August 27, 2004

So... I've had Puff the Magic Dragon stuck in my head for the last week... only problem is, I don't know the verses too well, so at the end of the chorus it kind of segues into the Gilligan's Island theme song: (the capitalized bits get belted out inside my head, by the way)

Puff the magic DRAgon / lived BY the sea / and frolicked in the autumn MIST / in a land called Honalea (yea i don't know how to spell that) / the weather started getting rough / the tiny ship was tossed / if not for the courage of the fearless crew the Minnow would be LOST / Oh, Puff the magic dragon....

Feel free to tell me how screwed up my psyche is in the comments. Also I hope you got one or both of those songs stuck in your head... that was my true intention when writing this post....

Posted by Tim at 02:05 PM | Comments (7)

August 24, 2004

OK, I know I said on my MSN name on Sunday that I would post tomorrow (i.e., Monday) and today is really quite a while into Tuesday. Plus I told Jehan earlier that I would likely blog "sometime this afternoon". Let's just say I got distracted with the attempt to compare crime rates in Toronto and Grand Rapids... really all the data I could find seemed to indicate relative parity or even higher crime rates in Grand Rapids. Which is a super-safe city by American standards (I think). Grr, stupid Canadians. Why does your city of three million have the same violent per capita crime rate as my city of two hundred thousand?

So it looks I was quite safe this weekend even though I was in Scarborough, the city which apparently provokes constant ranting and raving about the impending doom of civilization from the alarmist-television-news-watching demographic (at least in Canada; no-one in the States believes there is any actual crime in Canada aside from rumours of unrepentant French speakers).

Hmm I just realized there's at least one Francophone who reads my blog... sorry Simon, and while I'm at it I might as well apologize to any and all persons who constantly watch alarming news reports on teevee and are thus convinced that the world will end tomorrow due to either global warming, shark attacks or virulent airborne cancer.

And yes, this is less tangential than an Ixi comment (as I told him the other day, "the conversation was here and the comment you just made was way over... here."); in my defense it is 5:30 AM.

So yes, the weekend. Thursday I drove up. My drive was fairly uneventful except that I'd just had an eye appointment complete with pupil dilation, so I couldn't see very well for the first couple hours (yes I had sunglasses but it was really quite a bright day.) Also at the border I nearly got my car searched by chuckling when the border guard asked me if I had alcohol or tobacco. It was funny because a) it's sort of ridiculous for me to buy beer in a country where I can't legally do it and sneak that beer into a country where I am legal to buy it and b) tobacco is a funny sounding word. So anyway she asked me again and I said no and she looked at me funny and I played the "I'm a pre-seminary student" card and she let me through. I think she thought I was lying but figured I wasn't really a security risk or anything.

So I got to Toronto and I went to Jehan's house. Which would've been great except that they'd all assumed I would go to John's house (with whom I actually stayed) so there was no one home. In a vaguely ironic twist neither my American nor Canadian cell phone would work. Fortunately I was able to use my superherolike spatial abilities to navigate my way to Katie McBride's house and thence proceeded to pick up Jehan and Co. and John on the way to Jehan's old youth group, meeting at the youth pastor's house. Notable occurrences at the barbecue included certain members of the youth group streaking (well they were wearing boxers) across a field and random, inexplicable laughter during the singing.

I remember reading somewhere that Friday takes its name from the old Norse god[dess?] Freyda. Well since most Scandinavians are nominally Lutheran atheists and not so much up for the whole bloodthirsty pagan thing, I propose that we change the name of the day between Thursday and Saturday to "Timgetsscrewedday". Not to encourage people to screw me over further, but this way we have a weekly reminder that on this day in August 2004, Tim was screwed pretty much continuously for a good six hours.

Yeah so thanks to the constant eggings-on of my former friend Jehan, John decided it would be a great idea to make me go clothes-shopping at Scarborough Town Centre. Which is a mall.

