Thursday, January 29, 2009

Too Sorry

Call me out on this if you want, but I'd say that I'm a pretty polite person. After all, I am Canadian. In my travels abroad and through conversations with friends from outside our lovely little bubble, I've found that there's a real sense that Canadians are generally some of the most kind, polite and courteous people around.

I take great pride in my Canadian heritage and feel as though we're stewards of a dwindling kindness towards others, but I do have some beef with how one aspect of our polite demeanor has been taken to an extreme. The word 'sorry' is a special word in my books. Typically reserved for occasions when real sincerity is needed, I feel as though its use has become increasingly commonplace in our society to the point where it almost saturates our daily language; especially with strangers.

Picture your office, the subway, a restaurant; anywhere where people pass each other in close quarters and are forced to exchange some sort of pleasant comment. Too often I've found that this remark is "oh, uhh, sorry", "ummm hey, haha, sorry, if I can just get... haha sorry". What the heck is that?!? What ever happened to excuse me?

I'll admit without hesitation that for a time I was one of these awkward passers by, just trying to say SOMEthing that would make the strange encounter less so, but over time I became aware that I was saying sorry like it was my job, and decided that it was time for me to revert back to what I think is the appropriate response to such an encounter. Now, when I have to squeeze pass someone in a hallway or push my way to the bar in a pub, I offer up an "excuse me".

My gears are being ground for a couple of reasons that I should make clear. For one, I'm a huge fan of our wonderful language, and I try my best to find the right word to express the way that I'm feeling. This may surprise you given the verbosity of some of my earlier posts, but literary masturbation aside, I think the English language is one that offers so many options for expression that it's doing the dictionary a bit of a disservice to synonymize sorry with other excusatory remarks in such a casual setting.

I feel as though sorry should be saved for those times when you break a best friend's favourite dish, or when you step on your dog's tail by accident, or when you give someone the finger when you think it's that bully from back in the day, but it really turns out to be a complete stranger. Sorry should mean something, sorry should actually say to someone, 'I'm sorry!', I didn't intend to cause harm or inconvenience, but I have; and now I'd like to tell you that I've got a bit of regret for it. You're not actually sorry that you had to pass someone in the hall and you may have touched their shirt, and you're not sorry you had to push the big lug out of the way to get to the bar so you could order a drink, so why say it?

Canadians are so polite, so proper, and want nothing more than to go through life with everyone loving them and thinking the world of their intentions; but we can't go around throwing meaningful words around like they're bras in Cancun.

How do you feel about it? Do we say sorry too much? What are some other examples of its improper use? Maybe you just think I'm blowing smoke and I should just keep on apologizing for things I'm not sorry I did, but lets hear your view.
Do you know of any other words that people use at improper times?

Stand up for English and sound off!

Monday, January 26, 2009

When does beer and wings become wine and cheese?

I think it was around a week or so ago that I went out with a couple of the good 'ol boys for a night on the town, though in our case on this particular evening the 'town' happened to be one of their basements, and the 'night' happened to be an hour more in the area of 7:30. So the 'evening' we'll call it, was centered around the hockey game. The Leafs game to be exact. There was of course the typical accompaniment to a hockey game salt and peppered around the room for easy access to hungry mouths as they moved about the space.  Haha, caught you with that salt and peppered didn't I... you went back looking for the comma before you kept reading and realized that it actually made sense. No? No you're right it doesn't make sense... it should just be peppered I think. No salt.
I digress...
Chicken wings, chips, salsa, beer all lay about in front of the TV. As I and the rest of the crew began our 'evening' and the Leafs were doing their best to maintain even the generous title of 'team', a thought occurred to me. Maybe it was the wings, maybe it was the beer, or maybe it was the txt message I got from another friend asking me to come to a wine and cheese party, but something gave me the urge to wonder.
I've been to wine and cheese parties before no doubt, but in general, I'd say that wings and beer are more my typical fare.  And so in my mind I created this division. Two choices, two periods of one's life, and of course the line that divided them. 
When do you reach across that line, grab hold the stem of a bulbous chalice of merlot, and have no desire to let go? You look back at the beer and wings, but maybe they don't look nearly as appetizing anymore. Maybe those wings look a bit greasy now...  maybe the wings don't look nearly as scrumptious as those grapes painted in goat cheese and encrusted with crushed pistachio nuts? Perhaps your merlot, full bodied and smooth, with hints of black currant and wild spices seems an smidgeon more succulent than your ale over there. 
Well it may.  At some point it may.  Or maybe it won't?  It's perfectly plausible that as we move through life we simply enjoy these two different pairs at separate times.  Separate venues.
But that's not what interests me... I want to know about the margin. The two, five, ten, twenty percent of the time that you, or anyone, choses one over the other.
There's got to be a lean to one side. However unconscious, however minute, there's always a preference.

And why not then a line to cross? A point in time when you've had more of one than the other? 

When then?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Yesterday we saw the first black man in the history of the United States be sworn in as President. For many this was a monumental achievement in the arena of human rights and the turning of a page in the history book of America.

This incredibly publicized event was viewed by 7.7 million people online (stat care of Akamai Technologies Inc.) and innumerable others throughout the world on TV and in person in Washington.

Given that this inauguration and inevitably, Obama's presidency, has had more publicity and more hype centred around it than any other President in the past, is there a chance that his policies, actions (and inactions), choices, manner, and relations will suffer or in some way be influenced in a way that will negatively impact the political significance and agency he claims to bring to US and global politics?

Think about the 10 glitzy balls he and his wife 'had' to attend and schmooze their way though after a long, emotional and draining day. Consider Obama’s goal to be the most transparent president ever, drawing back the red white and blue shroud that has masked and enabled so much deception throughout presidencies past.

Will his administration's efforts to socially network their way into the hearts, minds, and voting ballots of the country really serve his purpose? Or will his ubiquitous media presence actually hamper his ability to function as a figure of power and decisive action? There is certainly much to be said for being accessible to the people of your country, but does all this attention allow him to do his job any better?

One must wonder how the status update, "Barack is going to bomb a small village in Kandahar to bits" will go over with the online community of pollyannaish Facebookers and fans. Though this fictional status update may not be directly related to his agenda, these types of decisions are the daily doses of reality faced by presidents; loved by the people or not.

Will these sort of inevitable and difficult decisions jar the American people out of a half-century-old doctor's dream? Or will they entrench the supportive cries of those who always knew he'd do what it takes to raise an American phoenix from the ashes of a recession?

Sound off...


Friday, January 16, 2009

Are you comfy?

For my first post, I just want to rhyme off what I think has become my favourite quote, and see what people have to say about it.

Does it relate to anything you're going through?
Do you think it's garbage?
Do you have your own similar quote that you turn to in times of deep introspection?

Have a read, think about it, let us know what you think!

"Where you are is because of who you are... are you comfy?" -Taylor Sharpe

Intro to Generation Why - Onward into the void

This blog exists as a forum for the discussion of interesting and pertinent issues and events that affect the lives, minds and futures of those of us born into Generation Y.
From about 1978 to 1994, baby boomers were popping out kids that would grow up in a society marked by dynamicism and growth that past generations could hardly fathom. Technology, shifting perspectives, ubiquitous access to information and a slew of other factors have enacted such powerful social change on our global population that it's both tentalising and terrifying to think where we could be headed next.

In this blog I leave it to you, the masses, to duke it out verbally and try to make some sense (or nonsense) out of our positions and directions in life.

Onward into the void...