Thursday, 24 February 2011

Student Movement

2000 Students march down Spring Garden Road in a Day of Action, Feb 2

Out here in Nova Scotia, the government is looking to raise tuition some more.

The 3-year MOU has run out with the province, and the government announced to students that tuition would rise 3% and universities would receive a 4% spending cut. There has been no official consultation with student groups yet.

On February 2, in a snow storm, 2000 students came out in a Day of Action and marched through the downtown to show the province how we feel about that.

It's too bad the day was ignored in a lot of media, though it was a major demonstration that tied up traffic downtown.

While I don't really love the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), I loved the event. There's something to be said for being a part of a literal movement, something beyond a Facebook group and an e-petition. It was well-planned, well-attended, and there was a dance party to boot.

Here's some coverage from The Watch, the King's newspaper, from the Dalhousie Gazette as well as from a blogger who has similar issues as I do with the CFS.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Gap Year

This article from today's Globe and Mail, as well as my younger sister's impending decision on university for next year, have me thinking about gap years.

When I was thinking about university in grade 12, I was warned away from a gap year. It was Christmas time, the worst time in grade 12, because you are forced into rooms all those people you never see and they all ask the only thing they can think of: "What are your plans for next year?"

At one such event a university prof in the room went off about gap years being wasted time. He threw around disturbing statistics about rates of return to school post-time away. By the end a seed of doubt had been planted.

While I certainly see the problems associated with a gap year, I think they have more to do with the student than the year. If someone who is highly unmotivated takes a year to sit around playing video games and sleep on his parents' couch, that is problematic. However, if the same person attended university immediately after school, he would do many of the same things, except while paying thousands of dollars for it. A more motivated student might spend the time more wisely, considering options, saving money, and learning from his or her peers' mistakes.

Ultimately, I chose not to take a gap year, though my first year was much like a gap year in some ways. I took an interdisciplinary first-year programme. It's a self-contained year, creates the opportunity for exploration into many subjects, and allows a student to build independence. When I got to second year, I felt much more comfortable choosing a path since I had done this exploring.

I'm not sure how I would have spent a gap year. Working would be valuable, and travel could be enriching as well. One of the most compelling reasons is to turn off the university pressure from parents and teachers. Many students would do well, or better, with more specialized training in a college environment, but are discouraged from it. While I believe a good education in any subject is never wasted, it is difficult to obtain a good education when you're disengaged from it.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Rich Aucoin in Ottawa

Hello team,

This is a public service announcement. If you are in Ottawa this Friday, February 18, Rich Aucoin of Halifamous fame is bringing his dance party to Cafe Deckuf.

Go. You will not be sorry. You will dance, you will sweat, you will watch scenes from the Grinch (oh yeah, his music is synced to video.)

Confetti canons may be involved.

Read more on Apt 613.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

A Review

It's been a while since this blog has had some love. Part of this is because of my other project sucking up time. But honestly? I've never been more in love with blogging, and I think it's about time I spread that back here.

I've been trying to figure out what I want to do with this blog. For a while I was thinking about moving to a different blog and doing something more professional, more like a portfolio, but I decided that I'm not ready to say goodbye to In A Jar. It started as a way to keep in touch with old friends and make new ones and I want to keep it around.

New Year's blog resolution: try to give this blog more love. I don't think it will be exactly the same as it's been; I want to try to include longer pieces when I can. But I also want to use it to keep in touch.

Thank you guys, whoever is left reading here. Hopefully I can build it up again. Feel free to email me with questions or comments, any time: inajarblog at gmail dot com.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Ottawa Guide

We interrupt this radio silence to bring you the AWESOME Ottawa Guide from the FUN design blog Design*Sponge!

Check it out.

My neighbourhood made the "cool" cut - and so did Raw Sugar!

Monday, 20 September 2010

The Divide

I know it's been a while since I posted, and I'd love to catch you up, for now now here's something that's on my mind today.

Parliament is back this week, and the long gun registry is one of the top issues. Before this year, the registry was not something I thought about very much. And until yesterday, I'd never encountered a rifle at work, killing anything.

As a middle-class, white girl living in an urban centre, all I knew was guns are scary, and they're for bad guys. In my young, Bambi-loving heart, hunters all counted as bad guys. Because Bambi is CUTE. Over the years, I learned a little more about guns. I shot a BB gun while visiting my godfather in Massachusetts one summer, and thought it was kind of fun, although that probably had more to do with the fact that I hit the target than the act of shooting. I watched a lot of cop shows, which didn't really teach me much of anything real. I met friends, Americans, whose families hunted deer for fun and meat. I decided hunters weren't all evil (but maybe a little backwards).

