Unhealthy nerdiness

People have accused me, usually while playing a game like Boggle, of reading the dictionary. This is simply not true. I've never read a dictionary from cover to cover. However, I do have a wee bit of an obsession with reference works, including lexica. Looking a word up in the dictionary usually takes me four times as long as normal folks. I get stranded learning what words like "bemow" (to mock with grimaces), "tope" (to drink, esp. habitually or copiously), or "sturt" (contention, violent quarelling) mean. I think the problem that my word game opponents have is that I remember these words. So, even when it looks like I'm making up a word I can actually give something that is near the real definition. Like ret, ort and poi, all of which I've used, had questioned and been vindicated by dictionaries. However, sometimes I really do just make up words. One of my favourite is "zito", the supposed singular of ziti, the pasta shape (actually, according to the OED, the singular is zita, but I'll still try to steal zit every time an o comes up in anagrams).

Dictionaries can also be used for dirty ends. Like looking up the naughty words, or better yet, stumbling over naughty words you didn't know. Like "tribade", which means lesbian and comes from the Greek word 'to rub'. Isn't that lovely? Or what about "ephebophile" as an insult? I mean, it's not pedophilia entirely, but it's not right, either. (an ephebophile is a gay man who is attracted to adolescents).

However, all these musings arose for a background for a new preposition I learned. Now, prepositions may not be exactly the most elegant of words (we all know that's the verbs, though the nouns are getting a bit uppity these days), but it's so rare to learn a new one. But I learned two new ones today, both decidedly domestic: but and ben. I think I'll let the OED speak for itself:

The words but and ben have special reference to the structure of dwelling houses formerly prevalent in the north, in which there was only one outer door, so that it was usual to enter through the kitchen into the parlour, and through the latter to an inner chamber, bedroom, or the like. In reference to the kitchen, the two latter rooms are ben and far-ben respectively; they constitute the ben-end of the house: in reference to the parlour, the kitchen is but, or but the house, or the but end. These phrases are retained even in more modern houses, where the parlour has a separate entrance: ‘go but’ = ‘go into the kitchen’; ‘come ben’ = come into the parlour, etc. Also apartments on opposite sides of a passage are said to be but and ben with each other, though neither is farther out or farther in than the other: come ben, go but are then used of either. Their occupants are said to live but and ben with each other
Who wouldn't love learning stuff like that? Now, I have to go clean my apartment, both but and ben.

A trip to the mall

Yesterday, due to a thought process that isn't all that interesting or pertinent, I found myself at the Mall (it gets caps because it is, after all, the biggest shopping complex in the world). Going to the mall is alwasys somewhat of a bittersweet experience for me. See, I like stuff. However, I hate spending money. I mean, I spend money, often recklessly, but it's always in bursts and more often than not for things that I convince myself need to be acquired by Alea, Inc. (like a nesting set of springform pans). Yesterday, I was not really in a convincing mood, though. I mean, the brown three piece suit for $129. I actually questioned when I would wear it, as if that stopped me before.

Another reason why mall trawling is less than ideal to me is that it always makes me feel a series of thoughts usually in this order:

1. I'm poor.
2. I'm really, really uncool.
3. I'm a sociopath, as everyone else here seems to be with others.
4. At what point did I teeter into the camp of people who shake their heads and thinks "oh, you kids..." when around teenagers?
5. How can I look at the map without broadcasting to the world that I'm one of those people who needs a map to navigate a mall?
6. So, this store isn't quite what I was thinking it was. How long do I have to spend pretending to look at stuff before I can leave?

As you can tell, not really uplifting, inspiring thoughts. And somewhat stressful. However, I'm always glad to leave the mall and think, "Wow, I'm really glad I went to university and don't have to work retail for the rest of my life." So, maybe it balances out. Plus, this trip ended with me finding a zipper sweater for ten bucks and purchasing Requiem for a Dream. All in all, it was success.

It is finished

I just sent off my last real assignment for library school. I have some stuff for my practicum to complete, but I've already received credit for the course, so it's hard to really justify getting them done. I'll do them at work on Monday or soemthing. But, that's not the point. This is: I'm done! After two years, sixteen courses and some really crappy Edmonton weather, I'm almost credentialed as a librarian.

Now, if I could just get a job...

