Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hilarious Excerpt

While hunting through the archives of the Queen's journal I came across this gem of a quote from one of my biology professors.

"Biology professor Virginia Walker said students often complain that the work they put in and the grade they receive don’t match up.

“Students come and say, ‘I attended all your classes, and I studied for your exam for three whole days, and I didn’t do well,” she said. “Students feel that if they do all their readings and their work there is some sort of entitlement that they should do well.”"

I sort of understand what it is that she's getting at but I can tell you right now that if most students attended all their classes and studied for their exam for three whole days, they should do well, and if they don't then there might be a larger issue there that's not related to their work, and more related to teaching or evaluation.

But maybe I'm just crazy. You can read the full article for yourself here.

Monday, March 30, 2009

"Everything is Amazing and No One is Happy"

Today (Sunday) we had our weekly drop in from 5:30 PM til 8:00 PM. We sat around and shared our home with anyone and everyone who decided to drop by. In our time together we had seven friends drop in.

During our time together, almost everyone present shared with us their stories. Stories that sound intricate enough to be woven by a post-modern novelist, but are the lives of some real people. We spent 2 and a half hours with these people and they told us their life stories. That’s nothing in our culture. That’s the length of your average crappy blockbuster movie. That’s how much time I spent watching “Watchmen”. And yet in two and a half hours these guests of ours felt comfortable enough to share with us their struggles and where they’re at. What does this say to me?

People are crying out inside to be heard and no one is listening.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Wednesday Morning Post

Good morning WMPR's (coloquially known as wimpers) it's Wednesday March 25th, so slip on your Hanes, lace up your Nikes, take your Wheaties and your Gatorade, and we'll grab a Big Mac on the way to the ballpark. Now as you take a moment to recoil in horror at a sentence that contains every single brand Michael Jordan ever endorse let me launch into this, the Wednesday Morining Post.

What is there to say that hasn't been said? A lot my friends. Just when you think you've heard it all, something new comes along. Today for example a man told me a talk over breakfast of how he plans to pull a trailer across Canada using a 1991 Caprice Classic. Stories are everywhere, you just have to know where to look for them, and you have to know what questions to ask.

My father is an expert at this. A couple of years ago I realized that my dad was amazing at his job, not specifically because he's a good dentist, but because he's awesome at conversation and the telling of stories. When you're sitting in a chair with 3 pieces of metal in someone's mouth you really have to be good at telling stories because the person in the chair can't say much except "ahhh" and "gmhgnfgf" which really aren't very descriptive words. So you become an expert at asking yes or no questions, and telling tales to people which you've heard elsewhere. This is all rather off topic of my normal topic of discussion but people need to think about these kinds of things sometimes.

My girlfriend and I celebrated our 1 month anniversary on Monday. It actually wasn't much of a celebration since she was travelling and we weren't able to talk on the phone or anything but there was some text messaging going back and forth through the course of the day. It's very strange to me that 3 months ago I felt like I was going to be single for the rest of my life and now here I am, 1 month into a very healthy relationship. It feels very strange to me.

I'm also nearly finished the Winter term. I would say that I'm almost done school but that's a blatant lie. I'm actually only going to be finished winter term, and then there's a 2 week break in there which is looking like it's going to involve a lot of moving around with a trip to brockville to take my dad to a doctor's appointment, moving all of my stuff out of the house and into my apartment, and possibly a visit with my girlfriend.

I don't drive much anymore but when I have a car I always seem to end up doing lots of driving in a very short period of time. For example, between January and February I managed to go to Grand Rapids, Grosse Point, Windsor, Toronto, Ottawa, and Iawah. I've been trying to figure it out and I think in those two months I probably drove close to 4500 kilometres. That's a lot of time in the car for a guy who walks everywhere at home.

I think I'm pushing the word count for this week so I'll stop here. But don't forget kids, come back next week for another fun-filled episode of the Wednesday Morning Post.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Tipping Addendum

I think I messed up this topic the first time so here’s some clarification

First off, I was specifically upset about the situation in question, not because I had to give a tip, but more because of the attitude the waitress had about it and the way the situation was framed. I’m used to leaving a tip in secret or on the table after I leave the restaurant so that you don’t have to talk to the server about it. But our waitress wanted us to pay by the drink so the tip had to be exchanged at the time of the drink purchase, allowing for her to complain about our lack of change available for tips, and giving her an opportunity to tell us that she would no longer serve us because we weren’t giving her sufficient tips to make us worth her time.

Second, I did a little research on this topic after posting and discovered something else that’s very strange. Even though tips are “considered” optional and are not included in the price of your meal, the Canadian government keeps track of them, and your tax return is likely to be highly scrutinized if you work in the restaurant industry and you don’t report your tips. If the government is going to tax it then it should be included in the price of your meal, like some kind of service charge.

I hope that makes a little more sense.

The Wednesday Morning Post (Terrible Waitress Edition)

It's Wednesday March 18th. Slap yourself in the face, throw on a pot of coffee, and get ready. This is the Wednesday Morning post.

