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I am a Canadian living in the U.K. as a mathematician, teacher, and researcher. I tend to WB&C over issues surrounding my life (Sorry!). Ask me about cowkens.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Taking a Break

Hello again.

This is a pretty dull moment for me as I actually don't have much to talk about today. I tried thinking of something yesterday, came up with nothing, then couldn't get any ideas down in time for the normal Sunday posting. Unfortunately, today is somewhat the same as I do not know what to talk about.

However, perhaps this is the point: Sometimes, you need to take a break from all of the stuff that is happening around you and you just need to unwind and relax. For me, that is currently involving settling into a new job, paying bills, and figuring out what to do with my Ph.D. thesis. However, not thinking about that stuff gave me an opportunity to just be at peace with myself and that was probably needed and very much deserved. It's good to take a break once in a while.

Therefore, take a break from time to time; you probably need it anyway... just don't take too many of them. =:-D

The Canadian Cat

Sunday, May 04, 2014

TECHNICAL UPDATE

As I am new to the vlogging issue, I have just learned that this Google thing has complicated me somewhat: I seem to have a CanadianCat YouTube channel, but it's attached to a different e-mail address and because of how Google operates, I cannot combine this blog site to that YouTube channel. Therefore, please stay tuned for updates over the next several days as I try to figure out what to do about this. However, please remember I also have a Facebook page, which is a good go-to source now:


Also, the new post (a vlog) is up if you look for the next most recent post. Laters.

The Canadian Cat

On Being Practical

It's May 4, 2014. As I said I may do on my Facebook page (See link below.), I will be creating vlogs for the month of May... just because. Here's the link to the first video:

http://youtu.be/-tiSTWZHhh8

Enjoy!

The Canadian Cat

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/canadianclowder

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Subverting the Empire

Just like all of the other weeks that I have been facing recently, this week will have a full share of oddities. Previously, it's been fighting against false accusations made by previous employers or sorting out the upcoming return to my Ph.D. studies or the occasional event to attend (with no money to spend on it). Now, it's somewhat different: I'm fighting back, accusing the previous employers of wrongdoing (and with suitable evidence to back it up, unlike their claims, which were ludicrous), I'm still working on the final arrangements for returning to my Ph.D. studies (although the Canadian government may make that harder as there will be new financial considerations to investigate), and I need to find some way of getting some rather important documentation obtained, although the people I need to help me obtain it do not appear to be willing to help (and although I absolutely MUST have this documentation before I return to Canada for the summer... P.S. I'm returning home to Canada for the summer.).

With every passing week, I feel that things are simply getting weirder and weirder around me. Perhaps it's because I just spent almost 4 years teaching in secondary schools, after having finished working on a Ph.D. degree. Perhaps it's because I feel I am losing the connections I have made over the past 4 years through my work experience. Perhaps it's because I do not feel cared for as much at church as I (thought I) did when I first joined (as has always been the case with all but one church I've attended in my life; the only exception, I believe, has since shut it doors completely). Perhaps it's because I know that things are going to change dramatically yet again for me, but this time, going in reverse as I return to my Ph.D. student status. Whatever it is, there is a bit of awkwardness about my personal situation and there is a continuous lack of normality in my life.

However, I do feel I can begin to relate to some of the Biblical concepts of subverting the empire; the empirical structures that govern our world today are not just, but are rather created for the sake of minimising effort for some whilst allowing others to suffer. The bureaucracy of U.K. politics is just that at the moment; as an example, I cannot claim an unfair dismissal against my former employers because I had not worked there for more than 2 years, even though they admitted to violating various policies in dismissing me. To subvert the empire in Biblical terms, and more importantly in Jesus' terms, is to use the rules they have created to your advantage; for example, in the Sermon on The Mount, Jesus notes the following to his listeners:

"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you."

The key word here is But... i.e. "do NOT resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you..." It is in this wording that we understand what is being implied by Jesus' recommendations. If you are struck on the right cheek (usually a back-handed slap), then turning the other cheek would compel the aggressor to perform an open-handed slap to hit the other cheek, which was more disgraceful for the aggressor than the victim if performed. Similarly, if you are sued and they wanted your coat, then giving them your cloak would make you naked and because they took your cloak, too, they would be ashamed publicly for making you naked. Also, by Roman law, a soldier could force you to carry his belongings with him for one mile, but they were not allowed to go further, so if you willingly said you would go another mile with the soldier, then that would worry him greatly. Basically, to subvert the empire is to use their rules and ideologies against them.

