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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Ankhanu's posting's LiveJournal:

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Sunday, July 25th, 2010
11:17 am
Random musings

I've not cried since about 1998. That time I made an effort to cry to appease my girlfriend prior to an extended absence. As for the last time I genuinely cried, I have no real idea; perhaps in my early teens? I can't state for certain what caused my last genuine crying.

That said, in the past several years I've found myself rather close to crying on many occasions. Almost all of these moments are inspired by music (a minority by film, which may be music related). There are a few songs, more generally accurate, a few song segments, that have the power to tighten my chest and well my eyes almost every time I hear them. Greg MacPherson's 'Company Store' is one of these songs, 4:31-5:00 in the bridge of Jeff Buckley's version of Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' is another segment, 'Left and Leaving' and 'Pamphleteer' by the Weakerthans can get me, as can (oddly enough) Jane Sibery's 'It Can't Rain All the Time'. Sometimes it seems tied to the lyrical content, but more often it's the music itself, some combination of progression, rhythm and timbre, that does it. The feeling has varying durations and intensities, but never quite seems to come to fruition; this is probably for the best, since more often than not I'm driving when I hear these songs.

It makes me somewhat curious as to why these songs/passages manage to smack me right in the emotomatrix, and curious as to whether they'll ever push me past that brink and actually cause crying. Some, such as 'Company Store' or 'It Can't Rain all the Time', I can more or less put into a context; 'Company Store' is linked to some of the strongest moments of social solidarity I've experienced, any time I've heard it performed live has been amongst a throng of peers all powerfully singing along with a rather powerful stage personality at the lead; 'It Can't Rain all the Time' is attached to the end of The Crow and tied to the sadness of the preceding moments and the tragedy of Brandon Lee's death (Why THAT particularly seems to have moving effect on me, I can't really say). Most of the other examples, however, I can't nail down, short of perhaps some sort of awe towards instrument timbres in certain cases. In some cases, there are songs/segments that I find sadder, more beautiful, cerebrally more touching, or what have you, that simply don't have that impact on me. Just one of those mysteries, I suppose.

Posted via LiveJournal.app.

Current Mood: neutral
Thursday, June 3rd, 2010
6:37 pm
Meme time!
jen_stotland  was doing a meme in which you ask people five questions and they can ask 5 in turn. If you want me to ask you questions, go ahead and ask me some. Here are Jen's questions for me.

What attracts you to Endymology?
Quick correction, entomology :)
I started in on my educational career with a focus on birds and fish; I loved birdwatching as a kid, and fishing, and found both groups fascinating. I'm a little bit of a bigger picture thinker (at times), so when I was finished with the broad basics of biology in first year and could start focusing on what I wanted to learn, I figured it was important to learn about the habitats and other organisms that related to the groups I wanted to study in depth… so I started taking broader ecology courses and courses on specific organism groups that supported the birds and fish; plants and insects (habitat and food sources). Perhaps it was my entomology professor's love of the subject that helped push me towards the field, but in taking my first entomology course I became quickly transfixed with insects. They're extremely diverse in form and activity, they cover so many ecological functions, they're virtually everywhere (except oceanic and Antarctic)… I loved what I saw when I looked at them under a scope, so much is revealed, such intricacy, detail… beauty!

So, yeah, in summation, they're beautiful, varied and offer so much to be discovered.

What attracts you to photography?
I'm a visual person. I also enjoy discovery and transience. Both of these combine in photography, and influences how I've approached pictures. Photography works quite nicely with the appreciation of interesting things around us every day, and allows us to quickly capture these images, and to record things or events that may be quite transient or ephemeral… a "moment", if you will. Photography changes how you look at things, and lets you frame every day things in an interesting light.
And, as mentioned, it's quick. Technically, you can do exactly the same thing with other media, and even put a more personal perspective on them… but they take more time, and in some ways, more effort. It's an immediate return form of expression and information conveyance.

Interestingly enough, while I love taking pictures, I don't tend to actively seek out looking at photos. While I do enjoy photos, I tend to look at other media for enjoyment.

So What is the purpose of life?
There is no purpose, life simply is.

