Sunday, December 31, 2006

Almost home. And, as a side note on Vancouver's city engineering department, this stuff is still there, more than a week after I took these shots. Hmmmm, maybe I need to acquire a bit of "found" sculpture?

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Well, ding-dong, the Big Bad Dictator is dead. The murderer has been, in turn, murdered. How charming.

Saddam - a murderous thug - was, once upon a time, the Iraqi government. In his capacity as the Iraqi government, he had people he regarded as a threat to Iraqi law and order killed. Murdered. Now, the new Iraqi government (along with Bush & Co.), regarding Saddam as a threat to Iraqi law and order, has had him killed. Murdered. Isn't the spread of democracy wonderful? The glorious rise of modern civilisation?

And, by hanging, yet. What? No guillotine available? No lions? Boiling oil? I mean, if someone's going to indulge in primitive savagery, they should at least show some imagination.

By the way, if you haven't watched Terry Gilliam's "Brazil" lately (or ever), you really should see it (again). Then, if you think it a tad far-fetched, consider the story of Maher Arar. And then consider further that he's not the only one.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Having gotten back on the right track, I stopped in at the barber shop. Also closed. Good thing I'd gotten a haircut just a week before.

Off to see "Midnight at the Museum," tonight. From reading the reviews, it looks like it's based on (or heavily influenced by) a book called "The Night Life of the Gods", which is set in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (rather than the Museum of Natural History where the movie takes place). The book was written in 1931 by a guy named Thorne Smith. He was famous then for writing comic novels. The best known were probably those in the "Topper" series. These spawned at least a couple of movies at the time, and a TV show in the early 1950s. I've read a few of his books and, allowing for their datedness, they're pretty good. Nice social satire.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

No! Not that way, you fool! That way lies the Outer Darkness!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

So, unable to obtain some cheap take-out, frustrated in my desire to have my chi checked (or, perhaps, to have my cosmic oneness pinned like a butterfly to the all-embracing tao), I wandered on. It's a "metal shop". They seem to make, and/or repair, metal things. And to have a fondness for plants.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Continuing on my way home, I realized my tao was a bit crooked and seemed to be blocking the proper flow of my chi. Some accupunctural poking might have helped (the little teeny needles act as little teeny antennae, pulling in the cosmic force - you knew that, right?), but the needle-man was closed.

I'd love to know what the designs on the door are all about. The little, off-center red cross? The half-mozzarella that fills the lower right? Is he offering cheese centering? Does it make better pizza?

Tomorrow, the walk continues...

Monday, December 25, 2006

When you're a non-car person, like me, leaving a party late at night often means waiting a longer than normal amount of time for a bus. Or not. I usually just start walking. Which, if you have a camera with you, just opens up a world of opportunities. There's no one around. Shops are empty, but lit. The light is weird. There's fun to be had.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

O.K., it's Christmas Eve, time to mail out the card! Have a swell Christmas (or Chanukah) everybody. Enjoy the food, friends, family and all that other good stuff.

This is more of an "addendum" to yesterday's post (i.e. the 23rd), though it's 2:00 a.m. on the 24th as I type (I told you I'd do my best).

The guy on the left is my former Ph.D. supervisor, Martin. He's pretty good on the guitar, though, for some reason, that rarely shows. Ah, well. He's also (well "duh"!) a pretty darn smart guy. And we have a similar love of music, and similar senses of humour (and, for those of you who actually know me, we're the same age), but, every time we get together (almost) we end up locking horns over something or other. Um, because we're both about as stubborn as people who aren't actually mules can get. Tonight's dispute was "The Taliban - kill 'em all or negotiate with 'em?" Martin was for the "Negotiate" team. Me, I'm not thrilled with people who'll kill first, negotiate later, which has been the Taliban's style from the get-go. You're an educated woman? Bang! You're an educated man? Bang! You don't want to do exactly what we tell you, no matter how stupid/primitive/arbitrary? Bang!

Needless to say, we had a fun time. Oy.

More from the party later.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Tonight, high above the twinkling lights of Vancouver, it's party time again. I'll do my best.

Friday, December 22, 2006

My first day of nothing in particular to do. Got an email from a happy student - always nice. Strolled the neighbourhood. Started Thomas Pynchon's latest, "Against the Day". So far, so good. Which is about what I expected. It's a honkin' huge book, but, if you've been paying attention to, oh, pretty much everything over the years, you'll like it.

And finished Peter Carey's latest, "Theft", last night. If you're looking for something a bit shorter, and more focused, to read, give it a try.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Well, I had to do something while I was waiting for the bus.

