Thursday, December 29, 2005

Tooting My Own Horn

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Those of you who know me know that in spite of my oh-so-confident exterior, I'm a pretty modest person and likely to make a self-disparaging comment before bragging about an accomplishment.
However, a recent bit of news really boosted my ego and I wanted to share/brag about it (for those of you who care!).


I received news of my final grades for the first term of my studies and I got an A-, A, A, and A+ on my four courses, giving me an average of 3.92 on the 4.0 scale. Not too shabby, considering that I was mostly taking courses which I didn't enjoy and was pretty much forced to take, to complete my after-degree. These courses included computers, science, and math, all subjects in which I tend to do poorly.

So I celebrate my victory over numbers and facts and computer terminology, and relish in this brief moment of glory. Won't you celebrate with me as well? =)


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Christmas Disparity

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Let me tell you about my two experiences these last few days. It definitely gave me cause to think about Christmas disparity.

Let's start with yesterday. I had the opportunity to join my in-laws for their club's Christmas celebration. It was held at the Westin Hotel and was a very posh affair; in fact, I might even say it was one of the fanciest dinners I've ever had. The room was lit with the soft flicker of white tealights, and a quaint Christmas tree decorated the far corner of the room. The bar, located at the back of the room, was fully stocked and ready to serve. The servers wore white gloves and walked around serving wine and hors d'oeurves at the beginning of the night. When we sat down at our tables, I noticed that they were fully set (but missing a fork and knife?) and decorated wi
th "scrolls" on each bread plate that, upon opening, revealed the menu for the evening. The dinner began with a server coming around and serving a variety of breads, followed by a second server who served the dipping sauce for the bread, followed by a third server offering more wine. The four-course dinner was very elegant and generous (soup and salad!), and between the salad and the entree we were presented with mango sorbet to cleanse our palates. We were provided with new cutlery prior to the service of the main meal (which explains the missing set at the beginning), and this entree consisted of two cuts of meat (lamb and venison tenderloin) as well as a variety of vegetable sides. This was followed, of course, by a rich chocolatey dessert that was accompanied by ice wine and coffee. And even the coffee wasn't plain - servers came around offering several different types of creamer/whipped cream and sugars to garnish our coffees. I can only speak for myself, but I was absolutely floored by the decadence of my environment and my meal. It was almost excessive, since I was way too full to finish everything on my plate! However, I didn't see too many others oohing and ahhing the way that I did, but I imagine that this had to do with the fact that the rest of the party-goers there were used to such lavish affairs.

Now skip back to two days ago. My hubby and I volunteered (along with our small group) at the local inner-city soup kitchen (the Mustard Seed). As part of the church's monthly ministry to this organization, we showed up early so that we could scrub up and help with the food. We wrapped up plastic knives and forks with dinner napkins and helped sort donated clothes in their upper room, while other volunteers stirred the large vats of stew that were heating on the industrial stove. When the
soup kitchen opened, hundreds of people from the inner city flocked into this rickety old building for a hot meal. The meal, which was generously donated by my church, included beef stew, garlic buns, salad, and a rice krispie square. We served these wearing clear plastic gloves. The people who came for dinner sat at rectangular folding tables with strangers, and were offered juice or coffee by some of our other volunteers. When they had finished their meal, they were allowed seconds (after it was established that most people had received their first helping already). When the stew, salad, and buns had run out, the rice krispie squares became the most coveted food item. Some people had to be turned away because they tried to get our volunteers to fill their bag with all of the squares. In the end, those who missed out on the meal or the treats settled for coffee and day-old donuts that had been donated by local Tim Hortons shops. We then proceeded to walk around the church, collecting dirty dishes and cups, and wiping down the plastic tables with our bleachy hot water. At the end of the night, when all of the cleaning and serving had finished, the volunteers were gathered together to talk about the evening, and it was during this time that I learned that three of the people from the inner city, who normally have nothing positive to say, came up to the kitchen coordinator to let her know how much they appreciated the tasty and generous meal that had been provided. They shared that they always looked forward to the meals from my church, because those stews were among the tastiest they've had.