How do you feel about your nationality? Does it matter to you? Why?
This is something I think about a fair bit, oddly enough, though generally in abstract terms.
I am at once apathetic, proud and shamed by my nationality. Ultimately, nationality means nothing… but at the same time, I am tied up in the social constructs we have based on the happenstance of our geographic location. True, there is some influence on culture based on geography and political boundaries, but generally not enough on the national scale to really be substantial; it's not quite the same sort of difference as between larger socio-religious groups where social outlook can differ greatly (ie. Western vs. Asian vs. Middle Eastern, etc). Yeah, I do identify as Canadian, and I think that social identity brings me a certain amount of pride, though I think that pride is more rooted in outdated concepts of Canada, rather than the reality of our society (as you know, Canada's outlooks and actions are kinda shitty these days). The shame comes from how far behind Canada has fallen in globally important areas, such as pollution and energy, and even human rights… we're not keeping up and seem to be taking willfully ignorant stances on these issues.

Ultimately, it's not important… it taps into silly tribalism that is somewhat meaningless, akin to sport tribalism. It's something we grab onto, hold tight, but when it comes down to it, it's no more connecting or informative than liking a particular band, but it does help develop some semblance of social solidarity.

ok this is a copout question but what would you do with $5 million?
Straighten out my debts and set money aside for Elania's education. That would leave almost all of that $5mil to spare though :P It would be nice to have a home and be able to conduct research without pandering to various industries for financial support (my research topics are pretty cheap to work on, but getting funding is tricky). I'd "waste" money on creature comforts for me, my family and friends and, if my friends wouldn't feel too awkward about it, help them out of their financial issues. I'd love to build an eco-friendly home. I'd live comfortably on $5mil, but I doubt I'd go to much extravagance… there are a few wants that I'd go for, but for the most part, I like to live by need.

I'd like to say I'd be generous to charities… but I don't know of any charities off hand that I'd be really willing to donate to. Too many charities are too bogged down with operational costs to be really effective… there are exceptions, and they're generally small-scale. More direct involvement is more effective, and if I could get past my own laziness, it would be my preferred route of helping.

Pretty shallow thoughts, really… but then, I'm a kinda shallow dude ;)
Saturday, May 22nd, 2010
1:30 pm
We can go to the point, where we can see the mergansers
I just wrapped up a 2wk contract with Parks doing road salt chloride monitoring and some other projects. Some of the work I got to do let me do a little bird watching as I worked! I haven't done a lot of bird watching in the past several years, so it was really cool to get into it again. I've been using the same Peterson's Field Guide and National Geographic guides since the 80s... they're great books, but Peterson's is a little worse for wear, and the National Geographic is a couple editions out of date... so I got myself a new guide!
Given that I've got an iPhone, I started looking into the options for guides on the phone (and was one of the things I intended to get on it before I actually got it). I've been deliberating on which bird guide app to use for nearly a year... None of them quite give me all the options I want in one app, but I finally decided to go with the one that offers the best search function and sounds over consistent art; I bit the bullet and paid the $30 for iBird Explorer Pro, and have been really pleased with it.

There's no pattern to the list order, it's just what I remembered as I remembered it :P

Bird list!Collapse )

The brown creeper was, perhaps, the most exciting sighting. I've never seen one before, and it's one I've always wanted to see. They're super awesome little birds.
The sharp-shinned hawk was pretty cool... not simply because it was what it is, but for how I saw it. I was behind the warden office getting a water sample and spotted a swamp sparrow. Wanting to get a closer look at it, I pulled out my phone and played the sparrow's call. Once the call played I caught movement in my peripheral vision, and I looked over; the hawk jumped up from a small bit of white spruce and perched on an alder about 20-25m away looking for the source of the sparrow call. It sat there for about 40sec looking at me, then returned to the trees. It was a really neat experience.
Notes on bird responses to bird calls: some birds are far more responsive to recorded calls than others. Golden-crowned kinglet, yellow-rumped warbler, red-breasted nuthatch, dark-eyed junco, and even the black-and-white warblers respond really well to bird call attraction. When I first tried the yellow-rumped warbler call, I got to watch one shoot all the way across a pond the second it heard me, from probably about 40+m away. Hermit thrush, on the other hand, pretty much ignores recorded songs :P

Making this post, I've gotta say, I've been pretty pleased with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology - All About Birds site. Great search bar, good info and well laid out. I haven't really had need to check out the online birding resources in quite a while and it's nice to see this sort of thing out there!

