Punda Malidadi

Monday, May 23, 2005

Is It Just Me?

I am suffering from an extreme case of University Fatigue right now. Part of it might stem from the fact that by the end of this summer I will have been taking a full course load straight for 24 months, but I don't think it's that easy. Quite frankly, most arts classes suck. There, I said it.

First of all, expectations are at the same time too low, too high, and undefined. Too low, because people pass these classes, sometimes in the A or high B range, without being able to put their finger on anything they have learned. Other people fail the same classes, without being able to put a finger on why. Being somewhat of a snob myself, I wouldn't usually defend the majority of people by way of pointing out that the sheer number of them makes them right, but I think the sheer number of people who don't really know what they are doing makes it clear that something is very wrong. As for the reasons why expectations are too high: Readings. I think I have been reluctant to say it so far, but I find it impossible to do all my readings. I just can't read 4 scientific 50 page essays on things that I have heard of many times before with only slightly different nuances and that require some substantial amount of digesting and reflecting daily. Sure, I could whip through them, which I suspect many students do, but I don't see the point of that. I just think professors at this university are neglecting their duty to teach. I am supposed to read all these essays, digest them, form an opinion, and when I come to class, my prof either lectures on a summary of historical data without any analysis or asks us to discuss certain certain aspects of the readings, so that everybody can spout a few long words. I think professors have very little idea of what they want to convey, and drown students in information.

I am asking this in earnest here: Is it just me? Is this what university is supposed to be like? Am I just asking for too much guidance?

I honestly feel like I am getting dumber every day(and sure, go ahead and make some stupid comments about that). I have loved school and university and learning ever since I can remember, but it is quickly draining out of me at this point.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Major Problem of Life Solved!

You know when you work out in the morning, and you listen to William Shatner's Common People really loudly, and you have this huge urge to yell along with the lyrics, but you can't because it interferes with your ability to count your repetitions?

I solved that problem. Oh, I sure did.

The trick is to use different parts of your brain. You use whatever verbal/speech part it is for the singing, but for counting, you do it visually. You have to stop hearing the numbers in your head, and instead visualize them, like a huge sequence passing you by.

It works like a charm.

(Next up on my problem solving agenda: The situation in Sudan.)

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Take That for Nurture

So, I happen to be walking down 112st towards the University yesterday, rather briskly, on my way to class. There, in front of me, was a thirty-something guy with a little boy, a toddler, who I assume was his son. The man keeps saying: "Come on, come on, a little faster, you can do it, give it your all", and while he himself only takes a few large strides, the 3-year old struggles violently to keep up with his Dad by doing everything short of breaking into a run. Again, the Dad says: "A bit faster now, keep it up now", and the little boy struggles a little harder. I was already thinking something to the extent of "slave driver" in my head at that point, but the best is yet to come. When I finally pass them in a rather energetic stride myself to get to class on time, the father says:

"Now look at that! You're not going to let a girl pass you by, now are you?"

[Appalled silence, I hope, on my and on your part. And here's my suggested answer for the little boy:

"Well, you know what, Daddy, if the girl is a 24 year-old woman whose legs are, while admittedly being on the short to average side for adult women, still longer than my entire body height, I just might. Besides, I think high-achieving women are hot and I will never be threatened by my girlfriend potentially being better at something than I am."

Oh, please, let him at least have thought something to the extent, or else all is lost.]

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Important Notice

"All portfolios that aren't picked up by May 3rd will be disposed of immediately."

What do you say to something like that?

Oh wait, I've got it:

-Be my guest.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

How to survive 24 hours of Air Canada- Catrin's Top 11 Travel Tips.

So, I'm back, I guess. And I can't say that I mind too much. Of course I would like it if I could see my family more often, but I just feel somewhat out of place in Germany. It's not my home anymore. And in addition to that, I lack independence when I am there. I have to stay with my mom, eat her food, use her car and even have her pay for me, as I ususally go home at the end of school terms and no matter how hard I try I never seem to have money left over in April, December, or August. Maybe I should consider working more.
So, the point of this ramble is this, I guess: I am happy to be back, and I need a job. Anybody have any ideas? I think I'll ask at the Safeway tomorrow, simply because it's the closest place of employment to my apartment.

So without further ado, here's what the title of this post promised- my personal Air Canada travel tips, interlaced with some bitter anecdotes.


For the love of food, pretend to be a vegetarian when you book your flight, and pre-order a special vegetarian meal. It doesn't cost anything, and you won't have to eat a mechanically separated chicken meat block that smells and tastes like melted plastic. Or, another Air Canada snack time favourite: Roadkill pizza. The vegetarian meals in my now rather extensive Air Canada flying history that I have if not enjoyed, at least tolerated, include spinach lasagne, couscous something, tortellini with cheese sauce, and simple spagetthi with tomato sauce. It's pretty hard to screw up the latter.


Should you, against my express advice, have decided to stay true to your carnivore urges on a transatlantic flight, do yourself a favour: When the blue-clad lady with the mechanical smile and the pink lip-stick rolls her little cart down the aisle and calls out "Chicken or Beef?" for the eleventeenth time, please do not answer "Beef". After my first encounter with chicken, I did that once. After my first encounter with Beef, I went for the vegetarian meal, but had there been none, I would have opted for the chicken again. Now please reread what I wrote about the chicken and then imagine the beef. I'd describe it, but it's just too gruesome.


Bring snacks. Air Canada is so broke right now that they make you pay for food for the inland portion of their flights. I recommend Tim Horton's egg salad sandwiches.