There are two kinds of Christmas disparity, in my humble opinion. The first, and most obvious kind, is the one that exists between the wealthy and the poor. The Westin party-goers (and I) have a lot of possessions and nice clothes and homes and opportunities. The inner-city residents who went to the Mustard Seed have very little, and in some cases, nothing.

The second kind of Christmas disparity, which is a little harder to spot but, in my opinion is far worse, is the one that exists in the hearts of the thankful and the thankless. The Westin party-goers didn't seem to even notice the extravagance of the dinner and the many blessings that they have been given. By contrast, the Mustard Seed-goers were thankful simply for a plate of stew and a warm roof and a good rice krispie square.

These experiences have really helped to remind me that more than anything, I need to be mindful of my blessings and truly be grateful at all times for everything that I have, whether it is a little or a lot. I mean, there is nothing that makes me better or more entitled to be blessed than the person who lives in the inner city, and yet I have been given that grace. May it never be that I get so ungrateful as to somehow think I deserve what I have been given.

And may God bless the poor and needy, and give the people who go to the Mustard Seed more tasty stew and good rice krispie squares this Christmas.




Thursday, December 08, 2005

A Sad Christmas in Northern China

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A blast in a mine in Northern China claimed 62 lives yesterday. I've actually lost count of the number of miners who have now died, and the number of mining explosions that have taken place, in the past few weeks. Just two weeks ago, there was a big explosion claiming 169 lives in another part of Northern China. Despite government "crackdowns" on the hazardous conditions under which these people work, evidently not enough has been done.

I am very upset about the way the Chinese government has treated its own people; evidently human life is not
valuable enough for them to take every precaution necessary to ensure that miners work in safe conditions. Given that they have a very controlling and rather powerful Communist government, if they wanted to enforce safety standards in any given industry, surely it would not have been that difficult to do! Why must tragedy after tragedy occur before this is looked into?!

I realize that most people in China do not celebrate Christmas. That makes me even more sad, because they now face having to grieve the loss of loved ones, and they don't even have a hope of something greater in this life (or the next). They've lost their beloved husbands and sons, their brothers and fathers; in many cases, they've also lost their only (or their main) source of income for the family. What will give them hope this season? What will be their joy to celebrate at the end of their year?

I am glad that God is El Roi, "the God who sees me." May He see everyone who is hurting and grieving and without hope in China today, and may He be gracious to them and give them hope.

Monday, November 28, 2005

It's Beginning to Feel a Lot Like ...BLAH.

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I don't know what it is about this time of year...the anticipation of Christmas, the dark morning skies, sneezy coughing people, or maybe having to layer my clothes...but it makes me lethargic and restless. I have no desire to attend class, no desire to study, and no desire to do much of anything.

Actually, that's not true. I would love to do nothing. You know, the kind of nothing where, at the end of the day, you reflect on your previous 24 hours and wonder what, if anything, you've accomplished. The type of nothing that involves lots of hot beverages, a comfy couch and warm fuzzy blanket, trashy celebrity magazines, Dr. Phil or the Food Network or DVDs of the show 24, and lapses into unconsciousness.

Another activity that rivals the nothing that I actually want to be doing, is shopping. For those rare moments when my lethargy is outweighed by my antsiness, shopping is the ultimate antidote. There is
something totally wrong and commercial and very alluring about shopping during the Christmas season. Maybe it's the the glittery packaging, or maybe it's the hustle-bustle energy of everyone at the mall. Whatever it is, it makes me want to be a part of it. I want to be perusing through the aisles and kiosks looking at stuff that everyone wants and nobody needs. I want to spend money on votive holders and seasonal dinnerware and specialty flavoured coffees and Christmas wreaths and chocolatey sweets and winter boots and snow globes and books I won't be reading and 2006 calendars and fancy bows and "Christmas Blow-Out" sale clothing.

Alas, this is but a dream. Reality means that I have exams to study for and projects to complete. It also means I have a home to clean and laundry to do, not to mention a body to whip into better shape before the holiday season really hits. That my invisible backyard is missing an all-important money tree also means that I cannot be spending limitlessly anyway.

