Friday, 31 May 2013

Canadian Statutory Holidays

Made a little video giving you a sense of some of the holidays that are celebrated in Canada, as they are celebrated. It is a beautiful piece, and I hope it will prove both educational and enjoyable to anyone--especially non-Canadians--stumbling across it.


Saturday, 25 May 2013

The Long Drive

Bit of a crappy picture, but here's something I made :3

Small town skies


Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Awkward reflections on anger

I am an angry person. Not as much now in my old age (heh heh), but years ago, anger was the fuel that fed my fires--it kept me going, stoked my determination, forged my opinions. My anger now has diminished greatly, and only rears its ugly head once in a blue blue moon.

Where my anger before could be a general, all encompassing, hair-triggered rage, it now most commonly manifests itself in the form of targeted firey argument  Strangely, these arguments only happen with my family, or with whoever I happen to be dating at the time. Its not that I hold myself back from argument when I am with friends -- I just never get that angry in the first place when I am around them.

But with my family, yeah . . .it can get pretty explosive. What may start out as something small will inevitably snowball. Hard words will be said, shouting will ensue, and all will culminate in tears. 

What sick, twisted thing lives in me that makes this happen? Why do I pick these fights, and why do I follow them all the way through to their unhappy end?

Part of it, I think, is the need to conquer . . .to control. The dynamic of my family has never been very stable, and my romantic endeavors have also sometimes stood on soft ground. In areas where there is a lack of stability, I think, I become frightened. And given the choice between fight or flight, I guess I tend to pick fight. Dominating an argument even for a short time is some sort of control.

This may also account for why I become exceptionally upset when I find I am not dominating the argument. I have been told I am a bad loser (among other things), and I know its true. When I'm losing an argument, I start feeling like a caged animal. Hysteria rises, and that's when I really start to bite. 

When someone in my immediate family does or says something that makes me angry, I am unable to keep that anger on leash. It tears away from me, and I am a whirlwind of criticism, half-assed logic, and contempt. Normally, I'm a nice person, I think. But when the rage takes over, I think I am also one of the most hateful kinds of people. No blow is too low for me when I get like that. I don't enjoy hurting people, but I just can't seem to stop myself.

I need to learn to hold myself back until the anger fades, and I am able to talk about things less emotionally. The problem is, in some aspects of my life, the anger never really fades at all. It sits back inside of me, a spring coiled, waiting for the moment to pounce. 

I don't know why I'm writing this. Its late and I'm barely awake. I guess I just wanted to share a side of me that most (thankfully) do not get to see. Also, if anyone has any suggestions on better anger management, please help?

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Seafood Salad

K, so, this would probably be better fresh, however the Sobeys I was in was sadly lacking in anything resembling a fish department. So I went canned.


3-4 cans small shrimp
1/2 can coconut milk
lemon/lime juice to taste
as many chopped up tomatoes as you want
as many chopped up jalapeno peppers as you want
as much chopped up red onion as you want
salt and pepper to taste
cilantro (the sobeys I was at also didn't have fresh cilantro, so I got cilantro paste. . .I would NOT recommend this).

Mix the shrimp, coconut milk and lemon/lime juice together and let chill out for half an hour. Chop up everything else and mix it all together, seasoning as you like. Toss it in the fridge for another hour. That's it!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Beatitudes, morality, and you

So, today I am going to interpret the beatitudes . . .you know, because I'm totally a biblical scholar and qualified to do that.


Interpretation isn't exactly what I mean here. I would like to look at the beatitudes, look at interpretations of them as put forth by the Church (note, these will not, in fact, be my interpretations) . . . .and then I would like to make a few comments on how these little phrases can carry a lot of moral weight even for those who may not consider themselves "Christian". Why am I doing this? Because some part of me believes that morality comes down to the same things regardless of what religion you may follow, or not follow. That there are certain base elements of human morality that apply to all of us who consider ourselves to be "moral" beings, even if we do not consider ourselves to be "religious".

I would also like to apologize in advance for any unintentional blasphemy. Also note that interpretations from both perspectives are horribly generalized, and intended more to squeeze out my own thought-juice rather than convince or persuade. Full disclaimer, etc, etc.

1.) Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven: Now, this is a tricky one. A common interpretation among Christians of various denominations is that only those who understand the nature of real poverty are blessed.A common misinterpretation is that those who are spiritually deficient, or otherwise just plain poor are somehow gifted the kingdom of heaven . . . -_-u 

Anyway, lets look at this from a basic "moral" but not necessarily Christian perspective: Understanding, I think most of us would agree, is essential to any sort of moral behaviour. You cannot treat someone well, cannot do right by them, if you have no idea of what they are going through and what effect that is having on them.Often, this understanding has come from our own sufferng. Those of us who truly understand poverty and other suffering--often being acquainted with it firsthand--will naturally be better equipped to help our fellow man. 

