As a Sociology major with a minor in Human Geography, one of my pet interests is how we interact with built environments, especially the parts that we take for granted. The taken-for-granted things are all slices of a bigger picture that represents the every day world. The picture below represents a scene that captured my attention yesterday.
Looking at it, the scene just looks like a shitty, poorly framed cell phone picture of something incredibly mundane.
This is a construction/landscaping site at the University of British Columbia where I am finishing up [finally] my undergraduate degree this summer. I was walking across campus yesterday when I noticed this site – which I have been passing on an almost daily basis for the past year or two – and realized “oh crap! Look at all this stuff!” It’s great.
One of the weird things about construction/redevelopment/landscaping etc. that seems so normal is the placement of grass, trees, flowers, etc. This picture captures that:
In this picture, we can see that a fence has been erected to keep the general public away from what happens within it. Amidst the concrete is a whole lot of freshly laid soil and manure that is lightly decorated with young trees. Soil is “natural” and trees are “natural”. But the trees were grown on tree farms and transported by trucks from somewhere else; the soil came from a store in large bags that had to be purchased, and also transported by vehicle.
The space within this enclosure at one point would have been covered with soil and trees and grass that existed there without the interference of modern technology and material interests. If something identical existed today, it would probably be impractical because of how people currently interact with UBC (weeds, overgrowth, bears, stray branches, whatever… not practical for when you are rushing about campus).
The “nature” that will exist behind this fence will instead be an idealized simulation of nature.
This idealized, [to be] constructed space hints at lots of different characteristics about everyday life in Vancouver (or other urban places in Canada): the commodification of “nature”; the extent to which we are comfortable including “nature” within an urban setting; how we have been socialized to stay off grass that has not yet matured when it is being used for aesthetic purposes, but we trample haphazardly across other plant-covered plots of land without considering that we might “kill” it.
The space hints at supply chains, of trucks, of oil, of municipal by-laws; it hints at communication technologies used to coordinate and execute the placement of grass and trees on a space that was once covered by grass and trees.
Essentially, this is the kind of stuff that Baudrillard talks about in Simulacra and Simulation and other writings of his, so if that interests you, I suggest you [attempt to] read what he has to say or Google him. Finally, in this blog post, I am not advocating for or against various activities that relate to the construction of our built environment. I am, however, encouraging that people enjoy the opportunities they have to scrutinize the aspects of every day life that they take for granted!
I watched “Joe’s Apartment” last night with my boyfriend. It’s a very 90s movie about this guy who lives in a crappy apartment in the East Village that is infested with talking/singing cockroaches.
It had its moments…. such as this, which I now have stuck in my head.
Apparently I am not up to speed on all conspiracy theories (though conspiracy theorists don’t like to call them that; only “sheeple” who are blind to the world call them that or something).
I mean, I can totally appreciate the concept of hegemony; I’m a sociology major after all.
And then I came across this.
I think the only way I can describe my reaction to this is bemusement.
I think the above is testament to the triumph of telecommunications! And to the triumph of [relatively] cheap consumer goods that us “Western” folk are so addicted to, which allows people of all walks of life, with a plurality of views and spelling abilities, to make videos for the world to see!
I learned today that Queen Elizabeth is a lizard!
Quoth a commenter:
and They tell us FOR QUEEN AND COUNTRY…well fuck that shit…and fuck that bitch…I would have died for her once upon a time…This is more my country…than it is her’s…All the evil MY COUNTRY has done in her name…MSG TO THE GOVERNMENT…WE OUTNUMBER YOU…WE THE PEOPLE DESERVE REAL FREEDOM…IT IS OUR GOD GIVEN RIGHT…WE DO NOT FEAR YOUR OPPRESSION…WE WILL DESTROY IT…
Ever since I moved to Vancouver in September, 2006, I have had a slight interest in trying out snowboarding on one of the many mountains in the general vicinity. There are a couple of problems:
1) I am afraid of heights
2) I am extremely accident prone (more on this in a moment!)
3) I am from Toronto. My concept of impressive topography is this hill, which I think has a fairly gentle incline:
Skiing/snowboarding never came to fruition for logistical reasons…. UNTIL NOW.
