Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Warm feelings

I was acutely aware of Xmas much more this year, and I didn't even put up a tree or string any lights! The only way you can tell it was Xmas in my apartment is the number of gift cards on my table and the gifts I have yet to put away. I've become lazier somehow (I blame it on being unfamiliar with so much free time), but life calls and I have a sink that need tackling! I also have books that need tackling (Bronte Sisters Super-Book!). On the leisure front, I'm getting further in 'Dragon Age: Origins' (better than Oblivion - I CAN CHEAT!) and I've rediscovered 'Dragon Ball Z'. Anymore dragon stuff and I'll start dreaming of the creatures! I've got a copy of 'Flight of Dragons', so maybe this is a sign. I'm feeling warm fuzzies (either from Xmas or from the fact that I've got an apartment - over a year old - powerful fuzzies!) and am looking forward to 2011. I haven't made any resolutions - no sense doing that if I have no intention of keeping them.
On the literary front, I'm toiling away at 'Villette' (which I'm finding to be rough going) and have started reading a thick little book called 'Zen pioneer'. It's a life of Ruth Fuller Sasaki, who's claim to fame is that she helped bring Zen into the West. She among many names who have been lost over time. Apparently she was Alan Watts' mother-in-law. I'm not too familiar with Watts, but for some reason, I think he's a little controversial. I could be wrong. Meanwhile, the weather is very nice out today and I have no plans to go out this afternoon. Tomorrow I'm back with the xtended rels for a belated Boxing Day. Meh.
Time for me to close this up. The next time I post it will be 2011. BYE.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Countin' it down!

Although my space is not decorated a la Xmas, I'm more aware of Xmas' approach this year than in previous years. Maybe it's just because I'm looking forward to the 2 weeks off from the loonies on the road, the nuts at work, and from my alarm clock-radio. This should be a pretty stressless time, considering I don't cook or prepare anything (beyond wrapping gifts) and I don't have people over to my little hovel. The weather has been just wonderful of late (apart from that cold snap from last week) and as long as the snow stays on the ground until the end of December, things will continue to be great. My last day at work is this Wednesday coming up, so definitely I'm counting the days down.
I just finished reading a grotesque little book about everyday life England during the 1600's and 1700'. I'm not deriding this book, either - life in England was pretty nasty and uncomfortable in those days, and the author of 'Hubbub' eagerly discusses all parts of this grubby time. If you have a weak stomach, steer clear of the chapter called 'Mouldy'. You will not regret heeding this advice. Ignore this advice and read this chapter, and you may never want to eat again. Just kidding, but you have been warned. Those who like the works of William Hogarth are in for a good time, as his more famous pieces come up in this book (hey, who better to show the scummy underbelly of English society?) - Step right up for 'The Rake's progress', 'The Harlot's progress', and of course, the pathetic pillars of society as seen in 'Gin Lane'.
Now I've moved on to the life of Sam Pepys (again!). He was no stranger to the underbelly of society. It made sense to read more about him after finishing up with 'Hubbub'. That's about all. BYE.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Listening to James Blunt tonight. Reminds me of songs that matter a lot in my life. Starting with Xmas carols, since the season's right for it. My favourite non-traditional Xmas carol is John Lennon's 'Happy Xmas (War is over)'. I was writing in my first serious diary when I heard that song, and since then, whenever I hear it, I think back to Xmas 1992, when I received the Muse fully into my life and began my life as its slave. (For the record, my favourite traditional Xmas carol is 'O Holy Night' - can't just sing it, you have to belt it out to get it right) The next song that speaks of memory is a James Blunt song. His song 'High' reminds me of a time in my Red River days, when I crossed paths with a former classmate from the University of Winnipeg. We chatted briefly and then went our separate ways. What struck me most was that he remembered me and was able to call me by name. That sent my self-esteem a mile high. Around the same time, I met up with a classmate from my school days and he too called me by name. Again, my self-esteem rose to new heights. Just like that line "Sometimes it's hard to believe you remember me." Since then, I dedicate every playing of this song to those two. God keep you safe and on your paths through life, guys.
R.E.M. also figures in this recollection. 'Aftermath' always reminds me of a particularly tempestuous time in my 20s. Just those times when I just had to sit down and cry because things were happening that I was powerless to make better. 'Scared' by the Hip also figures in this, for it reminds me of a friend from those tempestuous times. I listen to these two songs with a fond smile on my face now. And then there are those songs that remind me of summer. Summer days in my childhood were always spent at the lake, so when I hear these songs, I smile all the way back to summertime in the 80s and 90s. Sigh....
There are other songs but it's too soon to speak of them and the events connected with them. I'll save them for my diary and chew on them a while. It has been said that everyone has a soundtrack to their lives. These songs must form part of my own soundtrack. Amen. Okay. Time to listen to some Rush. Rock on!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

not a lot to say

The weather has been cold enough to convince me I need to plug my car in. Trying to work through a bunch of Bronte books. Finished up 'Jane Eyre' (why do I keep forgetting that it ends happily for Jane and her Rochester?) and am spending time in the town of Villette with Lucy Snowe and everyone else she encounters. Trying to finish up with New Order this evening and will follow up with Enigma. Lately I have not had a lot to say; neither have I maintained much of an online presence beyond lurking. Something to make me seem even more ephemeral than usual. Reminds me of the R.E.M. song 'Disappear'. Been thinking about impermanence more than usual as well. Was there ever a time when I thought I was invulnerable? Nothing like it has come up during searches through past diaries. I keep running through 'what if' scenarios these days. "What if I drop dead while at work?" I guess the corpse I'll leave behind won't care much what happens once the essence moves on, and I doubt the essence won't care once it moves on, either. So why should I care all that much now?
For someone constantly beset with raging anxieties, this is a pretty interesting statement. Speaking of diaries, I'm revisiting my Red Book (RRC years). Tons of turmoil and new discoveries to be found in those pages. Awakenings and epiphanies, one might say. It's too soon for me to save the Red Book to computer file. That's about all I have for the time being. BYE.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Long absence and

I've been pretty busy with literary stuff and tons of reading. This week my Internet connection gave me nothing but grief, so I wasn't really able to post much on here. I think I need a new modem or this one tweaked. Did some laundry this morning. Thursday I filled the last page of the 11th incarnation of my diary and today I'll probably get started on the 12th incarnation today. I also finished typing out Diary #5 this week, which got me thinking about my past (what else is new?). There's been lots of snow lately as well, so I have no reason to complain. I'd love to have more to say, but there's nothing really fascinating happening with me these days. Work's great and I've been very busy with InterLibrary Loans (novel studies and lit. circles rock!). I'm also helping students prepare for the upcoming Spelling Bee at my school. Very good stuff.
Now for a glimpse into the past.

November 26, 2000 afternoon
“Seek the truth come whence it may, cost what it will.” I just finished reading this fantastic book “Why Christianity Must Change or Die” by John Shelby Spong. ***** without a doubt. This book has spoken to me, dear diary. It contains the tiny seeds that will create a ‘religion’ of the future. A church for future generations. This is quite a seed that must be planted. Thanks be to God that Spong came to us. One more quote from Spong. “Religion is, rather, a human attempt to process the God experience, which breaks forth from our own depths and wells up constantly within us.” This was quite the book. If I could connect with the Pope and his cardinals, I would tell them about this book. I believe nearly everything about it, dear diary. Souls like Spong will live for all time in the hearts of the exiled. He and others like him awake people like me and leave us enriched. Five stars without a doubt! An incredible book! Now, onto a book about the Shah of Iran (well, the late former Shah, at any rate). I’ll return to the “The Soul’s Code” too. But there are things I need to do first. SYS!

"Why Christianity Must Change or Die" remains one of my favourite books of all time. So, that's about it. Xmas in less than a month. AUGH. BYE.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Wanted: SNOW

Pardon the gripe, but without snow on the ground, I cannot get into the Xmas spirit and cannot start shopping or making my Xmas list. The sky taunted me the other day with a little bit of snow that quickly melted to naught. Now it's pleasantly grey outside but still no snow to make me smile. I understand that I'm part of a very small minority and I'm damn proud of myself for that. Meanwhile, I haven't done much with this blog for a while. For that I apologize, although nobody really has anything to say about my blog. I'll start with my obedience to the written word, and talk about 'Dialectics of Isolation' by Terdiman (the name makes me chuckle for purely childish reasons). This book is not really anything to write home about, but it did create a craving for works by Proust, Flaubert, and some guy named Stendhal. 'Dialectics of Isolation' is a study on the French novel before, during, and after the Revolution. I've read 'Madame Bovary' and I did come away with a few thoughts concerning the cruelty of love but not much else. Maybe it's time I picked it up again.
As for Proust, his 'Remembrance of things past' is a complete classic that I have yet to read. I think it's time to get reading. And I know less than nothing about that dude Stendhal, but Terdiman (snicker) champions him as one of the writers of depressing material from that period in French history. What would the emo kids think of such fellows? Of course, this adventure will have to wait until I've gotten through the likes of "England's lost Eden" by P. Hoare. Utopia seems a pleasant place, doesn't it? I don't think I'd be content with it for long, though. At least some folks are still looking for it, and in the dark reaches of New Forest, some folks thought they had found it. That's what "England's lost Eden" is about.
My transcribing Diary #5 to file is almost done. About a month's worth of entries to go. I'm pretty pleased with the progress I've made, and once I have finished with it, I can focus on other literary projects. Of course, once I get started, some things will have to fall by the wayside. Part of me wonders if I can ignore the call of "Diablo 2" for a long while. "Sims 3" is causing me some grief (par for the course) so ignoring that call will be easier (I think). Okay, that's about all. BYE.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