*Most of my photos of these birds are cropped shots... my lenses aren't up to the task of bird photography
Saturday, March 27th, 2010
6:39 pm
Been a bit.
Uh yeah, here I am :P
My Parks job ended Feb. 26; I got a last minute extension (came through Thursday the 4th, the 5th was to be my last day)... The posting for the job at Rideau Canal was limited to people within 150km of the historic site, so I didn't qualify (being ~1,500km away). I'm still unemployed a month later, with few prospects. I did apply for a last minute job posting last night to work as a database manager/analyst with the Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes in Ottawa last night. I doubt I'll get it, but I've applied. There are also a couple positions being advertised with the Maritimes Breeding Bird Atlas and one as a terrestrial ecologist with Avision Management Services (looks to be a forestry company) in BC/AB that I'm going to apply for.

I've been continuing to try to finish writing my thesis, with minimal, though some results :P There's no real excuse for not getting it done at that point; I'm not doing anything other than providing transportation to/from work/school for my wife/daughter... though the timing of those efforts doesn't always work out with a good time frame to really let me hunker down and work. "Oh, I have to leave in 30 minutes... I don't really have time to start..." Excuses are easy to make.

I've been playing guitar more since I've been home; I'm still loving my Jaguar, and have taken some efforts to fix its shortcomings. I've restrung it with a heavier gauge string (d'Addario EXL115W) and made some bridge adjustments, and it plays even nicer than before. I found the tone a bit bright and brittle at first, but, tweaking the amp settings (which had be optimized for my Telecaster), I'm loving the tone... even the bridge pickup, which is a commonly disliked in the Japanese models.
My project right now is learning to play 2112 by Rush; 20.5 minutes of awesomeness. A lot of it is beyond my current abilities, but I'm making my way through the various components of III - Discovery and IV - Presentation. I know that the solo-y stuff later and in I - Overture and II - Temples of Syrinx will elude my slow, inaccurate fingers for a while. I'd love to eventually perform it with a band, but I know that'll never happen even if I fully learn it :P
Monday, January 25th, 2010
11:59 pm
Sounds that build high like a mountain; Or notes that fall gently like rain
My 5mo. term as Resource Conservation Technician at the CB Highlands National Park is winding to a close. I've only got until February 5th, though there is a fair possibility of an extension. The acting manager of Resource Conservation has been off over the past week or so due to a family loss, so the paper work my supervisor's done to transfer left over budget to salary budget hasn't been processed... we should have a better idea of how likely things are later this week or next, perhaps... Here's hoping.

All in all, I've gotta say that I still quite enjoy this job, it's unfortunate that it's not permanent, and that it's 6mo. seasonal when it is permanent... I could handle 9mo. seasonal even, but 6mo. is too short and requires another 6mo. permanent seasonal job on opposite rotation to maintain (unrealistic, I'm sure). However, aspenjade came across a job posting that is essentially what I'm doing now, but at the Rideau Canal National Historic Park... I must have missed it in the internal postings (or it just went public immediately).  I'm going to contact the director from work tomorrow.  That would put me close to a couple friends in Ottawa and Cornwall :)

My birthday was nice and quiet; I'd forgotten it was even my birthday until late in the day :) No cake, no presents, just a day like any other. aspenjade and I did get home made cards and small gifts from Elania, though, (on Friday) that were nice. Glad she enjoyed the birthday idea anyway. aspenjade got to go to work for her's today :P

After about 15 years, and lots of saving, I accidentally got a Jaguar, as seen in the first picture of my 365 project. It's a Japanese factory '66 Classic model, a limited run 2009 model, with block inlays and bound neck. All in all, I quite like it; the short scale is extremely easy to play, and the tremolo system is much nicer to use than, say, a Floyd Rose or Synchronized trem... and doesn't feel quite as constrained in its motion as a Bigsby. The pickups are a bit thin sounding... but, well, it's a Jag :P I'm not too big on the bridge and the tuning isn't as stable as I'd like; which means I have to do some minor modding of the saddles, or I'll just replace the bridge with a Mustang bridge (perhaps a modified Mustang bridge from Warmoth, so I can adjust saddle height). I love playing the guitar and it gets some pretty sweet early 80s, late 70s new wave/dark wave/goth tones, great surf sounds and a good bit of bite for rock. The output isn't as hot as I'd like however, with lower volume output than either my Tele or Exit 22; which may be attributed to the capacitors in the tone circuits increasing resistance, I'm not sure.
Wednesday, October 14th, 2009
8:23 pm

It's been a busy couple weeks, already logged several hours of overtime and lost about 10lbs (queue Super Friendz) from hiking in and out of sample sites. We're doing the last of the salamander cover board checks (it's recommended to do 4+ checks per site at least a week apart), have completed CABIN samples on several streams, are taking in wetland water level sensors (one to go) and I'm evaluating the CAMP program for use monitoring the estuaries in the park. Lots more to do in the coming months.