In my situation, I have been able to see what these parables can mean to me in practical terms in the present. However, I also see how difficult it is to manage such tasks because it can easily require instant consideration. With my Ph.D. degree and with my previous employers, I have followed the steps carefully as each situation progressed and with patience, I have been able to show that not only have I been cooperative, but that I am also determined to prove my case each time and that injustices occurred against me. Now that it is known that injustices have occurred, they ought to be highlighted and addressed and that is what has been happening for quite some time now with the situations in which I have been faced (or am currently facing). I am still having to fight back against some issues, but I will continue to do all I can so that it is done in a subversive manner to see the empirical structure thrown on its own head.

To fight back is not to act in haste, but rather with care for the due process so that you can show that you are not only following the rules, but you are acting with great patience and care to address issues that concern you and that shows others you are passionate about seeing things done right... which they ought to be in the first place.

The Canadian Cat

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Looking Forward

I can clearly remember the motto of my high school, painted on the walls of the gymnasium: Look forward with hope, look backward with pride. This was quite an important motto for me in particular as I was entering the high school in a French immersion program, which I had only chosen to join while Mom was speaking to me about it in the car en route to St. Stephen, N.B. and Calais, ME one day; I even remember passing by one of the Oak Bay, N.B. turnoff roads, heading towards the causeway as I made the agreement. Why I chose to agree to do the French Immersion course was beyond me; I had previously refused to take it, suggesting it was going to have no effect on my future, but I guess it's Canada and we are bilingual, so I think that's why I changed my mind in the car. 

It's too easy to get bogged down in our history. Of course, we study history in school. Religious institutions generally study the history of their faiths as a means of explaining their purposes in life. Politicians discuss history to their constituents to highlight past errors, especially, though, when mentioning the faults of rival members who were in power before them. Milestone events often reflect on history, using statistics to look at trends over time to see what, if anything has changed; these statistics are also used widely in financial analyses, banking, government reforms, social policies, etc. History is the emphasis for which we try to change the future.

However, reflecting on the Christian Easter story, it is not about a man fulfilling prophecies just to be executed by Roman crucifixion in order to show by resurrection that he rose again. As I learned in this morning's church service, by summarising it like this, we are simply reflecting on the past events and thus, are looking backwards... and using my school's motto, we are doing this with pride, which happens to be one of the seven deadly sins listed in the Bible. Instead, we should be looking forward; we are obviously aware of what happened, but we need to see where we are to go ahead in our lives and this does not come from looking in the past, but rather by planning in the present to aim for a better future. Going back to the Christian Easter story, after Jesus was resurrected, he actually remained on the Earth for several days before ascending into Heaven (i.e. the Ascension, a key element of the Easter story that is not mentioned with any significant relevance at Easter time). After he ascended and was never seen again, his disciples continued to look into the sky, expecting him to return to them almost immediately. They were told by angels to stop doing this and instead, to start doing what they were told to do by Jesus. By staring into the sky, do Christians wonder "When will Jesus come back to Earth?" or "When will I get to be with God with Jesus seated at His right hand?" If it's the former, then it's a reflection of the past event and again, it's the trap of looking backwards, but if it's the latter, then it's preparing the way, looking forward with hope, ignoring the past completely, aside from simply knowing the facts of what happened.

In my postgraduate research, I am often having to look at past statistics involving one group of students in comparison to more recent statistics involving another group of students to see if there is any progress in their results. Of course, there is a tragic flaw in that the students are different, but in terms of research, it is apparently acceptable these days to allow this sort of comparison to take place because time-scale analysis seems to be a happening thing. When I go back to my research, I will likely need to conduct new analyses in order to bring the thesis up-to-date, but again, the tragic flaw will be there and this will need to be discussed to some extent. However, I must remember to look forward with hope; focusing on how my research can help others should be the selling point and me getting my Ph.D. is the end goal I wish to achieve. Therefore, I should only state the facts of the past, not looking backwards with pride, but instead, looking forward with the goals in mind so that I will have the hope of achieving them eventually.

With my previous job situation, I am often having to look backwards at what happened, but by stating the facts of what happened and analysing the evidence I now have, I can look forward more easily, knowing how to move forward with the hope of achieving the outcome I am seeking. The facts of history can help in planning the future, but you need to be careful as you should not look at the implications behind the facts necessarily, but rather just the facts themselves. This is, of course, a tricky situation, but the facts are there to help me move forward, so this is where I have my hope for the future in this aspect.

Am I using my French language skills these days? Definitely not. Do I regret it? No. Why not? It's because I may still end up using this in the future and I need to remain in the hope that I may still get to use it in the future.

The Canadian Cat

Sunday, April 13, 2014

M' steaks

I am currently at a local coffeeshop in Cambridge, where I ordered a drink & some cake. I know the staff at this shop well, so when every aspect of my order was done incorrectly, from dropping the first slice of cake to not making decaf coffee to not using the right kind of milk, I could only laugh at them. Luckily, I am not like some customers, who would frown or get angry at this.