Money I don't deserve

You know what I love about Canada? All the free money. Well, that's not 100% true. However, I got a letter today from Revenue Canada that basically said this:

Dear Resident,

You are clearly too stupid to figure out our tax laws and made a very avoidable mistake. The figure you took for tuition credits was much, much too high. We have adjusted that. However, we have also adjusted your CPP overpayments. Your refund will be deposited in your account.
That's right. I was bested by an income tax form. However, the good news is that the CPP overpayments means I that I get more money (about 30 bucks more) than I originally thought. And my refund's already deposited in my account. I now have 500 Canadian dollars that I feel like I ought to spend. I wouldn't want to the terrorists to win. Maybe I'll go buy myself a Wii...

Though, given my increasingly bleak employment prospects, I should probably save that so as to stave off gutter-death for at least one more month.

An ideal candidate

So, I just saw a position for a cataloguer. It contains the phrase "the ideal candidate will be fluent in Mongolian and have experience with MARC records." Right, then. I guess we have three people in the entire world for whom that sentence is felicitous. Too bad only one of them also speaks English and she doesn't have an ALA-accredited library degree. Good luck, library Associates!

Now, if I could only find a job that values what I can offer: useless trivia. Such as the fact that candidate comes from the Latin word for "clothed in white". Why? Because in Rome, only those running for office were allowed to wear the white toga. See, that history of clothing class wasn't an entire waste, now was it?

Unrelatedly, later this afternoon, I have a phone interview with Southern Virginia University. I'm hoping I can trick them into hiring me, actually. Notwithstanding the harsh honor code, the rural situation, the (presumably) meagre pay and the tiny collection (140,000 items). Wish me luck. Or not, if you actually care about my happiness.

Becoming the enemy

So, I just applied for a job with the Correlation Department. Though I probably won't get it (I could most certainly do it and do it well), it's sort of odd to think about what would happen if I did. Sure, I'd have to start wearing white shirts and ties every day (no big deal, really). I'd have to lose the beard for real (and not just like right now, where my shaving was just a brief hiatus). I'd have to work in the Power Tower (ok, so that's more a "get to" actually). But last, and very much not least, I may be supporting something that I can't really get behind. But don't tell them that. I'd really like to be an Assistant, Research Analyst. Think of the fun "applied religion" (their term) factoids I could be privy to. And we all know that I live for nothing if not for Church-related trivia.

A list of my failures (or soon to be so)

Alright, so I got another "you suck" letter today from a library position I applied to. Since I'm a list fiend, I thought I'd throw up one that highlights the location of jobs I have thus far applied to. These are in absolutely no order. They do, however, show just how wonderously unemployable I am. (the * indicates they think I suck)

  • *Lincoln, NE
  • *Oxford, OH
  • *Fort Wayne, IN
  • *Provo, UT
  • Salt Lake City, UT (times three)
  • Orem, UT (times two)
  • Palo Alto, CA
  • *State College, PA
  • *San Rafael, CA
  • Annapolis, MD
  • New Haven, CT
  • Boise, ID
  • *Idaho Falls, ID
  • Buena Vista, VA
  • Grand Rapids, MI
  • Grand Forks, ND
  • Houston, TX
  • Nashville, TN (times two)
  • *Eagan, MN
  • Ithaca, NY
  • Laramie, WY
  • Albuquerque, NM
  • Milwaukee, WI

Mass of confusion

Can someone, anyone, please explain to me how Fred Phelps can actually exist? And how he sleeps at night? And what we can do to stop him? And whether you want to take a trip to Topeka to see if he's actually as crazy as he sounds?

Observe the "memorials" he wants erected:

Against Sweden
Against America
And, what I think I can honestly call the most evil thing I have ever seen: Against Matthew Shepard

All of these, and his other ideas appall me deeply. And makes me angry. And saddens me. And seems to directly contravene Matt. 6.14-15. He must assume that he has no trespasses. Or just have gotten so caught up in the story of Sodom that he's never actually made it to the New Testament. Either way, he depresses me.

my kingdom for a chause!

Sometimes, when I've feeling excessively bad for myself, I like to remind myself of what I am. For one thing, I was not born in Burundi. If I were, I could expect to live approximately 50 years, only have a 1 in 2 chance that I'd be able to read, watch my wife (should I live so long) carry an average of 6.55 children to term, and be living in a country where the per capita income sits below $200. Oh, and there's a good chance I'd be massacred. So, being in the first world is definitely a good thing.

Another thing that I remind myself is that I do not own a single item that could be construed as chainmail. That site claims their hauberks are priced "so any peasant can become a knight". Two things: I knew the value of knighthood had gone down, but is all it takes really an expensive piece of costume jewelry? Do you think these people feel guilty knowing that the average Burundian would have to spend his entire year's salary just to buy the cheapest of their hauberks?