Other than having rubbed behind my ankles raw on a 15km hike in and out of a sample site, the job is pretty wonderful... Though we were snowed on today :( Even got to see a pair of river otter one day; first time I've seen them in the wild! Somewhat sad winter is so close, though.

Getting back on track with the ol' thesis again too. With some effort, and not going to bed quite so early, I should have it done in a month or so. It's disappointing how discouraged I get when working on it... I should be able to get over it and myself.

That's where things sit.

Posted via LiveJournal.app.

Thursday, September 17th, 2009
8:49 pm
Three moose, hairy woodpecker, some unidentified warblers, wood thrush, red-backed salamanders, Pterostichus spp., Notiophilus sp., nice big red oaks, yellow birch, red and sugar maples, beech... lots to see today. Spent the morning monitoring salamanders, the afternoon measuring discharge in a brook, and tomorrow I'll spend the day on the other side of the park with more salamander monitoring. I'll be doing these four sites alone, as my supervisor and the other tech will be doing electrofishing over there (I still have to get my EKG done, and this needs to be done at the same time). Next week is full of CABIN benthos sampling.

I played some frisbee with other Parks folk after work... I'm pretty sore now. That has me a little concerned about how I'll do tomorrow. My knee is sore and I've never been to these sites; I have to find them with the GPS, compass and some really low resolution maps, and the terrain is going to be steep in parts and a fair walk from the road/trails. The frisbee was fun though, and I'm going to continue to participate (they play Tuesdays and Thursdays). Between the hiking, biking and frisbee, hopefully I'll start getting in shape :P I was pretty sweaty and tired after the games.

I'll be heading home tomorrow, after work (after the wife lady gets off work and makes it up here to get me); it'll be nice to see the family.
Wednesday, September 16th, 2009
6:07 pm

Day two - much more productive than day one. Today involved some data collection outside three EMAN plots in the park - checking salamander cover boards. The three sites were in the north of the park, in dominantly hardwood forests, and are absolutely gorgeous. It's nice to be able to go into parts of the park that you're normally not allowed... and get paid for it! My coworker is pretty cool and easy to work with, which is a bonus. Only down-side was the intemittent rain; we finished the day soaked from the water on the foliage.
While I was planning on jogging today, I may skip that. I don't feel so bad about it though, given the kms I put in hiking through some difficult terrain. I also borrowed a bike and may go out for a ride; it's been years since I've had a bike, and around the park seems like a good spot to start again... I'll just need to buy a bike at home to keep it up :)

On a side note, I did discover that the native iPhone calculator has a scientific calculator... Just gotta put the phone on its side :P. Guess I can delete the other, less pretty calculator I downloaded.

Posted via LiveJournal.app.

6:06 pm

I hadn't mentioned it here, but I was recently offered a job with Parks Canada as a Wildlife Conservation Technician for five month in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. I'd interviewed for the job at the beginning of the summer (there are some pictures from that day at /Ankhanu) but placed second in the competition. As it turns out, the permanent position tech's husband took a PhD position in BC and she took leave to go too... meaning they again needed a second tech, and Mr Secondplace got the offer.
Today was my first day on the job; I said good-bye to retail on Wednesday, and will hopefully never say hello again. It was nice of John to give me a job (he did desperately need someone) and it was decent cash, but my gods am I ever not cut out for that shit. I spent the day reading over Park documents and doing some paperwork; the job description is pretty broad, sampling several taxa and habitat types, and analysing the data... should keep things interesting.
After work I took a walk down to Ingonish Beach around Freshwater Lake and through the woods. Many have said it, but I'll repeat: this is a beautiful place. I only walked today, but I think I'm going to start jogging it tomorrow.
One downside: I'm 1.5hr drive away from my family. I'm renting a room in the park warden bunkhouse; there's one warden here now, seems like a decent guy, and two mycologists from Finland for a few days. I'll be heading home on weekends, but I'll be here all week.
Speaking of weekends, I spent my first weekend off (without having someone die) with my wife and daughter in forever this weekend. Working retail has had me working pretty much every Saturday and Sunday in the past several months, much to my daughter's dismay. We didn't do too much other than preparing for me to leave and going for a little walk in the woods, but it felt damn nice. It had been far too long.
Anyway, I'm going to stop writing and sit here, hearing the roar of the ocean just through the woods for a while. I'll post this once I have net access.