15 years ago... #1

October 16, 1995 — evening

I’ve been thinking. Mainly, the many emotions I have within me. I adore many things. Music that touches my heart, for one. One of my favorite artists is Elton John. Born in England, this singer is wonderful. I read his bio a while back. There are a few singers in this world that have a certain sort of power. I adore this power. It is the power to captivate me, to ensorcel me in the power of the song. These singers are Elton John, Meat Loaf, Jann Arden, Carly Simon, Seal, Jennifer Warnes, Celine Dion, Julie Masse, Mae Moore, and finally, Annie Lennox. There are also different groups, and here they are, Crash Test Dummies, The Proclaimers, Bare Naked Ladies, Air Supply, Pet Shop Boys, and last but not least, Supertramp. These singers and groups all fill me with a power I’ve never felt before. Many may think my choices are weird. That I should like what others like. Personally, I think Green Day sucks like crazy! Classical music is cool too. That power is so strong when I listen to the stirring music of classics like Bach and many others. New Age, Instrumental, and Jazz, however, these fill me with the power! Whenever I head New Age, I feel at peace and I feel in touch with the higher powers. How very awesome! Enough with music. My first love has always been reading. Even when I was 2, my parents would take me to the mall, where I would read the many signs there.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Studies on insanity

Since I finished reading 'Visits to Bedlam', I've done some further investigation into insanity, and I came across 'George III and the mad-business' by Ida Macalpine and Richard Hunter. The knowledge that George III was insane has been floating around for some time, but I recently learned that he might've suffered from Porphyria, which might've been the cause of his episodes. However, this book is not just an account of George's struggles with his illness - it is also a very interesting window on the world of medicine and treatment of illnesses during the 1700's. Already I have learned that most doctors, especially the wealthy and well-connected ones, considered mental illness beneath their image to treat. Of course, the microscope had yet to be invented, so doctors knew next to nothing about the deeper workings of the human body and less than that about the human brain.
So far, there are two well-respected doctors quarrelling over George III like dogs scrambling over a juicy bone. And the politicos are, naturally, getting involved. Maybe it's just my nowadays sensibilities, but George III is not getting a whole lot of help from these types. Especially since there is no way they can understand what has caused his episodes. Anyway, that's what I'm reading about these days. BYE.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

10 years ago... #1

October 13, 2000 evening

Breezy, but not too bad. I have not written in three days, so I felt like tonight was as good a time as any. This might not be a long entry, but maybe it should be a long one. I am listening to Adiemus as I write, hoping for calm. It’s Friday the 13th, and the moon is full. Strange times ahead? It started reading two books that should really impress me. Well, one is for a course, and it looks a little dry and sounds too simple to be true. The other book is an alternate view of space. This latter book really sounds impressive. Apparently, the earth as we know it is doomed. We can’t change it, so we are running out of time. We only have a few billion years left. Does that really sound that disastrous? Not really, but I still have a lot to read. More to come. SYS!

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Since my last post, I've gotten a lot of reading done, some gaming done, and I've joined another online community. I just finished reading Hardy's "The Woodlanders". I didn't really like it, but I wanted a happier ending for the main character, and that wasn't in the cards. With that, I'm going to take a break from Hardy for a little while. I think I just have "Far from the Madding crowd" to read and then I'm completely done with Hardy. For some strange reason, I kept expecting a fox-hunting scene to pop up. This is Hardy, not Trollope, so nothing of the sort happened. Makes me wonder if I'm missing reading about the likes of Phineas and the Palliser clan. The constant focus on the hunt ticked me off something fierce, as I recall. Maybe I just need to curl up with a couple of Dickens' tomes. "A tale of two cities" or "Barnaby Rudge", maybe. No fox-hunting and while those books don't really end happily, I do finish them in a more pleasant mood.
Work continues to be a good ride. I joined the budget committee to see how work projects get determined and where the money goes. The library is actually a higher priority than I expected (with a leaky roof, it would have to be a pretty high priority). I couldn't stay for the entire meeting, since I had to open the library to the students, but it was a neat experience. Cannot say I am not getting involved and being proactive. Now, if only those damn books would come in so I can start the book club! A couple of parents were interested in organizing a book fair. I've not had the best of experiences with book fairs, but that probably has more to do with the fact that I was pretty much on my own when it came to running them. The parent volunteers were NOT forthcoming, sad to say. I sent an e-mail to the interested parents but have not heard back. Maybe that's as far as it will go. Ca me fait egal, really.
Back on the reading front, I'm going to start "The stories we live by" for the 2nd or 3rd time. I want to see if I've changed my opinion on the concept since I last read it. I'm pretty set in my ways by now, so probably I haven't. That's about all. BYE.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A few words

I've been feeling pretty inward lately. Maybe I need to get rid of my Twitter account and a couple of other online deals. I'm never there, so why have them? I'll keep this blog, though. Not that anyone's really watching. Okay, self-pity moment is over. So is this entry. BYE.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

In a Nutshell

If anyone's lurking out there and actually watching this blog, I apologize for the lengthy pause. I've been working and gaming, but I have spent quite a bit of time typing out my 2001-2002 journal, so I haven't been completely idle. I believe I have said this before, but laminators are no fun when they mess up. My school's laminator went totally doo-lally the other day, which caused me no end of stress. That plastic is damn expensive, as I was (needlessly) reminded of the day that tempestuous beast went cuckoo. Not a lot of fun was had by me. Anyway, the beast seems to be doing all right, provided I keep an extra-close eye on it. On the good side, I've met most of the new kids coming from the early years schools and I met with the EBSCOhost rep for all of Canada. He showed me a few really awesome things that I can use to get the staff interested enough to use EBSCOhost. We have this pretty sweet service - better off using it! Yesterday afternoon we had another meeting to further discuss EBSCO, among other things. Good times.
Meanwhile, I have been gaming and working on past diaries when I'm not at work. Sims 3 fouled up my computer last night, which didn't please me mightily. Diablo II has never given me any grief. I won't take up any space here talking about this very good game, since others have taken up enough space already, and have said things better than I could. I'm also following a "Let's Play..." deal on Youtube for anyone who might be interested in my anti-social life. I like the dude's running commentary (and his voluminous curses when his character gets killed off). Lots of awesome people out there, to be sure.
I have also been reading quite a bit, but it's all been Fantasy of late, so I don't have anything really deep or insightful to share based on my reading. That said, Dave Duncan's 'Man of his word' series is most excellent. Deep and fascinating, with complex characters and a nice plot. I couldn't ask for much more with this series. Kudos, Mr. Duncan! I'll revisit this series in a year's time and see what new thoughts I glean from it. With the last of this series behind me, I'm starting back into Dylan Thomas with "The return of the native". I'm kinda getting into a hodge-podge of different books now, which will make a nice change from the vast tide of Fantasy. Well, would I had more to say, but I don't, so I'm done for now. BYE.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Work and play

Strange as it might seem, September is closing in on its halfway mark. Could the time go any faster? Meanwhile, I've done a lot of reading over the last few days. I started reading Dave Duncan's 'Great Game' series, I finished reading 'Jude the Obscure' (heart-rendingly sad at the end) and I'm reading more Atwood. Her book 'Survival', which is an eye-opener. Is Canada truly a nation of victims? That's what Atwood seems to suggest. Victims of nature, of each other, and of the world beyond our victimized borders. She found a quote that really impressed me, however. "It is meaningless to call anyone a foreigner in this country. We are all foreigners here." (J. Marlyn). R.E.M. paraphrased this quote rather nicely with their line "Everybody here comes from somewhere." Yeah, this probably wasn't what they were talking about at all, but it makes for a good connection. Canada, from its earliest Aborigninal peoples to the newest refugee seeking a safer life, is a nation of immigrants and foreigners. That is a fact. It would be better not to point fingers at each other and say 'Go back to where you came from!' If we all did that, Canada would be empty before long.
On the work front, I visited a really awesome French bookstore in St. Boniface on Saturday. Came back with half a dozen catalogues full of books from Quebec and France. A nice haul. I've already started work on a spreadsheet of books I want to buy from these catalogues. One drawback about getting books from France is that the prices are in euros. The guy suggested that the euro is like the pound (twice the amount in dollars). I just have to send him the list and the prices in euros and he'll tell me what the price is in dollars. All part of a rather busy weekend. Now I'm back to work and the classes are starting to come for library. I'm excited and hoping the books I ordered in June come in soon so I can get them on the shelves. I'm going to order as many French books as possible so I can get weeding and knocking that collection into order. And that's the plan on the work front.
Time I got back to 'Survival'. BYE.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Summer scribbles

Not a whole lot of writing this summer, since the Muse and I aren't getting along that well. More reading, revisiting, and transcribing than anything else. Visiting 2001 and recalling books I read during that time. I have not yet reached September, though it is certainly coming. Journal #5 runs from Feb. 2001 to May 2002, and I'm working on July 2001 right now. I was 21 in 2001 and by then I had formed much of the outlook and beliefs that I have now. Nothing has really disturbed my beliefs to the point that I would want to junk them and seek something else. If anything, I'd suggest that my beliefs lean to a more Easterly direction than they did when I was in my 20s. When I was typing out my entries from my adolescence, my diatribes and outright rages would cause me to shake my head. Now I'm shaking my head again at how ignorant I was about other people when I was 21. I clearly showed, several times so far, that while I wanted freedom and independance (wanted to move out), I did very little to accomplish my goal. Small wonder I did not get anywhere in those days.
On the other hand, when a literary situation called for some research, I worked very hard on that. The project never went anywhere, which makes me wonder how much preparation and planning one should dedicate to a literary project. The matter is moot for now since the Muse and I aren't on pleasant terms. Besides, I've got many books I want to read and I'm back to work now, so any work on literary projects will not take much of the spotlight. Speaking of books, I just finished reading a very good book by Philippe Aries called "The Hour of our Death". A most comprehensive account of the history of death and many things relating to it. I read it back in the day (2001) and again recommend it. You don't have to be extremely morbid to like this book, either. Very graphic in some parts - nay, risque even, but that just adds to it wonderfully. Macabre stuff!
Anyway, I'm starting into "Mayor of Casterbridge" by T. Hardy. Soon I'll get into "Jude the Obscure", which I remember liking. That's all for now. BYE.

