Friday, March 25, 2005

Out of the Darkness

I watched I Heart Huckabees tonight while I was eating dinner. Very weird movie, but very interesting. I was expecting some sort of amusing story, but it actually an existential investigation.

The characters (Jude Law, Naomi Watts, Mark Whalberg, Dustin Hoffman, etc) are undergoing existential crises, and hire "existential investigators" who actually spy on them and their lives to uncover the source of their despair and suffering. It's not exactly meant to be an affective thought provoker, I think it was partially meant as satire, but it ends up hitting on some really fundamental themes of what it means to be human.

Being and nothingness, interconnectedness, inevitability of suffering, living in the moment, and the fact that we have to live superficial daily lives where we can't always be obssessed with these kinds of questions and themes. That is mainly what I took from Heidegger: the question of being and existence is of course important - everyone has a vague understanding of the question of being - but when you're walking to class/work, you can't be concerned with whether or not the sidewalk exists, or whether or not you're completely distinct from the particles in the sidewalk. You just have to fucking walk on the sidewalk to get where you're going!

We can't live inauthentic lives where we never examine these deeper meanings, but we can't live a life where those deeper meanings become the sole focus and we can never do anything else. Dasein is what dasein does.

So, with that in mind: I've been officially accepted into the Behavioural Neuroscience graduate program at McGill. In like flint. I am a Behavioural Neuroscientist. I am what I am going to do. And I can't wait.

Listening to: Breakaway - Kelly Clarkson

I'll spread my wings and I'll learn how to fly
I'll do what it takes til' I touch the sky
I'll make a wish
Take a chance
Make a change
And breakaway

Out of the darkness and into the sun
But I won't forget all the ones that I love

Sunday, March 20, 2005

In Between Dreams

I'm in love with the new Jack Johnson CD: In Between Dreams.

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It's deliciously mellow, easy to listen to, and immediately makes me want to sing along despite my treacherous pathetic excuse of a singing voice. His style and sound are similar to John Mayer: the romantic lyrics which make you want to curl up in a warm bed, the strong guitar based melodies, and the caramel-smooth husky sound of Jack Johnson's voice.

I'm particularly enjoying Banana Pancakes:
But baby you hardly even notice
When I try to show you this song
It's meant to keep you
From doing what you're supposed to
Like waking up too early
Maybe we could sleep in
I'll make you banana pancakes

and Crying Shame:
But it's a growing flame
Using fear as fuel
Burning down our name
And it won't take too long
Words all burn down the same
And who are we going to blame now?
It's such a crying, crying, crying shame

I'm going to listen to it again tonight when I get in bed and start into Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale - I've heard from many sources that it's something I will enjoy. Atwood is always unique, it should be interesting.

Listening to: Better Together - Jack Johnson

Thursday, March 17, 2005


St. Paddy's Day in a small University down is the drunken equivalent of... well... a drunken party that lasts all day. It is a time to wear green (in my case, my authentic Guinness shirt bought in Ireland), a time to drink some Irish beer (a pint of Kilkenny with dinner, which evidently tastes better from a tap in Kilkenny city), and a time to reminisce. For me specifically, a time to reminisce about my trip to Ireland last summer:

a lovely Guinness poster in a pub in Galway city:

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a stormy Connemara - the savage beauty of Irish terrain:

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me in front of Kilkenny castle:

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breath-taking 300+ meter tall Cliffs of Moher. Pictures can't do it justice. It's an entirely unique experience to stand there and feel so absolutely insignificant:

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and now, I think it's time for another pint.

Here's to a long life and a merry one,
A quick death and an easy one,
A cute guy and an honest one,
A cold pint - and another one!

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Saturday, March 12, 2005

Days Long Gone

The days where I looked up to my teachers with respect, trusting that they knew more than me and were going to present the material in as much of an un-biased way as possible is evidently long long past. It's possible that it never even existed at all - okay, well, maybe it was true for a few months back in kindergarten.

This semester has already been fruitful in dispelling the myth of professors being objective - i.e. History of Psych prof who thinks natural science psychology represents the Armageddon of the world of science. Unfortunately, I now have another psych prof to add to this every growing list.

My psych of gender prof has never been the sharpest tool in the shed, to use a clichéd cliché. She's a perfect candidate for What Not To Wear and frequently loses track of what she's talking about. I don't particularly enjoy the class either, because the majority of what we talk about it entirely based on stereotypes between men and women. It gets old very quickly, and doesn't provide any particle ways for us to escape the self perpetuation system of these stereotypes.

I don't normally make it habit of challenging professors, because unlike some students I do have respect for them and their position. However, this time my prof's bias was so utterly blatant and it was steering the conversation in a completely unnecessary and useless direction.

