Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Birding gone astray

So, I decided to take up birding a few weeks ago. I bought a Smithsonian guidebook to North American birds. It came with a cd of excellent bird calls that shows a pic of the bird on your mp3 player. They make excellent alarm noises for those of you who have ipod alarm clocks.
Anyhow - listening to the weird noises bluejays make (sound like misty bells) it occurred to me that they should be used as elements of some sort of musical endeavor.

Todd plays guitar and is into atmospheric stuff and I'm hoping that bass guitars aren't hard to transition to from violins.

There may or may not be more to follow.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Mid-Career Crisis

Seven years of post-secondary education in English and Philosophy. Where will it really get me? I know I'm good at it, but that doesn't mean I'll get a job at the end. If I do, it may not be the kind of gainful employment necessary to pay off the massive amount of student debt accrued getting that employment.

This is the basic concern of just about every graduate student I know. At least in the Humanities. But what is to be done? Also like the other grad students I know, I have contemplated other career options - I have even gotten as far as coming up with careers I may even be passionate about (though theory and reality don't always match up, like when I first realised that being a prof meant no 9-5 hours). My naivete aside, other problems appear.

A part of me desperately wants to work for Environment Canada or Canada Wildlife Service. I blame my newfound interest in ecocriticism and resurgence of a longstanding infatuation with ecological/wildlife concerns. Sounds fine, except that the logistics of retraining are ridiculous.

I am in debt, so I can't pay for retraining. I'm 26, so being unemployed into my 30's is pretty intimidating. I've delayed entry to the labour force for so long that employers may hesitate to hire me. I've earned 3 degrees so employers may hesitate to hire me. My skills are so applicable to every job that no one asks explicitly for them, thus very few job applications seem to apply. My skills are so applicable that they are simultaneously without specific application, so few job applications seem to apply.

The biggest problem though is that there is no right answer. I am left facing a choice that affects every portion of my life and there is no advice, no epiphany, no knowledge to be had over what I should do and what I shouldn't. I almost went and had my tea leaves read to see if a complete stranger (and possibly grifter) had any insights into my career options that may have eluded me.

I hear the biological clock ticking. It has nothing to do with babies and everything to do with education, money, seniority and retirement packages.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Environmentalism and Animal Welfare: Mututally Exclusive?

Now, I haven't had the chance to really suss out this apparent irreconcilable difference between holding the two ideologies of environmentalism and animal rights/welfare. However, it occurred to me that it may be terribly difficult to enact certain desires of each without embodying hypocrisy.

Taken to an extreme, certain environmental tenets proclaims a necessity for "returning to the earth". That is, we ought to forsake (as much as is possible) the artificialities of human existence. By artificialities I do not mean, like Thoreau, that we should extract ourselves from society. Society in and of itself is integral and beneficial to human existence. It has also been documented in innumerable animal congregations and thus cannot be called singularly human. I mean instead that we move away from man-made things and embrace naturally found resources to facilitate our lives. Evidence of this mindset is most prominently found in advertising - because it work; a rash of consumables with "90%+ all natural ingredients" like make-up and cleaning products have hit the market in the last ten years. Think of it as putting our lifestyles on a whole food/marcobiotic diet.

Here's where things start to get muddy. In many ways, synthetics have come to replace the natural resources that we used to use and that many would have us return to. Specifically, synthetics are often used to replace animal-derived products. Although part of this shift has to do with the excitement and lure of science and progress, part of it has to do with an increased awareness of item production and the role of animals as consumables. Companies hoping to "ethically" cash in on pro-animal sentiment advertise animal free products and testing. Instead, synthetics are used to replace the animal-derivatives.

So if we fully reject synthetics, animals (more fully) resume their role as consumables. If we swear off animal consumption, synthetics abound. Is there any way to happily inhabit both ideologies simultaneously?