Archive for the ‘ Université ’ Category

QM isn’t deliberately trying to piss me off.

At least, I hope they’re not. But they are anyways.

I get it. We’re queer, so we need to support other minorities. At some point, though, you’re just ignoring the politics and actual circumstances of certain « oppressed minorities » in order to support them. There’s a strong a recent case of QM’s selective blindness which I’ll deal with here.

QM decided recently that they should support a group that is protesting the efforts by « Pink Money » to clean up the Village, to the detriment of the homeless living there. They pay some lip service to the fact that members of the transient community are drug addicts, and yes, they’re queer. However, the group goes off the deep end when they suggest that really, public sanitation isn’t so big a deal that urinating in an alley is a big problem, so why is it a misdemeanour? This was about the moment when I put palm to forehead and wondered why QM thought this was deserving of support, given the fact that this particular group seems to be focused mostly on continuing to support urban decay. That was when I realised what was seriously underlying the discussion here, a core misunderstanding of why things were happening the way they were. QM — and the group they were supporting — were ignoring the underlying malaise to suggest that no treatment was necessary in the first place, because these people are here. Incidentally, and entirely separately of this e-mail from QM, I’ve come to develop a new personal theory about endemic homelessness in Montréal, and notably the strange characteristics of the community here.

One of the defining aspects of a large section of the homeless community is that they’re tattooed, professionally pierced, and have post-punk haircuts, often with heavily dyed hair. To me, although the first two could easily have been acquired before becoming homeless, that last signifies a vast separation between interests and situation, what I’m coming to deem the Horse and Water problem. The adage goes, « You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. » I see this as an accurate depiction of the problem in Montréal, that there are support services available — most likely not quite sufficient, as they always are — but the people for whom they are provided do not care to use them, because their current situation fulfils their needs. Unfortunately, their current situation involves urban decay as a core feature; QM seems to ignore this reality and instead deem the homeless an oppressed minority with whom they must show solidarity. They really didn’t learn after the Queeriot debacle?

Getting back to knitting …

And blogging, apparently. Hey blog! I owe you more material, and a candy. I’ll get around to that when I can get a candy thermometer.

On-topic, then. Knitting is one of the things I love to do, but often ignore for long periods of time. Like playing music. Once I have (more) time, I’ll return to playing the violin. Honest.

Now, really on-topic. Every year, it seems, I return to knitting just as exams and assignments start piling one atop each other; whenever I’m studying and just reading, I start knitting to avoid boredom and stress. Plus, it produces materials that I can give other people. Really, the only problem I see is in acquiring the proper materials here. In Canada, I see a fascinating conundrum of fashionable, modern stores — and low consumerism. Online shopping? Yeah, that doesn’t happen. Stores regularly have no internet presence here, or the least possible presence, which makes acquiring yarn quite difficult, since there’s only a few yarn shops around here.

As for what I’m working on, well, I’m finishing up some socks, and I’m about to work on another pair of socks based on a similar pattern; other things, well … those are secret.

A survey of independent cafés, or maybe not.

I had a brilliant thought; I would survey the independent coffee shops around the Plateau area, see what options there are beyond Café Dépôt and Second Cup … maybe find a nice little place to enjoy a sandwich, or something. However, this may take a little more research first. Continue reading

On trouve de la vérité partout

En lisant Prochain épisode de Hubert AQUIN, j’ai lu un paragraphe d’un telle vérité que j’m’suis arrêté, et j’en ai lu peut être trois ou quatre fois encore:

La psychiatrie est la science du déséquilibre individuel encadré dans un société impeccable. Elle valorise le conformiste, celui qui s’intègre et non celui qui refuse ; elle glorifie tous les comportements d’obéissance civile et d’acceptation.

Je n’ai pas de grand-chose à dire au sujet de ça ; je crois que c’est assez vrai, et j’ai voulu simplement en montrer.

It’s all a puzzle.

Mathematics and I have a curious relationship.

I’m a very audiovisual-oriented thinker. If I can truly visualise a problem, I can solve it. This is where physics and I have problems, because there are too many specialised methods, and visualisation can break down fairly easily. On the other hand, equations arrange themselves in my mind, graphs plot in my head, and all of this just fits.

That’s not to say math is easy. Quite the contrary; as I’m writing this in my notebook, I’m avoiding working on my homework, so I can develop some peace of mind before taking up the project again. No, what happens is exhaustion — mental exhaustion and unfamiliar concepts forming a vile brew that corrupts everything I’m working on.

So I go away, leave it behind, do something else, calm down, break the pieces up and set them aside in my mind, where they fade out and leave only a few pure concepts to be explored once I have some time to really look and see what I need. My physics professor last semester said it well: « Go home, drink a beer, relax for a while, and then try it again. »

Now, he was talking about the midterm exam, which I was going to do horribly on because for whatever reason, physics is no longer the area where I have strong analytic skills. (Just as an aside, I do miss physics, but I think Mathematics is a more sure route to my interests, and my enjoyment.)

I look at this state of « blockedness » as a symptom of too much work; really, there is such a thing. After classes, the last thing I needed to do was start working immediately. Unfortunately, today, I did that, and I set back my homework by at least an hour, if not more.

Editorial post-script: I got back to the rez and promptly solved the two remaining problems in about an hour, tops. This is being typed and posted a few weeks later, because I’m a lazy bastard.

Freshman fifteen … what is this?

Okay, so the folk wisdom is that the first year at college results in the so-called « freshman fifteen », the fifteen pounds gained from being able to eat everything you want at the dining halls, the stress, the drinking, the lack of exercise …

Well, so far, I’ve had, depending on how you look at it, either a freshman negative five or freshman negative ten (I don’t think I’m at a freshman negative fifteen yet, but it’s getting close!) See, having the gym right up the hill has caused a minor revolution for me, making it easy for me to go and work out whenever I want, after class, before class, between classes … Going to the gym has become a ritual purification for me, a way to simply not think about school.

So, yeah, I’ve talked about this before, but … honestly, college has been pretty good to me. I’m reflecting on it right now, because I had a Coke today for the first time in … at least a week. Wow. This is compared to the two sodas a day I’d drink at home, as well as the mug after mug of tea/coffee. Having a limited budget makes it really easy to make healthy choices, especially when they’re based around reducing costs!

Branching out into new areas

I’ve started learning how to program in Java; this is a New Thing for me. Well, not entirely new. I’ve got a deep knowledge of how the system works together, thanks to debugging my Linux installation over the years, and I know how to format source code thanks to LaTeX. Even simply arranging my thoughts in such a super-logical manner isn’t entirely new to me; I spent a fairly fruitful semester of junior high learning how to program my calculator. The greatest change is really just learning the language.

It’s been a while since I worked on learning a new computer language — LaTeX has been in my repertoire for a long time now, long enough that I can essentially parse it into its final structure as I’m writing it. At this point, what I really need is just a condensed version of the course I’m in; this is how this works, this is where that fits. I have all the pieces, I just need them to fit together. Unfortunately, I’m in the class for those who have no basis in CS at all … but it gives me a nice, light class to take. I’ll just breeze through it.