Daily Drama

And it’s not even a month into the new semester. That’s just pathetic, I know, but I’m sitting in my Intro to Computer Science lecture and want to smack my head open on my desk. The lecturer is not great; he’s relatively nervous and his accent makes listening an exercise in translation. And trust me, the info is all lost in that translation. I miss the other lecturer, and I didn’t think I would ever say that. To make matters worse, I know most of what has been covered in this class so far. I wanted an easy class to get an easy good mark in during my last semester.

I can hear what you’re saying, right now: Be careful what you wish for, Melanie; you might get it. Truer words have rarely been spoken. There’s a reason that’s part of (I think) an ancient Chinese curse.

Someone please put me out of my misery.

And so ends the daily rant. We now return you to your regularly scheduled life 😉


Note: I wrote this the night of the election and it was printed in my university’s student newspaper a couple of days later. I just felt it belonged on my blog, so here it is. Obviously some things have changed, some for worse, some for better, but this was still a great day for me.

On Tuesday night, another historic milestone was reached. As a usually not-so-proud American, I was giddy with excitement when I filled out my absentee ballot a week earlier. I’d never voted before (Americans aren’t good about telling citizens abroad they have the right), but I can honestly say I wouldn’t have been as excited in the last election. Let’s face it, Kerry was okay, but not really approachable or accessible to all voting classes.

However this election has been by turns thrilling and disgusting, hilarious and sombre. I admit, at the beginning of the primary season, I was leaning toward John McCain. Even though he’s a Republican, he had a reputation for independence and didn’t always toe the party line. As the sheen wore off, I realised that ended back in the 1990s and I noticed with dismay how much more hard-line his positions had become.

I was never a huge Hillary supporter beyond the fact that she’s a woman, mostly because I detect a suspicious affinity for political expediency in her character and she’s far too establishment for my taste: too many skeletons in the closet, too many favours owed.

Enter Barack Obama. He’s articulate, well-educated, erudite; he understands how useless the establishment can be. He’s also black; well, it’s about damn time. But wait, he was endorsed by Oprah before he even decided to run. That right there made me think thrice about voting for him; is he just a token, or worse, a puppet?

That’s when I started paying closer attention to the primaries than I ever have (not enough to register to vote in them, I don’t declare party affiliation and was still leaning toward McCain at that point). On the Democrat side, I was stuck between the female token and the African-American one, until I started listening to their words, how they see the United States and envision its future. Hillary made a lot of “Shrub sucks!” comments, but Obama didn’t do much of that. Instead, he focused on the way forward for the nation as a whole.

As I started to realise this one might be the real deal, he got the nomination at the Democratic Convention; I celebrated with a small “yay!” in my living room. The campaign began and he continued to impress me. He obviously also impressed many other: not only did he raise the most money ever, he also raised it from the most people ever (we’re talking $20-100 increments, people). It started to get negative, as these things do, but nothing compared to previously.

Obama continued to focus on change, hope for the future and a way out of our current quagmire (not just wars, but social safety net and economic issues too). I was more impressed by the day (McCain’s choice of Palin also disgusted me, making Obama seem even more…better). Then the economy went to hell and things got right messy: it was clear that the McCain and Obama camps didn’t like each other much.

Still, in the end, I was proud to see record voter turn-out (projected at about 64 per cent), to cast my own ballot and to vote for Barack. And when he won I was, for once, proud to call myself an American. Will he be perfect? No. Will he be able to deliver everything he promised? Probably not. Will this nip that looming recession in the bud? Hell no!

But Obama seems to understand that torture is bad, no matter what. He knows that a social contract exists between the governed and the state which must be honoured by both parties, always. He grasps the concept of multilateralism and how essential it is in the changing world order. I believe this man will do his best to fix what he can and to return the nation to the foundations upon which it was built: All humans are created equal and are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

As Obama sums it up, “Hope”. That’s why I voted for him.

I was told something was funny. I looked it up and disagreed: to me, it was hilarious. But not everyone would necessarily agree, mostly because the lens through which someone views anything is generated to a large extent by the culture in which they have been socialised. This particular case was funny to us North Americans, but a CEO in Europe would likely have said something along the lines of: this is a waste of time, and I’m not paying you to waste time.