Monday, August 30, 2010

James Blunt and Ripley-stuff

Listening to 'Back to Bedlam' puts me in such a reflective mood. 'High' reminds me of two guys (one I knew from university and one I knew from 1st Grade) whom I ran into during my library tech. course days. Just the fact that they remembered me sent my self-esteem soaring and always brings a smile to my face whenever I hear this song now. 'You're Beautiful' reminds me of the path I've chosen and how I have faced the truth that 'I will never be with you' (whoever that might be). 'Wisemen' is a song of triumph. 'Where are you now?' indeed! 'Goodbye my Lover' brings tears to my eyes whenever I hear it. Very poignant and powerful song. Jumping ahead to 'Cry'... a beautiful song of love and friendship. May we all find such a friend on the path through life. Mine's my diary. Okay... I'm listening to 'Goodbye my Lover' right now, so I'm going to pause for some waterworks.... Although nothing brings on the flood like Rush's 'Tai Shan'.
Still working on 'The boy who followed Ripley', by the great Patricia Highsmith. I went to the library today and got some more books. No more Highsmith for a little while. Planning to get into Thomas Hardy. 'Jude the Obscure' rocked my world back in the day, based on previous diary entries. I'm also going to try to get into some Margaret Atwood (glutton for punishment, you might say? Maybe.) very soon. Before I get into those two, I've got a book that really blew me away back in 2001 (again, based on previous diary entries) about death. I'll keep you posted. Well, I guess that's about all on the literary level. I'm back to work, which is pretty good. The books are going to come in like crazy now, and I'll have lots of work in the days to come. Still, I know darn well that I need to buy many more books. I hope to get ordering VERY soon (once most of the books I ordered are in and added to the collection.
Would that I had more to say, but I guess I'm done. BYE.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

48 hrs. to go

Back to work in two days. I guess I'm ready to go back. It'll be good to see the staff and chat a little about the summer with everyone. Then the kids will be back and the whole crazy deal will start anew. It's a good thing. I've got a couple of things I want to accomplish over the course of the year. First off, there's the reading group. I've got to work out a few kinks in that and figure out the course of action that will work, not only for me but for the kids and their schedules. Second, I want to create a list of resources for each subject and put these lists on the school website. I should also hand these lists out to the teachers by e-mail or leave them in their mailboxes. Anything to be helpful. That is my job, after all. So that's a rough game plan for the school year. There will be many other things happening, of course. Should make for another eventful year.
On the reading front, I've started reading Camus' 'The myth of Sisyphus'. All I remember about Sisyphus is that he was doomed to roll a heavy rock up a hill and to have the rock get away from him just as he reached the top of hill. A pretty tedious gig for all eternity, and one that might make one question their own sanity. I guess that's the name of the game in some cases. However, the essay 'The myth of Sisyphus' is a take of suicide. I'm still not sure what the link is between Sisyphus and suicide (unless the dude took his own life - that is possible). Anyone out there with suggestions - please let me know. I've barely begun reading this collection of essays, so maybe I'll make the connection before long. After I have come to the end of Sisyphus and the other essays I'm moving on to more Patricia Highsmith. I trumpeted 'The talented Mr. Ripley' recently, and I have three more books in the series waiting. Fantastic!
From my 'Home books' list I have 'When prophecy fails'. I'm not that fond of prophecy these days, as I have said, so the title caught my eye when I was in Fargo earlier this year. Imagine you were part of a group (call it a cult if you will) which was convinced that the end was coming, and that you would be rescued just before the end came. It's what steered 'Heaven's Gate' to their unfortunate end, for instance. This group had no aims to physically take their lives, however. On the big day (or night), they sat or stood around, waiting for the change to come and to be taken up. Not to spoil it for anyone, but this change never came. What do you do when something you believe in completely doesn't happen? That's the focus of this book. I'm enjoying it very much.
C'est tout. BYE.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Not regretting

I'm actually starting to enjoy not having a project to work on. After close to 20 years of writing this or that novel or other story, I took a serious break this summer and have focused my energies on diary and blog writing, along with gaming and reading. Considering I moved out so I could focus on writing, I have to laugh at the way things have turned out. I am working on a project of sorts. I'm transcribing my older diaries to computer file so when I can no longer read my own handwriting, I'll still be able to read what I've written in years past. This could get me in trouble in years to come, but who's going to read these diaries of a complete nobody? Even Emily Dickinson had more fame in her life, and she was a self-named nobody. I guess I'm not really looking for fame... not that I'd find it if I was looking for it. I do feel a little bad that I'm not working with the characters I have bouncing around in my head, but right now, I'm just not into writing a whole lot. And I'm back to work in a week, so there won't be a whole lot of time to write when I get back to the grind.
Meanwhile, I've done quite a bit of reading. I just finished reading Patricia Highsmith's 'Talented Mr. Ripley'. The mark of a good writer depends on how strongly the reader feels about the characters, plot, or setting, and the character of Tom Ripley is a winner. A chameleon, a mirror, a killer, a shadow - Ripley is all this and more. I've placed holds on more books in the Ripley series, and anticipate the dude either getting caught or succeeding. Part of me wants him to get caught. All depends on what Highsmith has decided to do with him. Kudos! I'm getting back into Waugh-writings with 'Brideshead Benighted' by Auberon Waugh. I thought him a real jerk when I read 'Way of the World' a couple of years ago. That just could be his character - to be a real jerk. I used a different word actually - is git the same a jerk? I could be mistaken.
Anyway, that's about all that's going on in my little world. Back to Waugh I go! BYE.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Poverty vs. Conscience

Daniel Defoe's 'Roxana' surprised me, and that's saying something. It's the first Defoe book I've ever read. I know the story of 'Robinson Crusoe' but have never read it. I plan to read 'Moll Flanders' very soon, but these are moot points. This story of a woman going from grinding poverty to high society caught me and drew me in nicely. Before I address the story itself, there are a couple of structural points I wish to make. The edition (1964) I read was pulled from the original first edition (1724), and I cannot help but wonder if changes were made in future editions. First off, there are no quotations marks and paragraph breaks to denote dialogue. I've found these in Austen, the Bronte's, Dickens... so I was pretty thrown. It's a lot of I said, he/she said stuff. Reminds me of the writing I used to do when I was 8. I know that Defoe's a better writer than I am, so I guess that's how they used to do things back in the 1700's. I guess quotation marks had either not been invented or they weren't important then.
Second structural point: No chapters! The whole thing flows without breaks of any kind. It wasn't until I was at least halfway through the book that I realized there were no chapters, so it's not the end of the world. Just could be a little annoying for folk who say 'Okay, I'm going to stop after chapter...' Apart from these two points, the rest of the structure is just fine. A few spelling differences, but normal for the 1700's. Now to get into the story proper. 'What goes through the mind of a mistress?' Defoe answers the question, more or less, with 'Roxana'. I'm sure there are mistresses nowadays who would share the protagonist's concerns and feelings, although most mistresses aren't connecting with lords, princes and high worthies in general. A successful enough businessman can keep a wife and mistress (or doxy - I love that word!) pretty well.
Roxana's conscience impresses me. I'm a cynic, so when a person (real or fictional) has morals enough to feel guilt so keenly, I'm impressed. I also find myself duelling with my conscience quite a bit, and I don't expect to be anyone's mistress anytime soon. As far as mistresses go, Roxana is quite the lucky one. Trailed by wealth and wealthy patrons from Paris to Rotterdam, to England, to a Quaker enclave, and then left in the lap of reasonable luxury with her second hubby and dealing with a ton of guilt. And what did she do, apart from sleep her way to the top? Her cunning and doting lady-in-waiting did much worse, but I'm focusing on Roxana and not her dear Amy. When faced with poverty and the fear of losing it all, what would you do?
Thought-provoking stuff. That's all. BYE.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A year abroad...

Not really. More like, a year out of the house. August 1 of last year I became the proud renter of this silent little isle I call home. According to my scribbles from last year, on July 21, 2009, news of the approval came in. On July 25, 2009, the packing began. The following are jottings from various entries leading up to the move.