See I have an uneasy truce with the malls in GR that goes something like this: "I, Tim van Alstyne, will agree to enter your doors a couple times a year to eat at Olga's and/or shop at bookstores; in return, you will refrain from scaring the living crap out of me with your hordes of mindlessly acquisitory mall-zombies and your impulse-buy mind rays." Scarborough Town Centre and I do not have this truce. Malls are like friggin kryptonite to me. Not only do I become randomly exhausted as I step inside their shiny double doors, I also lose all sense of direction. Within malls, I'm like Spiderman without his spidey-sense or George Bush without his cowboy hat -- completely vulnerable to the forces of evil and chaos.

So yes, I had pretty much written off Friday as a [for reasons I have not had satisfactorily explained, necessary] loss. We went into a music store; I remembered that I wanted to buy the Big & Rich CD (yeah, it's country, sorry). OK, I said to myself. It would be one positive in an otherwise barren wasteland of a day. However the only catch was that I can't get GST back on sales of under fifty dollars. I was going to get Jehan to buy a couple DVDs to put the total over 50 bucks, but he didn't see anything he wanted so he promised we'd stop at HMV later so I could get the CD at a store with greater DVD selection. Except we never did that, did we? Yeah so I got screwed again.

I ended up buying the CD on Sunday so I could listen to it on the drive home. It's not bad at all. I'm still bitter though. Also I was able to take advantage of my being in Ontario later that (Friday) night, after we watched Donnie Darko. Steve Mah now knows that if he does sketchy courageous things whilst I'm around, I may or may not reward him with free beer.

Saturday -- the marriage of Carl and Andrea in Woodstock, ON. Unfortunately we were stuck in the hugest traffic jam ever on the 401 outside Toronto so we were half an hour (whom am I kidding, it was at least 45 minutes) late for the stupid thing. We discussed how the backup might actually have been Providential but the proof for that is a little sketchy and also relies on mondo inside jokery so I won't get into it here. The wedding (what we saw of it) was nice, held in Carl's parents' backyard on a beautiful August day. It was good to see old Redeemer friends again for the first time in months... sort of a foretaste of September 6. The reception however... um, well, it was okay but there were some iffy stories told. Interestingly there were no stories at all about Andrea, only Carl, because Andrea is so friggin normal it's disturbing. Carl is many things but normal is certainly not one of them. Also our table was mildly alcoholic. Drinking didn't help us cope the lame jokes that the bride and groom's families kept telling though. Some of the 'stories' they told about Carl were actually just jokes... except that, unlike most jokes, these jokes did not have discernable punchlines.... Shout out to Mark and his fiancee (can't remember her name, she goes to Calvin though) who sat at our table, they were super-cool and I'd like to stop and have a beer with him the next time I'm going through Sarnia. Also shout-outs to Sandra who sat at our table, and the man himself Phil Tamming, our own Poppa Phil, now sadly departed from Redeemer after half a decade there but still in the thoughts of we who lived with him.

After we got back to Toronto (really late), we went to bed. Actually, I lied; we watched the Olympics. So apparently Canada's main achievement up to that point had been taking a bronze in trampoline. Which to me is a lot like saying you failed every subject except gym, in which you got a C. On the other hand, I probably shouldn't be saying anything about gym right now... um, I don't want to talk about it. Anyway, Mark Phelps has won more medals than all of Canada. I learned that's not the most tactful thing to say when you are the only American in the room.

Sunday, went to Jehan's church. The youth pastor preached on Christian commitment, which is a good and important topic but it's pretty hard to come up with new, convicting insights on it. He did get my attention though with a piercing analogy to driving, noting that in his commute from Newmarket to Toronto, all the cars play what he called "spot-a-cop" wherein they would brake down to 110 or so at first sight of a radar gun and speed right back up when they'd passed the police car. He said that sunday morning church and Christian get-togethers act like our 'cops'. Do I play spot-a-cop with my faith? I'm pretty sure I don't like the answer.

After church we got free lunch at Licks along with an estimated five billion other people our age from Parkway who had heard Pastor Steve's siren call of free food. Apparently he'd gotten 230 bucks worth of certificates from un-named connections high in the Licks empire, but he doesn't like Licks. No problem.

Then we went to a cybercafe where everyone but me played while I surfed the Internet... gaming is just not my thing. Then I went home.

