Which is Worse, Tyrants or Tycoons?

Yesterday, I read a couple of articles about the Occupy Wall Street movement (#occupywallstreet) that is underway in the Western world. One article, titled “This is what democracy looks like” was for the Globe and Mail, co-written by an assistant professor of my program (Media, Information, and Technoculture at the University of Western Ontario), Amanda Grzyb:

"This is What Democracy Looks Like..."

The other was for the New York Times, written by opinion columnist Mark Bittman:

"Finally Making Sense on Wall Street"
Both authors are sympathetic to the cause, and Bittman even says the movement is “being embraced by the Democratic leadership.” This movement is clearly different: it is resonating with hundreds of thousands of people world-wide.

Occupy Wall Street began 26 days ago with a call to action from a culture-jamming group known as Adbusters. People responded to their call for a horizontally-structured (as opposed to vertically-structured and therefore bureaucratic in nature) movement demanding change. Participants then began to camp on Wall Street (and the streets of other cities’ financial districts, including Toronto’s Bay Street starting this Saturday), and present themselves as the “99 percent” that struggles while the remaining 1 percent enjoys the majority of the wealth of the west.

Their inspiration? The Arab Spring, a massive ongoing series of uprisings that have caused civil wars and unrest in several Middle Eastern and North African countries, not to mention the deaths of thousands upon thousands of oppressed citizens who have had enough of autocracy and persecution.

Adbusters: Occupy Wall Street

Ironic, isn’t it, that thousands die to obtain democracy while our friends and neighbours suffer because of democratic deceitfulness and capitalist crookedness?

As Bittman says, the desire to protest the status quo isn’t new: perhaps one of the reasons this movement resonates so deeply for so many people is that almost every generation has faced some injustice that required standing up and standing out. Think the Vietnam War, or even the French Revolution.

Our generation has it the worst of any other yet, though, according to Bittman. If this movement does not result in substantial change, will our children get hit even worse? Is it even possible to bring about the change that we so desperately need?


I wonder which is worse, tyrants or tycoons?

Cliches ‘r’ Us: It Never Rains but it Pours

I was grateful that Johnathan (my boyfriend, for the uninitiated) was away for the weekend (even though I’m bloody jealous he got to go to Ottawa and party while I got to work and study), because it meant that I could focus just on working on the two papers I have due on Monday, and then maybe some reading (for school, always for school between September and April!).

Did I mention I also work full-time on weekends? Lately I have been working about 25 hours every weekend.

I go back to reminding you that I was grateful that I had no other engagements this weekend, just work and the books.

I was feeling a bit swamped already. Two papers! Due on the SAME! DAY! Jeez I can never even finish all of the necessary reading, let alone WRITE on top of that!

And then… it poured.

I got a reminder email around 11 PM last night that my final report for my contract position as the Taste of Huron Accommodation Package Development Coordinator was due the next day. AKA today, a day that I planned to be full from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., all before I started to work on my two papers, etc.

I freaked out a bit, but then thought: I can get it done in a couple of hours, no problem!

Then my supervisor gave me a word of advice: “I wouldn’t consider this a one-day job”. GULP. Who has even ONE day?! Not I!!

Still, I considered it all day today, thinking, no problem, I’ll just whip something together and hope for the best. I’ll get some feedback from my participants, etc.

When I got home, I realized that I was not ready even to hope for the best. It was hours later before I could even bring myself to start doing ANYTHING report-related! I have never done such a report before, and really have no idea where to start. I am going on my supervisor’s email and hoping for the best.

I may have sent her and the Event Coordinator both lovely “HELLLLLP!!” emails which are sure to brighten their Friday nights!

Now, it’s past midnight. I actually have 28 pages of, well, something that looks impressive, at least, even if it may not at ALL be what I’m supposed to be doing. Again, I have no idea.

What I DO know is that my back hurts and my bum hurts and I’m tired… and, once again, I have to put off my papers until another night. Sigh. How does this always happen to me?

PS. Anyone wanna tackle my Dish Mountain? That was on my original Friday evening agenda, which went out the window just over 12 hours ago. Luckily I’m well-versed in rinsing and stacking…..

The Ephemerality of an Idea

I am writing this post from my iPhone 4, typing with my middle finger as I balance a pen under my index finger.

I’m in a writing class, listening to the prof with one part of my brain, and, with the other part, thinking about how much of a slacker I have been on this blog.

When I updated my blog site this spring and downloaded this app on my phone, I had such romantic hopes that, now that I had such a handy productivity aid at my fingertips, I would be inspired to write regularly.