What changed this year was my introduction to a world I'd never really entered before: rural life. My boyfriend's family has lived on the same piece of land for 120 years or so, and they were mostly farmers. They've let the farm lapse now, but not the way of life; they grow most of their own vegetables, make maple syrup in the spring. They chop and split the firewood to heat the house all winter, and it comes from the woods behind their house. The traditions are carried from one generation to the next, traditions that include hunting.

For the length of our relationship I've known that his family had guns. I wasn't surprised by it, except maybe a little when I first heard, but then I heard the stories from hunting season. Phil's dad is a good shot, and bags a deer most every year which they then butcher and put in the freezer to eat, beside last summer's chickens. I even ate some at dinner and earned some respect, I hope, when I declared venison to be delicious, which it was. At least I was eating as "free-range" meat as you could get. This deer had a long, happy life munching grass and running around before it made it to my dinner plate. And this hunter's care was obvious: he's a good shot, not to brag, but to limit the suffering of the animal.

Guns, and the registry seem to come up a lot when I meet Phil's family members. There's the city-living uncle whose brother was killed senselessly by an angry farmer with a shotgun. There are the farmers who have grandpa's gun sitting in the attic, and use them regularly. No matter who I'm talking to, they all oppose the registry. "It's too expensive" some say. Others point out that while it's only registration now, later it could be regulation, limits on guns, and while they are dangerous objects, they're also heirlooms and part of their livelihood. Once they're registered, they lose sole ownership over that part of their family's history.

I always assumed that registration made perfect sense. At least the authorities know who has a gun when they show up, right? Well, to a certain extent. There are all of those illegal firearms in our country, killing people in urban areas. Besides, the police favour it, and the police know more about guns than I do. But I do see that slippery slope feared by gun-owners:

First comes registration then comes... regulation? Limits? Outlawing guns altogether?

I don't favour those final steps. Registration, yes, imposing some limits, perhaps. But taking away these pieces of history? Not really.

It's all fine for me to say these things, but until yesterday, I was far removed from it. I'd never seen a gun used to kill anything. I'd seen them fired in parades, or in the movies, but not in real life. I'm not going to go into much detail on this one, because I'm still working it over in my head, and this post is long enough already. I'll keep it short. Coyotes showed up on the hillside, and a young one was on the hill beside the house frolicking. There is no other way to describe it, and in fact, it was pretty adorable. But we soon realized it was a coyote, and when they grow up, they are not so cute (they killed that songwriter in Cape Breton last year!). As I mentioned, this hunter is a good shot, and the animal was dead in seconds, shot right in the heart. When we looked at the body, it was still warm.

We left it for the birds to eat, and packed up back to the city. Phil asked me if I was traumatized by the event, which I don't really think I was. In fact, the most traumatizing part for me was that I was so untraumatized. Me, the Bambi-loving city girl who was afraid of guns saw the logic and necessity of what had just occurred. And I've gained respect his father, not lost it.

I guess I mean to come to a kind of conclusion here, but I don't think it will be very neat. I think this debate is divided along city-rural lines, and I think as Canadians, we forget about the other half (must less balanced than half, actually) much of the time. We dial out and don't listen to the side the other presents, or if we do, we dismiss it with our handy stereotypes and the grumblings of disillusioned farmers who need to get with the times, or the condescending speechifying of men in suits who've lost touch with the land they exploit. This divide must be examined, must be bridged, if we are going to find unity on this issue. And that is much further away than this week's vote.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

End of the Week, Beginning of the Year

Phil reading on the beach

Playing beach rugby 7s

Frosh week, every year, is brutal. This year we started with a hurricane (and I was up to 3:30am doing frosh stuff the day before the frosh even arrived!) and a whole lot of enthusiasm to make up for it. There was carnival, scavenger hunts, pie-ings, laser tag, sherry, casino night, dancing, dancing, drinking, and dancing. The drinking is what I do to get through it. The campus is a party all the time and no one thinks about their 10 am class when there's retro dance partying to be done on a Wednesday night. We just dance some more.

Well today it draws to an end with the culmination of dancing and drinking, the frosh leader party. I will say only that last year I did a keg stand, drank mystery punch, and lasted about 2 hours, tops, but I have no real way of knowing. I'm looking forward to it.

And then I guess the real fun begins. Classes seem strangely unappealing. So far, I avoid readings by avoiding buying the books. Good strategy, no? I don't think that will get me very far.