"Looking through history. That's what happens when packing for a move."
"I'm feeling harried. That or stressed. Just feeling harried - pushed by forces I helped bring to life but now have precious little control over. It feels like a bloody whirlwind."
"It's amazing how much is needed (stuff most would consider basic requirement) for one person."
"My God, it's becoming more real. I now have insurance. My possessions have worth in the eyes of others."

My bed went in on August 3, which made the move pretty much set in stone. I had tons of doubts and was questioning myself to no end. More jottings from this time.

"The reality continues to sink in, and there have been a couple of squalls. There is also a sense of wonder and even a sense of pleasure. A sense of knowing I triumphed and have a space that is mine to take care of and enjoy."
"It took a while for me to fall asleep, given that my worries came for another visit."
"I bought a desk and a futon. I cannot believe how much money I'm spending! And all for me!"

Since those first doubting, timid steps into this different place, I have learned quite a bit. Not so much about cooking, but I've had plenty of time to look within and have deep thoughts about life in general. I have remained TV-free (apart from when I visit the parentals), spend time reading, watching DVD's, or hanging around online. One of these days I'll be a little more productive with my free time. Anyway, that's all for now. Here's to a second year of apartment life (unless I win the lottery and go condo)!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Universitas Communitas?

I spent the last few days meandering through 'The Basic Bakunin' and a collection of works by William Morris. Morris especially speaks of a new world in his book 'News from Nowhere', and for some reason, I'm finding myself feeling great sympathy, even pity for these fellows and their dreams of a world lit by socialism. They both had such passion for their ideal, and it really made me sad to think that these days, there are not many people willing to speak so ardently about socialism. I guess people have been severely turned off by the horrible mess created by certain leaders and their armies, and nobody wants to be the first to raise those shrouds high by speaking of socialism or communism. Bakunin and his compatriots died before the 20th century, so they were spared all that mess, and were left to dream passionately about the worlds they would've created had they been heard before the dream curdled into the black shards we now call the Iron Curtain.
Bakunin especially got me thinking about the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, and where do most folks fit in these days. Slavery has been abolished for most countries these days, but I suspect Bakunin would still be able to look at certain folks and easily fit them into column A or B. I'm willing to fit myself in the category of the bourgeoisie, at least the petite bourgeoisie. I'm not just sure where the moyenne or grande bourgeoisies are today. Is Hollywood awash with the moyenne and even more proles? The latter keeps the former going, and I suspect that there are going to be many more of the latter than there will ever be the former. That's what Bakunin wanted very much for things to change, but after decades of capitalism seemingly working, how would socialism be able to change anything these days?
And what would Ayn Rand think of all this? She's gone to her rest as well, so whatever she thinks about it, she'll have to keep mum. Anyway, I just finished reading that trio of works from William Morris, and 'News from Nowhere' made me sad in a way. His novus universitas is so beautiful and even a little innocent. Not Eden innocent, but pretty close. Will this life of shared products and places ever come to pass? Capitalism and the like would have to fall by the wayside for sure, but people would still have to think and live for themselves in this world. Get what you give, for lack of a better word, and I think Rand would agree with that. So, these are my thoughts on what I've read. Approx. 1 month before I go back to work. BYE.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Heavy Reading

Let's see... the most lighthearted thing I've read in the last few days was 'Measure for Measure', and while it's not one of the tragedies, it's not the most hilarious or light play Will ever wrote. A pretty good story, though. Hypocrisy, love, bawds to spare, politics; all come under Shakespeare's lens in this play. The bawds and the clowns seemed to be wiser than the leaders in some of Will's works. Meanwhile, I enjoyed reading this play and highly recommend it. Onto matters mysterious! I just finished reading 'Whodunit' by H.R.F. Keating. He has a great style about him regarding the Inspector Ghote series, I find, and his 'how to write mystery' book is also quite good. Mystery is not my personal favourite genre, but numerous names did catch my eye in this book. Marple and Poirot, Wolfe and Goodwin, Holmes and Watson (and Moriarty), Hammer and Spade, the blessed Brother Cadfael, and many, many others. Keating missed the awesome Jim Qwilleran, but the 'Cat Who...' series really came into its own after this book was published, and Keating couldn't cram'em all into this book anyway, could he?
Now I've moved on to Bakunin (again). That book on Anarchism opened my eyes to fellows in Bakunin's world, and I admit that I didn't give the guy a chance the first time I tried to read his works. I've given many things a look in my few years in this life, and there's no point in closing the book on someone just because I don't understand what they're talking about. And the failure to understand is usually on my end anyway. After Bakunin, I'm still upon the Anarchist path with William Norris. I believe it was the title 'News from Nowhere' that really stimulated my interest. Can't judge a book by its cover; should this apply to a book's title as well? Lots of heavy reading on my horizon. Before long, I'll return to the lighthearted fare, but for now, that's just the way things worked out.
In other news.... on the way to the lake last week a truck threw some gravel at my windshield, causing two nice little cracks to form. ARGH! So I went to a glass place and the guy there said they'd probably have to replace the entire windshield. ARGH!! There goes my deductible. I guess I can't get into anymore messes now, right? Not that I could've stopped that truck from doing its number on my windshield. And finally... I'm trying to get my mom interested in the Redwall series. She loved the Duncton series, so I thought I'd give it a try. Jacques has created quite a wonderful world with wonderful characters in his Redwall series. Thank you and goodnight.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Life and Times

Just came back from the lake. The weather was pretty crummy and I'm glad to be back among the familiar things of my apartment. It's always nice and peaceful at the lake, but the weather spoiled it nicely for me.

Anyway, I've got some more pics from my Sim family.

Here's young Otto with his cousin watching football highlights.

People have to grow up, and so did Otto.
In Otto's case, growing up meant finding his Muse.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Calling me out?

Last night I dreamed that I was in a car and I had to stop the car because I was in the opposite lane. The car turned into a book and I spent most of the dream with the book half-open in my hands as I looked for a place where I could 'park' my 'car' on the other side. The other side of the median was busy with cars and 'no parking/stopping' signs. There were similar signs along the sidestreets I tried, and I found myself getting further and further back from where I had started. The dream ended without resolution (like most of my dreams do) and I eventually woke up. This morning, I identified with the 'going back to the beginning' aspect of my dream, and I find myself wondering if the Muse is trying to tell me something. Only a little while ago, I promised myself that I would not give writing another glance for a long time. Why does it seem like the Muse is toying with me? Maybe it's just my own reaction to wanting to write but having this promise/conflict staring me in the face.
It could mean things totally unrelated to writing. Maybe I need to go back to beginning in some other part of my life. Dream analysts, feel free to throw in yer two cents! I'm pretty sure it has something to do with my decision to take a break from writing. For now, I'm seriously having second thoughts concerning my decision. Definitely something I need to think about. Elsewhere in the world, next week I'm going to the lake with friends and family. No Hydro, so no computers or Internet there. No distractions, so my diary and I can focus on the written word and ponder the future. I will be bringing a couple of books. Something from Orson Scott Card, I think. Not totally sure yet. That or 'Dark Night of the Soul'. Deep thoughts or what?
Would that I had more to say about this or about anything else, but I have a book that needs my attention. A life of Xenophon. That's what comes from typing in a keyword on the WPL OPAC and seeing what happens. BYE.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Strange feeling

Will the whole summer feel like one long Sunday? Why do I feel like I need to go to work in the morning? I'm done until September now! What the heck?!

Anyway, time for a couple more pics from my Sims family; now in it's 7th generation.
Cute kid in Frannie's arms, eh? That's Otto, and he might not look bad-tempered right now, but he will be. Here's Otto in his teen years. There's been a thread of creativity running through the clan since the 1st or 2nd generation. Be it the written word or the visual medium, this is a talented family. I admire folks who have reached the 11th or 12 generation. I'm already getting tired of these guys.
Anyway, that's about it. Happy Canada Day!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Just following orders?

