a pixellated universe. No wonder companies make video games, mining the myths and sagas for inspiration.
I'll be back before long, and maybe with more myths to discuss. BYE.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Meander much?

Contemplating my stuffed belly from brunch and looking forward to supper with Grandpa this evening. I'm going to be 29 on Thursday, which is nothing to sneeze at. Grandpa is going to be 89 this June, and I'm grateful for every second I share with him. Turning 20 was a hard run for me, but I have few qualms about being so close to 30. I suspect everyone has an age they dread. Most people it's 30 or 40, and I suspect some people dread turning 50 as well. For me, it was 20, but 30 has no fears for me. Maybe it's just how I was raised - my dad doesn't have an age he dreads. It's a good way to live, I think. Anyway, I'm going to be 29 and I really don't have any idea what I want for my birthday. The family on my mom's side (Grandpa is on my dad's side) passed along envelopes with mushy greetings and cheques or gift cards today. All but the gift card will end up in the bank.
If I had more nerve, I would suggest donating that money to WorldVision or to Siloam Mission (the homeless need a whole lot more than I do). I guess I would have to be the one to make the effort, and then the rest might join in. Our family got a Wii, and that's where much of my free time has gone lately. That and reading. After a ton of effort, I finally worked my way through a very dull and dry tome called 'Dante, poet of the desert' by Guiseppe Mazzotta. I don't expect to want to read that book again. Not a most exciting experience, and whole chunks of it were either in Latin or Italian. My French and Spanish barely helped me at all with the Italian. Very little discussed in this book sparked my imagination any. Mazzotta's exploration of the Aeneid and the Illiad (based on Dante's character meeting the fallen heroes in those sagas) seemed to go off on a tangent at times.
His discussion on the suicides in Purgatory got me thinking, and Cato's rationale for ending his life did spark some interest. I think I should look into this figure more. Then again, I know I haven't read 'Divine Comedy' in a VERY long time, and I'm definitely overdue to read it. Especially the 'Purgatorio' segment of the saga. Purgatory is a source of boundless wonder and curiosity. Is it strictly a Christian invention to placate people who are neither Hell nor Heaven-bound? A Christian version of Limbo? These make for questions that I think are worth answering. By the time I pop back in for another round of gibbering, my birthday will be over. Maybe I'll have some deep thoughts for you then. BYE.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Thoughts on 'Phineas Finn'

To be honest, the first time I read 'Phineas Finn' I wasn't totally overwhelmed by the experience. I preferred 'Phineas redux' (for reasons I have forgotten but will recall in the weeks to come) the first time I read it. However, I had the chance to take 'Phineas' up again and read it from cover to cover. Last time, the ton's worth of British politics turned me right off. It can't be helped, considering Finn's choice of career. Sometimes I wonder if some politicians consider politics a dalliance/waste of money. It certainly seemed like that in Victorian times. Those M.P.'s certainly weren't earning a whole lot of money. A shame they earn money sitting on their duffs these days, wasting everyone else's money. Okay, I take such a grim view of politics that it will be better to just get back to talking about the book.
'Phineas Finn' is a rather well rendered look at life for the upperclass Victorian. That's all Trollope seems to look at when casting his eye around him. It's why I sometimes prefer Dickens, although I confess that I haven't read Dickens for a long while. 'Phineas Finn' is the second book in the Palliser series, and I like the personal plot (I don't think you can really call it a sub-plot, as the title character has his professional life and his personal life, and the pair rarely mix) much more than the professional one. Finn's got his eye on a few ladies (3, but who's counting?) and chooses the Irish lass over the heavily monied widow after being turned down by two upperclass society ladies. Actually, one turns him down and then manoeuvers him away from the other, for reasons that probably wouldn't wash these days, although they make sense for the time.
Lady Laura is the more complex character (between her and Phineas, I mean). She turns him down because of money and steers him away from a wealthy young woman so this lass will go to her brother. Her brother's a jerk, by the way, and not really deserving of such compassion (he ain't heavy, at least he's not MY brother). I don't think Trollope wanted to punish her for dumping Finn, but making her marry Kennedy (the book's cold fish) would surely punish me should I be made to undergo that fate. Can you tell I don't want to get married, ever? Finn doesn't like Kennedy, but he does manage to save his life. Not something I would've done, but again, that's my take on the matter.
These are some of the thoughts I've had about this book. Well-written and worth a look, but don't look too long over the political parts. It'll put you to sleep. BYE.