2.)Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the land: This one's pretty straightforward. From a Christian perspective, this means that those who are humble enough to be taught by God and follow his will, will inherit God's earth.

From a non-religious perspective, there is still a moral message here of note. Although non-Christians aren't having the promise of world domination dangled before them as incentive, most basically "moral" people will acknowledge that too much pride, too much boastfulness, too much bro-like swagger is not only irritating to your fellow man (and women, too), but causes you to become self-centered in a way that prevents you from treating others as kindly as they deserve.   

3.) Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted: Another one that is especially straightforward from the Christian perspective. Those who mourn will be comforted by God, and therefore blessed.

This one is a bit more difficult to interpret from the non-Christian perspective. When a non-Christian mourns, comfort does not come from God (barring a sudden conversion, which is not uncommon). Comfort can come in the form of "it was for the best" or "it was his/her time" or just by simply taking that grief and dealing with it in purely secular ways, often including punching bags and/or alcohol. What can be said here in terms of how secular grief pertains to morality is that there is this sense of "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Those of us who have grieved, truly grieved, and who have come out the other side emerge with a better understanding of the world we live in, and once again this makes us more sympathetic towards others. 

4.) Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall have their fill: Now this one is interesting.There appear to be many different ways to interpret it from a Christian perspective. I know this is true of all of them, but some to a greater extent than others. In some ways, this could be taken literally: those who fast in the name of God could be seen as hungering and thirsting after righteousness. However, one could also take this in a more abstract spiritual sense--those who strive to fill some deficiency of righteousness within themselves, and in the world around them will someday find it. 

From the non-Christian perspective, this can also be viewed as a (more easily interpreted) moral point. The notion of fasting in this context is right out, which leaves only a more steady moral perspective.Those who strive to do right in the world, who hunger and thirst to be a "good" person, to live by moral standards whatever they may be, will wind up doing better for their fellows than those without that drive (provided that drive is not taken to absurd extremes, I suppose).

5.)Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy: This one is once again fairly straightforward to interpret from a Christian perspective. Those who are merciful to others, will receive mercy from God.

From the secular perspective, too, this is straightforward. While not receiving mercy from God, necessarily, for merciful actions, non-Christians can and frequently do use this concept of mercy in their own moral practices. Forgiving other people's flaws, accepting that everyone is just human seems to be a significant moral point around the board. 

6.) Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God: The meaning of this from the Christian perspective means a person who keeps clean of sin, or is forgiven for their sins and continues to stay out of sin. One of the fundamentals of the religion, as I understand it, is this striving for purity.

From the non-Christian perspective, the meaning could be interpreted as slightly different, but result in another moral component. While non-Christians are not preoccupied with keeping themselves free of sin, per se,there does seem to be some element of purity in their moral system which, often in a bassackwards way consists of staying true to that same moral system.   

7.)Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God: While some denominations interpret this as an encouragement for pacifism, others interpret it as taking a more active role in ending conflict. 

This applies in pretty much the same way across the board regardless of religion. Avoiding being unnecessarily confrontational, playing the role of peacemaker between two conflicting parties seems a common moral point among both Christians, and non-Christians. CAN'T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG? 

8.)Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice's sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven: From the Christian perspective, this often means that those who are willing to suffer for their religion will receive rewards for their sacrifice.

From a secular perspective, this can be interpreted as a willingness to suffer for what the individual believes is a "just cause" as a strong moral point. Sticking to your guns and your moral beliefs, and being willing to fight for them in the face of criticism is an important characteristic of anyone considering themselves "moral" in some way. Once again, provided that this is not taken to extremes, and that the moral system this is based on is not totally whacked.  

Monday, 13 May 2013

I'd like to do this. . .

This is gonna sound a little weird, but ever since I first watched my dad do it, and got the opportunity to do it in some sort of "lets get kids interested in science" thing at the UofS, I have been interested in soldering. Yes indeed. . .melting a filler metal to join together two (or more) solid bits of metal. I even like the way it smells (which is probably a bad thing).

The question is, what can a girl like me do with this interest in soldering, with no practical reason to do it? I'm too intimidated by the notion of stained glass to apply my interest in soldering there. I'll leave that hobby to braver librarians (the kind who once served in the army and who enjoy tormenting students with generalized incompetence, and harrowing tales of personal history, eight hour commutes). So what to do?

