Sunday, January 30, 2011

So I'm not normally a horoscope kind of guy...I don't take them seriously, and I don't usually even check them.  (Okay that last part may be more of a function of how seldom I read any kind of daily media, but still) Mainly because there are so many different and conflicting ones, and how most of the time they have nothing useful to say whatsoever.  However, since today is my birthday, I thought I'd make an exception and take a little look see at what people are saying.  So, just for kicks here's my horoscope from a few sources. 

My horoscope according to the BBC:


30 Jan 2011
The end of January already. Where did the time go? This is quite a nostalgic Sunday for you, Aquarius, but you might be berating yourself for things not achieved this month that you wish you had done. Don't be too hard about it. After all, you have still have another eleven months to go in 2011

According to the Waterloo Record online:

Flashes of insight may be quite profound now, whether they come to you through dreams or in your waking hours. The combination of the Moon and Neptune can increase your psychic awareness. Who needs John Edward when you also possess the sixth sense? Listen to your heart.
From the Toronto Sun online:
Your horoscope for January 30
Happy Birthday: Too much, too soon will be your downfall. Take your time and be calculating and cautious and the right moment will come for you to pursue your dreams, hopes and wishes. Let your intuition guide you, not your impatience or desire for recognition. Your numbers are 6, 11, 16, 21, 28, 33, 45
Birthday Baby: You are unique and original but also practical and cautious. You are reluctant to give up your goals to help others.
CELEBRITIES BORN ON THIS DAY: Wilmer Valderrama, 31; Christian Bale, 37; Charles S. Dutton, 60; Vanessa Redgrave, 74
and the specifically Aquarius portion:
Show interest and concern for the underdog. Love is in the stars and your ability to offer more than you have in the past will be well received by someone looking for equality. A job prospect is apparent. 4 stars

Some interesting tidbits mixed up in there I suppose.  I'd say the most interesting thing would have to be that I share a birthday with the coolest Batman ever.  I certainly hadn't appreciated that before, fun fact.  Also, "psychic awareness" and "John Edward"? Wow, Record, I'm disappointed in you...even for a horoscope!
I'm always amused by the lucky numbers idea.  Clearly influenced by the lottery companies?  Other than pick these numbers to gamble on, what am I supposed to do with them?  Should I only trust people that are these ages? 

Also interesting is some of the phrasing..."show interest and concern for the underdog".  Interesting use of the word "show" meaning presumably that it doesn't matter whether I actually "have" any interest and concern as long as I appear to do so. 

Ahh well I could pick these apart all day, but I do have other things that I should probably be doing, so I'll leave it at that for now.  What are people's thoughts on horoscopes in general?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

On the Ownership of Knowledge

At what point can you say that you know something? 

Maybe that seems like a weird you might have noticed, I'm a student. This means, like most students I spend a lot of time writing papers.  Long research essays, book reviews, short reflection papers, the length and the subject are pretty irrelevent in that almost always the same thought comes up.  Inevitably there will be something I want to say, maybe a comment about a certain figure's life or beliefs, or a comparison of one historical event to another.  But as I go to type it, I start to worry...the thought "how do I know this?" crosses my mind. "Did I read this somewhere?  Is this someone else's idea that I only think is my own? Or am I safe to assume it would be accepted that I just knew it?"  With the ever present fear of an accusation of plagiarism I start to worry that I cannot speak in an authoritative voice of my own.  I begin to look for other sources who have said something similar so that I can quote them, taking refuge behind the words of another. 

I understand the argument that while I'm an undergrad it is assumed I am an authority on nothing.  I need to at least have a master's before I can begin to have the audacity to speak directly without the shield of protective quotes.  But sometimes it just seems so ridiculous, when as essay begins to look like one long string of quotations from other sources, and my contributions amount to "It is said that, [quotation] which would suggest as so-and-so said [quotation]".  Okay, granted I am exaggerating somewhat for effect, but I think you get what I mean. 

