Archive for April, 2009

Wasted Potential

I was at my school this past Saturday for a meeting. I don’t know why, but when the meeting concluded I didn’t feel like going home right away, so instead I went to a nearby park to take a short walk.

What a gorgeous place. If you happen to live near Toronto, check out the area near St. Clair and Spadina on a nice summer day.

It’s funny. Despite the fact that this park is barely 600 metres from my school, I’ve never really gone there in the summer. In grades nine and ten, I rarely left the school, period, and in grade eleven I only went to this park in the fall, during cross country season. So, today was my first real exposure to this park in the summer.

What a great place. Not necessarily because of any beautiful landscape or foliage, but because of the people there. There were people walking dogs, parents flying kites with their kids, women playing soccer, people running, people walking, people playing tennis, kids riding bikes with their parents, muscular men doing weight training, buddhist monks sitting on a bench, kids going down slides… Just everything. The people made this place beautiful.

Now, you must be wondering where the "Wasted Potential" part of this blog is. It’s right here.

About an hour later, I was walking home from the bus stop, and I decided to turn left rather than right. I don’t know why; I just did. Turning left meant that instead of going directly home, I would pass by the local park first. I did so, and I was not surprised at all to find the park completely deserted. Completely. Zero people occupied it.

It was a beautiful summerlike Saturday, and hardly anyone was outside at all.

This little comparision is just one of the many ways in which my hometown fails.

Here’s the thing about my hometown. It’s not that it’s a terrible place to live. It isn’t.

It’s that my town and its inhabitants are one big mass of wasted potential.

I mean, let’s look at the stats:

It’s located about 10 minutes away from the largest city in the country and one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world.
It’s inhabitants are mostly upper middle class.
It’s a fairly large area, with plenty of land available for development.
The violent crime rate is pretty much zero. I think we’ve had one murder in the past six or seven years.

Why then are the people in this town so awful?
It’s not a ghetto by any stretch of the imagination. Not even close. It’s the exact opposite, really.

So why do the teengers here have nothing better to do than smoke and lean on their Honda Civics in Tim Hortons parking lots? Why do we have all of one crappy art gallery and one crappy theatre? Why don’t we go outside once in a while? And why don’t we care that we’re such uncultured, backwards brutes when we could be something a whole lot better? What the hell is our problem?

If you don’t live near Toronto, this blog won’t make much sense to you. If you live near Toronto but not in Woodbridge, you might understand, but you won’t understand. To really understand this place, you need to live here for a decade or so.

When faced with a difficult decision, there are two main methods I use to help me decide. The first is the coin toss method, which, when used properly, renders a clear and sound decision. Unfortunately for me, when I flipped my lucky penny, it landed on its side, indicating that even the laws of physics are opposed to my decision making process.

Thus, I have been forced to use my second method: the pro-con method. It’s a common method, due to its simplicity and effectiveness.

It works as such: You list all the factors that might influence your decision. Then, using a scale ranging from 0-2 (0 = average, 1 = above average, 2 = well above average), you grade each choice based on how well it fulfills each factor.

I conducted this earlier today, and here were the results. Note that some categories, such as "Friends", are actually several smaller categories grouped together, and as such score higher than two.

I anticipate some formatting issues with this, as this blog makes it difficult to create charts.

Atmosphere: Queen’s 2, UofT 0
Courses: Queen’s 1, UofT 2
# People: Queen’s 1, UofT 0
Friends: Queen’s 2, UofT 3
Class Size: Queen’s 1, UofT 0
Campus: Queen’s 2, UofT 0
Food: Queen’s 0, UofT 1
Possibility of Meeting New People: Queen’s 1, UofT 0
Tranquility: Queen’s 0, UofT 1
Family: Queen’s 0, UofT 4
Employment Opportunities: Queen’s 0, UofT 1
Dorms: Queen’s 1, UofT 0
Facilities: Queen’s 1, UofT 1
Spirit: Queen’s 2, UofT 0
Recreation: Queen’s 0, UofT 1

Final Score: Queen’s 14, UofT 14.

Fuck my life. Seriously, what the hell. My most trusted method for decision making has failed. I’ll have to wipe the results and try again at a later date while adding more criteria.

That, or I’ll have to buy a new lucky penny. Does anyone know how much those cost?

Kotov Sydrome occurs in chess when a player in a difficult position spends a good chunk of time thinking about their next move, but finds himself unable to find a clear solution. The player then looks at the clock, realizes that he is running out of time, and then panics and makes a move which is generally a poor one and which often costs him the game.

It seems to me that a lot of people deciding where to go for university are caught up in Kotov Syndrome. Some people are lucky and know exactly what they’re doing. But a lot of people don’t. And within my small circle of friends, confusion is rampant.

The problem is that we’re all waiting for everyone else to make a move. I’m waiting to for my friends to decide where they’re going for university, and they’re waiting for me to decide where I’m going. Meanwhile, the clock is going ‘tick, tock, tick, tock.’

Eventually, one of us is going to look at the clock and make a move. Maybe it’ll be me. Maybe it’ll be one of them. I don’t know. And based on that person’s move, everyone else will decide.

It’s not a good way to be doing things, but, either consciously or unconsciously, we’re all doing it. Just look at Elizabeth’s comment on the last blog.

When we were younger, our parents let us make some wrong decisions. They always knew when we were making a mistake, and they let us make it. But they would always be there to fix things in the end.

"You want to stay home alone? Fine, stay home alone. Goodbye."

Five minutes later we would walk out of the house, crying, because we thought that they had left us, and they would be there in the driveway, waiting.

But this time, there’s no safety net waiting to catch us. Screw this decision up, and we’re fucked. Because of this, no one wants to be the first to decide. We’ll continue to spin around and around and flip-flop back and forth for as long as possible.

Tick, tock, tick, tock.

University acceptances/rejections are now in. I can’t say that I’m surprised with how things turned out. I’m in to all of the Canadian universities which I applied to, and out of all the American ones.

We’re down to three choices: Queen’s University, The University of Toronto, and the University of Western Ontario.

Western is a fringe choice though. Unless some sort of eye-opening miracle occurs, I won’t be going there. So, it’s between UofT and Queen’s. Just because there are only two choices doesn’t make life any easier though.

Four years ago, I had to decide which high school to attend. I had two options then, just as I do now. The difference is that back then, it was an easy choice. One school had a better reputation, better resources, a better staff, a larger library, more funding, and a lesser workload than the other. Plus, that same school was offering me $3,500 to attend, while the other was offering nothing. It was a no-brainer, really.

But both Queen’s and UofT have excellent reputations, excellent professors, and etc. In many ways, they’re equal.

The biggest difference between the two is their location. UofT is located in Toronto (duh). Queen’s is located in Kingston, about two and a half hours away by train.

That’s inaccurate, really. There are other differences. Queen’s is smaller in terms of student population (though both schools are somewhat large). Queen’s has (in my opinion) the nicer campus and atmosphere. Queen’s has nicer residences than UofT. UofT has the advantage in terms of course availability (which is a really big deal), as well as the number of friends who would be nearby.

But in terms of location, I’m not sure which school has the advantage. Is going away a good thing? Or is staying here a good thing?

And right now, I don’t know the answer to that.

46 days left. If that sounds like a long time to you, you’re crazy.

I’ll probably be bringing up this same subject many times over the next month and a half. Any time you feel like giving me some advice or some "If I were you," suggestions or some "When I was young, I…" statements, please feel free. I need all the advice I can get.