Posted via LiveJournal.app.

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009
12:50 pm
Space; the final frontier

I don't know why, but I have this strange compulsion to acquire digital media storage. Hard drives, internal and external, thumb drives, remote storage... what have you, I always want more. Through self restraint and a lack of funds I've managed to only acquire about 2.5Tb, the vast majority of which I don't use/need. My thesis data, for example, is backed up on at least 7 different drives.

I really don't understand this need I feel for more disc space. I'm constantly preventing myself from buying more.

Posted via LiveJournal.app.

Current Mood: Complacent
Wednesday, August 19th, 2009
11:30 am
There are powerlines in our bloodlines
Yet another long stint without looking at livejournal... go me.

We have a new apartment; moved in about two weeks ago. It's not a bad little place, though it has caused me issues with my ISP. I could go into the whole story, but suffice to say, I'm getting screwed over due to the actions of the ISP workers and prior tenants in the apartment. I'm still trying to get it cleared up, and hopefully get compensated for the week of being denied internet service, or if they choose not to serve me, to get my $100 back.

Work is still ass. I'm still at the Source doing consumer electronics retail in the dirt mall. I did, however get an offer for a job as a wildlife technician in the highlands. It's temporary and doesn't pay well... and I may have to turn it down. As it stands, we're barely able to afford living (we haven't had groceries this week), and if I take the job the minor increase in pay will be terribly offset by the cost of a second rent in the Highlands, 150km of distance between my work and our current apartment, the fact that Amy would be without a car while I'm up there, etc. In short, I don't think I can afford to take the better paying job that I'd be happier working. It's a little painful.

I joined the cellular phone owner community. Never really thought I'd do it... but here we are. I grabbed an iPhone 3G S, 16Gb at the beginning of July with 6Gb of data per month (if this ISP thing doesn't get cleared up, I may be doing a lot of tethering) and a texting voice plan. I don't think I'd have ever picked up a different phone, though... I still have no interest in using a cell phone, but the nice applications and computer features, and the great interface of the iPhone made it about the only acceptable choice for me. Other than shitty Rogers network coverage in Cape Breton, I'm pretty happy with the device.

The thesis battle is ongoing. I've been procrastinating something fierce over the past several months, but I sent in another chapter draft last week for the first time in about 5-6 months, so that's something. I am buckling down to get this shit done with.

So, yeah, not a lot going on. Work and life complications have meant that I've been too busy or tired to do anything fun in the past several months. I did manage to get to the beach once this year though, which was nice. I wasn't able to catch any of the plays my friends have been in, I don't get out to music shows, the band I'm in is kinda falling apart (though the guitar player and I have plans for another project), and just in general things aren't going terribly right, but things could certainly be worse, so I'll just grin, bitch and endure :)

Have fun livejournal.
Tuesday, April 21st, 2009
11:25 pm
Haven't done a question meme in a while...
65 Questions You've Probably Never Been Asked Meme, ganked from Mech_Angel

1. First thing you wash in the shower?
I give my hair a vigorous rinsing

2. What color is your favorite hoodie?
Black. It's the only one I own.

3. Would you kiss the last person you kissed again?

4. Do you plan outfits?

5. How are you feeling RIGHT now?
Neutral... and displeased with myself that I'm not writing my thesis.

6. Whats the closest thing to you that's red?
The top of the container that I kept my black widow in.

7. Tell me about the last dream you remember having?
I can't recall :P

8. Did you meet anybody new today?
Nope, didn't leave the house.

9. What are you craving right now?
Potato chips.

10. Do you floss?
Now and then.

11. What comes to mind when I say cabbage?
A round shape.

12. Are you emotional?
I can get angsty, but no.

13. Have you ever counted to 1,000?
I think I have....

14. Do you bite into your ice cream or just lick it?
Mostly lick.

15. Do you like your hair?
It could be healthier, and less lossy... but yeah, it has this awesome shock of grey in the front on my right, it's awesome.