My momentum was so inspiring at the beginning of the academic year. What happened? My excitement for school, for learning, for keeping house...this has pretty much disappeared. It has been replaced by a big bad case of the BLAHS. I feel so "off." I blame it on November and the time change and the cooling weather.

So today, instead of offering you my two cents' worth of thought, I am soliciting your two cents. How do I regain my momentum for learning, at least enough to carry me through exams? How do I get over this feeling of restlessness and lethargy? I welcome all suggestions, as well as all gift certificates to indulge my shopping impulses and plane tickets to exotic destinations. ;)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Obsessive Compulsive Me

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I am ashamed to admit that I missed both of my classes today. I am even more ashamed to say that I was working on a Macromedia Flash assignment for 8 hours. I could have gone to class. I could have left the assignment until the evening, or better yet, waited until tomorrow, when I would be able to attend the class and seek clarification on the stuff I didn't understand/know. I could have, but I didn't.

Why didn't I, you might ask? One might say it's my stubbornness, and I might not argue with that. However, the real reason for my day-long assignment is that I suffer from obsessive compulsiveness. Not the DSM-IV diagnosable kind, which leads one to seek professional help and actually get better, but an even more sinister kind. The kind that makes people into workaholics. The kind that causes people to forget to eat meals or use the washroom (even when they *really* have to go) or look at their watches or notice that the sun has risen and set without them. The kind that makes people completely lose perspective.

This troubles me immensely, and with good reason. Many "successful" people in this world came to be so because of their obsessive-compulsiveness; that whole driven, Type-A personality is usually the one that climbs corporate ladders and excels in academia. It comes hardly as a surprise that my best performances in post-secondary have always been the times when I worked all night or for week(s) on end with nary a break.

However, this same kind of behavior also promotes unhealthiness (both physically and mentally), and creates imbalance in peoples' lives. It can potentially wreck relationships, and it causes people to misprioritize what ultimately matters most. The obsessive-compulsives are the ones who, at the end of their life, look back on their "achievements" with great regret because the time that should have been spent on their families, their friends, their health, and their God, were sacrificed so that they could finish one more project or get that extra certification/degree or do yet another task that ultimately proved to be meaningless and forgettable.

I don't want that to be me. From now on, I am taking time to metaphorically smell those roses, and I am going to make sure that my priorities really do reflect what is most important to me. Flash be damned! I won't be spending one more second on that, either. =)

Friday, November 18, 2005

Things I Miss About Hong Kong

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It has now been over a year since I've been back on N. American soil. I am very happy to be back to the land of Tim Hortons, quality deodorant, and open spaces. However, there are quite a few things I miss about my former "home" and the life I enjoyed there :

-cheap "professional" massages ($25 for 45 minutes!)

-authentic Chinese food & bakery just around the corner
-cheap clothes & stationery

-nice humidity (read: no asthma or dry skin for mrsloquacious)
-not having to drive

-no "really cold" weather
-daily shopping trips to Diamond Hill Mall (or Festival Walk)
-my former students & colleagues
-being able to walk everywhere
-giving assignments, not getting them
-pre-assigned seats at movie theatres
-chocolately popcorn at movie theatres
-being near the ocean & the harbour
-neon lights *everywhere* at night
-night market bargains
-drinking good coffee as a "luxury"
-travelling at every opportunity
-grocery stores that delivered to my door (for free!)
-egg-shaped waffles..mmm....

Yeah, those were some great times. Yet for all of the good things I miss about HK, I am sure glad to be where I am right now; my hubby, my family, my church, my friends....these are the biggest reasons why HERE is preferable to THERE. And cheesy as it sounds, home is where the heart is, and my heart is here. My home is here. And I'm glad to be nowhere else.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Weird, Gross...Brilliant

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Thanks to my friend Mr. Wolf at Fook, I came across a picture of this:

The website for this..thing..claimed it was a bio-engineered pet, complete with heart monitor and feeding tube, that would live for exactly one or three years (depending on the model). It also claimed that the "creature" was a cross between some canine, feline and lemur species. It also claimed that this Gen-Pet (as it's called) was going to be up for sale in N. America sometime very soon.