Put these three words together and let the sadistic madness begin! It was the Nazis who first used this excuse to torture and kill millions of people they considered beneath their Aryan pride and noblility. The Allied countries breathed a sigh of relief when Churchill and Stalin joined up with the Americans to drive the Nazis back and bring as many of them as possible to justice. That's when Humanity first heard this plaintive cry, whined by so many folk who normally probably would've never dreamed of committing such horrible acts on so many people. Perhaps they were just following orders, knowing what would happen to them or to their families if they didn't follow orders. At the end of the day, however, the choices we make now make all the difference in the days to come. Those who were raised Hitler Youth went through an incredible period of disillusionment when they were forced to realized Hitler and his cronies were wrong and that they would have to live with their choices for the rest of their lives - those who survived World War II, anyway.
I'm not limiting this spiel to just the Nazis, however. Stalin was hiding his dark secrets from Churchill and the world in those heroic and tragic days. Churchill had no real love for 'those Bolsheviks', but he needed help from the Soviets to drive the Nazis back. Then Humanity greeted the Cold War with fear and trembling from the 50's to the late 80's (please correct me if I've made an error with the history). These dark secrets, known only to Russia and its Soviet satellites, rose with the coming of the NKVD (which changed its name several times through history), have only come to light since the 80's and 90's. The gulags, the Stasi Files, and KGB minions being found out and brought into the light of day; all these have contributed their elements to paint a terrifying picture of the Soviet Union. While the Nazis had some cunning and plenty of cruelty, the KGB had just as much cruelty and much more cunning.
"The perversion of knowledge' by Vadim Birstein shines a light on how the Soviets worked with their scientists and how they conducted their 'experiements' on hundreds of thousands of people. Their skill in rewriting history and forcing their people to choke it down is horrifying. Persuasion and manipulation par excellence! They didn't need death camps to get rid of people they didn't like - they just sent them to the 'scientists' to try out this or that new poisonous compound or weapon. It quakes the heart to read about these 'test subjects' and what happened to them. And these scientists were usually not the educated intelligensia, for they usually protested or refused to comply with Stalin and his ilk and were bundled off to the gulags and themselves turned into prisoners who 'died of unknown causes' or 'heart attacks'.
All in the name of putting away those who stood in the way of the KGB, and when these folk were brought to justice, guess what most of them used as their excuse? There's a bigger issue here, one of personal responsibility and accountability - enough of this 'It's not my fault' mentality - but for now, I'm going to read more of Birstein's book and cringe with my quaking heart. BYE.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The end's in sight

The school year will be over in a week and a half (less than that for the kids) for me, and I have a ton of phone calls to make. Overdue books have to come in before the end of the year and the late fines have to come in as well. Sometimes the kids don't get it (some just don't care); it's a matter of responsibility.... Of course, how many 12-14 year olds understand responsibility all that well? Many do, but there are some who do not, and they couldn't care less about the consequences of their actions. I keep trying to remember if the kids I grew up with were that annoying, and then I find myself respecting my teachers all the more. I cannot imagine what the librarian thought of us! I do recall how frustrated my classmates were in high school when the librarian would tell them off for being too loud in the library, or when they brought food into the library when they knew they were not supposed to. It's interesting being able to see both sides with such clarity. And of course, we didn't have iPods or cell phones, which aren't allowed in my library either.
I have to admit, there are times when I enjoy annoying the students. Does that make me a bad person, or is that just a perk of the job? Whatever it is, I love when it happens. So, the school year is coming to an end, and I've decided that I am going to take a long break from slavery to the written word this summer. I've done enough scribbling and typing, and the time to take a break from novels has come. Maybe I should try my hand at poetry or something like that. Something shorter... although I don't know if I'd be able to try my hand at a novella or even a short story. The temptation to flesh the short story out might be too much and the next thing I knew, I'd be getting frustrated by writer's block because the story would be getting longer and longer. I don't need a lengthy, complicated project right now. Besides, there are other ways to serve the Muse.
It has been some time since I took an art class or a cooking class. Maybe I could start attending an aerobics program or tried my luck with yoga. Yoga has connections to Buddhism, and might be the next step on my spiritual path. Or I could take up bowling again and join a league. It's been a few years since I've dedicated one a night a week to anything, and might be fun. Call it a case of broadening my worldly horizons, as well as my network horizons. I don't know a lot of people in this area, and meeting new people would be helpful for me on so many levels. So, while an end's in sight, so is a beginning of sorts. Of course, I might also spend the summer holed up in my apartment playing Sims or Oblivion and doing the hermit thing, but that seems pretty depressing, right?
That's all for now. BYE.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Baha'u'llah, Blogs, and Being Bookish

Another foray into matter Baha'i. This book, 'Baha'u'llah and the new era' was published in 1970, while the last Baha'i book I read came out in 1986. I'm hoping to find some newer material down the line, as I have an issue with older books. It's interesting that I'm a library tech. that has such a sensitive nose she cannot stand aging paper. I don't want to call it ironic, for I know someone's going to disagree. I can't think of irony without hearing Alanis' landmark song, but I digress. I'm not sure what this 'new era' that J.E. Esslemont speaks of, but then it's been 40 years since this book was published, and maybe this new era has passed on. Or this book could be speaking to the converted, of which I am definitely not of that number. The language makes me think that all the information mentioned has already been understood by the reader. Nevertheless, I'm reading it and finding a few very interesting, if not amusing, things.
For one, the Baha'i Faith seemed to be very much in favour of Esperanto. I was chatting with a teacher today and he asked about the book I was reading. I started talking a little bit about the Baha'i Faith and mentioned Esperanto, which the teacher had never heard of. He's either my age or maybe a little younger. If it hadn't been for 'Red Dwarf' or 'SCTV' I probably would've never heard of Esperanto either, but these days, even for those who have heard of this language, it is regarded as a joke. I feel that the Baha'i Faith missed the boat in this matter. If they are looking for a Universal language, English is already close to claiming that title. Who needs Esperanto? Actually, that's the only thing that made me laugh. The rest is more curiosity than anything else for this seeking mind. I still like the idea of an established religion that has no clergy or rituals. On the other hand, I really need to study this system and look at what its doing these days.
Blogging takes up some of my time, both writing in and reading. Some of my favourites are as follows:

There are others, but these are the ones I visit quite a bit. Highly recommended by this resident nutjob. Meanwhile, I have some Fantasy books ahead of me. I'll make more mention of them later. Until then, BYE.

Friday, June 4, 2010


Actually, I don't have a whole lot to say right now. My journey through life's doing okay. The weather could be better.
Now for some scenes from my favourite fictional family.
This is Aimee. She might look like she's going to be sick, but that already happened. The baby's coming! That was only the first of two children she had. Actually, she and her mate adopted a son and then had a daughter.
Here are the two in their teens, grooving the weekend away.
That's about all. BYE.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Not standing corrected... yet

I'm reading 'Farther shores' by Dr. Y. Kason, which concerns mystical experiences and how they can change one's life. I'm skeptical about anything I consider 'New Age', and at first blush, this book screamed 'New Age' at me. I never gave much thought to Near-Death Experiences, which Kason suggests are as much a mystical experience as astral travelling or attaining Enlightenment. To the best of my knowledge, I have never had a mystical experience in this life, and I am a complete agnostic on such matters. To put it bluntly, I know naught about it! However, this book, like so many I have read, eagerly contributes to the pile of things I know little about but would like to know more about. Amazing what you can find when you type in the keyword 'Kundalini' in the WPL catalogue. I first heard about Kundalini Yoga while watching 'Insight into Sikhism', and wanted to learn more. So here I am, reading about matters relating to Kundalini, to the body's chakras, etc....
While I've never had a Near-Death Experience, there are some facets of the mystical experience that I have known in the past. Not too many, but enough to make me think. Now, if I really believed in this business, I might start into meditation and the like, trying to stimulate my chakras and get the energy flowing. For some reason, while the concept of the chakras is completely acceptable, whenever I think about it, something in my head screams 'New Age gobbeldygook!' This is why I will probably never completely immerse myself in this or that religion. Too skeptical for such an undertaking (not really trusting in others, either, but that's beside the point). I'll need to do a lot more examination, both upon the concepts and upon my own murky mass of faults and virtues before I make any real decision.
Neither hot nor cold, and didn't the New Testament's J.C. say something about people who were neither hot nor cold? Well, I guess I'm headed for Purgatory, but I'm totally okay with that. Of course, that's assuming I wind up back on the Christian path in the last years of my life, which could happen. Meanwhile, I'm going to continue to read this book and try to tell the skeptic in my head to shut up. BYE.

Monday, May 24, 2010


When Sims die, their ghosts come out to play. Here are a couple of lovely ladies trying to shed phantasmic pounds.

Past meeting present. I think he's telling her she's out of this world.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Looks like summer's come early. Hopefully these last couple of days are only just the beginning, and not the end of summer, as it has been in previous years. It isn't that rain is unwelcome - it's just that having days of rain and cool weather in July and August can be wearing. At any rate, I've needed the AC in the apartment and definitely could use the AC at work. Very hot in the library these days, and opening the windows does nothing. The May long-weekend is closing in, which surprises me (surprised at how close it is already - time flies when one's having fun) every time I think about it. I've got plans for the long weekend, but nothing overly spectacular. I'll probably do some shopping (assuming the weather isn't unbearably hot) and clinging to my beloved AC (assuming the weather IS unbearably hot). With the coming of Victoria Day, the WPL's back to closing on Saturday, which can be annoying for those who can't get to their local library during the week.
I'm getting lots of reading done lately. Halfway through Chaucer's 'Canterbury Tales' and I'm starting upon 'Mariel of Redwall'. Reminds me of all the wonderful books I missed growing up because I was foolishly immersed in Shakespeare and the like. Part of growing up too fast, I guess. No big loss, since I'm catching up now. Brian Jacques is a pretty good writer. Thousands of kids cannot be wrong, right? I've been recommending the Redwall series to anyone who will listen. Reminds me of the Duncton series by W. Horwood. I've never read 'Watership Downs', but I suspect that anyone who loved that book will enjoy the Redwall series. Kenneth Oppel's 'Darkwing', 'Sunwing', and other books are similar in concept as well. My folly that I have yet to read Oppel's series. Lots of catching up to do, eh?
All part of my plan for the summer. Reading, relaxing, and saving money for the future. Sounds boring, but one day I might have enough money saved for something REALLY incredible. I've been on an India kick lately (MAHABHARATA!) so that's where my thoughts have been. India's expensive, though. I've checked already, and such a trip would break the bank for sure. One day it'll happen. I'm feeling optimistic right now about it. Anyway, that's what's going around in my head for the time being. BYE.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Miscommunication with da Muse