As the internet has revolutionised the way we talk to each other, it has also brought cultures into contact which have previously had little to none. Plus, the way we now communicate so instantaneously lacks a certain element: face-to-face (F2F) communication. Most of us are never as aware of the importance of visual and/or audio cues in a conversation until we notice the lack of it.

Yesterday, I had a lovely, and extended conversation with my little brother, Linus. But it was on the phone, and so much of what he was telling me, I had a hard time understanding, since he uses his hands to talk, just like every other Gattiker. Luckily, my father was there and able to explain when I got lost, but without him, I’m sure my conversation would have been immeasurably shorter and far less satisfying.

This could easily be fixed with a video call, I’m certain, but not everyone has that capacity, and here the digital gap or divide becomes problematic. The world runs on money, and not everyone has enough to allow for things like video calls. So are we just stuck with the way thing are, or will technology somehow improve so drastically as to allow for free access for everyone?

Just a thought.

Edited 05.01.09: Claiming a blog is important in today’s social media environment. Or so I’ve been told, so that’s what I’m doing at my.commetrics.com.

Apparently, it’s now become too dangerous to have people apply for a passport by mail. Don’t misunderstand me, it’s not that I think this is the biggest crime of the century, but it seems rather ridiculous to expect people to trek across the country to get a travel document.

The problem is I need a new German passport and the “closest” consulate which can help with that is in Vancouver. That’s a whole 1500 kilometres away (approximately). It wouldn’t be so hard/impossible/bad if there was a consulate in Calgary (a mere two hours away), but no; it’s either Vancouver or frickin’ Toronto or Montreal, not to mention Ottawa (site of the Embassy in Canada).

I just find that ridiculous, and I know I’m not the only non-Canadian citizen trying to get a new passport who isn’t a U.S. citizen (they have consulates all over the place because of Canada’s “close ties” with them). The Germans are the only ones I know of to implement this “new” rule, which is typical. If the Swiss can manage to do this by mail, why can’t the Krauts?? (The closest Swiss consulate is also in Vancouver.)

Grrr…..sooo frustrating! Thanks for reading my rant, we now return to your regularly scheduled internet content.

I must confess that I kind of keep forgetting about my blog. Hence, an update nearly a month after my last posting. This is bad. Nevertheless, here’s what’s going on in my little corner of the provincial election.

At this point, it looks like the Progressive Conservatives are in a serious dog-fight for several of their seats. Hallelujah!

Maybe we’ll get a government that actually does something. Maybe.

Election Day is on Monday, March 3rd, and I’m going to a little party to watch the results with the Association of Political Science Students, which should be great, those guys are lots of fun.

I am feeling utterly uninspired today, so I’ll close here, with the vague notion of not waiting so long between posts again.

And that’s all she wrote.

So, the fall semester started and I was somewhat dimwitted when choosing my classes: I decided that I was going to try to be good and take four classes, especially considering Tasha’s motivation was rubbing off on me. What I didn’t consider was that the one class had a lab every week and the way it was put together, the lab was basically like having a fifth class, which totally did me in. And the hell of it is, I should have known, because I had already taken the class once before (and failed it miserably). In any case, I wanted to also participate in Vox Musica again, but quickly found that I simply did not have the time or the energy.

The fact that I had classes every day of the week last semester only exacerbated things, as well as the fact that I did not take the Meliorist’s production schedule into account. I was almost overwhelmed, to say the least. But in the end, I managed to get through it all and passed all of my classes, even the stupid stats one that I struggled with (along with the stupid lab). Yay! It was a D, but nevertheless, it’s the passing grade that counts.

I also got a job later in the semester as a tour guide on campus, which has been really interesting and fun. The best part is how well it pays, which is always a good thing. I applied for a student proctor position in the university labs, but didn’t get one, since they had more people come back than expected (according to the guy who did the hiring). He practically begged me to reapply for the spring semester, since there would be four people leaving, and made it seem like I was pretty much a shoo-in. Unfortunately, no go, apparently. But more on that later.

I also turned 25 in November, which was somehow scary. I’m now a whole quarter of a century old. I had some people over, which was nice and even got some nice gifts 🙂 There was a turnover at work, as well, with a new manager coming in from Lake Louise. He’s a U of L grad, but he’s bloody well two years younger than I am too, and that’s frakking weird.