16. Do you like yourself?
I'm comfortable with me.

17. Would you go out to eat with George W. Bush?
Is he paying?

18. What are you listening to right now?
Ben Kweller - I'm on my Way.

19. Are your parents strict?
They kinda were... kinda weren't. They were probably stricter than they needed to be with me, following experience with my sister :P

20. Would you go sky diving?
Maybe. I might pussy out though.

21. Do you like cottage cheese?

22. Have you ever met a celebrity?
Celebrities to me?

23. Do you rent movies often?
I think the last time we rented a movie was 3 years ago.

24. Is there anything sparkly in the room you're in?
Given that it is used by a 6y/o girl... too many things.

25. How many countries have you visited?
Four. The UK and US.

26. Have you made a prank phone call?
Yep. They're not that satisfying.

27. Ever been on a train?
Two or three times... in the UK and Toronto.

28. Brown or white eggs?
The shell doesn't really influence the albumen and yolk.

29.Do you have a cell-phone?
Nope. I've considered getting an iPhone, but to wait for the new one in June. As I wait, I'm thinking that I don't really want it anyway.

30. Do you use chap stick?

31. Do you own a gun?

32. Can you use chop sticks?

33. Who are you going to be with tonight?

34. Are you too forgiving?
Yeah, I suppose so; everything turns to water under the bridge before too long.

35. Ever been in love?
I'm a happily married man.

36. What is your best friend(s) doing tomorrow?

37. Ever have cream puffs?

38. Last time you cried?
I managed to force some crying when I was moving to Halifax for the summer the first time, leaving my girlfriend for a few months.

39. What was the last question you asked?
Would you be kind? A precursor to asking Amy to make me some iced tea.

40. Favorite time of the year?

41. Do you have any tattoos?
Not yet.

42. Are you sarcastic?

43. Have you ever seen The Butterfly Effect?

44. Ever walked into a wall?

45. Favorite color?
I've been saying green.

46. Have you ever slapped someone?

47. Is your hair curly?

48. What was the last CD you bought?
Hmmm... it's been a little while, but I think it was probably Rush - 2112, Sloan - Parallel Play... and I think there was a third, but I can't remember.

49. Do looks matter?
Yes... but not that much.

50. Could you ever forgive a cheater?
Yeah, I have.

51. Is your phone bill sky high?
I don't have a phone bill.

52. Do you like your life right now?
No. It's not bad, but I should be done with that damn thesis, not working retail, with less debt. Other than that, things are ok.

53. Do you sleep with the TV on?
TV is off as much as possible

54. Can you handle the truth?
Much better than the pageantry of avoiding it.

55. Do you have good vision?
I fear my vision may be deteriorating.

56. Do you hate or dislike more than 3 people?
I dislike many things/people. Not sure I hate though.

57. How often do you talk on the phone?
Every day I'm at work :/

58. The last person you held hands with?

59. What are you wearing?
black jeans, grey boxers, dark grey t-shirt.

60.What is your favorite animal?
I'll use a broad category: beetles.

61. Where was your default picture taken at?
Caper Radio, while recording Jedi Mind Trick - How'd they do that?

62. Can you hula hoop?
Haven't tried in over a decade.

63. Do you have a job?
Unfortunately working consumer electronics retail.

64. What was the most recent thing you bought?
Supper from Subway, Saturday night

65. Have you ever crawled through a window?
PLenty o' times.
7:42 pm
Oh mom, I always dreamed of being a good listener, so tonight I'm on my way.
Spirituality is a topic that enthralled me for much of my adolescence through mid-twenties. I'd looked into various cultures, religion and spiritual philosophies, eventually synthesized my own philosophical take on the whole thing. I was never really one for the concept of deity, though the idea of divinity was reconcilable... but I've realized in the past months that I've moved on.

I started my journey as an Protestant, being dragged to church on Sundays with the rest of the family, probably until I was about 7. Eventually, my family stopped going to church. I continued to more or less believe, and even have recollection of attempting to converse with the Christian deity... usually asking for some of the toys my friends had that I coveted (G1 Jetfire anyone?). Eventually, I found that I turned to atheism before I even reached junior high. I remained an atheist until somewhere around the age of 15 or so. Well, no, that's not really true. I remained atheistic and generally uninterested in religion and spirituality until that point. Around then, I was introduced to new age religions like Wicca and began exploring alternative spiritualities to the Christianity around me. I spent years pulling in information, discussing the ideas with people I knew and people online... synthesizing information from the popular Celtic based religions, the various Eastern religions/philosophies, African religions and other assorted pagan faiths and the Abrahamaic religions. I eventually developed my own little view incorporating many of the concepts common throughout and some of the specific ideas to individual faiths, forming a mish mash divinity denying external deity.