We don't talk much anymore, the Muse and I. That or I'm just not as interested in writing as I once was. Beyond scribbling in my journal and blogging, I'm just not into working on any projects. My focus has moved somewhat, and unless I really believe in what I'm doing, I see no reason to dedicate a lot of time to it. I've traded the flavour of Fantasy for Introspection. If I do get back into novel-writing, it will have to be related somehow to the massive inner examination. This book, like all the rest, will probably not reach the bookstore shelves, as I don't have a whole lot of drive beyond the writing part of the journey. Revision is not my strong suit, and I don't have a lot of patience or interest in revising. Also, I spent my teens and 20s writing novels out, and I think I'm a little tired of it. Therefore, I'm going to dedicate more time to reading (as if I didn't already spend a lot of time reading) and looking within. More blog-fodder, you might say.
Elsewhere, I'm revisiting 'The words of my perfect teacher', which astounded me a while ago. Still astounds me, and is definitely a book I would like to have on my shelf. Assuming there are still copies floating around out there, since I would never steal a book from the WPL. After I have finished reading this wonderful, enlightening book, I will get back to Pepys and make it right to the end. Then comes Shakespeare, which enlightens in its own way. King Richard II, which was fairly bloody, if I recall correctly. One series I'm tiptoeing into is B. Jacques' 'Redwall' series. A little young for me? Never too old to enjoy a good book, and 'Mossflower' was certainly a good book. I'm not reading this series in any particular order. That will come later, assuming I like enough of the books.
I guess that's about all for now. I'll get back to characters, plot and setting another time. Just not feeling the Muse's touch right now. Besides, the Muse speaks in so many voices. Maybe I'm just not listening with the right ear. BYE.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Pepys' prose

I haven't had much of a literary challenge lately, so I decided to attack 'The shorter Pepys'. The highlights from his 9 vol. diary, to be brief. That would have to be a blogger's dream - getting their ramblings enshrined in leather-bound luxury for future generations to prize and cherish. I've been scribbling in various journals for almost 20 years now, but I doubt I'll reach 9 volumes (or even 3 volumes) anytime soon. Samuel Pepys, meanwhile, held a powerful vantage point from his esteemed place in the royal court of the 17th century, and enjoyed much of the perks of upper-class British life. It isn't so much that his writing crackles with depth and poignancy, but that he was around during a time we can only read and wonder about, and that his scribbles call us back to a time when the human species was much more innocent (or ignorant, depending on whom you ask).
Some might actually find his writing a little dry. He wasn't much for soul-searching (like what I do when I put ink to paper), and each entry is more an account of the day's events before he went to bed. I did notice he liked to party a lot and then complained bitterly about his hangovers the next day. There are several entries were he swears he'll never touch a drop and then a few entries later he's out partying with colleagues till all hours of the night. Probably one of the few flaws I've noticed in his character, and that's pretty normal for anyone. Spirit willing but the flesh is weak.... There is some male chauvinism in his character, but for his time, that's totally acceptable. I'd know better to go after a man for being a sexist pig in the 17th century, since that's just the way it was, and it wasn't going to change for a long while yet.
So that's Pepys so far. It's a thick book and I've only a few days left before I have to either turn it in or renew it. I'm not yet halfway, so I should get a move on. BYE.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Back thru da past

I'm a slave to nostalgia (esp. the 80's), and lately I've been looking through my older diaries. I'm coming across books I read several years ago and realize that I really should give these books another look. Maybe there's something I missed the last time. Then there's the many famous names I've dropped in between the pages. For instance, I mentioned something by Nietzsche but never got around to reading. Meanwhile, the month of May has dawned and there are only a few weeks before the end of the school. The EA's are already counting down the days. The teachers probably are as well, but I've only heard it from the EA's. I'm working out my plans for the summer. They involve (so far) putting more money away for a future development (Condo, anyone?) and perhaps taking lessons in some instrument (piano... or maybe join a choir - still undecided there).
On the literary front, I'm reading a stunning book called 'The Dzogchen primer', compiled and edited by Marcia Binder Schmidt. Makes me want to seek out a guru or a virtual sangha for my own spiritual progress. Ever feel like you're at a cross-roads or in a rut spiritually? That's kinda how I'm feeling right now. Actually, looking at my stance in a harsher light, I'm looking for some validation. Am I really on the right path? Why am I not seeing any change? Where do I go from here? Am I not doing enough? What's it going to take? Perhaps, if I really had a clear path, I wouldn't feel I need validation from anyone? Besides, is a guru really there to validate someone else's feelings? Not really. He/she's there to teach and keep you on the path. I don't think he/she's there to make you feel special and validated.
Maybe I'm just whining right now. This calls for more reflecting and longer diary entries! Oh, and one more thing. I'm starting to focus on the Baha'i faith. Since I saw those PSA's back in the early 90's, I've kept the Baha'i faith at the back of my mind. Now maybe it's time to explore this faith a little deeper. I'd also like to find those PSA's again. No luck on Youtube. Just keep looking, I guess. BYE.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Grow old, but never grow up

I finished reading J-P Sartre's 'Age of reason' yesterday, and it got me thinking about my own stance on age. The characters in the book had a rabid fear of getting old and dealing with all the responsibilities that middle age brings with it. The main character was 35 and deeply miserable and fearful about it. He wanted nothing to do with taking responsibility for things he had done, and he surrounded himself with a bunch of whiners who wanted nothing to do with growing old. Reminds me of the way some hippies reacted when they realized they were approaching 30. Their philosophy was 'never trust anyone over 30', after all. Maybe they read 'Age of reason' and identified with it. Many of the hippies who made it past 30 eventually realized they needed to embrace reason and make the changes reason demanded.
Time and its changes are inevitable, and there's nothing our youth-oriented culture can do about it, no matter how much money it wastes to try and 'turn back the clock'. What is so attractive about being young, anyway? Children want to become adolescents and have new experiences; adolescents want to become adults and have all the freedom that comes from being adults. Then, around 35-40, some adults look back and yearn to be adolescents again and have the freedom and innocence of youth. 'The grass is always greener on the other side' -- where aging is concerned, truer words were never spoken. Or, to put it another way, society is never satisfied with its present position. Small wonder change is constant!
My dad has his own philosophy about age and time. 'If you can't stay young you can at least stay immature.' Actually, he got that from Steve Smith of Red Green fame, but it works for him and it works for me. Once I got past 20 it was smooth sailing, and I don't want to go back to my adolescence. Childhood might be nice, but it's not going to return in this life time, so I'm not going to pine for it. Besides, I go into a nostalgic haze every time I'm driving through my old neighbourhood or listening to pretty much anything from the 1980's or 1990's. 40 is just 10 years away for me, but I have no intention of dwelling on this fact. 30's pretty good, and things can only get better from here on in.
Okay. That's about all. BYE.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Othello, insecure fellow

I'm trying to catch up on my Shakespeare, and I just finished reading 'Othello'. I'm not sure what I want to focus on first, but I think Othello's insecurities are a good place to start. The fact that he fell as hard as he did for Iago's clever lies and lures is a sign that maybe he had doubts himself in Desdemona's faithfulness, and just needed a little push for the trap to close on him. Of course, the handkerchief went a long way to confirming his doubts. The days of the lady keeping some token of her lord's love are far in the past, and I don't know if there's a modern equivalent for this token, but if Othello needed some 'proof' of Desdemona being unfaithful, Iago sure gave it to him. Granted, Iago gets his in the end, but what a violent end in the name of vengeance for a wounded ego!
But back to Othello's insecurities. The man was a great soldier and a leader of men, but he wasn't a great judge of character (believing Iago over his own wife). On the other hand, there's a chance he didn't believe his relationship with Desdemona was very strong or viable. Back in Othello's day (not to mention the 1950's), interracial relationships were very controversial, and anyone who loved for the sake of love, with no matter who it was, had a uphill climb in the face of a cruel and ignorant society. I am just assuming here that Desdemona was white (if I'm wrong, so be it), which would make her and Othello's relationship very rough going. Shakespeare's play is riddled with racial slander when Iago speaks of Othello to others (especially to Desdemona's father), which leads me to believe that it was an interracial relationship.
Meanwhile, Iago's cunning plan worked like a charm, up until the end, when he was punished for putting the murder in Othello's heart, which resulted in Desdemona's death and Othello's suicide. So, that's what I've been reading for the past couple of days. Now I've got 'Antony and Cleopatra' warming up. More thoughts on the horizon? Of course. Now I'll close and think about my own rampant insecurities. BYE.

Monday, April 12, 2010

What -- Me worry?