So I guess it is ok if I get injured while snowboarding, but there are a few caveats:
The injury cannot result in full or partial paralysis
Bones must not be located in my arms/hands, because I need them to write and type for school
In the event that I absolutely MUST break an arm, I will require the service of a scribe who will not get paid, but will subsequently come out of the experience moderately educated in sociological concepts which can be applied to every day life (pretend I am not joking. I will need a scribe really badly, but have limited funds).
Anyway, I have had bad luck with stupid injuries.
Like the time I broke my arm when I was 11:
Sorry about the watermark, guys.
How did I do this? Actually, I did not do this. My little brother did this. We were playing “box head tag”. It’s like hide-and-go-seek, except the person who is “it” has a box on his or her head, meaning your hiding spot can be less inconspicuous. My brother was “it” and I was hiding on top of a major home appliance in the unfinished laundry room. ”It”, while searching around the room with a box on his head, pushed me off the appliance. I broke my fall on the cement floor with my arm/wrist. The above X-Ray is from AFTER it had been yanked around several times and “set” as best it had been, so I think it actually initially looked gnarlier than this.
The hospital let me buy a copy of the X-Ray for $20! I certainly did.
- the previous year I dislocated my knee cap after getting into a bike/car crash. I was riding a bike with an ice cream sandwich in my hand. I realized I could not use the handbar breaks without getting ice cream sandwich all over the handlebars of the bike I had borrowed from my friend. I did not want to be a bad friend, so I did not use the breaks. This resulted in a crash. It’s okay; the bike was unscathed.
- The year after the arm-breaking, I went skiing on a bunny hill at Horseshoe Valley in Ontario. This is skiing for Ontarians, so it is pretty small potatoes or whatever. YES I TORE SOME LIGAMENTS AFTER WIPING OUT ON THE BUNNY HILL. IN ONTARIO. It’s okay; the skis were unscathed, I think?
-5 years ago here in Vancouver, I managed to get dropped on a milk crate. That required 15 stitches to the head. IT’S OK; the milk crate was unscathed.
-plenty of other injuries that did not require visits to the emergency room for surgery, stitches or crutches!
I found the following. It is an old blog entry from 5 years ago when I had just started going to university and was majoring in English. My failed attempt at being Kafkaesque is at least somewhat existential, I guess.
“Here is the super short story I wrote for a different class where we had to write a story inspired by “The Metamorphosis”.
When I woke up from a terrible dream, I found I was a giant block of cheese. The first thing that crossed my mind when I realized that I was a giant block of cheese was that if someone didn’t find me soon and put me in a fridge, I would surely die. The second thing that crossed my mind was that giant blocks of cheese are inanimate, so I had no way of alerting anybody about what had happened to me. I was surely going to die in my bed. My final legacy was that I had amounted to nothing more than a basic dietary need, and barely at that, because some people don’t even like cheese.
A day passed and still nobody had seemed to notice that I hadn’t left my bedroom. Everyone probably assumed that I had left for school early in the morning before they woke up, and arrived home late at night. I was starting to get uncomfortable and smell like rotten cheese; I could tell that it was disturbing my pet rabbit.
Finally, two days later, my roommate came into my room looking for a lighter, but it was too late. All that remained of me was a pile of spoiled cheddar cheese dressed in pajamas.
There was nothing else that my poor roommates could do but dispose of my dairy carcass and put an ad in the classifieds for a new roommate….
Oh hey. I cleared house. All old entries are now gone, and the stuff below is just crap from my barely-used Tumblr that I have imported. I don’t think this blog will be particularly tumblr-y, but it’s now to said seldom-used account, so the occasional stupid picture might pop up.
My mom just came back from Paris and has €60 leftover. I am going to be in Vienna next month, so she generously offered to mail her remaining money across Canada to me.
While [I think] most people would gladly accept such a gift, I didn’t feel like it was necessarily in my mom’s best interest to send me the money. Apparently I am wack. So I wrote to my mom:
“if the value of the amount of time it ta…kes to go to the bank and exchange it + any exchange rate fees exceeds $75.00 + the cost of a stamp, envelope, and card/object to conceal the bills + the value of your time to organize said items and go to the mailbox, then I will rationally and happily accept your generous gift!”