Thursday, October 09, 2008

Startlements

Today I was riding my bike through the path in the forest to the library. A chilly wind was strong at my back---so strong indeed that blustering pine cones were passing me on the trail.

A week ago I was driving my car and a crow flew into the rear passenger window where the only other occupant of the car was sitting: my second oldest son. He thought we got hit by a soccer ball. I watched in the rear-view mirror as the crow flailed its wings in the middle of the road and was immediately surrounded by another half-dozen squawking black birds. I tried to dial the SPCA on my cell but to no avail. I didn't know what to do. I drove by later and the crow was lying there dead. A couple hours later it was gone.

This week the United States government faced the always possible but oft-denied worst-case scenario of the free enterprise system---over-dependence on the filthy rich and powerful---and was forced to either painfully reinvent the system or buck up the cash to keep it afloat. By opting for the latter, as one New York Times columnist said on PBS, they essentially moved to privatize gains and socialize losses. In other words, the rich get rich when their investment risks go good, and the population foots the bill when their investment risks don't pay off.

Last week I went to an Elections Canada training session in order to get equipped to run one of the local polling stations on election day. I showed up for training thinking, "Sweet, this is a government job. I bet you in the next three hours I'll be as well-trained, well-fed, and over-caffeinated as one can get." My was I disappointed. I have never been so poorly trained for anything since my days working in a restaurant, I was fed absolutely nothing, and had to beg my way to possession of a pen. Oh well, the pay is good. Unfortunately I have a 100 page manual to read in order to avoid embarrassment the first time someone shows up to vote without ID and I don't know what to tell them.

A week ago I watched the English Canadian Election Debate. Elizabeth May was the most sensible sounding of all the opposition parties.

Yesterday afternoon I took a practice GRE (Graduate Record Examination) test as part of my preparation to apply for doctoral studies in the USA. I need to score over 600 on the Verbal section and 5 or 6 on the Analytical section. The other section is less relevant to my future studies, but the score may factor in somewhat. It is the Quantitative section. Math. I didn't understand half the questions. I tried for a while in high school math but a disregard for the teacher and an increasing apathy about life at that time led me to trail off to a dismal finish in Math 11. It showed on this exam. I scored 560. I'm surprised I did so well, actually. I need to study.

This brings up a related issue. For doctoral studies I need to have as many as two extra languages in addition to my own---probably French and German. I finished poorly in French 11 as well. My son is in his first month of French Immersion and is already about as far along as I. The thing is, I remember them telling me that I needed to do well in high school French and Math and Science "so I could go to college one day." I scoffed then, I scoffed upon entry into college, I even scoffed on my way into seminary---and now, finally, I regret not having applied myself as well as I might have.

Last, but certainly not least, yesterday by way of modern technology I was able to see inside my wife's womb and gaze at the moving figures of my two youngest children, each about 7 months young. The hearts were beating visibly. The one was kicking the other in the head. At one point the other seemed to be sucking his thumb. We can actually detect these movements just by staring at the outside of my wife's stomach for awhile: Lumps of this or that moving around, causing the stomach to be a lop-sided ball of motion one moment and as still as can be the next. It is all very surreal. They are each a little over 3 pounds and would fit one in each of my hands. They are alive and well, thanks be to God.

4 comments:

jon said...

by the way those are not photos of our kids.

Matthew A. Wilkinson said...

Amazing entry.

I'm taking French this year. The class is killing me. I feel your pain.

Amen with the love towards Half Nelson. Ryan Gosling has completely won me over.

nathan davies said...

i am wondering how it is possible that stalker only has a 7. but amelie has a 10.
please explain.

jon said...

nathan: i've been asked this before! it is too bad that i do these reviews right next to each other since it more obviously appears to be a comparison. they are so different!

first of all: amelie is the perfect "feel good" movie. so well done. so quirky. so beautiful. just a wonderful film. could have been awful in worse hands, but it pulled it off and i love it.

as for stalker, i definitely think it is an amazing film. the dialogue is rich, though frustratingly sparse. i found myself wishing they'd talk more. the cinematography is fantastic and the subtle storytelling and suspense is wonderful. I did give it a 7.

but somehow it didn't do it for me the way that a similar styled movie like 2001 did, or like Andrei Rublev. admittedly a huge factor in this might be that i watched it in segments almost like a running series of sitcom episodes each night before bed. a few times i fell asleep. that hardly does the film justice.

i also think at another time in my life the fear and doubt and darkness of this film might have resonated with me more. at this time i was not totally engrossed in their search like i might have been other times. kind of subjective, i know, but for me it made all the difference between appreciating the film and loving it.

one more thing: i bet it really would have helped me to watch this with someone(s) who appreciated it. i found myself often wondering if i was really following the significance of things. it is one of those movies you just need to be able to talk about. i should have watched it with you and jeff.

all that said. it was good. i said this before but I loved it when the part that went:

Writer: "Listen Einstein, I don't want to argue about it."

Professor: "Truth is born of argument, damn it!"

That is so simple and yet was my favourite scene.

SO . . . . that's my defence. Now, help me out: Why should I LOVE this movie?