This should probably get relegated to a separate post but it's going here right now so that I can stop thinking about it. Myself and a few friends went out to a bar for pints last night seeing as how it was St. Patrick's day and all. There was good conversation happening (including a very interesting discussion I had with one of my housemates who's very interested in Women's Studies) and we were just enjoying ourselves in general. There was one problem though; our waitress.

(Matt I apologize in advance if any of this makes you cringe) See, we were just buying pints, and three of us were paying together since ATM's only dispense 20's. So then once we figure out exactly how much it costs, I give our waitress (who ironically enough used to work at Megalo's when I worked there last year) the money and she says "That leaves me no money for a tip" and proceeds to explain that it's actually costing her money to serve us.

Now HOLD ON A SECOND! Tipping is a social convention. I understand that it's proper etiquette to tip people but since when did you get the balls to demand a tip from me? And also, why is your restaurant set up in such a way that not getting a tip causes you to lose money on a sale? What the hell? Needless to say, this put an unneeded damper on the night for a moment.

Rants aside though life is good right now. I'm busy, as always (I'm always tired and busy) but things are coming to a satisfying close this year. I finish my last bio lab write up this coming Monday, I write my last math test on Monday, and we're in our last modules for all my courses so life is a party right now, only 31 days left of school, then a 2 week break, then spring term starts.

I've also been thinking about how much I miss my drums as of late. There is something about having this ability to unleash this primacy in musical expression on a bunch of cylinders of nylon and wood. That always used to help me feel better after work, and good jam sessions always made me feel slightly euphoric. I just wish I lived in an area where I had a space for them.

The library is super quiet right now (one of the side-affects of going to a party school) so I'm going to take the opportunity to enjoy the emptiness. Until next Wednesday folks.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Peer Pressure

You know what I'm talking about. That word has mighty connotations. It seems like every single children's organization has some piece of literature about how important it is to resist peer pressure. It's like this thing that you have to fight with all your might when you're a kid.

Peer pressure is funny because as an adult, this idea seems totally ridiculous to me that I should care how other people feel about me based on the way I dress and my outward attitudes. I will do what I feel is aligned with my values. But let's ignore that fact for now and discuss peer pressure.

I'm all for teaching kids that they shouldn't do stupid things just because their friends are doing it. Smoking is a stupid idea no matter what your friends say. But when we're telling kids to resist peer pressure what are we saying? What's the danger that could come when we teach kids that they shouldn't listen to the opinions of their peers on certain issues?

I heard a guy explain it once like this. The best defence against peer pressure is being an asshole. A more technical explanation would be that you don't value anyone's opinion on anything. So when we teach kids that they should resist peer pressure, there's a danger of them becoming unteachable.

There's these two extremes that kids have to navigate. On one hand there's the extreme of doing things just because other people tell them to and become hyper-sensitive to the feelings and opinions of others. While on the other hand, kids might completely ignore other opinions and become not very pleasant to be around, and somewhere in between, kids need to find this happy medium that they can hold onto until they become an adult.

Kids get the toughest problems in life.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Wednesday Morning Post

This week on The Wednesday Morning Post, relationships, busyness, and other such fun topics.

But first I need to respond to a text message on my phone...

Ok, now that that's taken care of we can go right into it. What's going on in the often mundane life of Ben Gresik, the first year ArtSci student at Queen's University? Well for once, a lot is going on. As you may or may not know I recently started dating someone. Seeing as how this is a public blog and I generally try to stay away from specifics I'll refrain from commenting further on this topic but I wanted to mention it so that if I ever mention my girlfriend on this blog in the future, no one will say anything crazy like "What!? Since when do you have a girlfriend?". You've all been informed.

Then there's the sheer amount of busyness (which is quite different from business) in my life. I just got an email this morning reminding me that I agreed to help lead a leadership retreat at camp this weekend. Sometimes I forget these things. This actually aids me in another predicament that I had though. I was supposed to go to a frosh reunion on Friday called "Slosh the Frosh" aptly named for its sole purpose of getting first years drunk. I was planning on going, if only as an opportunity to stay in touch with my frosh group, and not out of a desire to be sloshed but alas, with this leadership retreat business it looks like I won't be able to make it. It's unfortunate but sometimes my life pans out this way.

Speaking of busyness, part of my recent busyness (that's a really funny word when you say it alot) has been due to the sudden realization that I've been slacking a bunch in school. Normally I wouldn't have a problem with this seeing as how I'm all laid back about most things in life and very rarely stress about things, but I was thinking about the rest of my life on Monday. You know, that nebulous time period that occurs sometime after you've chosen a career path until you retire? Yeah, well I was thinking about that and I decided that I wanted to focus on trying to go to dental school. [Ben pauses for laughter and stunned responses due to the fact that his father is already a dentist]

Yeah, see it turns out that if I get all the right courses and if I can get organic chemistry in this spring, then I can at least apply to Dental School in the middle of next year and then there's a very slim chance that I would be able to go then (very slim). The reason why this motivates me to be less of a slacker though is because when I apply to dental school I discovered that they will look at my first year marks which, while ok, are not really competitive when you're talking about dental school. So I've got 4 weeks of classes left and 5 exams to try and improve them. We'll see where that gets me.

