Saturday, November 24, 2007

The wisdom of wisdom teeth

Why is it that I have never been wise and yet I have wisdom teeth? Last Thursday I had to get a wisdom tooth taken out. Let me tell you that at my age that is no little thing. Old hard jawbones do not lead to an easy and quick extraction. Now I look like a lopsided chipmunk and I have to eat soft mushy food for a while. Although my dentist is good, that is one experience that I would rather not have to go through again. To add insult to injury, Thursday was our first snow/sleet/frozen rain storm of the season. So on top of having to have that tooth taken out I had to drive in really lousy conditions to get there. Sometimes you just can't win.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Ode to a teacher.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us...
In short it was the end of the sixties and the start of the seventies. The slaughter that was Vietnam was winding down, the summer of peace and love was now a memory, men were walking on the moon and the drug culture was coming home to roost with the deaths of Joplin and Hendrix. Those were the years that I started CEGEP (a kind of junior college crammed between high school and university). We were finally learning to fly on our own wings, even if sometimes it was more like the take off of a goony bird than the soaring flight of an eagle. Those were heady times indeed.
In Jazz's last blog, she remarked that a comment I had made reminded her of Mr. Donald Petzel, a teacher we both had (singular praise). Her comment brought back a host of memories about my time spent in his classes. So, perhaps too late, I would like to pay tribute to one of the teachers that marked me to this day, and in a way say the thank you I should have said long ago.
He was a rather tall portly man, who always wore dark sixty-ish horn rimmed glasses. He had a command of the English language that would have made an Oxford don proud, but most important of all he was the consummate teacher. He would always start his classes with a "Good morning scholars" including us in the great fraternity of scholars and then would proceed to stretch our minds past the point that we had ever dreamt of going. Never would he put down a student who gainsaid him, in fact he would delight in pushing us to elaborate, support, elucidate, our thoughts on whichever subject we were discussing. His famous "Whaaaaat?" when we made outrageous claims, let us know that we had better find something logical to support our claims right quick.
One of the most enjoyable courses I have ever had the pleasure to partake in was the study of the book of Job. Sounds boring doesn't it? But no, I can sill remember vividly the discussions we had about the nature of good and evil, about why "sh*t happens" to good people, and why the deity and the devil were taking bets with each other over the poor hapless Job down below.
He was a renaissance man, erudite, capable of discussing just about anything but above all what defined him was that he was a teacher. He cared about what we thought, about showing us how to think, to ponder, to discover and to define our thoughts and ourselves. He never let us lapse into intellectual laziness. He showed us that it was all right to think differently as long as we could back up our thoughts.
He taught for more than 45 years and marked generations of budding young minds before dying in 2005. I consider myself to be privileged to have had him as my teacher. If I can just be half the teacher that he was, I'll be satisfied.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

End of term and things that go honk.

Since we have just ended the term, my brain is now in complete shutdown mode. Tons of corrections and last minute orals kind of does that to you. So instead I'll show you some pictures I took last weekend. Enjoy!

The goose

It's got to be here somewhere.



Lady and gentleman


Ok, everybody out of the pool.