So, having seen the initial post and then the Gen-Pets website, I got really disgusted. I mean, who would actually do that?? Who would go around bioengineering animals to sell as TOYS?!?

Then I dug a little deeper, and realized that, as with many things on the Internet, this was not real. The "creatures" are made of some sort of polyurethane foam, and this whole thing (the website, the phony ads) is a project for some Canadian artist named Adam Brandejs. The 19 packaged creatures are actually part of an exhibit that he had put up in a storefront on Queen's St. in Toronto, and I guess his purpose was to get people to think about their consumerist attitudes and what sort of crazy biotechnology is actually taking place *right now* to satisfy these marketplace demands (you know, like the rumours about those 4-winged, 4-legged KFC chickens).

Then I realized that this disgusting little Gen-Pet display was actually *brilliant.* It is a powerful way to drive home a message about how people are now messing with nature to make things more convenient for themselves. Sadly, it's true, too - nobody bats an eye at genetic engineering anymore, and certainly even cloning has lost its appeal in the media. We're desensitized, and the result of this is that one day, someone probably will make a "Gen-Pet" and there will be people lining up outside the stores waiting to buy them. And then what?

I hope I won't be around when that day comes. It's a prospect even scarier than the Gen-Pets themselves.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Nanoclothing

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Recently I discovered, much to my horror and dismay, that my parents dropped several digits' worth of money to buy underwear, sheets, a blanket, and some shirts. Designer clothing? Not quite. Nanoclothing.

Digging a little deeper, I discovered that nanotechnology, which is based on the theory that people are healthier when they are exposed to greater amounts of negative ions in the atmosphere, has had its electric little fingers in the garment industry for a few years now. The nice non-stain, non-wrinkle pants from Eddie
Bauer & Gap? Nano-treated.

Some folks back in Asia decided to harness this negative ion energy by "weaving it" into fabric and sell it for crazy high prices to very gullible folk back in the Americas. My parents are among those folks. So are, apparently, my grandparents, my uncles, and myt aunts.

Why would anyone spend this much money on negatively-charged garments? Well, if you were to ask my grandma, it's because it miraculously heals bad knees. She "proved" this to me over Thanksgiving by practically leaping off the couch and strutting around like a spring chicken. Previous to her purchase of nanotech knee braces, she agonized whenever she tried to stand up, because her knees were in a lot of pain.

I asked Grandma, "So, nothing else has changed except for you wearing these knee braces?"
Grandma responded, "Well, I *did* get cortisone injections in my knees the week before I started wearing the braces...but I am sure it's the braces."

According to my parents (and a few of the articles lauding the benefits of FAR-infrared clothing online), exposing your skin to negative ions apparently improves metabolism and circulation, detoxifies, aids in digestion, and energizes otherwise tired blood cells, thereby improving one's immunity to disease. Plus, it sucks away odors and bacteria. Oh, and it heals soreness and wounds and acne.

I like the idea that it speeds up metabolism. Maybe if I use the tummy wrap on my gut, I'll be able to lose weight and tone up without exercise? =D

My parents are waiting with anticipation for their order of "goodies" to arrive. They can hardly contain themselves when they talk about how great they're going to feel once they start wearing their nanounderwear and sleeping under their nanoblanket.

As for me, with my skeptical attitude and penny-pinching ways, I'll just keep eating healthy and getting my energy and metabolic increases and improved circulation from good ol' fashioned exercise. At least, for now. ;)



Thursday, November 03, 2005

Weight a second.....! What Happened Here?!

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Ya know, I used to be thinner than what I see in the mirror these days. I was reminiscing about the "good ol' days" of thinness (2-3 years ago) when I actually *wanted* people to take pictures of me and I liked looking in the mirror (okay, I still like to do that, but just not as much!). I mean, this pic of me (from around Hallowe'en 2 years ago?) is one that I quite like. I was about 20 pounds lighter than I am right now...maybe even 30.

What happened here?!?

