Printemps

Last Thursday I went for an evening run near the beach, and was chased through a playground by a little white dog. It didn’t look capable of causing my any harm, but you never want to take chances. Someone should have put a leash on such a monster. Luckily I picked up the pace and escaped unscathed.

We had one 80 degree day (that’s 27 degrees Celsius for all you Canadians out there), which hasn’t been repeated yet. It’s cold again.

I started a drawing on Friday and finished it last night, which is just a portrait of my friend. I’ll post it here as soon as I get someone to take a picture of it. I also took some pictures of pictures of me, for my art class. Those are in the process of making their way to my computer as well. Perhaps I should acquire a camera…

At the Socrates Café on Tuesday, our topic was: “Selfishness: Virtue or Vice?” My point was that all human action is based on out instincts and that therefore we are all equally selfish (which would then mean that no one is selfish). I gave the analogy of comparing building a house on a group of trees no one cared about, vs. building it on top of a stream that a Native American tribe depended on (not unlike current issues in Brazil happening right now). I argued that building the house somewhere that would disrupt people is no more destructive than killing the trees; it’s just a matter of what types of matter on which you affect change. A couple others directed the conversation to determining what kinds of actions are “selfish” and what kinds are necessary to enjoy life and help oneself. I think this  type of thinking leads nowhere, and is quite a problem if you live a comfortable  life while morality dictates that you live “for others”, as one of the four Jesuit values dictates.

I found myself in Stamford for German school on Saturday, and the class worked on learning the past participle. As usual, all but one or two of the kids have any grasp of the material. At the beginning of the class they play tic-tac-toe, in which one player tells the other which verb to conjugate. The player then picks a pronoun (each of the nine squares has a pronoun) to conjugate it with. I don’t think any of them got a single one right until I gave them the answer.

Then they had an easy quiz. Ken (the teacher) and I try our best to keep them from talking. Naturally we can’t stop it completely, but we know who understands what they’re doing and who doesn’t (plus this is German school, not a college entrance exam, so it’s really not worth sweating over…but I guess the kids don’t really get that).

We read a short German story called “The Salesman and the Elk”, in which a salesman proves his abilities by selling a gasmask to elks in the forest by building a factory there. Then they can’t breathe so they have to buy gasmasks. One of the elks asks him what the factory is for, and the salesman says: “gasmasks”.

Then our class and Eileen’s class (Eileen is the Fairfield German professor) practiced a poem together. Here’s the (original) English version (by Laura Richards):

Once there was an elephant,
Who tried to use the telephant-
No! No! I mean an elephone
Who tried to use the telephone-
(Dear me! I am not certain quite
That even now I’ve got it right.)

Howe’er it was, he got his trunk
Entangled in the telephunk;
The more he tried to get it free,
The louder buzzed the telephee-
(I fear I’d better drop the song
Of elephop and telephong!)

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