Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I have really thick, ridculously healthy and slippery, fast-growing hair that drives me NUTS. There are days when I'm tempted to just shave it all off and have done with it! However, I've decided to something a little bit more practical...I'm going to grow it out until I have an 8-inch ponytail, and then I'm going to chop it all off and donate it to an organization that makes wigs and donates them to the cancer society to be given to cancer patients. At the rate my hair grows, I think it'll probably take another year to year and a half.

When it comes time for the haircut, I'm going to partner with the Canadian Cancer Society to collect pledges and raise funds for cancer research and patient resources, so I'll definitely keep you updated as the hair grows.

I've been thinking about doing this for a while, but what brought on the decision was one half of the beloved and classic Lutheran duo Lost And Found, Michael, announcing that he has cancer and is going to be undergoing radiation and chemo. Michael has this curly blond afro, and one of his classic concert jokes is about his HAIRitage, and so it makes me really sad to think of him loosing all of his hair during treatment. I can't give him mine, but I've got so much of it that I don't want, I could give it to someone!

So, I hope you will keep an eye out for my cancer fundraiser, probably coming next fall. I don't think I know anyone who's life hasn't been affected somehow by cancer, and it feels good to be able to help someone, even someone I don't know, in such a practical way.

Stein auf! (Rock on!)

Michael and George of Lost And Found at my church in Nov 2010

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

NeverSeconds - Martha's Blog

Just a quick something I found (paper crunch time!) that I think is really cool.

In the paper over the weekend I read about this little girl named Martha from the UK who's been blogging about her school dinners. Her hero is Jamie Oliver (I loved his school dinners show!) and she's been rating the healthiness etc of the meals at the school. The school officials got a bit squiffy and tried to shut her down, but now she's gotten permission to carry on, and the school has been making an effort to provide healthier options.

Martha's also been raising money to fund school dinners for children in Africa through an organization called Mary's Meals, and has had amazing success with that.

Check out her blog! Her writing style and Briticisms are super cute, and I enjoyed getting caught up on the last couple of months of back posts.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Oxford English Dictionary is Really Interesting

Yes, with a blog title like that, I am an English major! Or as one of my Pinterest boards is titled an "English Major Geek". Isn't that punny? :)

Anyway, in the next two weeks from today I have two papers due, and two finals. Also, exactly one month from today is the conference I'm co-chairing. So I'm only blogging because it's Tuesday, I said I would, and I want to cross it off my to do list! So I'm going to share with you my favourite school project I've done so far.

My English class last semester was really, really interesting, and we did a lot of neat stuff at the library. We also did a bunch of work related to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), including reading this surprisingly fascinating book:

The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary
By Simon Winchester

I had no idea that creating the first comprehensive British English dictionary had been so much work, or had involved so much drama! I highly recommend it.

The corresponding project was to take two words I use in regular conversation, but that aren't in the dictionary, and write them up, with proper citations, as if they were being added to the dictionary. It was so much fun! I had a really hard time narrowing it down to just two, but I eventually decided on Harry Potter fandom words. I got one of the highest marks in the class, and I was quite pleased, because really, the Harry Potter character I identify with the most is Hermione. :)

(I apologize that my nice tidy formatting didn't survive copy and paste! But if you have a subscription to the OED, clicking on the links should still work! Now...to work on my history paper. Too bad I can't get an 'A' for blogging...)

Quidditch, n.

Pronunciation: /kwɪdɪtʃ/

Etymology: Invented by J. K. (Joanne Kathleen) Rowling (b. 1965), British author of children's fantasy fiction (see quot. 1997)

A magical sport, played while seated on flying broomsticks. A combination of basketball, rugby, and a scavenger hunt, it involves two teams of seven players per side, as well as three balls; a Quaffle (the goal-scoring ball, handled by the three Chasers), two Bludgers (which are bewitched attack the players, and must be fended off by two Beaters), and the Golden Snitch (bewitched to hide and must be found by the Seeker). The Keeper guards his or her team’s three goal hoops. Recently the game has been adapted for use at Muggle schools. The Muggle version is played on foot, and often the role of Golden Snitch is filled by a Muggle also, due to the lack of enchanted flying balls and brooms available in Muggle sport shops.