Yes, I did just manage to connect an improverished Subsaharan state with the Society for Creative Anarchonism. I have no regrets.

I'm also glad that I'm not the type of person who would cheer the SCA's hurricane relief, which seems to consist of granting extensions on the memeberships in certain ZIP codes since those folks paid but couldn't get their publications.

Lastly, don't you think the Luddite movement should rebrand itself as the Society for Destructive Anarchonism? I'm sure they'd gain a whole lot more momentum that way. Though they would run the risk of being confused with the Millerites. But who doesn't want that?

Rods per cups

At almost the very last minute, I was offered a ride to Salt Lake for general conference. We would leave Thursday evening and be back by late Sunday. Since the only responsibility I had during that time was a class on Friday (and that was definitely not essential) and because I would never, under any circumstances, miss a trip to Zion, I hopped on board. Though this could be the stuff of song and/or story (see Canterbury Tales), the weekend turned out to be pleasant, if surprisingly uneventful.

We left E-town round about 6pm Thursday and headed to Red Deer, where we picked up the fourth member of our party. Two hours south of that town, he remembered that he had forgotten his passport. Since, like most normal people, he doesn't tend to cart about a birth certificate, we had to turn around. So, we lost four hours. But it was just four hours of sleep, rolling into small town south Alberta roughly at 4.00 am.

We slept for about four hours and then hit the road again by 9. We drove through some breathtaking pieces of Montana (for which the promotional materials that claim it to be big sky country are not, in fact, lying). We rolled into the Valley round about eight that night. A rousing rendition of O Ye Mountains High was attempted, but scrapped when stumbled through the first verse and realized we didn't really know the hymn all that well. For those doing the math, we've logged 19 hours in the car by this point. There are few things more difficult than being trapped in a car, not being able to eat, and having your traveling companions munch down for several hours. Fortunately, I survived without breaking my fast, though I had to fudge it a couple times so as to not make my various hosts Sodomites (their sin, of course, was inhospitality not anal play).

Our time in Salt Lake was a bit of a swirl. I got to meet the my newest niece, all of three weeks old. I saw my family. We went to Saturday afternoon conference, which turned out to be a broadcast from the Tabernacle, much to the dismay of some of our party. I introduced A. to Sam Weller's. We experienced priesthood, which was live. I got to see Ryan, who also went out to dinner with our family for some tasty, if slightly overpriced Mexican food. That was a lucky break as he and his (much) better half are going to be gone from Zion by the time I'm home again. The weather was gorgeous, a real example of how beautiful some springs in Utah are. Then, come 7.20 am Sunday morning, we pulled out of the driveway and were on our way back north. (time in Utah: 35 hours).

The trip home was pretty smooth sailing with two stops. First in Montana where we tried turning the Missouri from its course, but learned that God must be pretty dang eager to pour down knowledge on the heads of the Latter-day Saints. The second was an hour-zapping meal stop in Lethbridge. God decided to pour down not knowledge, but snow, upon the heads of us four Latter-day Saints in a rather mean-spirited April Fools Joke. The storm was pretty intense, but cleared up after Red Deer and I was home for bed by 1.30 am. The timing on the trip up, even with our two minor stops and the blizzard conditions, managed to sit about 18 hours.

If you've learned addition, you can see 19+18=37. What this means is that we were actually in Salt Lake for two fewer hours than the journey there and back took. And, a bulk of the time there was spent sleeping. Said another way, for every minute we spent in Salt Lake we were in a car or on the road for 1 minute, 3.6 seconds. Ryan called us "Mormon Jihadists". I think I like the title in all its racist glory. Though, technically we'd be closer to hajji. I always have thought gathering to Zion, at least for conference, should still be an essential aspect of Mormonism. Maybe we can bring it back and then use it to open doors to the Muslim world. It's like brt-ing, but on a much less specific level.

Assiduous records of our gas consumption were kept until the computer we were using crapped out and lost our data. We figured the miles per gallon, the kilometers per liter, the cost per mile, and so on. I suggested we include the rod per cup (somewhat cheekily as I didn't really get the joy of rather prosaic data sliced in not-so-thrilling ways). Unfortunately, we didn't know how many rods were in a mile. It's 320. Since we averaged just under 30 mpgs, let's say 28, we'd be getting 560 rods per cup of gasoline. Now, that's some data that gets my engine going, if you know what I mean.