Can we assume that we know things that are a matter of public record and historical fact?  For instance, the dates of World War 2?  1939-1945, as most people are probably aware.  Certainly you could open any one of hundreds of books on the war and find those dates in them.  Are those dates intellectual property of someone else?  Or is it fair to say that I know them?  What about events that occurred during my lifetime?  If I lived through it, am I allowed to comment on it without referencing someone else?  You see how you can start to chase your own tail around and around over this. 

I know that plagiarism is a constant concern, especially with the ever present internet to steal ideas from, and goodness knows I wouldn't want my hard work and ideas ripped off and attributed to someone else...but sometimes I just get frustrated by how careful I have to be to avoid even the slightest possibility of a hint of unattributed thought in anything I submit. 


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

An Addendum

Oh, and I almost forgot, I actually had someone ask me at work for de Quincey's "Confessions of an English Opium Eater" yesterday, which made me smile since I essentially cribbed the title of my blog from it.  Just thought I'd share that.

Is it January Already?

Wow, so my birthday is in 25 days for those of you keeping track in our studio audience!  I can't believe it's already January, and classes have already started again for the semester.  Not much of a break between semesters this year...actually it was a fluke that I found out classes started this week and not next, I was asked for my availability at work and so I pulled it up on the computer to hand in.  Then I said "oh I think it starts on the 10th" and my assistant manager said, "oh really? I thought it was earlier than that." When I doublechecked I discovered (thankfully) he was right!  So at least I didn't miss any classes. 

Seems like a good lineup of classes so far...only one left that I haven't had yet, for which I leave in about half an hour.  Keep your fingers crossed for me that it turns out to be good too. 

So last semester I slacked a bit and my marks reflect that. I'm going to see what I can do to make more of an effort this semester to bring them back up.  Last semester it was just one of those "holy hell is it really the end of October already?" realizations, where I was way behind in work and playing catch up...hence the title of this post is serving dual purpose as a reminder to me how quickly I can fall behind if I'm not paying attention.  Hopefully that'll work!

Anyway, this is kind of a rambling post about nothing, more stream of consciousness than anything, so I will call it a halt for now.  Perhaps I will elaborate on my classes later on tonight when I get back from work (which I have to go straight to after my last class, whee!)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

An Actual Confession! (gasp!)

All right, I did title this blog "Confessions etc. etc...." so here's one for you. 

I have a terrible habit of failing to follow through on things.  I think of a new project/idea/goal/inspiration, and I get super enthusiastic about it, and come up with grandiose plans and schemes as to how I'm going to make it happen and (at least sometimes) how it will make some huge change or impact in my life.  Then I start to actually do whatever it is I've set out to do. In the beginning everything seems okay. For awhile at least I do put in a solid effort, maybe for a few weeks, sometimes even as long as a couple of months. 

Then something happens.  Either it's harder than I thought it would be, or I get discouraged about the progress I'm making, or worst of all I'll be making decent progress but then a new project/idea/goal/inspiration comes along and because it has the glamour and shine of a new idea, the one I'm currently working on starts to seem lacklustre or dull in comparison, and I transfer all of my energy and effort to the new pet project, and so the cycle continues.  That last one is the most common...I have a terrible weakness for wondering what's around the next corner, or through the next door, or what's happening tomorrow. 

This failure of follow through has happened with a desire to exercise more, to learn new languages (or relearn french, my mother's a french teacher dammit I should be bilingual!), to get back into playing guitar, to write more (even this blog is in some ways an attempt to get myself writing more), to spend more time on school work, and so on, and so on.  It tends to happen when I get jobs too...during the first few weeks or months of training I'm the golden boy, who looks like such a promising new candidate for whatever the position is, but then I get comfortable with what I'm doing (translation: lazy) and start just treading water, instead of still striving to push forward and continually improve and all that early praise dries up and I just seem average again. 