The romance then proceeded to wither a few weeks later when I got distracted by _____________________.


Today in the reading for my writing class there was a section on ideas: where to find them (just about anywhere), how to nurture them (write them down, then add to them as your mind digests them and comes up with related ideas), and how to develop them into viable story options.

The author kept an empty notebook with him at all times, so that whenever his brain churned out a new idea (often in the shape of, “I wonder what would happen if…”, or “What if…?”, or “Is it me? What is it about me…?” etc…), he could start to build a complete idea or ideas.

My brain ate up that idea. I get ideas at the most inconvenient times (2 a.m., driving, in the shower), but I’ve learned that the key is to record the idea as soon as possible, while it still retains the ephemera that only something brand-new can evoke.

So… What’s my problem, if I have ideas and I know enough to record them?

My problem is that I haven’t been honouring those wisps of curiosity and inquisitiveness that flit through my mind. I haven’t been writing them down or seeing them through.


By now, it’s later in the day and I have come back to this several times. I am
also now typing with both thumbs like you do on a smart phone.

I have a renewed resolve to do better, to try harder, to record thoughts before they fly away.

Will you be my sounding board?

Barbara Frum, a witty wordsmith. Who knew?

Barbara Frum

For a research paper on the CBC radio show As It Happens, I’m skimming former (now late) host Barbara Frum‘s book As It Happened, and I’m falling in love with her tongue-in-cheek snark:

“Thank goodness for sociology–it fills in so many of the blanks. It tells you that people in elevators get squirmy if you stare at them, that ugly people make more grateful marriage partners, that short people aren’t as tall as tall people, that Italians and Jews are inclined to holler when they’re in pain, and that people read in the bathroom to kid themselves about what they’re doing there. Were tax dollars not paying for it, I don’t think I’d mind so much. If sociologists find it stimulating to observe the obvious and the useless, who am I to quibble?”

My Portfolio

I have just uploaded/linked my last 5 articles in the link to the left, below “About Me”. Click on the photos to go to the original document/site/page.

Comments always appreciated!

Published yesterday:

"Yes we Love This Country
mitZine March 2011. Article "Yes we Love This Country"


My Recent Portfolio

mitZine article: MIT Makes Music Part Two–David Hayes

This is one of my most recently published articles, written for my program’s ‘zine, about a fellow second-year student of mine who is also a mashup artist. I went in knowing very little about mashup. I came out with an album called Bangers and Mash…

Check out my article on page 9 of the ‘zine. (And maybe consider subscribing for future enlightenment!)

Springtime Ramblings

Today was supposed to be a study-and-do-laundry day, but it’s turned into a be-emotional-and-cry-too-much day, so I’m taking advantage of the inspiration accrued from heightened feelings to share some thoughts with my blog-o-sphere.

Lately, I’ve been sharing most of my great ideas, my daily happenings, my rants, my inspirations, and my emotions with my stellar boyfriend Johnathan, and dividing my time between him, school, and work, plus

Going Down in History

When they write about me in history books, what will they say? I was reading about a French political philosopher and author in one of my textbooks last night, and, in the margin of my notebook, found myself writing:

Sarah Koopmans (1981 – ?)

Canadian religious and social philosopher and author

Can’t you just see it? A couple hundred years from now, if I make enough waves during my lifetime, and my existence is significant enough to mention in some kind of history book, I imagine that’s not far from how it might appear.

Like me, when you think “philosopher”, Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato come to mind; perhaps I am not easily compared to the ancient toga-wearers, but when I read this description of philosophy, there is much that I identify with:

Philosophy is defined as: The study of general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language; the pursuit of wisdom, a search for a general understanding of values and reality by chiefly speculative rather than observational means, an analysis of the grounds of and concepts expressing fundamental beliefs.

A philosopher is, then, someone who seeks wisdom and enlightenment; a person who seeks reason and truth by thinking and meditation.

This thing that I do, this blog, is my journal of observations as I study humanity. Someday, hopefully, I’ll graduate to a more formal outlet for my ideas and findings, but lucky you to have known me when–!

A Day in My Life, June 2008

I had a sudden desire today to chronicle and compare the different stages of my life, as I look back and notice that my life in June 2008 is remarkable different from that of June 2007, June 2006, June 2005, and so on.

I invite you to be a witness on this journey.

June 2008 finds me 27 years old, living in a two-bedroom second-floor apartment in the only apartment building in a tiny town in East Huron County called Brucefield. This town is known for it’s flashing light, yellow if you’re driving between Clinton and Exeter on Highway 4, or red if you’re coming from either Seaforth or Bayfield. There is one elementary school, one church, one drive-in restaurant, two mechanic shops, one Asian/Home Decor/B&B/Lunch Room location, and one fire station.