My big event today was "weeding" some of the biology section in our college library. A pleasant way to pass a couple of hours on a rainy day. Lots of very old books got the hook. More could have gone, but our library hasn't got a huge budget, and there have to be at least a few books on the shelves.

Now, evidently, it's time to batten down the hatches in preparation for another big windstorm.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

O.K., they're not exactly vultures, but they are scavengers and, symbolically at least, harbingers of doom. Now, what's the secret meaning behind this photograph, you ask? Well, take a look at the top of the screen, left side, where the "blogger" logo is. Now, scan right. See the "Flag Blog" button? That's the harbinger of doom for Blogger. It lets people alert the folks controlling Blogger to the fact that your blog contains "objectionable material". Who appointed Google the world's nanny?

O.K., here goes:

The "Flag Blog" idea is really, really stupid and an infringement on free speech.

I'm pro-choice.

I'm an atheist.

George Bush is a cretin who will go down in history as the worst president the U.S. has ever had.

He, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and a host of others should be arrested for criminal stupidity and arrogance. Not to mention being responsible for the deaths of thousands of Iraqi citizens.

Capitalism is a good thing.

Government oversight of industry is a good thing.

Libertarianism is for the really stupid folks among us.

All drugs - heroin, amphetamines, marijuana, LSD, etc. - should be legalized.

The death penalty is simply murder under another name and should be abolished.

Lenny Bruce was right.

Socialized medicine is a good thing.

Prostitution should be legalized.

Any flags yet? (Oh, yeah - I'm all in favour of burning those, too).

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Whew - no more (I think) social engagements for the next week or so. Heck of a good time, but, between the mountains of low-fat (Hah!) foods, and free flowing wine, well, I've already got plenty to recover from. I'd like to live through Christmas.

Monday, December 18, 2006

And so the sun sets on another term. My quandary over possibly having to fail a couple of students on a technicality has been resolved - they passed - and all's right with the world. Ahhhh...

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Even doggies and cats (and who knows what other animals) get sick at night.

Christmas is going to kill me. Party after party, at which festive beverages must be consumed. My poor liver is undoubtedly considering rebellion. Stac', can I suggest a specialization?

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A very dull day today. Mostly spent recovering from too much fun last night. Live and learn? Not so far. And - oh, the horror! - two more parties tomorrow!

Seasons apart. Tonight was the college Christmas party. On my way home, at nearly 2:00 a.m., riding my bike, it snowed. How swell is that? Gliding along, through big fat flakes of white drifting down out of the blue-black? That was a very swell way to end the evening.

Meanwhile, welcome back to the continent, kids!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Is it just me, or has life gotten dull since Dumbya's been forced back under his rock?

Up here, our own Great White Dope, Smirkin' Steve, says he's ready for an election if one comes up, but he doesn't think Canadians really want one. Well, he's half right (and, who knows? maybe he really is ready for one). We don't want an election. On the other hand, some intelligent governance would be a refreshing change, so maybe we'll put up with one anyway.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Far, far, far away from here, down there in the Caribbean, it's The Last Day (if you're reading this on Thursday). Bone voyagee, eh? (As we say up here in the bilingual Far North).

Me? I'll be spending much of the day handing out kleenexes to the "Non-progressors". I can't tell you how much fun that is.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The day started out crummy, but the sun came out eventually. Which was perfect since I had to spend the morning making up an exam. After that, off to get a hair cut. About darn time, too.

Monday, December 11, 2006

And that's the last of the snow pictures, folks. The snow itself left days ago. Tonight it feels more like Florida during hurricane season (well, O.K., minus the heat). The wind's blowing like crazy!

Which it was this morning, too, with the charming addition of rain. Ever noticed, when you're riding a bike, that the wind is always against you? Heading in to work this morning, the wind was out of the east. Coming home, it was out of the west. You can figure out which way I was going each time.

Now, today, so far, marks a historical first. I turned in my first set of marks today, which means that, by this point, I should have received at least two or three emails from students wondering by what cosmic injustice they've come to fail the course. So far? Nuthin'. Very weird. Oh, well - tomorrow's another day.

Oh! Spoke too soon. An hour later and the emails are rolling in. But! Only one of them is about having failed. All the others are actually "thank-you"s! This, too, is a surprise.

The "thank-you" emails also point up an interesting, and sad, aspect of how education works. Some of the students were thanking me for their grade. Now, I'd love to be able to accept the credit, but I didn't do anything. They're the ones who worked their butts off studying. All I do is try to convince them that it's worthwhile. That the material is actually interesting, and worth taking some time to try to learn. So: Attention students everywhere! You're the ones doing the work! You're the ones putting all that information into your heads! You're the ones learning! Give yourselves the credit, 'cause you deserve it.