Good grief, this is the longest entry ever. I've seriously been sitting here for 2 1/2 hours writing this. I'm going to bed. ('Tis only 7 AM, after all.)

(N.B. Yeah this was posted at 2:11, but my internet connection wasn't working this morning and I was too tired to fix it.)

Posted by Tim at 02:11 PM | Comments (11)

August 23, 2004

I don't want to talk about it.

Posted by Tim at 03:02 PM | Comments (2)

August 18, 2004

In which I rant about politics.

I'm going to post more positive things about politics soon. But I want to get this out there...

I do not understand the hatred of the left side of the American political spectrum (and a good deal of politically-minded people abroad) for George W. Bush. It completely boggles my mind. He simply is not that conservative. He's to the right-of-center of course but he's pursued a strictly centrist domestic policy.

And yes, the war, the war. Look, there are two stories that the Left and the Right tell about the effect of the US's foreign policy over the last fifty years. Neither is really all that simplistic, and to me the story the Right tells makes more sense. Anyway I'm not going to argue that here: my point is that I don't understand why people hate Bush SO MUCH.

I've had two friends (from here in MI) tell me they'd move to Canada if Bush were re-elected. They're apparently that afraid that somehow in four years GWB will enact a totalitarian fascist state in a country that has been a functioning Republic for more than 200 years. I don't like John Kerry too much, but I don't doubt that he (and even, say, Ralph Nader) don't value the freedoms we've held for centuries (ok, not gun rights, but anyway...). I'm pretty far over here on the right but I just don't see more than a handful of stupid racists and commies in this country who would actually try to turn this nation into a police state. But I guess if you thought the 45 percent of Americans who make up W's base were totalitarians, you would be rather paranoid. Sigh.

I think the problem is that, for too many people in our Western societies have made politics into their religion (warning: I may be echoing Prof. Koyzis here). Look, if the Republicans or the Liberal Party of Canada or the National Front for the Promotion of Stupidity wins... it's not the end of the world. Politics is not everything. We trust not in the vagaries of the voting public or the benevolence of politicians, but in a God who is surely and steadily making everything in this broken old world new again.

And that's something I'm learning too.

Posted by Tim at 02:23 AM | Comments (4)

August 16, 2004

I think I'll post my schedule for next semester here (that will make it easier for the scary internet stalkers to hunt me down I guess), also I just found it buried under a mound of papers whilst looking for the cd that has my camp pictures on it so I can upload and hopefully post them). I'm super excited, especially about Greek which has people like Katie and Steve Dykstra in it and promises to be an awesome class...

Monday, Wednesday: Art at 9, Greek (!) at 10, Public Speaking at 12.

Tuesday, Thursday: Phys Ed at 8, Christian Philosophy (woohoo!) at 9:25, Spanish at 7 PM.

Friday: same as M/W except no Public Speaking.

That is right: I'm never in class after 1 PM (except Spanish... and I know Spanish decently well, if not quite fluently, so it shouldn't be hard). My weekend will start at 10:50 AM on Friday.

Oh, and did I mention Greek?

yes yes yes!

(My joy is however tempered by the winter schedule, which contains not one but two Sciences, each with a lab. Shudder. At least I'll have Greek II and two Historys (is that the correct plural: Histories doesn't look right in that context, sort of like how Toronto Maple Leaves is wrong). One of which History is post-1865 US History. That will be interesting....)

Posted by Tim at 10:55 PM | Comments (2)

I sat on my cat today. I felt bad about it but really, she is black and the computer chair is black leather and her eyes were closed, so how was I supposed to see her? I have warned her many times that if she continued to sit there I would eventually not notice her and squish her. Fortunately I noticed that the seat was warmer (also: furrier) than usual and got up before the whole of my 145 pounds had crushed her. As a result of my quick action, she endured the ordeal unscathed, though she is not precisely grateful.

Posted by Tim at 10:13 PM | Comments (3)

August 14, 2004

Longtime associates will understand that I, upon seeing a column devoted to my greatest pet peeve, am literally forced to note it here....

Oh yes, and I'm back. I'll post pictures of camp, as soon as I figure out how to....

Posted by Tim at 03:26 PM | Comments (2)