Hello everyone, and welcome to the end of week 9 of the summer semester. Week 9. Already. This summer is flying by, and it’s getting a bit painful as you will see in the course descriptions below. But first. some other things from life.
One thing we did on arriving in Canada was renew our membership in CostCo. We’ve been members for so long it dates back to when you had to have a connection to get in, like your employer offered it or something. Well before Price Club and Costco merged. A long time, but then again, remember that we are old. Anyway, as I have written elsewhere, the shopping experience at Costco is truly awful. Long lines, packed aisles, demo and sample stations setup to cause traffic congestion inside the store, never knowing if a given product will be there or not, and their constant changing of products just to change them. It’s an unpleasant and unreliable place to shop, but it seems their prices are OK, so we continued our membership here.
In the past week we got the letter saying it was time to renew, and you know what? We’re not going to. It’s probably the most un-American thing you can do, but I hate shopping there, and we have alternatives, so we are using them instead. (We happen to like the Real Canadian Superstore chain, which is kind of like Costco, but provides a much nicer shopping experience, and which charges no membership fee. Prices are comparable as well. We checked.)
So… that’s a thing.
There were two other oddities this past week that I am hesitant to bring up, but, well, I will anyway.
The first is that just the other day I was finishing up some English homework and heard a lawnmower. We do live in suburbia, and lawnmowers are common here, though mostly on the weekends. It was a weekday, though, and that would be just fine, normally. People are home on weekdays, and some people hire professional maintenance companies to mow & trim, and they clearly work weekdays. What made this weird was the time. It was 10 pm.
A lawnmower at 10pm?
I’m not exactly sure where it was, as it was a few houses away, and probably a block over, but that sound is unmistakable.
My first thought, when I realized what I was hearing, was “How are they mowing in the dark?” But that turns out not to be an issue right now. It’s not that dark at 10 pm. We’re still a fair distance from the arctic circle — something like 1200 miles — and yet it’s light a lot longer here at this time of year than it was in the SF bay area. I guess mowing at 10 pm is still possible, though it seems a bit dim to do it properly. I’d hit a root or something if I tried it.
But there’s another issue: noise. Mowing at 10 pm? I don’t get that. Seems a bit off. Particularly on a week night. I was taught to keep it down after 9 pm as a rule. Maybe you could go later on a Friday or Saturday, but why cause the neighbours to hate you ?But again, I am old, and my expectations may not match reality anymore. And particularly not Canadian reality.
Running with that theme, I have another noise related question: what is it with Canadians and power washers? I am starting to think it’s some sort of national fad. Multiple neighbours here have used them to clean their sidewalks, driveways, and, in one case, an entire tennis court. One neighbour rented a power washer to clean her various sidewalks and then, just a few days later, I heard the pressure washer again. Confused, I stepped outside to see what she’d forgotten to clean in the first go, and found a guy pressure washing her driveway before applying sealer. Two weeks later another neighbour had their driveway pressure washed and sealed, and then a while after that they hired a different firm to pressure wash their sidewalks and patio, among other things. This is hours of constant, ongoing, engine noise each time someone does this.
It should also be noted that pressure washers use water, and as far as I can tell, every summer there are water use restrictions in place for all of metro Vancouver. We are only allowed to water the yard two mornings a week, for example. In light of that, why worry about a bit of accumulated dirt on your sidewalks? And why does it seem that a large chunk of the population has the same concern? Is this some sort of uniquely Canadian obsession?
I have yet to answer that, but it’s interesting. Yet another possible cultural difference between Canada and the US. Or maybe this is my own weirdness brought about my my constant water paranoia back in California. Either way, it’s an odd thing to note.
That’s all the local news from the last week. So I’ll move on to the class update.
I find myself a bit frustrated here. We have about 3 weeks left to the semester, and I have a final paper to write. That paper is a research paper, and I am supposed to pick a topic to write about how two of the stories we’ve read this term address that topic. A few secondary sources are required as well.
As much as that kind of writing brings me pain, that’s not the problem right now. Instead, I can’t figure out what to write about. I don’t have anything new or significant to write, and I have yet to come up with anything even remotely interesting. I have to get that resolved by the time this weekend is over, though. Time is passing, and I have to get it done. It’s can’t be a long paper in the end, but the research is the killer right now. I’m feeling stuck, and not making progress is a problem.
This one is still done. I suspect I will pull it from the update entirely next week.
In this class I find I am in a new situation. This class is really moving at a high rate of speed. If pressed, I’d probably describe it has half (or more) a pure history class, and half (or a bit less) an art history class. The instructor discusses artists and their works in the context of various movements in history. In some cases it’s from places outside of Canada (such has how the Barbizon and Hague schools influenced Horatio Walker) but in other cases it is more Canadian in flavor. The most recent lecture mostly discussed Paul Borduas, an Automatiste working largely in Montreal. He’s at least as famous for being the principle author of Refus Global as he is for his artwork, though the two are tied together, at least in his mind. Refus Global was a manifesto that separated the Automatistes from a couple of other art movements/groups, but — more importantly — strongly protested the conservative government in Quebec at the time, and the influence of the Catholic church on that government. It was more anarchist than communist in flavor, it seems, and caused quite a stir. To my ears it sounds like every other strident manifesto I have ever heard or read, full of high hopes pinned on very thin theories about human behaviour that aren’t based on reality.
But it’s a thing, and Borduas is almost certain to be on the test in one way or another.
Test, you say? Oh yes. The midterm is this coming Thursday. It’s worth 30% of our grade in the class, and I have a lot to prepare for that. Plus whatever we cover in the Tuesday lecture as well.
I am enjoying the class, but honestly I could do with it being paced a bit slower. The summer semester’s accelerated schedule is a killer. There is no time to plan or prepare much of anything. It’s gruelling.
I need to get back to my homework, as you can imagine. But first, a reminder: If you spot any typos here, please let me know. Email, leave a comment, send a carrier pigeon, or something. I try — I really do — but some always sneak by. Point them out and I will fix them.
And here are the last sections, as usual:
There were some interesting links this week, mostly found while on the SeaBus going to and from school:
- Folly, Vice, and Madness. Trade wars. North Korea. Constant lies. Read this, please. I have shared a few twitter threads from this author. This is a longer piece of his, and it’s really good.
Folly, Vice, and Madness
There is just so much hurt, disappointment, and oppression one can take... The line between reason and madness grows…
- Here’s a different take on things. “Cambridge Analytica didn’t convince decent people to become racists; they convinced racists to become voters.” Yet another reason to reconsider all my social media use.
Cory Doctorow: Zuck's Empire of Oily Rags
For 20 years, privacy advocates have been sounding the alarm about commercial online surveillance, the way that…
- And finally, here’s the usual index of art school posts and other things here on Medium, just in case you want to find older posts, or catch up on things.
Art School Posts — The Index
I’ve been posting about art school long enough now that it seems I need an index to them all, so that anyone wandering…
This is my SeaBus commute, on Tuesday, I think. No interesting ships anchored nearby, but it was pretty and calm.
And on Wednesday, we had another nice day and the dogs decided to go out and have a snooze:
To catch them all snoozing in the sun is pretty rare. Cruzer tends to want to be inside, but that morning they had a collective agenda.
And In Conclusion
I found this in my feed on Wednesday morning.