But, feel free to be nice to your teachers/instructors/professors, too.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Of course! It's Sunday! Laundry day! And this is the "Comfort Zone" in the laundry room. Looks darn inviting, doesn't it?

And, marking's done for patho. Wheeew. A couple of brilliant students, a few darn good ones, some average ones, lots of mediocre ones, and a dozen dismal ones. Love those "brilliant" and "darn good" ones. They make up for all the others. Who are all very nice people, mind you.

Unlike, for example, the late, very unlamented Augusto Pinochet. He's finally dead? Paaaarty! Sooner or later, even scum dies.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Well, 48 hours or so since the patho final, and I've had almost as many emails asking, "When you get a chance, could you email me my mark?" To which the answer, of course, is "No". At least, it is if I don't want to spend the next 3 days sending out... "53", "98", "65"... Remember report cards?

Keith - get the D40 with the 18-200. It'll match your stuff perfectly. O.K., you might have to add a 50/1.8 for portraits, but...

Friday, December 08, 2006

Just watched "Great Expectations", David Lean's film of Charles Dickens's novel. Very nicely done. Although, watching Alec Guiness and John Mills, surely when each was at least 35, playing 18-year-olds was a bit of a strain. On the other hand, watching Guiness play the slightly spacey Mr. Pocket was entertaining. A far cry from Obi Wan, that's for sure. If you haven't read the book, you should. Dickens was a brilliant writer.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

In photographs, the snow stays on, but, in reality, it's pretty much all gone.

And, it's less than 12 hours since the patho final ended, and I've already had 5 emails asking me when the marks will be ready, and "Did I pass? My life will end if I didn't pass."

By the way, watch "Withnail and I" and "How to Get Ahead in Advertising". Then ask yourself why anyone pays any attention to a clown like Tom Cruise when there's an actual actor like Richard E. Grant out there. Sure beats me.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Tomorrow's the big day for the patho students. Here's hoping for minimal clouding of their thought processes.

If you're looking for a good movie to rent (or to check out of your local library - free!), go for "The Third Man". One heck of a good movie.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Another thing about snow in Vancouver - it's usually very wet. When I first moved out here, I was amazed to see people walking through snow storms with umbrellas up. We didn't do that sort of thing where I grew up. Snow was cold, and it was, until you got indoors, dry. Umbrellas? I knew I'd moved to British Columbia, but, wasn't this carrying the whole "British" thing a bit too far?

A little bleak, isn't it? Well, it kind of goes with the end of term. The end of term, as any student knows, brings FINAL EXAMS, and that's not a relaxing thought. It's stressful for everyone - them and me - and it's also likely to be very depressing. Students fail, and that makes them unhappy. In some cases, it makes me unhappy, too. Some deserve to fail - they haven't got the talent, or the inclination, or whatever to go on. Sometimes, though, someone who shouldn't fail, does. I hate when that happens, and this term it has. One of the "catches" to science courses is that there is a lab component and a theory component, and you have to pass both to pass overall. One of my favourite students, who is doing fine on the theory side, failed on the lab side. Very depressing.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Well, another chip falls off the Bush edifice. John Bolton is through at the U.N. And the world rejoices.

Of course, the Shrub giveth, and the Shrub taketh away - evidently he's now thinking that resuming drilling for oil off the Alaska coast is a good idea. Oh, boy.

Vancouver doesn't get a lot of snow, so most drivers here don't get a lot of practise in dealing with it. Well, I was on the bus, heading for school the other day. The bus was driving along in the curb lane. I was sitting at the back of the bus, on the street side. I glanced down out the window to my left and saw a car driving along beside us. No big deal, right? Except for the fact that, while the car was moving in the same direction as the bus, it was, unfortunately, perpendicular to the bus.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Now that classes are over I just might switch my posting schedule. Usually I just haven't got time to post in the morning, but now...

Can you believe Bush is talking to Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the head of Sciri? The guy who, if he takes over Iraq, will instantly convert it to an Islamic theocracy? Goodbye democracy, hello dictatorship! Hello Iranian control of Iraq. So, to answer the question - of course I believe it! Democracy for Iraqis was never the point of Georgie's war. There never was a larger point to it than Georgie having a chance to show off. "Look, look! I used to be nothing but a rich, drunken frat boy! Nobody thought I'd ever amount to anything. Now look at me - I rule the world!" Or........maybe not.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Wow! Success at last. And let me tell you, it wasn't easy. Blogger beta isn't working terribly well.

On the other hand, I gave my last lecture of the term today. So, win a few, lose a few.
Interesting. Suddenly there's no way to upload photos to Blogger. Hopefully it's a temporary glitch.