The answer: frivolity!

A few examples of some soldered miscellania culled from the internet. Inspiration! Wouldn't this be fun?

purdy tree!

love the rough texture of the solder
for slightly creepy pieces like this

simple . .. would be a good thing to try for starts.

create interesting settings for colored stones

this is just badass

So . you think I should ask Dad if I can borrow his soldering iron? And if so, what are the chances that I will horribly maim myself in use?

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Who is Clara (Oswin) Oswald?

Not gonna bother explaining Doctor Who or the current season here . . .it wouldn't make any sense if I tried. It barely makes sense if you're familiar with it. So, this post is targeted directly at my Whovian friends:

Who is Clara (Oswin) Oswald?

first of all, she's a very pretty girl
There is an epidemic of theories flying around the internet--everything from Rose somehow driving Clara into the Doctor's path for unknown reasons, to Clara being a creation of the Great Intelligence as a lure to the Doctor. My favorite, though, is that Clara is a relative of the Doctor's. A granddaughter, or great granddaughter.

Reasons Clara is The Doctor's Granddaughter:

1.) Rings of Akhaten: In the Rings of Akhaten, Clara asks The Doctor if he had ever been there before. He responds that yes, in fact he had visited with his granddaughter, once. That he has a granddaughter at all is mentioned little enough, and Moffat is subtle enough, that this was likely not just a casual drop.

2.)Families Across Time:  In Hide, the notion of family across time is introduced 

      Doctor:  No, you can’t have met but she can be your great, great, great, great, great granddaughter. Yours too, of course. But you guessed that already, didn’t you. Oh. Apparently not. 

      Palmer:  The paradoxes 
      Doctor: Resolve themselves, by and large. That’s why the psychic link was so powerful. Blood calling to blood, out of time. Not everything ends. Not love. Not always.

It makes sense, given this rather heartfelt statement on the part of the Doctor, that if he has family drifting through time (perhaps family unknown to him, and unknown to them) they would be drawn together. . .again and again. . .

3.)Gallifreyan Ties: Journey to the Center of the TARDIS: This is the episode most rife with suggestions as to why Clara could be the doctors great/great great granddaughter. One of the major ones (as was pointed out to me) is that Clara was able to read the book of the Time Lord Wars . . .presumably written in Gallifreyan , the only language (?) which the TARDIS cannot parse for its passengers. That Clara can, unaided, read Gallifreyan perhaps indicates that there is some of that blood in her. 

Also, and this is just a silly girl intuition thing. . .Clara stated that the hug the Doctor gave her towards the end of the episode felt quite nice. I don't think this was in the typical "companion irresistibly attracted to the Doctor" sense, I think this was in a girl looking for Family sense. Or that's sort of what her expression implied. 

4.) Other things:
      - Clara can give the doctor a run for his money, intellectually, in all three of her timelines. Who else has been able to do this, apart from other Time Lords? Not many. 
      - Of all of the companions, Clara is the one who matches the doctor most in personality. Her thirst for adventure, cleverness and comprehension, and sense of self sacrifice (in many ways, the children she nanny's for are microcosm of The Doctors relationship with humanity) match The Doctors almost exactly.
      - Self sacrifice, death, and rebirth.I know that Clara's rebirths are not pure regenerations like The Doctors, but there has to be some reason this is happening, and I can't think of what it is apart from some sort of Time Lord heritage. 
      - The TARDIS doesn't like her. Okay, stretching here, but we know from The Doctors Wife that the TARDIS is as possessive of her Time Lord as he is of her. The TARDIS did not really view the other, human companions as a threat, but for some reason Clara is. Perhaps the TARDIS fears that Clara, as the new Time Lord on the block, will take over the controls. 

      Which, in fact, she does. The TARDIS allows Clara to drive her, in Hide, when the Doctor (for once) needs saving. (Come to think of it, The Doctor has needed a lot of saving lately, hasn't he?). The reason I draw attention to this is that the fact that Clara was able to operate the TARDIS at all, singlehanded, after so little time aboard, is no mean feat. Oddly, this piloting occurred off camera. Could Clara's Time Lord genetics have played into her piloting abilities?

To be fair, I'll present a big glaring huge affront to my theory. Clara has parents. We have seen her grow up. She does not just regenerate, fully formed, sans memories. Although, if she *is* the Doctor's granddaughter, I'm sure this apparent birthing through human parents can be Moffated into something that sort of makes sense. 

