Archive for July, 2010


The Guide is a wise man who sits at a fork in the road, pointing passerby in the right direction. He seldom speaks; generally people only approach him for directions, and he is always happy to oblige them. But occasionally a traveler will neglect to consult the Guide, and choose the incorrect path. This is where the Guide truly shines. Using the wisdom of the ages, he explains why the traveler should take a particular course, and the benefits of doing do. He cannot guarantee that the traveler will follow his advice or even listen to him, but he does his best. "If you save one life, you save the world", he says.

The Guardian is a man of over seven feet tall. He towers over most other people as if they were insects. His stature alone is enough to cause passerby to stare in awe, but the most impressive thing about him is the enormous shield that he carries with him at all time. Forged from pure adamantium, it is nigh indestructible. Adorned with emeralds and rubies, and plated with gold, it is truly a wonder to behold. When no danger is present, he carries the shield on his back. It hinders his movement about as much as a feather would hinder you or I. At the first sign of danger, however, he whips the shield off his back and holds it in front of him, supporting it with his massive frame. "Get behind me!" he shouts. "The Innocent must be protected!"

I think that it is very important to be both the Guide and the Guardian when dealing with children. The Guide is unobtrusive. He sits and waits for them to come to him. If they want help, he gives it. If he senses that they are going down a dangerous path, he tries to steer them clear of it, but he recognizes the necessity of learning from one’s mistakes. Under the watchful gaze of the Guide, people will get hurt. But, they will get hurt in ways that make them better human beings in the end.

The Guardian, on the other hand, is very single minded. He is only concerned with protecting the defenseless. He comes to their aid regardless of whether or not they request it, and regardless of the level of danger. No one is ever hurt under his protection, but this comes at the expense of learning and becoming stronger by improving upon one’s failures.

It is true that the majority of situations are better dealt with by a Guide than a Guardian, but this in no way lessens the importance of the Guardian. The Guide, you see, is not always able to help in the most dire of situations. He can give advice, but he cannot prevent a child from taking a path which leads to his doom. Only the Guardian, with his massive shield and unyielding might, can do that.

Thus, one must become a masterful Guide, so that one may guide his loved ones through the majority of life’s struggles safely, but one must also learn to become the Guardian as well. One must pray that he never needs to become the Guardian, for evoking the Guardian indicates very real and present danger, such as a child should never have to experience. But one must still be prepared to become the Guardian, in case such dire circumstances arise.

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Jamaica ’10 has come to an end. I need a few days before I can really reflect on the trip with a clear mind. It did not succeed in dethroning Cuba ’08 as The Greatest Trip of All Time, but with that said, it was still a very good trip.

Now that I’m back, it sort of feels as though I never left. The calendar has moved forward seven days, but I don’t feel any different than I did a week ago. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe not.

Summer ’10 rolls on. Hopefully the last six weeks are full of win.

Strategy

A great many questions will be answered over the course of the next seven days.

Will Jamaica ’10 live up to the precedent that Cuba ’08 has set?
Will the food there be as great as Dominican Republic ’04?
Will I meet anyone as great as Johnny, John, or Dan there?
Will this trip change my life as previous trips have done?

I really want to write a blog a week from now having answered all those questions in the positive. Maybe that’s unrealistic. Maybe not.

I spent the last hour re-reading that mammoth Cuba blog, trying to figure out what I did right over the course of those seven days. I want to repeat my successes while eliminating the few mistakes I made.

Looking back, it was all just an unbelievable stroke of good luck. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time, over and over again. My family just happened to set up our chairs next to Johnny’s family on the first day. John just happened to be in the club on the second day. Dan and I just happened to bump into each other on the last day.

Really, I didn’t do anything. Good things just happened to me. There’s no strategy that I can employ to ensure that I’m as lucky this time around.

It’s a vacation, so in all likelihood it’ll be a positive experience on the whole (unless Something Really Bad happens, of course). The problem is, if it’s anything less than one of best weeks of my life, I’ll be disappointed.

What’s interesting is that this trip has a lot more potential than the Cuba trip did. Because of the US embargo, there weren’t many Anglophones in Cuba, which really limited the number of people I could speak to on that trip. There’s no such embargo on Jamaica. The lack of embargo also means that Jamaica has access to better food, better air conditioners, better everything. That means that I shouldn’t have to deal with stomach pains, uncomfortable beds, evil air conditioners, or anything like that. On paper, this trip is better than Cuba.

In reality, it’s going to take a miracle for it to be anywhere near as good. I’ll see you all in a week.

Dodging A Bullet

A few months ago, when I was filling out online crap for my transfer to U of T, I made a terrible, terrible mistake. In the box where I was asked to type in my degree concentration, I put in Major – History, and thought nothing of it. That was going to be my concentration at Queen’s, so I figured the same thing would apply to U of T.Not so.

I went to look at the course offerings at U of T again today, but for whatever reason I decided to click the link that said “Degree Requirements”. I don’t know why. I just did. That’s when I was informed that a Major isn’t enough to get a degree at U of T. You need to get a Specialist, or two Majors, or one Major and two Minors.

In simple terms: You need 20 credits to get a degree. However, those 20 need to be concentrated in a few specific subject areas. At Queen’s, a Major concentration means ten credits in the same subject (e.g. History), a Minor is five in the same subject, and a Specialist is fourteen.

I was somewhat freaked out by the news that my only options at U of T were a Specialist or two Majors or one Major and two Minors. If I chose the first option, I’d only be able to take two non-History courses over the next four years. If I chose either of the latter two, I’d have to do at least a session or two in summer school, or else fall back a year.

I decided then to check U of T’s definitions of Major, Minor, and Specialist to make sure that they were consistent with Queen’s, and there I received the happy news: A Major at U of T means seven courses, a Minor means four, and a Specialist means ten.

I dashed to the Student Web Services site in order to change my concentration from Major – History to Specialist – History. I briefly contemplated keeping the Major in history and doing Minors in Political Science and Psychology, but that idea was quashed when I discovered that high school calculus is a requirement for a Psychology Minor (huh?).

So, bullet dodged. It’s inevitable that in the transition from Queen’s to U of T that I’m going to take certain things for granted and fuck some things up. Thus far I haven’t had any major fuck-ups, but this one came damn close. Had I not clicked that Degree Requirements link, I would have received a lovely message on July 20th, telling me that I’m ineligible to enroll in courses due to not selecting a valid degree concentration. Phew.

July Already?

Back in the days of high school and elementary school, July was met with enthusiasm.

"It’s July!" we all cheered. "Two whole¬† months of summer left!"

Now, it’s more like "It’s July already? Damn, only two months of summer left."

Honestly, the first two months haven’t been up to snuff. The first few weeks were great, but then I had that surgery, and everything went downhill. That surgery was the absolute worst thing for me. It completely fucked up my June. And every time things began looking up, something else would go wrong. The shit just kept on coming. It was unbelievable, really.

Now I’m beginning another positive cycle, and I’m hoping that nothing knocks me off my horse this time, because it’s starting to get frustrating. It’s summer. I should be enjoying myself. And while I’ve had a few good times, I can’t say that I’m enjoying myself yet. I haven’t seen enough people. I haven’t done enough things. And most importantly, I just haven’t felt all that well.

What’s frustrating is that most of the problems I’m having aren’t even my fault. I’m completely powerless to do anything about this arm of mine. I can’t help that most of my friends (and myself) are all going on vacation one after another.

But whatever. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, right? I’ve still got two months left to salvage what I can from this summer. Wish me luck.