Wayne, my mother’s partner of almost a decade and almost a step-father to me, left for Yuma in Arizona shortly after Thanksgiving (which dinner I had at my place, a first for me; it went well and was totally great). This is the second time he’s done it, and he rather enjoys it and is therefore now a Snowbird. The fact that he and my mother decided to buy a park model trailer down there, instead of hauling the whole thing back and forth every year just cements it.

My mother also decided that she would be retiring at the end of the academic year, which was a big step for her, but she felt really good about the decision once it was made and I’m very happy for her. Her replacement was hired and she trained Amanda as much as she could before the Christmas break.

Not too long after Wayne left, he bought a plane ticket home for Christmas, and shortly after that, my father calls me out of the blue to invite me to celebrate the season with them. In Switzerland. That’s all well and good, I thought at the time, and I appreciated the thought, but he left it a bit late. By that time, I would have been unable to get a ticket from Delta using my points and the flight options were not huge or very cheap, unfortunately. Nevertheless, the notion of the invite was mighty nice, and we agreed that I would plan on it for next Christmas (read: later this year).

While Tasha went home, I stayed here and celebrated Christmas with my mother and step-father, who had flown home for the event. I actually worked on Christmas Day, since we celebrate on Christmas Eve, and it was quite nice. Got some mighty nice gifts, had some mighty swell things to give away, if I do say so myself. Things went over well, I think. Shortly after, they left me in the wintry north to go to Yuma together. Mum had two months of vacation on the books, and she wanted to redeem it before she leaves the uni.

I had a little get-together with some friends for New Year’s Eve, and Mike and I got into the vodka. He bet me he could drink me under the table, and of course, I had to prove him wrong. I so kicked his butt. Heh.

Tasha came back a couple days later and the new year began not so much with a bang, but with a whimper. Same old, same old.

Back with part 2!! Summer was good in terms of school, too. I took four classes and passed most of them. I even had a pretty good GPA for the semester. Amazing. I didn’t pass the Hinduism class I took, but I did the rest, including the last two I needed to fulfill my science GLERs. I took a sociology course as well, which was quite interesting, about Youth, including alienation and the political economy critique of current social norms in the West. It was especially enlightening to see the historic evolution of what we now consider “normal” in terms of youth’s place in the social strata.

The best part of the summer was that I had to drop the class that I had originally planned on taking as my fourth in session 3. It turned out to be a really hard and bad class, I heard from many people, plus that meant I basically had the month off. I went to Las Vegas and Los Angeles with my mother in mid-August for a week, and it was my first time in either place in a really long time. It was so nice to travel with my mother, which we haven’t done alone in a while, so we sort of reconnected again, as well, which was an added bonus.

It was totally awesome to see Las Vegas now that I’m allowed in the casinos and don’t get chased out everywhere, even though it was very hot. I also got to see some old family friends for the first time in many moons. It was somehow very cool to go back to Los Angeles (my birth metropolis) and see some of the places I’m sure I had seen on previous trips and/or when we lived there. My mother pointed out a lot of changes as well, and it was just nice to have a current mental picture of the places that are should somehow be so familiar.

The best part, though, was meeting up with my mum’s cousin and her husband, who were on a trip around the world from Australia. I hadn’t seen them in 13 years, and it was totally amazing just to spend time with them and chit-chat. We also went to the Hollywood Bowl, which is totally awesome: it’s an open-air concert hall. People bring picnics for dinner and just have an all around good time. I had been there for the first time when I was seven or eight, and we went to see the Philharmonic play Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 (which at the time was my favourite classical piece that I had ambitions of learning one day…ha!).

For the most part, the program at the Bowl includes not so popular stuff, since the Philharmonic moves there for the summer, but they do things like Beatles retrospectives and bring in jazz artists as well. The night we went, we saw Diana Krall. The first half was pretty short, with the orchestra playing some arrangements of jazz standards, but the second half was all the lovely Canadian. She played and sang for about an hour and a half and was surprisingly funny (she told stories about her hometown, Nanaimo). She even did a couple of encores. It was so great, even from the nosebleed section, where we’d gotten our relatively cheap seats (about $30 a pop), but they have four big-screen tellies scattered around the audience for the people who are far away, and it works quite well.

I must say, that trip was definitely the highlight of my summer. And with good reason, in my not-so-humble opinion.

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