Definitely! I came face-to-face with a ton of worry-induced stress a few nights ago, and I don't know what my next steps should be regarding my frustrating psyche. I'm a definite worrywart, but if this worrying interferes with my life, I really need to make some changes. Hard to change ingrained thought patterns, however. I think there will be many more diary entries relating to this topic in the days and weeks to come. I've also come to the conclusion that learning the cause of all my worries isn't as important as figuring out how to deal with the effect. It could all be part of being 30. Maybe I need to make numerous changes in my life now that I've reached this ripe old age. This isn't a mid-life crisis deal, but it probably comes close. First off, I need to focus on all this stress and worry and change things there.
Elsewhere in the world, I'm reading the works of Umberto Eco. He's hilarious and thought-provoking. I recently finished his 'Misreadings' and am starting on 'Apocalypse postponed' this evening. O to meet this incredible man! I guess I'd have to go to Italy just for the chance, and let's be honest; I haven't the money or the time to make such a trip. And even if I did have both the dough or the time, Italy is chock-full of sights to see that I'd run out of time to meet with Mr. Eco. Still, it's a nice dream. After I've finished reading 'Apocalypse postponed' I'll be getting back into Shakepeare. I am so behind with the Shakespeare stuff.
It's Heritage Fair time at my school, and the Library is closed for the next couple of days. I spent my time adding to the list of books I plan to order for next year. In one of the preview boxes I received a few days ago, I came across a 'choose-your-own-adventure'-style series done a la graphic novel. The best of both worlds! Perfect for struggling readers! I loved the 'Choose-your-own-adventures' series when I was younger. Anyway, that's how life has been for me. Worries, readings, and orders. BYE.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Freaking out in Fargo

I spent half of my Spring Break vacation in Fargo driving around and shopping. I did my share of driving, and I guess driving around an unfamilar city caused me a lot of stress. My mom, sister, and I returned home yesterday and I'm still trying to deal with the residual stress. I worry needlessly about many things, and the thought that I might die of something stress-related (because of my worries) stresses me out even more. It's a no-win situation, and one I'm trying to examine and learn the root cause of. There must be some reason for me to worry like this, and until I can afford (money/time) the services of a respected outsider (analyst, etc...) I only have the comfort of the written word (my own and the examples of others) to help me find my way.
Meanwhile, Fargo was most enjoyable (when I wasn't stressed out about being stressed out). I hadn't been in the U.S. for several years, and cross-border shopping was certainly welcome. Although the Canadian dollar is approaching parity (again), things are still cheaper in the States. Still, with the worldwide recession, there were fewer Canadians in Grand Forks and Fargo doing their shopping. This absence was felt by the staff in the hotel's restaurant. This time, instead of taking a simple room, we rented a suite for three nights, and that increased space made all the difference. Next time I go to the States, I think I'll choose a suite again (who wants to go alone?) for my group. The only drawback with this hotel was the poor quality of toilet paper, but that's really no big deal.
Elsewhere in my little world, I have 200 pages left until I have finished reading that massive Intro. to Philosophy book. Ch. 33 and William James. Finally I've reached the 20th Century with these philosophers. I'm pretty pleased that I haven't given up on this book yet, and now, with only 200 pages left, I don't have much of a reason to stop now. Definitely time to make one last push and reach the last paragraphs of John Rawls. I also have the immortal John Shelby Spong to look forward to. Fantastic writer. Okay. That's about all I have for the time being. BYE.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Soft skin and strong codes

Had my first spa day ever yesterday. A different experience; fascinating and definitely enjoyable. Maybe I should do this every couple of years. I should be able to afford going to a good spa and getting a pedicure and a fine massaging. The paraffin treatment on my hands was the most unusual part of the whole experience. Like wearing really hot mitts without thumbs. Lots of warm towels and steam to open my pores. It turns out I have really dry skin (REALLY?). Not on my feet, which was completely unexpected, but on my face. Obi Wan Kenobi said it best; "You have taken your first step into a larger world." For me, a world of moisturizers and lotions. Pampering the outer chica, so to speak. Not something I usually do. Mainly because I'm lazy and completely uninterested in that stuff. Yesterday was something of an eye-opener. After this most enjoyable morning, I met with Mom and my sister for lunch. Parking at the Forks was insane, but that's normal during the weekend.
As I mentioned the other day, I had planned to be deep in matters relating to the Samurai. Why can't people adhere to strict codes of honour anymore? Anyway, I'm reading 'Hagakure: the book of the Samurai' by Yamamoto Tsunetomo. I don't think it's the entire book, however. The translator apparently picked 300 out of the 1300 sayings and stuck them in this book. O to understand Japanese! The matter of committing seppuku is the ultimate end of obedience to a code of honour and ethics. And some of these warriors were ordered by their master to commit seppuku and they actually did it! That speaks of great honour and loyalty to the master. Again I'm reminded of the mighty kings and warriors in the 'Mahabharata'. If the treasured sage Drona had so willed it, men like Arjuna and Bhima would've gladly committed seppuku (or something like it).
People don't seem to have as great a respect for such codes or for oaths anymore. Something sad about that. Anyone interested in chatting about this, let me know. Going south this Wednesday if the roads stay open. That's all. BYE.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Buoyant again

Not that I was down in the dumps before, but Spring Break officially starts now, and I've got a week of rest and relaxation ahead of me. I'm reading 'Mejda: the family and the early life of Paramahansa Yogananda' but I should have that done before I leave with the gals on Wednesday for Fargo. I should be either deep in stuff about the samurai or deep in Book 2 of the Raj Quartet. Sooner or later, I knew I'd find myself entrenched in matters spiritual of one form or another. This evening, while driving home from the family homestead, I ventured down familiar paths of constant impermanence and the perceptions of others. It's not a matter of what others think of you that counts (at least, it shouldn't matter once you've moved on), but how others have perceived you will determine how you're mourned.
Being mourned is inevitable, as no matter how terrible a person you were, someone is going to remember the good choices you made once and will mourn you based on those good choices. Saints have flaws and monsters have virtues, no matter what anyone else is going to say about it. Good cannot exist without evil, so everybody is going to be mourned. Even if nobody comes to your funeral, someone is going to mourn in their heart for you. Nobody is completely anonymous forever. By the way, I have no idea why I ventured down this path - I don't see myself as being morbid (paranoid, certainly), but anyone who reads this post might perceive me as such. Will that be among the things said at my funeral? 'She was introspective to the point of being morbid and self-deprecating to the point of non-existence'. I've heard of worse perceptions. I can live with that (not that I would care by then).
I was thinking today about what I would do if I had 5 seconds to live (thanks to this game) and I guess that's why I got to thinking about everything else. Games. Keep'em. Anyway, that's about all. BYE.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

End of the British Raj

I'm reading Paul Scott's 'Raj Quartet' (skipped book 2 since I couldn't get a hold of it at the time), and I'm finding it easy to romanticise (sic?) over the coming of India's independance and the end of the infamous British Raj. I've read 'The jewel in the crown' already and I'm in the middle of 'Towers of silence'. The Brits riding out the last days of Britain's dominance are doing their best to hold on to what was. Did Joe Q. Public out in India know that Independance was near? Did he understand what that meant? Those who understood better than others seemed to be lamenting the approach; much in the same way we lament the approaching loss of a dear friend or family member as he/she slowly and steadily loses the battle to survive. Those who don't mourn and lament try their darndest to deny the end is close. That's what's happening in these pages as well.
There are people who have a very hard time accepting change (of any kind) in this life. Usually, when things change, it looks like it will be either for the good or for the bad, but it's just different in the end. Sometimes it's just better to say, 'Let the chips fall where they may.' When India and Africa were freed from Britain's control, I wonder what their leaders would've thought/said/ done had they been able to see 50 years (or even 20-30 years) into the future. I'm reminded of 'Mahabharata' at this point. Bhishma, long after making his memorable vow, bitterly regretted it, seeing how terribly everything had gone afterward. Since we cannot know what the result of our actions will be (that far into the future), at the end of the day, all we can do is say 'What's done is done.' Ignorance isn't bliss, but it sure can feel reassuring.
Even keeping a diary could cause me incredible regret 20-30 years from now. On the other hand, 2014 is only a few years away, and I'm still very grateful for those early scribbles. The good, the bad, and the angst-ridden (which turned very ugly at times). Anyway, I guess I'm done with this digital scribbling for tonight. BYE.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Birthday business

I spent my birthday night playing Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Great way to celebrate a milestone, eh? Meanwhile, my immediate family is treating me to supper tonight. I just finished reading Stan Lee's bio 'Excelsior' today. Easy read and lots of fun. I would've like to see a longer and more detailed account of this guy's life, however. There had to be more to the man's life than this slim deal. Hopefully someone will make a more detailed account after Lee has passed on. Before I got into 'Excelsior', I read a stunning and sorrowful book called 'Silence'. Sometimes the missionary ends up going down a most futile path where conversion is concerned. The concept of apostasy is also addressed in this book. When is it really apostasy? Isn't this a matter to be addressed in the heart? It's really more than a formality, or at least it should be more than a formality. If you form a belief, you need to form it completely in the heart and mind. Turning your back on said belief has to happen in both heart and mind as well for it to be true apostasy.
I'd like to get into this in more detail, but I don't have time. BYE.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

6 days to go...