My apartment overlooks a cornfield, the view of which is mostly obstructed by a lovely birch tree. Said tree helps me feel more confident walking around in my apartment in less-than-decent clothing on summer nights. After all, who would be driving by slowly enough whose gaze could penetrate the birch branches in the split second I happen to be passing through my dining room, several feet from my beautiful picture window?

I enjoy living alone, though sometimes I do wish someone was there to care whether I came in or not, or to wonder where I was, or to motivate me to do dishes, finally! My neighbours are understanding and quiet, the area is safe, and I actually have a place to call home. MY home. I’ve immensely enjoyed painting and decorating my apartment, putting all of my good taste to good use in a place where I’m the boss, now and forever.

Another addition to my life is that of Trixie the Toyota, a pretty, dark-green 1997 4Runner who goes with me everywhere I go. She hauls the accoutrements of my life and hobbies without complaint. She has survived being rolled over in the ditch after skidding out on an icy country road, being hit-and-run by some unknown person, a not-so-successful attempt at backing up a trailer, and carrying some of my more treasured furniture.

Not so enjoyable are the bills that go with being established and mobile, namely cell phone, rent, insurance, hydro, phone/internet, groceries, gas, repairs, etc. I can’t say as I ever yearned for that part of nesting, but I take it in stride, usually. I’ll be much happier when I can finally get my tax returns done (for the past 2 years), pay off my credit card, and have money set aside for winter tires.

I have spent more than a year at the same job, as a server at The Brew’n Arms English pub and restaurant in Bayfield, Ontario. Earlier this year, I graduated to keyholder and Dining Room Manager, as well as Kitchen Painter and Orchid-Caretaker extraordinaire. My bosses are wonderful people who have become friends and family, as well as the most understanding and flexible supervisors anyone could ask for. They make me want to stay and do my best for them, for their business, for their town.

Last year at this time, I was also working as a drywaller, and, shocker! I don’t miss it a tiny bit. I do enjoy my refined house-painting skills, which I have recently put to good use in a “cottage” in Bayfield, and hope to expand as a second job. If you hear of someone looking to hire a house painter, give them my number!

I’m not attending church because I couldn’t handle the one I had called “home” for years. I’m generally fed up with the institution that is what church has become, with all its expectations and traditions and legalism. I would enjoy a faith-based community of believers that is honest and open, a group that can laugh and be reverent in an informal way. I really could expand this paragraph to a whole essay, but suffice it to say that I have not encountered such a community, but I still seek to hold onto my beliefs. I am discovering more of what life is like on “the other side” (outside the Christian bubble), and it’s very educational, despite occasionally dangerous.

If it were possible to live on coffee, I’d do it.

I’ve joined the wonderful realm of BlackBerry, as I once dreamed of doing. And I’m paying for it, too.

Writing is still my best communication method.

I rarely see earlier than 10 AM, or close my eyes earlier than 1 or 2 AM. I’d like to change that.

The music in my life has developed over the past year as well. I am the youngest voice of the all-female cover band, Cactus Jam, and I love it, despite playing mostly Legions. I was also privileged enough to be part of Noted!, a project sponsored by the United Way in my county, which is helping to boost the music careers of the 17 women chosen to participate. We got to record 14 tracks in a professional studio, and a great-sounding CD is the result. This past winter I also ventured out to sing a few times at Open Mic nights at a local pub, and have been the featured soloist at two church events.

This year finds me recently motherless, a drastic blight on anyone’s life, and definitely on mine. It has changed so many things and finally propelled me into nesting in the first place. It also made my brother and I guardians of our youngest brother and launched me further into the land of disabled children in Ontario. I now have a lawyer, communicate regularly with several case workers, get all kinds of official mail, and have to return junk mail still addressed to Mom.

June 2008 also finds me blonde, and with an even greater fashion sense. I love that about growing older! I predict I’ll still be stylish in my 80s. If I’m not, remind me of now.

I’ve discovered I love flowers and plants, doing the Toronto Saturday Star crossword, Pinot Grigio and Shiraz, premium beer, CBC Radio, brie on melba rounds with semi-dried tomatoes in duck confit, Dollarama’s plain candles, serving dessert, mom’s old couch and armchair (with my apartment’s decor built around them), C&E used furniture in Goderich, Americanos from The Bean, and living in Huron County!!! (Sorry, but that deserved more than three exclamation points)
Being Sarah Elizabeth takes different shapes all the time, and I’m enjoying the process. Here’s to another year!