I could blame it on moving back to this continent, and all of its glorious baked goods. I could blame it on the fact that everything is so far apart that one *has* to drive, instead of walk, to purchase their groceries. I could blame it on my great family, my man, and my in-laws, all of whom enjoy a nice hearty meal on a pretty regular basis.

However, I really only have myself to blame. My routine in the past was a religious one that involved some seriously rigorous workouts 5-6x/week. My eating was regimented and I not only watched my portions but my choices as well.
There was self-control and there was a goal. There were no excuses for me to "cheat," to be lazy, or to reduce the intensity of my workouts.

There are still no excuses. I have "let myself go," something I promised that I wouldn't allow myself to do after finding love and getting married. Many a woman has fallen into that "get married, get fat" trap, and I am becoming one of them.

No longer, I say! Following in the footsteps of my man, his colleagues, my sister, and many others who are no longer content with the condition they are in, I am making this blog part of my accountability process in my resolve to restore my body to its former glory.

My goals are simple: I want to work out, eat healthy, and lose weight. I want to be able to wear the clothes in my closet again. I want to be able to reflect on my day and my week and not feel bad about the choices I have made with regard to my nutrition and my health. I want to have my picture taken again =)

So begins the journey today. I am not announcing my weight, I am not announcing my size, but I am announcing my commitment to making it happen, once and for all.

No more excuses. I am ready.



Saturday, October 29, 2005

Math Whiz

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You Passed 8th Grade Math



Congratulations, you got 10/10 correct!


I recently wrote my university Math midterm. I was really proud of myself for not freaking out during the actual writing process, because I have been fearful of numbers ever since I dropped out of high school Math 31 (Calculus) three weeks before the final exam. Up until that point in my life, I did well in math, and even managed to get myself invited into the Math 10 AP class. However, my inability to grasp some of the higher-order concepts taught in Calculus resulted in some pretty abysmal grades (63%), and caused me to second-guess my mathematic abilities; by the time I withdrew from the course, my self-confidence was all but shot.

You can only imagine how much I panicked when I was informed that I had to take a math course in order to meet the academic requirements of my after-degree. This was quite a blow, since I had managed to successfully avoid completing *any* math courses during my first degree. I figured that I would be so lucky the second time around. I wasn't.

The first few math lessons this term weren't easy; not only was I uncertain about the material being covered, but I was also battling against my math phobia and shattered self-esteem. Many a night my hubby had to tutor me and explain (and re-explain) the concepts over and over again; many a night I shed tears. However, with every question and problem answered correctly, my self-confidence began to build, and by the time the mid-term rolled around, I was ready.

I am happy to report that I am no longer fearful of algebraic equations, and although I still don't remember anything about trigonometry, I know that when I am presented with new concepts, I will be able to work through them and figure them out (sometimes with the help of my hubby). In fact, I was feeling so good about my newfound math confidence that I took the Grade 8 math quiz (see above). My hubby (of course) got perfect marks on it, but several of his colleagues didn't fare so well (in spite of the fact that they all work with algorithms all day long). Imagine how great I felt when I passed it! =)

Anyway, just a little anedote to remind us all that sometimes when we're dealing with our phobias, our greatest obstacles aren't the objects themselves so much as our perceived inabilities to overcome or conquer them. Sometimes it takes a little bit of perseverance and hard work, but we can master the things that we thought had mastered us. May your November become the month when you overcome a challenge in your own life, and may you become a Grade 8 math whiz just like me ;)

Monday, October 24, 2005

Strategic Sleeping

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Last night I slept 4.5 hours. I was up until 12:30 studying, and I woke up at 5:00 am to do a little more rote-cramming before my midterm. One would think that I would be a tired, cranky ol' hag by now (it's 10:45 pm), but I haven't even had a cup of coffee all day, and I feel great! I not only wrote my midterm, but also took a 1.5 hour nap, volunteered in a kindergarten class, worked out, made dinner, finished my computer assignment, and even managed to blog tonight. I still feel pretty peppy so I think I might not even go to bed until midnight this evening.

What's my secret to staying awake, you ask?