I was happy with this for some time, but in time it's kind of fallen to the wayside... to the point that in the last few months to year, I've realized that I've circled around and find myself sitting staunchly back into the seat of atheist. I suppose while I liked the idea of spiritualism... I never really integrated it into true belief... rather a sort of quasi-faithful wishful thinking or romanticism.

I suppose faith, to me, was kind of like a good work of fiction, let's say Star Wars. While it's fascinating and I can pull pieces in with which to self-identify, no matter how much I integrate, it is still something out there, separate from exactly what I am.

So, yeah... I'm godless... but I always knew that, and I'm rambly... but I knew that too.

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009
2:49 pm
What we have here....
This is a Blackout! released a self-titled demo at our show last Friday. The show was fun, though, as anticipated, our set wasn't terribly well received. If we played more, perhaps we'd develop a following, but the patrons were there to catch the act before and the act after us... during our set they went back to their tables to talk. The set was fun none-the-less... it's a good thing I enjoy making the music regardless, or I'd hate playing live :)

We did sell a couple discs though, and pulled a couple bucks from the door to pay for production costs.
Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009
8:39 pm
I'm not so jazzed about it, 'cause I just get razzed about it
I've uh... sucked at even thinking about maybe considering looking at Livejournal since my last entry. I know you've all been eagerly awaiting my next little expose; I apologize.

I'm about a month past my two years with my thesis. This is almost entirely due to procrastination (i.e. now), but some of it is due to exhaustion and sickness. I ended up with Bronchitis about a month before the last Entomological Society of Canada annual meeting (in Ottawa, ON), which slowed me down somewhat... but I still did a presentation, which I think went pretty well. I'll have to talk to my supervisors for info on how to get feedback from the judges at the conference. Once I got over the bronchitis, well, it was Christmas season, and I'm working retail at The Source by Circuit City (formerly Radio Shack... soon to simply be The Source)... so was pretty tired from working, and I got sick again around Christmas time, slowing down my work progress. After that, I spent most of January barely making progress, but I think I'm back on track now. Hopefully things will be wrapped up within a month.

As it stands, the thesis is five chapters; an intro/lit review, detail of the study site, collection methods and determinations, an inventory of Carabidae, Staphylinidae and Curculionoidea, comparing the diversity of beetles among grazing/management treatments on the pasture, and comparing beetle community structure among treatments. The last two chapters will be made into 2, maybe three papers; the inventory chapter will contribute to a larger inventory paper. I've submitted a couple drafts of chapters 2-4, with the intro/lit review being adapted from my proposal, and the last chapter being a little bit of a stumbling block. Good fun.

Other than that, in May or June I started playing bass for This is a Blackout! (Myspace, Facebook group, Facebook Fanpage) It's been pretty fun; we're not great, but hey, we're lazy :P I'm really glad to be actually making use of the Fender Aerodyne Jazz Bass I bought just before Jedi Mind Trick fell apart. I could still use a new, reliable bass amp :P

I also started playing some D&D with some new people, thanks to Jon and Adrienne. They still have to cancel quite a bit, but the new folks are generally available, so we're still able to play, or substitute with some boardgames when they can't make it. It's nice to meet new people with similar interests, who are also pleasant.

So yeah, not a lot's been going on... but I've been busy, and busy not being busy (damn procrastination). I look forward to this thesis being written... yet continue to procrastinate, albeit less.
Tuesday, April 29th, 2008
10:36 am
She's 5
Sometimes the insight and compassion of children can be surprising.

I'm now back home, I moved back to Sydney on Sunday. Last night I was sitting with my daughter and "How it is Made" was on TV (she loves "the making show") and they were showing how toilet paper is made. Pretty early in she matter-of-factly tells me that paper is made from trees (about the time that paper for recycling is being shown on the screen), but then asks how they make trees into paper. I explained to her that they break the wood up into fibers, then stick the fibers together in sheets to make paper. She then asked if they cut down the whole tree to make paper, to which I told her they generally did. She thought for a few seconds then said "if they cut down the trees, where will the birds live?"

This little insight prompted me to then give her a little talk about resource conservation and not wasting the things we use, as most of the things we use (ie paper) come from destroying things, and when we waste them more things have to be destroyed, and this hurts the world and makes it hard for many things to live, like the birds and the squirrels in the forests.