Take a pillow. And not one of those terrible neck-roll travel pillows. They suck. All they do is make you feel like you're at the hair dresser's and someone is going to wash your hair any moment. So go ahead and take exactly the one you use for sleeping every night. They say that you're only allowed one or two pieces of carry on baggage, but they've never minded that additional pillow I had.


Get the window seat. And not for the view, because the view mainly consists of white(day) or black(night). First of all, the main obstacle for sleeping on a plane is the lack of something to lean your head on. If you sit by the window, you have the wall, and if you're smart and listened to me, you also have a pillow. Secondly, you have control over the window screen, and can therefore make it light or dark as you please. Thirdly, there's nothing quite like making two or three other people get up from their seats and file into a tiny aisle every time you want to go pee, which brings us to


Take a huge bottle of water, and don't even think of wearing your contacts on the flight. The climate on the plane has 5% humidity( I read that in an onboard magazine, so if anything, that is greater than the actual number), and the temperature is on the cold side. If you're the freezing kind, i.e. female, take some extra socks, otherwise you'll be cold if you take your shoes off, which brings us to


Try not to wear your $19.95 payless shoe source shoes for the flight, because I have learned now that those kind set the security alarm off. God knows what kind of heavy metals or radioactive materials are in those soles. Also try not to bring an issue of the Economist on the flight, unless you want a middle aged security guard to say: "Well look at you, smarty-pants! Look at what *you're* reading!" Especially not when it's an issue trying to explain why a flat rate tax is 'fairer to all', because the fact that crap like that is being printed in a magazine will ruin your mood for the better part of the flight.


Bring your own earphones. The ones they hand out are disposable, and apart from the environmental angle, they're crap. I am convinced that they make it on purpose that only one ear works at a time. I made the flight attendant bring me 3 different sets, and none of them worked. I gave up, which wasn't so bad, because the movie was Electra, and that is the kind of movie you don't want to watch without somebody to make fun of it with. Which brings us to


Bring a discman. If the movie is crap, and you're sitting to one of these obnoxious people that didn't bring any of their own entertainment with the full intention of forcing the story of their life on whoever is unlucky enough to sit next to them, you'll need something to deter them. Not that that always works, mind you. That one guy just spoke louder. This flight, however, I was lucky enough to sit next to someone who was somehow privy to Northwest territory secret government documents that I read out of the corner of my eye until I got a headache from it. Which brings us to


Bring a book. Yes, I know it 's obvious, but many people make the mistake of bringing something difficult and educational that they have meant to read for a long time(including myself). We probably figured that once we're a few thousand feet above the Atlantic we won't be able to run from it and finally get it done . But when you're ass is hurting from the hard seat and your neck is strained because the head rest desigener was clearly a man who assumed everybody is over 5'10"(and the rest of them can bloody well sit with an angled head for 9 hours for all he cares), you won't want to concentrate. You just won't want to. You'll want to escape into an improbable and simplistic world. I personally recommend the Da Vinci Code. It lasted exactly for the Frankfurt-Toronto Edmonton trip.


Watch your suit cases. I mean it. Not only did Air Canada lose one of mine between Toronto and Edmonton once( I still had it when I went through customs in Toronto), but they have come close this time again. Let me tell you the story. First, you have a ticket. Then, when you check in, They give you a boarding pass, and they put pieces of papers with barcodes that describe the route of your travels on the handles of all of your suitcases. Then they stick little duplicates of those bar codes onto your ticket. This time, the flight attendant fucked it up so that my suitcases had as their final destination Toronto. It was pure coincidence that she heard me talk to my parents at the check in about Edmonton, and called the suitcases back and retagged them. But that isn't all. Because I had an electronic ticket and all you need to check in is your passport, she stuck those little baggage tags on my boarding card. When I boarded the plane, The flight attendant tore off the little strip on the back of which they were. When I arrived in Frankfurt and went to the Air Canada counter to get my boarding passes for the rest of the trip, she asked me for my baggage tags. I realized they'd taken them from me, and she said that without them, they won't send my bags on the right plane with me. I had to run around the airport to find someone who could look that number up for me, because she couldn't.

You 'd think the flight attendants wouldn't take something from you that they didn't need, and that you in fact need urgently, right?

Well, so much for respecting people in uniforms.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


What do you know? Here I am, on the other side of the Atlantic, and they're shutting down my only connection to the microcosm that I have become so comfortable in during the last year.

Luckily, there is a replacement webboard, but I have yet to come up with a rank for myself on it. Does anyone have any ideas? Maybe that anonymous commenter that seems to despise me? Insult away, I might take you up on it. Self-deprecation is hot, you know.

In other news, the first of May broke all current heat records in Germany (~33 Celsius) and I now have tan lines. Politics are really interesting, but the music sucks ass. Every morning when I am doing that half-assed 10 minute workout that I deluded myself to believe will counterbalance all those sausages I'm eating, I turn on one of the 4 German music channels(MTV1, MTV2, VIVA1, VIVA2).

They only play cheesy crap and Jennifer Lopez. I mean, "She is beautiful beautiful beautiful beautiful, beautiful mysical magical wonderful, beautiful beautiful beautiful irresistible, but most of all beautiful"? Sung by a Matt Brechtel lookalike (including the eyeliner)? The things I have to go through here...

The only ones I like are Wir sind Helden (literally: we are heroes). They're fun. Especially "Wir sind gekommen um zu bleiben".

That is all for the day.