Life of Megan

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Make up your minds, usage board!

Today's word of the day is virago, meaning either "a woman of extraordinary stature, strength, and courage" or "a woman regarded as loud, scolding, ill-tempered, quarrelsome, or overbearing." Now, I realize that to some people, there may not be a big difference here, but mysogynists aside, why have a word with two meanings which may be indiscernable given context?

I think the word was designed for political debate where one participant is a woman. "I respect this virago's opinion, but . . ." Who wants a word that is both an insult and a compliment?

On the other hand, maybe it's a good thing for smart, bitter school kids everywhere. I always wanted to tell really bad teachers (e.g. social studies teachers who tell you the Mason-Dixon line was in, say, Washington St.) that I would just love to defenestrate them sometime, in a really happy voice, just to see if they caught on. If I had been armed with a word like "virago" I may have just gone through with it. There are only so many times a kid should put up with someone trying to change her dominant hand just so it's easier to teach the kid cursive.

In other news, I love that new Spoon song "I Turn my Camera On" for no apparent reason. It has a disco song, and I find myself intentionally getting it in my head for runs. Urg.

Ten minutes to write this entry

My mom complained that I haven't updated for a while, and I have ten minutes before class, so I thought I'd give you all an update and a bunch of my random thoughts.

We have this Nor'easter coming through, and the weather is supposed to be especially terrible, but the only real difference is that it is slightly colder. It's been dark and rainy for the better part of the last few weeks. You just get used to it. When the sun's out, the light makes your eyes hurt. Anyhow, last night, I was watching the news just before leaving Jud's, and they predicted snow for those living at elevations over 800 ft. I was excited because I had the opportunity to test this out. Jud lives at about 850 ft, and my apartment is at 675 ft or so. So I left Jud's, and sure enough, it was snowing. Sure enough, the snow was rain at my apartment. Finger Lakes weather is strange. With all this cold, wintry weather, I finally switched on my heat and changed out my wardrobe. The shorts and most of my short-sleeved shirts are now packed away until Spring. I'm happy because I don't like summer heat, and I do like sweaters and sweatshirts.

In other news, I think I'm going to try to do the Knoxville Marathon. It's during my spring break, and it's close enough to SC that I could have crowd support (from my family). As you may have guessed by the fact that we had snow last night (at least on the top of the hill), it gets cold here in Ithaca. So I have to plan marathon training around winter. I don't mind running in the snow. Actually, this 35-degrees and raining is what I consider the worst weather, but it always seems good for my performance. Nothing like being wet and freezing to encourage you to run faster. But anyhow, when I'll be peaking for my marathon, the weather could be well into the negative-Fahrenheit range. Somewhere around -11F, it becomes uncomfortable to run for much more than an hour. So a 20-mi run is iffy. Fortunately, I found something called the SOS (something of substance) plan with max long runs of 16 miles. You just run a lot of other miles during the week, and you don't buffer the long runs with rest like you do on normal plans. People seem to be successful with it. You can read about it here

Oh, I'm out of town. Off to class.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Friends of the library sale

Today I went to the semiannual Friends of the Library booksale right here in Ithaca. This sale helps make up for the fact that McKay's Used Books is in Knoxville, Tennessee. I ended up buying four books: Huis Clos/Les Mouches, La Peste, Sophie's Choice, and Tom Wolfe's A Man in Full. It cost me a total of $1.00. The French books are actually in French. Huis Clos belonged to the Ithaca Public High School library and was last checked out by a guy named Didier.

Pretty cool.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Respect my authority!

It seems Becky's posts often lead to spin-off posts of my own. Maybe I am just too busy doing Sudoku to be creative these days. At any rate, her link to a CNN article suggesting people have become ruder brought back a sore subject with me: authority. I think part of the reason I never fit in well in the South is that I have no inherent respect for authority, or, more accurately, I don't have any more respect for someone in an authoritative position than I have for anyone else who I don't know well.

Respect isn't something to be taken lightly. Respect is important. Along with trust, respect has always been one of the intangibles I hold most dear. The worst punishment my parents could dole out when I was a kid was to tell me that I'd lost a bit of their respect. Gaining people's respect should be considered an honor, not a right. Earning respect should be a goal for every man.

I think we should treat all people with a standard amount of respect. We should be polite. We should listen to people when they talk to us and hold the door for them when their hands are full. We should say "please" and "thank you." These are, in my opinion, the basic characteristics of humanity. We should not afford more respect to a particular person simply because of a title or an age. There are bad cops and good bums out there. Until we've gotten to know them, we don't know the difference.

Part of the problem with "respecting authority" is that it implies it's acceptable to have less respect for people who are subordinate to us. It's not.

I have to admit that I'm not really sure what "respecting authority" could possibly entail. If you're at the grocery store, at peak shopping time, with a cartful of food, and a police officer is behind you with one item, should you let him in front of you because he's an authority figure? Isn't that the nicest thing you could do anyhow?

Once I was in this situation, except that the person behind me wasn't a cop--it was a busy, angry mom. She was on her cell phone. She kept checking her watch and looking at me and sighing. Her kids were running all over the place. And I decided that I would rather wait for her to check out than have her look at me and sigh one more time. I wasn't trying to be nice. I was trying to make her go away faster. I was just hoping she'd pay in cash and leave quickly. I was too tired to deal with her.

So I said, "Look, you only have one thing, and I'm not in a hurry... Why don't you just go in front of me?"

What happened after that sounds like a story you'd hear only in church, but I swear to you it's true. Her entire demeanor changed. She hung up the phone. She gave me a tremendous grin and thanked me profusely. She gathered up her kids. It was amazing.

But I digress. The point is that respecting authority ultimately hurts the rest of us. Can't we just be decent to everyone. Jeez!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

I'm a lot dumber than I would like to admit...

This morning I ran 8 miles (abridged from ten because I slept a bit too late) when it was 44 F and rainy outside wearing short sleeves and shorts. I didn't actually check the temperature before I left. Maybe it was colder.

Anyhow, the uncontrollable shivering has subsided, the red skin is assuming its normal color, and I'm feeling a lot better.

Next time, I'll at least take a jacket and gloves!