She was talking about women in the work force, and how the glass ceiling can sometimes prevent women from attaining higher status positions. Women are grossly outnumbered in executive positions, this is well documented. The prof then asked the class what, if anything, is currently being done to make the work-force a more equitable place. One class member mentioned that some companies are implementing more flexible work schedules in order for women with children to have more flexibility in when they can come in and when they can leave - instead of the strict 9-5.

This was the only potential helpful strategy that we were allowed to discuss. Following this comment, the prof went on a 15 minute schpeil (this is a 50 minute class, so that's a large chunk of the entire class) on how detrimental flexible schedules can be. She started talking about how other people to have to pick up this slack, how much more money it is going to cost the tax-payers. When she was working at a job, she was job-sharing with a lady who always came in late so the prof always had to stay longer and ended up doing the majority of the work. (Sarcasm doesn't generally translate well in text, so read those last few sentences with dripping disdain and sarcasm).

I couldn't believe it. I thought I was going to blow a gasket. I stuck my hand into the hair, and when called upon, said: "I think a main reason that the glass ceiling still exists and that programs to implement things like more flexible work schedules tend to fail in the work-place is due to the exact attitude of fear. Fear of what's going to happen to everyone else, fear of how the non-married women without children are going to be effected, fear of how much more taxes we'll have to pay. Those attitudes are a fundamental problem which needs to be addressed in order to make sure that these programs work out fairly."

I can tell the prof was so pissed, she had this defiant look on her face. She barely waited for me to finish my last syllable when she interjected with: "So you think that attitudes are the only problem and that there are no practical problems with these programs?"

I said: "I never said that at all, and that was far beyond my point. What I said was that fear and such attitudes as you were displaying are a fundamental problem that also needs to be addressed in conjunction with practical problems".

She just looked at me and said: "Well, okay, we have to move on now". Pfft. That's what I thought. She just didn't like hearing that she's afraid and biased.

I was so pissed off for the rest of the day. It's incredible that she was so blatantly biased, trying to pass those biases off on us, denying the issue, trying to put words into my mouth, and completely foregoing an opportunity to talk about how we could work towards ameliorating the work-force.

Days long gone, indeed.

Listening to: Golden Touch - Razorlig

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Sunday, March 06, 2005

Charity Ball 2005

Charity Ball was awesome! What's more fun than spending an entire afternoon watching movies, playing Marry Date or Dump, snacking, drinking, primping, and getting ready for a Charity Ball with the girls (and some boys)?

The ballroom was beautiful:

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The drinks were plentiful and deliciously full of alcohol, and we all looked stunning:

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We danced for numerous hours on perilously high heels (okay, well mine were perilously high), to those great favourite songs that everyone knows and sings along to - Sweet Caroline, Usher, Bon Jovi, Like A Prayer, Mona Mona (hey motherfucker get laid get fucked!). A large portion of the time was spent trying to get me in a picture with a guy in the back ground who had fashioned his hair à-la Flock of Seagulls - "it's Flock of Seagulls guy! QUICK! Get my camera!!!"

It was a great night, despite stumbling home in the AM with blistered feet - the price I will gladly pay for fabulous Nine West red crocodile shoes ;)

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(I'm the red-head - dyed temporarily to match the shoes and purse. heh.)

Listening to: Canned Heat - Jamiroquai

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Compassion, Moderation, Humility

I finished Lamb last night. I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed it.

Not only was it hilarious (I read the majority on the train ride back to Waterloo, and often burst out laughing which incited much rubberneck gawking by other passengers), but it was also quite poignant and touching. Moore took a 30-year gap in Jesus' life as depicted by the Bible, and managed to create a unique and hilarious spin on an old and sometimes redundant story.

Moore has Jesus take a trip out east where he learns Hindu and Buddhist philosophy - not only is the image of Jesus living in a Buddhist monastery learning martial arts terribly comical (how Moore explicates the origins of Judo: Jew-dô), but the philosophical relationship between Buddhist beliefs what Jesus preached are similar in many instances. Moore also corrects some common misunderstandings: no where in the Bible does it mention that Mary Magdalene is in fact a prostitute.

I found myself to be deeply moved and touched by the ending of the book - we follow Jesus from age 8 to his death through the eyes of his best friend. The anguish and the sorrow and the anger of his martyrdom are often not appreciated when we are bashed over the head with this story so many times. Moore captured the sense of betrayal and anguish, while also leaving room for a little hope.

All this is said in acceptance that none of it may be historically accurate. I'm atheist, but that doesn't have to stop me from being touched by a well written story. I think that's partly what I love about reading so much: the fact that books make me feel. Even if it's a feeling of sorrow, it still essentially feels good just to feel.

Listening to: World on Fire - Sarah McLaughlan