December 12th, 2002

Random Thoughts

Tuesday morning I bought Christmas gifts and cards. No, I won't tell you what they were (and Jonathan and Naomi, sorry, but we don't have good non-denominational cards).
I then ran into Dr. Diviney, checking papers from her Professional Writing class, at the Timothy's (formerly Grabbajabba). We had a nice chat on the world in genral for the next hour. I like being friends with professors.
I found the British history exam Tuesday night laughably easy.
I'm disturbed by the 83% that I got from Dr. Brown on my paper--I feel like I let myself down. Is this feeling normal?
In my Honours essay (the rough draft of the Surfacing section I shall drastically revise, perhaps also along with the Barometer Rising section for the hell of it), Surfacing examines the stereotypical Canada, the core Canada, that of the great northern wilderness of the Canaidan Shield: a resource-producing hinterland controlled from away, with a human existence predicated on control from away crazily implanted in the middle of an enduring natural world.
I didn't go to the gym today, but I will tomorrow, doing my exercises then along withn an hour on the bike.

This Afternoon

  • I finished work at 12 o'clock. I, and my co-workers, were trained in the arcane art of transferring intra-library book loans (that is, book loans within the PEI library system) and for the rest of the time given nothing to do.

  • As I was leaving work, at the corner of University Avenue and Kent Street I heard someone call my name. As it happened, it was Dr. Kurial, long-time acquaintance from debating and Dean of Arts, driving in his compact car and offering me a ride. I didn't go for a Chinese buffet lunch at Silver Streams at all, but rather rode down to the UPEI campus with Kurial. He gave me good advice, emphasizing that I should try very hard to bargain, especially now that "ask" has been transformed in meaning from a verb to a noun.

  • I bought politically-correct goods from the Ten Thousand Villages display in the student centre. A non-controversial elegant candle holder for Mom; for me, a perfectly-shaped opal egg from Pakistan, a handmade paper journal from Bangladesh, a package of fennel tea. The tea should be interesting; the journal is something I might yet have cause to write in; the egg is esthetically pleasing. I wonder, though, if Ten Thousand Villages and its kind of Third World shopping aren't morally imperialistic in their own way, by demanding that they produce only "traditional" goods for export to the rich West.

  • In keeping with my gym schedule, and although I missed my Wednesday workout, I limited my exercis eto an hour on the exercise bike (I burned 500 calories!). Towards the end of that period, after I exhausted my reading material, I borrowed Dr. Dowbiggin's copy of First Things and had a nice chat with him about my honours. Archconservative he might be, but he's an interesting guy.

  • I'm really looking forward to the English Society gathering this evening. Ah, 42nd Street.

Alpha Centauri

Today I did two things connected with Alpha Centauri:

  • I read Mona Lisa Overdrive, the superb if frustratingly enigmatic concluding volume of William Gibson's 1980's Sprawl trilogy. This trilogy concludes Collapse )

  • I ordered, from Warehouse 23, GURPS Alpha Centauri. This is in keeping for my weird habit of collecting RPG books without actually using them RPGing.

It strikes me that Alpha Centauri is a planetary system--a trinary, actually, with the Sun-like yellow dwarf A and the orange-red dwarf B orbiting separated by roughly the same distance as our Sun and Jupiter at the centre, and Proxima Centauri a tenth of a light-year beyond the A-B pair--very often used in science fiction. Never mind William Gibson's Sprawl trilogy, which used Alpha Centauri as an icon of all that which is alien, Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri is an excellent computer game that used a borderline-sentient planet orbiting A to very good effect, while 2300AD has humanity's second homeworld of Tirane also at Alpha Centauri. (I really should get cracking on Freihafen.)

I think that we're anxious, as a society, to find someone out there--some intelligence, some life. Given that the Solar System seems to be devoid of our type of life--deep-water biospheres in some of the Galilean moons, or subsurface microscopic life on Mars or Titan, just isn't dramatic--we have to go abroad. And why not to Alpha Centauri, home to not one but two relatively Sun-like stars?
  • Current Music
    Depeche Mode, "Behind the Wheel"