Dancin' on the edge of 30, and I'm excited. I cannot explain it, for I know 30's a downer for many people. 20 was a downer for me, but 30 just makes me want to jump for joy. I just finished reading the last book in King's 'Dark Tower' series. It still escapes me why King put himself in the story. Maybe he wanted to live the experiences his tragic characters lived. Is there another series so intense out there? I think this series is truly a case of man and/vs. Muse, and while I'm not really impressed by the end of the story (it isn't really a satisfying resolution; anti-climax, actually) it serves its purpose as an ending. One way or another, King's done with this series, and I'm pretty sure there will never be a 9th book (not written by King, anyway). I wonder if anyone's done any fan fiction concerning this series. That would make for some interesting reading.
My focus has moved back to Forsyth and 'The dogs of war'. I'm hoping to see the same (or a similar) level of attention to detail that he applied to 'Day of the Jackal'. That is a splendid book, and anyone seeking to breathe life into their characters should go over it several times. I've read it 3 times already myself, and I might read it again in a few years. Exquisite stuff. Getting back to King for a moment, I've got the beloved 'Needful Things' waiting in the wings. I usually don't have a favourite book by anyone or about anything, but this is my favourite Stephen King book. Highly recommended, and not really nightmare-inducing. A study on wants and what happens when people forget this Rolling Stones song, which makes for a fairly good adage.
With the coming of March, the weather is getting nicer and nicer all the time. Soon Spring will be here, and then the cankerworms (UGH!) will dance and dangle from the trees. This area is a little older than So. St. Vital, so there will be MORE of the little mindless leaf-chewers. Stressful times ahead, I fear, but there's no reason to freak out right now. BYE.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Perceptions and other stuff

I'm reading 'The jewel in the crown' by Paul Scott. Perceptions and perspectives come into play here very much. Fascinating stuff, really. Thanks to my fascination with 'Mahabharata', I've been focusing on India quite a bit. The time of Partition grows near for the folks in 'The jewel in the crown', and everybody's antsy.

Now for the other stuff, which shouldn't surprise anyone.

The baby the guy's holding is the woman in the second picture.

And here's the woman again, playing chess with somebody in a nightgown.
Apologies if this post looks a mess when it's published.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

On the Literary Front #7

"Breathe life into the world you've created." Sage advice from a treasured teacher I had in Grade 12. Little flashes of description coming together to brighten and colour the world. I continue to heed the call of the Muse, and I'm enjoying the act of creation. The 'stranger in a strange world' motif is definitely coming into play in this literary project. Not only is my protagonist learning about the world he's part of, but so am I (and maybe even someday a reader will learn about it as well). I'm starting to see this world. Using a computer makes things less set in stone, so everything about the world I'm crafting for my characters can still change. Makes me wonder what J.R.R. Tolkien would've done with a computer? I bet he'd ignore it and continue to work with pencil, paper, and maybe a typewriter. Ray Bradbury wants nothing to do with computers as far as writing is concerned. I wonder what he thinks about fan fiction?
Elsewhere on the literary front, I'm reading a series by Garth Nix. I'm still trying to get my hands on the first book in the series (presently reading book 2 and I have book 3 in waiting). Not the long series (the one named for days of the week, I think it is), but that one may soon follow. I'm also trying to get through the 'Dark Tower' series. I have the 6th book in waiting and I just borrowed the 7th in the series. Pretty pleased about getting through it fairly quickly. Anyway, that's what's going on with me right now. February is almost done. My b-day is closing in. Yeeee-haaaaaa! BYE.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Hail Louis Riel!

Monday's Louis Riel Day and most folks get the day off. I'm in the school system, so I get the Monday off as well. But before that it's the coming of the Festival du Voyageur. I'm not going to gush about the Olympics (especially everybody and his dog is going to go on and on about it). Sad to say, the Olympics is not one of my priorities in this world. I'd much rather sit within my hovel and read. On the other hand, I'm going to the Festival tomorrow! I don't know if I have a ceinture hanging around, but that's okay. Ma tuque n'est pas rouge non plus. Bof. I plan to drink some too-hot chocolate 'milk' and burn my tongue nicely. Then I plan to look at the ice and snow sculptures. My sister's treating me to some sucre on a stick, which is killer sweet on the tastebuds.
We're also planning to stop in at a store that could soon become my favourite place to shop. La boutique du livres, to be precise. They've got a ton of French comics, books, music, etc.... Walking through there reminds me of my childhood and brings such a smile to my face. I'm hoping to buy a few comics from there before we move on. The weekend's fun doesn't stop there, as there's a plan afoot Sunday to hang out with Grandpa for lunch. Just have to let him know. Meanwhile, the parental units have gone south for their yearly two weeks in the sun and fun. Someday I'll get back to Mexico. Just need to save for a while yet.
I finished reading book 5 of King's monumental 'Dark Tower' series. Is there a plural of series? Is it the same as moose? Something to think about.

Now, time for a couple of pics from a simulated trip to France.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Let it snow?

Now Washington D.C. is getting a snow day! Did the groundhog see his shadow or what? Actually, I've just got some family pics from a simulated family in a simulated world.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

General update

I've been dividing my leisure time between playing a new computer game, reading, and working on literary projects. Well, it's a new game as far as I'm concerned. Warcraft III (not World of Warcraft, since I don't have enough time/interest to spend online), and so far, I'm enjoying it. I'm playing an undead hero who's out to bring destruction to the land of the living, and it's been quite a bit of fun. Except when my melee fighters keep getting turned into sheep by those pesky sorceresses. That reminds me of Hexen II; another game where sheep seem to play a large role. What is the fascination with sheep? With the minds behind Sims, it's llamas, but SHEEP? Strange at times. Meanwhile, I'm halfway through the undead phase of the game and I don't really have the hang of melee fighting. Another reason why I wouldn't enjoy World of Warcraft.
On the reading front, I just finished reading Cressida Cowell's 'How to be a pirate'. It might seem a little young compared to much of what I read, but her series wasn't around when I was younger. I have much catching up to do. Cowell has a good writing style and I like the illustrations. Very good, considering they are supposed to be hand-drawn by the 'true author' of the story. They lend the right amount of realism and make the reader believe that Cowell's main character really is telling the story. Soon I'll be starting upon Rand's 'Anthem'. Back to the serious stuff. Oh, and I finished reading the second installment of 'Naruto' recently as well. Is my choice of literature getting younger? Considering the clientele I work with, I think reading manga and the like is a good enough idea.
And then there's the literary project that I know I need to work on. The Muse comes when it will, and it comes intermittently for me, which is frustrating at times. However, I'm doing what a teachers advised I should do. I'm creating the world my characters live in. Much like playing Sims... only I'm describing the world so that others can see it in their mind's eye. That's what's been going on with me since my last post. BYE.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Closing it down

I'm movin' up in the world! The division accepted my request for a transfer to a middle school the week before last. That's not the real reason for my posting this evening, though. The local laminator is a little messed up, and now everyone's smelling the nastiness of burning plastic. That contraption and I do not co-exist well in the workplace, but changing it and maintaining it is one of my duties. I don't know when someone last cleared the gunk from the heat rollers on that thing, but I suspect all that gunk probably jammed up one of its sensors. This particular model usually takes 15 mins. to heat up, only it was over 25 mins. today and it continued to heat up. Then came the (ugggh) stench of burning plastic as smoke (or steam -- the jury is still out) started wafting up from the heat rollers. This happened the other day as well, but now the plastic is all messed up on the rollers. This laminator is offline!
I got in touch with the local service company, and man, is the price for the guy just walking through the door steep! I know laminators ain't cheap, but WOW! And then it's additional for the parts. Almost as nauseating as the stench of burning plastic. So that was my day today. After some conferring, it was decided that the service guy needed to come through the door and have a look at the mess. He'll be in next week. I'm relieved, to be sure. I did not want my parting act to have the flavour of 'burn in...' That phrase went through my head over the last couple of days whenever I thought about that miserable laminator. Things will be (hopefully) taken care of before I make my switch.
I am going to miss those kids (and the staff as well). But I've got a whole bunch of new kids to look forward to. I guess that's about all for now. I'm reading Hegel and trying to make sense of it. Now it's time for the weekend. BYE.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Strange feeling

One publishing house I've come to respect is Shambhala. If not for this group, so many great teachings and documents would have never reached the West. I have several books from this publishing house already, and know there are many more that I have yet to read. What I like about Shambhala is that they do not dumb down the material. They are trying to make the teachings available to everyone, but they do warn if this or that is too difficult for the beginner down this path. Reading books published by this group brings a smile to my face and a delight to my spirit, so when I come across something from them in the library, I eagerly seize upon it and get reading. My most recent discovery is the Diamond Heart series, and I've started with the 4th book in the series. I also have the 2nd book in the series in waiting, and will get to it as soon as possible.
This book, I'll admit, troubled me for a while. It screams 'California' and 'New Age' in my head, and I usually avoid 'New Age-y' stuff like the plague. The music works out all right, for the most part, but the books I have come across relating to 'New Age' usually annoy me after a while. They talk in enigmas and circles, and they give me a headache. Books on Buddhist teachings give me occasional headaches, but I come away eventually feeling good. Books I have branded as 'Californian' give me a headache and a feeling of 'get this book away from me'. This feeling came over me as I read 'Indestructible innocence' (4th book in the series), but I'm going to keep reading it. I'm not a glutton for punishment, and I do have a reason to get through to the end of this book.
It's turning out to be well-trod ground, which I do not have a problem with. What is well-trod for some is the road n'er travelled by others. Those who wish to start on the path but would rather avoid the Buddhist terms and use terms they can better understand would find this book (can't speak for the series yet) to be a good choice. I don't like New Age because it occasionally gets bogged down in convolution and the 'hippy-dippy', but this book is trying hard to avoid such detours. I'm going to see this journey through just in case I come across something yet undiscovered. Anyway, that's what's going on in my life. BYE.