Sunday, June 09, 2013

Update

Two weeks gone by in a blur. Lots of life packed into those two weeks, little of which I'm at liberty to write about, meaning a Breadbin gone cold once again. I feel like I owe my readers an apology...then I look around my little blogosphere. One friend, who used to post considerably more often than I ever did, confines most of his output to Twitter now, posting once a month to his blog, if that; another hasn't written a blog post in over a year and a half. I'm coming up on thirteen hundred posts in this here Breadbin and I'd very much like to keep it going...but it often feels these days as if there's little to write that hasn't been written already. Several times, even.

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My French course proceeds apace. I got 96% on my midterm and 98% on the little 75-word essay. I'm not bragging: nearly all of this material I learned by grade eleven, and so marks like this are to be expected. Actually, the near-perfect marks bother me inordinately for not being perfect...because the errors I occasionally make are stupid, stupid little errors. I know "maison" is feminine. I know how to spell "mademoiselle". It irritates me not just that I make little mistakes like this -- hey, everybody's brain farts every now and again -- but that I fail to catch these errors proofreading. That really pisses me off. I edit instinctively in English. Any errors you find in these blog posts (and there have been many over the years) occur because I don't often proofread before I publish. But in French, it seems like I can look at the same sentence over and over without seeing the GLARING ERROR staring me in the face.

I never had this perfectionist streak in high school. I got high marks without much effort (in anything that didn't involve math) largely because of a whole lot of outside reading. My parents used to wonder what kind of marks I'd pull down if I actually tried...and I never cared to. I had a cynical attitude towards school even then: not a place to learn, but a place to show what you've learned. That attitude grew exponentially in university, when "what you've learned" better be "exactly what the professor told you". No marks given for outside learning, not when that outside learning contradicted the prof's pet theory. Have I mentioned just how much I hated university? I have?

Anyway...

My French teacher, the same one I had for the conversational French course I took last term just to get me thinking in French again, is really good. He's been teaching French and Latin for decades, Many of our handouts bear the name of the high school he used to teach in, which brings back memories of my own high school French. I will confess, though, to a certain impatience. French courses the world over start by teaching you a certain class of verbs that end in -er: parler (to talk), ├ętudier (to study) and so on, Logically, this makes sense: there are quite a number of these -er verbs and they all conjugate exactly alike, which means you can build up a decent vocabulary fairly quickly. After you've drilled those -er verbs into your head you are confronted with ├¬tre (to be) and avoir (to have), which are both irregular; learning them gives you access to many useful expressions. But what you don't get, at least for far too long, is any instruction in tenses. We're just getting to aller (to go) this week, which will open up the future a crack (I'm going to do thus-and-such)...the actual future tense of verbs is beyond the scope of this course and possibly the next one, too. That's to say nothing of other tenses and moods...it's all well and good to know how to say "I talk", but you kind of want to know how to say things like "I would talk" or "I will have talked"...hell, we haven't even got to "I talked" yet.
Again, this is logical...an English speaker can easily get lost in the various verb endings that denote tense and mood in French. Logical, maybe...but frustrating. It makes me wonder how close to fluent I really was, once.

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There's a dishwasher arriving in our house this week. This will be the first dishwasher I've owned since...since forever, it seems. I''ve been the dishwasher for as long as I can remember, and while it's one of the few household tasks I don't mind doing...I'm never going to win contests at it.
To my way of thinking, dish soap plus rubrubrub should equal clean. Even when the dish soap is Dawn--which is liquid magic--it doesn't, not always. "When are you going to learn to clean the outsides of things?" my wife will sigh, and I'll sigh back and clean the damned dish and that'll be it until it happens again, which hopefully isn't the same day. If pressed, I'll pass the buck and blame the light in the kitchen -- which really isn't bright enough for me -- but inwardly I'll face once again the Eternal Truth: cleaning things sucks, especially things which are just going to get dirty again right quick. The amount of effort I will put into a task is commensurate with the amount of time that effing task will STAY DONE.
This extends to every corner of my life. I really wish I could shave ONCE and be done with it, that grass would grow just to a certain height and no higher, that dust would realize it serves no discernable purpose and just bugger off.  Laziness is a fault I will own up to readily, mostly because you can't miss it in me.
So now comes the dishwasher, which really doesn't reduce the labour load any ("doing the dishes" will now mean ("loading and unloading")...but which will probably do a better job than yours truly and thus will preserve Eva's sanity.
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Lots going on in the world outside. Scandals everywhere you look, no matter the political party. In America, we have Obama being viewed through a whole new PRISM. I'm sorry, I find this mordantly funny. Not that government is spying on American citizens to an unheard-of degree -- that's terrifying, Technology aside, it's exactly the kind of scenario the Founding Fathers had in mind when they put forth the Second Amendment, and this is coming from the furthest thing to a gun nut you're likely to find. Sadly, most Americans are unlikely to notice any of this, because Honey Boo Boo.
No, what I find funny is the right-wing reaction to this bullshit. Some of the same people who will rail against Big Government in any other context are saying that spying on Americans can be justified in the name of security. One of them actually said something to the effect that "this just shows how real the Islamist threat actually is: even Obama's paying attention".) Puh-leeze. With this kind of data mining, it's only a matter of time until the definition of "enemy of the state" is greatly broadened.
The tinfoil-hat types (which I will not link: search them out yourself if you want) are saying there's no good reason for Americans to know the extent of their government's surveillance...yet...and so they expect Americans will be provided with one very shortly. I'm just putting the thought out there. I don't expect a large-scale terrorist attack in the next little while, but if one happens to materialize I will find myself questioning everything I thought I knew about...everything.

Closer to home, we have our provincial Liberal government embroiled in a power plant scandal. I'll be honest: until the dirty tricks showed up I wasn't paying much attention to this. Cancelling things for political reasons is what governments do: it's as old as NIMBY. But now it seems there's a coverup as to how and why this was cancelled, and Premier Wynne's unlikely to withstand the shaking her government is getting. I expect a vote of non-confidence and an election very soon now.

Then we have the good ship Harper  in Ottawa encountering the first real storm of its sailing. Up until now, our Dear Leader has been fantastically adept at steering around political shoals and hidden reefs; any dissenters have been cheerfully thrown overboard: But now we have this Senate expenses hurricane: an ill wind blowing Harper no good.There has even been talk of Harper resigning...which believe you me, won't happen. Anybody with the chutzpah to rename the national government after himself isn't going anywhere. I'll tell you what: if Rob Ford resigns as Mayor of Toronto, I'll put some credence into Harper's resignation. But Ford would rather smoke crack than resign, so...

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And that's about it from here for a few days. Keep well, everyone.

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