It's strategic sleeping. It's polyphasic, sleep cycle sleeping. According to an article by Glen Rhodes (my
hubby sent me the link, I have no idea who Glen is), we apparently feel tired after an 8-hour sleep (and sometimes, even a 10-hour sleep) because we are awakened before we can complete a sleep cycle (which, on average, lasts about 90 minutes depending on the person). When we wake up after sleeping through a complete cycle (or several cycles), then we will feel refreshed. This is why it is preferable to sleep 1.5, 3.0, 4.5, 6.0, 7.5, or 9.0 hours; these are multiples of 90-minutes and therefore represent complete sleep cycles.

Of course, this is only part of the solution. Part 2 involves having polyphasic sleep, meaning sleeping more than once per 24-hour day. The article details that humans are supposedly creatures of polyphasic sleep, rather than once-at-night-only sleepers. There are several health benefits to taking a mental "break" and having a nap, like refreshing the mind, generating more theta brain waves, and increasing our longevity (as well as being smarter, more productive people while we are awake).

Although I'm not convinced that this case study of Rhode's constitutes a proven theory, I am more that willing to give the approach a try. I mean, naps in the afternoon, great sleeps at night, alertness during the day, and more time to study! What could possibly be bad about that?! ;)

Friday, October 21, 2005

Newlyweds in Trouble!

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No, I'm not referring to my hubby & I; we're doing great (thank you for asking). I'm actually referring to Jessica Simpson & Nick Lachey, the Newlyweds that had a reality TV show for 3 seasons. For those of you who have no idea who these people are (good for you!), this is what they look like:



Anyway, every time I go to the grocery store these days, the check-out aisles are covered with magazines that feature Nick & Jessica on the cover. The story is that apparently, their marriage may or may not be in trouble and they may or may not be heading towards getting a divorce; the media is insisting that they've secretly separated already, and their reps are denying these reports.

Normally, I would feel very badly for anybody whose marriage is put under such scrutiny, and whose every move becomes fodder for more gossip and speculation. I mean, marriage is hard work at the best of times; you're dealing with two very different and independent people who must find ways to share their lives together and learn to live with each other's idiosyncracies. Placing additional pressure or stress on the relationship can't possibly be a good thing.

However, in this case, I don't feel sorry for them at all. The reason for this is that these two individuals essentially merchandized their marriage when they agreed to film a reality TV show and write a book about their relationship and their years as newlyweds. They capitalized on society's voyeuristic tendencies and the media's newfound love of reality TV, and then they cashed in. They went from being a B-listed celebrity couple (she was a singer with a handful of hit songs, he was the lead singer of a boy band that had one hit album) to being A-listers who are regularly featured in the tabloid magazines that now report on their alleged break-up. As a result of their rise in fame, she now gets offered movie roles and endorsements (plus she has enough fan support to launch several lines of products) and he gets guest spots on TV shows and offers to star on his own show. The price they paid for their popularity was the scrutiny of their relationship; they invited America into their home, and, well, America's not too keen on moving out!

What, then, is a couple to do, when they no longer want the spotlight to be shone on them anymore? Come clean! Tell the truth, behave consistently, and retreat from the limelight. Many a successful A-lister has avoided the problems plaguing Nick and Jessica (e.g. Harrison Ford, Pierce Brosnan, Ashley Judd) by simply not putting their personal lives and relationships up for sale. These couples have learned how to succeed professionally as well as personally, by making very clear distinctions between the two.

Unfortunately, for these Newlyweds, their popularity may have already come at the cost of their marriage. Frankly, if they were willing to sell something as sacred and valuable as that, I would hardly be surprised that in the event that they divorced, we'd be seeing a few more books on the shelves, tabloid magazines in the check-out aisles with their faces still plastered on them, and *two* new reality TV shows: "Man on the Town: Nick Searches for Miss Right" and "The Bachelorette: A Jessica Simpson Special." =S

Monday, October 17, 2005

Testing......For What?

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My midterms begin this week. As such, I have begun the unenviable task of reviewing my notes in preparation for the multiple choice and short answer questions soon to come my way. I keep wishing that my other profs would take a cue from my one senior level class; this Ed Psych class has neither midterms nor final exams, only assignments worth a grand total of 100 marks.