Earlier, I was at my church in London. Due to the London Marathon, a soccer FA Cup semi-final (or whatever it was), and the Olivier Awards in Covent Garden, the city was absolutely mad today. The train company I used reverted back to their incorrect ways by only having 8 coaches take me to/from Cambridge and London, instead of the 12 they used last Sunday; this caused many people, including the elderly and families, to remain standing throughout their journey. Also, there were not many people around for the Sunday church lunch and as I do not enjoy mushroom soup (or mushrooms for that matter), I went elsewhere for lunch... and then proceeded to go shopping, spending money I don't actually have on geek toys.

I also spoke to my church about the issue with my former school and how I have prepared a draft of the complaint letter I will be sending eventually to the schools inspectorate, addressing the mistakes the school has willingly made against me and others. We are looking at the other things we need to consider in order for me to move on with my life.

I've also purchased a set of songs by Gunnarolla; he sang about being in love with a beef steak.

At least it was sunny today!

The Canadian Cat

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Address

My Ph.D. situation is getting sorted, although I am needing to complicate things further. As I have no employment and as I am being expected to work on the thesis again for one full year, having not looked at it for nearly 5 years, I will have to ask to seek free student accommodation on campus and also work part-time to some extent on campus to pay for bills, food, etc. The Canadian government is getting involved, having been requested to investigate their options and disclose whatever information they can to me so that I can pass it forward to the university and the Ombudsperson's office. However, as I have learned already from this situation, patience is key.

Patience is something I am learning again I need to have with regards to my current work situation. Now that the allegations made against me have been thrown out, I can address the issues that have taken place against me, especially how the situation was handled improperly (as they violated multiple policies). I have also been informed that I should contact the government inspectorate to file a formal complaint and as a recent inspection took place at this location, I can question the findings and it is possible that I may seek to have the inspection re-done; I have to determine what the best course of action will be, but that is a top contender at the moment, especially where I have significant, physical evidence now which I can use.

With my current work situation, I feel that those who accused me of such horrible actions should have learned by now (from getting to know me over the past year) that I can be very patient, yet also very determined when it comes to making sure that a proper resolution is met. With my Ph.D. situation, I was willing at several points to address the issue with the media; to be honest, I have considered doing the same already with this work situation. However, addressing the issue in this way, I feel, is destructive and I do not wish to go down this route unless it becomes one of the final options for me. In any case, though, the option is there and I have the legal freedom to use it if I choose to do so.

Nonetheless, I keep thinking back to the 10th Doctor from Doctor Who, who, even when the last resort seemed to be the only option left, would rather not go through with using it. However, I have received a lot of guidance with this work situation and virtually all of the help I received, including that from people in various prominent positions, suggests that I need to address this situation. Therefore, in this case, I cannot act as the Time Lord, but perhaps rather as a Companion receiving help from the Time Lord (or Time Lords in this case).

So now, I have to begin considering how to address this issue in order to fight back and seek justice for the accusations sent by the former employer (without conducting proper investigations themselves), the negative feedback willfully given by the former employer to prospective employers (without telling me at all that a referral was being prepared), the deliberate policy violations of the former employer (who claimed I violated policies), etc. There will be a lot to consider and as always, I will need the help of all those around me who have helped me so much already (and hopefully even more). I am grateful for the support I have and it is through this darkness that I can see the stars shining in my life.

The Canadian Cat

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Manning The Sails

This has been a very interesting week for me, as has been evidenced by the fact the accusations made against me earlier have finally been dropped. I am very thankful for this news, but this has nonetheless been a very hurtful time and I really want to find some way to formally address these issues, but there are, of course difficulties, including those I mentioned in a previous post, where I questioned my own motives for wanting to do something like this.

I feel like I am committing an Manning; I am wanting to leak information about a group that I know has done wrong and in this era of bureaucracy, where governments protect those in power, making the rich richer whilst making the poor poorer, I feel this is the only possible solution. However, this is still troubling for me as I feel it should not have to come to this; in Manning's case, the issues were directly against a government group, but in mine, they are not. I am not afraid to go after my accusers, though, so it's just a matter of convincing myself that this is possible, especially now with the information & knowledge I have.

One thing that is important in all of this is speaking out against injustice, something my current church has taught me well. In my situation, I followed the advice of my peers and it led me to this current predicament. I know now I should be more determined to follow my own judgement rather than simply go with the flow, and now that I am confident I can show the flow, it ought to finally be time for me to have my say, especially as the government has yet to even hear my side of the story.

The Canadian Cat