It does rather please me that she makes these sorts of connections she does.
Saturday, April 19th, 2008
6:36 pm
The end is near... if by near I mean off in the hazy distance.
All of my beetles are identified to at least genus (two groups in two genera are causing me greif without having a reference collection to compare to), and they're as far as I'm going to go with them before sending them off for correction/confirmation and in some cases, determination from a local expert.

Now I just get to get the data formatted and run some statistics... then write write write.
Monday, April 14th, 2008
12:25 am
My friends, don't just sit there and ruminate...
I love and loathe this time of year. Spring is coming... but it's a goddamn tease!

Through the week I've come out of the house to be met by a song sparrow singing in the tree near by, starlings are pulling out their impressive repertoire of sounds... I've just been wearing my hoodie as a jacket... even collected my first beetle of 2008 on the wing (some sort of dung beetle). It's been bright and warm... or at least warm, through most of the week. Then Saturday and Sunday, we had snow... Saturday's even accumulated a bit. Just warm up already!

Only two more weeks until I leave PEI. I write my exam for the seminar course on the 25, then I just have to tie up some loose ends and head home. It'll be nice to be home with my wife and daughter again... but I will miss certain elements of the independence I have here. Not having to be home by a certain time and only having to worry about me while I'm working makes the academic life MUCH easier, and makes deciding to take up an offer to be social easier as well... but it'll be nice to have the girls in my life back in my life. They've both grown a lot in the time I've been away.

Amy and I are probably going to take some vacation time this year... as we never really have had the opportunity to do so. I've either been working or in school through the year... If I'm in school, I don't have time to take off; if I'm working, it's on short contracts without provision for vacation time. Add on to that having no money and it means that we can't afford the time off. But, Amy's getting some vacation pay, and I'm just going to be writing this summer, so we're going to see what we can afford. Amy was thinking of hitting Montreal and visiting my brother, amongst other things to do there... but chances are just the fuel for the trip will be too expensive. Chances are that Halifax and/or PEI is more likely. I think I'd like to pop by here some time in the summer to experience it not being winter (and I hear it's much better here in the summer) and to introduce my wife to the few friends I've made here. We'll see what happens.

We still haven't heard back on the state of funding for the Yukon sampling trip. I really hope the funding comes through and I get to visit the tundra and sample insects... but at the same time, it's terribly scheduled in terms of my personal life, as two very important friends are getting married when I'll be up there. I want to be here for their wedding... but I want to sample the arctic as well. Bad timing. Again, we'll see what happens.

"We'll see what happens"... seems to be a running theme in my life. I make some big decisions with that phrase... such as "So... are we going to get married?" "Sure. We'll see what happens..."

EDIT: Um, checking my previous posts, it seems I didn't mention the Yukon thing on LJ yet... clarification!!
My supervisor here at UPEI was contacted previously in the winter by the federal government about taking part in a biodiversity survey in the northern Yukon (like... coastal Northern), sampling aquatic insects in (probably) the last two weeks of June. She's a little overbooked with other projects and conferences around that time, so offered the spot to me, providing the necessary instruction (I'm familiar with several aquatic sampling techniques now, but refreshers are always good). Now, for someone in my position, this is an incredible opportunity. Not only will it look phenomenal on a CV, but it's a genuinely useful and exciting experience to... well... experience. I told her I'd do it.

As with many things with the Canadian government, the funding is quite tenuous and we might not find out whether it's secured until about two weeks before the trip. We're still waiting to see what happens there. THEMES!
Saturday, April 12th, 2008
4:43 pm
No strings attached, no copy to match...
Comment on this post with your name and I'll give you a band. Don't worry, I'll make it one you know and love. You put your ten favorite songs by that band on your LJ, then challenge others to do the same.

I'll see if I can do this in some sort of order of preference, but I'm not sure I can. Adrienne gave me Sloan.

1. I Can Feel It
2. I'm not Through with you Yet
3. Autobiography
4. Stand by me, Yeah
5. Deeper than Beauty
6. Bells on
7. The N.S.
8. Left of Centre
9. Coax Me
10. Summer's My Season

That took a lot of work.
Was made slightly easier by the fact that I've heard very little from their most recent album, so didn't even consider it.
Sunday, April 6th, 2008
12:45 pm
I miss the dirt, grit and decay of the Star Wars universe.

Yeah, all the current newer content looks pretty nice, but it doesn't look like Star Wars.
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