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Showing posts from December, 2011

The Wider World, 2011-2012

Looking out on the globe from the cocoon that is Canada, 2011 was a tumultuous, tempestuous and possibly pivotal year. Depending on your point of view, the Occupy movement that took hold in late summer marked either a great and powerful upsurge of the long trodden-upon, or else a colossal public nuisance-slash-waste of time. Methinks the monied class considers those one and the same: 2012 may be the year in which they learn the difference.

But I wouldn't put my money on that.

As I have been writing periodically since 2008,  there is a tremendous amount of energy being exerted to attempt to convince the world at large that there is nothing wrong here, all is well, and if it isn't, it soon will be, so please everyone, go back to sleep while we finish the job of raping your retirement correcting the economy. Anyone squawking too loud--such as, for instance, those who took it upon themselves to clutter up a few city parks--is mercilessly mocked and told to "get a job". …

525,600 Minutes

Explanation for blog title here
There’s no way, simply no way, that 2011 could have lived up to 2010, one of the best years of my life. It probably wasn’t fair to think it could even come close. And I suppose I should be grateful that 2011 didn’t quite follow the crappy pattern previously set up by other years ending in one. Let’s see. In 1981 I got glasses and moved to London, where I discovered that London kids had a thing for guys in glasses. The “thing” was a burning desire to rearrange the geography of those kids' faces. The previous year I had been arguably the most popular kid in my third grade class. 1981 was a shock, a rude one. 1991 was my first year in university, and it brought its own rude shocks. I’m still amazed people are willing to pay thousands of dollars (the price has roughly tripled since I went) to have professors read textbooks to them--and they have to buy the textbooks too. That was the year I began to fall out of love with the classroom. It was also the year…

Second Christmas

This little family has some damned weird traditions.
Perhaps the weirdest of them is our Boxing Day ritual. Christmas over the past many years has always yielded us Canadian Tire gift certificates from one place or another. Each and every Boxing Day, we've ventured out early to hit Canadian Tire as the doors open, and there we hurry to buy... supplies?

Yes, cleaning supplies. The week between Christmas and New Year's, this house gets as deep a clean as it ever gets, all in order that we can sit on our asses New Year's Eve without a dust lion in sight. So each Boxing Day we buy, among other things, roughly a year's worth of cleaning supplies and implements, along with whatever flotsam and jetsam the house requires at the moment--light bulbs, garbage bags, laundry sheets, what have you. While the rest of the world is rushing to upgrade their 76" TVs to 77" and buy a new cell phone to replace the perfect good cellphone they already have, we're bu…

All I Want For Christmas Is My Two...

...days off.
The holiday run-up this year was nothing short of insane. It's like that every year, of course, but this year the insanity was compounded by a new routine, a fair bit more responsibility, and customer patterns I could only guess at. I pride myself on staying in stock on holiday-sensitive items. Nobody's perfect, of course, and I'm less perfect than many, but over the years at Price Chopper/FreshCo I'd like to think I managed it more often than not. It's harder than it sounds. Egg nog is a case in point. The problem with egg nog is simply this: nobody buys it, nobody buys it, nobody buys it, WHAM! LET'S VACUUM UP ALL THE EGG NOG!, egg nog? why the hell would I buy that? Seriously, after New Year's you can offer people money to buy egg nog and they'll look at you as if to say money? I doan need no steekin' money. Making it harder: us peons down here at store level aren't the only ones who know about this problem with egg nog. The dair…

The Problem with Christmas that it's too short.

I don't mean the season. That now makes its first appearance before Hallowe'en and, what with interminable Boxing Day sales, extends nearly into February. I don't care how much of a Christmas person you are, three months of it is clearly too much. Yet every year the carols start up earlier and earlier.

I keep hoping for new ones to supplant I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (which I hate) and Little Drummer Boy (which I hate more). Be careful what you wish for, Ken. I had somehow managed to never hear Last Christmas in its original George Michael incarnation. Maybe I did hear it and just blocked it out. That's more likely, actually, because I hated Taylor Swift's rendition the first time I heard it. on November the first of this year, and it did not improve with the subsequent repeats every ninety minutes through every work day since.

Amazing how quickly this jaunted to the top of my stick-icicles-in-my-ear list. It's right up there…

School Daze, Part II

On what date did what bomber drop the first nuclear bomb used in warfare where?

So help me, I actually had that question on a history test once. I raided a near eidetic memory for the dry facts (August 6, 1945, Enola Gay, Hiroshima), wishing there was room to note that the bomber had been named after its commander's mother and that Hiroshima had deliberately been left completely alone by American forces so as to measure how much damage one nuclear weapon would actually cause.

Personally, I find those parenthetical remarks more interesting than dusty dates. I would have been more interested still if we had had an in-class debate, pretending it was six months before mission date.  Should we drop the bombs, yea or nay? I would have been extremely interested to hear the Japanese side of the story. Why were they fighting in the first place?
That information was never given to me; I was left to scavenge for it on my own time.  I would have been flabbergasted to learn that the Japanese w…

School Daze, Part I

Catelli over at Not Quite Unhinged has presented an excellent argument for education reform, to wit, that most of the stuff we force kids to learn is pointless. Particularly most of the math. Like him, I was told that the math I was learning would be critical to my success in later life.

Unlike him, I struggled with math. Hated it, actually. Didn't like the hard sciences, either, because "hard" means math. Somehow, I internalized that: hard is math, math is hard.

It didn't help much, in my case, that I spent grade seven and eight in a "gifted' program. If I described this program to your average public school student, she wouldn't believe me, and if she did, she'd beg to be let in. No homework. No supervision. Very little work of any kind, actually. The teacher read books to us, almost like story time in kindergarten except these books where things like George Bernard Shaw's Man and Superman. Other than that, we were left pretty much to ourselves…