I'm not writing this as a prelude to a belief that I will miraculously change...this is not a new year's resolution (you can guess how successful I am at keeping those!) It was just on my mind, and I'd never written about it before (that I can recall) so I figured I'd put it down here.  To name a thing is to own a thing, or so they say, and at least I can acknowledge that I know this about myself.  It is not one of my more endearing qualities.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Attack of the Christmas Zombies

I get it.  Really I do, the holidays are a stressful time and people get burnt out and frustrated with the seemingly endless sea of decisions and preparations they have to make.  I've been there.  But come on people, sometimes the questions you're asked just aren't that hard!  You should still be able to answer them.  Unless something darker and more insidious is going on...unless you have become a Christmas zombie!

Consider the following exchange, when a customer comes to my cash register to buy something:
me: Do you have one of our discount cards?
customer: *blank uncomprehending stare*
me: *this time pointing to an example card at the register* Do you have one of our discount cards? 
customer: uhhhhhhhhhhhh...*I take this as a no*
me: Okay, and did you want to buy a plastic bag for your purchase?  They're five cents. 
customer: uhhhhhhhh...*they make a - possibly involuntary - head twitch that I interpret as a negative. I finish ringing in their purchase, with an effort to avoid having to ask any further questions, then smile politely while they shuffle away.*

Now consider the following slightly dramatized version:
me: Do you have one of our discount cards?
customer: *blank uncomprehending stare, one empty eye socket, clutching gnawed limb*
me: *this time pointing to an example card at the register* Do you have one of our discount cards? 
customer: brrraaaaaaaaiiiiinnnnns....*I take this as a no*
me: Okay, and did you want to buy a plastic bag for your purchase?  They're five cents. 
customer: brrraaaaaaaaiiiiinnnnns....*they attempt to grab for my skull, their remaining eye gleaming with unholy fire.  I brush them politely away, interpreting this as a lack of desire for a bag. I finish ringing in their purchase, then smile politely while they shuffle off to eat the people at the beauty product booth outside my store*

Do you see how those two scenarios are almost exactly the same?  Christmas zombies, I tell you, it's a zombapocalypse waiting to happen. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Start with the Dough and the Sauce...

I have a Greek final exam in two days that I really should be studying of course, this seems to me to be the best time to do something completely not study related and start a new blog. I don't know about the rest of you but my desire to do something fun (blog, read, play video games etc.) is directly proportionate to how badly I should be doing something else (study, clean, go to work, etc.).  And being aware of that fact does nothing to help me overcome it.  But hey, at least you all benefit right? Assuming I can come up with anything worth reading.  Hmm...

Okay, well the name of the blog for starters.  I love pizza.  It's pretty much an addiction, it doesn't seem to matter how often I have it, I'm always in the mood for more.  Case in point, I had pizza for lunch and dinner yesterday (in my defense, I had an exam last night too, so it's not as lazy as it sounds) and yet when thinking about what to eat for lunch today, what thought crosses my mind first but "hmm, I could go for pizza!" Possibly this means I need help, but I don't think there's a support group for that. 

...Now there's a mental image.  Me, standing in front of a circle of people sitting on those uncomfortable plastic can see the pizza sauce still on my chin, perhaps one lone pepperoni piece stuck to my shirt.  I have one of those "hello my name is" stickers on, and I'm in the middle of stammering out "Hi my name is Thomas and I'm a pizzaholic."  But I digress...

I've written blogs in the past, but sooner or later I always lose track of them and they disappear into the land of wind and ghosts.  This is probably because at times I have the attention span of a hyperactive fruit fly.  So I'm not going to make any grandiose promises about how often I'll post or anything like that.  We'll see what happens.  Nor will I try to predict what I will be writing about, although I can guess rants about life in retail, books, video games, and anything else that captures my attention enough to make me want to say something about it. 
In the meantime I need to get ready for work...I have to pay for the pizza somehow!