Tuesday, May 31, 2005

one other thing about time

Just remembered the other big thing that got me thinking about time tonight. I've been reading a little lately about the upcoming release of Karla Homolka. I know she's been in jail for twelve years and I'm sure if I'd been in jail that long it would seem like forever but it just doesn't seem like enough time. I know that she would have gotten a longer sentence if they didn't offer her a deal to testify against Bernardo. I'm sure there's a lot more that went into the sentencing that I know nothing about. But three people are dead, and even if she's only legally being held responsible for two, how can twelve years be enough? How can that be long enough to say sorry for what those girls went through, what their families are still going through.

I saw The Interpreter over the week-end and in one scene Nicole Kidman's character talks about an African justice ritual called the "drowning man trial". A brief Google search on the drowning man trial returned no useful results so it is entirely possible that the whole concept is pure fiction and not even remotely based on actual customs, however it's still an interesting idea. In the movie it goes like this -- if a person is murdered and the murdered is caught, a year later a drowning man trial is held on the banks of a river. The family and friends of the victim throw a huge all night party on the banks and in the morning the murdered is tied up, rowed out in the river and thrown overboard. If the family chooses to, they can pull him out saving his life but in return ending their mourning. If they choose to let him drown, they get justice but will mourn forever.

Ok, it's likely fiction although it may have roots somewhere, but the idea is interesting. Which is more important justice or an end to suffering? Can there ever truly be an end to suffering? For the French and Mahaffy families I can only say that I dearly hope so. For myself, twelve years does not seem long enough. She shouldn't be getting out. Not yet. Not ever.

not yet

Ever wonder why God gave us time? I've been thinking about that lately. I know that we are made in the image of God, but He is without time, eternal, uncaused. I know that we are not exactly like God (I am not God, and for the record I'm pretty sure you're God either) and yet one of the things He chose to include in our experience is time. You could argue, quite well I think, that without time as both a concept and a marker the human mind would go crazy. And maybe it's a simple question of God giving us time because our biology requires it. But it didn't have to be that way. He could have create none-time-dependent minds, more like His own I guess.

One of the things that got me thinking about this is that there are a lot of people in my life facing transitions right now. A friend of mine is moving unexpectedly. Another got engaged last week and has set a wedding date for three weeks from now. Yet another is facing a divorce. All these big changes happening. When Stefanie wrote about her upcoming move I wrote in the comments that "I think that you could sum up so much of the human condition in that little phrase "not yet". And the more I think about it the more there is to say about it.

It's so odd really. How often do we rail against time when we know, perhaps with more certainty than we know anything else, that time will keep moving. This too shall pass. A warning and a promise in four little words. I remember coming out to BC to go to Trinity. I had never been to BC before. I had never seen the campus I was heading for. All I knew was the world as I knew it was about to change and whatever happened from here on in, it was never going to be the same.

I remember sitting in the dark in my room, which was already starting to look less like my room and listening to just about the worst song I could have listened to that night. It was a Moxy Fruvous song called "Fly". It's all about riding a rollercoaster after hours and the chorus says "untied the rope so they could fly, let's take a last ride, you and I". Brutal. I put the song on repeat for about an hour and just sat up against the door and silently sobbed. Years later I told my Mom about it and her great wisdom which I can only hope to learn someday she said "My darling girl, why didn't you turn it off and just come get a hug." Wise words. I try to remember to take that advice now.

What it is about us that makes us cling so tightly to what we know? So often the reality waiting for us is nothing to be afraid of, it's just different. Sometimes it is wonderful, more than we ever could have imagined. I remember how badly I wanted to rip up my plane ticket at Pearson that day, and now, standing here, I would not trade those years for anything. Truth be told about an hour after the flight took off I wouldn't have traded. Once you've said your goodbyes the rest is just travelling.

Dylan Thomas, in perhaps his most famous poem encouraged us not to go gently, to "burn and rage at close of day" but I like what he said in another slightly less well known poem. At the very end of "Fern Hill" he writes "Time held me green and dying/ Though I sang in my chains like the sea." Time will keep moving, with or without us, but here's to singing. Maybe that's why we need time in the first place, as the rythmn to our songs. Perhaps it is the cliff that tempts us to take a leap. Maybe it's there to remind us that we're only passing through.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

do you sudoku?