And I think that's about it. This is getting a little long anyways. I'm Ben Gresik, and this has been The Wednesday Morning Post.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Get Ready

Tomorrow is Wednesday.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Wednesday Morning Post (The Afternoon Edition...)

I was going to do the Wednesday Morning post this morning but then I decided sleep was more important than the WMP, and classes so I slept for 13 hours last night (aroused only 3 times to turn on my phone and receive text messages [ironically enough my phone just vibrated], delicious text messages). It was a much needed rest, especially after my weekend of concerts, homework, soup kitchens and such.

So now I take some time to answer the critical question that causes you to rush to your computers every wednesday morning (this time sadly in vain). What is going on in my life?
Well a lot frankly but I'll do my best to focus on some key areas.

There's this weird thing that Queen's does where you enter first year without a major and then you get through first year and declare a major. This whole process is actually really stupid because after going through all the trouble of getting into university, you have to get into a major program after first year, which can be hard because of how little information the departments provide on the specific entrance requirements into their specific programs. It's not a big deal for me because I'm just going into Biology which has very few requirements but it's still messed up because if I want to take certain courses in upper year I have to be in specific major programs, which means I might not get to take some courses or that I'll have to fight with the guidance department. In short Queen's is a really stupid univerisity when it comes to registration and course selection. I pay tuition to come here. They should let me take the courses I want to take instead of doing all this registration juggling and class size reduction bullshit. I realize that this is all because Queen's previous principal dug us pretty far into debt and now endowments are dropping but that shouldn't screw me over as a student.

I'll stop ranting though. What else is there to speak of? I'm making a trip to Ottawa this weekend, for the purposes of visitation with friends and family. There's something homely about Ottawa for me now. Whenever I go there I always end up running into people I know and I get to spend time with fine folks that I don't see nearly as often as I would like to. I wish I could move some people from Ottawa to Kingston but alas, this is the way life works sometimes.

I'm writing a song right now. It's a slow process just because I'm so busy with other stuff right now and song writing is normally pretty slow but I'm very motivated to finish this one. I've recently decided that if I'm inspired by someone, songs that I write don't all need to sound like them, so I've stopped throwing out half-finished songs that don't live up to my expectations anymore. I think this is more healthy than what I've been doing.

And now I leave the Wednesday morning post with a rousing quote/saying/dribble of text. This week, a scene from the 1969 Batman movie featuring Adam West

[Stuck to Penguin's magnetic buoy, with a torpedo approaching, Batman pries loose his utility belt transmitter.]
Batman: If I could just reverse the polarity... send out waves of super-energy...
. . .
[An annoyed Penguin observes the destruction of his torpedos.]
Penguin: He must be using his Super-Energy Reverse Polarizer!
. . .
[A third torpedo approaches, but Batman's transmitter ceases its screeching.]
Batman: Confound it! The batteries are dead!
. . .
[Moments after an off-camera explosion, we see Batman and Robin speeding in their Batboat.]
Robin: Gosh, Batman. The nobility of the almost-human porpoise.
Batman: True, Robin. It was noble of that animal to hurl himself into the path of that final torpedo. He gave his life for ours.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

I'm Not Even Going to Bother Trying to Come Up With A Library Title For This One

I'm in the library but it recently occurred to me that since I don't have internet at home at present, I pretty much always post from the library. This is going to make library titles increasingly difficult to come up with.

I'm here in the library on a Sunday because I went to a concert last night and thus, got pretty much nothing done with respect to the massive pile of homework that I have to get through between now and tomorrow. But this isn't really the point of the post. The point of the post is to tell you about the concert.

I went to see Anathallo last night in Toronto (note the links I now provide to subjects of interest. It's like Wikipedia except not quite as useful). They played this club on Queen Street called The Drake Hotel which I discovered is pretty much just a club. The actual space they played in was tiny but this is an environment in which Anathallo functions best in, since they have this amazing capacity to absolutely fill a room with sound an energy. And it was an absolutely perfect concert. The crowd was really into it, singing along with some parts that were very complicated and doing there best to clap along when appropriate. This was made difficult by the fact that Anathallo is very good and coming up with strange clapping rhythms but everyone was surprisingly good at it. The opening bands were excellent and set the mood for the main act. The bartenders were nice, the smoking crowd was amicable, and the band wandered around among the crowd, tending their own merch table, and rubbing shoulders with me a couple of times.

And when they took the stage it was truly a sight to behold. The lead singer Matt Joynt was really on his toes during the show and made a slew of really funny one-liners in response to the crowd's shouts. He messed up the tuning on the first song (Italo) and had to start over again, but it just made the official run through of the song that much better. They put together a great setlist of some of their best numbers and filled the room with sound and bliss. It was a sight to behold.

As I sit here, studying partial derivatives in multi-variant calculus, I am jolted back to the potent images, sounds, and feelings of last night. I can't shake the feeling of what is now the best show I've ever seen.