You see, I have long suspected that the only thing exams really test are rote memory and test-taking abilities; the scores produced by such measures really only reflect one's short-term memory and ability to perform under pressure, rather than their understanding (and application) of the broader concepts that have been presented. How many times have I written multiple choice exams that required me to regurgitate some fact or figure from the text or the lecture? Too many to count. As well, I can think of several occasions (including next Monday) when I have had to label a diagram to prove my understanding of the key ideas.

What about the application of these concepts? What about actually thinking about the subject at hand rather than robotically spitting out facts? My Ed Psych class has got the right idea. Instead of reproducing the same concepts in short answer form, we are being asked to integrate these concepts with our current understandings and figure out ways of applying the knowledge to the "real world." God bless my Ed Psych prof, who seems to be the only instructor with enough perspective to understand that tests are not good indicators of learning.

I hope that when I eventually become a teacher, my students will be able to demonstrate their understanding without filling out bubbles or circling A, B, C, or D. I hope that the classroom of the future will figure out new methods to measure how students have synthesized their learning in creative and relevant ways.

In the meantime, though, *I* will be testing my somewhat rusty rote memory (and my nerves!) when I sit down to write my midterms. As I head back to my books in an attempt to remember all the little facts and labels that I will need to retrieve from my mental storage over the next two weeks, won't you say a little prayer for me? It will be much appreciated, thanks.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Good Times

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When I was a kid, I never used to understand how people could just sit around all night and talk. Fun, as I understood it, involved a lot more action.

I have since revised my position on this, and tonight was one of those nights that reinforced my belief that sitting around and talking can be a great time. Tonight our "couples group" (as we fondly call it) met again for fellowship; we meet every Wednesday and study the Bible together. My hubby and I hosted the shin-dig for the night, and even though we were supposed to start on the "study" aspect of the evening promptly at 7:30, we didn't actually get around to starting until closer to 8:30. The reason? We were sitting around (or in some cases, standing around) talking!

We gabbed about our week, our families, and just our thoughts on a random selection of topics ranging from the deep to the truly mundane. When we finally got started on the study itself (we're currently using a set curriculum so there's actually a little mini-plan to follow), we found that our discussions always seemed to meander off track somewhere, and end up with someone cracking a joke that made everyone in the group, laugh.

After the "formal" part of the evening came to a close, we continued to just sit around and talk about theology, and grandparents, and death, and movies, and whatever else came up in conversation.

As the night drew to a close and everyone (with their jackets on and books in hand) stood at the doorway, we continued to converse about comics and childhood traumas and guest speakers. In fact, we were talking right up to the point when everyone got on the elevator and the doors closed. I'll bet that they continued talking even as they rode down the lift together.

Even though the night is over, I still have a big fat grin on my face, because the evening was thoroughly enjoyable. I had a great time exchanging ideas and stories and listening to the discourse that took place in front of me all night long. I appreciated being able to laugh with the others and be encouraged by their insights. I was thrilled to be in the company of our friends. For the last three hours and fifteen minutes, I had fun.

I hope I can remember the way that I feel tonight, the next time that my fatigue or my "to do" list gets me so stressed out that I want to cancel out on attending couples night, or going out with friends, period. In fact, I hope that I will always find time in my schedule to fit in a night of good times, and that I will always stay connected with a group of genuinely incredible people. I hope you also find that the next time you are gathered with your friends, that you'll be sitting around and talking and laughing, and that it will be good times indeed.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Thank God!

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Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

As I sit here in the honeymoon suite at a hotel in Grande Prairie, looking at the amazing two-person hot tub in the room and awaiting the delivery of my room service breakfast, I can't help but be amazed at how much I have been blessed with. Thank God for being so gracious to me.

I spent my Sunday night laughing and eating with my husband, my parents, my husband's parents, my siblings and my grandparents. They are all healthy and happy and safe. Thank God for being so good to my loved ones.

