Friday, November 30, 2007

Creatively exhausted

I have found that one of the most difficult parts of being a teacher for the first time is the need for constant generativity of ideas, assignments, methods, management strategies, and assessments. As a teacher, I have to constantly take several often disparate sources for ideas - including my own experience, the curriculum, the personalities of the students, the desires and experience of the community, and the resources available, for example - and create a new entity - the course that I teach. And since I am trying everything out for the first time, I have no "safety net" of what works and what does not work, and coping with the things that do not work require more creativity. Creation is a very draining process - I'm sure this explains why God had to rest on the seventh day. This is why many musical artists only release songs every two to three years - they need the time to recuperate from the intensity of the creative process, which they do through touring. It should be noted that the growth of b-sides and EPs in the digital generation still gives those artists a creative outlet for when they need to get something out, but do not have the energy for creating a full album. In the same way, this is a time of my life in which I am doing everything for the first time. I know that once I have classes established and I have some assignments and ideas that I can just pull out that I will be able to (and will need to) have those little bursts of creativity to keep me going. But for now, my brain needs a break, so it's a good thing that there are only nine school days left.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

From "Guitar Hero" to zero

I have a new addiction: Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. Both Ariann and I have really enjoyed learning to play this game in the past week, and it has been very satisfying to see my improvement since I started playing. The game really has changed the way I think about music, and it has taught me a lot about the elements of music (particularly rhythm and pitch), besides being a whole lot of fun. And I got to play through "Knights of Cydonia" by Muse! But I came across a problem as I neared the end of the game, as the game's storyline focusses its energies on a final climactic showdown with your manager, who turns out to be the Devil. The final round of songs includes Iron Maiden's "The Number of the Beast", as well as Slayer's "Raining Blood" - both of which are songs and artists I would avoid at all costs because of the ungodly sense of their music. So I decided that I would play the songs with which I do not have any problems, and that I just simply would not be able to finish the game. It's sad, because I was very strongly considering purchasing the game soon, but I really do not want those songs to be anywhere near my house. Of course, it is further troubling because the Guitar Hero games also conveniently function as advertising for these bands, and that means more kids investigating these bands. I know that some people would say that it should not matter, but it does to me. Guess I'll just stick to good wholesome songs like "Welcome To The Jungle." Ummm...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Something's gotta give

I think I might be one of the few people around who actually is not opposed to the writer's strike. I have realized recently that I have too much going on, and that I need to drop some things from my diet. In the past few months, those have mainly been things like watching movies and hanging out with people. I would like to change that. Although I have less on my plate now than I did yesterday, due to the end of a module and of dessert theatre - I still am trying to manage my relationship with God, an impending wedding and the fiancee who goes along with that, a very work- and mind-intensive first year of teaching, church, new social connections and old friendships, and personal interests and entertainment. I realize now that I have much less time as well as much less "mental space" to deal with things, and that I have to make some choices about what to cut out. In my final year of university in Regina, I was able to spend a lot of time in ministry and with friends because I cut out movies and television - but now almost all of my movies and television are tied into my relationships, as I have "buddies" for nearly everything I watch. So the question still is where the cuts need to be made. I feel like this is a year to continue to do a lot of that pruning in my life, and even in my relationships, and that I will need to make some tough decisions about what to keep up and what to drop off. I actually welcomed the hockey lockout of three seasons ago because it took one more thing off my plate that year, and there was one less thing I had to think about. So I have to think hard about what needs to give, now that life is entirely different than it ever has been. But in the short term, a solution seems to be this strike, which will reduce my television watching to Corner Gas (which I am assuming is not affected because it is Canadian) and Survivor (ah, Reality TV). So, as I figure out my life, I welcome the strike, because something had to give.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The heart of the matter

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man. - Proverbs 27:17 + 19

I recently finished reading John Eldredge's book Waking the Dead, in which the author makes a very compelling argument about the need for us to understand the true nature of our hearts - that they are good, and that we need to be careful about how we treat them. I was reminded of this again this morning at church, as the pastor's sermon focused on different things that destroy our heart. But I have trouble with this whole concept, because I have found that I filter almost everything through my brain - thus explaining this entire site. Mind - not heart, soul, or strength - is my default, but I need to remember to focus on my heart, too. After all, it's the first one listed in the greatest commandment (Love the Lord your God with all your heart). But I need to allow that fact to get past my brain and into my heart.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Why I spoiled my ballot

I consider myself to be an informed person when it comes to politics. I read, I listen, I watch, I converse. Despite my efforts to participate in the political process, I found that it was really difficult to engage in this 28-day debacle that was referred to as a "campaign." One commentator on CBC radio remarked wryly that this election reminded him of the TV show Seinfeld, "not because it was funny, but because it was about nothing." It seemed that all the parties cared about was sniping at one another, rather than presenting a viable plan to lead the province into the next four years. After all the hoo-hah, I could not honestly in good conscience vote for one party to run the province, nor did I know enough about the individual candidates to vote for any of them responsibly. Since the ballots lack an abstain option - which, to me, seems like a perfectly viable political statement to make - I chose to nullify my vote by spoiling my ballot. I believe that, though my action essentially just means that my vote is not regarded, the action of spoiling my ballot shows that I care enough to vote and to make a statement, even if I am the only one who knows I made that statement (other than you, of course). Criticize me if you will, but I honestly felt that spoiling my ballot was the best option. And do not try to talk about the integrity of elections: they do not even check ID to make sure you are who you say you are. This campaign has been a gong show, and I refuse to play the game. But I will still vote: it's my civic duty.

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