Sunday, January 27, 2008

Fester



Lyra goes for the treat.


No, she didn't do that herself, but I thought if I hid treats among the debris I could blame the mess on them.

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In other news, I got the Ogrant (thank you, all), and have started sewing. Pajama bottoms. Nothing fancy.

I have been torturing myself lately about topics that are worth writing a novel about... a story that could be developed, a character that would be worth that much writing... I feel very inadequate for the task. So many sentences, so many stories need to be invented! I don't generally develope ideas that deeply... I consider myself unable to complete a story that complicated in any meaningful way. How can you craft details to complement each other perfectly, and have some sort of combined meaning? I don't like to think about it. I have been studying the elements of Creative Writing for months now, but still think of the work of writers as some magical concoction, for which I possess neither the correct ingredients nor a recipe for combining them.

And I recently tore up a book. It was a slow process, and forced me to read fragments of sentence, chapter headings, words... In conclusion, books are not mystical, many people write them, they are made up of paper, ink, and printed with combinations of 26 letters, ten numbers and nine or ten punctuation marks... but that doesn't help me figure out how to create one.

I've had nightmares of plot outlines, character flow charts, prologues. And I am feeling very antagonistic at every thought of Lesley Choyce. I had to remove his book of short stories from my bookshelf and turn it around so that the spine would face the wall, to avoid the negative thoughts that surge up from within when I see the name.

If I could hide in a friendly white tube, I would, but the swamp of words beckons.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Another article

I don't like this article I "wrote", but figure I can at least get a blog post out of it. January 17, 2008

Unions unite for city students

Bethany Horne Staff Contributor

Mitch Gillingwater, Tara Gault and Mike Tipping want to write a tenancy policy for students as part of the new Halifax student lobby group. / Photo: Josh Boyter

Students in Halifax are now members of another lobby organization run by their student unions.

The student unions of Dalhousie, Mount Saint Vincent University, Saint Mary's University, Nova Scotia Community College and the Atlantic School of Theology decided to combine their efforts and represent students at the municipal level.

The student union executives formed their own group, the Halifax Student Alliance (HSA), in November after learning Mayor Peter Kelly's roundtable on violence would go ahead without any student representation, says Dal Student Union President Mike Tipping.

"They'd given out a survey on that, back in the summer when the students weren't here," says Tipping, one of the group's founders. "We thought that was very unfortunate. The students are a huge population here in Halifax and their voice needs to be heard on issues that affect them everyday."

The HSA conducted an online student survey about crime in Halifax and presented the results on the last day of the roundtable discussion in late November. The group hopes municipal policy makers will take note of their student survey when drafting new rules.

The DSU is already part of two other lobby groups, the Alliance of Nova Scotia Student Associations (ANSSA) and the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations. But Tipping says those groups only focus on federal and provincial post-secondary education issues.

"There are issues that exist only on a municipal level that are very important to students," he says. "Things like transportation, safety and housing. There wasn't really a collective student voice on that until now."

The group hopes to draft a tenancy policy, Tipping says, because a lot of students are uninformed about the rights they have when renting their own places.

"As you probably know if you've rented in this town, it is stacked toward the landlord, and students often have a difficult time navigating that," he says. "I think there needs to be a bit more openness in the process."

"There are organizations right now that work on poverty issues and housing," says Tipping, mentioning the Halifax Coalition Against Poverty and the Ecology Action Centre. "We would be focusing more on specifically student issues, although in some ways they overlap."

Mitch Gillingwater, president of the SMU Students' Association, says students make up 2.5 per cent of the city's workforce, which he says is "very significant." He says it's important students are represented on the municipal level.

There are no students, aside from union executives and council members, involved in the new lobby group. Gillingwater says members will try to attract more student volunteers "once the organization grows." The group doesn't collect student fees and currently has a tiny budget and a 400-member Facebook group.

Engineering student Dave Cormier, a member of the Facebook group, says he would try to get involved if he could make room in his "ridiculous" schedule.

"It's one of those things, once you get [it] going on, it will have to pick up," Cormier says. "Most students aren't really informed about a lot of things."

Keith Stevens, a third-year political science student, says he hasn't seen a particular "grassroots" call for another student lobby organization at Dal, but that it's worthwhile for student leaders to represent generally less-informed student bodies.

"Our city council doesn't really get a lot done, in my opinion, but it's worth a try to get something done," he says. "There's potential in it (the HSA). Similar organizations didn't have a lot in the beginning," he adds, comparing the new union to provincial lobby group ANSSA.

"Holy ANSSA Jr., Batman!" Stevens commented on the HSA's Facebook page.

The Halifax Student Alliance is only the second municipal student lobby group formed in Canada. Student unions of public universities in Edmonton made the same move in August.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I forgot to ask you-all

I entered a Grant competition . Clicking on any of the pictures will take you there.
If you have a Canadian University email-address, please register for the site and vote for me, there are only three days left in the competition and I am first, but only by a couple of votes.

Update:

The competition is over. We'll see how it goes. I won the rating process by 19 votes. Good stuff!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Rats!

Pip, Nicodemus and Lyra's new cage came yesterday. I was glad it was my day off, because it took me most of the afternoon to set up and decorate. Paul helped quite a lot. Pip, Nic and Lyra were quite unhelpful.

But they do seem to enjoy their new habitat. I think the dryer-vent tube is their favourite, with the cardboard box coming in close second.


Saturday, January 05, 2008

New Year's Eve Wedding



NYE is always a day I look forward to. In Ecuador, it is the most important day of the year. Many traditions, superstitions, visions and transitions hinge on it. It was January 2nd, 2007 that Katie and I left Ecuador. It was January 2nd, 2006 that I decided I wasn't going to be a tool of a certain contingent of well-meaning, noxious friends anymore.

This year was no less significant. In the realm of personal mind-shifts, those close to me would probably be able to identify some. As far as Great Parties and Great Changes, Chelsey and Clayton's wedding takes the (post-modern) cake.Gary in the back, Carol-Ann, Bethany, Emily, Meaghan Eva, Fred, Paul and Devin around Chelsey and Clayton

Though initially skeptical about the whole idea, not THEIR marriage, but marriage as an institution, I have been converted to recognize the beauty of a simple promise, and a powerful union. If the wedding wer simple a lavish party to celebrate the fact that Chels and Clayt are together, it would have been worth it. But I think the most moving part for me, and others, was the ceremony (I didn't see that coming, not even at the rehearsal).

It was just such a thunderbolt. Clayton's father did a wonderful job. Every time he was dangerously close to tears he would pause, press a smile, first with his lips then push it into his eyes, then shake his head. Apparently it worked for him, but it made me want to to weep every time, because the emotion was just released into the crowd. The vows went smoothly, with Carol-Ann tearing up gently to my side, but something snapped (according to accounts) in Chelsey first, and then in Clayton (spactacularily), Fred, Eva and others during the giving of the rings. The rest of the promise-making after that was just throbbing with environmental emotion, and you didn't know which surge would send whose sobs into overdrive.

Oh, but it was SO GOOD! Who knew that a promise could mean so much! Who would have predicted that stating the obvious could wake such feelings! Who could have given so much meaning to those words we have heard too many times, tarnished and polluted by usage and by sarcasm... only C + C. So, thanks guys. For that. And for what is to come.

I had fun.
Bethany and Paul heading off to the party