I think about those who don't live with very much, or whose families aren't healthy, or who don't even have family anymore, and yet they are thankful today, too. Would I also be so able to thank God if I was in their shoes? And what of those who are so overwhelmed by hurt and by sorrow that they cannot find a reason to give thanks today? What does Thanksgiving mean to them?

May God give them reason to be thankful and to have hope. May God bless those today who are hurting and who are in need. May God give me the faith to be thankful in all circumstances, and the memory to recall every blessing and good thing that is already in my life. Thank God for listening to my prayer.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Slippery Slopes

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My husband brought my attention to a somewhat disturbing article that was published today. It was reported by the Times Online that the Catholic Church no longer believes that the Bible is completely true. The article states that several European Catholic bishops have concluded that the Bible does not contain total accuracy;

"They say the Church must offer the gospel in ways “appropriate to changing times,
intelligible and attractive to our contemporaries”." (quoted from Ruth Gedhill, Times Online).


I am admittedly a bit perturbed by the article, although likely less incensed than some who have known me would guess me to be. I mean, I (and possibly a lot of my fellow evangelical believers) have always thought that certain accounts from Revelation are symbolic. For instance, not every Christian believes that exactly 144,000 Jewish people will be sealed for the tribulation; many believe the number 144,000 to be representative of the many faithful believers (Jew and Gentile alike) who will live during the end times. As well, not every Christian subscribes to the belief that the mark of the beast will be a literal "666" tattooed on the forehead, nor does everyone (does *anyone?*) think that the "beast" is a literal, bestial creature (although who knows? The beast may be a very hairy individual, indeed. I don't know).

However, just because something is said symbolically, does not make it untrue. Jesus Himself used symbolic language; He often considered evangelism to be a harvest field, and His followers to be workers. He also called Himself a Shepherd, and believers, sheep. He spoke about the resurrection of His body as the rebuilding of the temple. As a Christian, I know that although these are metaphors and not to be taken literally, the teachings themselves are still true because the ideas underlying these teachings come from One who is true.

If these bishops held to the belief that God is truth and that God inspired the writing of the Scriptures (which, according to the article, they do believe), then would it not make sense that even the figurative language that is used, would still be true? It seems rather presumptuous to leap from saying that the Bible contains symbolism, to saying that the Bible is inaccurate because of the symbolism.

Scarier still is the fact that if this is the conclusion that Catholic Church leaders are coming to right now, what sort of conclusions will they draw 50 years from now, when the goal to make the gospel "appropriate to changing times" and "attractive to our contemporaries" might require them to declare something even more extreme? It's a slippery slope indeed, and one that leads somewhere I dare not imagine. *shudder*




Thursday, October 06, 2005

Joining the Club

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I've just welcomed myself to the wonderful world of blogging. I was prompted to join the blogging community (albeit as a late bloomer) as a result of two events that occured in the last few days.

Firstly, a friend of mine has lost his oomph to blog, the result of his receiving a rather unfriendly "warning" from some "powers that be" that felt that he had somehow posted inappropriate content on his personal blog. This really ticked me off, because the "powers that be" actually aren't in any way connected to him; that is, he is in no way associated with, or employed by, these "powers." I'm still not sure why my friend felt compelled to respond by re-moving his blog. All I know is that a huge injustice has been committed and I feel the need to vent. The blogging world is at risk of losing a very talented writer and a very interesting fellow whose intelligent posts have raised the bar on what good blogging is all about.

Secondly, my computing class tonight featured a lecturer whose interest in blogging is only rivalled by my husband's interest in Transformers. She actually did her Master's degree on the dissemination of information, and one of her areas of focus was blogging. Anyway, she really opened my eyes to the possibilities that exist for incorporating the weblog into the classroom, and when I finally enter the gloriously underpaid, overworked profession of teaching, this is something I will want to do. I was really inspired to get myself familiarized with the medium now, rather than two years from now. (Incidentally, did you know that, compared to the previous year, in 2004 there was a 58% increase in the number of people who were blogging?)

So, here I am, using Blogspot, and getting acquainted with the interface. I think I'm really going to enjoy giving everyone a piece of my mind. Feel free to offer me a piece of yours, too!