1997    Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone 1997 “Play Quidditch at all?” “No”, Harry said again, wondering what on earth Quidditch could be.

2003    Physical & Health Education Journal Summer 2003 The event, held on Rowling’s birthday, was not only successful at increasing English grades, but let to the creation of the newly popular school sport called “Quidditch”.

2009    Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice 2009 Vol. 4, No. 1 Judge Robert B.  Patterson found that the unofficial Harry Potter Lexicon written by Steve Vander Ark and published by RDR Books infringed the copyright in the seven Harry Potter novels and two companion works (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages) and that the defence of fair use did not apply.

shipping, v.

Pronunciation: /ˈʃɪpɪŋ/

Etymology: The suffix ‘ship’ abbreviated from the noun ‘relationship’ and used as a verb. Developed in the late 20th century, on the Internet.

The psychological connection of a fan of a work of fiction (i.e. a book, movie, or television series) to a certain relational paring of the fictional characters. A dedicated fan will ship their ‘one true pair’, and perhaps have other minor ships, and the act of shipping may involve writing fan fiction, creating fan art, discussing or advocating the relationship in fan forums or on blogs, or simply by being emotionally invested in the outcome of the characters’ situation. The more passionate the fan, the more intense the involvement in shipping culture, usually online. Trendy shipping slogans include “I ship them so hard it hurts” and “I will go down with this ship”.

2005    The San Francisco Chronicle August 2005 In the Harry Potter fandom, 'shipping (short for "relationshipping") simply means championing a romantic relationship between certain series characters, either within canon or in works of fan fiction (fan-penned fiction that spins off an original narrative).

2009    University Of Pittsburgh Law Review 70.3 2009 Related concepts include het (romantic and/or erotic stories involving characters of different genders, such as Harry/Hermione), femmeslash and femslash (slash with female rather than male characters, e.g. Buffy/Faith from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer), transgender slash, friendship fiction (indicated by an ampersand, such as Harry & Draco, to denote a story in which the two characters are friends, in contrast to their canonical relationship), and shipping (devotion to a particular non-canonical romantic relationship, or ship). Ships are often given names, such as HMS Harmony (for Harry/Hermione)…

2010    Tor.com January 2010 For those who’ve never heard of the phrase “shipping war”: this is fandom lingo for flamewars disagreements amongst fans about intimate relationships between fictional characters. Various opinions on character pairings—canon or not, bizarre or not, straight or not—are also referred to as “ships.” You may have heard of references to the Hermione/Harry ship and the Hermione/Ron ship in Harry Potter fandom; this is what that means.

Works Cited

Chonin, Neva. “If you’re An Obsessed Harry Potter fan, Voldemort Isn't the Problem. It's Hermione Versus Ginny”. The San Francisco Chronicle. 3 Aug. 2005. Factiva. Web. 2 March 2012.

Hall, Susan. “Rowling and Warner Win Lexicon Battle, Fair Use Proponents Gain Strategic Advantage”. Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice. 4.1 (2009). Web. 29 Feb. 2012.

Jericho, Arachne. The Sherlock Holmes Fandom: Dawn of the Shipping Wars. Tor.com. Macmillan, 4 Jan. 2010. Web. 29 Feb. 2012.

Rowling, J.K. . Vancouver: Raincoast Books, 2000. 60. Print.

Schwabach, Aaron. "The Harry Potter Lexicon and the World of Fandom: Fan Fiction, Outsider Works, and Copyright". University Of Pittsburgh Law Review 70.3 (2009): 387-434. OmniFile Full Text Select. Web. 29 Feb. 2012.