Anyway, happy pondering, Whovians!

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Suzerainty and Saskatchewan

Always going off on these Saskatchewan tangents. I could have made a whole section for it by now. But, write what you know, eh? So, I'm going to write a bit more about what I know: a trend in the province that has been on my mind for awhile. Now I've found a word for it, sort of. So lets put this word to work (as words are meant to be): 

Suzerainty: A situation in which a region or people is a tributary to a more powerful entity which allows the tributary some limited domestic autonomy. The more powerful entity in the suzerainty relationship, or the head of state of that more powerful entity, is called a suzerain. The term suzerainty was originally used to describe the relationship between the Ottoman Empire and its surrounding regions. It differs from sovereignty in that the tributary has some (limited) self-rule.

(Thank you again, Wikipedia

Now, I know this term might be a little bizarre in application to a Canadian province, and its not entirely accurate either, but humour me a little.

The prairie provinces are places with a whole lotta space, and not a whole lotta people. In Saskatchewan, there are approximately 1.8 people per square kilometer, compared to Ontario's 14.1. So, there is a lot of space, and few cities. But! But, these cities have near infinite space to expand in, and they are. They spread across the province, consuming smaller towns as they go. This is a process that has occurred in other, now more population dense areas around the world. It is interesting to see it developing in the here and now. 

One could almost call these cities the suzerain to these small town tributaries who, while not exactly providing tribute to their parent city, provide a large portion of its workforce (slaves/commuters) and income. These units maintain some autonomy, but over time come to be more and more governed by the city as a whole.

But what about those towns too far out for the city to reach them? Towns in the far and distant drab dead corners of the province. Boom towns, that once had high aspirations to being the provinces best and greatest, but failed miserably in those goals. What becomes of them?

We call those the ghost towns, and to look at them, the name fits. These towns are ghosts of hopes and dreams of times long past, when this was the new world, and anything was possible. Now, houses stand empty, sagging. Windows broken in, glass crunching gravel beneath the feet of those who dare explore them. Barns have collapsed. Houses have been vacated with cupboards still stocked, closets still full, as everyone got out in a hurry, to gravitate towards the city--the suzerain--where the jobs, the money, and the hopes are. In the more recently abandoned towns, you will see schools, their playgrounds overgrown, jungle gyms looking their name, rusted, shrubs growing up around their metal bases. You can see the kindergarten wing, paint faded, sun-bleached construction paper butterflies still taped to the windows. 

My father's family at one point settled in one of these towns, before it had died . .. when it was still kicking, teeth bared, fighting for life in the vast prairie. My father's grandmother was buried there, outside of a small church in the area of what once was Spring Valley. If you visit the town now, there is not much left. What once was a settlement, a small one, is now nothing more than a couple of farms, clinging to the land, trudging on through hell and high water (and believe me, Saskatchewan has plenty of both) fueled by pure stubbornness.

Back to the church. Perhaps because the church itself is an institution of hope, they are often the last to fall to this sweeping blanket of rural decay. The church my great grandmother is buried outside of still operates--sometimes--when the weather allows, and a preacher is available. It is maintained, not always well, but it still stands, its windows holding glass, its roof mostly shingled. What is more well maintained than the church is the graveyard. The markers still stand, stand as strong as memories do, until even those fade. Some of the markers are quite new, as a new generation, gripping those memories, pay tribute to those who have passed. The lawn is green, kept trimmed, and the whole space is surrounded by a crazy tangle of prairie grass and wildflowers (brown eyed susans, my favorite).

My dad makes a pilgrimage out there once a year, to visit a grandmother he never knew. He'll pick her flowers on the way (nothing bought), lay them upon the grave. Get back in his truck, for the eight hour drive back home. I'd like to say I will keep up that tradition, but I know that is not likely. The grass will take the grave, and the church will fall. 

There is something peaceful about this, however. As man drifts towards the populated areas, the land is left to reclaim what it owns. Part of me hopes the cities will never reach that far. That it will leave the ghosts to their rest in silent peaceful places. I want there to still be corners of the world where that sort of peace can exist. I want a tangled patch of wildflowers, a collapsing barn, brown eyed susans in quiet sunlight. A sound of crickets, wind, birds, nothing more. 

I suppose that is why Saskatchewan comes up so much here. As much as I dislike some of the puritanical morals, the religious close-mindedness of many of the people, there is still some sort of perfection in the places where the people are not. There is peace, which is hard to come by, and it is something I would like to carry in myself, even as those peaceful spaces are consumed by the grasping urban fingers of human progress.