I have a new puzzle addiction brewing. I was reading Wired the other day and they had a story about the Sudoku puzzle craze that is reported to be taking England by storm. I am a fan of puzzles. I really like New York Times crosswords even though anything past a Wednesday puzzle is a consistently humbling experience. I used to do logic puzzles as a kid so I thought I'd give these sudoku things a try.

At first glance they are deceptively simple looking. Each puzzle is a 9*9 grid with a few numbers filled in. The rules are basic -- each row and column must contain the numbers 1 through 9 only once with no repeats and the same must be true of each 3*3 grid within the puzzle. Easy, right? I am reminded of the old commercials for the game Othello "a moment to learn, a life time to master." Well, pencil in hand I took a shot. And four puzzles later I finally solved one.

And now I want more.

I've already got Stefanie from work hooked on them. If you want to take a shot at them yourself, I recommend Sudoku for Daily Telegraph readers. In the right column there's a link to the Daily Sudoku archive. (Note of caution, the puzzles are all graded in the bottom right hand corner. Do yourself a favour and go back to the January & February sections to find an easy puzzle to start with.)

I have to go download more puzzles now. . . .

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

nerdy enough

I was on one of those friend-of-a-friend blog trails today and ended up on a Nerd Test, which of course I took because I was on a break goofing off anyway. I went through all of the questions and scored 31% and here's the weird part -- I was a little disappointed. [Sidenote: I have to wonder if being disappointed in a low nerd score automatically increases a person's nerd quotient, but that wasn't part of the quiz.] So I guess I'm not THAT nerdy (which may be a good thing) but I am nerdy enough to find this funny:

Things You Don't Want To Hear From Technical Support

  • Do you have a sledgehammer or a brick handy?

  • That's right, not even McGyver could fix it.

  • So -- what are you wearing?

  • Duuuuuude! Bummer!

  • Looks like you're gonna need some new dilithium crystals, Cap'n.

  • Press 1 for Support. Press 2 if you're with 60 Minutes. Press 3 if you're with the FTC.

  • We can fix this, but you're gonna need a butter knife, a roll of duct tape, and a car battery.

  • In layman's terms, we call that the Hindenburg Effect.

  • Hold on a second... Mom! Timmy's hitting me!

  • Okay, turn to page 523 in your copy of Dianetics.

  • Please hold for Mr. Gates' attorney.

So I'm not nerdy enough to know how to code an unordered list off the top of my head but I am nerdy enough to Google it and follow the instructions. Maybe a little nerdiness is a good thing, as long as it doesn't get out of hand. I have a piece of paper taped to my monitor that says "Odds are it's doing exactly what you told it to." Fear not hard working helpdesk staff, I have no intention of taking it down. I know my limits. I'm nerdy enough.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

that was awesome

Last Friday I was one of lucky ones rocking it out at U2's Vertigo show in Vancouver. I danced like a fool, I sang like an idiot, I screamed and I hollered and I loved it. U2 was my first big rock concert. I'm told that I've started with the best of the best, sipped Cristal on my first night out if you will. If it's all downhill from here, it was worth it.

We got seats for the price of SRO floors because they were behind the stage. If I had the chance, I would ask for them on purpose next time. Yes, the band had their backs to us for parts of the show, but we had a bird's-eye-second-row view of the stage. We were so close we could see the smile on Bono's face. I'm sure we would have been able to smell the sweat if not for the pot.

The warm-up band (Kings of Leon) mostly stunk. I recognized their first song from the new VW Jetta commercial. After that RuthAnn and I spent most of the set commenting on how the drummer bore a remarkable resemblance to Viggo Mortensen. Lose the beard and trim up the long hair and he could have been The Blouse Man. The best part of the opening act was when said beautiful drummer got his gum caught in his hair. Some days it is so hard to be cool.

U2 came on stage and it's hard to pick out a favourite moment after that. It was so loud you couldn't help but listen with your entire body and it would have been impossible to resist the urge to dance. I decided not to try. I think I lasted one song in my seat out of deference for the row behind me, but as soon as they started cranking out Beautiful Day the folks in row 3 were on their own. The entire stadium was singing. I hope there weren't any concerts purists in the crowd who wanted to 'hear the band'. It reminded me of the double date scene in The Wedding Singer where the girls start wailing on David Bowie's China Girl and Glen keeps saying "let's let David sing it" tee hee.

All in all it was so totally worth it. I was there and I've got the shirt to prove it. I can officially cross "go to a real rock concert" off of my list of things I've always wanted to do but haven't. Maybe this summer I'll finally make it onto a Ferris wheel.