Smith, Kara. “Harry Potter Inspires a New Classroom and Competitive Sport: Muggle Quidditch”. Physical & Health Education Journal 69.2 (2003). ProQuest. Web. 29 Feb. 2012.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Entertaining Weekend

Last summer when we were on Vancouver Island I found a boxed set of the entire series of the show Firefly...for only $20! It was a great deal, but it's been sitting in my DVD cupboard ever since. On Friday night, my friend Jennifer was passing through town and stopped overnight. At dinner I was raving about how much I loved the Avengers and how great Joss Whedon is, and how I really need to get my butt in gear and watch Firefly. She responded with, well, why not right now?! So we did! It had been a long week and we were both really tired, but we watched the first two episodes on Friday night, and a third one on Saturday morning before she left. It's so great! Firefly...where have you been all my life?!

And unlike the heartbreak I just suffered with Sanctuary being cancelled on me, I know that there's a limited amount of Firefly, so I won't suffer sudden but inevitable betrayal. :) A friend asked me about my favourite character, but after only three episodes, I haven't decided. Mal's sudden dispatch of the bad guy in 'Train Job', while understandable, left me a bit shocked, and his initial treatment of Inara was just dastardly, so while I know he's the 'hero' I'm not sold on him yet. Wash and Zoe are awesome - I love that this show has a functional married couple, which you don't see much of, and the fact that Zoe is such a strong, non-sexualized female character is just SHINY. Kaylee is pretty perky - I haven't decided yet if that's going to get on my nerves or not, so the jury's still out on her. Shepherd Book is a bit of an enigma - I'm suspicious of any character presented as religious, because so often they end up getting a bad rap, so we'll see. Inara...well, I struggle with her a lot, because, um, well, for her employment being NSFW, if you know what I mean - it just seems kind of objectified, but it certainly does add quite a bit of tension to the show. :P Simon is really cool - besides the fact that he shares a name with my own brother, he gave up his entire cushy life to rescue his sister, which I think makes him the hero of the show. And Jayne is just a nut-job!

I think my favourite thing about Firefly, besides the fact that it's character-driven, is the way they talk. They have a slightly archaic syntax, and alien swear words, which makes the conversations really interesting to listen to. I've only watched three episodes so far - between conference planning, school, and the fact that I'm also trying to re-watch Sanctuary season 3, Stargate Atlantis season 4, Clone Wars season (3?), not to mention stuff on YouTube, I've got my plate pretty full. Plus trying to save my sanity by having some fun!

Speaking of fun, I LOVE the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra - it's one of my top five favourite things about Calgary. (The other four are the Calgary Comic Expo, the view of the mountains, my friends...actually, I think I only have a top four. :P) Every spring when I get my flyer in the mail with the upcoming season I circle everything I want to see the way I did with the Sears Wishbook when I was a kid. Then I narrow it down to something reasonable and pick the things I REALLY HAVE TO SEE.

This weekend it was an ABBA tribute, with a Finnish vocal group called Rajaton. I'm not sure I can explain how good it was. I've been going to the CPO for about eight years, mostly to pops concerts, and I don't ever remember masses of people literally dancing in the aisles, or not one, but TWO standing ovations/encores. They had great vocals - their acapella numbers were incredible - and great presence and were so smooth. The CPO always does a fantastic job at whatever they play, and something about the combination of these two groups was just magical. Really, music is quite magical - you have all of these people from different walks of life, and when they're warming up it's audible chaos, but then the concert master comes on stage and raises his violin, and the orchestra starts tuning, and you can get a hint of the magic waiting to be unleashed. And then the conductor comes out, waves her magic wand...and you're carried away on a sea of sound as all of the disparate parts are unified. Just magical! If you're anywhere near Calgary, check out the CPO's 2012/2013 season - if you've never been to hear a live orchestra before, you're in for a treat that everyone should experience at least once in their lives!